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Archaeological Discoveries: Greek Warrior Helmet Discovered in Haifa Bay

(February 2012)

A bronze, Greek warrior helmet - decorated with the imprints of a golden leaf, snakes, lions, and a peacock's tail - was discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay.

According to archaeologists and historians from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the helmet is though to date back around 2,600 years and likely belonged to a wealthy Greek mercenary who fought for the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II.  Necho II is believed to have been heavily involved with leading a number of military campaigns in and around ancient Israel that were mentioned in the Torah.

The helmet was originally discovered accidentally in 2007 when commercial dredging operations were undertaken in the harbor and it was eventually turned over to the proper authorities who took years and much arduous research to discover its origins.

"The gilding and figural ornaments make this one of the most ornate pieces of early Greek armor discovered," writes Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit with the Israel Antiquities Authority, and John Hale, a professor at the University of Louisville, in a summary of their research on the helmet.  The researchers said that they were able to date the helmet due to its near similarity with one found near the Italian island of Giglio, about 1,500 miles away, in the 1950's.

The story behind how the helmet ended up sunk deep in Haifa's bay is still unknown. Many theories, including that the warrior dropped it off of his boat or even that his boat sank in the area, have been discussed as viable options. "We are planning to go back to the same site and to try to locate other (archaeological) material there," Sharvit said.

The results of the researchers' work were presented in January at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. The helmet itself is now on display at the National Maritime Museum in Haifa.

Sources: Jarus, Owen. “Found: Ancient Warrior's Helmet, Owner Unknown,” Yahoo News (February 29, 2012);
“Greek helmet discovered in Israeli harbor,” UPI (February 29, 2012);
Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority