Category: Galatia


 

 

“…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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“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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UD: December 2016

 

 

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.

 

 

deio br.

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)

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

a - kerseb

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BALKANCELTS IMAGE GALLERY:

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/Balkancelts/photos_stream

 

 

 

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a - a - elephant

 

 

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).

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

(On Keraunos and the destruction of his Macedonian army in 280 BC 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

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’.

moC

       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 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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UD: April 2017

 

 

 

 

 

“To these men death in battle is glorious,
And they consider it a crime to bury the body of such a warrior;
For they believe that the soul goes up to the gods in heaven,
If the body is exposed on the field to be devoured by the birds of prey”.
(Silius Italicus (2nd c. AD) Punica 3:340-343)

 

 

 

 

Recent excavations, such as those at Ham Hill in England and Roseldorf in Austria, have provided further evidence of the Celtic practice of excarnation – the ritual exposure of corpses to the elements and scavengers and the resulting defleshing of the body.

Excarnation may be precipitated through natural means, involving leaving a body exposed for animals to scavenge, or it may be purposefully undertaken by butchering the corpse by hand. The finds at Ham Hill include ritualistic burials – arrangements of human skulls as well as bodies tossed into a pit, left exposed and gnawed by animals. At the site “hundreds, if not thousands of bodies”, dated from the 1st or 2nd century AD, have been found treated in this fashion.

 

HAM HILL
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/exclusive-slaughtered-bodies-stripped-of-their-flesh–a-gruesome-glimpse-of-ironage-massacre-at-uks-largest-hill-fort-8798680.html#!

 
The last 25 years of archaeological research have revealed how interments were the culmination of previous very complex rituals. The removal of flesh before interment is also clearly attested at Celtic sanctuaries like Ribemont (Brunaux 2004: 103-24), but the enormous deficit of interments, especially in the late La Têne period, can be partially explained by the exposure of corpses with the consequent destruction of most of the skeleton. Such practices are also recorded among the Balkan Celts (Churchin 1995:68-71; Mac Congail/ Krusseva 2010) and were particularly common among the Belgae tribes, from whom the Bastarnae and Galatians also originated (Mac Congail/Krusseva op cit; Soprena Genzor 1995; Brunaux 2004: 118-24).

 

 
̾Fallen wr.

Reverse of a Celtic coin (Boii tribe 2nd/1st c. BC) depicting a fallen warrior being devoured by a bird of prey

(Bohemia – Collection of the Hypo-Bank, Munich)

 

Celtic coin of the Bratislava type; the obverse depicting a fallen warrior being devoured by a wild dog or wolf, the reverse a ram headed serpent

(Western Slovakia/ 1 st c. BC)

On the Ram headed serpent: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/cernunnos-and-the-ram-headed-serpent/

 

a - a -a -a rosel skulls

Fragments of human skulls and other remains from the second large sanctuary (object 30) at Roseldorf, Austria.

At Roseldorf  3 cult districts with seven sanctuaries which played a major role in the functional orientation of the complex have been identified. Although evidence of human sacrifice has not been found at the site, evidence of post-mortem manipulation of the bodies has been established, consistent with the Celtic practice of exhumation.

See:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/the-druid-crowns/

 

 

 

 

 

THE MASSACRE AT RIBEMONT-SUR-ANCRE

 

 

Rieb. B

Graphic reconstruction of the Ribemont-Sur-Ancre ‘Tower of Silence’

 
This shrine/sanctuary was erected on the site of the Battle at Ribemont, where around 1,000 Celtic warriors are believed to have died. The victorious Belgae erected this shrine to celebrate the great battle, decapitated the bodies of the defeated warriors taking the heads home with them as trophies. The headless corpses and thousands of weapons collected from the battle field were hung from a large wooden platform (‘Tower of Silence’). 

Evidence of weathering and dismemberment of the dead at the site, and others such as Ham Hill, is consistent with the well documented Celtic religious practice of exposing corpses after death to be devoured by birds of prey and carnivores. The removal of flesh from corpses, which is well documented in the Celtic world, had a mortuary significance that differed greatly from the Greco-Roman practices (Soprena Genzor 1995: 198 ff.).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Modern) Sources Cited

 

Brunaux J.L. (2004) Guerre et religion en Gaule. Essai d’anthropologie celtique. Paris: Errance.

Churchin L.A. (1995) The Unburied Dead at Thermopylae (279 BC) In: The Ancient History Bulletin 9: 68-71

Soprena Genzor G. (1995) Ética y ritual. Aproximación al estudio de la religiosidad de los pueblos celtibéricos. Zaragosa.

Mac Congail B., Krusseva B.  (2010) The Men Who Became the Sun – Barbarian Art and Religion on the Balkans. Plovdiv. (In Bulgarian)

Mackillop, James (2004) A dictionary of Celtic mythology. Oxford University Press

Marco Simón F.  (2008) Images of Transition. The Ways of Death in Celtic Hispania. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 74, 2008. Pp. 53-68.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: Jan. 2017

 

W - Ercheu near A - 2-1 c. BC Détail de l’incinération. Plusieurs objets en fer sont à noter - une paire de forces, un rasoir, une pince à épiler et un anneau en bronze wide

 

“According to your [the druids’] authority, the shadows do not strive for the silent abodes of the underworld and for the pale realm of the deep sovereign of the dead: The same spirit directs the limbs in a different region (orbe alio). If you sing an approved truth, death is the centre of a long life”.

Lucanus (Bellum Civile 1.454–458)

 

 

 

After centuries of archaeological research, life and death among the Iron Age European population remains shrouded in mystery. However, recent anthropological analysis of burials sites in Eastern Europe is gradually shedding light on many aspects of everyday life, and the enigmatic death rituals of Europe’s ‘barbarian’ population. 

Although a significant number of inhumation burials have also been recorded at eastern Celtic burial complexes, dating to the initial phase of eastern expansion, the dominant burial rite from the 3rd century BC onwards, as in other parts of Europe during this period, was cremation.

 

 

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Inhumation and cremation burials from the Celtic complex at Csepel Island, Budapest

See: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/the-transition-inhumation-to-cremation-and-the-case-of-the-celtic-complex-at-csepel-island-budapest/

 

 

Inhumation burials recorded in a Celtic context in the later phase are the exception that proves the rule, and may be explained by the burial of individuals from outside the local Celtic population living within the community, as is the case, for example, with the burial of a Thracian female at Remetea Mare in Romania.

 

Rm Thrac.

Female Inhumation Burial (#3) from the Celtic cemetery at Remetea Mare, Romania

Both the funerary rite (inhumation rather than cremation – unique at the cemetery) and inventory illustrate that the woman came from a community markedly different from the one in which she died, in this case probably from a Thracian group (Triballi?) south of the Danube, and reached the Celtic community at Remetea Mare following a matrimonial alliance established between the Celts and the (Free) Thracians, sometime in the first half of the 3rd century BC. 

( see: https://www.academia.edu/10087747/Bonds_of_Blood_-_On_Inter-Ethnic_Marriage_in_the_Iron_Age )

 

 

 

 

CREMATION

 

Recent anthropological analysis at various sites has allowed us to at least partly reconstruct the complex ritual associated with Celtic cremation burials during this period. According to the degree of burning at different anatomical elements it has been possible to conclude that the corpse was laid on the funeral pyre on their back (Hincak, Guštin 2011). Logically, cremations were usually of individuals although there are a number of cases of multiple cremation burials such as the double burial of a male and female (burial No. 5), or a triple burial of a man, woman and child (burial no. 10) at the Celtic burial complex at Dobova in Slovenia (loc cit)


 

SM burial

Reconstruction of a Celtic (Scordisci) Cremation Burial from Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia

(after Tapavički-Ilić, Filipović 2011)

 

 

W - Ercheu near A - 2-1 c. BC Détail de l’incinération. Plusieurs objets en fer sont à noter - une paire de forces, un rasoir, une pince à épiler et un anneau en bronze wide

Ercheu - 2-1 c. BC Détail de l’incinération. Plusieurs objets en fer sont à noter - une paire de forces, un rasoir, une pince à épiler et un anneau en bronze.

Celtic cremation burial from Ercheu (Somme), France. The burial goods included ceramic as well as personal items such as shears, tweezers and a razor.

(2/1 c. BC)

 

 

 

At Ludas in Hungary, 8 double burials have been recorded. In two cases the cremated remains of two adults (burials 711, 1009), in five cases an adult and a child (burials 686, 699, 725, 1051, 1267), and in one case a newborn and a child (burial 1139) were placed in the grave together. The case of burial 1139 at that site is a further example of the mysteries that continue to surround such Celtic burials, especially those of children. In this burial the remains of a new born child and those of an older child (Infans I) were found. The two children could have been cremated together, however, the missing skel­etal elements of the older child raises issues for which there are no satisfactory answers. Furthermore, in some child burials at this site the total absence of skull bones can be observed. In burial 1267, among the remains of an adult female, cremated skeletal bones of a child were detected, but the infant’s skull fragments were not pre­sent at all. From burial 1051, among skeletal bones of a child aged around 1 year old, skull fragments of an adult were documented. In this case the mixed remains of the two individuals imply cremation on the same pyre. There is no explanation so far why the skeletal elements of the adult and the skull bones of the child were missing from the grave (loc cit).

 

 

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Position of cremated human remains in grave 711 at Ludas

(after Tankó & Tankó 2012 )

 

 

In burial 711, near to the cremated remains of an adult female aged around 24, bone fragments of another adult female were documented around bracelet no. 5. However, in this case the bone fragments of the two individuals show signs of exposure to different temperatures which implies that they were cremated on separate pyres.

 

 

 

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Remains of the Funeral Pyre from the Central Celtic Burial (#10) at Karakochovata Tumulus (Bratya Daskalovi), south-central Bulgaria

(after Tonkova et al 2011; see: https://www.academia.edu/4107842/The_Celts_in_Central_Thrace)

 

 

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Cremation burial of a Celtic warrior, containing ceramic vessels, a Middle La Téne iron fibula, socketed spearhead, knife and a Hatvan-Boldog/Münsingen type sword, at Srednica (Ptuj), Slovenia

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

 

 

 

ANIMAL BONES

 

One of the features which marks late Iron Age cremation burials throughout Eastern Europe is the presence of animal bones, both burnt and unburnt, intermingled among the human remains. This phenomenon has been recorded throughout the area settled by the Eastern Celts, at sites such as Gordion in Galatia (Selinsky 2012), Kalnovo in Bulgaria (see: https://www.academia.edu/4096257/The_Celtic_Burials_From_Kalnovo_Eastern_Bulgaria_), Dubovo and Brežice in Slovenia (Hincak, Guštin 2011), Ludas in Hungary (Tankó & Tankó 2012 ), etc.

 

 

Brez 1

 

Brez 2

Brežice, Slovenia grave 56: Human and animal remains and bronze fibula and finger-ring decorated with the pseudo-filigree technique

(after Jovanović  A. 2011)

 

Grave 56 at Brežice was discovered at a depth of 0.95m. has a simple interred oval pit shape of 0.95 x 0.60 m in size and 0.15 m in depth. The grave is typical in terms of shape, size and spatial organization at the cemetery. The grave goods were found in the central part of the burial pit together with a small heap of burnt bones. At the bottom of the pit were a small spindle whorl, an iron ring, other iron items and an iron sickle, next to which lay the iron chain and pieces of bronze. The pieces of bronze belonged to a fragment of a bronze anklet and bracelet with a knobbed protrusion, while a hollow bracelet  and a buckle (dress pin) of the Brežice type  were identified among the group of iron objects besides the bronze anklet and bracelet. Fragments of a plaited belt chain  lay most likely in the group of iron objects with the sickle. Above this group was a larger concentration of bones, atop which was placed a bronze fibula with a bronze finger-ring, a fragment of iron, and a spindle whorl.

 Based on the results of anthropological analyses conducted, a female of approximately 35-40 years of age was buried in grave 56. Through the analysis of osteological remains bone and teeth remains of pig were determined, most probably wild boar (Sus scrofa ferus L.), a year and a half or 2 years old. The colour of all the fragments is grey to grey-white, suggesting that the bones were burnt at a high temperature and that the pig was brought to the pyre in the beginning or during the cremation of the body  (Jovanović op cit).

 

 

 

Animal Graph

Proportion of cremated animal remains from the Brežice site

 

(after Hincak, Guštin 2011)

 

 

 

 

BAGS OF BONES

 

Following cremation, the bones of the deceased were generally collected and placed in vessels which functioned as funerary jars. 

 

 

Br dask urn

Ceramic vessel of the ‘Zepino Type’ used as a funerary vessel at the Celtic female (No. 10) burial at Karakochovata Tumulus, Bratya Daskalovi, Bulgaria

(after Tonkova et al 2011; see: https://www.academia.edu/4107842/The_Celts_in_Central_Thrace)

 

 

However, recent evidence from both eastern and western Europe also indicates that the bones were frequently collected in containers of a perishable nature. An analysis of  the various forms of cremated bone depositions in the La Calotterie cemetery in Belgium dating to the middle La Téne period revealed that the remains deposited in circles were originally put into perishable containers, i.e.  pouches made of leather or textile (enveloppe souple by French terminology). There are also examples for rectangular and scattered deposition of ashes (Le Goff Et Al. 2009, 116–123). Analogues for perishable containers were documented in the cemetery of Ludas in Hungary as well. Examination of the material has shown that the positions of certain bones imply the use of rectangular containers in graves (Méniel 2006, 345–366; Tankó & Tankó 2012 with cited lit.).

At Ludas, ashes deposited in circular heaps were most possibly placed in circular containers – wooden buck­ets, wicker baskets, leather or textile pouches. In some cases, on top of the heaps of cremated remains, unburnt metal ornaments, chiefly fibulae were recorded (e.g. 962, 1050, 1057, 1157). Since no sign of heat exposure was detected on the fibulae, these objects were unlikely parts of the garment worn during the crema­tion process. This phenomenon raises the possibility that the remains were placed into textile pouches held together by fibulae. Rectangular depositions of ashes – similarly to the rectangular deposition of ani­mal bones – were presumably put in wooden containers, e.g. wooden tray, wicker basket, etc. (Tankó & Tankó 2012). A similar use of perishable (fabric/leather) containers has been recorded at the Dobova and Brežice sites in Slovenia (Hincak, Guštin 2011).

 

 

lud 2

Unburned bronze fibula on cremated human remains in grave 962 at Ludas

(after Tankó & Tankó 2012)

 

 

lud 3 dep

Examples of deposition of cremated human remains and its hypothetical interpretations.

(after Tankó & Tankó 2012)

 

 

 

 

BURIAL GOODS

 

The grave inventory of Celtic burials varies greatly depending on regional factors, and are covered in separate articles, as is the pan-European practice of ‘Killing the Objects’. The question of why only certain objects in burials were ritually deformed remains one of the great mysteries associated with Celtic ritual and religion.

 

 

Szabadadi - Grave 11

Recently discovered burial goods from Grave 11 at Szabadi (Hungary) containing both killed and intact items.

(After Tušek, Kavur 2011)

 

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/killing-the-objects-3/

 

 

 

 

LIFE EXPECTANCY

 

Anthropological data indicates that life in Celtic society varied greatly from that in the Graeco-Roman world. For example, at the Celtic (Galatian) settlement at Gordion (see ‘Galatia’ article), the first comprehensive bioarchaeological approach to these population groups from central Turkey, data drawn from 47 individuals excavated from the Lower Town area of the site: 21 Later Hellenistic/Celtic (late 3rd to 2nd centuries BC) and 26 Roman (1st to 2nd centuries AD), showed that the two sub-samples have markedly different paleodemographic profiles. The composition of the Celtic group is unusual, with very few infants (5%) and primarily young or middle aged adults (52%), whereas the Roman sample has many infant burials (27%) and less than half young or middle aged adults (35%) (Selinsky 2012).

 A similar demographic picture as to be observed from anthropological analysis of Celtic graves from the burial complexes at Brežice and Dobova in Slovenia. At Brežice the curve for female and male samples shows a high probability of death in adultus 1 (20 – 29 years) and adultus 2 groups (30-39 years). A similar picture is to be observed at the Dobova site.

 

 

brez grph.

The distribution of population according to age and sex at Brežice

 

 

Dobova

 

brezice age

Distribution of dead by age category at Brežice

 

 

LE 2

Distribution of the population according to age and sex at the Brežice site

(Graphs after Hincak, Guštin 2011)

 

 

 

 

The mortality rate for women is highest in the juvenilis phase (15-19) (12%), and Adultus 1 phase (20-30) (18%). This statistic is much higher than for males in the same group and indicates a high mortality rate in childbirth. Average life expectancy for males was higher than for females in all groups. Thus, females in the juvenilis group (14 – 19 years) were expected to live, on average, for only 16 years, while a male lived for a further 21.5 years.

  Most striking is the fact that only 6 individuals were recorded from the Maturus stage (over 40 years of age) – 5 from the Maturus 1 phase (40 – 49 years) and only one male individual over the age of 50.  No individuals over the age of 60 were found. Based on the above statistics, the average life expectancy at the Celtic settlements did not exceed 40 years of age, which undoubtedly had a significant impact on their perception of life and death – a perception which varied greatly from that of modern society.

 

 

 

Extensive anthropological research at other Celtic sites across Europe is required to further elucidate our understanding of Iron Age European society. However, the studies outlined above allow a glimpse into the lives and deaths of a people that lived not only in a different time from us but, in many respects, in a different reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITERATURE CITED

 

Hincak Z., Guštin M. (2011) Anthropological analysis of Celtic graves from Brežice and Dobova (Slovenia) In: The Eastern Celts. The Communities Between The Alps and the Black Sea. Koper-Beograd 2011. p. 241-254

Jovanović  A. (2011)  Middle La Tène Female Grave 56 from Brežice, Slovenia. In: The Eastern Celts. The Communities between the Alps and the Black Sea. Koper–Beograd 2011. p. 51 – 64

Selinsky, P. (2012), Celtic Ritual Activity at Gordion, Turkey: Evidence from Mortuary Contexts and Skeletal Analysis. Int. J. Osteoarchaeol.. doi: 10.1002/oa.2279

Tankó É., Tankó K. (2012) Cremation and Deposition in the Late Iron Age Cemetery at Ludas. In: Iron Age Rites and Rituals in the Carpathian Basin. Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Târgu Mureș, 7-9 October 2011. Târgu Mureș 2012. P. 249 – 259.

Tapavički-Ilić M., Filipović V. (2011) A Late Iron Age Grave Find from Syrmia. In:  Iron Age Rites and Rituals in the Carpathian Basin. Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Târgu Mureş, 7–9 October 2011. 453-559

Tušek M., Kavur B. (2011) Celtic warriors from Szabadi (Somogy County, Hungary). In: The Eastern Celts. The Communities Between The Alps and the Black Sea.Koper-Beograd 2011. p. 20 – 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE FIRST CHAINMAIL

UD: September 2016

 

 

chain

 

The popular image of naked barbarians rushing headlong into battle depicted by ancient and neo-classical historians, and encapsulated in classical works of art such as ‘The Dying Gaul’ or ‘The Galatian Suicide’  may have fitted the preferred stereotype of the Celts as naked savages in the eyes of the ‘civilized’ Greco-Roman world, but archaeological evidence indicates that the real Iron Age Celtic warrior was a much more formidable figure.

Diodorus (v,30:3), Strabo (II, 3:6), Appianus (Syriaca 32, 1-3), Livy (37:40) and Varro (De Ling. Lat. V, 24:116) all mention that the Celts used chainmail, with the latter explicitly stating that they invented it. However, what does the available archaeological evidence tell us of the chronological development of this technology?…

 

FULL ARTICLE:

 

https://www.academia.edu/3891226/Celtic_Chainmail

 

 

 

ch. galloR