Bill Robertson

Horned Helmet

Diminutive as it is, this horned headdress is the only one known to have survived from antiquity, although representations of horned headdresses abound on reliefs, wall paintings, sculpture and on thousands of small cylinder seals (see photograph of Ladders-to-Heaven seal and detail of seal). The horned headdress was emblematic of deities in Mesopotamian art. On this meticulously designed 3.9-inch-high Mesopotamian bronze helmet, c. 2370–1800 B.C., the upturned horns are attached to the back. A diadem, seen as the roll above the horns, encircles the cap; typically, the diadem was worn by priestesses in this period. Below the horns in front is a band of wavy hair, pierced by a small hole—the place of attachment of the headdress to a statue. Milky quartz and brightly colored stone inlay probably filled the several circular indentations in the cap and diadem. The bronze headdress, made of an alloy of high tin content that shone like gold, may have been attached to a statue during a sacred marriage ceremony or a funeral—so that the figurine could represent the consort of a god. Such statues may have been carried in ritual dramatizations.