“the mechanism of dreams where things have floating contours and pass into other things”.
Although Celtic presence in southeastern Europe has been traditionally associated with the invasion of the ‘second Brennos’ in 280/ 279 BC (see ‘THUNDERBOLT), in fact archaeological evidence from the region clearly illustrates that the attack on Macedonia and Greece was only a symptom of the larger migration process which had reached the northern Balkans decades earlier.
In Transylvania, for example, the first wave of eastern Celtic migration arrived shortly after the negotiations between Alexander the Great and Celtic envoys in 335 BC. This first phase is marked by substantial archaeological material, including artifacts executed in what has become known as the Vegetal or Waldalgesheim style.
VEGETAL / WALDALGESHEIM STYLE
The Waldalgesheim Style is named after a princely burial in the middle Rhine, and displays an independence of interpretation and conﬁdence in execution that marks the culmination of achievement of the early La Tène period. The descriptive term ‘Vegetal’ has been proposed in place of Jacobsthal’s type-site to denote the new style, reﬂecting in particular its use of plant-derived tendril motifs, although the style is not characterized exclusively by vegetal motifs, nor are vegetal motifs exclusive to it (Harding 2007:70).
The Vegetal Style is often regarded as the high point of La Tène curvilinear ornament because it is in this style that derivative classical motifs are deconstructed and re-emerge with the ‘assured irrationality’ of a vibrant and independent Celtic creation (Harding op cit:265).
This distinctive Celtic art style is to be observed on a number of artifacts discovered in Bulgaria and Romania which date to the late 4th/ early 3rd c. BC. Notable among them is the Silivaş helmet from the Alba district of Transylvania.
The Silivaş Helmet
The helmet from Silivaş has two domed hemispherical buttons with the functional role of attaching the cheek-guard, and another on top of the helmet, and is ornamented in the Waldalgesheim style. In the case of a sword also discovered in the warrior burial at Silivaş, the scabbard chape was also decorated in the Waldalgesheim style. Analogies from north western Romania include examples from Pecica, Sacuieni, Curtuiuşeni, and Pişcolt M. (Sandor Berecki, 2008).
Besides the Silivaş helmet, other notable examples of the Vegetal / Waldalgesheim style are to be found in Celtic helmets from Apahida (Cluj County), Ocna Mureş (Sibiu district) and Valea Haţegului (Hunedoara district) in Romania (Zirra 1976), the Celtic gold torc from Gorni Tsibar (Montana reg.) in north western Bulgaria, and the chariot decoration found at Bobata (Schumen reg.) in north eastern Bulgaria.
The Gold Celtic Torc from Gorni Tsibar (Montana region) north western Bulgaria
(late 4th c. BC)
Another golden torc from grave # 2 at Filottrano near Ancona, in the territory of the Senones, is a closely related piece. It is worth noting that the Senones were the tribe who, led by the first Brennos, conquered Rome at the beginning of the 4th c. BC. (see below). Elements in the design in the Bulgarian torc are also paralleled on Celtic pottery from Alsopel in Hungary, which shows a similar vegetal tendril surrounded by random dots and stamped arcades or half-moons.
(See DANUBE TORC (Pdf.))
Detail of iron backed bronze scabbard from Filottrano, Santa Paolina, Italy (grave #22)
LT B1, late 4th c. BC
(after Megaw V., Megaw R. 2001:115)
Bronze Celtic chariot fitting from Bobata fortress (Schumen region), Bulgaria, executed in the Vegetal/Waldalgesheim style.
Late 4th / early 3rd c. BC
(see ‘The Mezek Syndrome’ and ‘Zaravetz’ articles)
FROM ROME TO TRANSYLVANIA
The Italo-Celtic influences to be observed in these and other artifacts from the first phase (see also ‘Embryos’ article), confirms that the mass migration into s.e. Europe from the second half of the 4th c. BC was not a seperate phenomenon, but part of the ongoing mass movement of tribes which resulted in Celtic settlement in N. Italy, Pannonia, Dacia, Thracia, and ultimately Asia-Minor.
The initial migration into s.e. Europe in the late 4th/ early 3rd c. BC was followed by a second phase which occured shortly after the defeat of the Senones tribe by the Romans in 283 BC. Recent archaeological evidence indicates that this subsequent wave resulted in a doubling of the Celtic population of the region (Berecki Sándor (2008).
(see also Flight of the Ravens)
Berecki Sándor (2008) The Chronology of the Celtic Discoveries from Transylvania. In: Funerary Practices of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Proceedings of the 9th International Colloquium of Funerary Archaeology. Bistriţa. May 9-11, 2008.
Harding D.W. (2007) The Archaeology of Celtic Art. Routledge
Jacobsthal P.F. (1934) Einige Werke keltischer Kunst. Die Antike 10, 17-45
(1941) Imagery in Early Celtic Art. ProcrAc 17, 301-320
(1944) Early Celtic Art, 2 vols. Oxford; reprinted with corrections 1969
Megaw V., Megaw R. Celtic Art from its Beginnings to the Book of Kells Revised and Expanded Edition, Thames + Hudson (2001)
Zirra V. (1976). The Eastern Celts of Romania pp. 1-41. The Journal of Indo-European studies, Volume 4, Issue 1.