Category: Archaeology


UD: October 2016





Situated in the Opole district of Upper Silesia in Southern Poland, the Celtic center at Nova Cerekwia is located in a broad depression between the Sudetesland and the Carpathians – the Moravian Gate, which throughout antiquity served as a major communication route linking southern Europe and the Baltic Sea – commonly referred to as the Amber Route. Over the past century the site has attracted the attention of numerous researchers, both amateur and professional.




Site foto

The site at Nowa Cerekwia


Map s. Poland

Location of Nowa Cerekwia



In the pre-WW2 era the site was investigated by German archaeologists in the 1925-1938 period, notably by the extreme right-wing B. Von Richtofen (Richthofen 1926, 190–191; Richthofen 1927; Jahn 1931, 66–78, 148–149; Petersen 1935), during which period discoveries included a pottery kiln, 11 houses, six pits and a hearth, although other accounts from the period indicate that as many as 30 Celtic pit-houses may have been excavated at the settlement (Rudnicki 2014). Initial indications are that the settlement thrived between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC.


Kiln 1925

Celtic pottery kiln excavated at the site in 1925




Ex. 1936

Excavations at the Nova Cerekwia site in 1936



Bronze fibulae and fragment of amber discovered during recent excavations of the Celtic settlement at Nowa Cerekwia (different scales)





While a number of studies were undertaken at the site by Polish archaeologists in the post-war era (1957–1962, 1971 and 1973; Czerska 1959; 1960; 1976), due to the haphazard nature of research, and the fact that only a small proportion of the material was published, the full extent of the complex at Nova Cerekwia remained unclear. Indeed, until recently it had been believed that all available material pertaining to the Celtic settlement had been uncovered.


This misconception has been clarified over the past decades by the discovery of a wealth of new material by local ‘treasure hunters’, particularly due to the efforts of the local historians Igor Murawski and Anna Brzezinska, a phenomenon which finally prompted archaeologists to renew research at the site resulting in the discovery of  new structures as well as extensive numismatic and archaeological material (Rudnicki 2014).


zoo n coins

Celtic artifacts discovered by the historians Igor Murawski and Anna Brzezinska at the site



Coins article

Celtic coinage uncovered at the site






Such recent finds have further confirmed Nova Cerekwia as one of the most significant archaeological sites in this area of Poland, indicating that it was a major settlement and center of inter-regional trade during the Celtic period. It is to be hoped that future systematic excavations at the site will finally establish the full extent of what promises to be the most important Celtic political/economic complex in this part of Europe.












For an overview on the Celts in Poland:









Literature Cited


Czerska B. (1959), Osada z okresu późnolateńskiego koło Nowej Cerekwi w powiecie Głubczyce, ArchSl, 3, z. 18, 25–72.

Czerska B. (1960), Z badań wykopaliskowych na późnolateńskiej osadzie kultury celtyckiej w Nowej Cerekwii, pow. Głubczyce w 1960 roku, SSA, III, 7–12.

Czerska B. (1963) Wyniki badań późnolateńskiej osady kultury celtyckiej koło Nowej Cerekwi, pow. Głubczyce w latach 1958–1960, WA, 29/3, 289–311.

Czerska B. (1964) Sprawozdanie z badań osady celtyckiej w Nowej Cerekwi, pow. Głubczyce, w 1962 roku, SprArch, XVI, 124–131.

Czerska B. (1976) Osada celtycka koło wsi Nowa Cerekwia w powiecie Głubczyce w świetle najnowszych badań, StudiaArch, 7, 95–137.

Jahn M. (1933) Die älteste Münze aus Oberschlesien, IN: Matthes, W.–Raschke, G. (Hrsg.), Germanische Urzeit in Oberschlesien, Aus Oberschlesiens Urzeit, 20, Oppeln, 61–62.

Petersen E., Schlesien von der Eiszeit bis ins Mittelalter. Einfьhrung in die Vorund Frьhgeschichte des Landes, Berlin–Leipzig.

Von Richthofen B. (1926) Neue Ergebnisse der Vorgeschichtsforschung in Oberschlesien, Altschlesien, 1, 3–4, 185–198.

Von Richthofen B. (1927) Einfьhrung in die ur- und frьhgeschichtliche Abteilung des Museum Ratibor, Ratibor.

Rudnicki M. (2014) Nowa Cerekwia. A Celtic Centre for Craft and Commerce of Interregional Importance North of the Carpathians. In:  Iron Age Crafts and Craftsmen in the Carpathian Basin Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Targu Mureş 10–13 October 2013. Targu Mureş 2014. pp. 33-70










Mac Congail








The emergence of the first European (non-classical) coinage has hitherto been explained by a vague and unsupported theory that it appeared ‘somewhere in Central Europe’ after 275 BC, based on Macedonian issues brought back by Celtic mercenaries. However, recent archaeological / numismatic evidence from Eastern Europe has seriously undermined this oft repeated but unsubstantiated theory, and finally provided some scientific clarity on the chronology of this phenomenon, as well as furnishing surprising information regarding the motivation behind the first Celtic coinage…






Celtic imitations




















CSEP intro illust.




The largest island on the Hungarian Danube,  Csepel Island in Budapest has provided a wealth of archaeological material pertaining to many cultures including a Celtic bi-ritual cemetery with 59 inhumation and 28 cremation graves, dating largely from the La Têne B1 – C1 period, i.e. late 4th – 3rd century BC. While a more comprehensive account of the Celtic burials from Csepel Island is provided elsewhere (see link below), of particular interest is warrior burial #149 at the site.


Locally produced ceramic from the cremation burial (110 cm long X 85 cm deep, orientated n-s) showed Scythian influence, and included two large vessels, two small jugs, and two bowls; metal objects consisted of an iron knife, bronze/iron bracelet and weapons.




                           Ceramic Vessels from Burial #149


(Illustrations after Attila Horváth 2014)





Military equipment discovered in the northwestern part of burial #149 consisted of a large leaf-shaped spearhead with a narrow socket, winged shield umbo, sword chain and sword/scabbard. The latter was the only one of 8 Celtic swords from the burial complex to be discovered in its decorated scabbard.



Metal artifacts from Burial #149




Besides the ceramic vessels mentioned above, a further noteworthy find registered in the warrior burial was a Celtic/Danubian kantharos with anthropomorphic handles. One of a pair of kantharoi from the grave, this vessel is believed to have been made especially for the burial. 


CERMIC Kantharos

Kantharos with anthropomorphic handles from Celtic burial #149 at Csepel Island




Such Danubian kantharoi represent a ceramic category adopted by the eastern Celts from a range of vessels specific to the Mediterranean region and, as in the case of the example from burial #149 at Csepel Island, appear to have had special religious significance.



BLANDIANA kantharos

Kantharos with anthropomorphic handles from a Celtic burial at Blandiana (Alba County), Romania


















On the Celtic burial Complex from Csepel Island:



Full report on burial #149:










Mac Congail














This article (in: Материалы по Археологии и Истории Античного и Средневекового Крыма Археология, история, нумизматика, сфрагистика иэпиграфика. (Moscow State University) Севастополь Тюмень Нижневартовск 2015. pp. 50-58.) provides an overview of the latest linguistic, numismatic and archaeological evidence pertaining to the expansion of the La Tene culture into the area of modern Ukraine and the North Pontic region from the 3rd century BC onwards. A distinction is observed between the situation in western Ukraine where the process of Celtic migration / colonization is reflected in the archaeological evidence, and further east where the presence of Celtic “warrior bands” / mercenary groups has been identified. Testimony in ancient sources to the emergence of mixed Celto-Scythian populations in this area and their ultimate contribution to the complicated ethnogenesis of the early medieval peoples, including the Slavs, is also discussed.




Full Article (in English/pages 50-58):





















Rolltier Bohemia Boii late 2 c. BC


The most spectacular and enigmatic of Celtic coinage, the gold ‘rolltier’ staters emerge among the Celtic tribes in the area of southern Germany and Bohemia in the late 2nd/ 1st c. BC.



Roll 1

Rolltier stater from Osov, Czech Republic (1st c. BC)



A wide variety of compositions are to be observed on such coins, frequently referred to also as Regenbogenschüsselchen (Rainbow Cup) staters, including variants with a cross, solar symbols, triskeles and birds of prey.





Regenbogenschüsselchen/ Rainbow Cup stater of the Bird of Prey/ Torc type from southern Germany. (late 2nd c. BC)




Rainbow Cup stater with triskele and solar symbols (Hesse and Rhineland). Believed to be from the mint at Dürnsberg Oppidum near Giessen


Rolltier Cross

Stater of the Cross/Rolltier type from Stradonice oppidum, Czech Republic (1 c. BC)



In the present context, most interesting are the rolltier/torc series, the composition on the reverse consisting of a torc encompassing 6 dots. While the significance of the torc, the ultimate symbol of status and power in Celtic society, is clear, more enigmatic is the obverse of the coin, portraying a mysterious hybrid creature. On the better executed examples one can distinguish that the creature is comprised of a coiled fanged serpent with what appears to be a scorpions stinger – the stance of the creature indicating that the component elements are in the process of attacking/poisoning each other.



Roll  X 1



Rolltier Bohemia Boii late 2 c. BC







Viewed separately, the compositions on the obverse and reverse of the Torc/rolltier coins appear to represent two very different themes –power and imminent death. However, in Celtic art elements are rarely unconnected, and taken as a whole it appears probable that the message being conveyed is that the apparently mutually exclusive themes of power and self-destruction portrayed in the compositions are literally ‘two sides of the same coin’.










Mac Congail














a - a - a- curved daggers machaira - Copy

The use of curved single-edged swords – μαχαιρα/machaira* (and variants thereof) – developed during the Bronze Age in south-eastern Europe, with both the Iapodic and Liburian groups on the eastern Adriatic coast using variants of the machaira during this period (Batović 1983:314; Dreschler-Bižić 1983:383-384). Machaira type swords also appear…














Fascinating article by Andrej Gaspari, University of Ljubljana, on the ritual deposition of Celtic weapons in the Ljubljanica River:


a - a -a - a - LUBl.




Breadalbane Brooch 1 full - Silver-gilt pseudo-penannular D-shaped brooch


Discovered in Perthshire, Scotland in the 19th century the magnificent Breadalbane Brooch is an intricately designed, silver-gilt dress fastener that is closely related to a select group of brooches that were produced during the ‘golden age’ of late Celtic art…



Full Article:


Breadalbane - 4 -  Disc with spiral ornament on the reverse of the brooch, left-hand terminal - 8th century -














aa  -  Celtiz


From the beginning of the 3rd century BC the territory of modern Ukraine, previously defined by the Scythians of the North Pontic steppes and Hellenistic influences from the Black Sea zone, was supplemented by the Celtic culture from the west. The influence of the latter in western Ukraine is testified to by extensive archaeological evidence which indicates the classic pattern of Celtic migration/settlement….
















UD: August 2016


Karabur sp



One of the most fascinating aspects of Iron Age European society is the deposition of weapons and other artifacts in various ritual contexts. This is particularly true of spearheads which have been found in Celtic burials and religious sites across the continent. In fact, such ritual deposition can be traced back to the European Bronze Age, with numerous examples recorded from across the continent.




a - -a -a -a Copper alloy socketed spearhead. Blade rapier-shapedBuckinghamshire,Taplow, river Thames - rapier shp rare - only 3 Brit 7 Irel - 1390 BC -1000 BC MBA

Socketed spearhead with rapier-shaped blade deposited in the River Thames at Taplow (Buckinghamshire), England. (Dated ca. 1,200 BC)

(See also Gibson G. (2013) Beakers Into Bronze: Tracing Connections Between Western Iberia And The British Isles 2800-800. In: Celtic From The West 2. Oxford 2013. pp. 71-100)


Spear water type 3

Celtic spearheads discovered in the River Sava between Slavonski Šamac, Croatia and Šamac, Republika Srpska/Bosnia and Herzegovina (2/1 c. BC)

On Celtic material from the Sava River see also:





Another phenomenon frequently associated with such deposition is the ritual of ‘killing the objects’ – the deliberate breaking or bending of objects before deposition. While this custom is to be observed throughout the European Bronze and Iron Ages, its exact significance remains unclear, as does the question of why some objects are ‘killed’ while others in the same context are deposited intact.



Ritually ‘killed’ spearhead and other artifacts from the burial of a Celtic (Scordisci) cavalry officer at Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia (1 c. BC)


Ritually 'killed' iron spear (soliferreum) from the Celtiberian necropolis of El Altillo (Guadalajara), Spain 5-4 c. BC

Ritually deformed iron spear (soliferreum) from the Celtiberian necropolis of El Altillo (Guadalajara), Spain (5/4 c. BC)

On ‘Killing The Objects’:









In terms of weaponry, although all manner of Celtic military equipment is found in such ritual contexts most common are spearheads registered in numerous Iron Age Celtic warrior burials across Europe.



Ritually ‘killed’ sword/scabbard and spearheads in a Celtic warrior burial (LT 96) at Zvonimirovo (Croatia) (2nd c. BC)




A fascinating phenomenon to be observed among the Balkan Celts in the later Iron Age, i.e. the period of the Scordisci Wars against Rome, is the custom of ‘stabbing’ spears into the warrior burials. The main assault weapon of the Balkan Celtic warrior, numerous cases of spears being stabbed into burials in this distinctive fashion have been recorded throughout the region, particularly among the Scordisci tribes in eastern Croatia, southwestern Romania, Serbia and northern Bulgaria.



zvon stabbed

Spearhead ‘stabbed’ into a Celtic warrior burial (LT 48) at Zvonimirovo (Croatia) (2nd c. BC)


Karabur sp

Celtic spear ‘stabbed’ into a Celtic warrior burial (#11) at Karaburma (Belgrade), Serbia (1st c. BC)




The spear treated in this fashion from burial #11 at Karaburma is of a very specific Balkan Celtic type (Drnić type 3), dating to the 1st century BC, with two grooves on both sides of the blade. Examples of such have been discovered in Celtic (Scordisci) warrior burials stretching from Slavonski Šamac and Otok near Vinkovci in eastern Croatia (Map #1,2), through Serbia and southwestern Romania to Borovan and Tarnava in northwestern Bulgaria (Map # 11,12)*.




Distribution of recorded finds of Balkan Celtic Type 3 spearheads in eastern Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria (1st century BC)














*Celtic / La Têne material within the modern borders of Bulgaria and Romania is still attributed by many Thracologists to the ‘Padea-Panagjurski Kolonii group’ – a pseudo-culture invented by communist scientists in the 1970’s as part of the Protochronism process.










Mac Congail