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Create your own Roman soldier’s helmet inspired by the Rome: City and Empire exhibition at the National Museum of Australia.

How to make a Roman soldier’s helmet

A photography of three handcrafted Roman helmets. A book with the title in large white letters, ROME, sits in the middle of the display.

A typical Roman helmet was called a galea. Some galea were topped with a crest, which could be made of horsehair and was sometimes dyed red. In the Roman army, you were given a rank, such as centurion, standard-bearer, legionary or cavalry trooper. To join you had to be at least 18 years old.

At its peak, the Roman army numbered almost 450,000 men. If you survived 25 years in the army, you would gain Roman citizenship, which came with lots of benefits. The Romans ruled over parts of Europe, Africa and Asia for nearly 2000 years and created great cities and a vast empire.

Time to make and difficulty

Less than 30 minutes. Challenging — you may need an adult to supervise you when using scissors and staplers.

Coloured paper, stapler, scissors, pens and ruler

What you need

  1. Cardboard — a cereal box or something of similar weight from home works well
  2. Pencil or pen
  3. Ruler
  4. Scissors
  5. Stapler
  6. Stickers, crayons or paint if you want to decorate your helmet

Tip

Before you assemble your helmet there are six parts you need to make:  helmet, crown, head strap x 2, chin plate x 2. To make it easier you can print off the pattern provided, cut out the shapes and then use them to trace on to your cardboard.

Step 1: Draw

Make sure you follow the instructions below as you draw shapes onto the cardboard.

  1. Head strap — draw two strips both 30cm long and 5cm wide.
  2. Helmet — draw a dome shape like a half circle. Ours is 24cm wide and 12cm high. Make sure it is big enough to fit around the front of your head.
  3. Crown — draw the shape of a crown. Ours is 26cm wide and 8cm high. This can be as high as you like, but make sure it is 2cm wider than the helmet shape.
  4. Chin plates — draw the chin plates. They should be flat on the top and curved down the bottom with two bumps. Make sure they are not too big, otherwise you won’t be able to see!

Step 2: Cut

Ask an adult to supervise you while you cut out all of the shapes you have drawn. You should have six parts in total.

Step 3: Decorate

If you were planning to decorate your helmet, now is the time to do it. Research online to see what the helmets looked like. Is yours going to be a traditional gold and red? Or is it going to be a rainbow? Use crayons or paint and be as creative as you want.

Step 4: Assembly

These pictures will help you visualise how the different parts go together. Ask an adult to supervise you while you use a stapler.

Use a stapler to attach the chin plates to the helmet, the straps to the sides of the helmet and the crown to the bottom of the helmet. This will cause the crown to bend, making it pop out.

Step 5: Finish

If you want, you can now do some more decoration on your helmet. Use coloured paper to create a crest. You could also add some rivets where the chin plates attach to the helmet!

Lastly, ask an adult to supervise you while you staple the bands together to fit around your head.

Share your creation

Ask an adult if you can email a photo or video to schoolholidays@nma.gov.au so we can see what you made.

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