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Transliteration: kerut
Original script: T3 sU2 sR sE sK2 d
Variant Reading: karut
T3 sU2 sR sA sK2 d

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: ambiguous
Letter height: 1.81.8 cm <br /> – 2.0 cm
Number of letters: 5
Number of lines: 1
Craftsmanship: engraved
Current condition: complete
Date of inscription: 450–50 BC
Date derived from: typology, archaeological context

Type: unknown
Language: unknown
Meaning: unknown

Alternative sigla: TM 653573
Sources: Schumacher 2004: 330 f.



First published in Marstrander 1927: 8 f., though according to him seen and drawn already in the 19th century by Franz von Lipperheide. Examined by TIR on 10th January 2014.

Images in Marstrander 1927: Fig. 5 (drawing), Reinecke 1950: 133, b (drawing = Markey 2001: 105, Fig. 6) and Taf. 11c (photo), Egger 1959: 88, Abb. 3 (drawing), Klingenberg 1973: 140, Fig. 18 (drawing), Egg 1986: Abb. 183 (drawing) and Nedoma 1995: 18, Fig. 3 (drawing) (= Schumacher 2004: Taf. 16, 4) and Abb. 8 (photo).

Length about 6.5 cm. Written on the brim below SL-2.2 with scratches faint but fairly well visible. A white inlay was added sometime before 1927, possibly for photos made for Marstrander 1927, but must have been cleaned away since.

The letter K2 d is written with a long upper bar. Those scratches reaching the bottom of the line are scratched from there upwards, probably because the upturned rim presented an impediment.

The writing direction is ambiguous: either K2 d (in a sinistroverse reading) or R s (in a dextroverse reading) is retrograde. The second letter from the right consists of two oblique hastae (the left one slightly straighter) with two bars slanting down from the right hasta. It can be read E s, tipped forward with its bars almost reaching the bottom of the line (known from Etruscan inscriptions, see Wallace 2008: 19), or as A s erroneously supplied with a superfluous bar. In the first case, the letter supports a sinistroverse reading. The leftmost character, if read sinistroverse, is Sanzeno tau; if read dextroverse, it is Sanzeno or Lepontic pi (or indeed Venetic/Magrè lambda, though this would go less well with tip-down upsilon). The dextroverse readings purak or lurak (Egg 1986: 227, no. 324) cannot therefore be ruled out. With regard to K2 d, Marstrander 1927: 9 observes that "[d]ans l'alphabet proprement étrusque p et k ont souvent un sens contraire à celui des autres lettres". If the inscription was applied upside-down, or the writer moved the helmet around between scratches for better access to the brim, this might explain retrograde or even inverted letters; cf. the manner of application of the other three inscriptions and Raetic epigraphy for a discussion.

Egger 1959: 88 f. explains dextroverse K2 d, set apart from the rest of the inscription by a slightly broader gap, as the North Italic version of the abbreviation C for centuria. The remaining sequence, read erul, he interprets as the name of a Germanic centurion erul(us): centuria eruli. His reading was readily accepted by runologists, forming the basis for Otto Höfler's Erulertheorie concerning the origin of the Runic script (see Höfler 1970: 114 f. and 1971: 154 f., Klingenberg 1973: 140, Schrodt 1975: 176). Aside from the improbable reading, Egger's interpretation, based on Reinecke's late dating of the helmet, is made chronologically improbable by Egg's new dating (see the object page). See also Schmeja 1968: 140 f. and Nedoma 1995: 18–20 (II). The most attractive reading so far was Markey's, who, after a personal communication from Bernard Mees, suggests supposed kerup to be an abbreviation for a Celtic PN keru-bogios (Markey 2001: 116 f.), as in Cisalpine Celtic setupk = Setu-bogios – this is obsolete with the new reading of T3 s as tau (see T). The reading of Mentz 1954–55: 257 karuz is groundless and negligible.

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-2.4 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: Kretschmer 1943: 187, Prosdocimi 1986: 34 f., Urban & Nedoma 2002: 57 f.


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.
Egger 1959 Rudolf Egger, Die Inschrift des Harigasthelmes, Wien: 1959. (Sonderabdruck aus dem Anzeiger der phil.-hist. Klasse der ÖAW, Jahrgang 1959, Nr. 5.)
Höfler 1970 Otto Höfler, "–", review of: Wolfgang Krause, Herbert Jankuhn, Die Runeninschriften im älteren Futhark [= Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, phil.-hist. Kl., 3. Folge 65], Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1966, Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen 222 (1970), 109–143.
Höfler 1971 Otto Höfler, "Herkunft und Ausbreitung der Runen", Die Sprache 17 (1971), 134–156.
Klingenberg 1973 Heinz Klingenberg, Runenschrift – Schriftdenken – Runeninschriften, Heidelberg: Winter 1973.
Kretschmer 1943 Paul Kretschmer, "Die vorgriechischen Sprach- und Volksschichten (Fortsetzung)", Glotta 30 (1943), 84–218.
Lipperheide & Rickelt 1896 Franz von Lipperheide, Karl Rickelt, Antike Helme, München: Mühlthaler's Königliche Hofbuchdruckerei 1896.
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 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.