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Transliteration: : ar?(?)eisv?
Original script: ?V3 sS dI sE s??R2 sA5 spunctuation4 s

Object: SL-2 helmet (bronze)
(Inscriptions: SL-2.1, SL-2.2, SL-2.4)
Position: front, bottom, outside
Script: North Italic script
Direction of writing: sinistroverse
Letter height: 1.11.1 cm <br /> – 2.0 cm
Number of letters: 7 – 10
Number of characters: 8 – 12
Number of lines: 1
Craftsmanship: engraved
Current condition: complete
Date of inscription: 450–50 BC
Date derived from: typology [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: unknown
Meaning: unknown

Alternative sigla: PID 1* bis (a)
TM 653571
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: Tav. 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: 5, Fig. 2 (drawing) and Pl. I (photo), Reinecke 1950: 133, a (drawing = Markey 2001: 105, Fig. 6) and Taf. 11a and b (photos), Egg 1986: 226, Abb. 183 (drawing) (= Schumacher 2004: Taf. 16, 2) and Nedoma 1995: Abb. 3–5 (photos).

Length about 8 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 immediately follows SL-2.1, being separated from it by a punctuation mark consisting of four small dots (the lowermost executed twice) distinctly unlike the separator in SL-2.1. The two inscriptions were dissociated by Marstrander 1927 (A 2) (see SL-2.1), who argued that the intermediate separator must have been added by the writer of the second inscription (p. 4). SL-2.2 runs leftwards right up to the last sign of the embossed and upside-down SL-2.3.

The inscription begins with a single repeatedly scratched and somewhat crooked hasta, conveying the impression of being jammed in between the separator and A5 s. While the distance between this scratch and the right hasta of A5 s is rather big and the sequence may be read as iota–alpha, it is more likely that the two scratches together constitute the hasta – the other hasta of A5 s is scratched twice as well. R2 s engraved – with some effort – with a curve is followed by a problematic group of lines. The most likely segmentation graphically would be Þ3 sL s, yielding a sequence arlþ. The fact that the bar of supposed L s is prolonged at an angle suggests that this was done after the right bar of supposed Þ3 s was seen to merge with it. A reading Ś s (Marstrander 1927: 5 f.) is therefore unlikely, although his suggestion of M s corrected to Ś s is interesting, because it explains the questionable bar to the left of the second hasta. If part of a letter Þ3 s, it may be crooked because the writer's tool was led along the hasta for a few millimetres. E s and I s, though not too neat, are fairly well legible. The following V3 s is confined on top by a patch of corrosion, but no additional bar (yielding E s) can be made out. The inscription is concluded by two crooked vertical lines, which have been read as iota (Mommsen, Pauli: 36, no. 99a, Kretschmer 1943: 187, Markey 2001: 112 f.; scratched twice like some of the hastae before it), U s (Egg 1986: 227, no. 324); very unlikely in the context of the other inscriptions on helmet A), or been interpreted as a demarcation sign added to separate the inscription from SL-2.3 (Marstrander 1927: 6). The bar branching away from the left scratch, mentioned and dismissed by Marstrander, is clearly unintentional.

Marstrander's interpretation of the last element implies that SL-2.3 is older than SL-2.2. For the dating of the inscriptions on SL-2 helmet see Nedoma 1995: 16–18 and 20–22. Depending on which type(s) of inscriptions we are faced with, SL-2.2 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.

Epigraphically, the inscription is likely to be Raetic, but – unless one accepts a reading Þ3 s in the difficult middle part – no clear diagnostic letters as in SL-.1 are available. Retrograde A5 s is also found in Venetic inscriptions of the Isonzo-area), sigma is turned in writing direction in SL-2.1.

Due to the difficult reading, no linguistic interpretation of the text can be offered. Markey 2001: 112 f., somewhat fancifully, reads Celtic iarśe eisvi 'Iarsus (who performs the) sacred ceremony/offering'.

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., Marstrander 1925: passim, Nedoma 1995: 19 f. (Ib), 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.