East–central Europe, Carpathian Basin region
Copper alloy; H. 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm), Diam. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
Purchase, Caroline Howard Hyman Gift, in memory of Margaret English Fraser, 2000 (2000.281.1)
Made from a single sheet of hammered bronze plate, this rare and well-preserved diadem was probably worn by a high-ranking woman during the Late Bronze Age. Its spiral fastener, incised with a delicate pattern of triangles and parallel lines, was perhaps worn in the back with the spirals directed downward. This imposing object was produced by workshops in the Carpathian Mountains: in continental Europe, no workshops were more prolific, more creative, or more technologically accomplished than these. Spirals had long figured in Bronze Age ornamentation, but these artisans transformed a merely decorative pattern into sculptural forms of imposing size. They used the motif to adorn an array of jewelry, including armbands, legbands, rings, pendants, and large brooches. It is impossible to know what kind of significance was attached to this form.