Archaeology: Ancient Greek warrior’s ‘excellent’ helmet recovered from Israeli harbour
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Archaeologists have dated the helmet to the sixth century BC – a time when the Greek city-states clashed with the mighty Persian Empire. According to the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), the helmet was made in the Corinthian style, named after the Greek city of Corinth. And though it is cracked and rusted after spending about 2,600 years in the water, an intricate, peacock-like pattern can still be made out above its eyes.
Archaeologists claim it is the only complete helmet of its kind that has been found along Israel’s coast.
The IAA, which shared the discovery on Facebook, posted: “Have we shared with you just how excited we get when we find artefacts deep in the sea?”
“Here’s a discovery we’re excited about: A bronze helmet, in an excellent state of preservation, was discovered in 2007 in the Haifa Harbour.”
The helmet was uncovered by a Dutch dredging ship in the port city in northern Israel.
The ship’s owner, Mr Hugo van de Graaf, handed the discovery over to the IAA and it is now on display at the National Marine Museum of Haifa.
Archaeologists have identified it as a Corinthian helmet, although it is unclear what it was doing in Israel’s waters.
The IAA said: “The helmet was expertly fabricated from a single sheet of bronze by means of heating and hammering.
“This technique made it possible to reduce its weight without diminishing its capacity for protecting the head of a warrior.”
According to one theory, the ornate helmet belonged to a mercenary fighting alongside the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II.
Archaeologists have also proposed it was worn by a Greek warrior stationed upon a warship in the Mediterranean.
The ship and its crew may have been sunk or the helmet was simply dropped into the waters.
Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “The helmet probably belonged to a Greek warrior stationed on one of the warships of the Greek fleet that participated in the naval conflict against the Persians who ruled the country at the time.”
The IAA added: “This helmet is the only complete example ever discovered along the coast of Israel. Do you love this as much as we do?”
The Greco-Persian wars went on for some 50 years in the fifth century BC, lasting from 499 to 459 BC.
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But the embers of war were stoked much earlier, in the sixth century, when the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great conquered the Greek region of Ionia.
The wars saw some of the biggest and most important battles in the history of ancient warfare, such as the Battle of Marathon or the Battle of Thermopylae.
The latter saw a host of a few thousand Greek soldiers hold their own against an estimated 70,000 to 300,000 Persians.
Today, the battle is perhaps best known as the battle of the 300 Spartans.
The lands of modern-day Israel and Palestine were under Persian control in the sixth century BC.
After the fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus the Great, Judah or the province Yehud, fell under Persian administration.
According to Biblical texts, this was a time of restoration for the Jewish population.
The Bible states Jews who were exiled by the Babylonians were allowed by Cyrus to return home and rebuild Jerusalem’s Holy Temple.
During the Persian era, Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the leading language of the region although Hebrew remained in use in a religious context.
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