ANCIENT ARMS AND ARMOR

Warfare is as old as humanity. With the rise of sedentary agricultural civilizations at the end of the Neolithic Period, the necessity for defense became the prerogative of society at large and not just the individual. The stone axes and spear points of the stone age were quickly replaced by weapons of the newly discovered metal alloy of the bronze age. Conflict over land and resources spurred innovation and technological development. Not only were the weapons and hardware of warfare developing through the Bronze Age, so too were the tactics. Bronze Age warfare, whether in the Near East, Greece, or Europe, was exemplified by well armed aristocrats being taxied around the field of battle by chariot in search of worthy adversaries in which to engage in single combat while droves of poorly armed underlings skirmished in support of their leaders. This form of combat proved ineffective against tightly massed units of well armed and orderly deployed infantry. It was just this type of infantry, the hoplite phalanx, that the Greeks of the Classical Age brought to the ancient battlefield.

The descriptions of battlefield conditions that have come down to us from the ancient literary sources are poignant in their timelessness. In many ways, the chaotic experience of men in the midst of battle has changed little despite the passing of millennia. Certainly modern technology has introduced a multitude of novel means of cutting down one’s foe, but in the end, the confusion, fear, and brutality of battle remains constant. A thicket of spear points, a hail of projectiles, a cloud of blinding dust, and a deafening din are what often faced the men who took the field of battle in antiquity. What remains of these ancient souls and their triumphs and defeats is often little more than a few lines in an ancient text or inscription. It is the weapons and armor of the ancients and their helmets in particular, that offer us the most direct link. The helmets that shined brightly in the sun at Thermopylae, Marathon, or Plataea when the fate of the Western World was to be decided in an afternoon. The armor that was worn by the Spartans or the Athenians during the protracted and devastating Peloponnesian War. Where a helmet proudly worn by a father at the beginning of the war might end up being worn by a vengeful orphaned son in the same conflict two decades later. Or the headgear worn by the army of Alexander as they crossed into Asia at the Granicus River with no way of knowing how permanent and far reaching an effect they were to have on the history of man. In most cases the only true, albeit mute, witnesses to these epic events that have survived the millennia to the present day are the bronze helmets. The names of the individual combatants are almost entirely lost, the names and locations of the battles are often forgotten as well. But some of the armor has endured, and it offers us a small but tangible glimpse of those who long preceded us.


 

Past Exhibitions

RECENT IMAGES:
The photography of Joseph Coscia

From 05/19/2017 to 06/30/2017


CERAMIC


on view through February 25

From 01/19/2017 to 02/25/2017


Light on Stone:

the photography of Joseph Coscia

From 10/20/2016 to 12/24/2016


Paintings of John Woodrow Kelley

Through October 15

From 09/15/2016 to 10/15/2016


MEDITERRANEAN MOSAICS

From 06/09/2016 to 07/30/2016


GODS of ANTIQUITY

From 04/07/2016 to 05/28/2016


ART of WAR

December through February 2016

From 12/10/2015 to 02/13/2016


Art of Ancient America

From 10/29/2015 to 12/05/2015

On view in our Chelsea gallery from October 29 through December 5


PAX ROMANA: Roman art exhibition

From 09/17/2015 to 10/24/2015

On view exclusively at our Chelsea gallery from September 17 to October 24


EGYPTIAN SUMMER

From 06/04/2015 to 08/01/2015

On view exclusively at our Chelsea gallery from June 4 to August 1


SYMPOSIUM: Wine and Revelry in Antiquity

From 04/16/2015 to 05/30/2015

On view exclusively at our Chelsea gallery from April 16th to May 30.


the face of antiquity

From 02/01/2015 to 04/11/2015

Our inaugural show in our newly opened Chelsea gallery, on view now through April 11th, explores the widely varied depictions of the human face in ancient art.


Neo-Assyrian Arms and Armor on Display

From 11/15/2011 to 12/31/2011


FEMINA: Women of Antiquity

From 03/27/2008 to 04/30/2008

A special exhibition examining the iconography of women in ancient art


 

 

 

 

 

 

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