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The Emesa helmet in profile

The Emesa helmet is an iron Roman cavalry helmet from the early first century AD. Its face mask, covered in a thin sheet of silver, presents the individualised portrait of a face, likely that of its owner. Decorations, some gilded, adorn the head piece. Ornately designed yet highly functional, the helmet was probably intended for both parades and battle. Its delicate covering is too fragile to have been put to use during cavalry tournaments, but the thick iron core would have defended against blows and arrows. It bears acanthus scroll ornamentation, indicating that the helmet may have come from the luxury workshops of Antioch. Confiscated by Syrian police in 1936 soon after looters discovered it amidst a complex of tombs in the modern-day city of Homs, the helmet was eventually restored at the British Museum. It has been exhibited internationally, and is now in the collection of the National Museum of Damascus. (Full article...)

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