Thraco-Phrygian2

P. Deligiannis

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The Phrygian helmet had already become the “ethnic” helmet of the Macedonian armies around the end of the reign of Phillip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and it had also been adopted by the Southern Greek states (from Thessaly and Epirus to the Peloponnesus), most of the Thracian tribes and even by the Etruscan city-states. In the Southern Greek states the Phrygian casque supplanted the pilos-type helmet which was the most common till then. The pilos-type casque had supplanted the earlier Corinthian helmet around the end of the 5th century BC.

The Phrygian helmet rather originates from the metallic version of the leather cap used by the descendants of the tribes comprising the Bronze Age group of local cultures under the modern general archaeological name Wittenberg-Ot(o)mani Civilization Group. The main religious symbol of this culture group of Central Europe and the Balkan Peninsula was the cirrate flame which is depicted by the curved top part of the Phrygian helmet and its related Thracian casque. The descendant tribes of the Wittenberg-Ot(o)mani culture peoples did not belong to a specific ethno-linguistic group but to several groups. Some of those tribes were the Brigae (or Brygae, Briges) and their numerous Phrygian tribal offshoots that colonized Asia Minor, the Thracian Odrysae, Maedi, Triballi and others, the Greek Macedonians, Pelagones and others, the Geto-Dacian Getae, Agathyrsi and others. The sole ethno-linguistic group of this vast region which never adopted the Phrygian casque (at least to some account) was the Illyrian one.

In a future article we shall analyze the reason why the specific Phrygian type of helmet bears that name (reasonably) although it was not a conception of the Brigae/Phrygians, and why its frequent classification also as “Thracian type” is rather incorrect. The Thracian helmet was a different distinctive type.

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Periklis Deligiannis