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03 Views of the Celtiberian helmet of Chalcidian type. Its crest-holder is of Italian design.
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By Periklis  Deligiannis

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Actually, this text concerns an item from my study: The Greek influence on the weaponry and armoury of the Iberians, Celtiberians, Turdetani and other ancient peoples of the Iberian Peninsula.
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The contacts of the Aegean seafarers with the Iberian Peninsula were ancient enough, ever since the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, although they were very limited. After the dissolution of the Mycenaean world and in general the Eastern Mediterranean world due to the economic collapse and the invasions of the Sea Peoples (13th-12th centuries BC), the relations between the Greeks and the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula were interrupted for many centuries until the Archaic Period (700-479 BC). In the Early Archaic Era navigators from Samos, Phocaea, Zakynthos, Massalia and other Greek cities, “rediscovered” the Iberian peninsula and restored trade relations with their peoples. Mostly Phocaea and her daughter-city Masallia, took the lead in establishing Greek colonies on the eastern coast of Spain, that is in the ancient ethnic territory of the Iberians. Although earlier in the 20th century it was thought among the scholars that the Iberians were the largest ethnic group of the peninsula, actually it was proved that they constituted a small portion of the population, living on the northeast coast of Spain and the immediate hinterland. The modern Catalans are the main descendants of the Iberians.

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Frontview of the helmet.

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The most important Greek colonies in Spain were the cities of Emporion (Emporiai), Rodhe and Hemeroskopeion, all of them on the east coast. The Greeks could not be expanded as colonizers on the other coasts of the Iberian peninsula because the rest of the coastline was almost steadily controlled by their Phoenician competitors. But the Phoenicians and their Carthaginian descendants used to allow the Greek commercial navigators to trade in the southern coast of the peninsula and even to establish a trade settlement in Onuba (modern Huelva), thus the Hellenic cultural influence was expanded in Tartessos and later in Turdetania as well. On the other hand, some of the Greek cities of Sicily and then of Mainland Greece began using Iberian mercenaries from the 5th century BC and on.

Iberian warriors
The Celtiberian warrior in the foreground bears the specific helmet, in this sensational artwork by Sandra Delgado.
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Spain
The location of the discovery of the helmet in Spain according to the Soria hypothesis.
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chalkidean
A Chalcidian proper helmet.
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Apart from the daily life, the technology and the artistic expression, the Greek cultural influence in the pre-Roman Iberian peninsula was also extended in warfare, more on the design of the arms and armour and much less on the tactics. This influence constitutes the main topic of a study that I have written. A typical object as a result of this influence is a spectacular helmet, which was discovered presumably in the province of Soria, Spain, in the ancient territory of the Arevaci Celtiberians and their neighboring Pellendones. The Arevaci were among the most important Celtiberian tribes. According to another less likely hypothesis, the helmet was found in a site near Zaragoza, Spain, that is in the Iberian ethnic territory.

The helmet probably belongs to the 4th-3rd centuries BC and was discovered along with 16 other helmets in a cliff deposit, protected from dirt and weather. The helmets of the deposit were stuck between cracks in the rock. Because of this protection, the specific helmet was not oxidized and has not suffered serious damage. Due to its design, it is clearly classified as a Chalcidian helmet of a local Celtiberian or Iberian variety. The Chalcidian helmet was evolved in the armouries of the city-state Chalcis, in the island of Euboea, Greece, before its use spread rapidly throughout most of the Greek world and then in the territories of several other Mediterranean peoples. The specific Celtiberian helmet has the essential characteristics of the original Chalcidian type, with the main diferrences being in the cheek-protectors. Its crest-holder is of the Italian elevated type. Another Chalcidian helmet of the same deposit (see below) has on the protective projection between the eyes, an aperture for an even more extended nose-protector. Most of the helmets of the deposit belonged until recently to the Axel Guttmann Collection. The specific helmet of this article was published in: H.Born, “Restaurierung antiker Bronzewaffen – Sammlung Axel Guttmann”, vol. 2, Mainz 1993, example XIV (AG 356).

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Another Celtiberian/Iberian helmet of Chalcidian design from the same deposit.

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The design of the helmet as well as of several others of those discovered in the archaeological deposit of Soria, and the scarcity of the Greek-originated weapons in the Celtiberian regions, leads to the conclusion that although they were discovered in a Celtiberian district, their variety may belong to an initial Iberian proper style which was transplanted from Iberians to Celtiberians. Maybe these helmets were items of trade between the two peoples or came to Soria after a Celtiberian raid in Iberian territories. However if we accept the view that the helmets were discovered near Zaragoza, things are getting much easier to interpret, because the Hellenic cultural influence had been more intensive on the Iberians. Finally, it is possible that a portion of the Greek influence on the ancient Iberian weaponry and armoury took place via the Etruscans who also had relations with Spain and were using the entire Hellenic weaponry and armoury .
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Periklis Deligiannis
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