Some of the most exquisite European Iron Age jewelry pieces were produced by the “barbarian” tribes on the Balkan peninsula between the 4th and 1st century BC. During this period Celtic craftsmen, working in a variety of mediums, drew heavily on both Scythian and Hellenistic art; a process which culminated in a distinctive Balkan Celtic style.
Although multiple mediums were used, the genius of Celtic craftsmen of this period is to be most clearly observed in silver treasures produced by the Scordisci tribes, such as those from Hrtkovci, Židovar, Čurug etc...
Probably the most enigmatic and mysterious archaeological site in Europe, the Býči Skála/Bull Rock cave in the Křtiny Valley (Czech Republic), was first investigated in 1867 by a local doctor, Jindřich Wankel, who initially discovered traces of a Paleolithic settlement.
Fascinating article by Bettina Arnold of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee on the manipulation of science and the development of pseudo-archaeology in Nazi Germany:
The most horrific ritual associated with the ancient Celts is undoubtedly the Wicker Man, and the mass burning of human and animal sacrifices inside this sinister structure. Our knowledge of this phenomenon comes largely from two main sources…
In order to explore the origin and significance of Samhain, the Celtic “Festival of the Dead”, it is necessary that it be viewed in the context of the wider Celtic belief system, the central tenet of which was metempsychosis…
UD: March 2018
Discovered in the foothills of the Mátra Mountains in northeastern Hungary in 2015-2016, the bi-ritual burial complex at Gyöngyös is one of the largest and most important Iron Age sites in the region and has provided fascinating new information on Celtic (and Scythian) settlement in this part of Europe.
The burial site has yielded 154 burials from the La Tène period, and has parallels in other Celtic complexes in northern Hungary such as those at Mátraszolos, Sajópetri or Ludas, the latter being situated a few kilometers west of Gyöngyös (Szabó, Tankó 2006, 2012). Previous research at the site in 2003 had uncovered evidence of a Celtic settlement, dating to the same period (late 4th – early 2nd c. BC), close to the burial complex.
Notable among the inhumation burials at the site is grave #113, in which the skeleton of a young girl was discovered with a rich set of jewellery. A three-row bronze necklace, two amber ring-beads and many glass beads decorated her neck; a bronze bracelet was found on her right forearm, while a saprolite ring was on her left forearm. The young lady also wore a silver finger-ring on her left hand, an iron belt on her waist, as well as a pair of anklets made of bronze (hohlbuckelringe). A particularly interesting artefact was found beside the skeleton: a spherical clay rattle.
Gyöngyös – Inhumation Burial #113
(after Tanko et al 2016)
At Gyöngyös, material recovered from both the inhumation and cremation burials attest to a thriving and wealthy community. Bronze bracelets, anklets, glass or saprolite jewellery, finger-rings, various iron and bronze fibulae, bronze torques and small chain-necklaces with amber ring-beads came to light from the female burials; in male graves – jewelry, iron swords / scabbards with suspension chain-belts, spearheads and shield umbos. Based on traces of burning, it has been established that the deceased were cremated wearing full costume as well as jewellery or other items of clothing (loc cit.).
Gyöngyös – Cremation/Warrior Burial #128
Based on the available data, the necropolis unearthed at Gyöngyös was established at the end of the 4th century BC, was mainly used in the 3rd century BC, and abandoned at the beginning of 2nd century BC.
A further interesting feature of the site is the fact that archaeological material from the settlement and burial complex, particularly pottery, represent both Celtic and Scythian traditions. In some cases the burials can be connected to the population of the Vekerzug Culture (or Alföld Group) featuring Scythian characteristics. This phenomenon has been observed at other sites in the area, such as that at Sajópetri–Hosszú-dulo, where excavations have established that a significant population of Scythian origin lived beside the Celts during the La Tène period (Szabó et al 1997, Szabó 2007), and Gyöngyös provides further evidence of a symbiotic relationship between, and fusion of, the two cultures in the aftermath of the Celtic expansion/migration into the region.
Documentation of Cremation Burial #155 at Gyöngyös, using 3D photogrammetry
Ariel view of the Gyöngyös site using drone technology
Szabó M., Guillaumet J.-P. Kriveczky B. (1997) Sajópetri-Hosszú-dűlő. Késővaskoritelepülésa Kr.e.IV-III.századból. In: Raczky, P.–Kovács, T.–Anders, A.(eds.): Utak a múltba. Az M3-as autópálya régészeti leletmentései – Paths into the Past. Rescue Excavations on the M3 motorway. Budapest,81–88.
Szabó M., Tankó K. (2006) Nécropole laténienne à Ludas–Varjú-dűlő. Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 57, 325–343.
Szabó M., Tankó K. (2012) La nécropole celtique à Ludas–Varjú-dűlő. In: Szabó M.(dir.) –Tankó K.(ass.), Czajlik Z.(ass.): La nécropole celtique à Ludas – Varjú-dűlő. Budapest, 9–152.
Szabó M. (2007) Les relations Celto-Scythes. In: Szabó M.(dir.) –Czajlik Z.(ass.): L’habitat del époque de La Tène à Sajópetri – Hosszú-dűlő. Budapest, 325–332.
Tanko K., Toth Z., Rupnik L., Czajlik Z., Puszta S. (2016) Short report on the archaeological research of the Late Iron Age cemetery at Gyöngyös. In: Dissertationes Archaeologicae ex Instituto Archaeologico Universitatis de Rolando Eötvös nominatae Ser. 3. No. 4. Budapest 2016. P . 307-324.