Harigastu Teiva: Decoding the Rhaetic Inscription on the Negau Helmet

In 1812, a collection of 26 bronze helmets was discovered in Ženjak near Negau, Duchy of Styria, which is now Negova, Slovenia. These helmets are believed to date back to around 450-350 BC and are of a typical Etruscan ‘vetulonic’ shape, which is also known as the Negau type. Although it is unclear when the helmets were buried, it is believed that they may have been left at the Ženjak site for ceremonial purposes.

One of the helmets, known as “Negau B,” features an inscription in a northern Etruscan alphabet. The exact date of the inscription is uncertain, but it is believed to be as old as 350-300 BC.

The inscription is written as: ‮𐌇𐌀𐌓𐌉𐌙𐌀𐌔𐌕𐌉𐌕𐌄𐌉𐌅𐌀///𐌉𐌐‬ – harigastiteiva\\\ip


There have been various interpretations of the inscription over the years, but the most recent one, proposed by Tom Markey in 2001. translates it as “Hariχasti teiva,” which means “Harigast the priest” (from the word *teiwaz, meaning “god”).

It is believed that Harigast is a Germanic, Celtic name, and for this reason, the village of Ženjak was highly valued by German archaeologists during the Nazi era and was even briefly renamed Harigast during World War II.

My inertpretation

I agree with the interpretation of the letters on the Negau helmet, and I also agree with the meaning of the word “teiva” – “god”. However, I think that I have a more accurate translation for the word Harigasti.

I have recently translated quite a few of Rhaetic inscriptions, and I have not come across any indications of Germanic names. What I did find, are a few inscriptions with similar words. Take for example, this bone, inscribed with the word Haristhu.

The two inscriptions are both in the Rhaetic script, but there are differences between them. In the second example, the supposed Germanic word “gast” is absent, and the final letter is a Greek tetha instead of “t.”

This made me question the mainstream approach and wonder what the alternative meaning of this word could be. And I believe I found it.

The word “eukháristos” (also spelled “eucharistos”) is a Greek adjective that means “thankful” or “grateful.” It is derived from the words “eu,” meaning “well” or “good,” and “kharis,” meaning “grace” or “favor.”

In the Christian faith, the term “eucharist” is used to refer to the sacrament of Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper, in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice. The term “eucharist” comes from the Greek word “eukharistia,” which means “thanksgiving” or “gratitude,” and reflects the idea of giving thanks for God’s grace and favor.

Moreover, this word appears in Septuagint, Genesis 6.8, around 300-200 BCE – the same period when the Negau helmet was made.

  • Νωε δὲ εὗρεν χάριν ἐναντίον κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ.
  • Nōe dè heûren khárin enantíon kuríou toû theoû.
  • Noah found grace [or favor] before the Lord God.

The English word “charisma” has the same root, and the same is probably true for the Russian “хороший”.

To sum up, I do not think that Harigast is an individual’s name, nor that “teiva” meant “priest.” Rather, I believe that the Negau helmet was created for a warrior and that the purpose of the inscription was to seek divine support for victory. Whether the helmet was deposited for ritual reasons at a later time is not pertinent to this interpretation.

In simple terms, “Harigasti Teive” probably meant: God bless.

Furthermore, the G sound was sometime inerchangable with ST, as it was marked by the same letter. An alteranative reading could therfore be “Haristasti teive”. I think that this reading sounds more natural. We can even break the words differently to get “Haristas ti teive” – “Bless this, god(s)”, or “Haristas Titeive” – “Bless Titius”. The name “Titus” or “Titius” is believed to have originated from an ancient Latin word, “titi,” which means “honorable” or “respectable.” This word is related to the Latin verb “tueor,” which means “to protect” or “to safeguard.” As such, the name “Titus” is often interpreted as meaning “defender” or “protector,” and it was a popular name among ancient Romans who valued the virtues of honor and loyalty.

Note that the reading “Haristas” in the last two cases would sound similar to the Greek Christos – Χρίστος, Christ. That may not be a conicidence, but rather a coninuation of an ancient sacred formula.


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