Helmet of the Montefortino Type


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 370

Probably inspired by Celtic prototypes, and also quickly adopted by the Romans, Montefortino-type helmets were especially popular in Etruria from the fourth to the second centuries B.C. This example is Etruscan and remarkable for its sturdiness, untouched surface, and distinctive ornamentation. Among well over 400 Montefortino-type helmets that have survived, only one other similarly decorated example is known. Originating from the Necropolis del Frontone, Perugia, it now is in the Museo nazionale de Perguia, Italy (inv. 362 B1286).

The helmet has a hemispherical one-piece bowl of cast, hammered, chased, and engraved bronze, which is surmounted by an integral medial knob-shaped finial, and flanged at the rear into a sloped nape guard that slightly flares upward. It is robust, measuring up to ¼ inch in thickness at the rim, except at the rear, where it becomes thinner as the result of having been hammered into a nape guard. The finial at the apex is decorated with a row of three chevrons that are framed by semi-circular designs at the top and by a narrow band at the bottom. The chevrons are each formed by two engraved segments that meet at the top. The semi-circular designs around them each consist of a narrow sunken arc flanked by an engraved line at each side. The narrow band beneath the chevrons is delineated by two parallel engraved lines and engraved with hatching. The rim of the helmet is decorated with five narrow bands, all separated from the adjacent ones by engraved lines, the first and third band from the top sunken, the second engraved with a herringbone pattern, the third broadening over the nape and enclosing a panel that is filled with an engraved herringbone pattern, and the fourth engraved with hatching. There are two bronze rivets with flush heads at each side of the helmet. These retain bronze washers and fragments of bronze hinges on the interior for attaching the cheekpieces, which are now lost. There similarly is a bronze rivet with a flush head in the middle of the nape guard, which holds a hinged double bronze loop on the interior, for attaching chin straps.

Helmet of the Montefortino Type, Bronze, Etruscan

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