Tag Archive: Celtic warrior burial


 

 

Petronnel 35 warrior

 

Popularly known as the site of a major Roman military camp and capital of the province of Pannonia Superior, recently published archaeological discoveries from the Petronell-Carnuntum area of Lower Austria have thrown new light on the pre-Roman (Celtic) population in this part of central Europe.

 

 

CARN

3-D Reconstruction of the later Roman city at Carnuntum

 

 

 

 

Excavated in 2003, but only recently published (Ramsl 2016), research at the Heideweg site in Petronell-Carnuntum revealed, besides 140 Roman burials, 7 graves from the La Têne B2 period, i.e. late 4th/early 3rd century BC. Of the 7 Celtic graves containing 8 burials, most notable included grave #7 where both cremation and inhumation burials were identified – a rare example of a bi-ritual burial from this period.

 

Burial 7

Burial #7 at the Heideweg site in Petronell-Carnuntum

 

 

 

A further remarkable burial at the site was burial #2A which furnished a rare example of the burial of a Celtic child. Aged between 3-6 years old the child was buried orientated s-n and grave goods included ceramic vessels, mutton and two bronze fibulae.

 

 

Petronnel 3 Childs

Child’s Burial 2A

 

 

 

Grave #35 at the Heideweg site provided a fascinating example of a Celtic warrior burial, complete with iron lance head, knife and sword. Other grave goods in the burial, of a man in his 40’s (orientated s-n), included ceramic vessels and an iron fibula. In 4 of the burials weapons were recorded and, with the exception of the child in burial #2A, all the deceased were men. This would tend to indicate that the excavated area represents only a small section of a much larger Celtic burial complex.

 

Petronnel 35 warrior

 

Petronnel 35 warrior sword detail

Warrior burial in grave #35, and detail of iron sword

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Report (Ramsl 2016/In German):

 

https://www.academia.edu/26796236/P.C._Ramsl_Lat%C3%A8nezeitliche_Gr%C3%A4ber_in_Petronell-Carnuntum_Krieger_bewaffnete_M%C3%A4nner_oder_einfach_Rollenbilder_einer_Gesellschaft_Beitr%C3%A4ge_zum_Tag_der_Nieder%C3%B6sterreichischen_Landesarch%C3%A4ologie_2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CSEP intro illust.

 

 

 

The largest island on the Hungarian Danube,  Csepel Island in Budapest has provided a wealth of archaeological material pertaining to many cultures including a Celtic bi-ritual cemetery with 59 inhumation and 28 cremation graves, dating largely from the La Têne B1 – C1 period, i.e. late 4th – 3rd century BC. While a more comprehensive account of the Celtic burials from Csepel Island is provided elsewhere (see link below), of particular interest is warrior burial #149 at the site.

 

Locally produced ceramic from the cremation burial (110 cm long X 85 cm deep, orientated n-s) showed Scythian influence, and included two large vessels, two small jugs, and two bowls; metal objects consisted of an iron knife, bronze/iron bracelet and weapons.

 

 

CERMIC x

                           Ceramic Vessels from Burial #149

 

(Illustrations after Attila Horváth 2014)

 

 

 

 

Military equipment discovered in the northwestern part of burial #149 consisted of a large leaf-shaped spearhead with a narrow socket, winged shield umbo, sword chain and sword/scabbard. The latter was the only one of 8 Celtic swords from the burial complex to be discovered in its decorated scabbard.

 

weapons

Metal artifacts from Burial #149

 

 

 

Besides the ceramic vessels mentioned above, a further noteworthy find registered in the warrior burial was a Celtic/Danubian kantharos with anthropomorphic handles. One of a pair of kantharoi from the grave, this vessel is believed to have been made especially for the burial. 

 

CERMIC Kantharos

Kantharos with anthropomorphic handles from Celtic burial #149 at Csepel Island

 

 

 

Such Danubian kantharoi represent a ceramic category adopted by the eastern Celts from a range of vessels specific to the Mediterranean region and, as in the case of the example from burial #149 at Csepel Island, appear to have had special religious significance.

 

 

BLANDIANA kantharos

Kantharos with anthropomorphic handles from a Celtic burial at Blandiana (Alba County), Romania

 

See:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/the-archaeology-of-heads/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Celtic burial Complex from Csepel Island:

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

 

 

Full report on burial #149:

https://www.academia.edu/13495605/Attila_Horv%C3%A1th_M._Kantharoi_from_the_La_T%C3%A8ne_Period_Cemetery_Budapest_-_Csepel_Island._In_M._Gu%C5%A1tin_W._David_eds._The_Clash_of_Cultures_The_Celts_and_the_Macedonien_World._Schriften_des_Kelten-R%C3%B6mer-Museums_Manching_9_Manching_2014_247-258_in_print_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UD: November 2016

 

 

Belt Buckle detail

 

 

The town of Supava (Malacky district) is situated in the Záhorie lowland, under the Little Carpathians, around 15 km (9 m.) north of the Slovakian capital Bratislava. In 1929 industrial work in the area uncovered an Iron Age necropolis, which has provided invaluable information on the early phases of Celtic settlement in this area of Europe.

 

 

 

Stupava map

Location of Stupava, and main early La Têne settlements and finds in southwestern Slovakia (LT A – LT B1; after Čambal 2012).

 

 

 

 

 

Among the 10 graves discovered at the Celtic necropolis, which dates to the La Têne A – Lt A2/B1 period, the most outstanding was the male inhumation burial (dated to c. 400 BC) located at the highest point of the cemetery. The situation of the burial, and the grave inventory – which included a sword, lance, iron knife, bronze armlet, stamped pottery decorated with bull horns, and a bronze belt-plaque with human mask – clearly indicate that the individual was of high standing in the community, i.e. a tribal leader/chieftain.

 

 

 

stupava c.400 BC

Metal finds from the Stupava Chieftain’s burial
(c. 400 BC)

 

 

stupava 1

Stamped ceramic bowl decorated with bull horns from the Stupava burial

 

 

Another fascinating find associated with the burial is a decorated bronze belt-plate with human mask. The Stupava belt-plate is a highly decorated type of a general class with rectangular plate which extend from the Middle Rhine to Slovakia (Megaw/Megaw/Neugebauer 1989; Frey 1996:202, 203, abb. 5, 6; Pieta 2007:307, abb. 10), and is an important example of the development of early La Têne art in this part of Europe. The anthropomorphic element/ face mask on the Stupava belt has many parallels in Celtic compositions of this period, notably those to be observed on a bronze fibula and belt hook  from tomb #1 at Glauberg (Hesse), Germany.

 

 

Belt Buckle

Bronze Belt-Plate from the Celtic Chieftain’s Burial at Stupava

 

retrouvee-dans-la-tombe-n1-de-glauberg-en-hesse-allemagne-datant-du-ve-s-av-j-c-bronze-and-coral-2

Celtic fibula (bronze with coral) with zoomorphic/anthropomorphic decoration, from Glauberg (5th c. BC)

 

 

bronze-belt-hook-grave-mound-1-glauberg-ca-500-bc

Bronze belt hook with zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and geometric decoration from Glauberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited
Čambal R. (2010) Keltské nálezy zo Stupavy. Stupava 7, 2010 – 2011, 3 – 7
Čambal R. (2012) Frühlatènezeitlihes gräberfeld in Stupava. ausgrabungen in Jahr 1929, Zbor. SNM 106. arh. 22, 2012, p. 87 – 119

Eisner J. (1930) Raně latènské památky na Slovensku a v Podkarpatské Rusi. Zvláštní otisk z ČSPSČ 38, Praha 1930, 1-8

Megaw J.V.S. (2010) A world turned upside down: the bronze plaque from Stupava, okr. Malacky. in: J. Šuteková et al. (eds.): Panta Rhei. Studies in chronology and cultural development of Southeastern and central europe in earlier prehistory. Stud. arch. et Med. 11. Bratislava 2010, 607 – 622

Pieta K. (2007) Der frühlatènezeitlihe Burgwall in Horné Orešany, westslowakei.Vorbericht. Slov. arh. 55, 2007, 295 – 310

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PRINCE OF TRANSYLVANIA

UD: April 2017

 

x - ciumesti

 

 

 

Best associated with the spectacular chieftain’s helmet with Bird of Prey attachment, in fact the Celtic settlement at Ciumeşti (Satu Mare) in Transylvania has yielded a wealth of archaeological information on Iron Age settlement and society in southeastern Europe, and the Celtic warrior culture during this period.

 

 

 

 

 

THE SETTLEMENT

 

 

The Iron Age settlement at Ciumeşti was a small rural community, of which 8 houses have been excavated. These were spread over a large area, and the general pattern was of houses organized in groups of 3 or 4, each group also having a larger central structure with two rooms. The spatial distribution of the dwellings indicates that the settlement was organized on a clan system (Zirra 1980:69-70, Rustoiu 2006:66). Finds from the settlement include Celtic wheel-made ceramic, as well as local hand-made pottery, again indicating a symbiotic relationship between the newly arrived Celts and the local population – a phenomenon to be observed throughout the eastern Celtic migration.

 

 A large La Têne funerary complex was discovered at the site, of which 33 burials have been excavated. The cemetery has been broadly dated to the La Têne B2b – C1 period, which in Transylvania corresponds to the period between 280/277 – 175 BC (Horedt 1973:32, 2006:43). Three of the excavated graves were warrior burials indicating that the percentage of warriors in this community during the period in question was circa 9%.

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHIEFTAIN’S BURIAL

 

 

The Ciumeşti Chieftains burial was discovered on 10 August 1961 in a circular pit with a diameter of 1.2 – 1.5 m. Initially only part of the artifacts from the cremation burial were published, including the ‘Falcon’ helmet, two bronze greaves, an iron spearhead, and iron chainmail:

 

 

 

Cium. 1969 1

Cium. 1969 2

 Subsequently other artifacts from the burial have come to light, and a review of all the  material published over the past 50 years reveals that the complete inventory consisted of the following:

 

 

 

 

1.      POTTERY

 

The pottery from the burial consisted of a large pot and a bowl, both wheel-made. Vessels of this type are frequent in Celtic burials from the La Têne B2b – C1 period from the Carpathian basin, and analogies have been found in other burials at Ciumeşti, as well as at sites such as Pişcolt, Apahida, etc. (Zirra 1976:143-144; Rustoiu 2006:44).

 

 

 

2.      BELT CHAIN

 

The iron belt chain was of elements of bent wire fitted in the middle with a ring. The buckle of the belt had a lanceolated form. Such belts are well known among the Carpathian Celts and to the west in Moravia and Bohemia. In the sub-Danubian region they have also been found in Celtic burials at Komarevo, Montana, Panagurischte Kolonii and Stoikite in Bulgaria (Rustoiu 1996:113-114). They were still in use among the Thracian Celts in the LT D period (1st c. BC).

 

 

 

3.      “SPEARHEAD” – JAVELIN

 

With an elongated blade and an angular median nervure, its dimensions (legnth 22 cm., socket 8 cm., blade 14 cm., socket diameter 1.7 cm.) indicate that it is in fact a javelin and not a spear as originally identified (Rustoiu 2006:47). This is the only offensive weapon among the graves inventory.

 

 

 4.      CHAINMAIL

 

CHAINMAIL CIUM

Chainmail and Bronze ‘Triskele’ Discs from the Burial

(after Borangic, Paliga 2013)

 

 

Diodorus (v,30:3), Strabo (II, 3:6), Appianus (Syriaca 32, 1-3), Livy (37:40) and Varro (De Ling. Lat. V, 24:116) all mention that the Celts used chainmail, with the latter explicitely stating that they invented it. Chainmail from central and western Europe, with the exception of a piece from Vielle-Tursan (Aubagnan) dated circa 200 BC (Boyrie-Fénié, Bost 194:160), refer to the late La Têne period. In the Carpathian Basin the earliest chainmail has been found at a burial in Horný Jatov (Slovakia) dated to the LT B2 period (first half of the 3rd c. BC) (Rustoiu 2006:50), while numerous examples of Celtic chainmail have been recorded in Romania – Ciumeşti, Cugir, Cetăţeni, Poiana-Gorj, Popeşti etc. (Rustoiu op cit 49, with cited lit), and in Bulgaria from sites such as Kalnovo, Kyolmen, Jankovo, in the so-called ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’ (Sashova, Slavchova and Tziakova tumuli), as well as from Tarnava, Varbeschnitza,  Mezdra, Smochan, Dojrentsi, Panagurischte Kolonii, Rozovetz, Ravnogor, Matochina and Arkovna.

Among the Turkish Celts (Galatians) the use of chainmail is attested to by Appian (Syriaca 32, 1-3) and Livy (37:40) and included in the depiction of Celtic military equipment at Pergamon (Rustoiu 2006:55). Archaeological confirmation of this has been recorded at the royal cemetery of the Galatian Tolistobogi (-boii) tribe at Karalar (Turkey) (Arik, Coupry 1935:140).

 

 

Perga. Chain

Celtic shields and chainmail depicted on the ‘weapons frieze’ from Pergamon

 

 

The Ciumeşti chainmail was closed with a system made from a horizontal iron plaque with decorated bronze discs. Similar bronze ‘triskele discs’ from Celtic chainmail have been found at Targu Mureş in Transylvania and Matochina in southern Bulgaria.

 

 

Tar Ch. M

Bronze ‘Triskele’ appliqués from the Târgu Mureş chainmail (after Berecki 2010)

 

On Celtic chainmail see: https://www.academia.edu/3891226/Celtic_Chainmail

 

 

 

 

 

5.      ‘FALCON’ HELMET

 

 

“On their heads they put bronze helmets which have large embossed figures standing out from them and give an appearance of great size to those who wear them; for in some cases horns are attached to the helmet so as to form a single piece, in other cases images of the fore-parts of birds or four footed animals”.

Diodorus Siculus (on Celtic helmets) (History V.30.2)

 

 

Bronze Celtic fibula from Ingelfingen-Criesbach in southern Germany (5/4 c. BC), depicting a human head crowned by a bird of prey. Birds of Prey had a special significance in Celtic culture and religion.

see:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/catubodua-queen-of-death/

 

 

 

 

The best known of the Ciumeşti artifacts, the Bird of Prey (falcon) helmet belongs to a type with reinforced calotte. Such helmets had lateral triangular elements fitted with rivets from which were hung mobile cheek pieces. Similar Celtic helmets have been found at sites such as Batina (Croatia) and Mihovo (Slovenia) (Rustoiu 2006:48), but what distinguishes the Ciumeşti helmet is the bronze falcon which decorated the calotte. Besides the testimony of Diodorus, such Celtic helmets are depicted on Celtic coins and artifacts like the Gundestrup Cauldron.

 

 

cium hel

 

 

 

 

6.      GREAVES

 

 

From an historical perspective, the most informative artifacts from the chieftain’s burial are a pair of bronze greaves. Similar pieces appeared in Greece at the end of the Archaic Age, and were used during the classical and Hellenistic periods. The better preserved right greave had a length of 46 cm., which indicates that the warrior was of large stature – between 1.80 – 1.90 m. in height.

 

 

 

cium greav

The Greaves from the Ciumeşti Burial

(Baia Mare History and Archaeology Museum)

 

 

 

 

 

Manufacture of such greaves logically requires the exact measurement of the warrior’s legs. Two golden greaves from the so-called Philip II grave at Vergina, which are of different sizes and designed for a crippled man, are a significant example (Andronicos 1984:186-189). It therefore appears that the Ciumeşti warrior had these made at a Greek workshop in the Mediterranean area, which is only possible if the warrior was himself present there (Rustoiu op. cit). Celtic mercenary activity in Hellenistic armies in Greece and Asia-Minor is recorded throughout the 3rd c. BC, and we can conclude with a great degree of certainty that the Transylvanian chieftain was the leader of one such Celtic mercenary force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Celtic mercenaries see: https://www.academia.edu/4910243/THE_KINGMAKERS_-_Celtic_Mercenaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITERATURE CITED

 

Andronicos M. (1984) Vergina. The Royal Tombs and the Ancient City. Athens.

ArikR.O., Couprey J. (1935) Les tumuli de Karalar et la sépulture du roi Déotarus II. In: Revue archéologique 6, Paris 1935. P. 133-151.

Berecki S. (2010) Two La Tène Bronze Discs from Târgu Mureş, Transylvania In: Marisia, Studii Şi Materiale, XXX Arheologie. Targu Mureş 2010. P. 69 – 76

Borangic C., Paliga S. (2013) Note pe marginea originii şi a rolului armurilor geto-dacilor în ritualurile funerar. In: Acta Centri Lucusiensis, I, 2013, p. 5-23.

Bohn R. (1885) Das Heligtum der Athena Polias Nikephoros. Mit Beitrag H. Droysen, Die Balustradenreliefs. Altertümer von Pergamon II. Berlin.

Boyrie-Fénié B., Bost J.P (1994) Les Landes. In: M. Provost (ed.), Carte archeologique de la Gaule 40. Paris

Horedt K. (1973) Interperpretări arheologice II. SCIV 24, 2, 1973. P. 299-310

Rustoiu A. (1996) Metalurgia bronzului la daci (sec. II î Chr. – sec. I d. Chr.) Tehnici, ateliere şi produse de bronz. Bibliotheca Thracologica 15. Bucharest.

Rustoiu A. (2006) A Journey to Mediterranean. Peregrinations of a Celtic Warrior from Transylvania. In: Studia Universitatis Babeş-Bolyai, Historia 51, no. 1 (June 2006). P. 42-85

Rusu M. (1969) Das Keltische Furstengrab von Ciumeşti in Rumänien. Germania 50, 1969: 167 – 269

Zirra V. (1976) La nécropole La Téne d’Apahida. Nouvelles considerations. Dacia N.S, 20. P 129-165

Zirra V. (1980) Locuiri din a doua vărstă a fierului în nord-vestul României (Aşezarea contemporană cimitirului La Têne de la Ciumeşti şi habitatul indigen de la Berea). In: StComSatu Mare 4, 1980. P. 39-84.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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