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Golden Ceremonial Hat ("Berlin Gold Hat")

Artist unknownLate Bronze Age, 1000–800 BCE

Neues Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Neues Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany

Humans have tried to understand the cycle of nature and use it to their advantage since the Stone Age. One particularly impressive piece of evidence for early man’s astronomical knowledge is this Bronze Age ceremonial gold hat, unique in its size and preservation. The marks stamped into the almost paper-thin gold appear to relate to heavenly bodies. The sun, evoked by the gold coloration and the pattern of rays at the top of the hat, creates day, night and the seasons by apparently circling the earth. The moon, represented several times on the hat, marks out months and weeks. The number and arrangement of the ornaments is not random; it allows a nineteen-year lunisolar cycle of 228 solar months and 235 lunar months to be calculated. Someone who knew how to read these ornaments would be able to calculate the shifts between the solar year and the lunar year, predict lunar eclipses,and set fixed dates for significant events. Once decoded, the pattern changed our perspective on astronomical knowledge in the early ages of humanity. Over half a millennium before the Greek astronomer and mathematician Meton in 432 BC calculated the shifts in the lunisolar cycle, they were already known to the educated elite of the Bronze Age! The golden hat may have been worn by a ruler with a religious role on ceremonial occasions. Other Bronze Age items prove that astronomical knowledge was often preserved in coded form on valuable and sacred objects. The room features several of these early instances of astronomical observation: circular tombs from the Neolithic that were used as solar observatories, instances of calendrical calculation from Mesopotamia, astral symbols from Troy and central Europe, and Roman, Islamic and Jewish calendars. Especially impressive are the solar and lunar calendars numerically encoded in the ornamentation of the belt disc from Heegermühle in Brandenburg, Germany.


  • Title: Golden Ceremonial Hat ("Berlin Gold Hat")
  • Creator: Artist unknown
  • Date Created: Late Bronze Age, 1000–800 BCE
  • Type: Ceremonial Object
  • External Link: Neues Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Gold, embossed, chased
  • Inv. no.: (MVF) IIc 6068
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-019212
  • Copyright: Text © Prestel Verlag / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / A. Hänsel
  • Collection: Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte | Europa, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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