The Emergence of Hoplite Warfare, 900–525 BC I

The darkness of the Greek Dark Age – and indeed the meagreness of all our sources up until that point – are suddenly replaced by an overload of information, beginning as a trickle in the early eighth century and turning into a flood by the following century. The Dark Age produced the occasional warrior grave with sword, spear and perhaps shield. There was almost no figurative art. After 800 we start to get votive statues of bronze warriors. The Late Geometric period (after c. 750) produced battle scenes on vases, showing the equipment used, and this tradition in art continued throughout the rest of the period covered by this book, albeit sometimes fitfully. Finally, and most importantly of all, archaeology has produced much more evidence of military equipment, especially in the weapons and pieces of armour found in Greece’s sanctuaries, most notably Olympia. There are even some literary fragments to help us, although no major surviving historical works until the end of the period. Here we examine the emergence from darkness and follows the development of the equipment that changed the face of Greek combat from the skirmishing of individuals and small groups into the hoplite phalanx of the city-state.

The phalanx is a body of men in close order, standing shoulder to shoulder, and closing on the enemy with the thrusting spear. They are called hoplites by ancient Greek authors, after hopla, meaning ‘arms’ or after the name of the large round shield they used, which was sometimes called the hoplon. This is more usually – and confusingly – called the aspis. Missile weapons became much less common, while the soldiers became more heavily armoured. It was a gradual process and, as Snodgrass (1965a, passim) has shown, all the pieces of equipment for hoplite warfare made their appearance before hoplite warfare itself was known to be in existence, in around 675 to 650 BC.

Our earliest evidence for what warfare was like, rather than just what the equipment was, comes in the depictions on Late Geometric vases of Athens dating from c. 760 and later. Here there is no evidence for the hoplite phalanx, but all the signs of skirmishing warfare, which was assumed to be the norm throughout the Dark Age. Warriors are depicted in small groups or individual combats, carrying a variety of shield types and weapons. The composite bow is seen as often as the spear, and swords are also frequently depicted (Ahlberg 1971, p. 44). On the Corinthian aryballos (vase) we can see a hoplite in armour with a hoplite shield and spear, but he also carries another spear for throwing and is certainly not fighting in a phalanx with other hoplites. He is supported by an archer, and by one other whose weapon is unclear. His opponents also carry more than one spear, have helmets and perhaps body armour, but carry Dipylon shields (see below), and appear to be throwing spears rather than fighting in a phalanx.

As we shall see from the evidence outlined below, although all the equipment worn by later seventh-century hoplites was available from c. 700 or a little before, the hoplite phalanx did not appear in art until the Chigi Vase of c. 650. Here the men are shown fighting together in ranks with the thrusting spear, in a body known as the phalanx, which in later times was usually eight men deep. The heavy shield and the bronze armour, which some warriors had adopted for personal protection in the later eighth century, made it harder to run in any sort of skirmishing warfare, and it gradually became the rule to stand by your fellow warriors to avoid becoming isolated. This procedure then gradually developed into the phalanx, which became the mainstay of Greek warfare for the next 250 years, although there were subtle changes. Even on the Chigi Vase there is evidence of second spears (for throwing) still being carried.

Literary fragments also tell us about hoplite warfare. Tyrtaeus, a Spartan writing in the later seventh century, says: ‘Everyone should close up to his man with his great spear or sword and wound and kill his enemy. Standing leg to leg, resting shield against shield, crest beside crest, and helmet to helmet having drawn near, let him fight his man with his sword or great spear. And you, O light-armed fighters, crouching behind the shields on either side, hurl your great boulders’ (Tyrtaeus, frag. 11, in Sage 1996, pp. 28–9). The mention of light-armed troops is interesting. We have seen how common archery seems to have been, at least at Athens in the later eighth century, from the depictions on Geometric vases. The slow-moving phalanx would have been particularly vulnerable to missiles, but there is a great lack of evidence for archery and slingers in the seventh and sixth centuries. It seems that there was a continuing doubt about the suitability of killing an opponent from a distance, which we noted in Homer’s Iliad. It was not regarded as brave or heroic and, to help stamp it out, some city-states even made formal agreements not to use such weapons (Hanson 1999, p. 38). The idea that only close, hand-to-hand combat was ‘civilised’ probably led to the eventual abandonment of the second spear, which could be thrown, in the later seventh century. Hoplite warfare then settled down into an almost ritual battle between city-states, with unchanging equipment and tactics until the later sixth century.

HELMETS

There is no evidence for Greeks using bronze helmets following the Tiryns example of c. 1050 until the middle of the eighth century. At that point, bronze was imported into Greece again with the widening of trade, and bronze artefacts began to reappear in some numbers. Indeed, it seems that the earliest Greek ‘colonies’ at Pithecusae in Italy and Al Mina in Syria were trading posts founded particularly to import metals into Greece (Boardman 1980b, pp. 43–5). A series of bronze votive statuettes, mostly from Olympia, which show otherwise naked warriors wearing bronze waist belts and helmets of a simple cap form, is our earliest evidence (Snodgrass 1967, p. 42). After c. 750 we also have the art of the Dipylon Master on vases from Athens, and his contemporaries, showing warriors in combat or funeral processions (Ahlberg 1971, passim). Some of these have helmet crests, but the style of the art makes it difficult to interpret the helmets (Snodgrass 1965a, pp. 5–6). Securely dated to c. 725, however, is our earliest actual example of a post-Dark Age helmet, found in a tomb at Argos with a bronze cuirass and possibly greaves (Courbin 1957, passim). The helmet is known as a Kegelhelm, or Kegel helmet, from the German for cone, and it is clear that this is the sort of helmet portrayed on some of the earliest bronze statuettes.

The helmet is constructed in five pieces plus a large curving crest. There is a cap for the top of the head to which are attached a forehead guard, back of the head/neck guard, and two cheek pieces. All these have repoussé lines at the edges for extra strength. Other examples of Kegel helmets have been found at Olympia; these have a simple pointed cap, an attached crescent-shaped crest, or a curving forward crest made as one with the skull of the helmet (Dezso 1998, p. 31). These crest forms are clearly Assyrian and feature on friezes from Assyrian palaces (Snodgrass 1967, p. 43; Dezso 1998, pp. 31–3). The helmets are definitely of Greek manufacture, however, probably made after seeing Assyrian helmets in Cyprus or Asia Minor as trade routes opened up. An Assyrian helmet is also known from a grave at Argos (Dezso 1998). No Assyrian helmets are made in five pieces, and by this period they were starting to manufacture their helmets in iron anyway (Dezso 1998, p. 9). If we examine the other Kegelhelms we see that some examples, like the one in Budapest Museum of Fine Arts (Dezso 1998, figs 16–17), have a repoussé ridge halfway down the neck guard for extra strength, and a lower cap and broader cheek pieces. The plates on this helmet also overlap by more than the Argos helmet to give greater strength to the welded joints. This is obviously a late example, dating to perhaps c. 675, giving the Kegelhelm a lifespan of only about fifty years. The Argos helmet, dating from c. 725, is of much poorer quality and its high crest sits on a tube made of cast bronze, making it top heavy and precarious (Snodgrass 1965, pp. 14–15).

Returning to the crests on these helmets, Dezso (1998, pp. 35–6) lists a few helmets from Olympia with crescent crests, but from which the crest part is actually missing, so the final form must remain uncertain. Three examples with a forward-curving crest have been found in Italy but there must have also been Greek examples, as they are portrayed on some of the bronze statuettes and on a terracotta model shield from Tiryns dating from c. 700. Dezso (1998) shows that this crest, too, is derived from Assyria. The Kegel helmet had such a short life because its multi-piece construction made it very weak compared with other helmets that were being developed in Greece. The helmets were prone to break apart at the joins, as can be seen from the many ‘parts’ of helmets that have been retrieved from Olympia. The crests, especially when cast, also made the helmets difficult to wear; they must have had chin straps to keep them on. Crests were an important part of psychological warfare. They made you look and feel taller and more threatening to an opponent and, later on, there is also some evidence for their being used as badges of rank.

The first improvement on the Kegel helmet was the so-called Illyrian helmet, which was clearly derived from the Kegelhelm. It had a very similar outline, but was made initially in just two halves. These were joined from front to back and reinforced by two parallel repoussé lines, between which a crest would have sat. It is this design of helmet which probably led to the common fore-and-aft crest we find on most later Greek helmets, and to the phasing out of the more precarious ‘Assyrian’ crests, although raised crests did persist for some time. The Illyrian helmet was open-faced, like the Kegel, with cheek pieces that became more elongated over time, and a neck guard that got lower and more protective. The lengthened cheek pieces helped to protect the throat area, which was particularly vulnerable to spear thrusts above the breastplate; and a lower neck guard would protect against slashing swords. This helmet would probably not have needed a chin strap, as it had a lower centre of gravity. From the evidence we have today, it would seem that it was developed towards the end of the eighth century in the Peloponnese. It must have followed on from the Kegelhelm and cannot be placed much before 700 (Jackson 1999, p. 161). Later helmets were beaten out of a single piece of bronze for even greater strength and, by the end of the sixth century, some examples have cut-outs for the ears and even hinged cheek pieces to make a more comfortable design (Olympia Bericht VIII, pp. 66–71). Towards the end of the sixth century, the phalanx was becoming more lightly armed and more mobile. It seems that more commands were being used in the phalanx and, for that, the hoplites had to have their ears uncovered to be able to hear. The Illyrian seems to have been a popular helmet in the seventh and sixth centuries, especially in the Peloponnese. It may even have been a Spartan development. By the time of the Persian Wars it was in only occasional use in southern Greece, but remained very popular in northern Greece, Macedonia and Illyria: hence the name by which it is known today (Snodgrass 1965, p. 20).

Meanwhile, Crete and the islands developed their own ‘Insular’ helmet, which consisted of a simple cap brought down at the back and sides leaving an open face, and surmounted by a very tall crest. This was not cast like the Argos crest but made of two thin sheets of bronze, so it was much lighter. This crest was often adopted by Corinthian helmet wearers (see below). These helmets were also made in two halves, like most Illyrian ones, and are best represented by some miniature votive helmets found at Praisos in Greece. There is also a fragmentary, full-sized example now in Hamburg Museum, and published by Hoffman and Raubitschek (1972, pp. 5–6). This too appears to have had some Assyrian influence. Like the Argos helmet, it must have been somewhat top-heavy to wear, and this sort of crest seems to have disappeared soon after 650, perhaps because of the adoption of the hoplite phalanx.

Also popular in the islands and on the coast of Asia Minor was the ‘Ionian’ helmet, which features in many helmet-shaped vases of the seventh century and later. It had an offset neck guard and separate hinged cheek pieces with scalloped edges (Snodgrass 1967, p. 65 and plate 25). Some examples of the cheek pieces have been found at Olympia, and examples are shown on the Siphnian treasury frieze at Delphi (Olympia Bericht VII). Similar cheek pieces were worn with Assyrian-style conical helmets on the island of Cyprus (Pflug 1989, p. 10; Dezso 1998), and it is tempting to think of them as a Mycenaean survival, although there is no evidence for the scalloped cheek piece between the Tiryns helmet of c. 1050 and Cypriot helmets of c. 700. Cyprus was heavily influenced by Assyria in the ninth and eighth centuries, and by 709 was incorporated into the Assyrian Empire (Boardman 1980b, pp. 38, 44), although the population remained largely Greek.

By far the most popular helmet in Greece was the one known today as the Corinthian. There was a helmet known to the ancient Greeks as Corinthian (Herodotus IV, 180), and since the helmet about to be described appeared first and most frequently on Corinthian vases, most scholars agree that it is one and the same with Herodotus’s Corinthian helmet (Snodgrass 1967, p. 51). This is the most commonly found helmet in Greece, and lasted from the late eighth century well into the fifth century. Apart from Greece and Magna Graecia (Italy and Sicily), examples have been found on the Black Sea coast, in North Illyria and in southern Spain. Its popularity stems from its almost complete protection for the head and its (usually) one-piece construction, which made it very strong. The Corinthian helmet is a much more competent piece of work than the Kegelhelm or Illyrian types. It covers the entire head, leaving just a T-shaped slot for the eyes, nose and mouth. A problem with this, of course, is that it must have made seeing, and especially hearing, difficult. The introduction of this helmet may have persuaded soldiers to keep close together so they knew what was going on, which in turn helped lead to the close combat of the phalanx. The helmet first appears on early bronze statues (Snodgrass 1967, plate 15) and votive miniature helmets from Praisos, and it is clear that the earliest examples of the type date to c. 700 or shortly before. The earliest full-sized examples known make few concessions to anatomy or to comfort (Connolly 1998, p. 61). They are taller than they are broad, with perhaps a slight neck guard. Some are made in two halves, like Illyrian helmets, and have the same crest holders (Pflug 1989, p. 14; Sekunda 2000, p. 11).

By c. 680 the helmets had become lower, with more of a neck guard, and indentations to help the helmet sit on the shoulders better (Snodgrass 1965, p. 23). This may have come about with the more frequent use of bronze body armour. The helmets also had nose guards by this time. The earliest Corinthian helmets had a row of holes around the edge for attaching a lining and the padding that would need to be worn with the helmet, but later Corinthian examples simply had the bronze edges rolled over, or thickened, for extra strength. The other designs of helmet mentioned seldom had these edge holes, and it is likely that padding and linings were glued in. There appears to be no pictorial evidence from this time for a separate ‘arming cap’ to have been worn under the helmet.

Crests on the Corinthian helmets were front to back like the Illyrian ones, although they could also be mounted on a raised stilt like the warrior with the hoplite shield on the proto-Corinthian aryballos. Lower stilts still featured in art as late as 600. Examples of these stilts have been found at Olympia (Olympia Bericht VIII, plate 31.1), and may have remained popular until the Persian Wars.

There are even some vase pictures of the mid- to late sixth century showing two stilted crests on either side of the same helmet, or other even more elaborate creations, some of which may be fanciful (Boardman 1980a; 1998). A transverse crest is also occasionally seen, such as that on the well-known bronze statue of a Spartan warrior wrapped in his cloak (Sekunda 1999, pp. 10–11). A bronze of a warrior on horseback in the British Museum also originally had a transverse crest. It has been suggested that this may have been a form of rank recognition, like the Roman centurion’s crest, but no one knows for sure. It was perhaps just a personal choice. In the course of the late seventh and sixth centuries, the Corinthian helmet developed elaborately decorated borders, and by c. 530 the whole crown was raised up with a repoussé ridge for greater strength and to allow for more padding). The cheek pieces followed the Illyrian style of becoming longer and more pointed.

The rounded form of the Corinthian helmet, especially by the later sixth century, was a great asset in the deflection of missiles and spear thrusts, and the padding underneath would have helped to absorb heavier blows. A crest raised on a stilt could be top-heavy and was also perhaps liable to be seized by an opponent in combat, which is why the lower fore-and-aft crests gradually became more popular. A crest was certainly considered essential at this time, and all helmets had crests until the fifth century.

The Cretans seem to have adopted the Corinthian helmet at an early stage, when it was still made in two halves and had no nose guard. They then went on to develop their own form throughout the next two centuries. This helmet has no indent at the shoulders, no nose guard, and usually an extra bronze forehead guard attached to the brow. The cheek pieces are usually scalloped to leave a proper gap for the mouth (Hoffman and Raubitschek 1972, plates 1–12), but occasionally have the straight front edge of the standard Corinthian helmet. The factor that particularly distinguishes the Cretan helmets from other Greek helmets is their heavy decoration.

Hoffman and Raubitschek (1972, Helmet 3, plate 11) have published details of four helmets from Afrati, one of which is plain except for an embossed and incised decorated lower border, and incised rosettes on the cheek pieces. Another has embossed human ears on the sides of the helmet, while the remaining two have very elaborate pictures of men and horses embossed around the helmet, with further detailed decoration inscribed (Hoffman and Raubitschek 1972, Helmet 4, Helmet 1 and Helmet 2, plates 1–10, 12). They also publish a helmet from Axos and some further fragments. The Axos helmet has embossed winged pegasi on either side and incised border decoration. Its forehead guard is also intact and is decorated with embossed and incised rosettes and dragon heads (Hoffman and Raubitschek 1972, plates 14–15). These helmets must have looked stunning when first made, and it is possible that the decoration was enhanced by painting. These Cretan helmets all date from just before 650 until the end of the seventh century, and the fashion probably continued through the sixth century because we have other pieces of decorated Cretan armour with later dates.

Evidence for helmet painting and decorating in mainland Greece at this time comes mainly from vase paintings. Early examples of the Corinthian helmet in art (which accounts for 90 per cent of all helmet illustrations in the seventh and sixth centuries) are generally painted in the natural bronze colour, as on the Chigi Vase of c. 650. Where there are helmets in a different colour, it is not really safe to assume that they are necessarily painted, because of the limited number of colours available – especially when dealing with black figure vases. However, from about 650 we start to come across vases where the helmets on different warriors are painted in different colours on the same vase; here I think it is safe to assume that helmet painting, or perhaps even tinning or gilding, is taking place (Boardman 1980a; 1998). By c. 530 two colours start to appear on the same helmet (Boardman 1980a). Two Illyrian helmets with gold-leaf borders around the face openings have been discovered in Macedonia, dating from c. 525. However, the fact that another helmet has been found with a gold face-mask seems to suggest that this was applied as a funereal addition, and was not present on the helmet during its practical lifetime (Vokotopoulou 1995, pp. 116–17, 122–3). From c. 530 a general lightening of armour began, and new helmets such as the Chalcidian and ‘Attic’ were introduced, along with more elaborate decorative techniques.

THE BRONZE BELL CUIRASS

Although the Greeks seem to have developed their bronze helmets through copying Assyrian examples, they did not – with some exceptions (see below) – adopt Assyrian body armour made of bronze or iron scales. The first certain evidence for body armour after the Dark Age is bronze plate armour in the form of the Argos cuirass, which was found with a crested Kegelhelm and is dated to c. 720.

Since the Greeks certainly used bronze plate armour in the Late Mycenaean period, it might be thought that they used bronze armour right through, especially given the proximity of Argos to Dendra. It showed that there was an almost complete lack of bronze in Dark Age Greece, to the extent that items such as fibulae were made in iron instead; but they began to be made in bronze again when it became available in the ninth century. In Merhart’s mammoth 1969 work, Hallstatt und Italien, the author argues that the Greek cuirass must have been descended from the cuirasses of the Urnfield culture, such as Čaka and Ducové. We certainly know that there was contact between these cultures in the Late Mycenaean period, when the Greeks adopted the Naue II sword from there. But the Urnfield-Type culture does not have such a securely dated pottery sequence as Greece, and even those finds that are in context can be only approximately dated. It seems that, with the exception of Čaka and Ducové in the early twelfth century, no European cuirass can be placed before 800 BC, making their reappearance very similar to the Greek model.

European corslets come from two separate groups called West Alpine and South East Alpine by Merhart. These two groups are quite separate in design, and both have Greek and non-Greek features. The South East Alpine Group from Austria and former Yugoslavia is represented by the cuirasses from Vorlagen, St Veit, Saint-Germain-du-Plain and a now-lost example originally in the Mecklenburg Collection (Merhart 1969, p. 162, plate III). These corslets have a clear bell shape, like the Argos cuirass, and are similarly decorated, except for the Saint-Germain-du-Plain one, which is closer to the Ducové example (Snodgrass 1971, p. 39). Unlike the Argos cuirass, though, these corslets were fastened by simple bronze rings for leather straps, or by long tubes through which wire was threaded. They almost certainly date from the sixth or fifth centuries BC and so derive their advanced shape from the Greek cuirasses, while using simpler fastenings.

The cuirasses of the West Alpine Group are from Switzerland and Italy, although the find locations of the two ‘Italian’ cuirasses are very uncertain. These have been used by Merhart and Snodgrass to suggest that the Greek bell cuirass was derived from them, despite the dissimilarities. The Greeks founded Pithecusae as a trading post/colony in the early eighth century BC (Boardman 1980b, p. 165) and Snodgrass regards this as the conduit through which knowledge of bronze cuirasses travelled. When we look at the Argos cuirass in detail, however (see below), we see that it is an advanced piece of work. Since it dates from c. 725, then the Greeks must have had simpler cuirasses earlier in the century, perhaps even before Pithecusae was founded. The West Alpine cuirasses are short and without the bell flange curving out at the bottom; they are also decorated in a completely different fashion from the others mentioned, being covered with heavy embossing and bronze studs. Their only similarity to the Argos and later Greek cuirasses is that they are generally fastened with hinges and loops. Merhart dated these cuirasses by typology to c. 800 at the earliest, but Snodgrass thinks they are too crude and dates them later, bringing them even closer to the Argos model. He still thinks that Argos and other Greek cuirasses must have been derived from them, despite the technical superiority of the former (Snodgrass 1965, p. 82; 1971, p. 35). It seems much more likely to me that the exchange was the other way around. If that is so, then when and how did they rediscover the art? Let us examine the Argos cuirass in detail.

Like the European cuirasses, the Argos cuirass is of beaten bronze, with the edges at the bottom, neck and armholes rolled over wire. The bronze is about 2mm thick, rather thicker than later examples, and the edging wire is of iron, whereas it is usually of bronze later on. Also, for extra strength, there is a repoussé line parallel to each armhole and two lines parallel to the lower edge. A further two embossed repoussé lines run around the middle of the corslet in imitation of a belt. They would have added much-needed reinforcement in this expanse of undecorated bronze. On the breastplate the repoussé lines stop 1.6mm short of the edge at the shoulders, and it is clear that the backplate overlapped the breastplate here (Courbin 1957, p. 342). A hole in the middle of each shoulder piece on the backplate slotted over a corresponding pin on the breastplate. This is a simple fastening, but the fastenings at the sides display a high level of technical achievement, the like of which has not appeared so far in any of the Central European finds. The relief lines on the backplate at the sides stop some 4cm short of the front edge, and so here it is clear that the breastplate overlapped the backplate. The right side of the breastplate has two hinge tubes which are pushed through slots in the backplate and a hinge pin is then inserted on the inside, thus protecting it from damage in battle. The left side of the breastplate has a small bronze loop on the inside of the corslet near to the lower edge, which matches a corresponding loop on the outside of the backplate. These loops would have been fastened together by a piece of bronze wire or a leather thong, and the resultant join would have been covered by the breastplate. To make the join firmer, the piece of rolled-over bronze on the bottom edge of the backplate on this side is wider and lacks the iron-wire core for the last few centimetres, so that the bottom edge of the breastplate could slide into the channel thus made. This same slot technique is used on the lower edge of the left armhole as well (Courbin 1957, p. 344).

Courbin suspects that the wearer would have needed a fellow warrior or squire to help him put on this cuirass, and I think that is quite right. The right side of the cuirass would have had to be fastened before it was put on, because of the internal pins. Another man would then have had to put it on the warrior’s torso and fasten the shoulders, while also slotting the breastplate into the grooves at the armpit and lower edge, and then tying the two bronze loops together before the two halves of the cuirass were fully closed. Such a complicated system might even have required two or three assistants to accomplish it. The corslet was lined with linen, presumably padded, which was probably glued to the inside of the armour rather than stitched through tiny holes as Courbin thought (1957, p. 350).

Such a system was not in use among contemporary European corslets, where their simple loop and wire attachments would have been very susceptible to battle damage, and so the Archaic Greeks must have learned it from elsewhere. No one else used bronze plate armour, so it must have been an indigenous invention. Going back to the Dendra panoply of 700 years earlier, we remember that it possessed a primitive hinge and very similar shoulder fastenings, and some of the pieces of armour had rolled-over edges (though not over wire). As has been mentioned, it is very unlikely that armour use continued through the Dark Age, and even less likely that knowledge of armour making survived. The simplest explanation is that the idea for bronze plate armour and its method of manufacture came from Mycenaean tombs themselves, an idea first suggested to me by Dr A.H. Jackson, formerly of Manchester University. There is much evidence that later Greeks made shrines for ‘Hero Worship’ at several Mycenaean tombs, and they would have known about the bronze panoplies worn by ancient warriors from these tombs, as well as from the memories preserved by Homer (Whitley 1988, passim). Apart from this evidence there is also the story of the ‘Bones of Theseus’, which were recovered from a presumably Mycenaean tomb by Cimon on Skyros in 476–5 (Plutarch, Life of Cimon, 10; Life of Theseus, 36). So, the reintroduction of bronze plate armour in the eighth century was almost certainly a Greek phenomenon. The fastening systems were Greek and the decoration was almost entirely of a new style, which the Central Europeans were themselves to borrow.

This decoration, apart from the repoussé strengthening lines already mentioned, consisted of the marking out of basic anatomy on the cuirass. Repoussé lines mark out the shoulder blades and breast muscles and also the lines of the ribcage, known as the omega curve. An indented line marks the linea alba (the line from the sternum downwards) and another the spinal furrow on the backplate. The only non-anatomical decoration other than the repoussé lines is a line of 3.5mm-diameter circles around the lower edge of the cuirass, incised with a compass (Courbin 1957, p. 342). In his thesis ‘Bronze Armour and the Earliest Greek Kouroi’, Hartmann shows that these anatomical features are indigenous to Greece and appear on seventh-century kouroi (statues) as a result of the Greek armour-making tradition; they do not come from Egypt, whence came the idea of stone statuary. He describes several kouroi which are carved in detail only on the head, torso and lower leg, precisely the areas where the Greek hoplite wore his armour. This decoration appears uniformly on Greek kouroi, and must have already developed into a standard convention before the first stone statuary appeared in Greece in the 660s BC. This was noticed by Hagemann in studying the kouroi of Cleobis and Biton (Hagemann 1919, p. 18) and is well illustrated by an example in Bury and Meiggs (1980, p. 125). This gives further confirmation that the Argos cuirass is Greek, not a European import, and that since it had already reached the basic anatomical conventions, it must have been pre-dated by cuirasses of a more primitive design. This idea is supported by the technical qualities of the bronze work, which show that it is not an early piece of work by its maker (Snodgrass 1965, pp. 75–6).

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