Samnite Bronze Panoply of Armor

Samnite Bronze Panoply of Armor

An ancient Samnite bronze panoply of armor consisting of a triple disk cuirass front and back breastplate, a tall pilos type helmet with large bronze horns, a bronze belt with two ornate clasps in the form of hounds' heads, and a pair of anatomical ankle guards.

Ca. 400 - 200 BC.
Height as mounted: 81 in. (206 cm).

The Samnites were a native group occupying south-central Italy. They fought a series of three wars against the Roman Republic (343-341 BC, 327-304 BC, and 298-290 BC). Despite achieving an overwhelming victory over the Romans at the Battle of the Caudine Forks (321 BC), the Samnites were eventually subjugated. They later helped Pyrrhus and Hannibal in their wars (280-275 BC and 218-201 BC) against Rome. The Samnites were eventually assimilated by the Romans, and ceased to exist as a distinct people.

The triple disc cuirass originated in Samnite territory in the mountains of Southern Italy in the late 5th century BC. This light armor was well suited to the Samnites' skirmishing method of combat. The armor was later adopted by the Etruscans and Romans.

Cf.: J. Warry, Warfare in the Classical World, (1995), pp. 102-103; D. Cahn, Waffen und Zaumzeug, (Basel, 1989), pp. 70-71, no. 27.

Formerly in E. S. collection, Berlin, the belt, formerly Axel Guttmann collection, Berlin.

Inv#: 6729

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