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Etruscan Negau Bronze Helmet w/ River Patina

Italic, Etruscan, ca. 400 to 350 BCE. A bronze helmet with three attachments - a variant of the Negau type, a regional Italian style with a characteristically conical shape. The capped form resolves in a concave neck with a pronounced brim. Two petite loops are affixed to each side, just above the neck and brim. To either side of the ridge are reverse spade-shaped attachments with upstanding rectangular termini, each one with an intentional perforation at the upper end. Between and placed a bit before them on the crown is a single tall tubular attachment with a U-shaped piece attached. An outstanding example of a Negau helmet - covered with golden river patina! Size: 8.5" L x 8" W x 10.25" H including attachments (21.6 cm x 20.3 cm x 26 cm)

This helmet has been identified as a Negau type (also known as the Vetulonic type) helmet, named for the village in Slovenia where such helmets were initially found. Why have ancient helmets been found in rivers? Some have attributed this phenomenon to accidental losses; however, according to recent scholarship, discoveries of ancient armor in aquatic environments may be the result of intentional practices. Some have suggested that the ancients' veneration of water played a significant role, that gear found in waters was the consequence of a conscious religious act, a dedication of armor and weapons as a religious rite. Others have argued that when ancient warriors who were forced into retreat came upon a river, they elected to toss their armor in the waters, since it would be next to impossible to cross a river wearing such heavy gear. Depositing the armor on the enemy's land was not viewed upon as an attractive option, because the warriors feared that their foes would either use the armor to impersonate them during ensuing battles or melt the armor down for the valuable precious metals. For further discussions, see Brandon Olson's "The Dedication of Roman Weapons and Armor in Water as a Religious Ritual" Popular Archaeology (May 27, 2011).

There are two similar bronze Negau-type helmets in the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome - Gualdo Tadino (Umbria) Malpasso Necropolis, Tomb 12, ca. 400 to 350 BCE; for a discussion of the Negau helmet type, see "Antike Helme" (Mainz, 1988), pp. 243-270.

Condition: Upper attachment to tubular attachment shows some expected bending. Attachments were possibly reattached. There is a slight dent to one side of the helmet. Expected surface wear commensurate with age with wonderful golden river patina and mineral deposits.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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