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Greek Helmet/ armour database
Ok. So what about the initial structure? Similar/ the same as the Roman helmet database? I can add as many detail fields and tabs as you like... (but be sensible, and keep it doable!)

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
I think the main purpose of such a database would be the search-function.
For example finding all Corinthian helmets of the 3rd stage in Italy or finding all Greek helmets in a special museum etc.
Often one will have a special helmet in mind but no idea where to find the informations about it, so one should be able to scroll through all pictures of, for example, the Phrygian helmets and have also the chance to compare the forms.
It might be necessary to devide at least the main types into sub-categories to make the typological divisions clear to the viewer.
Perhaps a graphical overview would be helpful to understand the divisions made.
Perhaps we should concentrate first on one type which is typological clear and wellknown. The Illyrian helmet would be a good candidate for a test-phase because this type can be easily classified within its three main stages (and eleven variants) of evolution.
Then we could see if our system works well and go to the next type.
The most complicated type is the Corinthian, which has also three main stages but about twenty variants which are often very difficult to identify in old book-photos.
The purpose of the database is of course not to give an in-depth study of the helmet-types but to show an at least rough typology which is necessary for ease of use. The discussion of the types will anyway take place in the forum.
For an overview this could be the main division of helmet types (numbers I have at least basic information of):

- Early Greek ("Kegel-helmets")/ Cretan helmets (64)
- Illyrian helmets (205)
- Corinthian helmets (315 but must be at least 550)
- Chalcidian (including Italo-Chalkidians "Attic") (257)
- Hellenistic helmets and their forerunners (166)

Excuse my clumsy English :oops:


Decebalus/Andreas Gagelmann
Andreas Gagelmann
Berlin, Germany
Decebalus/Andreas Gagelmann[/quote]
Quote:For some years I'm working on a database regarding all known Ancient helmets - a huge project you can imagine,... The main problems have been:

- Different nomenclature of types by English and German speaking scholars (for example the Hellenistic Attic type is often called Thracian in English literature, sometimes also the Phrygian and what is called Attic in English is known to German scholars as Italic-Chalkidian type and so on).

- A lot of mix-types with features of different main types (mainly in the Hellenistic section. For example the Phrygian-Boiotan, Attic-Boiotian Pilos, Phrygian-Chalkidian etc.)
- What can be called a "Greek helmet"?
The Italic-Chalkidian ("Attic") helmet is only found in Italy (there is also a Spanish variant) but is a clear descendant of the Greek Chalkidian helmet. The Apulo-Corinthian and Corinthian of Picenian form are also closely related to the Corinthian.
The earliest greek helmets have their origin in the Urnfield-culture resp. the Near East.

- For the main types of the late geometrical to early classical period there are already useable typologies but there is still no overview. The existing typologies have to be modiefied in some cases.

Decebalus/Andreas Gagelmann

Decebalus states the problem with classification systems quite well. Where does one type end and one begin? Also Jasper notes that an image base can be first established, and the other ancillary data added later. Jasper is also right when he states there should be nothing that is overly complicated.

Mostly I used analytic methodologies in prehistoric projects. We lack anything like Greece or Rome here... so my work was done with lithics and pottery, which can get on your nerves quickly. I am not an expert in the Med by any means.

Dan, I believe, is more current than I am on what is most current in Archaeological thinking, so his comments would be most welcome.

The advantage to an analytic approach is avoid the problems quoted above. You get objectively defined clusters and more important sub-clusters of typologies without the subjective process of naming them first and wondering where one type begins and one ends. What stands out are regional and temporal anomalies and trends. These give you the best potential of research, if that purpose is the project intention. Once established the database can be accessed by research projects and graduate students for more advanced study, which is what they are for.

Once the classification schema is established, anyone who has basic familiarity can add to the database. The data is checked before final inclusion. Establishing the schema is what is difficult. The components have to be well thought out and stable. Doing this is requires submission of attribute elements, clear definition and justification of inclusion. This is established in an Attribute Dictionary, which gives typical examples. There is a tendency for these Dictionaries to get too large and complicated. The most often quantitative values that are successful seem to be this-to-that ratios.

An example, off the top of my head, in concept would be something like:

1 = bronze
2 = iron
3 = other

Helmet skull shape:
1 = round
2 = pointed (height less than width)
3 = pointed (height greater than width)
4 = Lateral ridge
5 = Domed -- as in the later Corinthian. (This is an example of needing a clear definition)

1 = one piece
2 = halved (lateral join)
3 = halved (lateral join) with additional components

0 = none
1 = vestigial
2 = straight
3 = flared near nasal terminal

Neck Guard
0 = none
1 = short
2 = extended, flared at end
3 = extends to cover cheek -- as in a Corinthian

Cheek piece
0 = none
1 = prototypical ( short point)
2 = extended, (attached)
3 = extended, (separate) -- hinged, for example
4 = integral with neck guard -- as in an Argos or a Corinthian. (Note the Argos may be of multiple pieces.)

And so on as necessary, without being to complicated. Most of these projects that fail are because they get to be too detailed for no real reason.

A simple bronze cap would be: 111000. A late Assyrian would be: 231002.
An early Corinthian would be: 112234. Compare this to a later Corinthian which would be: 141334. The numerous variations on the Corinthian can be objectivily identified and classified along with frequency. Frequency is often an overlooked factor, as often, more attention is paid to variation than actual numbers of examples.

The attribute list would be more extensive than I give above, of course. A computer search would link close matches into clusters, i.e. objective affinities. Consider what can be concluded when you (the computer) get a cluster of six 113452244s (made up example) at three locations, but two of the locations have earlier dates than the third? What about a frequency cluster of near matches, say a group one or two attribute values off? Or something like that. This defines a Class or Type.

Locational information may be given by region. Exact locational information can be rather vague. For example, a grid on an X/Y axis, Western Crete would be something like K/D Eastern Crete, M/D. So three 113134 were located at L/D (Central Crete) and one, unpublished, at H/F (Southern Peloponnese). Most of my recent work is in GIS so I keep defaulting back to spatial referencing. Proximity indicating regional ineraction, in this case.

The descriptive information can be as Decebalus has given us in his "fact file" in his previous post. This gives previous catalog and textual reference.

Any member can add information that has access to the database, as you don't need any extensive professional training to do so, just familiarity with the process and the subject matter. Members who find examples can classify according to the Attribute Dictionary, and then submit them for checking and inclusion.

This may be more complicated than anyone wants to do. However, if established, it may open doors previously closed in terms of access, and give RAT a stronger academic standing. Also, the attributes can be given where a photo cannot because of copyrights.

My experience with setting these things up, is that in real life, there is often a lot of non-objective influences in the objectivity of the system. Attributes have been decided on by behind-the-scene personal popularity contests, the social movement of the month, love triangles, sobriety, political affiliation, and in one case I know of, a fist fight in the parking lot. None of the ladies involved were seriously hurt, BTW. Anyone who works in Archaeology for any length of time should be qualified to be a Soap Opera script writer. It is important to have oversight and justification of inclusion. One pottery class was established by the inclusion of a piece of linoleum as a joke.

I am just throwing this out as concept for now. I would have to ransack the U for more up to date case studies and methodology. My older texts may be a bit dated.

Ralph Izard
Now it seems that everybody interested in this project has told his opinion.
We agree that it can be done and Jasper would provide the space to work with Big Grin
Now we should finally lay down who looks after it. I would volunteer to do the job / join the team (Dan and?) or assist at least (perhaps someone with more computer- and English-skills might be better qualified).
So when we agree to start it how would it work?
I understand we can fill the the "fact file" (is there a better English word for it?) with the basic informations we have, then looking somewhere for the photos provided by fellow-members and working the matching ones in.
At first we could use the typologies already given by such authorities as Kunze, Pflug, Waurick etc. (modified here and there regarding some new finds they can't know), accompanied by the system Ralph showed us.
If we agree about the typology we use I would try to translate the German designations in English and post them (together with the main bibliography) here to show what is meant and give an overview how the material can be classified - just as a proposition of course.


Decebalus/Andreas Gagelmann
Andreas Gagelmann
Berlin, Germany
* Very impressed with the collective spirit and work ethic of 'the Greek section' *

What I need from the coordinating team is a shortlist of tabs/fields needed in the database output (compare the imagebase or Roman helmet db), e.g.:
Main tab:
Name (needs something systematic, if nothing better it can be placename+number)
Now in



This can be endless, or pretty much endless anyway, but I'd recommend to keep it simple to begin with.

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
I am gong to make an assumption that what we want to do here is develop an actual index and system that will be used as a continuous reference and can be referenced and contributed to by ongoing accredited institutions and projects. The project will be intended a forthcoming publication and documented accordingly. The usage will not be restrained to academia only, but will serve as a visual guide and referent summary for the general user. Archeology gets a lot of criticism for being insulated from the general public, and "sanitizing" what does get publicized. In this case we don't have worry about that.

First, we need to recognize that any typology is a modern imposition of order on a group of artifacts that had functions in a society that may not have held anything like the same perspective we have. Typology is a modern convenience. Also, some modern classifications differ from each other because the existence of one classification may not be known to someone attempting to classify the same object, or because of some rivalry. The identification of subsequent unknown, but objectively defined typologies, and what they may mean is the final goal. Ultimately, the the final reward is the identification of attributes in situ, that identify with other aspects of the find site and associations of other artifacts and context. Example: in 2000 a crest of an Insular was found in Eastern Crete. The known documented occurrences, two of three examples, also possibly coincide with the demographics associated with a a pottery type with socio-cultural affinities.

Andreas has a fact file that describes the treatment of helmets in modern discovery. This is an essential element of any objective system. I think I might term it a Directory of finds. As is it stands, it is a usable instrument. I would structure it to add a unique index number; RAT 12345, or something, where this functions as the common field in a relational data structure. I would add a text field for incidental data. Several fields need to exist for multiple classifications of the same item, as in the Hellenistic Attic in one instance vs. the Thracian in another, and who made the classification, Kunze, Phlug, as noted above. Use of "Unknown" is fine also.

Classification systems that rely on type names are usually made when a limited number of examples are known. When this numbers expands, the initial classification system always breaks down. In essence, there is an increasing effect to try and fit square pegs into round holes. This is why an attribute system is preferable in the long run. It does not depend on semantic criteria, but a symbolic one, and can be accessed and expanded by groups that do not speak the same language or have the same theoretical perspective.

Further, we can learn a great deal by the distribution in space, time, and frequency by a single, or several attributes, often more so that an entire artifact. I cannot stress this potential enough, if RAT wants to establish a definitive and exemplary project. Inviting existent projects to use, and add to the database, and have them make use of the resource by different ongoing archaeological projects is the best example this potential. What I am saying is this may be the rare opportunity for an non-professional community to produce a professional and benchmark product.

The initial step is to establish a sample from which a tentative attribute list is fabricated. This list is then tested for robustness and modified as necessary. The fabrication of the list should be done by several people, and tested by others. Duplications in attribute categories and respective components confirm the validity system. A category is an attribute class (ex. skull shape) components are the descriptors, (ex. round, pointed, etc.). Breaking the system by testing will show inherent preconceptions, a prori assumptions, and omissions of data. You can add categories later, but trying to add components at a later date is a disaster requiring a complete re-classification of the category in question.

I am in the process of building a reference library for sampling and attribute classification and related topics. It may take several weeks. Primary sources are Clark, Hodder, Sabloff, Flannery, and a few more folks... Suggestions welcome.,

On the other hand, RAT may not want to do anything like this at all for a variety of reasons.

Ralph Izard
Well, our editorial team seems to be settled !

Dan, assisted by Ralph and Andreas, with Jasper as Consultant !
But it would be good if someone from Greece would volunteer? That's where most examples can be found ! I think three or four is a good number - enough to share the workload and allow people to go on holiday etc whilst not being too many to be efficient.
I have read the remarks of Ralph, Andreas and others regarding classification with great interest, though I suspect that many, like me, stand in awe at the obvious expertise..... Big Grin
I should like the data-base to be layman- user- friendly, so perhaps we can have two types of organisation - a "common" one so that e.g. I can look up 'corinthian' ( this would need to allow for the fact that English and German names don't co-incide) and navigate from there, and a more organised 'scientific' one something like Ralph's suggestion, so that students can take a more organised, 'standard' approach.

Every journey begins with a small first step ! Lets take it ! Dan, Ralph, Andreas - you'd better exchange direct e-mails, if you haven't already. Smile
Decide between you on preliminary steps over a week or so, put it up on this thread for comment, then go to Jasper !
Hopefully within a couple of weeks, us laymen can start 'tipping in' pictures and we'll all have something to look at :o Can't wait ! This will be an important first !!!
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
This will be very helpful as an artist when I need reference on a helmet type!
Thanks guys for doing this..!
Johnny Shumate
A quote from another thread on "Off Topic".

Quote:Once, it was hoped and feared that information would settle where it felt comfortable: pornography in Holland of course, with its loose laws against pornography; and racist information in the USA, where the First Amendment offers freedom of speech on subjects that are sometimes banned in Europe.

Not wishing to offend anyone, or contaminate any helmet database with American racist helmet calssifications, I will withdraw from this project.

Ralph Izard
Forgive me Ralph,but I did not understand the real reason you does this message form the off-topic efect your support in this work?
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
[Image: -side-1.gif]
hmm, now Ralph, are you saying that American Freedom of Speech is a bad thing? The American websites have much more leeway in what one can post than say a site in Germany, ( where you can't even wear a swastika on your Roman outfit although they show up in museums) or in China, or North Korea.......

I am proud that we have more freedom here in the USA to speak things that may not be allowed in other countries. Yes I could go into details, but it would violate the modern politics rule even more.

Nothing bad was said about the USA, in the previous posts, or about the Netherlands / Amsterdam, it was just a statement of FACT!

I am putting myself and all others on notice about violating modern politics rule and suggest that we go back to the original topic.

Caius Fabius Maior
Charles Foxtrot
moderator, Roman Army Talk
link to the rules for posting
When I saw this after my hollidays I was very exited. And now I'm very disappointed about the possible failure. I hope Ralph will rejoin the project. In the Inet some comments can be easily misunderstood or given to much meaning. Some times you will find remarks that you don't have to take too seriously. I for my part for example was a bit shocked that Germany is seemingly in the range of China and North Korea, when freedom rights are discussed... :wink: Big Grin
Wolfgang Zeiler
Guys, get back on topic and imnsho, the project is very far from failing.

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
This is too good an idea to let fail, and Ralph, if I can borrow some of your American freedom of speech, 'quit being such a wuss, and get back on board!!' :lol:

I have a picture of a corinthian which I think dates to far earlier than the place which exibits it says, but as I was not supposed to take pictures, I will need to get in touch with the woman fron the archaology section to ask for permission to give it to you guys!
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
Quote:Nothing bad was said about the USA, in the previous posts, or about the Netherlands / Amsterdam, it was just a statement of FACT!
I am glad that you say this, because I was starting to wonder whether my observation (not mine in fact, but a common one in Wired when the web was still very young) was incomprehensible. I still wonder how a simple description of a well-known fact -information moves to places where it feels at ease- can cause such a stir. Whatever the reason, it was certainly not my intention to offend anyone, and if I have said something that is offensive, I apologize.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website

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