The Berlin Gold Hat or Berliner Goldhut – the mysterious late Bronze Age artifact made of thin gold leaf

 
 
 
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The Berlin Gold Hat or Berlin Golden Hat or Berliner Goldhut 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 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.

Berlin Gold Hat, Detail.Source
Berlin Gold Hat, Detail. Source

 

Berlin Gold hat, Neues Museum.Source
Berlin Gold hat, Neues Museum. Source

The Berlin gold hat is a 490g gold hat with a long and slender conical shaft and a differentiated convex foot, decorated all over with traced motifs, applied with small stamps and wheels. Its composition is very similar to the previously known Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch.

At the bottom of the cone, the sheet gold of the Berlin hat is reinforced by a 10 mm wide ring of sheet bronze. The external edge of the brim is strengthened by a twisted square-sectioned wire, around which the gold leaf is turned upwards.

 

Berlín, Neues Museum Source
Berlín, Neues Museum Source

The overall height is 745 mm. The cone is ornamented with 21 zones of horizontal bands and rows of symbols along all of its length. Fourteen different stamps and three decorated wheels or cylindrical-stamps were used. The horizontal bands were decorated systematically with repeated similar patterns.

The individual ornamental bands were optically separated traced ribs and bulges, mostly achieved with the use of cylindrical stamps. The bands of ornaments contain mostly buckle and circle motifs, most with a circular central buckle surrounded by up to six concentric circles.

 

Berlín_Goldhut Source
Source

One of the bands is distinctive: It is decorated with a row of recumbent crescents, each atop an almond- or eye-shaped symbol. The point of the cone is embellished with an eight-spoke star on a background of decorative punches.

Berlín_Goldhut Source
Source

The meeting of the shaft with the foot is taken up by a wide vertically ribbed band. The foot is decorated with similar motifs to the cone itself. Near the reinforcing bronze band, it turns into a brim, also decorated with disk-shaped symbols.

Berliner_Goldhut_detail.Source
Source

The Berlin Gold Hat was put on sale in the international arts trade in 1995. In 1996, the Berlin Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte bought it as an important Bronze Age artefact. The seller claimed that the object came from an anonymous Swiss private collection which had been assembled in the 1950s and 1960s. 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.