A rare pair of Apulian bronze Ankle Greaves,
ca. 5th - 4th century BCE
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Of Apulian type, each greave hammered from a leaf-shaped sheet of bronze, contoured to the length of the heel, the back rising to mid-calf with three carinations, a central vertical ridge, and two flanking curvilinear ridges moulded to protect the Achilles tendon from slashing blows. Embossed on each inner side in a teardrop shape to mould over the inner ankle bone (the malleolus medialis), with a less defined but larger rounded outer side for the outer ankle bone (the malleolus lateralis). The front tapering to rounded edges was held together by lacing through the eyelets on either side.
Much rarer than shin greaves, ankle greaves were not always worn by Greek warriors. Fewer than fifty have been discovered in the past 150 years, according to Dietrich von Bothmer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's chairman of the Department of Greek and Roman Art. Further, the vast majority of Apulian figure ware omits ankle greave imagery, depicting only the shin greaves. Interestingly, the Greek hero Achilles was killed at Troy by an arrow to the heel, the only vulnerable part of his body. Because of this myth, and how revered Achilles was by the Greeks, one would think ankle greaves would be more popular among warriors. The fact that they are so rare indicates they were reserved for warriors of extreme importance.
Cf: Dietrich von Bothmer, "Armorial Adjuncts": Metropolitan Museum Journal, v. 24 (1989).
Dimensions: Height: 10 inches (25.4 cm), Width: 6 inches (15.24 cm)
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.
Provenance: Private German collection, previously from the collection of Axel Guttman (1944 - 2001), Berlin, acquired in the 1980s, thereafter private Californian collection.
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