First Greek Helmet Discovered North of the Black Sea in Russia
The agency RIA Novosti reported that a Corinthian helmet was found in a grave dated from the 5th century BC in the Taman Peninsula, south-west of Russia. It is the only such helmet found from the north of the Black Sea.
Corroded after 2500 years of burial and thus highly fragmented, its discovery remains still impressive.
Corinthian helmets made of bronze covered the whole head and neck with eye and mouth slits and protruding cheek covers (paragnathides).
The neck nape was covered by a broad, curved projection. For protecting the warrior’s head the interior was padded with fabric or leather.
The helmets were often surmounted by a crest (lophos) with a plume of horse hair. Highly protective because they protected the head completely, these helmets provided an important piece of equipment for the Greek hoplites, the famous phalanx foot soldiers.
Corinthian helmets originated in Greece around the 6th century BC and are one of ancient Greece’s trademarks. Also portrayed wearing them are the goddess Athena, or Pericles.
When a warrior died, his helmets would be buried next to him. According to Roman Mimohod, director of the expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IA RAS), “the Taman peninsula helmet belongs to the Corinthian Hermione-type and would date back to the first quarter of the fifth century BC.”
Archaeologists of the Russian Academy of Sciences have been working for two years in a necropolis of 600 burial mounds where many Greek warriors of the Bosporus kingdom are buried.
Several Greek colonies were indeed present in this region. Their settlement extends from the end of the 7th century BC until the second quarter of the 4th century BC.
“These settlements were in very close contact with the Scythian inhabitants of the steppe,” says historian Iraoslav Lebedynsky, specialist of these ancient Eurasian cultures. From the 6th century BC, the Greeks founded large cities on the northern coast of the Black Sea.
The main ones were Olbia, at the mouth of the Dnieper; Panticapaion, today’s Kerch, in the extreme west of the Crimea, and Chersonese (Sevastopol); on the Russian bank, one found Phanagoria (Taman), also the name given to the peninsula on which the Corinthian helmet was discovered.
Created in 480 BC around the Kerch Strait and the Taman Peninsula, west of the Bosporus, this kingdom which had Panticapaion as its capital lasted almost a thousand years, the last written traces going back to the 5th century AD.
A place of synthesis between the Greek culture and the successive nomadic cultures of the steppe, be it the Scythians or the Sarmatians.
Between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, Greeks and Scythians maintained extremely close cultural as well as commercial relations.