View Full Version : Your Favorite Historical Artifacts

Sunday, January 15th, 2012, 10:47 PM
What are some of your favorite historical artifacts? Though encouraged, it does not have to fall under the margin of Germanic, or even European, but should also fall within the timeframe of "Ancient"


Gundestrup Cauldron

The Gundestrup cauldron is a richly decorated silver vessel, thought to date between 200 BC and 300 AD, placing it within the late La Tène period or early Roman Iron Age. The cauldron is the largest known example of European Iron Age silver work (diameter: 69 cm, height: 42 cm). It was found in 1891 in a peat bog near the hamlet of Gundestrup in the Aars parish of Himmerland, Denmark. It is now housed at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen (with a replica in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.) Despite the fact that the vessel was found in Denmark, there has been a debate between a Gaulish origin and Thracian origin on account of the workmanship, metallurgy, and imagery.


Friday, January 20th, 2012, 07:43 PM
Animal head-posts from Oseberg, Norway
Dated to the 9th century CE.


http://ic2.pbase.com/o3/06/642806/1/87690309.7zz09FFn.DSC_8197AAA_filtered.j pg




These animal head posts are examples of excellence in Viking carving. The detail of the workmanship is extraordinary. The purpose of the animal head posts is unknown, but their fearsome aspect with open jaws suggests that they were intended to ward off evil spirits. Five of these head posts were found, all with a slot for a handle at the lower edge of the neck, indicating that perhaps they were used in some sort of procession.

All excavated a mere 2 kilometers from where I was born, as a part of the greater Oseberg escavation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oseberg_ship). :)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 10:16 PM
Antikythera mechanismhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/NAMA_Machine_d%27Anticyth%C3%A8re_1.jpg

The Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in 1900–1901 from the Antikythera wreck. Its significance and complexity were not understood until decades later. Its time of construction is now estimated between 150 and 100 BC. Technological artifacts of similar complexity and workmanship did not reappear until the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks were built in Europe
Jacques-Yves Cousteau visited the wreck for the last time in 1978, but found no additional remains of the Antikythera mechanism. Professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University who led the most recent study of the mechanism said: "This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind. The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right. The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely carefully ... in terms of historic and scarcity value, I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa."

The device is displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, accompanied by a reconstruction made and donated to the museum by Derek de Solla Price. Other reconstructions are on display at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana, the Children's Museum of Manhattan in New York, and in Kassel, Germany.


Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 10:31 PM


The Trundholm sun chariot (Danish: Solvognen), is a late Nordic Bronze Age artifact discovered in Denmark. It is a representation of the sun chariot, a bronze statue of a horse and a large bronze disk, which are placed on a device with spoked wheels.

The sculpture was discovered with no accompanying objects in 1902 in a peat bog on the Trundholm moor in West Zealand County on the northwest coast of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) in Denmark


The sculpture is dated by the Nationalmuseet to about 1400 BC, though other dates have been suggested. Unfortunately it was found before pollen-dating was developed, which would have enabled a more confident dating.

A model of a horse-drawn vehicle on spoked wheels in Northern Europe at such an early time is surprising; they would not be expected to appear until the end of the Late Bronze Age, which ranges from 1100 BC to 550 BC. This and aspects of the decoration may suggest a Danubian origin or influence in the object, although the Nationalmuseet is confident it is of Nordic origin.

Possible function as a calendar

Klaus Randsborg, professor of archeology at the University of Copenhagen, has pointed out that the sum of an addition of the number of spirals in each circle of the disk, multiplied by the number of the circles in which they are found, counted from the middle (1x1 + 2x8 + 3x20 + 4x25), results in a total of 177, which comes very close to the number of days in six synodic months, only 44 min 2.8 s shorter each.

The synodic cycle is the time that elapses between two successive conjunctions of an object in the sky, such as a specific star, with the sun. It is the time that elapses before the object will reappear at the same point in the sky when observed from the Earth, so it is the apparent orbital period observed from Earth.

He asserts his belief that this demonstrates that the disk was designed by a person with some measure of astronomic knowledge and that the sculpture may have functioned as a calendar.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 10:37 PM
The Mammen style is a phase of Scandinavian animal art during the late 10th century and the early 11th century. The style is named after finds from a chamber tomb in Mammen on Jutland, Denmark. The finds included a silver engraved axe of which one side shows a markedly stylized animal with long appendages braided along the body. There are animal representations that can have a more realistic style, like one of the lions on the Jelling stones. During this style there was an introduction of plant motifs.

The animal ornamentation of the Viking Age is usually categorized into Oseberg style, Borre style, Jelling style, Mammen style, Ringerike style and Urnes style.



Modern replica:



There was also a mammen style sword in the grave, but only have a drawn reproduction of it. Can't seem to find any pictures on google about it.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 10:43 PM

The Nebra Sky Disk is a bronze disk of around 30 cm diameter, with a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These are interpreted generally as a sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars (including a cluster interpreted as the Pleiades). Two golden arcs along the sides, marking the angle between the solstices, were added later. A final addition was another arc at the bottom surrounded with multiple strokes (of uncertain meaning, variously interpreted as a Solar Barge with numerous oars, as the Milky Way or as a rainbow).

The disk is attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, and associatively dated to c. 1600 BC. It has been associated with the Bronze Age Unetice culture.

The disk is unlike any known artistic style from the period, and had initially been suspected of being a forgery, but is now widely accepted as authentic.


Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 10:49 PM
Helmet of Ciumeşti

One of the best known and most often reproduced pieces of Celtic art is the helmet found in a warrior chieftain's grave at Ciumeşti (now Satu Mare County, Romania). The Ciumeşti helmet is half-round with a neck protector and was hammered out of a single bronze plate with the cheek pieces bolted on afterwards. A bronze spike protrudes through the top of the helmet to which is fixed a cylinder on which a bird perches. The legs and the underpart of the head are cast while the remainder is hammered. The eyes are yellow ivory with a red enamel pupil, fastened in with bitumen. Overall the bird is 13 inches (330 mm) in length and has a wingspan of 9 inches (230 mm).

The bird, whether raven, eagle or falcon, is a known Celtic totem. The representation of the bird of prey hovering over the Ciumeşti helmet had a profound supernatural significance since in the world of the La Tène Celts based on the ample documentary evidence endorsing the special ritual associations of birds. Note that the Gundestrup cauldron, now in Copenhagen, also depicts a bird crest on helmets.

Wilcox and McBride mentioned that their illustration of the iron Gallic warrior's helmet of the middle La Tene period had been reconstructed the on the basis of the Ciumesti helmet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celts_in_Transylvania#Helmet_of_Ciume.C5 .9Fti

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 11:05 PM
The helmet found at the Anglo-Saxon ship burial of Sutton Hoo always fascinated me. It's an unmatched piece of ancient craftsmanship in my opinion.
Its outward form is evidence of the strong connections to Scandinavia at that time yet it seems to be an evolved native Anglo-Saxon form.

Original(It was shattered into hundreds of fragments when it was found):



Replica(The Royal Armouries did an impressive job):



Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 06:33 PM
Gundestrup Cauldron

The Gundestrup cauldron is a richly decorated silver vessel, thought to date between 200 BC and 300 AD, placing it within the late La Tène period or early Roman Iron Age. The cauldron is the largest known example of European Iron Age silver work (diameter: 69 cm, height: 42 cm). It was found in 1891 in a peat bog near the hamlet of Gundestrup in the Aars parish of Himmerland, Denmark. It is now housed at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen (with a replica in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.) Despite the fact that the vessel was found in Denmark, there has been a debate between a Gaulish origin and Thracian origin on account of the workmanship, metallurgy, and imagery.


Judging from its estimated age and assigned origin, I would guess the cauldron could be one of the spoils of Viking raids along the coast of what is today known as Normandy.

Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 06:39 PM
Judging from its estimated age and assigned origin, I would guess the cauldron could be one of the spoils of Viking raids along the coast of what is today known as Normandy.

The caudron was found in a Danish bog in the 1891. Tracian in origin, it's posited to be a kingly gift from one Tracian tribe to a Celtic one, as evidenced by the distinctly Celtic motifs, and it depends on who you ask, but the most conservative guess would be that the cauldron was taken by Teutonic tribes as war booty and then deposited as a votive sacrifice in Denmark.

Taylor and Bergquist have postulated that the Celtic tribe known as the Cordisci commissioned the cauldron from native Thracian silversmiths. According to classical historians, the Cimbri, a Teutonic tribe, went south from the lower Elbe region and attacked the Scordisci in 118 BC. After withstanding several defeats at the hands of the Romans, the Cimbri retreated north with the cauldron to settle in Himmerland, where the vessel was found

Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 08:20 PM
The Crosby Garrett Helmet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosby_Garrett_Helmet)


The Crosby Garrett Helmet is a brass Roman cavalry helmet dating to the late 1st to mid 3rd century AD. It was found by an unnamed metal detectorist near Crosby Garrett in Cumbria, England, in May 2010, close to a Roman road, but a distance from any recorded Roman settlements.The helmet is thought to have been used for ceremonial occasions rather than for combat. Similar helmets found in Britain are the Ribchester Helmet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribchester_Helmet) (found in 1796), the Hallaton Helmet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallaton_Helmet) (found in 2000) and the Newstead Helmet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newstead_Helmet) (found in 1905), though it has closer parallels with helmets found in southern Europe.

Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 11:13 PM
An ivory carving dated to 27,000 BC. Oldest known depiction of the human face.

Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 11:50 PM
The Witham Shield


The Witham Shield (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witham_Shield) is an Iron Age decorative bronze shield facing of La Tène style, dating from about the 4th century BC. The shield was discovered in the River Witham in the vicinity of Washingborough and Fiskerton in Lincolnshire, England in 1826 (roughly 20 miles from where I live :)). Further excavations at a nearby site have revealed posts interpreted as the foundation for a causeway, as well as artifacts including a sword, spears and part of a human skull with a sword fragment lodged within. The shield now resides in the British Museum.


The Witham Shield is an example of the style of Celtic art known as La Tène. The bronze facings show evidence of having been reworked. The most noticeable feature is the central dome which would have been required for functional reasons as it allowed the owner to hold the shield close to its centre of gravity. Originally a leather silhouette of a long-legged wild boar would have been riveted to the shield around the central dome, as indicated by small rivet holes and staining of the shield. The pattern of discolouration was very clear when the shield was recovered from the River Witham. Although it is still possible to see the discolouration under certain lighting conditions, the boar design is no longer easy to make out. The boar may have been a tribal emblem or represented the prowess of the shield's owner, but could also have been a representation of the Celtic god Moccus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moccus). The shield also has a number of birds and animals incorporated into the design. The roundels at each end are inspired by the heads of birds, which are supported by horses with wings for ears. Birds similar to crested grebes are engraved on the central spine and this completes the engraving work elsewhere.


The shield was made principally from wood, now perished, to a design later known as a "Gaulish Shield" that originated in the seventh century BC. What remains is an almost complete facing that had been made to cover its surface. The sheeting is 0.2-0.3 mm thick and was designed to be applied to a wooden backing estimated at 8 mm thick. There are two main sheets that meet at the midpoint of the shield. Each of these sheets is just over one meter long. The join is not neat, and it is hidden from view by a covering strip. The shield is decorated with a central spindle boss, on which are pieces of red coral that are thought to have come from the Mediterranean area.

Friday, January 27th, 2012, 05:06 AM
"Early Iron age tattoo equipment". These beauties can be seen at the National Museum of National Antiques in Stockholm. I apologize for not having any more information on them, I've had this picture for years now and haven't been able to find more information on them since.

the bayeux tapestry
The tapestry is a band of linen 231 feet (70 metres) long and 19.5 inches (49.5 cm) wide, now light brown with age, on which are embroidered, in worsteds of eight colours, more than 70 scenes representing the Norman Conquest. The story begins with a prelude to Harold’s visit to Bosham on his way to Normandy (1064?) and ends with the flight of Harold’s English forces from Hastings (October 1066); originally, the story may have been taken further, but the end of the strip was either not completed or later removed.

Friday, January 27th, 2012, 05:40 AM
If the Romans were forgetful enough to leave such great things all over Britain, just image what treasures lie elsewhere.

the Hallaton Helmet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallaton_Helmet) (found in 2000)

10 January 2012

What has been hailed as one of the most significant recent UK Iron Age finds is going on display after a nine-year conservation project.

The decorated Roman cavalry helmet was discovered at a site in Leicestershire.

Experts said its date, close to the Roman invasion of 43 AD, meant it could be evidence of Celtic tribes serving with the Roman army.

The artefact, which was found in fragments, has been restored by a team at the British Museum.

The Hallaton Helmet will be displayed permanently at Harborough Museum, in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, from 28 January alongside the other finds from the site.




Speaking of helmets, here is a Greek one from 350-325 BC, found at Herculanum, Taranto, in Italy.


Friday, January 27th, 2012, 04:18 PM
The Coppergate Helmet


The Coppergate helmet (York helmet) was found in May 1982 at a site where many Viking Age artifacts had been discovered previously during the archeological excavations. The Anglo-Saxon helmet was right beneath the surface, protected by a brick chimney above. It was created about AD 750-775 but deposited considerably later: the brass decoration was already worn. There are also evidence of using the helmet in battle. Then someone buried it in a wood-lined pit along with a few other objects. It is unclear why such a fine possession was hidden, but it attracted universal attention after it was struck by the claw of a mechanical digger 28 years ago.

After careful excavation and reconstruction the quality craftsmanship of the Coppergate helmet became evident. It was made of iron, with two cheek-plates and a well-preserved mail curtain. Its characteristic feature is a long nose-guard. Both the guard and the edge of eyebrows are richly decorated with brass ornamentation (tests revealed that it contains about 85 percent copper). The framework of the helmet consists of four main elements: a band of iron encircling the head; the brow band to which another band is riveted, running from front to back over the crown; two shorter bands run over the ears. The four spaces between these bands are filled with triangular plates.
The brass strips running from ear to ear and from front to back bear a Latin inscription that reads: IN NOMINE : DNI : NOSTRI : IHV : SCS : SPS : DI : ET : OMNIBVS : DECEMVS : AMEN : OSHERE : XPI. The last segment of the inscription represents the first three letters in XPICTOC, Christ in Greek. Oshere is an Anglo-Saxon personal name. The initial part of the inscription seems clear: 'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God [the Father]'. What follows received various interpretations: 'And with all we pray. Amen', or: 'And to all we say Amen or else: 'Let us offer up Oshere to all saints. Amen'.

Herr Weigelt
Saturday, January 28th, 2012, 02:47 AM
For me it would have to be The Lewis Chessmen. They were chess pieces carved out of walrus tusk in the 1100's in Norway most likely and found in Scotland.



Sunday, January 29th, 2012, 01:53 AM
Coligny Calendar
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coligny_calendar

The Gaulish Coligny calendar was found in Coligny, Ain, France (46°23′N 5°21′E) near Lyon in 1897, along with the head of a bronze statue of a youthful male figure. It is a lunisolar calendar. It is now held at the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon.

It was engraved on a bronze tablet, preserved in 73 fragments, that originally was 1.48 m wide and 0.9 m high (Lambert p. 111) or approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) wide by 3½ feet in height.[1] Based on the style of lettering and the accompanying objects, it probably dates to the end of the 2nd century AD[2][3]. It is written in Latin inscriptional capitals and is in the Gaulish language (Duval & Pinault). The restored tablet contains sixteen vertical columns, with 62 months distributed over five years.

The French archaeologist, J. Monard, speculated that it was recorded by druids wishing to preserve their tradition of timekeeping in a time when the Julian calendar was being imposed throughout the Roman Empire. However, the general form of the calendar suggests the public peg calendars (or parapegmata) found throughout the Greek and Roman world (Lehoux pp. 63–65).

A similar calendar found nearby at Villards d'Heria (46°25′N 5°44′E) is only preserved in eight small fragments. It is now preserved in the Musée d'Archéologie du Jura at Lons-le-Saunier.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 09:23 PM
Press to enlarge

According to experts, if confirmed, this will be only the second depiction of a female Roman gladiator ever found, but even more impressive than the first considering this one killed whatever the hell she did with only one a single hand and leg.

The gladiator statue shows a topless woman, wearing only a loincloth and a bandage around her left knee. Her hair is long, although neat, and in the air she raises what the researcher, Alfonso Manas of the University of Granada, believes is a sica, a short curved sword used by gladiators. The gesture she gives is a "salute to the people, to the crowd," Manas said, an action done by victorious gladiators at the end of a fight.

The female fighter is looking down at the ground, presumably at her fallen opponent

Source http://www.livescience.com/19729-female-gladiator-statue-rome.html

Thursday, July 5th, 2012, 11:28 PM
Probably not my favorite, but interesting nonetheless.

When Susannah Kelly of UCD completed the belts conservation she passed it to leather specialist John Nicholl who is currently analysing it. The condition and quality of the belt has surpassed all our wildest expectations, and it truly ranks as a ‘Museum Piece.’ John has kindly allowed us to share some of his photographs of the item with our readers; these shots were taken yesterday as he continues his work on the analysis. You will note that the hinged Heraldic shields appear to carry a Lion Rampant as a motif!
John’s initial thoughts are that it may be a scabbard belt of possible 14th or 15th century date, though analysis is at a very early stage so this interpretation may change. The buckles have been cut down and reused on the object, which would undoubtedly have been a valuable item when it was discarded. It is unclear if the heraldic symbols represent a nobility affiliation or if they serve a purely decorative function, but it is hoped heraldic analysis will clarify some of these issues.

Thursday, July 5th, 2012, 11:35 PM
I've always been fond of this Anglo-Saxon brooch from the Pentney Hoard. I think it is quite the exquisite example of ancient Germanic art.


Thursday, July 5th, 2012, 11:40 PM

The Oseberg Ship


Anglo Saxon Brooch

Thursday, July 26th, 2012, 10:13 PM
"The Bull Torc" (over six kilos of silver) found at Trichtingen, Germany, 2nd century BC. Quite fancy, whoever possessed such a piece must have been fabulously wealthy, probably due to lucrative trade between hinterland Celts and their Greek traders along the Rhone/Rhine trade routes.


Thursday, July 26th, 2012, 10:25 PM

The Berlin Gold Hat is a Late Bronze Age artefact made of thin gold leaf. It served as the external covering on a long conical brimmed headdress, probably of an organic material. The Berlin Gold Hat is the best preserved specimen among the four known conical Golden hats known from Bronze Age Central Europe so far. Of the three others, two were found in southern Germany, and one in the west of France. All were found in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It is generally assumed that the hats served as the insignia of deities or priests in the context of a sun cult that appears to have been widespread in Central Europe at the time. The hats are also suggested to have served astronomical/calendrical functions. A comparative study of the ornaments and techniques in conjunction with dateable finds suggests that it was made in the Late Bronze Age, circa 1,000 to 800 BC.

Monday, August 13th, 2012, 05:01 PM
Scythian Gold Comb, circa 400 BC, found in Solokha Barrow, Ukraine in 1913.


Bronze Celtic Pony Cap, 1st century BC, National Museum of Scotland


Bronze Celtic Helmet, found at Tintignac, France in 2004, 2nd-1st cent. BC.


Monday, August 13th, 2012, 06:05 PM
My favorite is the Sutton Hoo helmet, but because that was already posted, I'll go with the Sutton Hoo belt buckle:


Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 12:29 AM
Battersea Shield
The Battersea Shield is one of the most significant pieces of ancient Celtic military equipment found in Britain. The Battersea Shield probably dates from the 1st century BC or early 1st century AD, though an earlier date is possible, and dates from as early as 350 BC have been suggested.

Wallertheimer-Hündchen (“Wallertheim little dog”)
In Wallertheim (Germany), up to the present day, a great many archaeological finds have been made, of which the Wallertheimer-Hündchen (“Wallertheim little dog”) might well be the best known. It is 2.1 cm long and 1.6 cm broad. It is made of blue glass covered with white threads and was recovered as part of a find of grave goods in a Celtic child’s grave of the late La Téne culture. The trove is dated to about the second century BC.

Pillar of the Boatmen
The Pillar of the Boatmen is a square-section stone bas-relief with depictions of several deities, both Gaulish and Roman. Dating to the first quarter of the 1st century AD, it originally stood in a temple in the Gallo-Roman civitas of Lutetia (modern Paris, France) and is one of the earliest pieces of representational Gaulish art to carry a written inscription.

Pietroasele Treasure
The Pietroasele Treasure found in Pietroasele, Buzău, Romania, is a late fourth-century Gothic treasure that included some twenty-two objects of gold, among the most famous examples of the polychrome style of Migration Period art.

Thursday, August 16th, 2012, 06:23 AM

Monday, October 24th, 2016, 05:35 AM
A horde of ancient Greek helmets stored in the Olympia Museum


Tuesday, October 25th, 2016, 08:43 PM
A Roman cavalry mask from Kalkriese, and most likely from The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

During the four day battle in the ninth century A.D. the Germanic tribes avenged the brutal occupation of the Romans, under the Cherusci chieftain Arminius.
Twenty-thousand Romans were wiped out.

A timely reminder of what happens to "empires", when the Germanic people are pushed too far.