Tag Archive: Celtic jewelry


 

 

 

“… a people … cruel and savage, and, as ancient history declares, accustomed to offer up their prisoners to Bellona and Mars, and from their hollowed skulls greedily to drink human blood”

(Ammianus Marcellinus Book 27: iv,4)

 

 

 

 

 

Zidovar m illust

 

 

 

Presented by Greek and Roman ‘historians’ as mindless savages, recent archaeological evidence from the central Balkans has thrown a completely different light on the Celtic Scordisci tribes who dominated this part of Europe from the 4th century BC until the Roman conquest. Most spectacular of these discoveries has been the hoard from Židovar, a Celtic oppidum (settlement) on the eastern border of the Deliblato Sands (Deliblatska Peščara), in the Banat (Vojvodina) region of modern Serbia.

 

zidovar opp hill

The Hill at Židovar today

 

 

Zid intor.

Silver bird pendants from the Židovar hoard

 

See:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/celtic-scordisci-bird-pendants/

 

 

Zidovar chains

“Foxtail” chains from the hoard

 

https://www.academia.edu/7915664/Celtic_Foxtail_Necklaces

 

 

 

Although excavations have been carried out at the site since the 1940’s, it was not until 2001 that the most spectacular discovery was made. Dated to the late 2nd / early 1st century BC, the rich hoard included 134 amber beads, a bronze mirror (with high tin content) and two pendants fashioned from brown bear teeth.

 

 

Mirror

Bronze mirror from the hoard

 

Zid Amber beads

Amber beads from the Židovar treasure

 

Beartooth

Brown Bear Tooth Pendants

 

 

 

 

The most fascinating part of the hoard consists of 163 silver objects, including fibulae/brooches of the Jarak type. In addition to these, the jewellery group contained pendants of different forms, two rings, three chains and small lidded cylindrical boxes made of silver sheet and decorated in filigree and granulation technique. Two folding razors and a mirror form the group of toiletry accessories of the Židovar treasure.

 

 

a jew box

Jewelry Box from Židovar

 

All 3 jewelry boxes from the hoard have a high percent of silver (average values over 95 wt%). Copper is the main alloying element (average values from 1.5–4 wt%). Lead contributes less then 1 wt%, and tin was not detected in the metal of any of the boxes.

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/barbarian-masterpieces-celtic-jewelry-boxes/

 

Fibula

Silver Fibula of the Jarak type from the hoard

 

 

 

While archaeological finds of Scordisci silver are known from several hoards in Serbia, such as Kovin, Jarak, Hrtkovci and Karaburma, the Židovar hoard is of particular significance, having been discovered in a clear archaeological context.

 

 

Pendantys X

Silver pendants from the Židovar Hoard

 

 

 

The origin of the silver that the Serbian Celts used for producing jewelry and minting silver coins has not yet been established with any degree of certainty. However, it is likely that a substantial amount came from the silver-lead mine at Kosmaj near the Celtic settlement of Singidunum (today’s Belgrade).

 

 

a silver finger rings

Silver Finger Rings from Židovar

 

Folding RAZOR

Folding Razor from the Židovar Treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: November 2016

 

 

Swiss Illus. ready

 

 

While the production of glass jewelry had been a feature of Celtic culture since the Bronze Age, from a technological and artistic perspective the middle La Tène period, specifically from the 3rd century BC onwards, marked a revolution in European glass production. High quality glass jewelry, particularly bracelets, which has been found at all the better investigated Celtic sites of the middle and late La Tène period, displays a wide typological variety hitherto unseen in Europe.

Archaeological evidence clearly indicates that during this period Celtic glassmakers mastered to perfection not only the skill of creating ready-made products, but also how to control the chemical composition of the raw material in order to achieve the optimum quality, transparency and colour (Karwowski 2012).

 

Fragments of glass bracelets from the Celtic sett at Erkelenz-Westfalen (Nordrhein-Westfalen)

Fragments of glass bracelets from the Celtic settlement at Erkelenz-Westfalen (Nordrhein-Westfalen), Germany (3-1 century BC)

(After Karwowski 2012)

 

 

 

 

While evidence of glass production has been discovered at a large number of sites, it is interesting to note that the vast majority of these are not oppida, but large settlements of an open character dating to the middle La Tène period, i.e. date to the period before the oppida emerged. Notable examples of such include Nìmèice in Moravia (Venclová 2006, Venclová et al 2009), Etzersdorf  in Lower Austria  (Karwowski 2004, 46), Egglfing in Bavaria (Uenze 2000, 17–20), the settlement complex at Dürrnberg in Salzburg (Brand 2002, 110–113), and the open settlement on the site where the oppidum at Manching in Bavaria later emerged (Gebhard 1989).

 

 

Palárikovo und Maòa, Slowakei.

Bracelets of light green glass from Celtic burials at Palárikovo and Maòa, Slovakia (3/2 c. BC)

(After Karwowski 2012)

 

 

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

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

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

 

female-italyyy-brcelet

Celtic bracelet of blue and yellow glass from Saliceta San Giuliano (Modena), Italy (ca. 200 BC)

 

 

 

“EYE BRACELETS”

 

Probably the most exquisite example of such Middle La Tène arm rings are the “Érsekújvár” type, produced by the Eastern Celts. Such bracelets are of high quality blue glass with white opaque glass used to further highlight the relief; the composition, based on triangular/rhomboid forms with zig-zag/spiral decoration, thus creating the impression of human eyes.

 

Komját-Komjatice - Nové Zámky, Slovakia Middle La Tene 3 c. BC

Érsekújvár type bracelet from Komját/Komjatice (Nitra Region), Slovakia

(after Karwowski M., Prohászka P. 2014)

 

 

Bracelets of the Érsekújvár type were popular among all the eastern Celtic tribes. Besides Hungary and Slovakia, where the most intense concentration of such arm rings has been registered, examples have been found in Celtic settlements and burials in eastern Austria, the Czech Republic and southern Poland, as well as among the Balkan Celts, notably the Scordisci. The easternmost example yet recorded was discovered during excavations at the Greek colony of Tyras – today’s Bilhorod-Dnistrowskyj in the Odessa region of Ukraine (Karwowski, Prohászka 2014).

 

 

Hungarian nat. museum - unknown loc Hungary

Érsekújvár type bracelet from an unspecified location in Hungary (Hungarian National Museum)

(After Karwowski M., Prohászka P. (2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail / Krusseva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Brand C. (2002) Graphitton und Glas: Studien zur keltischen Keramik- und Armringproduktion vor dem Hintergrund Dürrnberger Siedlungsfunde. In: Claus Dobiat/Susanne Sievers/Thomas Stöllner (Hrsg.), Dürrnberg und Manching. Wirtschaftsarchäologie im ostkeltischen Raum. Kolloquien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte 7 (Bonn 2002) 107–116.

Gebhard R. (1989) Der Glasschmuck aus dem Oppidum von Manching. Ausgr. Manching 11 (Stuttgart 1989).

Karwowski M. (2012) Die Glastechnik und ihre Entwicklung in der Latène-Kultur – fremder Einfluss  oder eigene Kreativität?. In: Technologieentwicklung und –transfer in der Hallstatt- und Latènezeit. Beiträge zur Internationalen Tagung der AG Eisenzeit und des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien, Prähistorische Abteilung – Hallstatt 2009. pp. 243 – 252

Karwowski M., Prohászka P. (2014). Der mittellatènezeitliche Glasarmring von Komjatice/Komját. BemerkunGen zu Den Keltischen armringen Der Form „Érsekújvár” AAC 49: 231–248.

Uenze H. P. (2000) Die jüngerlatènezeitliche Siedlung von Egglfing. Bayerische Vorgeschichtsbl. 65, 2000, 1–38.

Venclová N. (2006) Le verre celtique de Nemcice nad Hanou. In: V. Kruta (Hrsg.), Les Celtes en Bohême, en Moravie et dans le nord de la Gaule. Dossiers d’Arch. 313, 2006, 50–55.

Venclová et al. (2008) Venclová N., Drda P., Michálek J., Vokolek V., Výrobní areály a activity. In: N. Venclová (Hrsg.), Archeologie pravìkých Èech 7 – Doba laténská (Praha 2008) 53–82.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zid jew bo detail

 

 

Some of the most spectacular Celtic archaeological discoveries in recent years have come from the Scordisci hillfort at Zidovar (Banat region) in north-eastern Serbia, which has yielded a vast array of artifacts of various materials, mostly dating to the 2/1 centuries BC.

 

 

 

zidovar opp hill

The hill at Zidovar – site of an important Celtic (Scordisci) hillfort from 3-1 century BC

 

 

Zidovar trio

Silver finger rings, brown bear tooth talisman, and silver bird pendants from the Zidovar hillfort (2/1 c. BC)
(See also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/celtic-scordisci-bird-pendants/)

 

 

 

 

Among the most exquisite artifacts from Zidovar are 2 lavishly decorated silver jewelry boxes, and the lid of a third such box decorated with 4 spokes, thus constituting a solar/Taranis wheel.

 

 

jew bo lid

Silver lid of a jewelry box from Zidovar (2/1 c. BC)

(see also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/a-taranis-belt-buckle-from-dalj-eastern-croatia/)

 

 

 

 

zido jew bo 1

Silver jewelry box from Zidovar

 

Copy of j box X

Construction of the complete jewelry box from Zidovar

 

All 3 jewelry boxes have a high percent of silver (average values over 95 wt%). Copper is the main alloying element (average values from 1.5–4 wt%). Lead contributes less then 1 wt%, and tin was not detected in the metal of any of the boxes.

(after Živković J., Rehren T., Radivojević M., Miloš Jevtić M. and Jovanović D. (2014) XRF characterisation of Celtic silver from the Židovar treasure (Serbia). In: UNDER THE VOLCANO. Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Metallurgy of the European Iron Age (SMEIA) held in Mannheim, Germany, 20–22 April 2010. p. 157-174)

 

 

 

The chain used on the jewelry box is also noteworthy. These are of the ‘Foxtail’ type, similar examples of which are to be found in a number of necklaces from Zidovar and other Balkan Celtic sites.

 

 

Zidovar chains

Scordisci ‘Foxtail’ necklaces from Zidovar
(see also: https://www.academia.edu/7915664/Celtic_Foxtail_Necklaces )

 

 
Such chains are believed to have developed from Hellenistic prototypes, and the merging of Hellenistic and Celtic artistic models and influences on the Balkans from the late 4th century BC onwards resulted in a spectacular fusion of forms culminating in unique compositions in glass, ceramic and metal.

 

bland kantharos

Celtic kantharos of the ‘Danubian Type’ with anthropomorphic decoration from Blandiana, Alba County, Romania (3rd c. BC). Such kantharoi were developed by the Balkan Celts from Hellenistic prototypes.

(see: https://www.academia.edu/5992553/Late_La_T%C3%AAne_Ceramic_from_Bulgaria)

 

 

h.

Celtic gold ‘Janus Head’ pendant from Schumen region, Bulgaria (3rd c. BC)
(see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/the-archaeology-of-heads/)

 

 

 

 

 

zid jew bo detail

Full view of the Celtic jewelry box with ‘Foxtail’ chain from Zidovar (2/1 c. BC)

 

 

 

 

The sheer amount and diversity of artifacts discovered at Zidovar logically indicates that this area was one of the key centers for the production of Balkan Celtic jewelry in the late Iron Age. From a wider perspective, the level of technical accomplishment and craftsmanship to be observed on these and other recently discovered Balkan Celtic works of art is on a par with anything produced by ‘classical’ cultures, and the treasures from the Scordisci hillfort at Zidovar once again testify to the artistic and material sophistication which had been achieved by European Celtic society prior to its systematic destruction by Rome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zid intor.

 

 

 

 

The importance of birds in Celtic culture and religion is well attested to by their frequent appearance on artifacts and coins, with birds by far the most commonly depicted creatures in Celtic art. For example, of the more than 500 Celtic brooches with representational decoration now known, from Bulgaria in the east to Spain in the west, more than half depict birds (Megaw 2001: 87).

 

 

 

sc.c mon. dag dec.

A = Reverse of a Scordisci tetradrachm depicting a bird behind the riders right shoulder (Serbia II c. BC) (see ‘Catubodua’ article)

B = Detail of a Celtic dagger decorated with mirrored bird symbols from a Scordisci warrior burial at Montana, northwestern Bulgaria (late II/early I c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this context, particularly interesting are recently discovered hoards of Celtic jewelry among the Scordisci in Serbia which contain a large number of silver ornithomorphic beads/pendants (Ruševljan, Jevtić 2006; Popovic 2011). The first of these hoards came from the village of Hrtkovci in the Syrmia District (Vojvodina province) of Serbia. The Hrtkovci hoard contained, in addition to a large amount of Celtic fibulae and other items, 6 silver ornithomorphic beads/ pendants. The heads are triangular in shape and sheaves of slanting, ribbed channels are used to decorate the short tail while the rather broad neck is denoted by two concentric ribs. The lower segment of the birds are funnel-shaped and also decorated with sheaves of narrow channels arranged in a herringbone pattern. On top and bottom of the birds are openings for them to be laced through a cord/chain  (Ruševljan, Jevtić op. cit).

 

 

 

Hrtkovici brds f.

Silver Scordisci bird bead/pendants from Hrtkovci
(Length of the beads 22-32 mm.; width 12-17 mm.; weight range = 3.43 g. – 1.68 g.)

 

 

 

 

hrt. fib

Silver La Têne fibulae from the Hrtkovci hoard

 

 

 

Hrtkovici gld fib

Gilded Silver Hinged Type Fibula from the Hrtkovci hoard

 

 

 

The finds from Hrtkovci (with the exception of the gilded hinged fibula which is earlier) date to the late La Têne period (2/1 c. BC), and the latest discoveries of Celtic jewelry from this area of Serbia confirm the existence of a local Celtic workshop connected to the Scordisci settlement in Sremska Mitrovica (loc cit; on recent Celtic finds from Sremska Mitrovica see also:  https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/the-warrior-and-his-wife-a-scordisci-burial-from-serbia/).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also dating to the late La Têne period are a number of exquisite Scordisci silver bird pendants discovered in the Celtic hillfort at Zidovar near Vršac (Banat region), also in the Voivodina province of Serbia. In 2001 during the systematic archaeological excavations on the Celtic hillfort at Zidovar near Vrsac a rich hoard of silver jewelry and amber was discovered, dating to the first half of the 1st c. BC (Popovic 2011; on the Scordisci hillfort at Zidovar see also Todorović 1974: 50, 181; Brukner, Jovanović, Tasić 1974).

The spectacular Scordisci hoard from Zidovar consisted of 163 silver items, 134 amber beads, two brass rings and two pendants from Brown Bear teeth. Also among the items in the hoard were 22 bird shaped silver pendants.

 

 

zidovar brds 3

Zidovar 2

Silver Scordisci bird pendants from the Zidovar hoard

 

 

 

 

As in the case of the Hrtkovci ‘beads’ the Zidovar bird pendants ranged significantly in dimensions and weight (length = 34 – 25.5 mm.; width 9-20 mm.; weight 1.98-1.08 g.). Interesting also is the fact that, unlike the majority of Celtic ornithomorphic depictions where birds of prey are generally represented, the Scordisci beads/pendants from Hrtkovci and Zidovar both portray smaller birds (sparrows?), indicating that these were items of Celtic female jewelry.

 

 

 

 

Zidovar 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On birds in Celtic art and religion see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/catubodua-queen-of-death/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Brukner B., Jovanović B., Tasić N. (1974) Praistorija Vojvodine, Institut za izučavanje istorije Vojvodine, Savezarheoloških društava Jugoslavije, Novi Sad

Megaw V., Megaw R. (2001) Celtic Art from its Beginnings to the Book of Kells. London

 
Popovic I. (2011) The Zidovar treasure and roman jewellery from the Balkan provinces of the empire. In: The eastern Celts : the communities between the Alps and the Black Sea, p. 179-188. Koper-Beograd: Univerzitet u Beogradu, 2011. (Annales Mediterranei)

 
Ruševljan V.D., Jevtić M. (2006) Silver Jewelry of Hellenistic and Celtic Type from Hrtkovci in Srem. In: Starinar LVI/2006. P. 291-307

 
Todorović, J. (1974) Skordisci: istorija i kultura, Institut za izučavanje istorije Vojvodine, Savezarheoloških društava Jugoslavije, Novi Sad, Beograd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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:April 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace”.

 

Words of the Celtic Chieftain Calgacus

(Agricola (30)

 

 

 

 

 

In the year 1971 an extraordinary archaeological discovery was made at the locality of Slana Voda (Salty Water), near the village of Krajčinovići, in southwestern Serbia. A mass burial containing 25 partially burnt skeletons was found, along with a wealth of archaeological material, including pottery, bronze dishes, jewelry, 60 iron swords, and other weaponry (Zotović R. Social and Cultural Aspects of the Burial Krajčinovići –Slana Voda (South-West of Serbia, Middle of II c. BC. In: Acta Terrae Septemcastrensis, VI, 1, 2007. Pp. 199-205).

 

 

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Slana Voda b.

 The Mass Grave from Slana Voda

(after Zotović 2007)

 

 

 

 

The site is remarkable for a number of reasons, foremost among them the fact that it had previously been thought that his part of western Serbia was uninhabited in the late Iron Age, i.e. this was the first archaeological material to be found in the area dating between the 5th c. BC and the Roman period (loc cit.). Therefore, the site provided the first confirmation that western Serbia was indeed inhabited in the pre-Roman period.

 

The material from the burials is also particularly noteworthy, consisting of mostly Celtic material (with older Illyrian influences to be observed in some of the pottery), and imported Hellenistic pottery and jewelry, which illustrates trade contacts between the Celtic population in this area and the Hellenistic world. Two further Celtic burials across the border in modern Bosnia Herzegovina were excavated in the 20th c. at Mahrevići by Čajniče (Truhelka,  Ć. 1909. Gromila latenske dobe u Mahrevićima kod  Čajniča,  Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja u Sarajevu XXI, p. 425-442) and Vir by Posušje (Marić, Z. 1962. Vir kod Posušja, Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja u Sarajevu N.S. XVII, p. 63-72). At both of these sites the burial rituals (positioning of the bodies etc.) and archaeological material uncovered were similar to the Slana Voda burial.

 

 

 

 

Sl. We

Weaponry from the Slana Voda Burial

(after Zotović 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

Till Death Do Us Part

 

 

  The positioning of the bodies, burial ritual, and accompanying archaeological material at Slana Voda indicate that this a war burial carried out at the middle of the 2nd c. BC (Zotović op. cit.), which coincides chronologically with the first historical accounts of conflict between the Roman Empire and the Balkan Celtic tribes (see ‘Scordisci Wars’ article). From a human perspective, perhaps most noteworthy about the Slana Voda burial (as is the case with the mass graves at Mahrevići and Vir) is the fact that the bodies are of male and female ‘warriors’, i.e. of both men and women, arranged together with their weapons.

 

 

 

Sl. j.

 

Jewelry from the Slana Voda Burial

(after Zotović 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

The archaeological evidence from Slana Voda illustrates that the burial was carried out under conflict conditions, yet time was taken to give the dead an ordered burial, and no distinction was made between the men and women, who had apparently died together. Chronologically, this burial coincides with the first phases of Roman expansion in the region, and the mass grave at Slana Voda would appear to mark the arrival of ‘Pax Romana’ in this part of the Balkans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Celts in southern Serbia see also:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/the-balkan-celtic-fortress-at-krsevica-southern-serbia/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

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).

 

 

 

Celtic ‘Zepino Type’ ceramic from Bratya Daskalovi, Stara Zagora reg., south-central Bulgaria

(After Tonkova et al 2011)

 

 

 

The Chirpan Heights area of South-Central Bulgaria

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT

 

 

Previously recorded Celtic material from the sub-Balkan area of Central Bulgaria is extensive, ranging from Sofia eastwards, from the Celtic warrior burial complete with a (ritually bent) La Têne sword, spear and Celtic ceramic discovered in the Poduaine area of Sofia City at the beginning of the 20th c.  (Кацаров Г., България в древността. Историко-археологически очерк.  Популярна археологическа библиотека, No. 1. София 1926. P. 41) to the concentration of Celtic material discovered in the Gorna Malina district of eastern Sofia region, where La Têne material has been found at the villages of Markazevo, Gorna Malina itself, and at Bailovo (see ‘Sacrificial daggers, Swords and Settlements’ and ‘Serdi’ articles’, with cited lit.). Among these finds one should mention the La Têne B2 sword from Bailovo, the earliest Celtic sword yet found in Bulgaria, and therefore relating chronologically to the first stage of Celtic migration into this part of the Balkans, and a Celtic shield of the Karaburma type from Gorna Malina (loc cit).

  Further to the east one encounters the massive amount of La Têne material discovered at the Panagurischte Kolonii site (Pazardjik region). At the tumulus necropolis at this site, dated to the 2nd – 1st c. BC, 30 tumuli have been excavated. Material from the burials included La Têne swords, scabbards, spearheads, curved daggers, horse-bits, curved daggers, iron and bronze Celtic fibulae, and bronze appliqué from chain-mail from the male graves, while the female burials (circa 30%) typically contained pottery, bracelets, fibulae and other jewelry (Domaradski 1984:136; on Celtic chainmail from Bulgaria see ‘Chainmail’ article). Also noteworthy are finds of Celtic steckverschlüsse torcs from the site, similar examples of which have been found at a number of other sites in Bulgaria such as Sevtopolis (Kazanlak), Komarevo (Vratza region), Kalnovo (Schumen region) (see also ‘New Celtic Material 2’ article), Viskiar (Pernik region) and Malkoto Kale (near Ravadinovo, Burgas region) (Domaradski op cit:140).

This trail of Celtic material in Central Bulgaria continues along the Maritza/Hebros river valley with the La Têne material (weaponry, fibulae etc.) recorded at the Pisteros site, a Macedonian fortress destroyed during the initial Celtic migration at the beginning of the 3rd c. BC (Bouzek J., Celtic Campaigns in Southern Thrace and the Tylis Kingdom: The Duchov fibula in Bulgaria and the destruction of Pisteros in 279/ 8. In: Dobranska H., Megaw V., Poleska P. (eds.) Celts on the margin. Studies in European cultural interaction. 7th century BC – 1st c AD. Krakow. 93-101). Further along the Maritza one may mention the Celtic warrior burial(s) excavated in the centre of Philipopolis/Plovdiv (see ‘Killing the Objects’ article), and other Celtic material including the Celtic burial with late La Têne sword/scabbard from Belozem (Plovdiv region) (Peev 1926 =  Пеев А., Разкопка на Горната Могила при  с. Белозем. – ГПНБ (Годишник на Нар. Библиотека Пловдив), 1926. 65-68); another Late La Têne sword from Kruschevo (Plovdiv region) (Domaradski, 1984, 142); a Celtic burial including a late La Téne sword / scabbard from Stara Zagora (1st. c. AD – Буюклиев Х., Димитров М. Николов Д., Стара Загора. София 1965:134); and a Celtic burial including a further late La Têne sword from Merichleri (Dimitrovgrad district, Haskovo region) (Domaradski, 1984, 132/142) – an extensive trail of La Têne material which stretches along the Maritza river valley to the  Celtic chariot burial at Mezek (also Haskovo region) (see ‘The Mezek Syndrome’), near the Bulgarian/Turkish border.

 

  

This archaeological material is logically complemented by Celtic numismatic evidence from the same region. This includes Celtic coinage of the same types as recently found at the Chirpan Heights excavations (Philip III and Thasos models – see below). Hoards of such finds have been recorded in the eastern Sofia region at the villages of Vrachesh, close to the aforementioned concentration of Celtic archaeological material around the Gorna Malina area, Churek (a massive hoard containing over 7 kg. of silver Celtic ‘Thasos’ issues), and Chavdar, the latter near the aforementioned Celtic burial site/settlement at Panagurischte Kolonii (see Numismatics sections 1, 2 and 4; also ‘Little Tin Men’ article, with relevant lit.). Further Celtic hoards have been recorded along the Maritza river at Ognyanovo in the Pazardjik region (bronze Strymon/Trident type – see Numismatics section 6), Krumevo, Choba, Plovdiv, and Topalovo (all Plovdiv region), Benkovski, Kolyo Marinovo, Bratya Daskalovi, Medovo, Naidenovo, and Zetovo (Stara Zagora region), stretching to Dolno Botevo, Haskovo, Gorno Pole, Levka and Mezek (all Haskovo region) (Numismatics sections 1, 2 and 4, with cited lit.), clearly indicating that the Maritza/Hebrus river was a major trade artery during the  Celtic period (3-1st c. BC).

 

 The heavy concentration in the western Stara Zagora region with finds at Bratya Daskalovi (see below), Kolyo Marinovo, Medovo and Naidenovo, indicates that this area was a major Celtic economic and coin production centre in the immediate pre-Roman period.

 

 

 

CHIRPAN HEIGHTS

 

 

To this extensive numismatic and archaeological material we may now add the evidence from the Chirpan Heights area, where the recent excavations have uncovered Celtic burials, jewelry, ceramic etc. Worthy of special mention is the rich central Celtic burial (#10) from the Karakochovata Tumulus (Bratya Daskalovi) (Tonkova et al 2011) which included  a wealth of grave goods including needles, fibulae, knives, silver earrings, a silver necklace, Celtic pottery of the ‘Zepino’ type (on the distribution of this type of Celtic pottery in Thrace see ‘Zoomorphic Cult Firepots’ article), a bronze La Têne fibula of the Jezerine type, as well as the Celtic numismatic material outlined below. 

 

Remains of the Funeral Pyre from the Central Celtic Burial (#10) at Karakochovata Tumulus (Bratya Daskalovi)

(after Tonkova et al 2011)

 

 

 

Ceramic vessel of the ‘Zepino Type’ from the Celtic burial at Karakochovata Tumulus

(after Tonkova et al 2011)

 

Recent finds of Celtic ceramic of this type in Thrace include examples from the Unatzi site (Pazardjik reg.), also in central Bulgaria, which was again found together with a bronze La Têne fibula of the Jezerine type (loc cit), and from the Celtic chieftain’s burial at Sashova Tumulus near the Shipka Pass, where this type of Celtic ‘Cult’ ceramic was discovered together with a gold fibula, torc, Celtic sword, etc. (op. cit.; see also ‘Zoomorphic Cult Firepots’ and ‘Behind the Golden Mask’ articles).

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Celtic earring from the central burial at Karakochovata Tumulus

 

 

 

Bronze La Têne Fibula of the Jezerine type from the central burial at Karakochovata Tumulus.

 

 

The fibula is of great importance for the dating of the complex. This type of late La Têne fibula first appears between 40-30 BC and is most common in the period between 30 and 10 BC (Rustoiu A. Fibulele din Dacia Preromana (sec. I i.e.n. – I e.n. Bucuresti 1997). It is worth noting that the jewelry from the burial is of types typical of the Scordisci and other Balkan Celts during this period (Tonkova op cit), and that this La Têne fibula was found together with Celtic ‘Zepino Type’ ceramic, and the Celtic coins presented below.

 

 

 

 

CULTURAL CHRONOLOGY

 

 

Besides the material presented above, the clearest illustration of the geo-political status quo in this area of Thrace in the late Iron Age (previously referred to as the ‘late Hellenistic Period’) is to be observed in an analysis of the ancient coinage discovered during the recent excavations. This numismatic evidence falls into 3 clear chronological and cultural groups:

 

  1. Macedonian and Thraco-Macedonian royal coinage (4th c. BC – circa 281 BC). This consists of coinage of the Macedonian kings Lysimachus, and the Thraco-Macedonian ruler Seuthes III:

 

Bronze issue of the Thracian ruler Seuthes III from Bratya Daskalovi (late 4th c. BC)

 

 

Bronze issue of the Macedonian ruler Lysimachus from Bratya Daskalovi (early 3rd c. BC)

 

 

2.  Celtic Coinage:

 

Celtic Drachms and Tetradrachms from Bratya Daskalovi

 

 

 

3. Roman Coinage – Numismatic material from this area of Thrace also allows us to precisely date the transition from the Celto-Thracian period to the beginning of complete Roman political and economic control. For example, whereas hoards from the area such as those from Bratya Daskalovi, Kolyo-Marinovo and Medovo, dated circa 19 BC, contain both Celtic and Roman coinage, indicating the gradual addition of Roman coinage to the local coin pool, the Pravoslav hoard from the same area, which dates to 10 years later, (9/8 BC), contains only Roman coins, indicating de facto Roman political and economic control by this date.

 

 

 

 

The complete disappearance of Macedonian and Thracian royal coinage (indeed all Macedonian and ‘Thracian’ coinage) at the beginning of the 3rd c. BC is followed chronologically by a prolonged period lasting until the end of the 1st c. BC when the only coinage produced in the area is Celtic. This clear evidence, together with the corroborating numismatic and archaeological data outlined above, once again confirms that the arrival of the Celtic tribes at the beginning of the 3rd c. BC marked the de facto end of ‘Hellenistic Thrace’.

 

   The results of the scientific research in Central Thrace presented above is a major step forward in Bulgarian archaeology. For the first time Celtic numismatic and archaeological material has been presented in a (relatively) objective manner, and the evidence discovered during these excavations clearly indicates, as has been pointed out by local archaeologists, that the pre-Roman population of today’s Bulgaria had a significant Celtic element.