• Bronze Greaves with Medusa’s Head

    Technique:
    chased
    Dimensions:
    length: approximately 46 cm

Bronze Greaves with Medusa’s Head

Created: late 6th - early 5th century BC

Found: Panticapaeum. Crimea, the environs of Kerch

One of the unique exhibits among the collection of archaeological materials from excavations of Panticapaeum is a pair of bronze greaves each bearing a depiction of a Gorgon’s head. Greaves (κνημίδες) were pieces of metal armour protecting the lower legs of a warrior. Around the turn of the 5th century BC, they became longer and began to cover the entire leg. Greaves could have an anatomical shape, allowing them to fit tightly with only a narrow-slit left at the back necessary for them to be put on. They were held on by two straps, one below the knee, the other down by the ankle. Greaves were part of the equipment of the hoplites – the heavily armed foot soldiers of Ancient Greece. The name comes from the word hóplon (ὅπλον), generally supposed to be the term for their round shield. Effectively, all the able-bodied male inhabitants of a Greek city-state would have been hoplites as it was the duty of a citizen of any free polis to do military service. The main fighting unit was considered to be the phalanx in which the warriors fought shoulder to shoulder, and individual heroism was not as important as coordinated collective action. A man was expected to provide armour at his own expense, but a rough limit was established for how much a hoplite’s equipment should cost so that all the warriors would have weapons and protective gear of much the same weight and quality. The type and subject matter for the decoration of armour was, however, left to the discretion of the weapon-smith or his client.

Title:

Bronze Greaves with Medusa’s Head

Place of finding:

Archaeological site:

Panticapaeum

Material:

Technique:

chased

Dimensions:

length: approximately 46 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1838;

Inventory Number:

П.1838-65

Collection: