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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Helmet of the Negau Type
Other Titles
Former Title: Etruscan Helmet
Work Type
late 6th-early 5th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Etruria
Archaic period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

19.5 x 22.8 x 25.5 x 0.2 cm (7 11/16 x 9 x 10 1/16 x 1/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: iron
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is green with some blue corrosion products, which are raised warts in many areas. Deep layers of red oxide are exposed at areas of loss. Brown burial accretions remain in the crevices. Approximately half of the helmet is heavily mineralized, which has resulted in losses to the decorative band at the bottom. A modern, synthetic resin fill material is present on the decorative band and in the crevices of the lower section of the helmet. A 4-cm band of modern reinforcing fill material has been applied to the interior of the dome along the entire front to back ridge plane. This was added to strengthen an irregular crack along this line that is visible in the x-radiograph.

X-radiography reveals rounded and elongated hammer marks from the raising process used to form the dome. The main portion of the helmet is formed from a single piece of metal with no joins. The x-radiographs and examination of the brim of the helmet under magnification reveal that the raising process continued out to the brim, which turns downwards at 90 degrees to form the incised decorative band (1.4 cm high). The lower edge of this band is slightly thicker, probably for structural reasons. A separate flange of copper alloy is inserted upward into the brim; it appears to be held in place by its tight fit. The flange is c. 2 mm thick and bends down at the inner edge where it has about 24 perforations (1.5 mm in diameter), which were probably used to affix a cloth or leather liner.

The incised decoration of the band at the brim is obscured by corrosion in most locations, but in a few areas, a simple row of dentals can be seen at the top and bottom edges. Between these, incised lines create five fine bands, which vary slightly in width.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)

Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: written in retrograte Etruscan two times on the underside of the rim:
    Kavelnas or Kapelnas
    [possibly the name of the owner of the helmet]


Recorded Ownership History
Lord Hawkins, (1887 accordiing to Hesperia Sales Catalogue XX. no. 241). [Hesperia Art, Philadelphia, PA] (1962), sold; to the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University, (1962-2012), transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
The bowl and brim of this helmet are made in one piece and attached to a ring on the interior of the brim that bears an inscribed name, presumably of the owner, written twice using Etruscan letter forms. The sides of the bowl of the helmet come to a point, creating a ridge down the center. The ridge cracked after manufacture and was repaired. Below the ridged section, the bowl turns inward, creating a concave band before flaring out again to the brim. The brim is decorated around the outside with two bands of denticulation on the top and bottom (now best seen in x-radiograph). The inside edge of the ring under the brim is turned up and perforated by a series of holes to allow a lining (of leather or cloth) to be attached inside the helmet. The helmet is green and light brown, almost completely mineralized, with a great deal of corrosion visible on the exterior. Two sections are missing from the brim.

The helmet is probably a representative of the Vetulonian sub-type of Negau helmets (1). Vetulonian helmets are one of the most common varieties of the type; they seem to have been manufactured in Etruscan and central Italy in the 5th century BCE. The helmets may have also had attachments for horsehair crests, but these attachments do not often survive.


1. For a discussion of the evolution, decoration, and distribution of Italian helmets, including the Negau variant, see M. Egg, “Italische Helme mit Krempe,” in Antike Helme: Sammlung Lipperheide und andere Bestände des Antikenmuseums Berlin, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Forschungsinstitut für Vor- und Frühgeschichte Monographien 14 (Mainz, 1988) 222-70, esp. 243-70. The Harvard example most closely resembles the Vetulonian and Italian-Slovenian variants. See also P. Reinecke, “Der Negauer Helmfund,” Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission 32 (1942): 117-98.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • Sidney Goldstein, "An Etruscan Helmet in the McDaniel Collection", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1968), Vol. 72, pp. 383-90
  • John Crawford, Sidney Goldstein, George M. A. Hanfmann, John Kroll, Judith Lerner, Miranda Marvin, Charlotte Moore, and Duane Roller, Objects of Ancient Daily Life. A Catalogue of the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection Belonging to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, ed. Jane Waldbaum, Department of the Classics (unpublished manuscript, 1970), M142, p. 195 [J. S. Crawford]

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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