Early La Têne Burials from Petronell-Carnuntum (Eastern Austria)

UD: March 2019

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE GLASS REVOLUTION – Evolution of European Glass Jewelry in the Later Iron Age

UD: July 2019

 

 

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.

 

Bowl of clear glass from the burial of a Celtic aristocrat at Ihringen (Baden-Württemberg), Germany

(ca. 500 BC)

 

Archaeological evidence clearly indicates that during the latter 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)

 

Bracelet of blue glass beads from the Balkan Celtic settlement at Osijek in eastern Croatia. 2 c. BC

Bracelet of blue glass beads from the Balkan Celtic settlement at Osijek in eastern Croatia.

(2 c. BC)

 

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)

Biskupice – Glass Bracelet

Bracelet of blue glass from Biskupice in eastern Czechia (2 c. BC)

 

Glass bracelets from the Celtic settlement of Epomanduodurum (Mandeure-Mathay (Doubs), France (2/1 c. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Did All The Children Go ?

UD: March 2017

 

 

 

 

bby good

 

 

A most mysterious phenomenon to be observed in Iron Age Europe is the almost complete absence of children’s burials. While we are informed that the Celts were a particularly prolific race (Just. 25:2, Livy 38:16), and infant mortality during this period was at a much higher rate than today, remarkably few children’s burials have ever been discovered.

At Celtic sites where detailed anthropological analysis has been conducted, such as Ludas in Hungary, Brežice and Dobova in Slovenia, or Gordion in Turkey, recent research has once again shown a remarkable lack of children among the dead*.

 

 

 

Situla von Kuffarn Niederösterreich in Österreich - early La Tene 6-5 c. BC - one of few depictions of child

Bronze situla with detail of narrative scene, from Kuffarn (Niederösterreich), Austria (Early La Tène; 6/5th c. BC). The depiction on the Kuffarn situla is one of the few representations of Iron Age Celtic children

 

 

 

 

So, where did all the children go?

 

Recent experiments carried out by the University of Copenhagen have suggested one possible explanation. Research involving the cremation of piglets of roughly the same mass and weight as human children has indicated that that the cremation process reduces the immature bone to powder of which little trace is left. This, along with subsequent environmental factors, may result in the ‘disappearance’ of the physical remains.

http://sciencenordic.com/archeologists-burn-pigs-investigate-historical-mystery#!

 

aus illust.

Metal ‘lump’ recently excavated at the Auersperg Palace in Ljubljana (Slovenia). Subsequent forensic examination of the material revealed that the ‘lump’ actually contained  a ritually ‘killed’ middle La Tène sword and shield boss, a shaft-hole axe, as well as the remains of a ‘boy warrior’ (under 20 years of age) who had literally fused with his weapons.

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

 

 

 

 

 However, these are a number of problems with the aforementioned Danish research, which suggest that this is not the whole picture. Firstly, children’s burials are also absent from sites, such as that recently discovered at Buchères in Gaul, where inhumation, and not cremation, was practiced.

 

Bouc.

One of the recently excavated Celtic burials from Buchères

http://archaeology.org/issues/96-1307/trenches/970-france-latene-warrior-burial-torques#!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4EeaLIq2Ag&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, the disintegration of children’s bones as a result of the cremation process and subsequent environmental factors would logically result in the complete absence of children’s remains at sites where cremation was practiced – which is not the case. For example, at the aforementioned Ludas site in Hungary 8 double cremation burials were recorded, of which two were adults (burials 711, 1009), five contained an adult and a child (burials 686, 699, 725, 1051, 1267), and in one case a newborn and a child (burial 1139) were placed in the grave together.* 

 

 

 

Lud 1 - 711

Double female burial (# 711) from Ludas

 

 

It should also be noted that many of the children’s burials which have been recorded are often accompanied by seemingly bizarre rituals. How, for example, does one explain burial # 1139 at Ludas, where among the newborn remains only the skull of an older child was found; burial # 1267 where a child’s remains were found among the adults, but without the skull; or #1051 where the remains of a 1 year old child were found, but the skull of an adult?

 

 

Also noteworthy is the fact that the lack of burials relates to children less than 12-13, indicating that this is the phase in Celtic society where individuals were believed to have passed the threshold between childhood and maturity, i.e.  a person became eligible for independent burial only when they acquired the status of an equal member of the community, which, judging by the archaeological evidence, occurred around the age of 12-13, when boys reached the military age and girls came of age to marry.

 

 

 

 

THE BABIES BENEATH…

 

A partial explanation of the mystery as to what occurred with younger children has been suggested by recent research in central Europe. In the northeastern part of Austria excavations of Celtic settlements have uncovered the remains of infants deposited in the house foundations at sites such as Mitterretzbach (Bez. Hollabrunn), Franzhausen/ Wagram an der Traisen, Flur Kokoron and Inzersdorf-Walpersdorf (Bez. St. Pölten).

 

 Fig 1 chil

Infant burial in the foundations of a house (Grubenhaus) at Mitterrzbach (Early La Tène period)

(after Trebsche P. (2016) Latènezeitliche Leichen im Keller? Überlegungen zur Deutung von Siedlungsbestattungen im österreichischen Donauraum. In: Vorträge des 34. Niederbayerischen Archäologentages.  Rahden/Westf. 2016. pp. 79-118)

 

 

 

However, for the moment this has been recorded only over a small area of central Europe, and even if further research identifies it as a more widespread phenomenon these cases relate only to infants from 0-12 months old. Therefore, while modern archaeological science endeavors to explain the mystery surrounding the general absence of such burials in Iron Age Europe, many questions still remain concerning the elusive children of the Celts…

 

 

a - Representation in stone of a wrapped baby. (Sources-de-la-Seine - ex-voto sanctuary goddess Sequana

Statue of a Celtic baby, a votive offering at the Fontes Sequanae (“The Springs of Sequana”), France.  (late 1 c. BC) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/celtic-death/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mac Congail