Tag Archive: Celtic coins Bulgaria


New Bitmap Image 1 PAUNOV

 

 

Full text of the magnificent work of Dr. Evgeni Paunov of Cardiff University – From Koine to Romanitas: The numismatic evidence for Roman expansion and settlement in Bulgaria in Antiquity (Moesia and Thrace, ca. 146 BC – AD 98/117) – an overview of all the available ancient numismatic evidence from the territory of modern Bulgaria relating to the period between the 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD.

 

Besides an expansive study on all ancient coinage from this region pertaining to the period in question, for the first time since the Communist Period numismatic material relating to the later Celtic presence/settlement in Bulgaria  (2-1 century BC) is also presented in a comprehensive and objective manner:

 

 

 

Full Text:

https://www.academia.edu/11938672/From_Koine_to_Romanitas_The_numismatic_evidence_for_Roman_expansion_and_settlement_in_Bulgaria_in_Antiquity_Moesia_and_Thrace_ca._146_BC_AD_98_117_

 

 

 

New Bitmap Image 1 PAUNOV 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FIRST ILLUST

 

 

The emergence of the first European (non-classical) coinage has hitherto been explained by a vague and unsupported theory that it appeared ‘somewhere in Central Europe’ after 275 BC, based on Macedonian issues brought back by Celtic mercenaries. However, recent archaeological / numismatic evidence from Eastern Europe has seriously undermined this oft repeated but unsubstantiated theory, and finally provided some scientific clarity on the chronology of this phenomenon, as well as furnishing surprising information regarding the motivation behind the first Celtic coinage…

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/25857737/AB_OVO_-_The_First_Celtic_Coinage

 

 

 

Celtic imitations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: November 2016

 

 

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/goldh-s.jpg?w=640

 

 

One would imagine that an invasion by hundreds of thousands of barbarians would have a catastrophic effect on the economy of a region. However, this presumption has been challenged in recent years by the archaeological and numismatic data emerging from the territory which fell under the control of the ‘barbarian’ Tyle state in eastern Thrace during the 3rd c. BC.

 

The traditional description of the Celtic tribes who arrived in this area has been one of ‘thirsty savages’ or ‘gangs of mercenaries’ (latest Emilov 2007, 2010), and we have been repeatedly informed that ‘their aim was not to settle, but money and booty which could be acquired in different ways … by attacking wealthy cities, and by ravaging the countryside’ (Nixon 1977, cited by Mitchell 1993; Emilov 2010). However, repeating a simplistic stereotype does not make it true, particularly when the depiction of a culture entirely contradicts all the available archaeological and historical evidence. In this case the facts tell a rather surprising tale – a barbarian invasion that brought political stability and economic prosperity in its wake…

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT

 

S.E. Thrace map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                                                    ukraine-c

 

 

 

Although extensive archaeological material from western Ukraine testifies to significant Celtic settlement in the region from the 3rd c. BC onwards (Kazakevich 2012), published finds of Celtic coinage from this region has hitherto been confined to the Upper Tisza and Dneister Estuary areas….

 

Full Article:

https://www.academia.edu/4072179/Celtic_Coinage_From_Ukraine

 

 

 

 

Mala j.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE LADY IN THE OVEN

 

 

The most extraordinary ancient ‘burial’ to be discovered in recent years is that of a woman found in a pottery kiln near the Celtic settlement of Ablana (by the village of Krivina, Rousse region) on the Bulgarian Danube. This burial is remarkable for a number of reasons, foremost among them its situation – in a large pottery kiln – symbolic of the thriving barbarian culture which inhabited this region in the Late Iron Age, and also for the nature of the burial – archaeological testimony to the brutal fashion in which this culture was destroyed.

 

 

WMN OVEN

 

 

 

 

 

Ru. map

 

 

 

 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT

 

 

 

MEDIOLANA

 

 

Recent discoveries of Celtic archaeological sites and material from the Rousse area (and northeastern Bulgaria in general) have confirmed previous linguistic and numismatic evidence that this area was one of the key Celtic economic and political centers in late Iron Age Thrace. From an economic perspective, the most significant Celtic center on this stretch of the Danube was situated at Mediolana (modern Pirgovo, Rousse region) (see ‘Celtic Settlements in n. Bulgaria’ article). Mediolana was strategically situated near the confluence of the Danube and the Lom river, the latter connecting Mediolana with Celtic settlements in the interior such as Abritu (Razgrad). A vast amount of Celtic archaeological and numismatic material has been discovered in the vicinity of Pirgovo/Mediolana over the past century, including separate hoards of Celtic coins found in 1910, 1938, 1979, and 2008 around the village (see Numismatics section, especially ‘Little Metal Men’ article, with relevant lit.), clearly indicating that Mediolana/Pirgovo was a key Celtic economic and coin production center in the pre-Roman period.

 

 

 

Mediolana Td.

Celtic tetradrachms of the Sattelkopfpferd type from Pirgovo/Mediolana, Russe Region (from the 1978 hoard)

 

 

 

 Further hoards of Celtic coins discovered in the Rousse area include 4 hoards found in the area of Rousse city (Gerassimov 1966:213; Preda 1973:209, # 36;  Draganov 2001:40; Gerassimov 1966:213; Preda 1973:209, # 35; Gerassimov 1979:138;Jurukova 1979:60; Prokopov 2006, # 260), as well as from the villages of Slivo Pole (Gerassimov 1969:234; Preda 1973:240, no. 47) and  Nikolovo (Gerassimov 1952, 403-404; Preda 1973:240, # 44) (both beside the Celtic settlement of Tegris), Belyanovo (Gerassimov 1963:257; Draganov 2001: 40)(beside the Celtic settlement of Ablana), Ostritsa (Gerassimov 1962:231; Draganov 2001:40) and Pepelina (Gerassimov 1966:213; Preda 1998:219) (both on the Lom river, slightly to the south of the Celtic settlement at Pirgovo/Mediolana), Mechka (Moushmov 1932:314) (beside Mediolana), and Pissanets (Shkorpil, 1914:49, fig. 46.2; Gerassimov, 1939:344).

  The recent publication of a ‘mother matrix’ for the production of Celtic coinage of the ‘Sattlekopfpferd’ type discovered in the Rousse region confirms large-scale Celtic coin production in this area.

 

 

 

Ru. MM

The ‘Mother-Matrix’ for production of Celtic “Sattelkopfpferd” tetradrachms from the Rousse area (late 2nd / early 1st c. BC)

(see ‘Mother Matrix’ article)

 

 

 

 

THE ZARAVETZ CULTURE

 

 Further Celtic settlements on this short stretch of the Danube included Ablana (today’s Gorno Ablanovo) to the west of Mediolana, and Tegris (today’s Marten) and Appiaria  (placed XIV and IX Roman miles from Tegris(respectively TP and IA), to the east of Mediolana (see ‘Celtic Settlements in Northern Bulgaria’ article). As with Mediolana, Ablana was situated at a vital strategic point – in this case near the confluence of the Jantra river with the Danube. Extensive Celtic archaeological and numismatic material discovered along the courses of both the Lom and Jantra rivers indicate that these were vital trade arteries connecting Celtic settlements on the Danube with those in the interior (see below).

  A high concentration of La Têne and Celtic numismatic material has been registered in northeastern Bulgaria, particularly in the aforementioned Rousse region on the Danube, and in the Veliko Tarnovo, Targovischte, Schumen, Razgrad and Western Varna regions (see Numismatics and Archaeology sections, especially ‘New Material 1 – 2’ articles).

 

 

Var. weap

Celtic Burial Artifacts from North-Eastern Bulgaria (Varna Archaeological Museum)

(see ‘Killing the Objects’ article)

 

 

 

 It should be noted that this concentration of La Têne and Celtic numismatic evidence also coincides exactly with the area of distribution of the Celtic Zaravetz lead and bronze coinage, indicating  that whereas the area further to the east and northeast was dominated by the Peucini Bastarnae (see ‘Bastarnae’ and ‘Peucini’ articles), this area was settled by different Celtic groups. Concentrations of the Zaravetz type coinage, in combination with the other types of Celtic coinage and La Têne material, in the Veliko Tarnovo/western Schumen region, such as that discovered in the cultural layers at Zaravetz hillfort (Veliko Tarnovo) indicate that this area, connected to the Danube settlements by the Jantra river, was also a key Celtic political and economic center in the late Iron Age.

 

 

 

VTF

Bronze Celtic fibula with zoomorphic ring from Veliko Tarnovo  (After Mircheva 2007)

 (see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

 

 

Zarav coin

(see Numismatics section 8)

 

 

VAr. BAFM

 

Mould for the production of Celtic ‘Battle-Axe’ fibulae from northeastern Bulgaria – Varna regional Museum

(see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

 

This mould is similar to another found in the Vratza region of northwestern Bulgaria. It is dated to the 1st c. BC, and was used for making Middle La Têne fibulae. A silver Celtic fibulae from Gorni Dabnik (Pleven region, Bulgaria) is very similar to the form produced by the Varna and Vratza moulds. It belongs to a certain type of nodular ‘battle-axe’ fibulae.

 

 

 

 

It appears that the main Celtic group in this area of Bulgaria were the Coralli (see ‘Coralli’ article). Another Celtic group, the Aboulonsoi, who were settled in the area between Tutrakan (Trasmarisca) and Razgrad (Abritu) (see ‘Celtic Settlements in n. Bulgaria’ article), were probably a sub-group of the Coralli. La Têne material in eastern Bulgaria, as far south as the valley of the Kamchya river in the w. Varna region, and sites such as the Celtic warrior burials at Kalnovo (Schumen region) have long been attributed to the Coralli (Domaradski 1984; on the Coralli tribe see ‘Coralli’ article, with relevant lit.).

 

 

 

Kal. A

Material from the Celtic warrior burials at Kalnovo, Shumen region

               (After Megaw 2004 – see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

 

 

 

Sch. M

Mould for the production of La Têne fibulae – Schumen region

(After Mircheva 2007 – see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

The mould was used to produce fibulae of the type found at the Celtic burial site at Kalnovo, others found in Serbia, and another example from north-eastern Bulgaria, now in the Varna museum

 

 

 

 

 

Sh. Jan

Gold Celtic ‘Janus Head’ pendant from Schumen region, northeastern Bulgaria

(after Rustoiu A. 2008)

(See ‘The Mezek Syndrome’ article with relevant lit.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boba. C

Bronze Celtic chariot fitting from Bobata fortress, Schumen region

 

(see ‘ New Celtic Material 1’ article)

 

 

 

 

 

KRIVINA/ABLANA

 

One of the most fascinating sites to be discovered in recent years in this part of Bulgaria is the Celtic settlement at Chichov Elak on the Danube, again in the Rousse region of northeastern Bulgaria (Vagalinski L. A new Late La Tène pottery kiln with a bread oven on the lower Danube (northern Bulgaria) In: The Eastern Celts. The Communities between the Alps and the Black Sea.  Božič D. (ed) Koper -Beograd 2011. p. 219-226). This site, which lay to the west of Mediolana, is near the modern village of Krivina, and in immediate proximity to the Celtic settlement of Ablana. It is again situated at a strategic location – on the confluence of the Danube and the Jantra river (now 2km. east of the Jantra, before the construction of a dam in the 1920’s the river reached the northern end of the village), thus connected via the Jantra to Celtic settlements in the interior.

 

 

Kiln map

 

Location of the Chichov Elak Site

 

 

 

 

The recent excavations at Chichov Elak (carried out by Lyudmil Vagalinski, Director of the National Institute of Archaeology with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NIAMBAS), illustrates that this was not just a trading post, but an important Celtic economic centre in its own right, as the discovery of a bread oven and a large ceramic kiln at the site indicates. The kiln, which is dated roughly to the end of the 1st c. BC/beginning of the 1st c. AD, is especially noteworthy for a number of reasons. It’s unusually large size reveals a high capacity of manufacture, i.e. the mass production of Celtic ceramic, which included late La Têne painted ware. This type of ceramic was popular among the Celtic tribes from Normandy to southwest Germany in the west, to the Scordisci in the east, and especially along the Danube (Břeň 1973, Andrews 1991, Sladič 1986 note 90, Cumberpatch 1993, Vagalinski 2011 with relevant lit.), and is usually found in large settlements such as the Celtic oppida. It was produced by professional potters, and used by people of high social status. It is usually found together with late La Têne burnished pottery – exactly the case with the Celtic site at Krivina.

 

 

Kiln A 1

A.

 

 

Kil A 2

 

B.

 

 

Pottery Kiln (A) with detail of the flue (B)

 

(after Vagalinski 2011)

 

 

 

The kiln was dug into the hillside, and the Celtic potters used the hardness and the firmness of the thick loess layer, shaping the furnace (combustion chamber) and the flue (fire-tunnel) in it. The kiln is circular in form – the maximum diameter of the grate is 2.45 m (along the 45-225º axis), 2.40 m  (along the north-south axis or 0-180º), 2.34 m (along the east-west axis or 90-270º), and 2.27 m (along the 135-315º axis). The height of the furnace from the kiln foor to the upper end of the support wall is 0.75 m.

 

 

 

 

 

Both handmade and wheel-thrown pottery were found at the site. The handmade pottery included jars and cup-like vessels. It has also emerged that the latter, which have been referred to by Bulgarian and Romanian archaeologists as ‘Thracian-Dacian types of cups’, are actually Celtic lamps (Vagalinski 2011:204).

 

 

 

 

Kr. Cr

 

A Handmade Jar and Painted Pottery found in the Pottery Kiln

 

 

 

 

 

The final phase of this Celtic settlement/economic complex is roughly dated to the end of the 1st c. BC, and in the eastern part of the kiln was found the body of a female. The skeleton, of a woman of 35-40 years of age, was 1.66 m. long, and its location and absence of any burial goods indicate that this was not a burial per se, but that the woman’s body was simply discarded in the oven. The dating of the ‘burial’ coincides with the end of the barbarian Zaravetz culture, and the beginning of the Roman period in this region.

 

 

 

WMN OVEN

The Female Body found on the Kiln’s Grate

(after Vagalinski 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Krivina site is the latest example of the growing contradiction in Bulgarian archaeological science. The only ceramic production center to be found in ‘Late Hellenistic Thrace’ is a Celtic complex for the mass production of La Têne ceramic (Vagalinski, op cit). This once again highlights the Celtic presence in late Iron Age Thrace and, together with other discoveries in the Rousse region, and the large amounts of Celtic numismatic and La Têne material recorded in north-eastern, north-central, north-western, south-central, and south-western Bulgaria (see Archaeology and Numismatics sections), clearly illustrates that the territory of today’s Bulgaria in the pre-Roman period was inhabited by a population that had a significant (in many areas, dominant) Celtic element.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD – Nov. 2015

 

 

 

 

 

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

(Plut. Aem. 9.6)

 

Opc

 

 

The Peucini were the southern branch of the Bastarnae tribal confederation, initially settled in the Lower Danube region, specifically around the island of Peuce, from which they took their name – while those who took possession of Peuce, the island in the Ister, are called Peucini’ (Strabo Vii, 3,17).

 From the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 2nd c. BC (coinciding chronologically with the collapse of the Celtic Tyle state in eastern Thrace) the Peucini began to expand southwards into sub-Danubian Thrace, where they are referred to variously as ‘Galatians’, ‘Bastarnae’ or ‘Gauls’. In 179 BC they first appear in historical sources as allies of the Scordisci and the Macedonian king Philip V, who intended to send them against Rome. The geo-political significance of the Peucini at this stage is noted by ancient authors. Livy informs us that:

The envoys whom he had sent to the Bastarnae to summon assistance had returned and brought back with them some young nobles, amongst them some of royal blood. One of these promised to give his sister in marriage to Philip’s son, and the king was quite elated at the prospect of an alliance with that nation (Livy. History of Rome. Book 40:5).

 Although Philip’s sudden death meant that this Macedonian/Celtic coalition against Rome never materialized, the same source makes it clear that by this time the Bastarnae were firmly established in eastern Thrace (Livy 40:58).

( on the Bastarnae tribes see also: https://www.academia.edu/4835555/Gallo-Scythians )

 

Celto-Scythian (Peucini Bastarnae) burial from Durankulak Island (Dobrudja), Bulgaria good

Celto-Scythian (Peucini Bastarnae) burial from Durankulak Island (Dobrudja), north-eastern Bulgaria

(2nd c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 THE “LAND OF ESUS”

 

 

The main centre of Peucini political and economic power in southern Dobruja (n-e Bulgaria) was concentrated in the territory around the Kavarna/Balchik/Kaliakra area on the Black Sea coast, where we encounter the settlement of Peuce in the Balchik area (IGBulg V, 5011 (terr. Dionysopolis), probably the center/capital of the Peucini kingdom. This is confirmed by the fact that many of the Peucini Bastarnae coins were minted in Dionysopolis/Balchik. Close to Peuce was the settlement of Tirizis/ Τιρίζης, located on cape Kaliakra (Men. Perg., Per. 156; Strabo 7. 6.1) which appears to bear the name of the Celtic deity Esus (Proto-Celtic = *tīrro – land, *tīros- ‘land, earth’ [Noun] – GOlD: OIr. tir [0 n]; W: OW tir, MW tir [m], BRET: MBret tir [m], Co: OCo. tir gl. tellus, Co. tyr; the second element from the Celtic deity Esus (Lucanus, Bellum civile I.445, Marcellus of Bordeaux, De medicamentis 15.106, p. 121), – the name meaning literally ‘the Land of Esus’.

 

Archaeological and numismatic evidence from this area of north-eastern Bulgaria, particularly around the aforementioned Kavarna area, indicates that by the 2nd/1st c. BC the material culture of the Peucini was a mixture of La Têne and Hellenistic cultures (Mac Congail 2008:52), which explains why archaeologists have hitherto been unable to identify a distinct Bastarnae culture.

 Numismatic material from this period is particularly indicative of the geo-political and economic status quo in this region in the period directly before the Roman conquest. Coinage circulating in this area in the 3rd – 1st c. BC, besides issues of the Greek Black Sea colonies, consisted of coinage of the Celtic Tyle state (3rd c. BC) found at the villages of Bozhurets, Septemvrijtsi and Sveti Nikola, again in the Kavarna area, Celtic silver Philip II and III type drachms and tetradrachms, and Zaravetz bronze and lead issues.

 

 

In addition to this highly complex mix of Greek and ‘barbarian’ coinage, during the 2nd / 1st c. BC the Celto-Scythian leaders of the Peucini Bastarnae also issued a limited number of their own coins.

 

 

 

BASTARNAE ROYAL COINAGE

 

So far coinage of six Bastarnae kings in the Dobruja region of southeastern Romania/northeastern Bulgaria have been identified – Kanites, Tanousas, Charaspes, Aelis, Akrosas and Sariakes, and their coins have been found almost exclusively around the West Pontic Greek cities of Istrus, Tomi, Callatis, Dionysopolis and Odessos. They are roughly dated to the 2nd / 1st c. BC and, as with the coinage of the Celtic Tyle state in this region of the previous century, are Hellenistic in nature, in terms of artistic style and iconography. Some of the iconography, notably the obverse Head of beardless Heracles in lion skin, are also similar to the Celtic Tyle coins and, as with the Celtic kings of Tyle before them, the Peucini leaders used the royal title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ on their coinage.

( On the Coinage of the Celtic Tyle state in this area see: https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT )

 

 

 

AELIS

 

Aeli. 1
a. Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r. from above) ΑΙΛΙΟΣ (l. from above). Two horse foreparts jugate, r. (AE; 23 mm; 8.80 g; Kavarna museum (Bulgaria)
b. Obv.: Head of Helios radiate facing. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (l. from below) ΑΙΛΙΟΣ (r. from below). Rayed sun. (AE; 17 mm; 4.52 g)

 

 

KANITES

 

Kani. 1

 

a.       Head of Demeter veiled and wearing corn wreath, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΚΑΝΙΤΟΥ (l., from above). Torch and corn ear. (AE 24 mm; 11.08 g)

b.      Obv.: Head of Zeus diademed, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΚΑΝΙ (l., from above). Bird on thunderbolt, r. (AE; 22 mm; 9.25)

 

 

TANOUSAS

 

Tano

a.       Obv.: Heads of Demeter and Kore jugate, veiled and wearing corn wreaths, r. Countermark, head of Hermes, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΤΑΝΟΥΣΑ (l., from above), ΒΑΚ (below). Two corn ears. (AE; 24 mm; 8.40 g)

b.      Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΤΑΝΟΥ (l., from above), ΒΑΚ (below). Two horse foreparts  jugate, r. (AE; 15 mm; 3.34 g)

 

 

CHARASPES

 

Char.

a.       Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΧΑΡΑΣΠΟΥ (l., from above). Bird on thunderbolt, r. (AE; 23 mm; 9.50 g)

b.      Obv.: Head of beardless Heracles in lion skin, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΧΑΡΑΣΠΟΥ (l., from above). Corn ear, quiver, bow. (AE; 22 mm; 8.54 g)

 

 

AKROSAS

 

Akr.

a.       Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΑΚΡΟΣΑ (l., from above). Two horse fore-parts jugate, r. (AE; 24 mm; 9.50 g)

b.      Obv.: Heads of Demeter and Kore jugate, veiled and wearing corn wreaths, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΑΚΡΟΣΑ (l., from above). Two corn ears. (AE; 24 mm; 6.22 g)

 

( https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/akrosas-the-king-who-scared-a-monster/ )

 

 

 

 

 

SARIAKES

 

Sari

a.  Obv.: Head of beardless Heracles in lion skin, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΣΑΡΙΑΚΟΥ (l., from above). Bow, quiver, thunderbolt (above), corn ear. (AE; 24 mm; 9.25 g)

b.  Obv.: Head of Zeus diademed, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΣΑΡΙΑΚ (l., from above). Bird on thunderbolt, r. (AE; 24 mm; 10.80 g)

( see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/sariakes-the-wheat-king/ )

 

 

 

The fact that these Celto-Scythian kings issued only bronze coinage is significant from a geo-political perspective. The theory of a unitary (Scythian) state in this region during the late Iron Age, based only on a number of lower value (bronze) coins, minted by the Greek Black Sea colonies for these leaders, is logically flawed. The Bastarnae coinage had a mainly symbolic function, and comprised only a small fraction of the overall coin pool in the area during this period, which consisted primarily of Greek and Celtic coinage.

 

 The Bastarnae royal coinage adds an important piece to the puzzle, and increases our understanding of the socio-political and ethnic status quo in this part of south-eastern Europe. The available archaeological, linguistic and numismatic evidence from this region clearly indicates that a unique culture developed between the 3rd and 1st c. BC, based on a symbiotic and prosperous relationship between the barbarian (Celtic, Bastarnae, Getae) tribes, and the Greek Black Sea colonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

( see also: https://www.academia.edu/4118437/Mediolana_and_the_Zaravetz_Culture )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: November 2016

 

 

 

abst

 

“The more horrifying the world becomes, the more art becomes abstract”.

(Paul Klee)

 

 

 

It is said that art mirrors life, and nowhere is this to be more clearly observed than in the art produced by the ‘barbarian’ tribes during the Scordisci Wars of the late 2nd / 1st c. BC.

 

Fig. 1 – Original Thasos AR tetradrachm, 164/160 BC.

Wreathed head of Dionysos right. HPAKΛEOYΣ ΣΩTHPOΣ ΘAΣIΩN, M inner left field, Herakles standing left, holding club and lion skin

 

 

 

The original Greek issues (fig. 1) depict typical examples of Hellenistic art – static and anatomically accurate images of Greek Gods, in this case Dionysos and Herakles. In the original Thasos images idealization of the subject is to be observed, a trait typical of Hellenistic art.

 In the second half of the 2nd c. BC the ‘barbarian’ tribes of today’s Bulgaria began to copy the Thasos coins. Early imitations (Fig. 2/3) remain very close to the Greek original, both in terms of imagery and the use of Greek inscriptions on the coins. Indeed, some of the early copies are so close to the originals that experts have great difficulty distinguishing them from the Hellenistic originals.

 

 

Fig. 2

 

 

 

Fig. 3

 

 

 

However, even at this early stage certain divergences from the originals are to be observed. These coins, while remaining true to the Greek iconography and continuing to use the Greek inscription/alphabet, begin to show clear distinguishing characteristics. For example, the head of Dionysos on the obverse begins to take on more masculine characteristics – square chin, larger nose, etc., which is at variance with the effeminate features of the Greek deity on the originals.

 

 

In the early decades of the 1st c. BC the real process of artistic metamorphosis begins. The subjects take on a more abstract aspect, and attempts to ‘copy’ the Hellenistic images and inscriptions are abandoned.

 

 

Fig. 4 – Celtic ‘Thasos type’ tetradrachma minted over that of the Roman Quaestor Aesillas (early 1st c. BC)

 

On Herakles’ left knee the Q (short for Quaestor – similar to English P) can be seen. There are also faint traces of Alexander’s hair locks at the metal disturbance in Dionysos’ cheek from the Roman original. The historical context in which these coins were produced – during a bitter struggle between the ‘barbarians’ and the Roman empire, should be borne in mind. From a psychological perspective the fact that the Celtic population in Thrace took the trouble to mint over the Roman/Hellenistic coins, instead of simply using the classical issues, is a clear political statement – a rejection of the classical images portrayed on the originals, and by extension the culture which had produced them (see: https://www.academia.edu/4963636/Plunder_Coinage_from_Thrace).

 

 

During this period new details also begin to appear, such as the case in fig. 5a, where the lion-skin of Herakles on the reverse of the Greek coin has now been transformed into a child in the Celtic image, or 5b where the Wheel of the Celtic Thunder God Taranis appears on the reverse of the coin.

 

 

Fig. 5a

 

thasos-taranis

Fig. 5b

 

 

 

1-thasos-meltdown-comparisosn

Reverse of an original Hellenistic issue (early 2nd c. BC), and Celtic issue from central Bulgaria from the late 1st c. BC

 

 

 

The brutal conflict with Rome during the final phases of the Scordisci Wars, and the accompanying misery of everyday life, is reflected in increasingly abstract and surreal images. A metamorphosis is to be observed in the images which reflect core Celtic religious iconography, foremost among them the image of the human headed serpent which has evolved on the obverse (fig. 6), or the appearance of the bird goddess, depicting the Badhbh Chatha – the Celtic Goddess of War (fig. 7/8). 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 6

 

 

 

 

Fig. 7

 

 

 

Fig. 8

 

 

At this stage the subjects on the reverse become even more schematic, depicting images such as the ‘Wicker Man’, or the clawed creature depicted in fig. 9; images which reflect the final phases of a brutal war – a conflict which shortly afterwards culminated in the destruction of the culture which produced them.

 

 

Fig. 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Text after Крусева Б. / Мак Конгал Б., Хората, които се превърна в слънце – Krusseva B. / Mac Congail B., The Men Who became the Sun – Barbarian Art and Religion on the Balkans. Plovdiv, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: March 2017

 

 

 

 

 

The recent publication of results from large-scale excavations in sub-Balkan Thrace marks an important step forward in Bulgarian archaeology, and has finally provided us with objective scientific data on the geo-political status quo and ethnic composition in this part of Europe in the late Iron Age. These extensive excavations, carried out at a number of sites in Central Bulgaria, especially in the Chirpan Heights area, has yielded material that has prompted local archaeologists to finally conclude that in the late Iron Age “this region was in fact inhabited by a Celtic (Celto-Thracian) population” (Tonkova et al 2011 = Трако-римски династичен център в районна Чирпанските възвишения Тонкова M. (ed.) София, 2011).

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/4107842/The_Celts_in_Central_Thrace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UD: December 2016

 

 

 

vandalism

 

A number of factors should be borne in mind when dealing with the coin collections from Bulgarian museums. Since the early 1990’s attempts have been made by a number of Bulgarian and international experts to get access to information on the coin collections in the various museums around Bulgaria, and publish a comprehensive account of the information contained within. This fine work, which has resulted in catalogues of the collections from a handful of museums being published (the CCCHBulg series) has met with varying success. The philosophy of the authors of the CCCHBulg project is based ‘on the understanding that this type of information is not a personal or even a national property in perpetuity, but is above all – a universal patrimonium’.

 

 

FULL ARTICLE:

 

https://www.academia.edu/4136789/Celtic_Coinage_from_Bulgaria_-_The_Material_Evidence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

The recently published Celtic coins from the numismatic collection of the Kyustendil regional museum (Filipova S., Ilya Prokopov I., Paunov E. The Numismatic Collection of the Regional Historical Museum at Kyustendil (Ancient Ulpia Pautalia) Part 1: Greek, Thracian, Macedonian, Roman Republican and Roman Provincial Coins. ( CCCHBulg ) Volume II. Sofia 2009) generally reflect the numismatic picture in southwestern Bulgaria in the immediate pre-Roman period. Locally produced (‘barbarian’) silver coinage circulating in this area between the 3rd and 1st c. BC ranged from Celtic imitations of the Macedonian issues of Philip II and Philip III (3rd – 1st c. BC) (fig. 1, 2) through early Celtic imitations of Thasos tetradrachms (fig. 3) (from the late II c. BC).

 

 

 

 

 

The Kyustendil region of Bulgaria

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1 –  Celtic AR Imitation of the ‘Philip II type’ – 3rd c. BC. (Kyustendil Museum Collection)

(after Filipova et al. 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 2 – Celtic AR Imitation of the ‘Philip III type’ – 2nd c. BC. (Kyustendil Museum Collection)

(after Filipova et al. 2009)

 

 

 

 

Fig. 3 – Early Thraco-Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ from the Kyustendil Museum Collection. Late 2nd c. BC

(after Filipova et al. 2009)

 

The view expressed in some literature that these early Thasos imitations were produced and circluated in Thrace by some ‘unknown Romans’ – almost 100 years before Rome conquered the area – directly contradicts all the known historical facts relating to this period (on the chronology of the Roman conquest of western Thrace see ‘The Scordisci Wars’ article).

 

 

 

Also noteworthy are the particularly high number of hoards from this area of western Bulgaria which include Roman issues, notably of the Roman Quaestor Aesillas, and the 1st Macedonian region (fig. 4). As outlined elsewhere (see ‘Damnatio Memoriae – Plunder Coins from Thrace’ article), large amounts of these coins were brought into the area prior to the Roman conquest of Thrace as a result of raids/attacks on Roman Macedonia and Greece during the Scordisci Wars, particularly in the first half of the 1st c. BC (for more details see ‘Damnation Memoriae’ and ‘Scordisci Wars’ articles).

 

 

Fig. 4 – Roman First Macedonian Region and Aesillas issues from the numismatic collection of the Kyustendil Regional Museum.

 

(after Filipova et al 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

 In terms of lower denomination/value Celtic coinage, the presence in the Kyustendil region of Celtic bronze Strymon/Trident issues dating to the 2nd/1st c. BC  (fig. 5) clearly illustrates that this type of coinage was also in wide circulation in this area of modern Bulgaria during the immediate pre-Roman period (on the distribution of this coinage in Bulgaria see numismatics section 6).

 

 

 

Fig. 5 – Celtic Strymon/Trident bronze issues from the Kyustendil Museum Collection (2nd – 1st c. BC)