Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Inside the Phaistos helmet

The Phaistos helmet has a double border running around the edges of the neck and cheek guards.  It's hard to tell for sure what this feature represents, but I believe it's a piece of felt sewn onto the inside of the helmet as padding and then folded over to the outside to create a decorative edge.

Double border around the neck and cheek guards.  The border extends to the edge of each piece and appears to be slightly raised.

This is not the only way to interpret the double border, but it is consistent with the fact that beehive helmets were lined in felt.  Homer uses the word πιλος (pilos) to describe a cap made out of felt which formed the lining of a helmet.  Later on, the word came to mean a helmet in Classical Greek.  Thucydides calls the Spartans' helmets πιλοι (piloi), but in reality they were probably made of bronze.  They were beehive shaped though.

Decorative border around the neck and cheek guards of my helmet.

In my very first post on the beehive helmet, I discussed the parallels between bronze age Aegean helmets and today's motorcycle helmets.  The pilos is equivalent to the foam padding inside a motorcycle helmet that makes it comfortable to wear.  My Phaistos helmet is a hell of a lot more comfortable with a pilos inside, and because this is very thick felt it does provide a little extra protection.

The inside of my helmet, fully lined.

These next photos show how I made the double border around the cheek and neck guards.  There's a piece of felt on the inside of each guard, and it is folded over the edge of the leather.  Then I've stitched right through both the leather and the felt to keep everything in place.  A second strip of felt is stitched in place to create a border with two blue ridges.

Felt is ideal for this process because it can be stretched and folded around corners, and unlike woven textiles it will not fray.

In this photo I'm starting to sew felt to the inside of the cheek guard.

In this photo I've finished sewing felt to the inside of the cheek guard and I'm finishing the decorative edging.

The stitching is done with heavy linen thread and goes right through both the leather and the felt lining.

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