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Bast intr

 

 

 

 

‘…the Bastarnæ, the bravest nation of all’.

 
(Appianus, Mithridatic Wars 10:69)

 

 

 

 

 

The most enigmatic ‘barbarian’ people to appear in southeastern Europe in the late Iron Age are undoubtedly the Bastarnae (Βαστάρναι / Βαστέρναι).

 

While archaeological/numismatic evidence indicates that the Bastarnae tribes had reached the Danube Delta as early as the second half of the 4th c. BC, they first appear in historical sources in connection with the events of 179 BC as allies of Philip V of Macedonia in his war with Rome (Livy 40:5, 57-58), and remain a constant factor in the history of southeastern Europe for over 500 years. Due to the fact that archaeologists have failed to associate a particular archaeological culture with the Bastarnae, the ethnic origin of this people has hitherto remained shrouded in mystery, with a lack of clarity on whether they were initially of Scythian, Germanic or Celtic origin. However, as illustrated below, a chronological analysis of the ancient sources relating to the Bastarnae in general, and archaeological, numismatic and linguistic evidence from the territory of the Bastarnae Peucini tribe in particular, enables us to finally shed some light on this question.

 

 

 

 

 

pel

Bastarnae ‘Huşi-Vovrieşti type’ tetradrachms from the Celtic settlement at Pelczyska, Poland (2nd c. BC)
(see Balkancelts ‘The Celts in Poland’ article)

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SOURCES

 

 

Later authors such as Dio Cassius (3rd c. AD – Dio LI.23.3, 24.2) and Zosimus (late 5th/early 6th c. AD – Zosimus I.34) define the Bastarnae as ‘Scythians’, and to a great extent this is true. By the late Roman period the Bastarnae tribes had been living in the region vaguely referred to as ‘Scythia’ for over half a millennium, and mixing with the local tribes (‘mixed marriages are giving them to some extent the vile appearance of the Sarmatians’ – Tac. Ger. 46). Thus, they were by this stage indeed Scythians, in the same way, for example, the Celtic Scordisci in Thrace are referred to in Roman sources as ‘Thracians’, having inhabited the region of Thrace for a number of centuries. However, as with the latter case, geographical situation by no means indicates ethnic origin.

 

 

 

 

pel wom

Facial Reconstruction of a Bastarnae woman found in Burial # 9 at the Celtic settlement in Pelczyska, Poland

 
(see Balkancelts ‘Face of a Stranger’ article’)

 

 

 

 

 

While sources such as Strabo (early 1st c. AD – see below), and Tacitus (circa 100 AD; Tac. Ger. 43), are often cited to support the view that the Bastarnae were of Germanic origin, in fact, a closer analysis of the testimony of both these sources reveals that neither is in fact certain about who the Bastarnae were. While Strabo informs us that the Bastarnae lived mixed with the Thracian and Celtic tribes in Thrace, both north and south of the river, he also admits, ‘I know neither the Bastarnae, nor the Sarmatae nor, in a word, any of the peoples who dwell above the Pontus’ (Strabo VII, 2:4). Tacitus states the following:

 
Peucini, quos quidam Bastarnas, vocunt sermon cultu, sede ac domiciliis ut Germani agunt’ (Tac. op cit.)

 
i.e. – he informs us, not that the Bastarnae were Germani, but that they were ‘similar to the Germani’. In this case one should bear in mind that many of the Celts who migrated into southeastern Europe and Asia-Minor from the end of the 4th c. BC onwards originated from the Belgae group of Celtic tribes (see also ‘Galatia’ article), who are described in ancient sources as being most like the Germani.

 

The other ancient authors are clear on the ethnic origin of the Bastarnae. The earliest source, Polybius (200-118 BC; XXIV 9,13) refers to them as Celtic (Galatians), while Livy (59 BC – 17 AD) tells us that they had the same customs and spoke the same language as the Celtic Scordisci, and also mentions close military and political ties between the Bastarnae and Scordisci (Livy 40:57). Plutarch (46 – 120 AD; Aem. 9.6) refers to them as ‘Gauls on the Danube who are called Bastarnae’.

 

 

 

 

 

THE BASTARNAE IN THRACE

 

 

It was in the wake of the aforementioned events of 179 BC that the Peucini, the southern branch of the Bastarnae, were drawn south of the Danube into Thrace. They were at this stage a powerful military and political force in southeastern Europe, which is illustrated by the enthusiasm that Philip V of Macedonia showed at the prospect of being allied to them:

 ‘The envoys whom he had sent to the Bastarnae to summon assistance had returned and brought back with them some young nobles, amongst them some of royal blood. One of these promised to give his sister in marriage to Philip’s son, and the king was quite elated at the prospect of an alliance with that nation’ (Livy 40:5).

 Although Philip’s sudden death meant that the joint attack on Rome by the Macedonians and Bastarnae came to nothing, by this time a large group of the (Peucini) Bastarnae had already migrated into Thrace, and a group of 30,000 of them subsequently settled in Dardania; another larger group of Bastarnae returned eastwards and settled in the area of today’s eastern Bulgaria (Livy 40:58), where Bastarnae kingdoms were established in the Dobruja area. At the beginning of the 1st c. AD Strabo (VII, 3:2) mentions that the ethnic make-up of this area consisted of a complex mix of Thracians, Scythians, Celts and Bastarnae:

the Bastarnae tribes are mingled with the Thracians, more indeed with those beyond the Ister (Danube), but also with those this side. And mingled with them are also the Celtic tribes…”.

 
A thriving ‘barbarian’ culture emerged in this area (southeastern Romania/northeastern Bulgaria) during the 2nd/ 1st c. BC, based on a symbiotic relationship between these various groups and the Greek Black Sea colonies – a culture which was brought to a brutal end in the mid 1st c. BC by the destructive rampage of the Getic leader Burebista, which also paved the way for the Roman conquest of the Dobruja.

 

 

 

 

 

 

aelis

Bronze issue of the (Peucini) Bastarnae king Aelis (s. Dobruja region, Bulgaria – c. 180-150 BC).
- Jugate heads of the Dioskouroi right, in wreathed caps / jugate horse heads right; monogram & ΠΕ (for Peucini) below

 

(see also ‘Balkancelts ‘Peucini’ article)

 

 

 

 

 

In summary, an analysis of the ancient sources would appear to indicate that the Bastarnae tribes were initially of Celtic (Belgic) origin. This is confirmed by numismatic, archaeological, and linguistic evidence from the territory of the Bastarnae Peucini tribe in n.e. Bulgaria, s.e. Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. One should also note that the first archaeological/numismatic evidence of the presence of the Bastarnae in s.e. Europe (2nd half of the 4th c. BC) corresponds chronologically with the Celtic migration into the region.

 It would therefore appear, based on the available scientific data, that the elusive Bastarnae tribes were not some mysterious Germanic people who appeared in southeastern Europe during this period, but that they, like the Galatians, were tribes of the Belgae group who migrated into the area during the Celtic expansion at the end of the 4th / beginning of the 3rd c. BC. Scientific evidence from the Dobruja region (loc cit) further indicates that the original Celto-Germanic (Belgic) nature of this culture subsequently underwent a fundamental metamorphosis due to prolonged contact and co-existence with the Hellenistic and Scythian cultures, the resulting fusion of Celtic, Hellenistic and Scythian cultural elements culminating in a unique and distinct Bastarnae ethnicity by the Roman period.

 

 

 

In the later Roman period the policy of ethnic engineering further strengthened the Bastarnae presence south of the Danube. Under the Emperor Probus (276-82) 100,000 of them were settled in Thrace (Historia Augusta Probus 18), and shortly afterwards Emperor Diocletian (284-305) carried out another ‘massive’ transfer of the Bastarnae population to the south of the Danube (Eutropius IX.25; see Balkancelts ‘Ethnic Engineering’ article). Thus, the Bastarnae presence on the territory of today’s Bulgaria, already well established since the 2nd c. BC, was further reinforced by the policies of both Probus and Diocletian.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Bastarnae in Thrace see also:

https://www.academia.edu/4118437/Mediolana_and_the_Zaravetz_Culture

on the Bastarnae in Ukraine/Crimea: https://www.academia.edu/4835555/Gallo-Scythians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cows intro

 

 

https://www.academia.edu/6502181/Illyrian_Coinage_From_Thrace

 

 

 

doddel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boar Headed Carnyx

g car 1

 

 

 

 

“For there were among them such innumerable horns and trumpets, which were being blown at the same time from all parts of their army, and their cries were so loud and piercing, that the noise seemed to come not from human voices and trumpets, but from the whole countryside at once”.

 

(Polybius, Histories, II, 29)

 

 

The most unique and distinct of barbarian musical instruments was the Celtic carnyx – a type of elongated war trumpet which was usually (but not exclusively) shaped as a boar’s head. The term “carnyx” is derived from the Gaulish root, “carn-” or “cern-” meaning “antler” or “horn,” the same root as in the name of the Celtic god Cernunnos (Delmarre X. (2003) Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Paris. p. 106-107). The instruments themselves were of bronze and played upright, as illustrated by their depiction on the Gundestrup cauldron.

tin n gun

Carnyx from the Gaulish sanctuary of Tintignac (Corrèze, Gaul), and examples depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron

tin recon

Reconstruction of a Carnyx found at Tintignac. The carnyx was 1.80m. long, and one of 7 found at the site (6 representing a boars head, and one a serpent)

 

(after Gilbert J., Brasseur E., Dalmont J.P., Maniquet C.  Acoustical Evaluation of the Carnyx of Tintignac. In: Proceedings of the acoustics conference, Nantes 2012. p. 3956-3959)

 

 

 

Besides depictions on coins and other artifacts from the period, archaeological evidence of the carnyx has been found at Celtic sites throughout Europe, stretching from the British Isles to the Balkans, illustrating that it was common to the pan-Celtic tribes across the continent.

caes st

Celtic carnyx depicted on a Roman gold stater from 48 BC

Ser

Serpent headed carnyx from Tintignac

scot car

Boar headed carnyx from Deskford, Scotland (mid 1st c. AD)

 

 

 

“Their trumpets again are of a peculiar barbarian kind; they blow into them and produce a harsh sound which suits the tumult of war”

 

(Diod. Sic. V,30)

 

 

 

Scientific reconstructions of these strange instruments, based on archaeological finds (Gilbert et al 2012), confirm that the carnyx produced a distinctive eerie sound, unlike any other ancient or modern musical instrument, and was therefore ideally suited to the atmosphere of battle, for which it was created.

g car 1

Carnyx discovered in a ritual pit at the Gaulish sanctuary at Tintignac

 

 

Neg 1

 

 

 

 

 

In the year 1811, a most spectacular discovery was made in an orchard at the village of Negau (today Ženjak) in Slovenia. The Negau Hoard, consisting of 26 bronze Etruscan helmets, many bearing inscriptions in a Celtic script, represents one of the most important archaeological finds in this part of Europe.

 

 The helmets are of an Etruscan design from circa 500-450 BC called the Vetulonic or Negau type, which are of bronze with a comb-shaped ridge across the skull, and a protruding rim with a groove right above the rim. However, the inscriptions on the helmets are believed to have been added at a much later date (2nd c. BC), and the deposition has been dated to circa 50 BC – i.e. shortly before the Roman conquest of the area.

Neg B

The Negau B Helmet

 


 

As mentioned, the deposition of the Negau Hoard has been dated to circa 50 BC, when such helmets had long been obsolete, having been replaced by more modern equipment such as the Novo Mesto type helmets (below). It appears that after becoming redundant the Negau helmets took on a ceremonial / religious function, as attested to by the Celtic inscriptions on the helmets, which bear the names of priests/druids (see Markey T. (2001) A Tale of Two Helmets: The Negau A and B Inscriptions. In: The Journal of Indo-European Studies, Volume 29, 2001; Must G. (1957) The Problem of the Inscription on Helmet B of Negau. In: Harvard Studies in Classical Philology Vol. 62, (1957), pp. 51-59).

 

 

 

 

 

Nov mes

Celtic Novo Mesto type helmet discovered in the river Sava, Croatia (1st c. BC)

(see: https://www.academia.edu/5463297/The_Power_of_3__Some_Observations_On_Eastern_Celtic_Helmets)

Increasing evidence of the use of a Celtic script on the Balkans, based on the Etruscan alphabet, has come to light in recent years, and  indicates that this alphabet continued to be used throughout the Roman period (see Celtic Graffiti article with relevant lit.).

c-et insc 2

Inscriptions in the Celtic script from Grad (A) and Posočje (B), Slovenia

 

(see Celtic Graffiti article, with cited lit.)

neg. ins.

The inscription on the Negau B helmet

 

 

 

 

 

 

The majority of the Celtic inscriptions on the Negau helmets are structured: name + ‘the diviner’, name + ‘astral priest of the troop’, while an inscription on one of the helmets – the so-called Negau B helmet, has attracted particular attention. According to linguistic analysis, it contains the Germanic name *Harigasti(z), which consists of two parts: hari = army, host (found in Old Norse herjan – to make war, to plunder, hernað – warfare; or in German Heer – army) and gasti(z) = guest. The second part of the inscription has been interpreted as *teiwa(z) = god. Thus the inscription would read: “Harigasti, [the priest of] the god” (Markey 2001). If such analysis is correct, this would represent the earliest recorded Germanic inscription.

How a Germanic priest came to be living among the local Celtic population during this period is another question…

strtri in

 

Celtic Strymon/Trident Coinage:

https://www.academia.edu/6355583/Celtic_Strymon_Trident_Coinage

 

 

 

3 map Fin.

 

 

 

 

 

elep

 

 

 

 

 

Despite centuries of archaeological research, our understanding of the Ancient World still relies heavily on ‘histories’ written by Greek and Roman authors – documents which present a combination of fact, propaganda and pure fiction, which continue to be presented as subjective historical fact.

 

 Classical sources relating to ‘barbarian’ populations are particularly imaginative. Greek writers inform us that the Celts “consider it honorable to eat their dead fathers and to openly have intercourse, not only with unrelated women, but with their mothers and sisters as well” (Poseidonios, ap Diod.5.32-3, Strab.4.43). In addition to these interesting cultural traits, such classical sources also inform us of historical events which modern ‘experts’ continue to present as historical fact. For example, the testimony of the Greek writer Pausanias who describes the atrocities committed by the Celts during the invasion of Greece in 278 BC: (the sack  of Kallion)

“the most  horrifying evil I have ever heard of, not like the crimes of human beings at all. They butchered every human male of that entire people, the old men as well as the children who were still at the breast; and the Celts drank the blood and ate the flesh of those of the slaughtered babies that were fattest with milk. Any woman and mature virgin with a spark of pride killed themselves as soon as the city fell; those who lived were subjected with wanton violence to every form of outrage by men as remote from mercy as they were remote from love: they mated with the dying; they mated with the already dead” (Paus.l0.22.2).

 

Following this entertaining detour, the Celts, we are reliably informed, then attacked the ‘center of the world’ at Delphi, where they were defeated by a combination of earthquakes, thunderbolts, and the personal intervention of Zeus and Apollo, accompanied by a gang of ‘White Virgins’ (Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.23, Junianus Justinus, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus’ Histories 24.7-8).

ap del

Statue of Apollo stepping on a Celtic shield, dedicated in Delphi after the victory over Brennos’ Celts in 278 BC. (Marble copy found in Delos)

 

The aforementioned events at Delphi were then followed by an equally sensational series of events at Lysimachia in 277 BC where the Celts, rather surprisingly, decided to butcher their own families before engaging in battle with the Macedonian king Antigonus Gonatas, during which they were annihilated by an army of ‘elephants, furies and ghosts’ (Justinus 26:2; see: https://www.academia.edu/5135100/The_Phantom_Battle_-_Lysimachia_277_BC).

 Two years later the Celts had the misfortune to be once more ‘annihilated’ by another Hellenistic army and their elephants. This time the conflict was in Asia-Minor with the Seleucid Empire, and an army led by Antiochus I Soter. Once again the Greeks won a heroic victory, poetically described by Lucian:

 

“It was a Homeric scene of ‘rumbling tumbling cars'; when once the horses shied at those formidable elephants, off went the drivers, and ‘the lordless chariots rattled on,’ their scythes maiming and carving any of their late masters whom they came within reach of; and, in that chaos, many were the victims. Next came the elephants, trampling, tossing, tearing, goring; and a very complete victory they had made of it for Antiochus.The carnage was great, and all the Galatians were either killed or captured (Lucian vol. II, Zeuxis and Antiochus).

 

 

The surprise of the Celts at these ‘unknown beasts’ is rather remarkable considering that they had faced the army of Antigonus Gonatas, complete with battle elephants, shortly before, and had destroyed the Macedonian army of Ptolemy Keraunos, and his battle elephants, shortly before that (see Balkancelts ‘Thunderbolt’ article). Apparently, after each successive battle they had forgotten about the elephants…

elep

Terracotta statuette from Myrina (Turkey) – late 3rd c. BC

The statuette depicts a battle elephant stepping on a Celtic warrior. It is believed to be a representation of the battle between Antiochus I and the Galatians in275 BC.

 

 

 

 

 

 We are also informed that the Galatian army at this battle consisted of over twenty thousand cavalry and an even greater number of heavily armed infantry. From a mathematical perspective, such an army of at least 40,000 Galatians is indeed remarkable, especially considering that 2 years earlier the combined Celtic tribes who had crossed over into Asia-Minor had consisted of just 20,000 individuals, of whom only 10,000 were warriors (Livy 38.16:9). No matter how prolific the Celts were, it appears rather unlikely that they could have produced a further 30,000 + fully grown warriors in the space of 2 years…

 The aforementioned accounts/events are only a small sample of the inherent contradictions and absurd accounts upon which our understanding of ancient history continues to be based, a history based on racial stereotypes, within the framework of ancient classical propaganda, presented as historical fact.

scab int

 

 

 

 

 

The nature of burial rituals practiced by the Iron Age European population makes the task of archaeologists an especially complex one. In particular, the Celtic burial process, which generally included the deliberate ‘killing’ of the artifacts, i.e. the bending, breaking or otherwise deformation of weapons and other objects before being placed on the funeral pyre, and subsequent cremation of the articles along with the body of the deceased, has meant that material from Celtic burials is often rendered unrecognizable to the naked eye.

  A good example of this phenomenon is the recently published middle La Têne warrior burial (LT C1/C2) from the Auersperg Palace in Ljubljana (Slovenia), which yielded the cremated bones of the individual along with a rich burial inventory. However, while initial excavation of the burial revealed only an unrecognizable melted conglomerate of iron, bone and ceramic material, subsequent analysis showed that the ‘lump’ actually contained, among other objects, a ritually ‘killed’ middle La Tène sword and shield boss, a shaft-hole axe, as well as human and animal bones.

 Particularly interesting is the fact that the human bones included a fragment of the cranial part of the skull with an unfused suture, which belonged to a person under 20 years of age. Thus, it appears that in death, due to nature of the burial rites observed, and subsequent environmental factors, this ‘boy warrior’ literally fused with his weapons.

Melted 1 - ir. l

Auersperg Palace. The conglomerate of the distorted weapons

(Illustrations after Štrajhar M., Gaspari A., Ostanki Dveh Srednjelatehskih Bojevniških Grobov Iz Turjaške Palače v Ljubljani, Pril. Inst. Arheol. Zagrebu, 30/2013, str. 27-43)

Melted 1 - scan

A scanned image of the conglomerate

Melted 1 - pot

Auersperg Palace. The upper half of a larger vessel from the layer

 

 

 

 

 A further fascinating find from the same deposit / layer, but originating from another (slightly earlier) grave unit, is a ritually ‘killed’ scabbard, typical for the Celtic LT C1b phase. The scabbard is decorated with a unique composite motif of a dragon pair and a snake, combined with vegetative ornamentation. A similar combination of ornaments is most often found on scabbards from the southern border area of the Pannonian Plain, which are discovered in burials from the later part of the LT C1 phase. The complexity of the decoration, which is typical for the latest phase of the Celtic ‘dragon pair’ depictions, thus dates the manufacture of the Auersperg Palace scabbard in the late 3rd century BC (Štrajhar, Gaspari, op cit).

scabb 1

Melted 1 - scabb

The Auersperg Palace scabbard and detail of decoration

Mac Congail

A Celtic Horned Mars/Ares

Intro hmcg

 

 

 

A wealth of Celtic archaeological material, mostly dating to the late La Têne period, has been discovered over the past decades by ‘treasure hunters’ at the Iron Age hillfort at Žerovnišček near Bločice (Notranjska Region) in Slovenia. Perhaps the most fascinating of these artifacts is a bronze statuette of a horned deity which dates to the late La Têne period and, according to archaeologists, depicts the God Mars who also became associated with the Greek God Ares, and was popular in the Celtic world where he was associated with various local deities (Šašel Kos M. (1999) Pre-Roman Divinities of the Eastern Alps and Adriatic. Situla 38).

 Intro hmc2

TheŽerovnišček statuette

(after Laharnar B. (2009) The Žerovnišček Iron Age Hillfort near Bločice in the Notranjska Region. In: Arheološki vestnik 60, 2009. P. 97 – 157)

 

The libation dish (patera) in the extended right hand is an Italico-Etruscan motif characteristic of donor statuettes between the 3-1st c. BC

 

 

 

 

 

Most interesting about the Žerovnišček statuette is the fact that the deity is depicted with a horned helmet, which ancient authors mention were worn by the Celts:

“On their heads they put bronze helmets which have large embossed figures standing out from them and give an appearance of great size to those who wear them; for in some cases horns are attached to the helmet so as to form a single piece, in other cases images of the fore-parts of birds or four footed animals”.

Diodorus Siculus (on Celtic helmets) (History V.30.2)

 

Horned helmets among the Celtic tribes are also well documented in artwork and coins from the period, and archaeological confirmation of the existence of such helmets includes depictions of a warrior on an early La Têne stone slab from Bormio, examples depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron, as well as the horned Waterloo helmet found in the river Thames in London, and another discovered near the village of Bryastovetz  in eastern Bulgaria.

gu h hl

 

 

 

 


br ho hel

The Bryastovetz Horned Helmet from Eastern Bulgaria (3rd/2nd c. BC)

 (Sofia Archaeological Museum Inv. # 3454)

 

 

A statuette of the Goddess Athena / Minerva with a votive inscription from the middle and late La Têne period settlement at Dornach (Aschheim, Munich) also has a helmet with cattle horns. The statuette was found in a late La Têne well or ritual shaft, in a layer dated to between 80 and 50/30 BC. The statuette is stylistically of Late Hellenistic form (Dietz K. (1999) Die Inschrift auf dem sockel der Dornacher Athene. In: Irlinger, Winghart 1999:144-147).

The Žerovnišček statuette, executed in the Italico-Etruscan tradition (Laharnar op cit), with Celtic iconography interwoven, represents a wonderful example of the synthesis of Italico-Etruscan and Celtic artistic/cultural traditions.

  Ho mars sd

Tha 1 int. c

 

 

 

https://www.academia.edu/6144182/Celtic_Thasos_Type_Coinage_from_Central_Bulgaria

 

 

 

Tha 1 bl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“the mechanism of dreams where things have floating contours and pass into other things”.

(Jacobsthal 1941)

 

 

 

SILIVAS hel

The Celtic helmet from Silivaş (Transylvania) was first published in 1925 as part of the inventory of a warrior burial which also included two spearheads, a sword, dagger, brooch and a ‘sickle’ (actually a curved dagger), all of which had previously been in the private collection of Count Teleki Dromokos of Transylvania.

roska 1925

Inventory of the Celtic Burial from ‘Silivaş’, after Róska 1925*

 

The helmet itself is of a type with neck-guard (eisenhelme mit angesetztem Nackenschutz) common among the Celts at the end of the 4th/beginning of the 3rd c. BC (LT B2). Finds of such helmets are concentrated in the alpine region of western Austria and northern Italy, from where they circulated to the east and west (Rustoiu 2013). The most spectacular examples of such helmets include those from Agris and Amfreville in France, decorated with gold and coral.

Agris helmet

The Agris Helmet

Agris det

Detail of the Ram-Horned Serpent on the Cheek-piece of the Agris Helmet

amfreville 1

The Amfreville Helmet

 

 

 

 

amfreville det.

Detail of the decoration on the Amfreville helmet

VEGETAL / WALDALGESHEIM STYLE

 

 

The helmet from “Silivaş”* is ornamented on the neck-guard with vegetal elements specific to the so-called Waldalgesheim or Vegetal 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 (Jacobsthal 1944). 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 265).

 The vegetal decorative details on the neck-guard of the helmet from Silivaş belong to the late phase of the aforementioned style, similar to the ornamentation of the helmets from  Förker Laas Riegel, in Carinthia, discovered in 1989 (Schaaff 1990).

Siliv. ng detail

The neck-guard of the Silivaş helmet. Detail of decoration

A further fine example of the vegetal style decoration on the Balkans is to be observed on the Celtic gold torc from Gorni Tsibar (Montana region) in north-western Bulgaria, which dates from the same period as the Silivaş helmet.

Danube  Torc Bulgaria

Celtic gold torc decorated in the Vegetal Style, from Gorni Tsibar, northwestern Bulgaria

(late 4th/ early 3rd c. BC)

*In the interest of accuracy, it should be noted that the most recent research on the Silivaş burial has indicated that the helmet and associated material did not in fact originate from Silivaş, but was most probably discovered in a Celtic burial in the Turda area, also in Transylvania, while the brooch and curved dagger came from a Celtic burial either in another part of Transylvania, or from the Scordisci area in today’s northern Bulgaria (for discussion see Rustoiu 2013).

On Eastern Celtic helmets of the Novo Mesto type see:

https://www.academia.edu/5463297/The_Power_of_3_-_Some_Observations_On_Eastern_Celtic_Helmets

On Celtic helmets of the Montefortino type in Eastern Europe see:

https://www.academia.edu/4835555/Gallo-Scythians

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                        Literature Cited

Harding D.W. (2007) The Archaeology of Celtic Art. Routledge.

Jacobsthal P.F. (1944) Early Celtic Art. Oxford.

Roska M. (1925) Keltisches Grab aus Siebenbürgen.  In:  PZ, 16, 1925, p. 210-211.

Rustoiu A. (2013) Wandering Warriors. The Celtic Grave from “Silivaş” (Transylvania) and Its History. In: Terra Sebus. Acta Musei Sabesiensis, 5, 2013, p. 211-226

Schaaff U. (1990) Keltische Waffen. Mainz.

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