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Roman 3rd Century Helmet cross reinforcement


Material  Bronze/Copper Alloy
Dimensions 17cm long (interior diameter)
3.8cm tall (radius)

Knobs: 17mm x 9mm diameter
Hight at crest: 37mm x 28mm
Slot: 20mm long x 4mm wide
Thickness: 3mm near knobs to 1mm (helmet appeared to have been 1-1.5mm thick based on rivet)
Roman Empire Late 2nd to mid 3rd Century AD

An amazing example of part of the cross braced reinforcement of a later Roman (commonly typed as a Neiderbieber class) helmet.  This example is very well preserved with a smooth green patina.  Two knob like rivets with flattened sides accentuate the attachment areas of the reinforcement bar.  This item appears to have most likely been folded in ancient times near the slotted area (as seen by the patina damage caused by contemporary restoration).  This was perhaps done as part the stripping down of a used helmet for scrap or parts to fit on another helmet.  The gap in the rivet area clearly indicates that the helmet itself was also made of bronze and was probably close 1-1.5mm thick.

As one can tell from the example photo's below (as well as the item pictures) this cross brace would have interlocked with a similar piece that extended from the peak of the helmet down the back.  This in-genius way of attaching the cross brace allowed for strength and stability and made them easier to attach or replace.

The design clearly shows how this helmet was the most advanced helmet, perhaps ever made across the whole historical spectrum.  The cross reinforced bowl was superior in strength and would dissipate the force of a blow.  The pointed peak attachment with it's angles served a similar purpose, protecting from both a downward stash and a forward one, deflecting the blade off to the side.  The cheek pieces also were more enclosed covering more of the face and ear area.  The flared ends of the cheek pieces also served to protect and deflect the force of an enemy.  The neck guard continued to be enlarged and provided a superior level of protection for the neck and shoulder area.

This artifact was once part of a great Roman helmet that served to bring the empire through a difficult 3rd Century into the renewed prosperity of the 4th Century.

Examples of Full Roman helmets with the cross reinforcement


Click on Pictures for higher resolution

Knob close up (top view)

Second rivet close up

Profile view from top

Rivet close up

Helmet thickness close up

Knob close up







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(1) Reference to similar items: BISHOP, M.C & COULSTON, J.C.N; Roman Military Equipment "From the Punic wars to the Fall of Rome", page 175-177 2006.

(2) References to similar items: I.P STEPHENSON & K.R DIXON; Roman Cavalry Equipment, page 20 2003

(3) References to similar items: CONNOLLY, Peter; The Cavalryman, page 22 & 29 2000.

**Note on background. Close up view of the wall of the Colosseum of Pula, Croatia. Picture taken 2014