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Negau helmet from Daone. Museum of Santa Julia, Brescia

Negau helmet refers to one of 28 bronze helmets (23 of which are preserved) dating to ca. 400 BC, found in 1811 in a cache in Zenjak, near Negau, now Negova, Slovenia. The helmets are of typical Etruscan 'vetulonic' shape, sometimes described as of the Negau type. They were buried in ca. 50 BC, shortly before the Roman invasion of the area.

the Negau helmet inscription (read from right to left)

On one of the helmets ("Negau B"), there is an inscription in a northern Etruscan alphabet. Note that the inscription need not date to 400 BC, but was probably added by a later owner in ca. the 2nd century BC or later. It is read as


Many interpretations of the inscription have been proffered in the past, but the most recent interpretation is by T.L. Markey (Journal of Indo-European Studies 2001) who reads the inscription as 'Harigast the priest' (from *teiwaz "god"), as another inscribed helmet also found at the site bears several names (mostly Celtic) followed by religious titles.

In any case, the Germanic name Harigast is almost universally read. Formerly, some scholars have seen the inscription as an early incarnation of the runic alphabet, but it is now accepted that the script is North Etruscan proper, and precedes the formation of the Runic alphabet. Harigast constitutes an attestation of the Germanic sound shift, probably the earliest preserved, preceding Tacitus perhaps by some two centuries.

Must (1957) reads Hariχas Titieva as a Raetic personal name, the first element from the Indo-European (Venetic rather than Germanic), the second from the Etruscan.

The four discrete inscriptions on the helmet usually called "Negau A" are read by Markey as: Dubni banuabi 'of Dubnos the pig-slayer'; sirago turbi 'astral priest of the troop'; Iars'e esvii 'Iarsus the divine'; and Kerup, probably an abbreviation for a Celtic name like Cerubogios

Helmets of the Negau type were typically worn by priests at the time of deposition of these helmets, so they seem to have been left at the Zenjak site for ceremonial reasons. The village of Zenjak was of great interest to Nazi archaeologists and was briefly renamed Harigast during World War II. The site has never been excavated properly.


  • Gustav Must, The Problem of the Inscription on Helmet B of Negau, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology (1957).

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