A panoply from Paestum

One of the problems of a paper magazine is that space is limited. The fiftieth issue of Ancient Warfare, which has just returned from the printer’s and should be on its way to shops and subscribers, was 84 pages thick instead of the usual 60, yet you still don’t have unlimited space. For example, for this issue (which you can order now if you haven’t yet!), I wrote a short, two-page article on a beautiful cuirass discovered in a Punic grave.

The cuirass itself is clearly modelled after a triple-disc cuirass from Southern Italy and was probably even made there originally before finding its way to North Africa. The article features two photos now: one of the cuirass in question and one of a wall-painting from a tomb at Paestum that depicts a rider with a triple-disc cuirass. (By the way, I recently wrote three blog posts about Paestum for the Ancient History Magazine section of the Karwansaray website).

Originally, though, I also wanted to include this photo:

It’s a picture of the panoply from tomb 174 at Paestum. The tomb itself dates to between 390 and 380 BC. The armour is all made of bronze. The helmet is clearly derived from an Attic helmet, characterized by the lack of a nose guard. The crest consists of an elaborate structure that recalls a candelabra, with three narrow shafts that once must have contained plumes. On the bottom of the display case is a pair of bronze greaves.

The main reason that I wanted to show this picture was, of course, the triple-disc cuirass. The structure is almost identical to the one from the Punic grave, except simpler and not gilded. Nevertheless, whoever owned this panoply must have been a very wealthy man, who wanted to be remembered – or whose family wanted to present him – as a warrior first and foremost. Analysis of his remains revealed that he was about 40 to 50 years of age at the time of his death.

Unfortunately, there was only space to include two photos in the article, not three. Naturally, I couldn’t remove the picture of the gilded cuirass – it was the subject of the article after all! – and so I had to choose between the wall-painting and the photo above. In the end, I picked the wall-painting, since it made the article look more interesting visually than if I had included a photo of more armour. Moreover, the article seemed more visually balanced by having two colourful pictures flanking the text on either side than if I had switched one with the more drab-looking armour from tomb 174.

Nevertheless, I am happy to be able to share the picture now via the internet, even if it didn’t end up getting included in the issue. As I already wrote in my blog posts for Ancient History Magazine, Paestum is a great site with an excellent museum, so if you ever have the chance, you should definitely go and visit it.

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