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Ancient War Treasure Unearthed in Burial Mound in Croatia Likely Caused ‘Awe in the Enemy’

Unveiling Ancient Mysteries: Discovery of 2,500-Year-Old Helmet
Source: Dubrovnik Museums

The 2,500-year-old helmet was found upright in a stone structure on the burial mound.

May 11 2024, Published 2:06 p.m. ET

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In Croatia, archaeologists made a remarkable discovery within an Illyrian burial site when they unearthed a 2,500-year-old metal helmet.

The significant find, nestled within a stone structure at the Gomile archaeological site, sheds light on ancient practices and beliefs.

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Dating back to a period between the late sixth century B.C. and the early fourth century B.C., the helmet represents a pivotal era in the region's history.

Hrvoje Potrebica, a professor of archaeology at the University of Zagreb leading the excavation, revealed that the site, located near the village of Zakotorac on the Pelješac Peninsula, boasts numerous burial mounds. Each mound contains multiple graves, hinting at the cultural significance of the area.

Historical accounts from ancient Greece detail the flourishing of the Illyrians during the helmet's creation. The Illyrian people, organized into various tribes and kingdoms, eventually succumbed to Roman conquests between 229 and 168 B.C.

The discovery of the helmet, yet to undergo conservation, presents a tantalizing glimpse into ancient practices, Live Science reported.

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Potrebica suggests that the helmet's placement within a separate stone structure within the burial mound indicates its likely role as a votive offering or part of a broader cult ritual, rather than belonging to a specific individual.

Speculation arises regarding the helmet's potential use in battle, with Domagoj Perkić, director of the Archaeological Museum, proposing its psychological impact on enemies. He told Live Science, "Just try to imagine a warrior with a shiny [helmet] on his head, in the sun, on the eve of a battle ... that moment alone causes awe in the enemy."

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Interestingly, this discovery isn't isolated. In 2020, archaeologists found another helmet in a nearby burial mound, echoing the enigmatic nature of these artifacts.

Coordinated research efforts by the Centre for Prehistoric Research in Zagreb, led by Potrebica, in collaboration with Dubrovnik Museums and the Institute of Archaeology in Croatia, continue to unravel the mysteries of the Gomile site.

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