Bronze Age Warrior Armband
Period: 16th - 14th century B.C.
Dimensions: H: 23 cm
Acquired on the German Art Market, Munich, 2004.
This extremely large and rare armguard is an impressive object, both for its size and weight and for the precision of its craftsmanship : hammered from a single solid bronze wire 2.3 cm thick, the top forms a vertical spiral and then changes direction and forms a horizontal volute. The profile of the wire also changes along with the orientation, subtly flowing from the smooth, curved contours of the top spiral to the precisely beveled, hexagonal shape of the volute. The other end is lost, but the wire there becomes much thinner and probably would have formed another opposing spiral to balance the piece. Otherwise, this bronze is in amazing condition, boasting a smooth, lightly mottled, deep green patina.
This armband has very few parallels, most coming from the Danube region. Its parallels have been presented as protective equipment for the wrists, the elbows or the shoulders and were made as part of a set of armor for a warrior, but these interpretations are far from being confirmed. The probability of this armband being used as functioning armor is not very likely, mostly because of its weight. A ceremonial, decorative purpose is more likely, since it would not require as much movement from the wearer, or it may have been a grave good for a ruler or nobleman. Such an object would have been a valued possession, bronze being a luxury good in antiquity due to its difficulty of manufacture, and only a patron with significant resources would have been able to commission such a work. The closest parallel was found in a grave from Tiszafred, Hungary, supporting the hypothesis that this armband may have adorned a high ranking warrior as he was laid out in state.
T. Kovàcs : Die Bronzezeit in Ungarn, Budapest, 1977, table 27.