Ostrogothic / Helmet (Spangenhelm) / 6th centuryOstrogothic
Helmet (Spangenhelm)
6th century

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Creator Nationality: European; Northern European; Ostrogothic
Creator Name-CRT: Ostrogothic
Title: Helmet (Spangenhelm)
Title Type: Object name
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 500
Creation End Date: 599
Creation Date: 6th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Arms
Materials and Techniques: Bronze-gilt, iron
Dimensions: H. 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 42.50.1
Credit Line: Gift of Stephen V. Grancsay, 1942
Rights: http://www.metmuseum.org/

This is one of a group of twenty-seven very similar "Spangenhelme" (literally, strap helmets), all of which date from the sixth century. These helmets are thought to have been made in or around Ravenna, the capital of the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy, as diplomatic gifts for foreign rulers, and have been found at sites ranging from Sweden and Germany to Yugoslavia and Libya. The Metropolitan Museum's helmet was discovered in the Saône River near Trévoux, France. It has also been suggested that these helmets were made in one of the court workshops of the Byzantine Empire.

The helmets of this group are nearly identical in construction: four or six straps radiate from a central disk and connect to a brow band all of gilt bronze. The space between each strap is filled by an iron plate riveted in place. The decoration typically consists of patterns punched into the radiating straps and of birds amid an undulating grapevine embossed on the brow band. Crosses and other Christian symbols are occasionally included. Some of the helmets retain traces of silver foil on the iron plates between the straps. The richness of the decoration indicates that these helmets were intended for recipients of high rank.

All the helmets originally had a pair of metal cheekpieces, a neck defense made of plate or mail, and a narrow plate extending down from the browpiece to protect the nose. Of these features, only the cheekpieces remain on a few examples.

AMICA ID: MMA_.42.50.1
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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