Object of the month October 2018

The bracelet from Bad Dürkheim – Eye to eye with strange creatures

© Roland Schwab/CEZA

One of the most interesting gold ornaments of the late 5th century BC surely is the bracelet from the elite burial of Bad Dürkheim. Although the tomb was already discovered in the 19th century under problematic circumstances (during construction of a railway track) and cannot be considered complete, the preserved finds testify an extremely rich grave of the early Latène culture.

From the technological point of view, the bracelet is rather ordinary: closed, but with one joint, shape slightly deformed; three pairs of masks of oppositely oriented heads, separated by double-conical elements and three knots; masks/heads and other decorative elements such as rows of pearls are modelled in wax. After casting it has been finished by chasing and polishing.

The special appeal of this piece emanates more from the strange heads. At first glance they appear like ordinary human heads. But as the ears clearly indicate, they are rather satyrs. Their gaze, with their spaced eyes and the suggestive smile, seems somehow enigmatic. In the half-light of the scanning electron microscope, the heads appear even more captivating, almost mysterious.

A similar bracelet had been found in the second burial of Schwarzenbach (Lkr. Sankt Wendel), but unfortunately it is lost. But, according to the photos, the faces seem a little more stout. The Bad Dürkheim faces also have a slight resemblence with the one depicted on the torc from Reinheim (Saarpfalz-Kreis). Satyrs are rather common in Celtic art like on the beaked-flagons of the “Kleinaspergle” near Asperg or from the Glauberg, “princely grave” 1.

For further information see:

  • Bardelli 2017a: G. Bardelli (Hrsg.), Das Prunkgrab von Bad Dürkheim 150 Jahre nach der Entdeckung. Monogr. RGZM 137 (Mainz 2017).
  • Bardelli 2017b: G. Bardelli, Die wahre italische Faszination : die Funde aus dem keltischen Grab von Bad Dürkheim und ihre Geschichten. Mosaiksteine 14 (Mainz 2017).

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