Boar’s Tusk Helmet

There have been many interesting artifacts found at the Mycenaean shaft graves, the site of Troy, and various other sites that support Homer’s ideas of what the Bronze Age would been like. In fact these artifacts fit Homer’s to near perfection.

One particular artifact of great interest is the boars tusk helmets. These helmets are mentioned multiple times in Homer’s poem. One example is in the Iliad book X when Meriones gives Odysseus a helmet made of leather with rows of white shiny tusks from a boar.

Boars’ tusks was a material of choice for these warriors’ helmets during the Bronze Age. Although metalworking had made great advanced at the time, there was still a lack of fine metallurgical processing in this era. Bronze working was in its early stages, it was difficult to work the metal into complex shapes such as a helmet. Because the bronze alloys made during this time were not very advanced, working of these metals could easily cause embrittlement. Therefore the hard and stiff boars tusk was an optimal choice to protect a warrior’s head (Everson p.6). Everson suggests that these tusks were also in abundance since these warriors’ participated in boar hunts regularly (Morris 1990). The remains of these helmets were found in more than fifty grave sites and were dated prior to 1150 b.c. (Everson p.3). Homer even suggests that boar hunting was a part of the warrior culture. In the odyssey book XIX when Penelope recognizes Odysseus’ scar he received from boar hunting and we are given the story.

“Ulysses was the first to raise his spear and try to drive it into the brute, but the boar was too quick for him, and charged him sideways, ripping him above the knee with a gash that tore deep though it did not reach the bone. As for the boar, Ulysses hit him on the right shoulder, and the point of the spear went right through him, so that he fell groaning in the dust until the life went out of him”. (Homer. Od, XIX)

The fact that Homer knew about the existence of these pieces of equipment is astonishing since this was almost 800 years before his time.


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