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Bronze Age Golden Hat

The Mystery of the Four Golden Hats of the Bronze Age

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The relics and artifacts uncovered throughout the centuries have provided an immense knowledge base about how our ancient ancestors lived, what they believed in, and what skills they had. Occasionally, an astonishing find challenges our understanding of ancient societies and cultures and provides surprising new information about civilizations of the past. One such find, was the discovery of four cone-shaped golden hats from the Bronze Age.

Discovered in different locations and at different times, the four gold hats share many similarities in size, shape, design, and construction.  Their conical design mimics the well-known image of a witch’s or wizard’s hat, leading to speculation that the hats were worn by individuals who held such a position. The hats are engraved with symbols that may have been used to make agricultural and/or astronomical predictions, possibly raising the wearer to divine status.

The Four Gold Hats. From Left to Right: Vienne, France (1844); Southern Germany or Switzerland (1996); Schifferstadt, Germany (1835)

The Four Gold Hats. From Left to Right: Vienne, France (1844); Southern Germany or Switzerland (1996); Schifferstadt, Germany (1835); Ezelsdorf, Germany (1953). Public Domain

The four gold hats are rare archaeological finds dating back to the Bronze Age, which lasted from 3300 – 700 BC. The hats all appear to have been created sometime around the middle of this period, ranging from 1400 – 800 BC. They were each discovered separately, over the course of 160 years, in different locations, three of them in Germany and one in France.  There is, of course, the possibility that more gold hats will be uncovered in the future.

The golden relics are constructed of sheets of gold, with intricate astronomical designs and demonstrate superb craftsmanship. While the four hats bear striking similarities, they are also somewhat unique in their specific features.

The first hat was discovered in 1835 at Schifferstadt, Germany. It is called the Golden Hat of Schifferstadt. The Golden Hat of Schifferstadt was uncovered by a farmer, and appeared to have been intentionally buried. It is the shortest of the four hats, standing at 29.6 cm high. It is divided into bands that run the full length of the hat, with each band decorated with one of several designs including circles, disc shapes, and eye-like shapes. The Golden Hat of Schifferstadt is believed to have been manufactured sometime between 1400–1300 BC.

The Golden Hat of Schifferstadt

The Golden Hat of Schifferstadt ( Wikimedia Commons )

The second hat discovered is the Avanton Gold Cone, discovered in Avanton, France in 1844. The Avanton hat is believed to have been created between 1000-900 BC, and is the only once missing a brim. However, signs of damage indicate that the Avanton hat did have a brim at one point. The cone stands at 55 cm. The Avanton hat is also banded, with repeated circle symbols.

The Avanton Gold Cone

The Avanton Gold Cone ( Wikimedia Commons )

The third hat discovered is the Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, discovered near Ezelsdorf, Germany in 1953. The Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buck stands as the tallest of the four hats, at 88 cm tall, and contains the same banded design with repeated circles, discs, and eye-like shapes. It is believed to have originated between 1000-900 BC.

Close-ups of the Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, showing the intricate designs carved into the gold sheeting

Close-ups of the Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, showing the intricate designs carved into the gold sheeting ( Wikimedia Commons )

The provenance of the fourth gold hat is less clear but is believed to have been found in either southern Germany or Switzerland – it was noticed in the international arts trade in 1995. The hat originates from 1000-800 BC, and is known as the Berlin Gold Hat because it was purchased by the Berlin Museum. It stands at 75 cm tall, with the same banded pattern as the others.

Detail of the Berlin Gold Hat

Detail of the Berlin Gold Hat ( Wikimedia Commons )

The purpose of the gold hats is unknown. While they were each found in different areas, speculations have evolved around the hats as a group, under the assumption that they were all used for similar purposes. For some time, the hats were believed to be symbols of fertility, perhaps due to their phallic shape. Researchers once believed that the hats were part of an ancient suit of armor, or that they were used as ceremonial vases. Later, the hats were believed to have been placed upon stakes at sites of worship, to serve as decorative caps. It has also been speculated that the four hats once belonged to ancient wizards, due to their resemblance to wizard-style hats.

As of recently, German archaeologists and historians believe that the hats were, in fact, used by individuals who would have been viewed as ‘wizards’ during the Bronze Age. According to these recent theories, the astrological symbols were used to track the stars and the sun, which allowed for agricultural predictions, namely when to plant and harvest. The figures who wore the hats were referred to as “king-priests.” Because they were able to make predictions and were therefore believed to have supernatural powers. While predictions of time and weather are commonplace today due to modern knowledge and technology, the ability to predict climate conditions during the Bronze Age was seen as a divine power.

Wilfried Menghin, the director of the Berlin Museum, has been extensively studying the hats. According to Menghin, the king-priests “would have been regarded as Lords of Time who had access to a divine knowledge that enabled them to look into the future." According to Menghin, the sun and moon symbols are a match with the “Metonic Cycle,” which provides an explanation of the time relationship between the sun and moon. The knowledge that this pattern provided would have allowed for long-term predictions of sun and moon cycles. Overall, this shows that those who inhabited Europe during the Bronze Age were far more sophisticated than initially believed. It is easy to see how the ability to make such long-term astrological predictions would give one the appearance of having divine or magical powers back in the Bronze Age. Perhaps the idea that the gold hats were worn by ancient wizards isn’t a legend or a myth, but a true reflection of how the wearers were viewed due to their ability to predict time.

The discovery of the four gold hats has provided a fascinating insight into the life and practices of those who lived around three millennia ago. The use of the hats to predict the movements of the sun, and the time relationship between the sun and the moon isn’t entirely novel, as many ancient artifacts indicate much focus on such astrological features.  But why they chose to express such knowledge on golden hats is still unclear. Perhaps with further research, we will someday know why the ‘wizards’ of the Bronze Age wore these spectacular hats of gold.

Featured image: Bronze Age Golden Hat (ca. 1000-800 BC.). Collection: Museum of Prehistory and Early History, Berlin ( Wikimedia Commons )

Sources:

Four Gold Hats: A Bronze Age Mystery – Jaunting Jen. Available from: http://jauntingjen.com/2014/01/06/four-gold-hats-a-bronze-age-mystery/

Mysterious gold cones 'hats of ancient wizards' – The Telegraph. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/1388038/Mysterious-gold-cones-hats-of-ancient-wizards.html

Golden Hat – Wikipedia. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_hat

By M R Reese

Comments

Tsurugi's picture

Ok, so this article does a great job exploring the "hat" hypothesis. However, I don't think enough is known about these objects to restrict ourselves to thinking only that they were hats of some kind, or to ignoring the problems with that idea. For instance, they seem like they would have been incredibly awkward and uncomfortable to actually wear.
What do they look like on the inside? What else besides hats might they have been? None of them look like they would stand up if they were turned over, but what if they had been meant to be set inside a sort of supporting stand? For instance, a ring with three or four long legs, so that the "hat" would fit down inside it and rest its "brim" on the ring. The legs would need to be long enough so that the tip of the tall part of the "hat" would be held suspended above the ground.
Sitting like that, they would appear to be more like a container of some kind, like a vase or a brazier or a ritual font or something, perhaps.
They also sorta remind me of Shiva linghams like what is seen in India.

i'm for it, becouse it can explain the more later witches hats, their shape could have come from this ones.
allso the phalus shape like is very relate to prophecies, its part of 'fe-ma-seed' idea which belived to in the core of this process, at the same time in other cultures.

(:

Hinduism and the ancient religion of the Celts have very little, if anything to do with one another. The Celts had a very powerful and deeply cosmic belief system that still echoes down through our European ancestors and is felt to this very day. There is no evidence that Hinduism was taught to our ancient European ancestry. The hats that these ancient Celtic Wizards wore are cosmic depictions of the revolutions of the moon, the sun and the stars. These Wizard Priests had tremendous power among these ancient people. All you have to do is look at the traditional Wizard's hat that the most famous Wizard in history wore the great Merlin. Merlin wore a hat that depicted this cosmic dance. The hat has nothing whatsoever to do with Hinduism.

Considering the fact that there was the archeological found of a "Narasimha"-like figure ("Narasimha" or "Lion-Man" or "Lion-Human" being one of the images/manifestations of Vishnu/God), and further considering that Hindus themselves refer to their religion/way of life as Sanatana Dharma, "Eternal Way", I find it more than possible that spiritual beliefs and ways of life that would/could be linked to what nowadays is called Hinduism was prevalent in ancient Europe - and not only there.

Peter Harrap's picture

Possibly not hats at all. Are they Linga? Was Hinduism prevalent in Europe at one time? There is no mistaking the idea of a hat, agreed, but unless you are static or have an infallible system of making sure they do not slip off and fall, and get damaged, they are not hats. Possibly found in a hindu santuary, long ago, to be decorated and have libations poured over it as now (will not stain or rust and bright effective centre of attention)?

 

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