This remarkable Corinthian-style helmet from the Battle of Marathon was reputedly found in 1834 with a human skull still inside.
It now forms part of the Royal Ontario Museum’s collections, but originally it was discovered by George Nugent-Grenville, who was the British High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands between 1832-35.
A keen antiquarian, Nugent-Grenville carried out a number of rudimentary archaeological excavations in Greece, one of which took place on the Plains of Marathon, where the helmet was uncovered.
There were numerous casualties, and it appears that this helmet belonged to a Greek hoplite (soldier) who died during the fighting of the fierce and bloody battle.
The Athenian army under General Miltiades consisted almost entirely of hoplites in bronze armor, using primarily spears and large bronze shields. They fought in tight formations called phalanxes and literally slaughtered the lightly-clad Persian infantry in close combat.
The hoplite style of fighting would go on to epitomize ancient Greek warfare.
Today the helmet and associated skull can be viewed at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Gallery of Greece.
Battle of Marathon saved Western Civilization
It was in September of the year 490 BC when, just 42 kilometers (26 miles) outside of Athens, a vastly outnumbered army of brave soldiers saved their city from the invading Persian army in the Battle of Marathon.
But as the course of history shows, in the Battle of Marathon, they saved more than just their own city: they saved Athenian democracy itself, and consequently, protected the course of Western civilization.
According to historian Richard Billows and his well-researched book Marathon: How One Battle Changed Western Civilization, in one single day in 490 BC, the Athenian army under General Miltiades changed the course of civilization.
It is very unlikely that world civilization would be the same today if the Persians had defeated the Athenians at Marathon. The mighty army of Darius I would have conquered Athens and established Persian rule there, putting an end to the newborn Athenian democracy of Pericles.
In effect, this would certainly have destroyed the idea of democracy as it had developed in Athens at the time.
The Battle of Marathon lasted only two hours, ending with the Persian army breaking in panic toward their ships with the Athenians continuing to slay them as they fled.
In his book, however, Billows calls the Battle of Marathon a “miraculous victory” for the Greeks. The victory was not as easy as it is often portrayed by many historians. After all, the Persian army had never before been defeated.