Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Sword and Scabbard

ca. 60 B.C.
Iron blade, copper alloy hilt and scabbard
Overall: 19 5/8 x 2 5/8 x 7/8 in. (49.8 x 6.7 x 2.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1999
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
This magnificent anthropomorphic Celtic sword is also one of the best preserved. The beautifully modeled head that terminates the hilt is one of the finest surviving images of a Celtic warrior. The human form of the hilt—appearing as a geometric reduction of a classical warrior—must have been intended to enhance the power of the owner and to bear a talismanic significance. The face is emphatically articulated with large almond eyes, and the head with omega-shaped and finely drawn hair.

Although the scabbard has become amalgamated to the iron blade, affecting parts of the surface, its ornamentation and the exquisitely worked hilt make the whole an evocative statement about the technical ability of the Celts, the powerful conquerors of ancient Europe. The sword is of a type associated with the La Tène culture, named after the important Celtic site on Lake Neuchâtel in present-day Switzerland and eastern France. Other related anthropomorphic swords from diverse finds in France, Ireland, and the British Isles demonstrate the expansion of the Celts across Europe. As the first such example in the Museum's collection, the sword is a superb and singular example that richly adds to a select group of Celtic works of art.
Said to have been found in Switzerland (Schultz, 1997, no. 17); Private Collection, Switzerland; [ Frederick Schultz, Ancient Art Inc., New York (sold 1999)]
Frederick Schultz Ancient Art Inc. Plain Geometry : Armament and Adornment in Pre-Classical Europe. New York: Frederick Schultz Ancient Art Inc., 1997. no. 17.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1998-1999." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57, no. 2 (Fall 1999). pp. 14-15.

Milleker, Elizabeth J., ed. The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. pp. 72-73, fig. 55, 56.

Megaw, John Vincent Stanley. "A Late La Tène Anthropoid Gripped Sword in New York." In Zwischen Rom und dem Barbaricum: Festschrift für Titus Kolník zum 70. Geburtstag. Nitra: Institute of Archaeology of Slovak Academy of Sciences, 2002. pp. 407-418, fig. 1a-f.

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