CUI BONO ? – Uncovering the System of Illegal Trade in Celtic Artifacts from the Balkans to Western Europe

Fascinating article by Vojislav Filipovic of the Serbian Institute of Archaeology which investigates the illegal trade in Celtic artifacts from the Balkans to western Europe, the falsification of official documents facilitating their sale, and the ‘respectable’ western auction houses which ultimately benefit from the destructive, immoral and illegal business of trafficking in our cultural heritage. 

https://www.academia.edu/41217196/Cultural_Heritage_of_Humankind_-_Cheap_Goods_for_the_Auction_Houses?fbclid=IwAR1sZUD44VT87oh84fy7Vrnj04xA_JtfA_-Q_4M0plhwr2bR45TVmn5PSHQ

 

Armlets 2

Balkan Celtic Warrior Burial from Kladovo (e. Serbia)

Inventory of a Balkan Celtic warrior burial excavated at Ajmana, near Kladovo /  Кладово in the Bor district of  eastern Serbia. Grave goods in the (cremation) burial, which dates to the 1st century BC, included metal and ceramic vessels, knives, spears, and a ‘sacrificial’ curved dagger (Sica).

Cremation - Celtic warrior, 1st c BC, excavated in Ajmana, vicinity of Kladovo, eastern Serbia. two spears, curved sica knife, two more iron knives, some bronze and ceramic vessels.

 

 

On Balkan Celtic Sacrificial Curved Daggers / Sicae see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/curved-sacrificial-daggers/

 

CELTIC GLASS “FACE BEADS”

It has long been noted that the cult of the head “constitutes a persistent theme throughout all aspects of Celtic life spiritual and temporal, and the symbol of the severed head may be regarded as the most typical and universal of their religious attitudes” (Ross A. Pagan Celtic Britain. London 1967:163).

Strabo informs us that ‘when they depart from the battle they hang the heads of their enemies from the necks of their horses, and when they have brought them home, nail the spectacle to the entrance of their houses…’ (Strabo IV, 4,5). Amongst the Celts the human head ‘was venerated above all else, since the head was to the Celt the soul, centre of  the emotions, as well as of life itself, a symbol of divinity and of the powers of the other-world’ (Jacobstahl P. Early Celtic Art. Oxford. 1944; see also Mac Congail 2010: 173-175). The severed head is also one of the main core symbols on Celtic artifacts and coins from the Balkans in the 4th – 1st c. BC.

In this context, one of the most interesting types of glasswork produced by the Celts, apparently from Phoenician prototypes, were ‘Face/Head Beads’. These have been found at a number of Celtic burials and other sites from central (Germany, Switzerland etc.) and eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria etc.).

Hung

Celtic glass ‘Janus’ Face Bead from Mezönyarad (Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén), Hungary (3rd c. BC)

Moravia 3 c. BC

Celtic face bead from Moravia, Czech Republic (3 c. BC)

 

A wonderful example of this type of face bead from Bulgaria comes from the Mogilanska Tumulus (Vratza region), which has direct parallels in examples discovered at Celtic sites in the Czech Republic and Romania. Similar artifacts have been unearthed in recent years during excavations at other sites in Bulgaria such as Appolonia Pontica/Sozopol, Mavrova Tumulus (Starosel, Plovdiv region), Burgas, Kavarna, etc.

Bulg 1

Face Bead from Mogilanska Tumulus (Vratza region, Bulgaria)

Bulg 2

Glass bead and ‘face bead’ from Mavrova Tumulus (Starosel, Plovdiv region, Bulgaria)

 

Also interesting, from an artistic perspective, is a gold ‘Janus head’ pendant executed in a repossé technique and decorated filigreé and granulation, discovered in the Shumen region of northeastern Bulgaria, and dated to the same period. From a morphological and stylistic perspective the closest analogies are the Celtic face beads found among the Celts of central and eastern Europe, examples of which come from sites such as Mangalia, Piscolt and Vác, as well as the aforementioned sites in Bulgaria (Rustoiu 2008).

 

Jan head

Gold Celtic ‘Janus Head’ pendant from Schumen region, northeastern Bulgaria (4th/3rd c. BC)

 

As with many aspects of Celtic art, the tradition of producing face beads continues much later in the Insular sphere, as attested to by many wonderful examples of glass face beads dating to the late Iron Age discovered in Ireland.

Late Iron Age glass 'face bead' from Antrim, Ireland. Such Celtic beads emerged in the early Iron Age, apparently based on Phoenician prototypes. 

Late Iron Age glass face bead from Antrim, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

Discovery of a Balkan Celtic Burial Complex at Podzemelj, eastern Slovenia

 

 

 

The recent chance discovery of a significant Iron Age burial complex in eastern Slovenia has uncovered important new evidence pertaining to the population who inhabited this region of Europe in the immediate pre-Roman period. 

The site, at Pezdirčeva Njiva in Podzemelj, is situated in the White Carniola area of southeastern Slovenia, near the border with Croatia.

 

Excavation of the site at Pezdirčeva Njiva

One of the graves uncovered at the Pezdirčeva Njiva site

 

Initial investigations at the site have uncovered 15 burials, dating to the late 4th – early 3rd century BC, thus placing these latest finds in the same chronological framework as other early Balkan Celtic burials from eastern Slovenia, notably those from Srednica near Ptuj. The location of the latest discovery at Podzemelj places the burial complex in the territory of the Celtic Taurisci tribe. 

 

Srednica

Bronze scabbard from a Celtic warrior burial at Srednica, eastern Slovenia (late 4th – early 3rd c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/a-celtic-warrior-burial-from-srednica-northeastern-slovenia/

a - a - 2 Bela - 15 graves they dug out at Pezdirčeva Njiva in Podzemelj. Most of them date from the 4th century BC 5

Material from the Celtic burials at Pezdirčeva Njiva 

 

Perhaps the most interesting find so far from the Pezdirčeva Njiva burials is a Celtic gold stater based on the Greek Athena / Nike prototype, which was discovered attached to a belt in one of the burials (3 c. BC). The gold coin indicates that the burial is one of the later graves at the site. Coins are very rarely found in Celtic burials, and this example, only the third Celtic gold coin to have been found in an archaeological context on the territory of modern Slovenia, provides invaluable data concerning the dating of the burial.

 

A - coin a A Bela Krajina, Slovenia 3c. BC

A - coin b A Pezdirčeva Njiva site near Bela Krajina, Slovenia 3c. BC

Gold stater discovered in one of the Balkan Celtic burials at Podzemelj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

Κόραλλοι – The Celts in Eastern Bulgaria

 

“Who can I recite my work to here, but yellow-haired

Coralli, and the other tribes of the barbarous Danube?”

(Ovid, Ex Ponto. Book EIV.II To Cornelius Severus: A Fellow Poet)

 

Ovid’s unenthusiastic audience during his exile on the Pontus, the Celtic Coralli/Κόραλλοι tribe (Julian C. Histoire de la Gaule I 303 n. 3, Kazarov 1919:67, Domaradski 1984:111, Duridanov 1997 with cited lit.), were one of the barbarian peoples who constituted the unique

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/36347100/CORALLI_-_Celtic_Traces_in_Eastern_Bulgaria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BALKAN CELTIC SERPENT-HEADED BROOCHES

 

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...

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/35771383/BALKAN_CELTIC_HINGED_SERPENT-HEAD_BROOCHES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celtic Warrior Burials and Coin Hoard from Dolj County (Romania)

 

Recent archaeological excavations in the vicinity of the village of Desa (Dolj county) in southwestern Romania have yielded 2 Iron age warrior burials, a discovery which has greatly supplemented our knowledge of the Celtic Scordisci tribes which inhabited large areas of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania in the middle/late Iron Age.

 

FULL ARTICLE:

 

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/scordisci-warrior-burials-from-desa-romania/