Tag Archive: Celtic Expansion


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._

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baux-de-Provence, Provence Corinthian helmet - Celtic grave - 2nd half - 6th. c. BC (2)

 

 

The Celtic eastwards expansion of the 4th / early 3rd century BC, and resulting clash with military forces of the Hellenistic world, has logically left substantial archaeological traces, which include Hellenistic military equipment discovered in Balkan Celtic warrior burials. Notable examples of such are the Hellenistic greaves from the burial of a Celtic chieftain at Ciumeşti (Satu Mare) in Transylvania, or Greek helmets discovered in Celtic warrior burials at Seuthopolis/Sevtopolis and Kalnovo in south-central and eastern Bulgaria (Getov 1962; Megaw 2004, Mac Gonagle 2014, 2015).

 

 

greaves cium

Bronze greaves from the Celtic chieftain’s burial at Ciumeşti

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/prince-of-transylvania/

 

 

sevt hel

Greek helmet from a Celtic warrior burial at Sevtopolis* (after Getov 1962)

https://www.academia.edu/4126512/Sevtopolis_and_the_Valley_of_the_Thracian_Kings

 

*Repeated requests to Kazanlak museum for academic access to the extensive Celtic material from the ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’ have been denied. It has also come to our attention that some of this material has recently ‘disappeared’ from the museum.

 

 

 

 

 

While the aforementioned cases are clearly to be explained as trophies taken by victorious Celtic armies after the defeat of Macedonian forces, or evidence of the well documented Celtic mercenary activity during this period (Mac Gonagle 2013, 2015), more problematic are a number of Hellenistic helmets discovered in western Celtic burials which date to a much earlier period. Examples of such include the recently published Corinthian helmet discovered in a Celtic burial at Baux-de-Provence (Provence), in southern France, which was actually found in 1813, but only recently ‘rediscovered’ (Jourdan 1897, Garcia 2013). The typology of the helmet dates it to the 6th century BC (Garcia op cit), and 2 further examples of this kind of helmet have been discovered in the Lyon area in east-central France (Boucher 1970, Vial 2003).

 

 

x - Baux-de-Provence, Provence Corinthian helmet - Celtic grave - 2nd half - 6th. c. BC (1)

Corinthian helmet from Baux-de-Provence (mid 6th c. BC)

 

 

 

  Whether these Corinthian helmets, and other examples such as the Etruscan Negau type helmets, dating to the 5th century BC, from Ženjak in Slovenia or Agde (Hérault) in south-eastern France (Feugère, Freises 1994-1995) were imports into the Celtic sphere, or represent evidence of Celtic mercenary activity prior to such being recorded in ancient sources, remains unclear.

 

 

 

negau

Negau type helmet from Ženjak, Slovenia 

 

These helmets are of an Etruscan design from circa 500-450 BC called the Vetulonic or Negau type, which are of bronze with a comb-shaped ridge across the skull, and a protruding rim with a groove right above the rim. However, inscriptions on the helmets are believed to have been added at a much later date (2nd c. BC), and the deposition has been dated to circa 50 BC – i.e. shortly before the Roman conquest of the area.

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/the-negau-inscriptions/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Boucher St. (1970) Bronzes grecs, hellénistique et étrusques des Musées de Lyon. Lyon, Audin et de Boccard.

Getov 1962 = Гетов Л. (1962) Нови данни за въоръжението у нас през латенската епоха.Археология 3, 41-43

Garcia D. (2013) Le casque corinthien des Baux-de-Provence. In: L’Occident grec de Marseille à Mégara Hyblaea. Hommages à Henri Tréziny Bibliothèque d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine 13 pp. 85-90

Feugère M., Freises A. (1994-1995) Casque de type Negau découvert près d’Agde (Hérault). RAN, 27-28, 1994-1995, p. 1-7.

Jourdan A. (1897) Guide du visiteur dans l’antique ville des Baux. Avignon, Aubanel.

Mac Gonagle B. (2013) The Kingmakers – Celtic Mercenaries:

https://www.academia.edu/4910243/THE_KINGMAKERS_-_Celtic_Mercenaries

Mac Gonagle B. (2014) The Celtic Burials from Kalnovo (Eastern Bulgaria):

https://www.academia.edu/4096257/The_Celtic_Burials_From_Kalnovo_Eastern_Bulgaria_

Mac Gonagle B. (2015) On The Celtic Conquest of Thrace (180/279 BC):

https://www.academia.edu/10763789/On_The_Celtic_Conquest_of_Thrace_280_279_BC_

Megaw V. (2004) In the footsteps of Brennos? Further archaeological evidence for Celts in the Balkans. In: Hänsel B., Studenikova E., (eds.) Zwischen Karpaten und Ägäis. Neolithikum und ältere Bronzezeit. Gedenkschrift für Viera Nemejcova-Pavukova. Rahden /Westf. 93-107

Vial J. (2003) Carte archéologique de la Gaule, 34/3. Le Montpelliérais. Paris, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: June 2016

 

warrior b

 

A small selection of Celtic warrior burials from Eastern Europe (5 – 1 century BC). This post will be updated periodically, as further discoveries/publications come to light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stupava (Malacky District), Slovakia

(Late 5th c. BC)

 

a - stup

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/the-burial-of-a-celtic-chieftain-from-stupava-slovakia/

 

 

 

 

a - sred

Srednica (Ptuj/ancient Poetovio), Slovenia

(late 4th / early 3rd c. BC)

 

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

 

 

 

Csepel Island (Budapest), Hungary

(Late 4th – 3rd c. BC)

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

Also: Warrior burial #149 (3rd c. BC):

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/a-danubian-warrior-celtic-burial-149-from-csepel-island-budapest/

 

 

Ciumeşti (Satu Mare), Romania

(mid 3rd c. BC)

 

a - cium

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/prince-of-transylvania/

 

 

 

 

Lychnidos/Ohrid, FYR Macedonia

(mid 3rd c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/lychnidos-golden-masks-and-mercenaries/

 

 

Ljubljana, Slovenia

(late 3rd c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/melted-warriors-la-tene-burials-from-the-auersperg-palace-in-ljubljana/

 

 

Szabadi (Somogy County), Hungary

(Late 3rd/early 2nd c. BC)

 

a - hun

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/brothers-in-arms-the-double-warrior-burial-from-szabadi-hungary/

 

 

 

 

Kalnovo (Schumen Region), Bulgaria

(Early 2nd c. BC)

https://www.academia.edu/4096257/The_Celtic_Burials_From_Kalnovo_Eastern_Bulgaria_

 

 

Zvonimirovo (Podravina province), Croatia

(2nd c. BC)

 

a - cro

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/the-celtic-burials-at-zvonimirovo-croatia/

 

 

Slana Voda (Zlatibor district), southwestern Serbia

(mid 2 c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/death-at-salty-water-the-mass-grave-from-slana-voda/

 

 

Desa (Dolj County), Romania

(Late 2nd c. BC)

a - rom

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

 

Montana, Bulgaria

(late 2nd. / 1st c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/a-celtic-cavalry-officer-from-montana-bulgaria/

1 -  ILLUST FRNT

 

 

 

Koynare (Pleven Region), Bulgaria

(Late 2nd/1st c. BC)

https://www.academia.edu/7888751/A_Late_La_Tene_Warrior_Burial_From_Koynare_Bulgaria_

 

 

 

Sremska Mitrovica (Syrmia), Serbia

(Late 2nd/ early 1st c. BC)

a - serb

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/the-warrior-and-his-wife-a-scordisci-burial-from-serbia/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: November 2016

 

 

conquest
 .
Until recently our knowledge of the events surrounding the Celtic migration into southeastern Europe at the beginning of the 3rd century BC has relied exclusively on Greek and Roman ‘histories’, with little or no reference to modern archaeological evidence which supplements and, in many cases, contradicts these accounts. However, over the past decades a wealth of new archaeological data from the region concerned finally allows us to furnish a more accurate picture of events surrounding this dramatic episode in European history…
.

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/10763789/On_The_Celtic_Conquest_of_Thrace_280_279_BC_

 

 

 

 

thrace-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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hohl-1

 

 

 

The most distinctive of personal ornaments, the hohlbuckelringe (bronze anklets) worn by Celtic women are also one of the most significant archaeological markers of Celtic expansion into eastern Europe and Asia-Minor in the 3rd c. BC…

 

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/7212191/On_Hohlbuckelringe_as_a_Marker_of_Celtic_Eastwards_Expansion

 

 

 

 

Bronze ankle rings, hollow cast, with ornament knobs, 3rd century BC, from Aholming ( Vilshofen - Bavaria ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.academia.edu/7212191/On_Hohlbuckelringe_as_a_Marker_of_Celtic_Eastwards_Expansion

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD – Nov. 2015

 

 

pel skull face

 

 

Pelczyska (Świętokrzyskie province) is situated in the western part of the loess uplands of Little Poland, circa 55 km. north-east of Kraków, on the right bank of the Nida river. 7 archaeological sites have hitherto been located in the vicinity of the village, which have yielded significant evidence of Celtic (La Têne) culture in this region during the La Têne B2 – D2 periods (3rd – 1st c. BC).

 

 

a - a - a - Poland

 

Archaeologically confirmed areas of Celtic settlement in Poland (according to data published before November 2014))

 

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/the-celts-in-poland/

 

 

Killed sword

Ritually ‘Killed’ Celtic Sword from Korytnica, (also Świętokrzyskie province), south-central Poland

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/killing-the-objects-3/

 

 

 

 

By the later phase of Celtic settlement in this region, as in other parts of central and eastern Europe, cremation had replaced inhumation as the dominant burial custom (see ‘Celtic Death’ article). Thus, for example, the earliest Celtic graves from Silesia, dating to the La Têne C1 period, are cremation burials (Rudnicki, Piasecki 2005). Excavations at Pelczyska over the past decade have revealed that this was also the case in this area of Poland. A number of late La Têne graves revealed southwest of the village are all cremation burials – with one notable exception.

 

 

Grave skel complete

(after Rudnicki, Piasecki 2005)

 

 

In grave # 9 was discovered a well preserved inhumation burial, dating from the same period as the aforementioned cremation burials, i.e. – La Têne D2/late 1st c. BC. The body, lying on its right side, orientated west, was found with 2 pots placed on either side of the head. According to anatomical analysis, the skeleton is that of a mature female (adultus maturus), circa 30-35 years of age (loc cit).

 

 

 

pel skull

 

 

 

 

The discovery of the female inhumation burial at Pelczyska is the latest in a series of cases from late Iron Age eastern Europe of women from different ethnic groups buried in a Celtic environment. A notable example of this phenomenon is the Thracian woman buried in the Celtic cemetery at Remetea Mare in Romania. As in the Polish case, the female burial in Romania was the only inhumation burial in the Celtic cemetery, the other burials all being cremations.

 

 

 

Remetea Mare

Female Inhumation Burial (#3) from Remetea Mare, Romania

(after Rustoiu 2011)

 

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

 

 

 

 

So, who was the woman from grave # 9 at Pelczyska ?

 

The complex cultural situation in this part of Poland in the late Iron Age makes conclusive ethnic attribution difficult, but a number of facts from the site provide strong indications as to the woman’s origin. Firstly, anthropological analysis of the skull indicates the southern origin of the woman (Rudnicki, Piasecki 2005). Furthermore, inhumation burials from eastern Europe from this period where the pot is placed by the head, as is the case at Pelczyska, have been recorded among the (Celto-Scythian) Bastarnae tribes (Babeş 1993: 34=-35). It is therefore particularly significant that a close economic and cultural relationship between the Celts in this part of Poland and the Bastarnae has been confirmed at Pelczyska by the discovery of a large amount of Bastarnae coinage at the site.

 

 

Bast coins

Bastarnae ‘Huşi-Vovrieşti type’ tetradrachms from Pelczyska

(after Rudnicki 2003)

 

 

 

Thus, the available numismatic, archaeological and anthropological evidence strongly indicates that the woman buried in grave #9 at Pelczyska originated from the Bastarnae tribes and, as is the case with the Thracian woman from Remetea Mare, probably came to live among the Polish Celts as a result of a marriage agreement between the latter and the Celto-Scythians to the south-east. The fact that the woman was buried according to her own tribal customs once again highlights the mutual respect for cultural diversity observed by the pre-Roman tribes of eastern Europe.

 

 

 

Face recon.

Facial Reconstruction of the Female from Burial # 9 at Pelczyska

(after Rudnicki, Piasecki 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

On Inter-Ethnic marriage during the Iron Age:

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

 

On the Bastarnae see also:

https://www.academia.edu/4835555/Gallo-Scythians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Babeş M. (1993) Die Poieneşti-Lukaševka-Kultur. Ein Beitrag zur Kulturgeschichte im Raum östlich der Karpaten in den letzten Jahrhunderten vor Christi Geburt, Saarbrücker Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 30, Berlin.

Rudnicki M. (2003) Celtic Coin Finds from a Settlement of the La Têne period at Pelczyska. In: Polish Numismatic News VII, 2003. P. 1-24.

Rudnicki M., Piasecki K. (2005) A Late La Téne Inhumation Grave from Pelczyska: Comments on the Cultural Situation in the Upland Area of Little Poland (with an analysis of the anatomical remains by Karol Piasecki). In Celts on the Margin – Studies in Euopean Cultural Interaction 7th Century BC – 1st Century AD. Krakow 2005. p. 195 – 206

Rustoiu A. (2011) The Celts from Transylvania and the eastern Banat and their Southern Neighbours. Cultural Exchanges and Individual Mobility. In: The Eastern Celts. The Communities between the Alps and the Black Sea.  Koper–Beograd 2011. p. 163-171

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CELTIC POLAND

 UD: August 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

The area of present day Poland is not generally associated with the Celtic culture, yet in recent years the amount of Celtic archaeological material discovered in this part of Eastern Europe has increased significantly. This increasing body of evidence indicates that the role played by the Celts in shaping the culture of Poland in the late Iron Age and early Roman period is much greater than previously thought.

 

 

 

Beszowa - celtic sword 2011 - forest 1 c. BC -

Celtic sword with openwork scabbard discovered in 2011 in a forest near Rzeszów, southeastern Poland

(1st c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOUTHERN POLAND

 

 In the first half of the 3rd c. BC (the end of the La Têne B period), the same period as the massive expansion into the Balkans, groups of Celts began to arrive in southern Poland (Woźniak 1996). Evidence of Celtic settlement on the territory of today’s Poland has thus far been found in the Middle Silesia region, the Glubczyce Highlands, Lesser Poland, and in areas of the upper San river valley on the border with Ukraine. In Poland, as in other areas of Eastern Europe during this period, the arrival of the Celts logically brought them into contact with local cultures, quickly resulting in mutual cultural exchange, and the formation of new ethnic groups. A good example of this is to be seen at the Pelczysha site near Krakow of the so-called Tyniec group that existed between circa 270-30 BC, and which developed as a result of contact between the Celts and the local population (Rudnicki 2005).

 

 

 

 

pol bracel

Fragments of glass bracelets from the Celtic settlement at Pelczyska, southern Poland (2/1 c. BC)

 

KRAk. F.

Celtic one-eighth stater (1-2), stater (3-4) and painted pottery from site 2 at Modlniczka, Krakow region.

(After Bryska-Fudali et al, 2009)

 

 

 

 

Killed sword

Ritually ‘Killed’ Celtic Sword from Korytnica, (Świętokrzyskie province), south-central Poland

(see  https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/killing-the-objects-3/)

 

 

 

3 - 3 - Pakoszówka near Sanok

Celtic hohlbuckelring (bronze anklet) from Pakoszówka near Sanok in south-eastern Poland (3/2 century BC)

 

https://www.academia.edu/7212191/On_Hohlbuckelringe_as_a_Marker_of_Celtic_Eastwards_Expansion

 

 

pol

Coins and metal artifacts, including zoomorphic figurines, from the large Celtic settlement at Nowa Cerekwia (Upper Silesia), southern Poland (3-1 c. BC)

(Found by Igor Murawski and Anna Brzezinska in 2005)

 

a - nowa cer

Excavations at the Nowa Cerekwia in 1936, and ceramic kiln discovered at the site in 1925

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/nowa-cerekwia-a-major-celtic-settlement-and-economic-complex-in-southern-poland/

 

 

 

CENTRAL POLAND

 

 

Besides the aforementioned areas of Celtic settlement in southern Poland, recently published evidence has also established a significant Celtic presence in the Kalisz area of central Poland – one of the most unexpected developments in Polish archaeology in recent years (Rudnicki et al, 2009).

 The most interesting feature of Celtic settlement in the Kalisz area has been the identification of an economic and coin production centre (loc cit) – only the second such (after Rousse in n.e. Bulgaria – see ‘Mediolana’ article) to be identified in Eastern Europe. The Celtic coin discoveries in this area represent one of the largest concentrations in Poland, ranking only after the enclave at Nowa Cerekwia in the Glubczyce Highlands in terms of Celtic coins discovered.

 

 

Kal GC FV

Celtic Coins from the Kalisz Area

(after Rudnicki et al 2009)

 

 

 

All of the Celtic coins found at three sites in the Kalisz area belong to the minting system of the Boii tribe but, with one exception, they were not produced at the great Boii mints of Bohemia, Moravia or southwestern Slovakia, and have therefore been assigned to a new group of Polish Celtic coins – the Kalisz group (loc cit). Also noteworthy is the fact that the coinage from Kalisz was issued comparatively late, i.e. late 1st c. BC/first half of the 1st c. AD, which logically indicates that the Kalisz area was still a significant Celtic economic and political centre during the early Roman period (loc cit).

Kal g. C

(after Rudnicki et al 2009)

 

 

 

BASTARNAE

 

Also of particular interest is the discovery of coinage of the Huşi-Vovrieşti type attributed to the Bastarnae tribes (Preda  1973: 111 – 131) in southern Poland (Rudecki 2003). The typical feature of this type of coinage, as with other types of Celtic  ‘imitations’  of the coinage of Philip II of Macedonia in Eastern Europe (see numismatics section), is the wide differentiation of stylistic images on the coins, from relatively faithful imitations of the prototypes to variants with extremely schematic images. In Poland tetradrachms of this type have been found exclusively in areas of Celtic settlement in the south and southeast of the country, indicating trade and cultural contact between the Polish Celts and the Celto-Scythian Bastarnae to the southeast (on which see also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/face-of-a-stranger-a-female-burial-from-little-poland/).

 

 

 

Bastarnae HVo

Bastarnae Huşi-Vovrieşti type tetradrachms from Pelczyska (55 km northeast of Krakow)

(after Rudnicki 2003)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW POLAND MAP upd

Archaeologically confirmed areas of Celtic settlement in Poland (according to data published before November 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature

Bryska-Fudali M., Przybyla M. M., Rudnicki M. Celtic Coins Found At Site 2 In Modlniczka, Dist. Cracow. In: Sprawozdanie Archaeologiczne 61, 2009. P. 273 – 295.

Preda  C. (1973) Mondedele geto-dacilor. Bucureşti.

Rudnicki M. (2003) Celtic Coin Finds from a Settlement of the La Têne period at Pelczyska. In:

Polish Numismatic News VII, 2003. P. 1-24.

Rudnicki M. (2005) A Late La Téne Inhumation Grave from Pelczyska: Comments on the Cultural Situation in the Upland Area of Little Poland (with an analysis of the anatomical remains by Karol Piasecki). In Celts on the Margin – Studies in Euopean Cultural Interaction 7th Century BC – 1st Century AD. Krakow 2005. p. 195 – 206

Rudnicki M, Milek S., Ziabka L., Kedzierski A., (2009) Mennica Celtycka Pod Kaliszem. In: Wiadomosci Numizmatyczne, R. LIII, 2009, z. 2 (188). P. 103-145

Rudnicki M., Miłek S. (2011) New Evidence on Contacts Between Pre-Roman Dacia and Territory of Central Poland. AAC 46. P. 117–143.

Woźniak Z. (1996) Neue Forchungsergebnisse über die jüngere Laténezeit in Südpolen, Arheološki Vestnik 47, Ljubljana 1996, p. 165-172

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: November 2016

 

 

 

 

a - a - a - Thunderbolt ELEPHANTS

 

 

 

It is said that fact is stranger than fiction. The case of the Macedonian king Ptolemy Keraunos (Πτολεμαῖος Κεραυνός) certainly confirms this.

 

 

 

 

RISE OF A THUNDERBOLT

 

 

 Keraunos (Greek for Thunderbolt) was born the eldest son of Ptolemy I Soter, ruler of Egypt, and Eurydice, daughter of Antipater, the Macedonian regent. He first appears in history in 282 BC in connection with a plot by the Macedonian king Lysimachus to murder his son – Agatholes. The apparent reason for Lysimachus’ displeasure with his son was that Agathocles was having an affair with Lysimachus’ wife (his own mother), Arsinoe of Egypt, who also happened to be Ptolemy Keraunos’ sister. Actually, according to the ancient historians, Lysimachus was displeased with the situation, not because the boy was having sex with his mother, but because his wife and son were rumored to be plotting together against Lysimachus (Memnon 12:6). Incest among the Macedonian aristocracy was a common occurrence (see below), but political infidelity was not tolerated.

  To solve this family problem the king decided to murder his son, who was duly given a dose of poison. Unfortunately for Lysimachus, Agathocles, apparently realizing his father’s intentions at the last moment, spat out the poison. Faced with this embarrassing situation, Lysimachus subsequently threw the boy into a dungeon and called on his brother-in-law, Ptolemy Keraunos, to finish the job. Happy to oblige, soon afterwards Keraunos visited his nephew in his cell and stabbed him to death. According to the ancient historian Memnon (Memnon: History of Heracleia 12’6, 8′ 4-6), it was for this deed that Ptolemy received the title Keraunos – The Thunderbolt.

However, according to other ancient historians (Justinus XXIV,3; Pausinias 1. 16:2. 10.19 7-12), Ptolemy received his ‘title’ for another murder soon afterwards. After Lysimachus’ defeat and death at the Battle of Corupedium in 281 BC, against Seleucus I Nicator, the Macedonian throne passed to Seleucus who now held the whole of Alexander’s conquests excepting Egypt, and moved to take possession of Macedonia and Thrace. On his journey home to Macedonia in September 281 BC Seleucus was accompanied by Ptolemy Keraunos, who he, for some unexplained reason, had taken under his protection. However, as soon as they arrived in the Thracian Chersonese  Keraunos, in a magnificant example of opportunism, murdered the old general, jumped on his horse and rode to the city of Lysimachia, where he immediately crowned himself King of Macedonia (Pausinias 1.16.2).

 

 

 

Seleucus I Nicator (bronze). Roman copy from a Greek original, from Herculaneum.

(National Archaeological Museum of  Naples)

 

 

Thus, through treachery and murder Keraunos had made himself king of Macedonia. However, in order to secure his hold on the throne he now resorted to another strategy – incest. The main threat to Ptolemy’s hold on the Macedonian throne was presented by Lysimachus and Philip, the remaining sons of Keraunos’ sister Arsinoe (Keraunos had already murdered the eldest). In order to get at the children, over the next few months Keraunos wooed his sister with gifts and proclamations of undying love, until finally, convinced that her brother truly loved both her and her children, she consented to marry him.

 

The wedding was celebrated with great magnificence and general rejoicings. Ptolemy, before the assembled army, placed a diadem on his sister’s head, and saluted her with the title of Queen. Arsinoe invited Ptolemy to her city Cassandrea and her sons, Lysimachus who was sixteen years old, and Philip three years younger, went to meet their uncle/father with crowns on their heads. The events which followed were indeed a Greek tragedy:

Ptolemy, to conceal his treachery, caressing them with eagerness, and beyond the warmth of real affection, persisted for a long time in kissing them. But as soon as he arrived at the gate, he ordered the citadel to be seized, and the boys to be slain. They, fleeing to their mother, were slain upon her lap, as she was embracing them.  

 She several times offered herself to the assassins in the room of her children, and, embracing them, covered their bodies with her own, endeavouring to receive the wounds intended for them. At last, deprived even of the dead bodies of her sons, she was dragged out of the city, with her garments torn and her hair dishevelled, and with only two attendants went to live in exile in Samothracia; sorrowing the more, that she was not allowed to die with her children’.

(Just. 24.2’1-3’9; see also Memn. 8’7; Plut: Mor 112’A; Trog: Prol 24).

 

 

 

However, Arsinoe’s grief did not last long. Shortly afterwards she returned to Egypt where she continued her intrigues and instigated the accusation and exile of her other brother’s wife (another Arsinoe – confusingly called Arsinoe I). Arsinoe II then married her brother Ptolemy II (Pausanias (I 7.1). As a result, both were given the epithet “Philadelphoi” (Greek: Φιλάδελφοι, “Sibling-loving”) (see also S.M. Burstein, “Arsinoe II Philadelphos: A Revisionist View”, in W.L. Adams and E.N. Borza (eds), Philip II, Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Heritage (Washington, 1982), 197-212). For all her worldly charms the Ptolemy (s) sister/wife was subsequently deified and worshipped as a goddess after her death (see Ladynin I, Popova E. (2010) An Egyptian Pendant from the Settlement ‘Chayka’ (North-Western Crimea) and the Posthumous Divinization of Arsinoe II Philadelphos. In: Vestnik drevney istorii (Journal of Ancient History) 2 (273), 2010, p. 71-85 (in Russian).

 

 

 

Cameo Gonzaga. Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II (III c. BC, Alexandria. Hermitage)

 

 

 

In a short period of time a series of brutal murders had secured the Macedonian throne for Ptolemy Keraunos, who now proclaimed himself the successor to Alexander the Great. It appeared that Keraunos had played the game perfectly, and that the Gods had smiled on him. However, as the new Macedonian king was concentrating on his internal enemies he had apparently forgotten the bigger picture. In the summer of 280 BC, as ‘The Thunderbolt’ settled on his newly acquired throne, to the north the ravens were gathering…

 

 

But the crimes of Ptolemy were not unpunished; for soon after the immortal gods inflicted vengeance on him for so many perjuries, and such cruel murders’. (Justinus XXIV, 3)

 

 

The first warnings of the gathering storm arrived at the Macedonian court in the form of ambassadors from the Dardanii tribe who reported a massive Celtic army approaching from the north. To emphasize the gravity of the situation the Dardanians offered Ptolemy 20,000 warrriors to help the Macedonians hold back the Celtic advance. However, Keraunos laughed at the ambassadors, boasting that as successors of Philip II and Alexander the Great, the Macedonians who had been victorious throughout the world (Justinus XXIV, 4) required no help from ‘barbarians’. While arrogant, Ptolemy’s reply was not without a certain machiavellian logic. By refusing to come to the aid of the Dardanii, Keraunos hoped to ‘kill two birds with one stone’, presuming that the resulting battle between the Dardanii and the Celts would weaken both to such an extent that neither would subsequently present a threat to Macedonia.

 However, if Ptolemy had paused to consider the statistics, he might have thought twice. The force of 20,000 offered by the Dardanii was in itself a large army by any standards, and the fact that they knew that this would not be enough to stop the Celtic advance without Macedonian help illustrates that the advancing Celtic army (Bolgios’ western army) massively outnumbered them. In any event Ptolemy had made the first of many fatal miscalculations. Wisely, the Dardanii did not try to stop the Celts. Instead they joined them, and as they advanced on Macedonia, the Celtic army was now reinforced by 10,000 Dardanians.

 

 Again ambassadors arrived at Ptolemy’s court, this time from the Celtic leader, Bolgios. Apparently believing that they offered peace terms because they wished to avoid a fight, Ptolemy arrogantly informed the Celts that if they laid down their weapons and surrendered their leaders, he would spare their lives. We are informed that, The deputies bringing back this answer, the Gauls laughed, and exclaimed throughout their camp, that “he would soon see whether they had offered peace from regard for themselves or for him.” (Justinus XXIV, 5).

 

 lychnidos-helm

Celtic warrior helmet from burial #143 at Lychnidos/Ohrid, FYR Macedonia (3rd c. BC)

 

 

 

 

BOLGIOS

 

The commander of the western Celtic army in Macedonia is referred to in classical sources as Bolgios and also as Belgio/Belgios – Galli duce Belgio (Just. xxiv, 5; cf. Pomp. Prol. xxiv – ‘Belgius leader of the Gauls’). The participation of Belgae tribes in the Celtic migration into the Balkans and Asia-Minor during this period is well recorded (see Mac Congail B. Belgae expansion into South Eastern Europe and Asia-Minor (4th – 3rd c. BC.) In: PRAE. In Honorem Henrieta Todorova. National Archaeological Institute With Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Sofia 2007. p. 295 – 302) and Bolgios/Belgios is, like that of Brennos, not a personal name, but in this case derived from an ethnonym – i.e. Belgius = leader of the Belgae (see also ‘Bastarnae’ and ‘Galatia’ articles).

 

The exact size of Bolgios’ western army is unknown, but a number of factors indicate that it was a formidable military force. One should bear in mind that this was only one of 3 Celtic armies operating in the Balkans during this period (4 if one includes the ‘Galatian’ force of Lutarius and Leonnorius) and, while exact statistics are not given for the western and eastern armies of Bolgios and Cerethrius, the size of the central Celtic force gives us an indication of the scale of these armies. The central Celtic army consisted of 150,000 infantry, on which all three main sources (Diodorus Siculus Fragm. XXII 9.1; Pausanias 10. 19.9 – 152, 000; Justin XXIV, 6) are agreed. The figure given for the Celtic cavalry varies between 10,000 (Dio. Sic. op. cit; Justin. op cit – 15,000) and 62,700 (Pausanias X 19.9). The remarkably high figure given by Pausinias is explained by the unique cavalry system used by the Celts – the Trimarkisia system.

The Celtic Trimarkisia cavalry system was a system whereby each horseman was accompanied by two mounted servants who were themselves skilled riders. When the horseman was engaged in battle, the servants remained behind the ranks and if a horse fell, they would bring the warrior a fresh horse. If the rider himself were killed, the servant would mount the horse in his masters place, thus replenishing the Celtic ranks. Pausanias (X 19.10-11) also informs us that:

 I believe that the Gauls in adopting these methods copied the Persian regiment of the Ten Thousand, who were called the Immortals. There was, however, this difference. The Persians used to wait until the battle was over before replacing casualties, while the Gauls kept reinforcing the horsemen to their full number during the height of the action. This organization is called in their native speech trimarcisia, for I would have you know that marca is the Celtic name for a horse.

 

As they advanced south the Celts were joined by large numbers of warriors from the Balkan tribes, particularly the Dardanii, the Thracian Denteletes and the Illyrian Autariatae tribe (on the participation of the Denteletes see Gerov 1961 – Проучвания върху западнотракийските земи през римско време. In ГСУ, ФЗФ, т. 54, 3, 1961). The Macedonian general, Kassandros, had settled 20,000 of the Autariatae in the Orbelos area (on the modern Greek/Bulgarian border) as military settlers in order to establish a buffer zone protecting Macedonia’s northern border from Celtic expansion (Diodorus Siculus Bibliotheca historica XX. 19.1). However, as the Celts now advanced, instead of defending Macedonia’s borders against the Celts, the Autariatae joined them. Interestingly, there is no record of any of the Balkan tribes supporting the Macedonians during this conflict, and it would appear that many of the Balkan peoples saw the arrival of the Celts as an opportunity to finally free themselves from centuries of Macedonian dominance.

 

 

 

 

 

THUNDERBOLTS AND ELEPHANTS

 

 

The inevitable battle between the Macedonians and Bolgios’ Celts took place a few days after the ‘negotiations’ had broken down. The Macedonian army was the unchallenged military ‘superpower’ in the region during this period, and past Macedonian victories had instilled in the Hellenistic world in general, and Ptolemy Keraunos in particular, a belief in the invincibility of the Macedonian military against the armies of ‘inferior’ cultures, which is clearly reflected in Ptolemy’s attitude to both the Dardanian and Celtic ambassadors.

 

The armies of the Diadochi period were equipped and fought mainly in the same style as Alexander’s, and the famous Macedonian phalanx was still the main component, much like in the earlier days. Its disadvantage was its lack of versatility, but as long as both armies were playing by the same rules this weakness in the Macedonian military tactics was not apparent. However, now faced with an army which did not play by the rules of Hellenistic warfare, the game was about to change…

 

 

The battle of Issos between Alexander the Great and Darius of Persia. Floor mosaic, Roman copy after a Hellenistic original by Philoxenos of Eretria. (Naples National Archaeological Museum)

 

 

 

 

What followed was, according to ancient authors, less a battle than a full-scale slaughter (Polyb. 9.35’4; Diod. Sic. 22.3’1-2; Memn. 8’8; Plut. Pyrrh. 22’2; Paus. 1.16’2; Just. 24. 3’10). Keraunos’ battle strategy was built around the use of battle elephants, apparently believing that these beasts would terrify the barbarians. In fact, it appears that the opposite was true.The Macedonian ranks quickly collapsed in the face of the Celtic onslaught, Ptolemy’s battle elephants rearing out of control and adding to the bloody chaos. During the ensuing events the Macedonian king fell off the elephant he was riding, and was captured. His army fled in disarray and, turning their backs on the enemy, the Macedonians became easy prey for the advancing Celtic cavalry. The majority were slaughtered on the battlefield and those that surrendered were rounded up and ritually beheaded.

Of the Macedonian king we learn that “Ptolemy, after receiving several wounds, was taken, and his head, cut off and stuck on a lance, was carried round the whole army to strike terror into the enemy”.  (Justinus, Epit. 24:5)

 

Ironically, The Thunderbolt met his fate on the battlefield amid the bodies of his ‘invincible’ Macedonian army; sacrificed to the God of Thunder, with his head impaled on a spear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On these events see also:

Polyb. 9.35’4; Diod. Sic. 22.3’1-2; Memn. 8’8; Plut. Pyrrh. 22’2; Paus. 1.16’2, 10.19’7-12; just. 24.3’10, 5. 5-11; Trog. Prol. 24; Euseb. Chron. 235 a-b, 237 a, 241 b, 243 a; Hieron. Chron. 1736).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolltier Bohemia Boii late 2 c. BC

In the tide of nationalism and revisionism which has marked the last century, our common European Celtic heritage has been systematically deconstructed, manipulated and denied. To balance this phenomenon, the BALKANCELTS organization presents the archaeological, numismatic, linguistic and historical facts pertaining to the Celts in Eastern Europe and Asia-Minor, within the context of the pan-European Celtic culture – a heritage which belongs to no nation, yet is common to all.

  

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