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Ancient bronze greek helmet -South Italy

A ceremonial Attic helmet from Southern Italy, ca. 300 BC

The attic helmet was a type of helmet that originated in Classical Greece and was widely used in Italy and the Hellenistic world until well into the Roman Empire.[1] It was similar to the Chalcidian helmet but lacked a nose-guard. Although in Greece itself its use was not as widespread as the Corinthian or Phrygian types, the attic helmet became very popular in Italy, where most examples have been found. Many Italian peoples used variations of the attic helmet, but archaeologically it has been especially prominent in Samnite and Lucanian burials and their associated art (frescos etc.).

Roman parade helmet, 2nd century

Roman "pseudo-attic" helmet, 2nd Century AD

As an artistic motif, variations of the attic helmet long outlasted other contemporary helmet types, being used to impart an archaic look to depictions of generals, emperors and Praetorians (example) throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods. As such, a form of attic helmet has become part of the popular image of a Roman officer, as found in art from the Renaissance onwards or in earlier Hollywood productions. However, no archaeological remains of this type of helmet have been found to date. The closest surviving Imperial Roman helmet to the type illustrated in relief sculpture dates to the 2nd century AD, and was found in Bavaria. It has been classified as a "pseudo-attic" helmet by some scholars. It is of tinned bronze and is very elaborately decorated with an integral crest raised from the skull incorporating an eagle.


  1. "Terms such as Illyrian and attic are used in archeology for convenience to denote a particular type of helmet and do not imply its origin"(See page 60, Peter Connoly, Greece & Rome at War,ISBN 1-85367-303-X)

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