Who Were The Bastarnae ?

 

 

“…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) tribes.

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/who-were-the-bastarnae-2/

 

 

 

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METAMORPHOSIS IN GOLD – On Posthumous and Celto-Scythian Staters of the Lysimachus type in Crimea and the Pontic Region

 

“Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye, it also includes the inner pictures of the soul ”

(Edvard Munch)

 

 

With the defeat of Antigonus Monopthalmus and Demetrius Poliorcetes at Ipsus, vast territories were divided among the three victors…

 

Full Article:

https://www.academia.edu/32535241/METAMORPHOSIS_IN_GOLD_-_On_Posthumous_and_Celto-Scythian_Staters_of_the_Lysimachus_type_in_Crimea_and_the_Pontus_Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celtic Shield Coinage

UD: November 2018

 

Rennes Region (Bretagne). Gold Stater (7.72 g) struck c. 2nd century BC.

 

One of the most iconic symbols on Celtic coinage, the oval shield appears either alone or as a central element in the artistic composition on Celtic coins (and other artifacts) across Europe and Asia-Minor in the 3-1 century BC period, as well as being represented on numerous Greek and Roman images depicting Celtic military equipment.

 

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Kings Of Galatia, Deiotaros I (c. 62-40 BC) AE. Obverse: Laureate head of Zeus right. Reverse: Large monogram and Celtic oval shield

 

tascio reverse.

Mounted warrior with oval shield on the reverse of a silver issue of Tasciovanus – King of the Catuvellauni tribe in southern England (25-10 BC)

 

carnyx gold stater caesar 48 bc

Celtic military equipment, including oval shield and carnyx, represented on the reverse of a Roman gold stater (c. 48 BC)

 

The fact that oval shields are depicted with such frequency by both the Celts themselves and their enemies, in such a broad spatial and temporal context, logically indicates that they had a political and cultural significance that went beyond their purely military function, i.e. also served as a symbol of political authority and power.

Rennes Region (Bretagne). Gold Stater (7.72 g) struck c. 2nd century BC.

Mounted Goddess with oval shield depicted on the reverse of a Celtic gold stater from the Rennes Region, Brittany (2nd century BC)

 

Wild boar over Celtic oval shield motif, recently discovered by ‘treasure hunters’ in southern Germany. Such a ring would have belonged to a high ranking member of society, probably a chieftain.

(1 c. BC)

 

Among the Balkan Celts oval shields first appear on coinage of the ‘Tyle’ state in today’s eastern Bulgaria in the mid 3rd century BC, and are to be found on both tetradrachms and bronze issues of the Celtic kings of Thrace during this period.

 

kav. bronze

Bronze issue of the Celtic king Cavaros with oval shield on the reverse – minted at Arkovna (Varna reg.), Bulgaria (2nd half of the 3rd c. BC)

https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT

 

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Reverse of a tetradrachm of Kersebaul, one of the Celtic kings of the ‘Tyle’ state in today’s eastern Bulgaria (mid 3rd c. BC)

https://www.academia.edu/9763573/BIRTH_OF_THE_ICON_-_The_Development_of_Celtic_Abstract_Iconic_Art_in_Thrace_3-1_c._BC_

 

 

Also noteworthy in this context are the Celtic shield coins minted by the Greek city of Mesembria (modern Nesebar) on the Black Sea coast during this period. These coins, which feature a helmet on the obverse and a Celtic oval shield on the reverse (viewed from within; Price 1991, Karaytov 2000, Mac Gonagle 2013) illustrate the influence of the Celtic state on the Greek Black Sea colonies during the 3rd c. BC – a phenomenon also testified to by archaeological evidence, and confirmed in ancient sources (Lazarov 2010, Manov 2010, Mac Gonagle 2013).

 

mess shield

Bronze Mesembria Celtic Shield Issue (last quarter of the 3rd c. BC)
(After Karaytov 2000)

Also connected to the Tyle state are the Apros Celtic shield coins minted in today’s European Turkey in the second half of the 3rd century BC, which provide further archaeological evidence, again confirmed in ancient sources, that the area of south-eastern Thrace, including the immediate environs of Byzantium, was under Celtic control during this period (Manov 2010, Lazarov 2010, Mac Gonagle 2013). Exactly which tribe minted the Apros coins remains unclear, but one possibility is that that they were produced by the Aegosages tribe prior to their migration into Asia-Minor in the summer of 218 BC.

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Bronze Celtic shield coins minted at Apros (After Draganov 2001)
(Apros was located either at present-day Kestridge or further west near present-day Kermian, both in European Turkey above the Thracian Chersones and on the route of the later Via Egnatia)
On the Aegosages tribe see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/death-of-a-dream-the-aegosages-massacre/

 

mondragon-vaucluse-late-iie-siecle-av-j-c-begin-ier-siecle-av-j-c-sagum-oval-shield-right-hand-torc

Statue of a Celtic chieftain wearing a sagum, and holding an oval shield and torc  – from Mondragon (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), France

(late 2nd / early 1st c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

Dimitrov K. (2010) Celts, Greeks and Thracians in Thrace During the Third Century BC. Interactions in History and Culture. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 51- 66
Draganov D. (2001) Coins of the Unknown Mint of Apros in Thrace. НСФ 8, 1-2, 25-31.
Kарайтов И. (1996) Месамбрия и келтският цар Кавар. In: More 4, 9-10, 10-14; Kарайтов И. (2000) Месамбрия и владитетелите на крайбрежна Тракия (според нумизматични данни) – INMB 3, 66-81
Карайтов И. (2000) Месамбрия и владетилите на крайбрежна тракия според нумизтични данни. Известия на Народния Музий Бургас. Том 3, 2000. 66- 82
Lazarov L. (2010) The Celtic State In the Time of Cavaros. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 97-113
Mac Gonagle B. (2013) https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT
Manov M. (2010) In Search of Tyle (Tylis). Problems of Localization. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 89 – 96
Price M. J. (1991) The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arhideus. A British Museum Catalog, vol. 1, Zurich-London.
Topalov S. (2001) Contributions to the Study of the Coinage and History In the Lands of Eastern Thrace from the end of the 4th c. BC to the end of the 3rd c. BC. Sofia 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SAVING CIVILIZATION – Propaganda and Misinformation in Ancient Greek “Historical” Accounts of the Celts

UD: April 2019

 

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“In war, truth is the first casualty.”

(Aeschylus)

 

 

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, but which continue to be presented as 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 the most sensational ‘historical events’. 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).

Detail of a terracotta frieze depicting Celtic warriors plundering a temple - from Civitalba (Marche), Italy. The scene is believed to represent the sack of the temple at Delphi by the second Brennos in 279 BC. 2 c. BC

Detail of a terracotta frieze depicting Celtic warriors plundering a temple – from Civitalba (Marche), Italy. The scene is believed to represent the sack of the temple at Delphi by Brennos’ army

(2 c. BC)

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)

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

Decree of the city of Kos passed after the attack Celtic army Delphi in 279 BC (Syll.3 398; April-July 278 BC).The text thanks the Gods for personally appearing on earth to rescue the Greeks from the barbarians

Decree of the city of Kos passed after the attack by the Celtic army on Delphi in 279 BC (Syll.3 398; April-July 278 BC). The text thanks the Gods for personally appearing on earth to rescue the Greeks… (!)

 

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).

 

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. Apparently, after each successive battle they had forgotten about the elephants…

see: https://www.academia.edu/10763789/On_The_Celtic_Conquest_of_Thrace_280_279_BC_

 

a - a - elephant

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 in 275 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

THE REVENGE OF CAMMA – A Very Celtic Tale of Love

Cb

 

 

Pessinus (Πεσσινούς), Asia-Minor – 2nd century BC:

 

One of the most powerful and beautiful women of her day, the life of the Gallo-Greek Princess Camma is an extraordinary tale of obsessive love, murder and ultimate justice.

Born a princess of the Celtic Tolistoboii tribe in Galatia (today’s central Turkey), Camma was renowned for her form and beauty, but even more admired for her virtues. She was also quick-witted and high-minded, and unusually dear to her inferiors by reason of her kindness and benevolence(Plutarch, On The Bravery of Woman. XX Camma*). These attributes appear to have been accompanied by good fortune, for the princess fell in love with, and married, one of the most powerful men in Galatia – a tetrarch called Sinatus. In addition, she was elevated to High Priestess of the Mother Goddess (Cybele-Artemis) at Pessinus – the highest position that could be attained by a woman at that time. It appeared that Camma was truly blessed by the Gods.

However, in true Celtic fashion, what began as a fairy tale soon descended into nightmare.

Sk. b

From afar, the priestess was being observed by her husband’s cousin, another chieftain called Sinorix, whose obsession with her grew until it left the bounds of reason. Seeing Camma’s husband as the obstacle to his desire, Sinorix secretly formulated a plan which culminated in the brutal murder of his rival.

With her husband now disposed of, Sinorix lost no time in consoling the widow and, while wooing her, exerting influence on her family to facilitate a marriage between them. As time passed, it seemed that Sinorix’ sinister strategy had borne fruit for, under intense pressure from her relatives, Camma finally agreed to the union. A marriage, to be held in the temple of the Mother Goddess, was hastily arranged.

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                                    The temple at Pessinus (3D reconstruction)

 

The ceremony was a lavish affair, as befitted two of the highest ranking members of Galatian society, and a union that would cement the political bonds between the clans of Camma and Sinorix. As the celebrations progressed before the sacred alter of Artemis, Camma filled a golden chalice with milk and honey, a traditional drink on such occasions. Drinking deeply and smiling, the priestess passed the chalice to Sinorix, who enthusiastically drained the goblet.

And then, as he watched his new bride collapse on the temple floor, the look on the chieftain’s face turned first to confusion and then to horror. Convulsions began to wrack his body, and through his agony he heard his wife’s cry of joy:

‘I call you to witness, Goddess most revered, that for the sake of this day I have lived on after the murder of Sinatus, and during all that time I have derived no comfort from life save only the hope of justice’.

Turning to Sinorix, she added, ‘As for you, wickedest of all men, let your relatives make ready a tomb instead of a bridal chamber’.

 

Camma

The poisoning of Camma and Sinorix in the temple  (Charles Poerson, 17th century)

 

The poison was slow working, bringing unbearable pain. Through the night Camma suffered, yet held grimly to life until, with dawns light, came word that Sinorix had died in agony. Thereupon the priestess, smiling, followed him into the afterlife…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The life of Camma is also recorded by Plutarch in Moralia (768 b), and Polyaenus (Strategemata, viii. 39)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE KINGMAKERS – Celtic Mercenary Forces in the Ancient World

UD: May 2019

 

“The kings of the east then carried on no wars without a mercenary army of Gauls; nor, if they were driven from their thrones, did they seek protection with any other people than the Gauls. Such indeed was the terror of the Gallic name, and the unvaried good fortune of their arms, that princes thought they could neither maintain their power in security, nor recover it if lost, without the assistance of Gallic valour”.

(Marcus Junianus Justinus. Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus XXV, 2)

 

king-2

 

 Although the first Celtic mercenary activity in southeastern Europe is recorded in 367 BC, when Dionysios of Syracuse took a band of them into his service and sent them to the aid of the Macedonians against Thebes (Justin. XX, 5,6; Diod. XV, 70,1), it is not until the expansion into the Balkans and Asia-Minor at the end of the 4th / beginning of the 3rd c. BC that Celtic mercenary forces become a vital political and military factor in the Hellenistic world…

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/4910243/THE_KINGMAKERS_-_Celtic_Mercenaries

 

 

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