In 1942, a peat cutter digging in a Danish bog crunched his shovel into a horned bronze helmet. Long, curving bull’s horns topped a round cap embellished with the beak and big eyes of a bird of victim. Fittings on the headgear might have made it possible to connect plumes and possibly even a hair of horse hair.
Subsequent excavations exposed the impressive accessory had an almost twin—one that was intentionally positioned in the bog on a wood plate. But the horned set isn’t proof that the Vikings who as soon as resided in the location used helmets, a modern-day misconception; rather, they are far older, a research study now exposes.
Researchers reveal the helmets were transferred practically 3000 years back—about 900 B.C.E., more than 1500 years prior to the very first Vikings occurred in the location. The group likewise argues that the decoration of the headpieces might have been motivated by comparable significance in far-off Sardinia. The connection would connect for the very first time 2 parts of ancient Europe separated by countless kilometers, recommending there might have been a formerly unidentified sea path along the Atlantic coast linking Scandinavia with the Mediterranean.
“It’s a great paper,” states Flemming Kaul, an archaeologist at the National Museum of Denmark who was not included with the research study. “It’s part of this eye-opening story where we see long-distance cultural contacts in the Bronze Age.”
After the helmets were found, scientists recommended they were made in Scandinavia’s Late Bronze Age, a 3-century duration of creative, political, and spiritual modification that started around 1000 B.C.E. But without accurate dates for the metal helmets, it was difficult to link advancements in Scandinavia with other cultures in Europe at the time.
In 2019, while taking in-depth images of among the helmet’s curved, hollow bronze horns, Moesgaard Museum archaeologist Heide Wrobel Nørgaard identified black natural residue, possibly from birch tar utilized to anchor ornamental plumes to the end of the horn. She had the ability to choose 2 samples and radiocarbon date them. The Viksø helmets were deposited in the bog around 900 B.C.E., Nørgaard and her co-authors report today in Praehistorische Zeitschrift.
The headgear has parallels within ancient Scandinavian artifacts, consisting of another helmet discovered in other places, bronze figurines using similar caps, and warriors with horned helmets illustrated in rock carvings. Meanwhile, on the island of Sardinia and in western Iberia, rock art and figurines dating to the exact same period frequently portrays warriors with almost similar horned helmets. “There are huge similarities between them,” Nørgaard states.
Aarhus University archaeologist Helle Vandkilde argues the resemblances in between Scandinavian and Sardinian iconography reveals traders from the Mediterranean started to make their method up the Atlantic coast to Scandinavia 3000 years back, instead of utilizing difficult overland paths throughout the Alps. Bronze Age Scandinavia had practically no metal sources, so need for copper and tin most likely sustained long-distance commerce, with cultural exchange following close behind.
“These [helmets] are new indications metals were traded further than we thought,” states Vandkilde, the paper’s lead author. “Ideas were cotravelers.”
The date likewise positions the helmets at a time when a political elite in Scandinavia was combining its power and spiritual concepts were moving from Sun praise to particular gods with animal qualities. More routine headgear than fight clothes, the helmets are loaded with animal significance. “You have a helmet which represents all the cosmological religious powers,” Kaul states. “It’s the most impressive religious power hat of the Bronze Age.”
Vandkilde and her associates recommend the “power hat” and its horned cousins interacted otherworldly authority by contacting images and concepts imported from the Mediterranean in addition to the copper and tin utilized to make bronze. The helmets were most likely utilized for generations by the ruling leaders, they propose. “In my head, it’s a new dynasty that pops up contemporary with the helmets,” Vandkilde states. “They’re using the divine to sharpen and legitimize their power.”
Not everybody is persuaded. Georg August University of Göttingen archaeologist Nicola Ialongo states the research study leaves lots unusual. If there was a greatly trafficked Atlantic trade path connecting the Mediterranean to the far north, he argues, why are horned helmets and other iconography discovered in Sardinia and Scandinavia, however not in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, or the Netherlands? “Even if you assume seafarers went directly from Sardinia to Scandinavia, they must have stopped along the way.”
Kaul states the research study reveals the Vikings weren’t the only Scandinavian society with distant connections in the past. “You can see trade networks and religious ties over long distances already in the Bronze Age,” Kaul states. “The Bronze Age is much more interesting than the Viking Age.”