A selection of the weird "parade helmets" worn by some Roman cavalry from the first to fourth century CE. I find these fascinating because they are so contrary to my vision of what the Roman army was like. This makes me wonder what else I am getting wrong.
Above and top is the Crosby-Garret helmet, one of the most complete specimens. This was found by a metal detectorist in Britain about ten years ago and sold for more than £3 million.
These four were dredged from rivers in the Low Countries and are now in Dutch museums. The third one down shows you clearly that the face mask and helmet were separate pieces, hinged together. Most surviving examples are bronze (like many other Roman helmets), a few iron or brass; some are silvered and some were even decorated with gems.
Opinions differ as to whether these were just for show or were actually worn in combat. Some people call them "parade helmets," which tells you what they think. But this mask was found at the battlefield of Kalkriese, which seems to the site of the great battle of Teutoburger Wald. So at least one person wore one on campaign. To provide good vision and breathing the mask has to fit precisely, which suggests that they were custom made.
The Homs Helmet, from the Syrian desert, preserving even the cloth top. Imagine a whole troop of men riding by, wearing these. It must have been an eerie sight. Or were they just worn by officers?
Several surviving examples have women's faces with elaborate hairstyles. What was that about?