THE GLORY OF CELTIC EUROPE – The Case of the Rich Burial of a Celtic Princess with Horse Armour at Bettelbühl (Baden-Württemberg), Germany

 

The first decades of the 21st century in European archaeology have been marked by a massive amount of new discoveries relating to the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures, significantly altering our perception of the Celtic peoples who populated Iron Age Europe. One of the most spectacular discoveries in this context was unearthed at the Bettelbühl necropolis, situated just over two kilometres from the well known Celtic settlement on the Heuneburg in the Sigmaringen area of BadenWürttemberg in southern Germany.

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3D Reconstruction of the Celtic settlement on the Heuneburg

 

In the central tumulus at the Bettelbühl site an incredibly rich burial of a Celtic lady and a child was discovered; revealing some of the most spectacular burial goods yet unearthed from this period in European history. The woman, who died aged 30-40, in ca. 583 BC, was accompanied in her journey into the afterlife by a wealth of  wonderfully crafted jewelry of gold, bronze, amber, glass and other materials. 

goldene Fibeln,Perlen, ein Nadelkopf,ein Ohrring und Bettelbühl 583 BC

Gold jewelry from the Bettelbühl burial

Bernsteinanhänger, needle heads - beads Bettelbühl

Amber jewelry from the burial

 

Besides the aforementioned material, perhaps the most fascinating discovery in the burial was an excellently preserved example of horse armour, in the form of a lavishly decorated bronze mask. The tremendous wealth and workmanship to be observed in this and other early Celtic aristocratic burials of the period have provided a valuable insight into the high level of material and cultural sophistication which had developed among the European population by the early stages of the Iron Age.

Horse mask 1

Horse mask 2 - Beautiful bronze horse mask discovered in 2010 in the burial of a Celtic lady at the Heuneburg (Baden-Württemberg), Germany

Bronze horse mask from the Bettelbühl burial, and reconstruction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Burial of a Celtic Chieftain from Stupava (Slovakia)

UD: December 2018

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

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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

Mac Congail

Hohlbuckelringe (Celtic Bronze Anklets) and Eastern Expansion

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 ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

THE CULT OF THE HUMAN HEAD IN CELTIC EUROPE

UD: Feb. 2019

 

 

“Amongst the Celts the human head was venerated above all else, since the head was to the Celt the soul, centre of the emotions as well as of life itself, a symbol of divinity and of the powers of the other-world.”

 (Jacobsthal 1944)

 

2 - 2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - La Tarasque de Noves 1 c. BC - The Tarasque de Noves anthropophagous statue, displayed in the Musée Calvet in Avignon, is attributed to the Cavares.

 

“… they hang the heads of their enemies from the necks of their horses, and, when they have brought them home, nail the spectacle to the entrances of their homes”.
(Strabo IV, 4:5)

 

“Trophy Skull” from the Celtic settlement at  Kobern-Gondorf (Rhineland-Palatinate), Germany

(1st c. BC)

 

Human head (sandstone) discovered at the gate of the Celtic hillfort / oppidum at Závist in southern Prague. (Analysis has shown that the sculpture is complete, i.e. the head did not come from a statue). Such stone heads have been discovered in Celtic settlements and cult sites across Europe.

(2-1 c. BC)

No photo description available.

Limestone sculpture from Mšecké Žehrovice in the Czech Republic

(1 c. BC)

 

 

In the year 1904 a rather strange artifact was discovered at an ancient burial site near the village of Deta (Timiş county), Romania. The ceramic head (0.30 – 0.35 cm in height) represents a bald male with neither facial hair nor eyebrows, a straight nose and a pointed chin (fig. 1).

Deta 2

Fig. 1 – The Deta Head

(after Rustoiu 2012)

 

Initially interpreted as part of a statue, and identified as ‘Prehistoric’ and ‘Bronze Age’, it has subsequently emerged that the Deta head, now dated to the late Iron Age (LTC1), comes from a Celtic kantharos of the ‘Danubian Type’, and represents one of many such Celtic anthropomorphic decorative elements / artifacts from this period recorded in south-eastern Europe.

The Danubian kantharoi represent a ceramic category adopted by the eastern Celts from a range of vessels specific to the Mediterranean region, and appear to have had special religious functions. 3 main types of Celtic kantharoi developed during this period (LTB2 – C1) – the 1st type consisting of close copies of Hellenistic originals, the 2nd type resembling local bowls to which 2 handles were added, and a 3rd type of large bi-truncated vessels, also with added handles (loc cit).

 

 

Bland. B

 

Bland 1

Fig. 2 – Celtic kantharos with anthropomorphic decoration from Blandiana, Alba County, Romania

(after Rustoiu, Egri 2010)

 

 

a - Csepel Island pseudo-Kantharos - warrior burial 3rd c. BC - good

Kantharos with anthropomorphic handles from a Celtic warrior burial (#149) at Csepel Island, Budapest

(3rd c. BC)

 

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

 

 

 Variants of such vessels continued to be produced by the Balkan Celtic population right up to the Roman conquest at the end of the 1st c. BC, as has recently  been confirmed by examples such as that used as a funeral urn in the female Celtic burial (#10) at the Bratya Daskalovi site (Stara Zagora region) in south-central Bulgaria which has been dated to the late 1st c. BC (Tonkova et al 2011). Such kantharoi, dating to the late 2nd/ 1st c. BC, have also been recorded at cult centres in Thrace, such as that at Babyak in the western Rhodope mountains of s.w. Bulgaria. At the latter site the kantharoi, along with other artefacts including metal objects and zoomorphic cult firepots, were ritually ‘killed’ in the typical Celtic fashion.

Other Celtic vessels with anthropomorphic decoration from s.e. Europe include examples such as the kantharos from burial #23 at Belgrad-Karaburma, and vessels from Kósd, Kakasd, Csepel Island, Balatonederics, Rogvágy, Levice, Blandiana, etc. The Deta head has particularly close stylistic parallels in 2 heads from vessels discovered at Kósd (Hungary) and a head from a limestone stele discovered at Ciulniţa (Romania), while the stone ‘Janus’ heads from the Roquepertuse site in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur région of southern France bear distinct similarities to these eastern Celtic examples (Rustoiu op cit.).

 

 

Baslatonederocs – Keszthely, Hungary, III century BC kantharos antropomorphic decoration

Upper end of handle on a pot from Balatonederics (Hungary) – 3rd c. BC

 

Kosd n.

Fig. 3 – Anthropomorphic representations on the beakers from Kósd

(after Rustoiu 2012)

 

 

Ciuln hed

Fig. 4 – Head from a Limestone stele from Ciulniţa

(after Teleagă 2008)

 

Roque.

Fig. 5 – ‘Janus’ Heads from Roquepertuse

 

 

J

The two-faced pre-Christian deity on Boa Island (Fermanagh), Ireland

 

Winged head on the obverse of a Celtic tetradrachm from western Hungary (late 2nd c. BC)

Bronze Celtiberian fibula from Lancia/Villasabariego (Castile and León), Spain. Note the decapitated head below the horses face.

(3/2 c. BC)

 

 

Further stylistic analogies to the aforementioned ceramic heads from Deta, Kósd, and the stone head from Ciulniţa  have been identified (Rustoiu 2012) in a gold ‘Janus’ head pendant from the Schumen region of north-eastern Bulgaria, and a ceramic head dated to the same period (late 4th/ 3rd c. BC) from Seuthopolis in the so-called ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’, as well as in the glass ‘face beads’ which became common in eastern Europe during the same period (loc cit; fig. 7 – 9).

 

 

Fig. 6 – Gold Celtic ‘Janus Head’ pendant from Schumen region, north-eastern Bulgaria

(3 c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/%ce%ba%cf%8c%cf%81%ce%b1%ce%bb%ce%bb%ce%bf%ce%b9-the-celts-in-eastern-bulgaria/

 

C T. 1

Fig. 7 – Celtic ‘Face Beads’ from Romania

1: Mangalia 2: Pişcolt

 

Such glass ‘face beads’ have been unearthed in recent years during excavations at a number of sites in Bulgaria, such as Mogilanska Tumulus (Vratza region), Appolonia Pontica (Sozopol), Mavrova Tumulus (Starosel, Plovdiv region), Burgas, Kavarna (Dobruja region), etc.

 

Th. gl. 1

Fig. 8 – Glass ‘Face Bead’ from Mogilanska Tumulus (Vratza region, Bulgaria)

 

 

Th. g 2

Fig. 9 – Glass ‘face bead’ from Mavrova Tumulus (Starosel, Plovdiv region, Bulgaria)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/the-celtic-evil-eye/

 

 

 Previously ascribed to contact between the Hellenistic areas and the Celts of the Tyle state in eastern Bulgaria (Szabó 2000:11), it has subsequently emerged that in fact these appear earlier in the Celtic environment, as has been conclusively proven by examples discovered in burials # 191 and 202 (LT B1) or # 1, 16, 191, and 194 (LTB2) from Piscolţ in Romania (Rustoiu 2012).

 

 

2 - 2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - La Tarasque de Noves 1 c. BC - The Tarasque de Noves anthropophagous statue, displayed in the Musée Calvet in Avignon, is attributed to the Cavares.

La Tarasque de Noves. Anthropophagous statue from Noves in the Bouches-du-Rhône, France.

A dismembered limb hangs from its snarling mouth, and clutched in each front claw is a human skull. The statue is attributed to the Cavares tribe (/tribal federation), meaning “The Giants”.

(1st century BC)

 

 

Bronze applique in the form of a human head from a Celtic chariot burial at Roissy (Val-d’Oise), France

(3rd c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Jacobsthal P. (1944) Early Celtic Art. Oxford

Rustoiu A., Egri M. (2010) Danubian Kantharoi – Almost Three Decades Later. In: Iron age Communities in the Carpathian Basin. Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Târgu Mureş, 9-11 October 2009.Cluj-Napoca 2010. P. 217-287

Rustoiu A. (2012) The Ceramic Human Head from Deta (Timiş County). About the La Têne Vessels with Anthropomorphic Decoration from the Carpathian Basin. In: Analele Banatului, S.N., Arheologie-Istorie, XX, 2012. Pp. 57-72

Teleagă E. (2008) Griechische Importe in den Nekropolen an der unteren Donau. 6 Jh. – Anfang des 3 Jh. v. Chr., Marburger Studien zur Vor- und Frügeschichte, Bd. 23, Rahden/Westf.

Тonkova, Gotcheva (2008) = Тонкова, М. и Гоцевa  A.. Тракийското светилище при Бабяк и неговата археологическа среда. София

Tonkova et al (2011) = Трако-римски династичен център в районна Чирпанските възвишения Тонкова M. (ed.) София

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail