The richly ornamented helmet was fashioned for a wealthy member of a northern Thracian tribe living near the Danube River in modern Romania or Bulgaria. It was hammered from one sheet of silver with a high dome to accommodate the top-knot of hair worn by many Thracians.
The main elements of the design are in low relief; the details were chased and engraved. On the brow piece fierce eyes with bushy eyebrows stare out. One cheek piece bears a horned animal, the other a huge bird of prey with a fish in its beak and a rabbit in its claws. The back and upper edges are embellished with linear designs of rosettes, vines, feathers, and scallops. The interpretation of the imagery is uncertain, but the motifs may refer to traditional myths well known to contemporary Thracians and appropriate to the elaborate armor of a warrior.
Artist Thracian, Greek
Title
  • Helmet
Date 4th Century BC
Medium silver
Dimensions Overall: 9 1/2 × 7 1/8 inches (24.1 × 18.1 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Sarah Bacon Hill Fund
Accession Number 56.18
Department Greco-Roman and Ancient European
On View Ancient Greek and Roman S202, Level 2 (see map)
Formerly in the collection of:
Franz Tau, Vienna (sold Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, Nov
1954, no 30);
Elie Borowski, Toronto
DIA BULLETIN, vol 36, no 3, 1956-57, p 68 (ill).

Piggott, S., ANCIENT EUROPE, Chicago: Aldine, 1965, pp 224-6 (ill), as Dacian 3rd-2nd second century B.C.

"Arta Traco-Getica", BIBLIOTEGA DE ARCHEOLOGIE, v 14, Bucharest, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Romania, pp 83-88 (ill).

Rosu, L., CONSILIUL CULTURII SI EDUCATIEI SOCIALISTE REVISTA MUZEELOR SI MONUMENTALOR, Bucharest, 1975, no 12, 2:55-59 (ill).

Nickel, H., ULLSTEIN WAFFENBUCH, Frankfurt, 1974, p 60 (ill).

Farkas, Anne E., "Style and Subject Matter in Native Thracian Art," METROPOLITAN MUSEUM JOURNAL, vol 16, 1981, pp 33-48, p 34 for mention of helmet associated with the Getae and Triballi tribes of northern Thrace.

Meyers, Pieter, "Three Silver Objects from Thrace: A Technical Examination," METROLPOLITAN MUSEUM JOURNAL, vol 16, 1981, pp 49-54.

Goldman, B., "A Scythian Helmet from the Danube," DIA BULLETIN, vol 42, no 4, 1963, pp 63-71 (ill).

Goldman, B., "Late Scythian Art in the West: The Detroit Helmet," IPEK, vol 22, 1966-69, pp 67-76.

Rosu, L., "Thraco-Getae-Dacian Art Works In The Detroit Institute of Arts," ROMANIANS CELEBRATING ONTARIO: HERITAGE FESTIVAL, Toronto, 1984, pp 166-168.

"Family Art Game: Details, Details, Details," DIA Advertising Supplement, The Detroit Free Press, April 29, 1990, p. 25 (ill.).

A Visitors Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts, ed. Julia P. Henshaw (Detroit 1995), p. 101 (ill.)

A. Fol et al., The Rogozen Treasure, Sofia, 1989, p. 42 compares Rogozan Beaker #165 to the Metropolitan Museum beaker, the two cups from Aghigol and the Detroit helmet in the iconography of the horned bird of prey which symbolizes ad deity with supernatural powers to defeat evil. p. 194 Author says that the Metropolitan Museum beaker and the Detroit helmet may have been found near Rogozen.