Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


30 July 2011

The distribution of the Late Helladic IIIA-B ivory helmeted heads

Angelos Papadopoulos Talanta XL-XLI (2008-2009) [2010]: 7-24.


Ivory artifacts, produced by the specialized palatial workshops during the Late Helladic IIIA-B (14th-13th century BC) were found in great numbers and in a variety of areas within the Aegean region. A small group of them consists of representations of the head and neck of male individuals that wear the boar’s tusk helmet. This type of helmet was a popular iconographic motif in the Aegean iconographic repertoire of the Late Bronze Age. The majority of them was discovered in Crete and the mainland, but two pieces were found in Sardinia and Cyprus, making the discussion of the distribution of these objects a very interesting subject concerning interconnections, exchange of ideas and the symbolism of these specific imagery. In the scholarship, several studies have dealt with these objects in various publications, but up to this date the only one that focused solely on these objects is the research published by Κrzyszkowska in 1991.

As a result, the current study deals with the iconographic elements of the objects focusing on the military elements and the greater picture that these heads can provide up to this date. Another objective is to show that these representations were meant to portray and highlight the helmets themselves and that, as they were most likely inlays attached on wooden objects, they were luxurious items used initially by elites; therefore the chosen iconography was not a random one, but the martial character of the inlays and, as an extension of the wooden item, could have been an ideological koinos topos between the members of the elite(s) who were very aware of what they had in their possession. In other words, it will be attempted to comment on the possibility of the existence of a certain exchange mechanism used by the elites in the Aegean and beyond, in order to acquire objects of common artistic and symbolic value.

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