Mushroom picker finds Bronze Age helmets

A forager gathering mushrooms near the village of Trhovište in the Kosice Region of eastern Slovakia last year found a Bronze Age deposit so rare that even that distinguished archaeological treasure hound Monty couldn’t help but be impressed: two Bronze Age helmets plus accessories. The helmets, discovered stuck to each by thousands of years of corrosion, were buried with a matched pair of cheek protectors and two spiral arm guards.

The objects are made of bronze and based on the style are around 3,200 years old. The helmets were constructed from two sheets of bronze fashioned into curved plates slightly flattened on the top of the head. The plates are joined down the middle of the head by a central trident crest that has a hole through which a plume could be threaded. The sides are decorated with concentric circles, a shape also seen on the cheek pads. There are also holes on the bottom side through which the cheek pads were attached.

The finder, who wishes to remain anonymous, brought the helmets and associated gear to the Eastern Slovakia Museum in Košice this January. The museum reported the discover to the regional authorities. Museum archaeologist Dárius Gašaj and a regional heritage official searched the find site for any information the context could provide and any other artifacts that may have still been there. The pieces had been buried together at one time in a single hole. There were no other objects found.

Bronze Age helmets are rare in Europe and vanishingly so in Slovakia. Only three examples in this style of manufacture are known, all of them discovered in the Eastern Alps significantly to the west of Slovakia. Archaeologists believe they may have been made in a workshop in the northern Apennines and then wound their way through the Alpine passes eventually reaching the Carpathian basin. The spiral arm guards were likely produced locally. They are of a type that has been found before in Slovakia.

The armature will be studied and conserved further by experts at the Eastern Slovakia Museum where it has made its public debut as part of a display on ancient armour.

The origin of the helmets from Trhovište remains unclear. They were probably traded objects imported for the highest society elite – military chiefs. The helmets were used and repaired. They were more a symbol of the status of the bearer, a symbol of his position and power than protective equipment.

The display also includes the back part of some plate armour plate that was found long ago in Čierna nad Tisou and also some fragments discovered in Šarišské Michaľany.

Similar helmets have been found in Lúčky, Spišská Belá and Žaškov but they were made only from one sheet of bronze. They originated between the 12th and 10th century BC.


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Comment by Trevor
2018-09-20 05:16:01

Ideal for that headbutt problem-solving technique.

Comment by Karlsdottir
2018-09-20 12:40:04

So dad comes home from the wars with some of his kit. Kids get into it. Arm guards…boing boing boing. The Slinky is born.

Comment by Alejandra Groeneveeldt
2018-09-20 13:07:36

Very cool find! – a connection to a ‘workshop in the northern Apennines’ makes sense to me. In fact, there seem to be (much later) Etruscan helmets that look similar. One might wonder, if there is a connection to the ‘Proto-Villanovan’ culture. A thousand years later, the northern Apennines were still ‘Celtic- Mediterranean’ :yes: , as particularly the Romans referred to the region as ‘Gallia cis Alpina’.

Personally, I would not even completely rule out the silght probability that those helmet types were brought over from e.g. what is now Slovakia. An exchange obviously took place. And there is even a ‘Proto-Villanovan’ example of that spiral ‘arm protection’.

Comment by Renee Yancy
2018-09-20 14:40:40

I wonder why the museum reported the finder to the authorities?

Comment by Trevor
2018-09-21 02:38:58

Renee, I think it means that the museum informed the authorities of the discovery (missing ‘y’ in the text), so that the regional heritage official and the museum archeologist could investigate the find site together.

Comment by Lorenzo
2018-09-29 09:30:19

Those helmets found in Slovakia are very similar to Villanovan helmets found in Italy (especially bronze crested helmets).

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