Helmet of the pilos type

Late Classical or Early Hellenistic Period
350–300 B.C.

Place of Manufacture: Italy (probably), Apulia


Height: 22.8 cm (9 in.); max. diameter: 22.1 cm Weight: 603 g

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Gallery 212A-B


The Ancient World



The ovoid or bell shape of this helmet derives from a conical felt hat called the pilos worn by travelers and laborers. The rim is slightly concave and set apart from the calotte by a raised ridge. It covered the forehead and sat above the ears. A chinstrap would have secured the helmet over the head. The holes just above the rim on either side may have been intended for the attachment of the chinstrap. It is also possible that they served as attachment points for cheek pieces, which occasionally are discovered with this type of helmet. A female protome decorates the front side. Appliqués like this are common apotropaic additions to Greek and Roman armor. The broken bronze brackets at the apex of the helmet and at the left and right side of the upper quarter once supported metal attachments. The uppermost one probably acted as a bronze support for a horsehair crest, and the other two likely held bronze sheets in the shape of horns. The horns which survive on other pilos type helmets often take the shape of kete (mythical sea monsters) or snakes.


By 1990: with Helmut Liebert, Grotenburestrasse, 47800 Krefeld, Germany (said to come from the collection of a gymnasion teacher in Germany in the 1980s); about 2001: purchased from Helmut Liebert by Axel Guttmann, Berlin, Germany; by April 2004, with Christie's South Kensington, 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LD (Christie's sale, The Axel Guttmann Collection of Ancient Arms and Armour, Part 2, 28 April 2004, lot 113); purchased at Christie's sale by Dr. Jerome M. Eisenberg, Royal-Athena Galleries, 153 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022 (sale catalogue no. 81, October, 2004, cat. no. 29); gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg to MFA in honor of John J. Herrmann, Jr., Curator of Classical Art, 1976-2004, December 2004

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg in honor of John J. Herrmann, Jr., Curator of Classical Art, 1976-2004