Ancient Greek Helmet and Unearthed at Acropolis of Velia, Italy
Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient Greek helmet at the Acropolis of Elea-Velia, in the historical region of Magna Graecia, Italy. This is only the third helmet of its kind to be discovered at the ancient site.
According to the Greek Reporter, this discovery was made public by Massimo Osanna, the Director of the Museum of Velia and the archaeological park of Paestum and Velia. He revealed that the structure they discovered on the Acropolis of Velia served as a sacrificial site to the goddess Athena after the significant Battle of Alalia. This naval confrontation, which occurred between 541 and 535 BC in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Corsica and Sardinia, saw the Greeks emerging victoriously against the Etruscans and Carthaginians.
The video below in the Italian language shows visuals of the site and discovery.
Ancient Greek Helmet
The archaeological site also bore evidence of what may have been an early temple dedicated to Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom. Researchers speculate that this helmet was offered to Athena either post-battle or during a tumultuous period of conflict.
Ancient Greek helmets have a distinctive design and craftsmanship. Among the most recognizable is the Corinthian helmet, characterized by its full-faced design and plume. Made primarily from bronze, these helmets provided crucial protection to warriors while allowing decorative features that reflected both individual rank and city-state affiliations. Recently, there has been a surge in finding these invaluable artifacts. Just last year, two sixth-century BC helmets were found at the same site in Velia, and an incredibly well-preserved helmet was unearthed near the Aegean coast, which experts believe might have belonged to an elite hoplite.
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The excavated ancient Greek warrior’s helmet found at the acropolis of Velia in Italy. Credit: Italian Ministry of Culture.
The ‘Sacred’ Inscription
The remains of a painted brick wall were found alongside polygonal blocks, a distinctive feature of ancient Greek architecture similar to those seen at sites such as Delphi. Pieces of ceramic vases with inscriptions of the word “sacred” further cement the religious importance of this site.
Detailed analysis of the site indicates that the earliest parts of the unearthed structure can be traced back to 540-530 BC. There are also indications of Hellenistic-era remains from 480-450 BC. The layout and architectural features elucidate the various developmental phases, spanning from the Bronze Age right through to the Hellenistic period.
The stratigraphic layers showing the years of habitation at the acropolis of the ancient Greek colony of Velia, including a polygonal wall. The settlement there dates back to the Bronze Age. Credit: Italian Ministry of Culture.
According to historians, Elea-Velia, also known as Hyele, was established by the Greeks around 538–535 BC. This coastal city, located on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea in modern-day Salerno, Italy, was a hub of philosophy and intellectual pursuit. This city produced luminaries such as Parmenides and Zeno of Elea, two pivotal figures in the Eleatic philosophical school.
Elea-Velia is also strategically positioned only 40 kilometers southeast of Paestum. Paestum is renowned for housing the best-preserved ancient Greek temples and the remarkable “Tomb of the Diver,” which boasts the only ancient Greek fresco known from that era. Furthermore, Velia was a hub of philosophical thought, established by the revered ancient Greek philosophers Parmenides and Zeno.
An overhead view of the Acropolis of Velia, in what was Magna Graecia. This was once the site of worship of the goddess Athena, archaeologists believe. Credit: Italian Ministry of Culture.
These exciting finds, including the inscribed ceramics and the Greek helmet, are reiterating the value of deepening our investments in archaeological research. Such undertakings promise to unveil vital fragments of Mediterranean history, offering us insights into civilizations long gone but never truly forgotten.
Top image: An ancient Greek helmet found at the Acropolis of Velia in Italy, in what was then Magna Graecia. Credit: Italian Ministry of Culture
By Joanna Gillan