Hunting the Helmet: Social and Practical Aspects of Building a Boar’s Tusk Helmet

Author(s): Deborah Ruscillo

Year: 2018


From the earliest occurrence of the boar's tusk helmet from Grave Circle B at Mycenae (ca. 1650BCE) to the latest from a sub-Minoan tomb from the North Cemetery at Knossos (ca. 1000BCE) presents a span of 650 years of reverence for this important accessory of Bronze Age warriorhood. Depictions and copies of this helmet in other cultures, including in the Hittite, Egyptian, and even later Roman cultures, demonstrate its pervasive and deeply respected meaning. Helmets of this kind were known to have been passed down through generations and even stolen and gifted. Homer describes one helmet being passed through seven hands before finally ending up on the head of Odysseus. All this raises the question of why warriors did not make their own helmets. What was it about the production and ownership of these helmets that was so special? Why did this type of helmet develop a romantic and timeless reputation in art and stories? The assemblage of broken tusk refuse from Iklaina provides a unique opportunity to explore the techniques involved in the making of a helmet. Microscopy of tool marks and experiments on modern tusks will embellish the information we have on how the illustrious helmets were made.

Cite this Record

Hunting the Helmet: Social and Practical Aspects of Building a Boar’s Tusk Helmet. Deborah Ruscillo. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445209)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -10.151; min lat: 29.459 ; max long: 42.847; max lat: 47.99 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21975