Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Helmet (Spangenhelm)

6th–7th century
Byzantine or Germanic
Iron, copper alloy, gold
H. 8 9/16 in. (21.8 cm); Diam. 7 13/16 in. (19.9 cm); Wt. 2 lb. (907 g)
Credit Line:
Gift of Stephen V. Grancsay, 1942
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 370
This helmet comes from a small group of closely related Spangenhelme (strap helmets). The sites where they have been found are widely scattered, ranging from Sweden to Germany, the Balkans and Libya. The Metropolitan Museum’s helmet was found in the Saône River near Trévoux, France. The quality of the helmets and their diverse find sites suggest that they were made as diplomatic gifts to foreign rulers, perhaps sent from the Byzantine court or from the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy.

All the helmets originally had metal cheek pieces, a mail neck defense, and often an integral nasal. As on this helmet, the decoration typically consists of patterns punched into the radiating straps and birds amid an undulating grapevine embossed on the brow band. Some examples include crosses and other Christian symbols.
Georges Pauilhac, Paris[Sumner Healey, New York, 1930, sold for $2000 to Mackay]; Clarence H. Mackay, New York (1930–d. 1938; sold through his estate to Grancsay before July 15, 1940); Stephen V. Grancsay, New York (by July 15, 1940 until 1942; acquired by MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of European Arms and Armor," August 3, 1931–September 27, 1931.

New York. Brooklyn Museum. "Loan Exhibition of European Arms and Armor," June 12–October 1, 1933.

Baltimore. Baltimore Museum of Art. "Early Christian and Byzantine Art," April 15–June 22, 1947.

Boston. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Romans & Barbarians," December 17, 1976–February 27, 1977, no. 159.

Gröbbels, I. W. Der Reihengräberfund Von Gammertingen: Auf ... Befehl ... Des Fürsten Von Hohenzollern. Munich, 1905. (this type of helmet discussed).

Arendt, Wsewolod. "Beiträge zur entstehung des Spangenharnisches. Ein alttürkischer Waffenfund ans Kertsch." Zeitschrift für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde 13, n.s.v. 4, Heft 3 (1932). pp. 49–55 .

Grancsay, Stephen V., and Brooklyn Museum. Loan Exhibition of European Arms and Armor. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum, June–August 1933. cat. no. 48 (called Frankish, VII century; lent by Clarence H. Mackay).

Arendt, Wsewolod. "Der Nomadenhelm des fruhen Mittelalters in Osteuropa." Zeitschrift für historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde 147, n.s.v. 5 (1936). pp. 26–34.

Kuhn, Herbert. "Spangenhelm, Gefunden auf Gotland." Ipek: Jahrbuch Für Prähistorische & Ethnographische Kunst 11 (1936–37). p. 170 (this, and similar helmets discussed).

Saarinen, Aline B. 5000 Years of Art in Western Civilization. New York: Howell, Soskin, 1946. p. 22, no. 9, ill.

Miner, Dorothy, ed. Early Christian and Byzantine Art: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1947. cat. no. 350, pl. XLVII.

Grancsay, Stephen V. "A Barbarian Chieftain's Helmet." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 7, no. 10 (June 1949). pp. 272–81, ill.

Grancsay, Stephen V. "The New Galleries of European Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 14, no. 9 (May 1956). pp. 206–7, ill.

Grancsay, Stephen V. "The New Galleries of Oriental Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16, no. 9 (May 1958). p. 253, ill. and compared to early Japanese helmet.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Guide to the Collections: Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1962. pp. 2–3, fig 2.

Grancsay, Stephen V. "A Sasanian Chieftain's Helmet." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 21, no. 8 (April 1963). p. 262, fig. 16.

Hejdová, D. "Der Sogenannte St.-Wenzels-Helm." Waffen und Kostumkunde 25, Heft 2, and 26, Heft 1 (1966–67).

Schneider, H. "Der Helm von Niederralta." Waffen- und Kostümkunde 26, Heft 2 (1967).

Pirling, R. "Ein Spangenhelm des Typs Baldenheim aus Leptis Magna in Libyen." In Studien Zur Vor Und Frühgeschichtlichen Archäologie: Festschrift F. Joachim Werner Z. 65. Geburtstag. München: Beck, 1974.

Romans & Barbarians. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1976. p. 134, no. 159 (called Ostrogothic, 6th century A.D., ill.).

Thomas, Bruno. "Ein Ostgotischer Spangenhelm in Lybien." Waffen- und Kostümkunde 23, Heft 1, and 24, Heft 1 (1981–2). Heft 1, 1981 and Heft 1, 1982.

Gamber, Ortwin. "Die Frühmittelalterlichen Spangenhelm." Waffen- und Kostümkunde 24, Heft 2 (1982).

Bonnamour, L. "Chronique Archéologique." Société d'Histoire et d'Archéologie de Chalon-sur-Saône 55 (1985–86). pp. 27–28, ill.

James, S. "Evidence from Dura Europas for the Origins of Late Roman helmets." Syria 63 (1986). pp. 107–34.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer 1991). pp. 9, 10, 64, ill. p. 9.

Abbaye de Daoulas. Rome Face Aux Barbares: 1000 Ans Pour Un Empire: Abbaye De Daoulas, 19 Juin–26 Septembre 1993. [Daoulas]: Centre Cultural Abbaye de Daoulas, avec la collaboration de la Bibliothèque Nationale, 1993. nos. 83.11, 84.04.01, 84.04.02 (similar helmets).

Palazzo Reale di Milano. I Goti. Milan: Electa, 1994. p. 192, nos. III. 24–25, figs. III. 67–68 (similar helmets in Chieti and Berlin discussed).

Brown, Katharine R., Dafydd Kidd, and Charles T. Little, ed. From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. pp. 125, 357, fig. 11.8.

Vogt, Mahand. "Die Spangenhelme aus Montepagano und Chalon-sur-Saone im Deutschen Historischen Museum Berlin." Acta Praehistorica et Archaeologica 35 (2003). pp. 65–77.

Vogt, Mahand. "Die Fruehmittelaterlichen Spangenhelme – Ein Ueberblick zu Archaeologischen, Kunsthistorischen und Herstellungstechnischen Problemen." Acta Praehistorica et Archaeologica 35 (2003). pp. 9–29.

Vogt, Mahand. "Spangenhelme: Baldenheim Und Verwandte Typen." PhD diss., Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, 2006. pp. 248–51, no. 28, pls. 28, 5/1, and foldout insert no. 15.

Vogt, Mahand. "Der Fruehmittelalterliche Spangenhelm aus dem Genfersee." Helvetia Archaeologica 40, no. 158 (2009). pp. 34–61, fig. 9.

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