Archaeologists in a new study have concluded that the famous helmets with horns, which are traditionally attributed to the Viking civilization, actually had nothing to do with this people. Although there is a possibility that such helmets symbolized the power of tribal leaders in Scandinavia during the Bronze Age. Details about the work of experts wrote the portal Live Science.
During the mining of peat in the bogs near the town of Vexe in Denmark in 1942, the worker found two helmets “with eyes and beaks. When investigating the site, scientists found fragments of a wooden board, which most likely contained one of the helmets, suggesting that they were drowned in the mire on purpose. Based on the appearance of the artifacts, scientists assumed that such helmets could create the Vikings during the Bronze Age, which in their territories lasted from the cedar XVIII to V centuries BC. However, the exact dating was not established then.
“For many years, Vexe helmets have been associated with the Vikings in popular culture. But in fact, this is not the case. The history of helmets with horns from the Bronze Age goes back to the history of the Middle East,” says Helle Vandkilde, an archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark.
In her paper published in Praehistorische Zeitschrift, Vandkilde proved that the helmets found in Denmark ended up in the swamp long before the Viking Age in the region. It is estimated that the artifacts were submerged about 3,000 years ago, in the ninth century B.C. Researchers used a clump of birch resin found on one of the horns for radiocarbon dating.
In addition to the memorable horns, the helmets from Vexe are decorated with elements resembling the eyes and beak of a bird of prey. Experts have suggested that feathers were also attached to the horns of the helmets with birch resin, and plumes of horsehair went along the crest.
Historians have suggested that the bull and the bird of prey could symbolize the sun, as similar symbolism was found in other parts of Europe of that period, including Sardinia and Iberia. Researchers believe these symbols might have come to Scandinavia by sea with traders who arrived in the land of the northerners from the Mediterranean along the Atlantic coast in the 10th century BC.
Scholars believe the helmets found on the moor were never used in battle, for Scandinavians of that period usually went into battle without helmets at all. However, it is highly likely that local tribal leaders wore helmets as a symbol of power at a time when the region gained some weight in local political relations.