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  • Timothy Taylor

Iron Age burial mound in Dobrogea, Romania. It is important for a collection of figurally decorated, partly gilded silver objects that accompanied a Getic chieftain in death. The Getae had affinities to both Thracians and Scythians (see Thracian and Dacian art and Scythian and Sarmatian art). Imported Greek Red-figure pottery dates the burial to c. 350 bc, but the precious metalwork shows traces of wear and repair and was probably manufactured in the early 4th century bc.

The body armour recovered includes two sheet-silver greaves with knees in the form of human faces. Although their design is clearly adopted from Greek models with Medusa-head knees, the treatment is distinctively Thracian; one of the faces is covered with bands of gilding, probably representing the tattoos that both Thracians and Scythians are known to have had. One greave depicts a mounted huntsman holding aloft his bow and a seated huntsman drinking from a horn, with a hawk perched on his wrist, a motif clearly derived from representations of Zeus on Greek coinage. Hunting scenes also adorn the neck and cheek guards of an elaborate partly gilded silver helmet—one of only five known—which is remarkable for the dramatic representation of a pair of eyes, bordered by feathers, directly above the eyes of the wearer (see Thracian and dacian art, fig.). This device is based on apotropaic Greek models, in which the eyes served to avert evil or harm, especially in battle, but the local meaning also appears to relate to ‘seeing twice’ or having eyes like a hawk.

Two biconical silver drinking cups are decorated with animals of the chase, including wild goats, roe deer and a hawk-like bird grasping a fish in its beak and a hare in its talons; an image of a stag with eight legs is reminiscent of the confusion of paired horses’ legs in Greek pottery painting and probably indicated extreme swiftness (see Thracian and dacian art, fig.).


  • D. Berciu: Arta traco-getica (Bucharest, 1969)
  • D. Berciu: ‘Das thraco-getische Fürstengrab von Agighiol in Rumänien’, Bericht der Römisch-germanischen Kommission, 50 (1969), pp. 209–65
  • B. Goldman: ‘Late Scythian Art in the West: The Detroit Helmet’, Jb. Prähist. Ethnog. Kst, 22 (1969), pp. 67–75