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The 'Greek' Attic Helmet; a no-show in history?
Hello all!

So through some discussion on an 'International Hoplite Discussion Group' on Facebook, something very fascinating has been brought to my attention; namely that the Greek Attic helmet, (as we know it of course) is being, or has been, questioned for some time as ever having been used by Greek infantry proper.

To my understanding, this position stems from the fact that not a single Attic helmet to date has been excavated on Greek soil itself.  From what I heard, they have been pulled up elsewhere; Italy, in use by Romans and massively by Samnites, but despite some depictions on Greek pottery that appear to show it, not a single archaeological find in Greece has been of the so-called 'Attic' helmet.

Is this true?  Would anyone happen to know more about this matter?  What has been out methodology prior to this knowledge, of accounting for what helmets were and were not used; because like many others I have been taught and told that 'Attic' helmets were in use by Greek soldiery for quite some time. Some have even gone so far as to say it was particularly popular in Athens, and that it came to be used much more going into the Hellenistic era, where lighter, open designs became more popular.

But like others, I had been convinced that this is a fact by such repeated statements and notions. Generally speaking, I believe that as far as evidence goes, the best is Archaeological artifacts being found, the second would be very trustworthy contemporary sources, (as Ancient writers are not all beyond fault and fiction), and then comes imagery.

Using that method, it would appear that Attican helmets only exist in the third tier?  Or perhaps I am mistaken. Which is why I'm asking, I suppose. I was told it exists in the same place as the Dipylon shield, which some claim may be artistic convention.  Granted, there are definitely existing Attic helmets, only I hear not a single one of them is from Greek origin. Are the pottery depictions the sole reason we even consider them a Greek invention?

In any case, I own this book and recall reading about it here first.  It states a Greek origin, and that the Greek colonies of Southern Italy favored it especially.

In regards to depictions, I am told there is some inevitable conversion in the consideration of helmet names. Namely, the Chalkideon and Attic tend to be almost synonymous names for what I'm seeing here. I have yet to really fully understand why/which to use.
I always thought that the modern, typological difference between the Chalcidian and Attic was that the Attic had no nose guard and its cheek guards were generally smaller.
Dan D'Silva

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I ride the winds of fate
Prepared to go where my heart belongs,
Back to the past again.

--  Gamma Ray

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To pick myself up from under this table...

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Great questions.

It has been my understanding that both the term "Chalcidean helmet" and "Attic helmet" are modern terms based on the pottery upon which the helmets are usually depicted.  We know that the Greeks referred to "Corinthian helmets," "Boeotian helmets," and "Pilos helmets," but the others are modern conventions.

If the two are lumped together and used to refer to lighter helmets with hinged cheek pieces, cut outs for ears, and wider front openings to allow for greater field of view, then I think the evidence is convincing for their use by Greek infantry, at least during the middle and late fifth century.   For example, the mural of the Battle of Marathon on the painted Stoa almost exclusively depicts Attic/Chalcidean helmets for the Greeks.  In the bottom right, there is a group of hoplites using "Boeotian shields" and wearing Pilos helmets or caps, but the rest of the Greeks are wearing something approximating an Attic or Chalcidean helmet.

Here's a link to a reconstruction of mural:

If your question is whether the Attic/Chalidean helmets were ever used by Greek infantry on mainland Greece, the primary source material of contemporary artistic representations is pretty convincing that they were.  But, like you suggest, it is odd that we haven't found more of them in the archaeological remains when they are so common in art.

If your question is whether excavations have ever unearthed an "attic" helmet in mainland Greece, I'm not sure.  If we searched the online collections of the major museums around the world where Greek helmets might be found, we could perhaps find a few.  

The British Museum lists this helmet has perhaps having been found in Attica:

Great question though.  I've also been curious as to when and where the "Thracian" helmet developed.  By this, I mean an "Attic" helmet with an enlarged brim over the eyes to protect the face from blows and shield the eyes from the sun.

If you find any other "Attic" helmets excavated in mainland Greece, please post that information here.

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