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/

 

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THE TRANSITION – Inhumation to Cremation and the Case of the Celtic Complex at Csepel Island, Budapest

 

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Fascinating study by Attila Horváth of the Budapest History Museum on the question of the transition period in Celtic burial rites, based on data from the complex at Csepel Island, Budapest:

 

https://www.academia.edu/30399043/HORV%C3%81TH_M._A._Problems_about_the_Change_of_Periods_and_Rites_in_the_La_T%C3%A8ne_Cemetery_on_Csepel_Island_Budapest_._In_S._Berecki_ed._Iron_Age_chronology_in_the_Carpathian_Basin._Proceedings_of_the_international_colloquium_from_T%C3%A2rgu_Mure%C5%9F_8-10._October_2015._Cluj-Napoca_2016_141-163

 

 

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A Celtic Warrior Burial from Srednica (Northeastern Slovenia)

UD: September 2016

 

 

 

srednice 3 good

 

 

 

 

The area of the modern city of Ptuj (ancient Poetovio) in eastern Slovenia has yielded a massive amount of material pertaining to the Celtic culture, uncovered at multiple sites around the city. While the majority of this archaeological material has hitherto tended to relate to the immediate pre-Roman and Roman periods, recent discoveries have also furnished fascinating information regarding the earlier phases of Celtic settlement in this part of Europe.

 

 

 

 

ptuj map

( after Lubšina Tušek M., Kavur B. 2009 = https://www.academia.edu/1379528/LUB%C5%A0INA_TU%C5%A0EK_Marija_KAVUR_Boris._A_sword_between_the_Celtic_warriors_grave_from_Srednica_in_north-eastern_Slovenia._V_TIEFENGRABER_Georg_ur._KAVUR_Boris_ur._GASPARI_Andrej_ur._._Keltske_%C5%A1tudije_II_papers_in_honour_of_Mitja_Gu%C5%A1tin_Protohistoire_Europ%C3%A9enne_11_._Montagnac_%C3%89ditions_Monique_Mergoil_2009_str._125-142 )

 

 

 

mat

Relief of the Celtic Matres from Ptuj/Poetovio (LIMC, vol. 6.2, p. 620, n°4)
(see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/cult-of-the-nutrices-nursing-mothers/ )

 

 

br

The Brogdos Pot from Poetovio

 
The most extraordinary Celtic inscription to be found at Poetovio is undoubtedly that found on a beaker at the site. Dated to the 2nd/3rd c. AD, and written in a Celto-Etruscan script, this inscription reads ARTEBUDZ BROGDUI which has been translated as ‘Artebudz for Brogdos’. Both names are Celtic, and the vessel was a votive offering to Brogdos – a deity guarding the border between the world of the living and the after-world.
see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/between-birth-and-death-celtic-graffiti/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SREDNICA

 

In 2007 four Early La Tène (LT B2) graves were discovered in Srednica on the outskirts of Ptuj, three female burials and that of a warrior. The most interesting of these burials (#9) was that of the Celtic warrior, dating to the late 4th/ early 3rd c. BC, which was accompanied by ceramic vessels, a Middle La Téne iron fibula, socketed spearhead, knife and a Hatvan-Boldog/Münsingen type sword.

 

 

srednice grave 9 warrior cremation late 4th - early 3rd c. BC

Celtic Warrior Burial (#9) from Srednica

 

spearhead knife fibula irin Srednica b. 9 lare 4 ear 3 c. bc.

Spearhead, knife and fibula from burial #9

 

 

 

 

The most spectacular discovery in the burial is undoubtedly the sword/scabbard, richly decorated with tendrils, s-scrolls and triskele motifs, combining many Celtic stylistic elements of this period.

 

 

 

srednice 1 x

Upper plate of the Srednica scabbard

 

 

srednice 3 good

Suspension loop of the Srednica scabbard

 

(After Kavur B. (2014) = http://www.hippocampus.si/ISBN/978-961-6832-74-8.pdf)

 

(The sword is 69 cm long with the blade measuring 56 and the handle 13 cm. The scabbard is up to 4.4 cm broad. The clamps of the scabbard reinforcement are 5.3 cm broad and 1.8 cm long. The discs on the frontal reinforcement are 1.5 cm broad. The suspension loop is 7.4 cm long. The loop plates are 2.6 and the arch is 1.5 cm broad. The chape is 10.3 cm long and 5.9 cm wide)

 

 

 

 

 

 

From a wider perspective, the Srednica burials represent the first phase of Celtic migration into this part of Europe. In the initial phase only a few inhumation burials are known, such as burials 63 and 111 at Karaburma /Belgrade from Scordisci territory, to which we may add one of the female burials from Srednica, indicating that by the late 4th century BC eastern Slovenia was already settled by Celtic populations (Lubšina Tušek, Kavur 2009). While it has traditionally been thought that the initial Celtic settlement in the Central Balkans was connected with the ‘Brennos Invasion’ of 280/279 BC, it is becoming increasingly clear that this campaign was only the culmination of an ongoing migration which had begun decades earlier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(On the initial phase of Celtic expansion on the Balkans see also: https://www.academia.edu/10763789/On_The_Celtic_Conquest_of_Thrace_280_279_BC_ )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CELTIC BUDAPEST – The Burial Complex from Csepel Island

I B ci

 

 

Over the past century a large amount of epigraphic, numismatic and archaeological material relating to the Celtic Eravisci tribe has been uncovered in the Budapest region of modern Hungary. However, until recently the vast majority of this material has dated to the immediate pre-Roman and Roman periods (i.e. 1st century BC onwards), while little has been known of the earlier Celtic presence in this area.

 

Eravisci - stove

Clay stove from a Celtic house (#9) at Budapest-Gellérthegy (1st c. BC)

 

Eravisci -Late La Tène pottery workshop at Békásmegyer

Ceramic from a Late La Tène pottery workshop at Békásmegyer (Budapest  – 1 c. BC)

 

 

Eravisci 1 c. BC --ilver denarius. Imitating Roman Republican denarius of L. Roscius Fabatus.

Celtic (Eravisci) denarius from the Budapest area (1st. century BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

CSEPEL ISLAND

 

 

In light of the above, of particular interest have been the systematic excavations carried out over the past decade at the Csepel Island site on the Danube in Budapest. The site, better known as the personal domain of the Hungarian ruler Árpád after the migration of Hungarians into Pannonia in the early 10th century, and which remained a favourite resort of the Hungarian kings into the Middle Ages, has also proved one of the most significant Celtic sites in Eastern Europe.

 

 

Comp x.

Ceramic, bronze fibula and hohlbuckelring (bronze anklet) from the Celtic burials at Csepel Island (late 4th-3rd c. BC)

 
(On Hohlbuckelringe see:
https://www.academia.edu/7212191/On_Hohlbuckelringe_as_a_Marker_of_Celtic_Eastwards_Expansion )

 

 

 

 

 

The Celtic burial complex at Csepel Island was in use from the La Têne B1 – C1 period, i.e. from the 2nd half of the 4th until the late 3rd c. BC, and excavations at the site have uncovered 107 Celtic burials, both inhumation and cremation, dating to this period (Horváth 2012).

 

 

I B ci

Celtic inhumation burial from Csepel Island (late 4th / early 3rd c. BC)

 

warrior b. 149

Grave goods from a Celtic warrior burial (#149) at Csepel Island:
1. Fragment of shield boss; 2. Body of shield; 3. Suspension chain; 4. Spearhead; 5. Sword/scabbard

(after Horváth M.A. (2014) A Decorated La Tène Sword from the Budapest–Csepel Island. –
https://www.academia.edu/9541006/Horv%C3%A1th_M._A._A_Decorated_La_T%C3%A8ne_Sword_from_the_Budapest_Csepel_Island_IN_Berecki_S._ed._Iron_Age_Crafts_and_Craftsmen_in_the_Carpathian_Basin_BMM-SA_VII_Mega_2014_p._161-170 )

 

 

 

 

Of particular interest is cremation burial #6 at the site, analysis of which has indicated that the deceased was deposited in a large chamber constructed of timber. Such Celtic burials have been previously recorded in Hungary and Slovakia but, due to practical and environmental factors, have rarely been studied in detail.

 

 

cremation grave 6

Cremation burial #6 at Csepel Island (3rd c. BC)

 

cremation grave 6 recon.

Graphic reconstruction of the burial based on the archaeological data

 

( After Horváth 2012 (in Hungarian) – https://www.academia.edu/6969233/S%C3%ADrszerkezet_rekonstrukci%C3%B3s_k%C3%ADs%C3%A9rlet_egy_La_T%C3%A8ne_kori_temetkez%C3%A9s_kapcs%C3%A1n._Versuch_der_Grabrekonstruktion_eines_lat%C3%A9ne-zeitlichen_Begr%C3%A4bnisses._Budapest_R%C3%A9gis%C3%A9gei_XLV_2012._91-110 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Celtic cremation burials from Hungary see also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/celtic-death/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONDS OF BLOOD – Inter-Ethnic Marriage in the Iron Age

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A number of exceptional archaeological discoveries from southeastern Europe have thrown new light on the social and cultural relations between the various ‘barbarian’ peoples who inhabited this region in the pre-Roman period…

 

FULL ARTICLE:

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

 

 

bonds-illustration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BROTHERS IN ARMS – The double warrior burial from Szabadi (Hungary)

mian illust

 

 

 

 

The village of Szabadi (Somogy county) is situated on the Kapos river in southern Hungary, circa 2.5 km. from the Iron Age oppidum at Szalacska. South of the village a Celtic burial site, used from the end of the 4th – early 2nd c. BC, yielded 12 cremation burials including 3 female graves and 5 warrior burials (# 1,4,5,11 and 12).

 

 

 

s map f.

Location of the site

 

 

 

 

During rescue excavations at the site in 1981 a wealth of archaeological material was uncovered, including ceramic, bronze and iron fibulae, decorated iron, bronze and glass bracelets, ankle rings and weaponry. The most significant find at the site came from grave # 11, where a double warrior burial dating to the late 3rd/early 2nd c. BC was discovered. Material from the burial included 3 swords in their sheaths, 3 spearheads, 2 sword belts, 2 shield umbos, bracelets (iron and glass), and fibulae (Horváth, Németh 2011).

 

 

 

 

umb illust

Shield umbo from warrior burial #11 at Szabadi

(after Horváth, Németh 2011)

 

 

Hun. swo styl illust

One of the decorated scabbards from burial #11. Although badly corroded, at the opening of the sheath a simple symmetrical carved decoration can be observed, composed of tendrils and two drops, known as the Hungarian Sword Style (phase 2, after Szabó, Petres 1992; illustration after Horváth, Németh 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

PARTING GIFTS

 

In the south-west and south-eastern parts of the grave meat (chicken and pork) for the afterlife had been placed in bowls. A further notable find in the warrior burial was a small glass bracelet, much smaller than the iron bracelets of the warriors. Such glass bracelets are characteristic for Celtic female burials of this period; a significant marker of Celtic eastwards expansion, they have been found in 3rd c. BC contexts as far east as Celtic sites such as Arkovna, Kalnovo, Sevtopolis and Zaravetz in e. Bulgaria. It is believed that the bracelet in burial #11 at Szabadi was a present to one of the warriors from his girlfriend or wife, which he also carried with him into the afterlife (loc cit).

 

 

 

Glass b. h

Glass bracelets from various Celtic female burials in Hungary (late 4th – early 2nd c. BC)

(after Tanko 2006)

 

 

 

 

The double burials in grave #11 at Szabadi were performed at the same time, and it has thus been assumed that the warriors fell in battle (Horváth, Németh 2011). Although the nature of the cremation process makes forensic confirmation impossible, this indeed appears the most plausible explanation for such a phenomenon. Finally, it is noteworthy that similar burial assemblages to those at Szabadi are common in the territory of the Scordisci (loc cit), logically indicating a close relationship between the Celts of the Kapos Valley and those in Serbia and n. Bulgaria.

 

 

 

mian illust

Full inventory of warrior burial #11

(after Horváth, Németh 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Celtic Multiple Burials see also:

https://www.academia.edu/5275216/Multiple_Burials_And_The_Question_of_Celtic_Suttee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Horváth L., Németh P. (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.

Szabó M., Petres É. F. (1992) Decorated Weapons of the La Tène Iron Age in the Carpathian Basin. Inventaria Praehistorica Hungariae 5, Budapest.

Tankó K. (2006) Celtic Glass Bracelets in East-Hungary. In: Thracians and Celts. Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Bistriţa, 18-20 May 2006. p. 253-263
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GHOST CAVALRY OF GONDOLE

gc 1

 

“And while the attention of our men is engaged with this surrender, in another part Adcantuannus, who held the chief command, appeared with 600 devoted followers whom they call soldurii; the conditions of whose association are these, – that they enjoy all the conveniences of life with those to whose friendship they have devoted themselves: if any thing calamitous happen to them, either they endure the same destiny together with them, or commit suicide”.

 
(Caesar, Bellum Gallicum III:22)

 

 

 

 

 

The most mysterious archaeological discovery from late Iron Age Europe occurred in 2002 with the discovery of the Celtic cavalry burials in the vicinity of the oppidum of the Averni tribe at Gondole (Puy-de-Dôme), France. While the burial of Celtic warriors in the mid and late Iron Age together with their horses is unusual, this phenomenon is not unknown (isolated examples of such Celtic burials have been found as far east as Kalnovo in eastern Bulgaria). However, the Gondole burials are undoubtedly among the most bizarre in European archaeology.

 

 

The mass burial at Gondole, situated 300 meters from the rampart of the oppidum, consisted of 8 men and their horses, lined up four by four in two rows, who had been buried together in a rectangular grave. Each warrior was lying on his right side, head to the south, facing east. Seven of them were adults and the eighth an adolescent. Apart from the boy, whose hand was placed near his face, all the warriors had their left arm extended, placed on the previous skeleton.

 

 

 

 

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Archaeo-zoological analysis has confirmed that the horses in the burial were Gallic horses (small horses 1.20 high)

 

 

 

 

Initial explanations of this unique archaeological phenomenon logically linked the burial to Celtic warriors killed in battle with Caesar’s forces during this turbulent period. However, the fact that no weapons, no personal belongings, no offerings, and no elements of harnessing were found with the bodies further indicated that this was no ordinary mass warrior burial. Furthermore, the theory that the men had fallen in battle with the Romans also collapsed when anthropological analysis revealed no trace of trauma on the skeletons of the warriors which would be compatible with combat, and therefore no logical scientific explanation for their deaths.

 

 

 

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Thus, while theories abound concerning the circumstances of their deaths and the enigmatic burial rites to be observed at the site, the ‘Ghost Cavalry of Gondole’ remains one of the greatest mysteries of Celtic Europe.