Category: Religion


b-claw-warrior

 

 

“…the Gauls on the Danube who are called Bastarnae, an equestrian host and warlike”.

(Plut. Aem. 9.6)

 

 

 

Discovered by locals in 2011 near the village of Mana (Orhei district) in Moldova, and subsequently investigated by archaeologists, the Mana III burial represents a unique archaeological find from this part of Moldova and provides invaluable information on the Celtic/Celto-Scythian population which inhabited this part of Europe in the immediate pre-Roman period.

 

location

Location of Mana

 

 

 

The cremated remains of the deceased had been placed in a bronze vessel, and subsequent forensic analysis of the remains from the burial pit (58×63 cm; depth 78 cm) established that the body was that of a boy warrior, aged between 14-16 years old. During the cremation process the body had been subjected to temperatures reaching 900 degrees C.

 

burning

(Illustrations after Tentiuc I., Bubulici V., Simalcsik A. (2015) A cremation burial of a horseman near the village of Mana (the Orhei district) (Un mormânt de incineraţie al unui călăreţ războinic descoperit lângă satul Mana (Orhei). In: Tyragetia. Archeologie Istorie Antică, Vol. IX [XXIV] nr. , pp. 221-248. Chişnău 2015)

 

 

 

“… to the Maeotic Lake on the east, where it bordered on Pontic Scythia, and that from that point on Gauls and Scythians were mingled”.

(Plut. Marius: 11: 4—5)

 

 

Besides the aforementioned bronze situla in which the cremated remains were placed, burial goods in the pit included a ceramic bowl of a type specific to the so-called Poieneşti-Lucaşeuca culture associated with the Celto-Scythian Bastarnae tribes, an iron spiral bracelet and military equipment consisting of a La Tène iron sword/scabbard, spearhead, shield umbo and spurs. Noteworthy is the fact that the La Tène weapons were all ritually ‘killed’, i.e. bent or otherwise deliberately deformed in the well documented Celtic fashion, indicating that although the Bastarnae tribes had become a complex mix of Celtic and Scythian cultures by the late Iron Age, their material culture and religious rites remained strongly Celtic in nature (Tentiuc et al 2015).

 

spearh

Ritually killed spearhead from the Mana III burial

 

sword

Iron Sword from the Mana III Burial

 

 

 

 

The Bear Claw Cloak

 

According to forensic evidence, the boy warrior had been dressed in a bear hide worn as a cloak which was also incinerated during the subsequent cremation process. This was confirmed by the presence of ten bones among the remains which have been identified, taxonomically and anatomically, as distal/terminal phalanges (corresponding to claw) of a mature bear – Ursus arctos. The presence of only two claws indicates that the bear hide had been used as a cloak (loc cit).

 

bear

Cremated remains of the Bear Claws from the Mana Burial

 

 

 

 

‘…the Bastarnæ, the bravest nation of all’.
(Appianus, Mithridatic Wars 10:69)

 

Although the exact circumstances in which the boy warrior from Mana met his fate will probably never be known, the chronological context in which he was buried (first half of the first century BC) suggests a number of possibilities. During the Mithridatic Wars the Balkan Celts and Bastarnae supported the Pontic leader against Rome (App. Mith.: 69, 111; Justin. 38: 3, Memn. 27: 7; McGing 1986: 61; see Choref, Mac Gonagle 2015). At the Battle of Chalcedon, for example, the Bastarnae dealt a severe blow to the Romans – “In the land battle the Bastarnae routed the Italians, and slaughtered them” (App. Mith. 71; Memn. 27:7), and the Celto-Scythian tribes remained loyal to Mithridates until his final defeat in 63 BC.

Even after the end of the Mithridatic Wars, the Balkan Celts and Bastarnae continued to resist Roman expansion on the Lower Danube and Pontic region. In 61 BC a “barbarian” coalition, led by the Bastarnae, dealt a spectacular defeat to the Roman army of Gaius Antonius Hybrida (“the Monster”) at the Battle of Histria (Choref, Mac Gonagle op cit.). Besides the conflict with Rome, there exists the possibility that the Mana warrior fell defending his people against the Thracian Getae tribe who, under their leader Burebista, launched a genocidal campaign against their neighbors (Celtic, Greek and Bastarnae) towards the mid 1st century BC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Bastarnae see also Choref/Mac Gonagle 2015:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/celto-scythians-and-celticization-in-ukraine-and-the-north-pontic-region/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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handgriff-eines-kubels-vom-oseberg-schiff-vermutete-keltische-herkunft-undatiert

 

One of the most sensational discoveries of the Viking Age, the ship burial uncovered in a tumulus or haugr at Oseberg farm, Norway at the beginning of the 20th century consisted of an astonishingly well-preserved Viking ship containing the remains of two women along with a wide variety of associated burial goods….

 

 

Full Article:

https://www.academia.edu/30935667/A_GOD_BY_ANY_OTHER_NAME_Cernunnos_Christ_Buddha_and_the_Oseberg_Bucket

 

 

 

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epona-dish

 

 

Discovered in 2005 at Petrijanec near the city of Varaždin in northern Croatia, the Petrijanec hoard consisted of 27,735 silver-plated bronze coins and three silver plates. The treasure represents the largest hoard of Roman coinage from the territory of modern Croatia and one of the largest third century hoards in the world. Based on the coinage the hoard has been dated to the year 294 AD.

 

 

coins

Roman coinage from the Petrijanec Hoard

Petrijanec images after ŠIŠA-VIVEK M.,LELEKOVIĆ T., KALAFATIĆ H. OSTAVA RIMSKOG NOVCA I SREBRNOG POSUĐA IZ PETRIJANCA. In:  OPVSC. ARCHÆOL. VOL. 29. ZAGREB 2005. pp. 231 – 246

http://hrcak.srce.hr/6084

 

 

As stated, the hoard also included three silver plates, the smaller of which, decorated with a figural image of the Celtic Horse Goddess Epona, is of most interest in the present context.  

 

silver-dishware

Silver Plates from the Petrijanec Hoard

 

 

 

EPONA ENTHRONED

 

Epigraphic dedications and images of Epona indicate her immense popularity within the Celtic world, being venerated particularly in the east of Gaul and the Rhineland, but also across the continent from Britain to the Balkans. As the Roman Empire expanded, at first she was worshipped solely among populations who came from Celtic regions, i.e. among individuals and groups of Celtic ethnicity. However, her cult rapidly became popular also among the general Roman population, especially those whose lives were connected to horses and equestrianism, and she gradually became part of the Roman pantheon, becoming the patron of horses and everything connected with horsesstables, carriages, tasks or people associated with horses, mules and donkeys.

epona-second-or-third-century-ad-from-contern-luxembourg-musee-national-dart-et-dhistoire-luxembourg-city

Epona (2/3 century AD) from Contern, Luxembourg

 

epona-thessalonika-4th-c-ad

Relief of Epona from Thessaloniki, Greece. (4th century AD)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/epona-the-celtic-horse-goddess-in-thrace/

 

 

In the case of the silver plate from Petrijanec, the middle of the plate contains a decoration in the form of a standard circular medallion with a diameter of 93mm. bearing the image of a female on horseback. At first glance it would appear that the goddess is riding side-saddle, but in fact she is seated in the direction opposite to the horse’s movement, with legs unusually outspread for horseback riding. Even though the horse is depicted moving in a trot, indicated by the uplifted left leg and raised tail, the woman’s pose makes it apparent that the horse has the function of a throne, which is a frequent motif in depictions of the Celtic Horse Goddess.

 

epona-dish

The silver “Epona Plate” from Petrijanec (Diameter 230 mm, height 25 mm, 482 g.)

 

 

As may be noted, the proportions in the image are not balanced. The horse is smaller than the woman, which is a consequence of iconographic perspective, typical of depictions of goddesses. Epona holds a cornucopia in her left hand, and a patera in her right hand, and is dressed in a robe (pallium), with her right shoulder bared. The medallion is encircled by a border 8 mm. wide, made of a series of beads and stylised palmettes. The inscription EPONA (barely visable) is engraved on the undecorated surface around the medallion, and the letters filled with niello, which is customary for silver dishes of this period. The closest analogy to the Epona plate from Petrijanec is to be found in silver dishware from Rudnik, in Serbia, where a Roman hoard with 26 silver dishes included a similar plate bearing the inscription EPONA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

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https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/nutirces-toulon-sur-allier-auvergne-mould-gallo-roman-period.jpg?w=775&h=657

 

In a world where the average woman was not expected to live beyond her 20’s, and death in childbirth was common, it is little wonder that one of the most widespread cults in the Celtic (and Romano-Celtic) world was that of the Nutrices – the protectors of maternity and motherhood.

 

In Britannia and Gaul the Nutrices/Matres are often represented in a triad on votive reliefs such as those from Circencester (Gloucestershire) where the central Goddess is holding the baby in her arms, or Vertault (Côte d’Or) where 3 nursing Goddesses are depicted.

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/gorresb.jpg?w=640

The Aufanian Matronae (detail) from the Gallo-Roman temple site at Görresburg, Nettersheim

(Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn)

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/circen-vertault.jpg?w=640

Above Left: Terracotta relief of the Matres from the Gallo-Roman settlement of Vertillum (Vertault, Côte d’Or).

(Museum of Châtillon-sur-Seine)

Above Right: Depiction of the Nursing Mother Goddesses from Cirencester, England. (Corinium Museum, Cirencester)

 

mothers

Hoard of silver jewelry from Backworth (Tyne & Wear), England ( 1-2 c. AD). The silver pan, which was probably the container for most of the objects, has a  decorated handle with a gold-inlaid inscription in Latin MATR.FAB DVBIT – a gift from Fabius Dubitatus to the Celtic Matres

 

 

 

Other depictions of the Nutrices are found on white terracotta figurines discovered across Europe, depicting seated Matres wearing a diadem and long garments, feeding 1 or 2 infants at their breast. The Celtic Nutrices should also be related to the Roman Dea Nutrix, who was venerated especially in North Africa, either alone, or together with Saturnus, and is also represented breast-feeding babies, or as protector of children.

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/auxr.jpg?w=640

Five statuettes in white terracotta of nursing Matres discovered in a well in Auxerre (Yonne).

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/a-statuettes-of-the-matres-morlanwelz-hainaut-belgium.jpg?w=640

Statuettes of the Matres from Morlanwelz (Hainaut), Belgium

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/nutirces-toulon-sur-allier-auvergne-mould-gallo-roman-period.jpg?w=775&h=657

Mould for the production of statuettes of the Matres from Toulon-sur-Allier (Auvergne), France

 

 

 

On the Balkans, the largest center dedicated to the Nutrices was that at Poetovio in Pannonia (Ptuj, eastern Slovenia), where 2 sanctuaries and numerous inscriptions have been discovered. In Poetovio the Nutrices are always venerated in the plural form and, as in the case of sites such as Cirencester (Britannia) and Vertault (Gaul), are often portrayed as a triad.

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ptv.jpg?w=640

Representation of the Nutrices from Poetovio

(LIMC, vol. 6.2, p. 620, n°4)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/between-birth-and-death-celtic-graffiti/

 

 

Noteworthy is the fact that, although dating to the Roman period, a significant number of dedicators to the Nutrices/Matres at Poetovio and other such sites still bear Celtic names (Šašel Kos 1999). This fact, and the use of a separate Celtic alphabet/script in this region as late as the 3rd c. AD, indicates a remarkable continuity of native religious and cultural tradition throughout the Roman period.

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/roman-period-altar-dedicated-to-the-celtic-matres-from-duratc3b3n-segovia-spain-1st-2nd-century-the-invocation-matribus-termegiste-to-the-three-almighty-mothers-alludes-to-the-typica.jpg?w=640

TO THE 3 ALMIGHTY MOTHERS

Roman period altar dedicated to the Celtic Matres from Duratón (Segovia), Spain (1st-2nd century). The invocation Matribus Termegiste (To the Three Almighty Mothers) alludes to the typical Celtic trinity concept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

horn-cap-details-detail-x-colchester-essex

 

The enigmatic bronze objects known as ‘Horn Caps’ were produced exclusively by the Celtic tribes in England and Wales during the mid-late Iron Age (ca. 300 – 43 BC). Despite various theories defining them as ceremonial staff-heads, a finial for ceremonial seats or chariot elements (although no examples have ever been discovered in chariot burials), the exact purpose of such objects remains unclear…

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/29157809/OF_SWANS_AND_SWASTIKAS_A_Celtic_Horn_Cap_with_Zoomorphic_Swastika_Decoration_from_Essex_England

 

 

 

wandsworth

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

CERMIC x

                           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.

 

weapons

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

 

See:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/the-archaeology-of-heads/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Celtic burial Complex from Csepel Island:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/celtic-budapest-the-burial-complex-from-csepel-island/

 

 

Full report on burial #149:

https://www.academia.edu/13495605/Attila_Horv%C3%A1th_M._Kantharoi_from_the_La_T%C3%A8ne_Period_Cemetery_Budapest_-_Csepel_Island._In_M._Gu%C5%A1tin_W._David_eds._The_Clash_of_Cultures_The_Celts_and_the_Macedonien_World._Schriften_des_Kelten-R%C3%B6mer-Museums_Manching_9_Manching_2014_247-258_in_print_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

2 - 2 -2-  SETTLEMENT UKRAINE

 

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

https://www.academia.edu/24918722/Celto-Scythians_and_Celticization_in_Ukraine_and_the_North_Pontic_Region._In_%D0%9C%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B0%D0%BB%D1%8B_%D0%BF%D0%BE_%D0%90%D1%80%D1%85%D0%B5%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%B8%D0%B8_%D0%B8_%D0%98%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B8_%D0%90%D0%BD%D1%82%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE_%D0%B8_%D0%A1%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B4%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE_%D0%9A%D1%80%D1%8B%D0%BC%D0%B0_%D0%90%D1%80%D1%85%D0%B5%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%B8%D1%8F_%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%8F_%D0%BD%D1%83%D0%BC%D0%B8%D0%B7%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B0_%D1%81%D1%84%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B0_%D0%B8%D1%8D%D0%BF%D0%B8%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%84%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B0._Moscow_State_University_%D0%A1%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%8C_%D0%A2%D1%8E%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%8C_%D0%9D%D0%B8%D0%B6%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%81%D0%BA_2015._pp._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.

 

 

 

Roll BIRDY

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

 

 

Rhineland

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

 

 

 

 

POWER AND POISON

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

https://www.academia.edu/24157678/Celtic_warriors_and_the_Ljubljanica

 

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:

https://www.academia.edu/22841807/THE_CROSS_AND_THE_SPIRAL_On_the_Triskele_in_Early_Christian_Art

 

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