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Mysterious gold cones 'hats of ancient wizards'
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Wizards really did wear tall pointed hats - but not the crumpled cloth kind donned by such fictional characters as Harry Potter, Gandalf and Merlin.
Four of the elaborately decorated cones have been uncovered at sites in Switzerland, Germany and France over the past 167 years. Their original purpose has baffled archaeologists for decades.
Historians at Berlin's Museum for Pre- and Early History, however, claim to have established with near certainty that the mysterious cones were originally worn as ceremonial hats by Bronze Age oracles.
"They would have been regarded as Lords of Time who had access to a divine knowledge that enabled them to look into the future," said Wilfried Menghin, the director of the Berlin Museum which has been carrying out detailed research on a 3,000-year-old, 30" high Bronze Age cone of beaten gold that was discovered in Switzerland in 1995 and purchased by the museum the following year.
The findings radically alter the standard image of the European Bronze Age as an era in which a society of primitive farmers lived in smoke-filled wooden huts eking out an existence from the land with the most basic of tools.
Another cone, found near the German town of Schifferstadt in 1835, had a chin strap attached to it. The cone, which is also studded with sun and moon symbols, is the earliest example found and dates back to 1,300 B.C.E..
Other German archaeologists have suggested that the gold-hatted king-priests were to be found across much of prehistoric Europe. Prof Sabine Gerloff, a German archaeologist from Erlangen University, has found evidence that five similar golden cones were exhumed by peat diggers in Ireland during the
17th and 18th centuries.
Prof Gerloff has used computers to create an impression of a Bronze Age oracle wearing a golden hat and with an elaborately decorated golden cape wrapped tightly around the shoulders.
Conic cult hat, probably Southern Germany, Late Bronze Age (1000 B.C.E.), Gold with stamped decoration, 74,5 cm high, weight: 490 g.
See also: The bronze "Star disk of Sangerhausen"