At least two goals pursued the Roman riders in the 1st century AD with their elaborate face mask helmets.
On the one hand, they should provide protection against face and head injuries while fighting, and on the other hand they should be impressed by parades and show battles.
In the service of these functions, the metal craftsmen put all their art.
How they were able to combine their technical know-how with aesthetic requirements 2000 years (!!!) ago can now be seen in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn in the small but high-ranking special show „Behind the Silver Mask“, which logically belongs to the large exhibition „War and Peace – Celts, Romans, Teutons „has been integrated.
The findings near the Dutch town of Nijmegen/The Nederlands suggest that the Germanic Bataver were wearing these masks.
Not all face mask helmets had come to light in their old splendor. Frank Willer, a recognized metal restorer in the Landesmuseum, and his Dutch colleague Ronny Meijers have not only restored the helmets, but also analyzed the materials used.
Again, two observations are due to the research restorers: A small group of helmets wears the finest knotted ornaments of horse hair on the occiput; A second group shows that the forehead made of soft iron was once covered with silver plate.
While the archaeologists and restorers are still puzzling over the importance of hair-jewelry, they interpret the radiant silvery shine as a means to deter and unsettle the enemy.
After all, they even discovered the connection technology of iron and silver masks.
Nothing else than something like an antique „eagle owl“, a formula still effective today, has stuck together both face masks.
This knowledge is considered a scientific sensation. A special feature is a mask made of brass sheet that once had been put over an iron mask and whose lips and eyelid edges are fire-gilded.
A headband carries five sculpted, partially gilded busts. Their function remained however so far unreasonable.
Parallel to the Herlmen shows the „Rheinisches Landesmuseum“ the „find of the month“, which one could also praise as „find of the year“.
For the fragile object not only represents an archaeological rarity that is otherwise found only once more in Milan, but also a precious jewel of high aesthetic appeal.
On the track the Bodendenkmalpfleger the Rhineland Regional Association the „noble headdress of a Roman woman“ when they discovered a Roman burial group with various sarcophagus types of the third century AD in a rescue excavation near Rommerskirchen.
The stone coffin they have not opened because of fear of robbery at the site. That is why the grave goods of a young woman came to light in the workshops of the Landesmuseum.
The ashes of the deceased – it was a fire burial – lay hidden in a cloth of gold brocade.
In addition, the scientists found fragments of a women’s headdress, which they have not lifted piece by piece, but in the block.
The fact that they were specially examined using state-of-the-art techniques at the Institute for Restoration and Conservation Science at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences speaks for the exclusivity of the find.
Even the most experienced colleagues could envy the young scientists for the result. Because they have reconstructed a diadem-like headband with a rear-linked hair net made of noble materials that would appeal to some fashion-conscious women today.
Gilded copper and bronze platelets blend with white and dark blue glass beads into geometric patterns.
Leg hairpins will once have attached the net to the owner’s neck knot.
Jewels of this rank were reserved in the Roman Empire only to wealthy ladies. The historian Pliny spoke expressly against such a luxury.
The originals of these antique accessories have fallen victim to their fragility.
They are transmitted through the mummy portraits from Roman Egypt. Also the so-called Sappho on a Pompeian mural from the 1st century AD has a comparable hairnet, but this over the forelocks.
The bearer of the Rommerskirchen headdress is the bust of a Roman private portrait from the 3rd century AD borrowed from the Akademisches Kunstmuseum for the duration of the presentation. Her back hair could have been held by such a net.