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Transliteration: sirakuþurti
Original script: I sT3 sR sU2 sÞ3 spunctuation2 sU2 sK sA dR sI sS s

Object: SL-2 helmet (bronze)
(Inscriptions: SL-2.1, SL-2.2, SL-2.4)
Position: front, bottom, outside
Script: North Italic script (Sanzeno alphabet)
Direction of writing: sinistroverse
Letter height: 1.11.1 cm <br /> – 2.0 cm
Number of letters: 11
Number of characters: 11 – 12
Number of lines: 1
Craftsmanship: engraved
Current condition: complete
Date of inscription: 450–50 BC
Date derived from: typology, archaeological context

Type: unknown
Language: Raetic
Meaning: unknown

Alternative sigla: PID 1* bis (a)
TM 653570
Sources: Schumacher 2004: 330



First published in Mommsen 1853: 208, no. 12. Examined by TIR on 10th January 2014.

Images in Hormayr 1823: Nr. 2 (drawing), Giovanelli 1845: tav. II (drawing = Giovanelli 1876: Taf. II, No. 1), Mommsen 1853: Taf. I, 12B (drawing; see Mommsen 1853: 208 f.) (= CII: Tab. VI, b = AIF I: Taf VI, 99 A = Marstrander 1925: 38), Sulzer 1855: Taf. VII, Sacken & Kenner 1866: Taf. Nr. 3 (drawing), Pichler 1880: [?] (= AIF I: Taf. VI, 99 B), Marstrander 1927: 4, Fig. 1 (drawing) and Pl. I (photo), Reinecke 1950: 133, a (drawing = Markey 2001: 105, Fig. 6) and Taf. 11b (photo), Egg 1986: 226, Abb. 183 (drawing) (= Schumacher 2004: Taf. 16, 2) and Nedoma 1995: Abb. 2 and 3 (photos).

Length 5 cm; written on the chamfer in the front of the helmet. A white inlay was added sometime before 1927, possibly for photos made for Marstrander 1927, but must have been cleaned away since. Remains can still be seen in some of the deeper scratches.

The inscription is immediately followed by SL-2.2, separated by a punctuation mark consisting of four small dots, distinctly unlike the (slightly doubtful, see below) separator between siraku and þurti. The two inscriptions, though not at first glance unlike in appearance, were separated by Marstrander 1927 (A 1), who observed that they seem to be written by two different persons: the scratches in SL-2.1 are deeper – "gravée par une main hardie et énergique" (p. 3), the overall execution is neater than that of SL-2.2, which is distinguished by a "manque de sûreté et de contours". The lines in SL-2.1 appear to be scratched from bottom to top. This seems counterintuitive in the absence of an immediate obstacle like, for example, the rim in SL-2.4. It may be argued that the characters were more easily applied when turning the helmet upside-down, because the chamfer can be accessed more comfortably – compare the upside-down SL-2.3. This inscription, however, is clearly written as seen when the helmet is worn, so the writer would have had to engrave their letters upside-down. The hastae of E s and I s in SL-2.2, by contrast, are scratched top to bottom. While both inscriptions are indubitably sinistroverse, S s in SL-2.1 is turned against writing direction, whereas in SL-2.2 it is written S s. Another difference is the execution of rho, written R s in SL-2.1, but R2 s in SL-2.2. Marstrander's splitting of the sequence into two inscriptions has been widely accepted (Kretschmer 1943: 187, Nedoma 1995: 19 f. (Ia), but see also Prosdocimi 1986: 33).

Curiously, writer's mistakes with somewhat similar outcomes must be suspected in both inscriptions. SL-2.1, after starting out fairly tidily in spite of some retraced scratches, features what looks like a cramped T3 s between the second U2 s and R s. Close inspection shows that the bar line d 20 s branching off the hasta has been deleted with tiny scratches crossing it (recorded in the early drawings by Giovanelli and Marstrander, but neglected by Pichler and Egg). The writer seems to have either prematurely added the bar of the following T3 s to the hasta meant for R s (Marstrander 1927: 4), or they erroneously started to write R s in the wrong direction – all the more comprehensible if they were indeed seeing their work upside-down. Markey 2001: 110 also points out that the two preceding letters are symmetrical; "this may have left an unskilled engraver in doubt as to the direction of the next asymmetrical letter". The writer also seems to have tried to accentuate the hasta with additional scratches. Apart from this lapse, the characters are legible without ambiguity.

It is not absolutely sure, though probable, that the two large dots between siraku and þurti are intentional, as strictly speaking no indentations can be made out, and the space between U2 s and Þ3 s is not uncommonly broad. A third dot on top of the left stroke of U2 s may belong to it. Compare Marstrander 1927: 4, who believed the marks to be accidental; Egg 1986: 227 (Nr. 324) did not include them either. An interpretation of the spots as intentional is supported by the fact that the segmentation into siraku and þurti is linguistically plausible for both Raetic and Celtic interpretations (see below).

Epigraphically, the inscription can be ascribed to the Raetic corpus. The presence of tau T3 s and the letter Þ3 s allow for an ascription to the Sanzeno alphabet, which is supported by U2 s and A d, though the latter characters on their own could also be Venetic (cf. retrograde alpha in Prosdocimi's Isonzo alphabet; see Raetic epigraphy) or Lepontic.

Linguistically, the Raeticness of the inscription is less certain, though very likely. Markey 2001: 104–112 attempts a Celtic interpretation (siragu turbī 'astral priest of the troop'; details on the word pages), which is not per se absurd (see the most probably Celtic third inscription on the helmet), but based on questionable interpretations of letters and some spunky reconstruction. Nothing conflicts with a Raetic reading of the text, which is suggested by the use of the specifically Raetic Þ3 s for the dental affricate, even if the interpretation is uncertain. siraku could be a form in -ku, but these do not stand in first position in any other inscriptions (see The Raetic language on syntax. Alternatively, the vocalic auslauts may indicate a personal name in he nominative. A name formula siraku þurti lacks the usual patronym in -nu, but see Raetic onomastics on other examples on surnames which (may) and in °i.

For the dating of the inscriptions on SL-2 helmet see Nedoma 1995: 16–18 and 20–22. Depending on which type of inscription we are faced with, SL-2.1 may have been applied any time after the manufacture of the helmet in the second half of the 5th century by one of its owners, or as a votive inscription on the occasion of a putative original sacrifice of the helmet or of its deposition at Obrat around 100 BC. The helmet may well have been inscribed with a dedication, but considering that four unconnected texts are inscribed on it, we must assume that at least three of them are unconnected with the donation. Nedoma 1995: 12 argues that the inscription's position indicates a profane function, citing examples of votive helmet inscriptions, which are usually applied prominently on the bowl; see Raetic epigraphy for a discussion.

Further references: Hormayr 1823 I.2: 143, Anm. 23, Giovanelli 1845: 43 ff., Weber 1861: 35, Sacken & Kenner 1866: 292, no. 1089, CII: no. 59, Corssen 1874: 949 (note), Pichler 1880: 43 f., AIF I: 36, no. 99a, Marstrander 1925: passim, Urban & Nedoma 2002: 57.


AIF I Carl Pauli, Altitalische Forschungen. Band 1: Die Inschriften nordetruskischen Alphabets, Leipzig: 1885.
CII Ariodante Fabretti, Corpus inscriptionum italicarum, Torino: 1867. (2 volumes)
Corssen 1874 Wilhelm Paul Corssen, Ueber die Sprache der Etrusker. Band 1, Leipzig: 1874.
Egg 1986 Markus Egg, Italische Helme. Studien zu den ältereisenzeitlichen Helmen Italiens und der Alpen. Teil 1: Text, Teil 2: Tafeln, Mainz: Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum 1986.
Giovanelli 1845 Benedetto Giovanelli, Le antichità rezio-etrusche scoperte presso Matrai nel Maggio 1845, Trento: Monauni 1845.
Giovanelli 1876 Benedetto Giovanelli, "Die Rhätisch-Etruskischen Alterthümer entdeckt bei Matrei im Mai 1845", Zeitschrift des Ferdinandeums für Tirol und Vorarlberg 3/20 (1876), 45–99.
Hormayr 1823 Joseph Freiherr von Hormayr, Wien, seine Geschicke und seine Denkwürdigkeiten, Wien: Franz Härter 1823.
Kretschmer 1943 Paul Kretschmer, "Die vorgriechischen Sprach- und Volksschichten (Fortsetzung)", Glotta 30 (1943), 84–218.
Markey 2001 Tom Markey, "A tale of two helmets: The Negau A and B inscriptions", The Journal of Indo-European Studies 29 (2001), 69–172.
Marstrander 1925 Carl Johan Sverdrup Marstrander, "Les inscriptions des casques de Negau, Styrie", Symbolae Osloensis 3 (1925), 37–64.
Marstrander 1927 Carl Johan Sverdrup Marstrander, "Remarques sur les inscriptions des casques en bronze de Negau et de Watsch", Avhandlinger utgitt av Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo. Hist.-filos. klasse 1926/2 (1927), 1–26.