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Rolltier Bohemia Boii late 2 c. BC

In the tide of nationalism and revisionism which has marked the last century, our common European Celtic heritage has been systematically deconstructed, manipulated and denied. To balance this phenomenon, the BALKANCELTS organization presents the archaeological, numismatic, linguistic and historical facts pertaining to the Celts in Eastern Europe and Asia-Minor, within the context of the pan-European Celtic culture – a heritage which belongs to no nation, yet is common to all.










The enigmatic bronze objects known as ‘Horn Caps’ were produced exclusively by the Celtic tribes in England and Wales during the mid-late Iron Age (ca. 300 – 43 BC). Despite various theories defining them as ceremonial staff-heads, a finial for ceremonial seats or chariot elements (although no examples have ever been discovered in chariot burials), the exact purpose of such objects remains unclear…













“For many years it was considered that Thasian imitations were a product of the Thracian tribes… In my opinion, the Thasian imitations coinage and its use are closely associated with a population who arrived and settled later within the Balkan territory. In fact, the east Celts had played a significant role in the regional history since the 270s BC. There are good reasons to believe that the imitations of Thasos tetradrachms had an ‘international’ nature and featured interactions and activities of a culture dominated by the east Celts”…


FULL ARTICLE by Dr. Ilya Pokopov,  President of the Bulgarian Museum Association and Bulgarian Numismatic Association:













“Once again brings into focus the question of Celtic ethnic presence in Thrace during the last three centuries of the first millennium BC”.


FULL ARTICLE: by Dr. Lyudmil Vagalinski, Director of the National Institute of Archaeology with Museum – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences























Some of the finest examples of Iron Age European art are to be found on Celtic scabbards of the middle/late La Têne period – fantastic compositions born of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and geometric motifs, or a combination thereof.




Detail of scabbard with Triskele decoration, from a Celtic burial at Novajidrány-Sárvár, Hungary. The triskele is a particularly common motif on Celtic scabbards and other protective military equipment.

(3rd c. BC)




Scabbard with Triskele decoration from a Celtic warrior burial at Srednica (Ptuj), Slovenia

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



Geometric and Anthropomorphic decoration on scabbards from a Celtic hoard discovered at Förker Laas Riegel (Carinthia), Austria.

(3rd c. BC)



Bronze front plate of a Celtic scabbard with incised symmetrical curvilinear decoration, discovered in Lisnacroghera Bog (Antrim), Ireland

(ca. 250 BC)




Celtic art draws its inspiration from all aspects of the natural world, and the artistic compositions on middle-late La Têne scabbards are no exception, with creatures of all kinds, both real and imaginary, appearing in the decoration of such scabbards.




Fantastic aquatic/serpentine creatures depicted in the decorative composition of a Celtic scabbard from Cernon-sur-Coole (Marne), France

(ca. 280 BC)




Beasts portrayed on Celtic scabbards range from highly stylized examples, such as those which appear on Dragon-Pair scabbards, to comparatively naturalistic portrayals.




Celtic scabbard with dragon-pair motif from a Celtic warrior burial at Chens-sur-Léman in eastern France

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




Geometric/zoomorphic composition on a Celtic scabbard from the Förker Laas Riegel hoard






A particularly interesting example of the diversity of creatures used to decorate Celtic scabbards of this period is a bronze sword scabbard mount discovered in Lincolnshire, England, the zoomorphic decoration on which bears a striking resemblance to a horse-fly complete with large protruding eyes and proboscis…





The Lincolnshire bronze scabbard mount (3 c. BC)

(Illustrations thanks to Adam and Lisa Grace)



Head of a Horse-Fly (Tabanus Atratus)





Postcards From The Past…


Celtic art functions on a number of levels (often simultaneously), merging reality, the subconscious and the absurd. While the modern mind may never fully comprehend the exact messages being conveyed, the artistic symphonies portrayed on Celtic scabbards provide a unique glimpse into the framework of religious and cultural values which motivated the Iron Age European population.




Trio of dancing deer in the artistic composition on a Celtic scabbard from La Tène, Switzerland

(2 c. BC)
















Mac Congail















Discovered in a peat bog near the village of Gundestrup in Denmark in 1891, the Gundestrup Cauldron is the largest and finest example of Iron Age European silverwork (diameter: 69 cm (27 in); height: 42 cm (17 in.). Despite being discovered in Denmark, the workmanship and iconography on the cauldron indicate that it originated on the Balkans, either among the Thraco-Celtic (Scordisci) or possibly Celto-Scythian (Bastarnae) tribes, although the exact date and location of production is still uncertain.




The Gundestrup Cauldron




Antlered deity on Plate A of the Gundestrup cauldron, identified with the Celtic God Cernunnos, holding a ram-horned serpent and torc.




Celtic carnyx players depicted on Plate E of the Cauldron   




X-radiograph of inner plate C 6575 showing details of traces from working tools.







The ‘Gundestrup Ghosts’


While extensive academic attention has been paid to the cauldron’s iconography and origin over the past century, one fascinating element has been completely overlooked until recently. Scientific research on the back of the cauldron’s silver plate, using a fibre illumination unit, as well as silicone rubber moulds, epoxy resin replicas and macro photography, have revealed ‘Ghost Images’ unseen to the human eye for over 2,000 years.


The images, drawn lightly into the backs of the silver plates with a scriber and which are almost invisible to the naked eye, include a male figure 4.4 cm. discovered in the lower right corner on the back of inner plate C6572. The man is depicted in profile and blowing a horn instrument. It is worth noting that this instrument looks quite different from the relatively much longer instruments played by the three carnyx players depicted on the front of inner plate C6574.




The Trumpet Player on Plate C6572





On the back of inner plate  C6573 three drawings have been recorded, including a male head in profile near the right side at the middle, much like the horn player mentioned and believed to be the work of the same artist. Further images include the heads of two cats, likewise in profile, one of which was found over the male head near the upper corner. Corrections in the drawings of the latter creatures suggest that they may have been the theme of a discussion on the anatomy of cats. Also noteworthy is the fact that the cats are depicted in a way which could be characterized as ‘naturalistic’, i.e. not executed in the style generally associated with the imagery of the Gundestrup cauldron.






Images of a male head and cat discovered on Plate C6573





While the exact purpose of the hidden images on the cauldron may forever remain unknown, the ‘ghosts’ may not be as mysterious as one may imagine. At present the most likely theory is that the back of the silver sheet served as a sort of artists ‘sketchpad two thousand years ago, before subsequently being used to produce the magnificent work of art as we know it today.

















Mac Congail


















“… a people … cruel and savage, and, as ancient history declares, accustomed to offer up their prisoners to Bellona and Mars, and from their hollowed skulls greedily to drink human blood”

(Ammianus Marcellinus Book 27: iv,4)






Zidovar m illust




Presented by Greek and Roman ‘historians’ as mindless savages, recent archaeological evidence from the central Balkans has thrown a completely different light on the Celtic Scordisci tribes who dominated this part of Europe from the 4th century BC until the Roman conquest. Most spectacular of these discoveries has been the hoard from Židovar, a Celtic oppidum (settlement) on the eastern border of the Deliblato Sands (Deliblatska Peščara), in the Banat (Vojvodina) region of modern Serbia.


zidovar opp hill

The Hill at Židovar today



Zid intor.

Silver bird pendants from the Židovar hoard





Zidovar chains

“Foxtail” chains from the hoard




Although excavations have been carried out at the site since the 1940’s, it was not until 2001 that the most spectacular discovery was made. Dated to the late 2nd / early 1st century BC, the rich hoard included 134 amber beads, a bronze mirror (with high tin content) and two pendants fashioned from brown bear teeth.




Bronze mirror from the hoard


Zid Amber beads

Amber beads from the Židovar treasure



Brown Bear Tooth Pendants





The most fascinating part of the hoard consists of 163 silver objects, including fibulae/brooches of the Jarak type. In addition to these, the jewellery group contained pendants of different forms, two rings, three chains and small lidded cylindrical boxes made of silver sheet and decorated in filigree and granulation technique. Two folding razors and a mirror form the group of toiletry accessories of the Židovar treasure.



a jew box

Jewelry Box from Židovar


All 3 jewelry boxes from the hoard have a high percent of silver (average values over 95 wt%). Copper is the main alloying element (average values from 1.5–4 wt%). Lead contributes less then 1 wt%, and tin was not detected in the metal of any of the boxes.



Silver Fibula of the Jarak type from the hoard




While archaeological finds of Scordisci silver are known from several hoards in Serbia, such as Kovin, Jarak, Hrtkovci and Karaburma, the Židovar hoard is of particular significance, having been discovered in a clear archaeological context.



Pendantys X

Silver pendants from the Židovar Hoard




The origin of the silver that the Serbian Celts used for producing jewelry and minting silver coins has not yet been established with any degree of certainty. However, it is likely that a substantial amount came from the silver-lead mine at Kosmaj near the Celtic settlement of Singidunum (today’s Belgrade).



a silver finger rings

Silver Finger Rings from Židovar


Folding RAZOR

Folding Razor from the Židovar Treasure















Mac Congail





















While communist regimes on the Balkans may have fallen almost three decades ago, the legacy of political manipulation during that dark period in European history continues to undermine and distort archaeological research in the region


Full Article:

















Petronnel 35 warrior


Popularly known as the site of a major Roman military camp and capital of the province of Pannonia Superior, recently published archaeological discoveries from the Petronell-Carnuntum area of Lower Austria have thrown new light on the pre-Roman (Celtic) population in this part of central Europe.




3-D Reconstruction of the later Roman city at Carnuntum





Excavated in 2003, but only recently published (Ramsl 2016), research at the Heideweg site in Petronell-Carnuntum revealed, besides 140 Roman burials, 7 graves from the La Têne B2 period, i.e. late 4th/early 3rd century BC. Of the 7 Celtic graves containing 8 burials, most notable included grave #7 where both cremation and inhumation burials were identified – a rare example of a bi-ritual burial from this period.


Burial 7

Burial #7 at the Heideweg site in Petronell-Carnuntum




A further remarkable burial at the site was burial #2A which furnished a rare example of the burial of a Celtic child. Aged between 3-6 years old the child was buried orientated s-n and grave goods included ceramic vessels, mutton and two bronze fibulae.



Petronnel 3 Childs

Child’s Burial 2A




Grave #35 at the Heideweg site provided a fascinating example of a Celtic warrior burial, complete with iron lance head, knife and sword. Other grave goods in the burial, of a man in his 40’s (orientated s-n), included ceramic vessels and an iron fibula. In 4 of the burials weapons were recorded and, with the exception of the child in burial #2A, all the deceased were men. This would tend to indicate that the excavated area represents only a small section of a much larger Celtic burial complex.


Petronnel 35 warrior


Petronnel 35 warrior sword detail

Warrior burial in grave #35, and detail of iron sword












Full Report (Ramsl 2016/In German):












Mac Congail













New Bitmap Image 1 PAUNOV



Full text of the magnificent work of Dr. Evgeni Paunov of Cardiff University – From Koine to Romanitas: The numismatic evidence for Roman expansion and settlement in Bulgaria in Antiquity (Moesia and Thrace, ca. 146 BC – AD 98/117) – an overview of all the available ancient numismatic evidence from the territory of modern Bulgaria relating to the period between the 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD.


Besides an expansive study on all ancient coinage from this region pertaining to the period in question, for the first time since the Communist Period numismatic material relating to the later Celtic presence/settlement in Bulgaria  (2-1 century BC) is also presented in a comprehensive and objective manner:




Full Text:




New Bitmap Image 1 PAUNOV 2



















Probably the most significant Celtic burial yet published from the territory of today’s Bulgaria is that of a Scordisci cavalry officer discovered in the Montana area in the north-west of the country. Dating to the La Têne C2/D1 period (late 2nd / early 1st c. BC)…





Chief Yakimovo