Start of 2022 the news around the world reported that organic material from one of the horns of the Viksø helmets could be scientifically C14-dated and make their use around 950 BC very likely. Not surprisingly for Danish archaeologists, these helmets come from the late Bronze Age. What is surprising, however, is that this new date marks the first published scientific analysis of these artifacts. In October 2022, the Danish Cultural Ministry announced the newly financed research projects within the humanities and the project Viksø re-investigated was one of them! Following, I will spend the next years creating an interdisciplinary biography of the Viksø helmets. A combination of a craft-technical analysis, the archaeometallurgical fingerprint of the helmets, and local workshops combined with a stylistic and iconographic examination of contemporary helmets will give us new insights into the helmet’s origin and meaning!
Horned Helmets are not a Viking Age Phenomenon!
Yes, that is correct! They are part of a transfer of novel beliefs and cults that spread across Europe during the Late Bronze Age, around 1000 BC, as you can read in our new article published in Prähistorische Zeitschrift. The new radiocarbon date of one of the Viksø helmets did not confuse the archaeologists of this study, it supported much more what Danish research had long assumed. The interesting fact was, that the helmets date into a transition period within the Late Bronze Age. A detailed network analysis of the iconography revealed striking similarities between southwest Iberia, Sardinia and southern Scandinavia.
This article caused quite a stir in the archaeological news world. Interestingly, it was mainly the fact that the horned helmets date from the Bronze Age that caught the interest of the press. Fortunately, this popular culture myth now seems to have been dispelled. Initiated by the first coverage in Science magazine, now CNN, The Times, LiveScience, the Smithsonian Magazine, Popular Science US, Daily Mail UK, Archaeology, wissenschaft.de, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Spiegel, National Geographic Spain and Hungary, Terrae Antigvae Spain, GEO France, ITALIA magazine, La Repubblica Italy, Jyllands-Posten and videnskab.dk also write about our research.
This research was funded by the Cultural Ministry of Denmark. Only due to the collaboration with the National Museum Denmark and Moesgaard Museum, the Curt-Engelhorn-Centre in Mannheim, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari in Sardinia, the Archaeological superintendency of Sardinia this paper by Helle Vandkilde (Aarhus University), Valentina Matta (Aarhus University), Laura Ahlqvist (Aarhus University) and Heide W. Nørgaard (Moesgaard Museum) could be published.