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Italic Bronze Helmet w/ River Patina - Negau Type

Italic, late Archaic or Classical, ca. 500 to 400 BCE. A bronze helmet with twin attachments for feathers - a variant of the Negau type, a regional Italian style with a characteristically conical shape. The capped form (without the typical pronounced rib) resolves in a concave neck that does not have a brim. A slender molded band sits where cap and neck meet as well as a small groove incised at the lower edge of the neck. Two loops with heart-shaped attachment plates are positioned just off center on the neck band's interior surface, and two additional loops with triangular attachment plates are on the exterior of the cap, about two inches from the inner loops - perhaps intended to attach cheek pieces. Two fluted tubes with molded termini are attached to the front of the helmet, near the crown, and tilt slightly back. These likely held feathers. Below and between them are the remains of another shield-shaped attachment. Outstanding and covered with golden river patina! Size: 8.875" L x 8.25" W x 7.375" H (22.5 cm x 21 cm x 18.7 cm); feather tubes 2.125" L (5.4 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).

Cf. a pilos helmet in Berlin, illustrated in Antikenmuseum Berlin (Berlin, 1988), no. 1 on pp. 80-81. For drawings of helmets with feather decoration, see John Warry, "Warfare in the Classical World" (Dallas, 2001), pp. 103 & 109; for a discussion of the Negau helmet type, see "Antike Helme" (Mainz, 1988), pp. 243-270.

See another Negau type helmet in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston - https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/helmet-of-negau-type-153366

Condition: Feather tubes have been reattached. Dent to back of helmet. Expected wear commensurate with age. Areas of encrustation. Gorgeous golden river patina.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Richard Wagner collection, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, acquired in the 1960s

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