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A damaged helmet, seen from the side.

A helmet made of dark grey material. It is seen from the side, facing to the right. In the back it is damaged, a large portion of it gone with ragged edges. In the front, half of the facial cutout can be seen. It starts with a sharp corner where the jaw would be, cut straight up and leading into an oval shaped cutout for the eyes, then extending down into a narrow strip which would have gone over the nose. There is no surface decoration.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Helmet of Corinthian Type
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Former title: Olympian helmet
Work Type
first half 6th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Elis province, Olympia (?)
Archaic period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cast, lost-wax process
19.2 x 20.2 cm (7 9/16 x 7 15/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 89.92; Sn, 9.38; Pb, 0.21; Zn, 0.045; Fe, 0.07; Ni, 0.02; Ag, 0.07; Sb, 0.11; As, 0.17; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.005; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron, silver, antimony, arsenic

K. Eremin, January 2014

Chemical Composition: EMP analysis from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 89.45; Sn, 8.86; Pb, 0.11; Zn, 0.00; Fe, 0.08; Ni, 0.00; Ag, 0.05; Sb, 0.16; As, 0.04

M. McNamara, October 2000

Technical Observations:
This helmet is incomplete; the lower sections on the back of the proper right side and the proper right cheek guard are lost. The intact cheek guard has been bent backward and subsequently straightened. X-radiographs reveal a fracture in the dome on the proper right and a weakness in the metal where the cheek guard was bent backward. The patina is dark green to gray with intermittent spots of emerald green and red-brown corrosion. The surface is covered with shallow and deep corrosion-filled pits.

Helmets 1916.362 and 1956.18 are each made from a single piece of metal. X-radiographs reveal a mottled appearance that corresponds to small, round hammer marks applied in a concentric pattern around the crowns. An x-radiograph of the cheek guard on 1916.362 shows stacked rows of hammer marks running across the guard at a slight (c. 35 degree) angle. There is no evidence of gates, risers, chaplets, or porosity from casting on either helmet.

Metallographic examination of 1916.362 reveals intergranular corrosion, which confirms that the metal is ancient. Deformation lines, along with both straight and bent annealing twins visible in the etched microstructure, indicate numerous cycles of hammering and annealing. There is no clear evidence of how the egg-and-dart pattern was made, but etched sections show that the linear decoration beneath the egg-and-dart was made by cutting, rather than punching or casting. There is no evidence of coring, a dendritic structure, or porosity, which are all microstructural features consistent with casting. 1956.18 was not sampled for metallography or elemental analysis.

Molly McNamara (submitted 2000)


Recorded Ownership History
Edward P. Bliss, bequest; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1916.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Edward P. Bliss
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
Although in fragmentary condition, some of the detailed decoration that followed the edges of this Corinthian helmet is still preserved on the extant cheek piece and surrounding the eyes (1). The decoration consists of a band of egg-and-dart (1.3 cm wide) bordered on the top and bottom by two raised lines with a row of dots between them; this decoration is simplified on the narrow nose guard. The dome of the helmet is undecorated.

The eye cut-outs are leaf-shaped, and the nose guard curves at the bottom. The cheek piece appears to have been bent deliberately. Although the damage that the helmet suffered could have occurred after deposition in the ground, it is also possible, given its function, that it could have been damaged in battle or at some point after being dedicated to a sanctuary (2).


1. For a Corinthian helmet from Olympia with similar damage, compare an example at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, inv. no. Misc. 6384. For a discussion of the evolution, decoration, and distribution of Corinthian helmets, see H. Pflug, “Korinthische Helme,” in Antike Helme: Sammlung Lipperheide und andere Bestände des Antikenmuseums Berlin, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Forschungsinstitut für Vor- und Frühgeschichte Monographien 14 (Mainz, 1988) 65-106. See also E. Kunze, “Korinthische Helme,” Berichtt über die Ausgrabungene in Olympia 7 (1961): 56-128.

2. See A. H. Jackson, “An Early Corinthian Helmet in the Museum of the British School at Athens,” The Annual of the British School at Athens 82 (1987): 107-14, esp. 113-14.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • George M. A. Hanfmann, Greek Art and Life, An Exhibition Catalogue, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1950)
  • Molly McNamara, "Technical Studies of Four Ancient Greek Helmets in the Collection of the Harvard University Art Museums" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, October 2000), Unpublished, pp. 1-59 passim
  • Molly McNamara, "Technical Studies of Four Ancient Greek Helmets at the Harvard University Art Museums", I Bronzi Antichi: Produzione e Technologia, ed. Alessandra Giumlia-Mair, Editions Monique Mergoil (Montagnac, 2002), 281-283, no. 2, figs. 1-2.

Exhibition History

  • Greek Art and Life: From the Collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Private Lenders, Fogg Art Museum, 03/07/1950 - 04/15/1950

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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