UD: Feb. 2019
“Part of this region (Thrace) was inhabited by the Scordisci … a people formerly cruel and savage…”.
(Ammianus Marcellinus Book 27: iv,4)
Recent archaeological excavations in the vicinity of the village of Desa (Dolj county) in southwestern Romania have yielded 2 Iron age warrior burials, a discovery which has greatly supplemented our knowledge of the Celtic Scordisci tribes which inhabited large areas of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania in the middle/late Iron Age.
The village of Desa is situated on the Danube and although a large amount of Celtic (Scordisci) warrior burials have been recorded south of the river, especially in western Serbia and northwestern Bulgaria, such discoveries in this part of Romania have hitherto been relatively sparse. Thus the Desa burials are of particular significance.
Round shield umbo from the Scordisci warrior burials at Desa (2nd c. BC)
(Illustrations from the excavations provided by the Desa Archaeological Site)
Material from a Scordisci warrior burial at Montana, northwestern Bulgaria (2nd c. BC)
The Celtic burials at Desa discovered during the 2013 excavations yielded a wealth of archaeological material which included, besides the cremated remains of the warriors, spearheads, an iron cleaver, shield umbos, nails, buttons/clasps, etc. A H-shaped horse bit discovered beside a round shield umbo, similar to examples found in Scordisci burials at Montana and Pavolche in nearby northwestern Bulgaria, logically indicates that, as in the latter cases, the Desa warriors were Celtic cavalry officers.
Round shield umbo and H-shaped horse bit from the Desa burials (2nd c. BC)
Round Celtic shield umbo from Dalgopol, northeastern Bulgaria (2nd c. BC)
A further interesting discovery from the Desa burials (dated 200-150 BC) was a button fashioned in the form of a miniature shield umbo, also discovered among the warriors remains.
Button in the form of a miniature shield umbo, cremated bone and a nail from the shield umbo found in the Celtic burials
Weapons and other artifacts in situ at the Desa burials
A recent find of Balkan Celtic silver tetradrachms discovered in a vineyard near the village of Motoci, also in Dolj district, has provided further evidence of Celtic presence in this area during the period in question (2nd c. BC). The hoard, consisting of 10 tetradrachms, is the latest discovery of this specific type of Celtic coinage to be recorded in southwestern Romania. A further 20 such coins are stored in the local museum in Vâlcea, slightly to the north of Dolj.
The Celtic hoard from Motoci (2nd c. BC)