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Old 9th May 2005, 09:39 AM   #1
Radu Transylvanicus
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Thumbs up Helmet Season: An ancient Thracian Golden Helmet from Romania

Fueled by Jim’s last posting and Wolviex's museal enthusiasm, I am excited to share with you what I had the pleasure of examining up close and personal at one point, some years ago: an ancient golden helmet from the National Treasure of Romania. Brought to the local museum where I used to do assistance work, on a temporary exhibit we had a famous piece part of the Romanian National Heritage, loaned from National History Museum in Bucharest and I would like to share it with you and its true story starts like this:
In the small village of Poiana Cotofenesti, southern Romania, in the spring of year 1928, the very young son of a local peasant, a kid still in the elementary school, while helping his family work the field with a plow, he stopped when the blade run across what later proven to be a phenomenal archeological discovery: an ancient gold helmet. Quickly, first, the school, then, the authorities and finally the National Museum of Antiquities (founded 1834 !) were alerted and here is what the discovery really was:
A solid gold helmet made around end of 5th – beginning of 4th century B.C. by the local Thracian tribes (Geto-Dacians)* and undoubtedly it was part of the martial display regalia of a king or a powerful warlord. It is a studded cylindrical helmet (missing top, otherwise intact) with ¾ head coverage with a rectangular frontal cut for the face and side cuts for ears. Decorations are mystical sacrificial images with ancient Oriental elements, claimed by the historical experts to be of Scythian influence absorbed in that culture from Greeks or southern Thracians. The most striking decorative element are the frontal apotropaic piercing eyes. Technically, the helmet was created by repeatedly hammering a very thick gold sheet on a wooden support by the craftsman shaping it acordingly. As it is now, it stands 25 centimeters tall and 770 grams heavy.
Gold has an inferior defensive resistance (crash tested) compared to other metals known and used on a large scale by the Geto-Dacians, where the conclusion that this is more of a ceremonial parade piece rather than battle ready. It was an isolated piece, not part of a treasure or thesaurus, likely lost or hidden by its last owner and never retrieved. Only fragments of ceramic were found in the nearby .
The last image is another helmet, this time part of a treasure and it was made in silver, belonging to the exact same culture, exact same time found at Peretu, southern Romania.Another one and the only one outside Romania is to be found in exhibit at The Met a.k.a. Metropolitan Museum, New York. There is only a total of five known of these apotropaic Geto-Dacian ceremonial helmets so far, four of them displayed in Romania and discovered at Poiana Cotofenesti, Baiceni, Agighiol and Peretu. The last one at the Met was purchased from a collection in Vienna, where it previously fled the country under "arguable" conditions.


*Romanians proudly claim to be direct descendants of this Geto-Dacians and Roman colonists , everything else was assimilated.
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Last edited by Radu Transylvanicus : 9th May 2005 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 9th May 2005, 04:25 PM   #2
tom hyle
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cool. Yeah, gold is essentially worthless for martial purposes (until the electrified age; I'm sure it'd make an OK sling bullet; lead does, but who could afford it?...); soft, soft stuff. I wonder how these relate to fighting helmets of the same culture? With the eyes, what they remind me of is the old Attic helmets, I forget the name, when they would push them up on their heads, exposing their face. This was likely a fairly routine soldiers' gesture, but its presence on statues of leaders may suggest it was a standard kind of posing for a war-leader making an address in Attic Greece at some point. Silver, interestingly, was worth much more than it is now in the "Old World" previous to the conquest and robbery of Mexico and Peru. Before that silver was much closer in value to gold. I was reading some interesting things about the worldwide economic effects of that single thing; exporting all that silver.............
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