Tag Archive: Zaravetz


fb-zar-illust

 

“Who can I recite my work to here, but yellow-haired Coralli, and the other tribes of the barbarous Danube?” 
 
(Ovid, Ex Ponto. Book EIV.II To Cornelius Severus: A Fellow Poet)
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The Hill of Zaravets (Tsaravets) overlooks the town of Veliko Tarnovo in today‟s northeastern Bulgaria. Situated on the strategically important Jantra river which links it to the Danube, Zaravetz is best known…
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FULL ARTICLE:

 

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Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE LADY IN THE OVEN

 

 

The most extraordinary ancient ‘burial’ to be discovered in recent years is that of a woman found in a pottery kiln near the Celtic settlement of Ablana (by the village of Krivina, Rousse region) on the Bulgarian Danube. This burial is remarkable for a number of reasons, foremost among them its situation – in a large pottery kiln – symbolic of the thriving barbarian culture which inhabited this region in the Late Iron Age, and also for the nature of the burial – archaeological testimony to the brutal fashion in which this culture was destroyed.

 

 

WMN OVEN

 

 

 

 

 

Ru. map

 

 

 

 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT

 

 

 

MEDIOLANA

 

 

Recent discoveries of Celtic archaeological sites and material from the Rousse area (and northeastern Bulgaria in general) have confirmed previous linguistic and numismatic evidence that this area was one of the key Celtic economic and political centers in late Iron Age Thrace. From an economic perspective, the most significant Celtic center on this stretch of the Danube was situated at Mediolana (modern Pirgovo, Rousse region) (see ‘Celtic Settlements in n. Bulgaria’ article). Mediolana was strategically situated near the confluence of the Danube and the Lom river, the latter connecting Mediolana with Celtic settlements in the interior such as Abritu (Razgrad). A vast amount of Celtic archaeological and numismatic material has been discovered in the vicinity of Pirgovo/Mediolana over the past century, including separate hoards of Celtic coins found in 1910, 1938, 1979, and 2008 around the village (see Numismatics section, especially ‘Little Metal Men’ article, with relevant lit.), clearly indicating that Mediolana/Pirgovo was a key Celtic economic and coin production center in the pre-Roman period.

 

 

 

Mediolana Td.

Celtic tetradrachms of the Sattelkopfpferd type from Pirgovo/Mediolana, Russe Region (from the 1978 hoard)

 

 

 

 Further hoards of Celtic coins discovered in the Rousse area include 4 hoards found in the area of Rousse city (Gerassimov 1966:213; Preda 1973:209, # 36;  Draganov 2001:40; Gerassimov 1966:213; Preda 1973:209, # 35; Gerassimov 1979:138;Jurukova 1979:60; Prokopov 2006, # 260), as well as from the villages of Slivo Pole (Gerassimov 1969:234; Preda 1973:240, no. 47) and  Nikolovo (Gerassimov 1952, 403-404; Preda 1973:240, # 44) (both beside the Celtic settlement of Tegris), Belyanovo (Gerassimov 1963:257; Draganov 2001: 40)(beside the Celtic settlement of Ablana), Ostritsa (Gerassimov 1962:231; Draganov 2001:40) and Pepelina (Gerassimov 1966:213; Preda 1998:219) (both on the Lom river, slightly to the south of the Celtic settlement at Pirgovo/Mediolana), Mechka (Moushmov 1932:314) (beside Mediolana), and Pissanets (Shkorpil, 1914:49, fig. 46.2; Gerassimov, 1939:344).

  The recent publication of a ‘mother matrix’ for the production of Celtic coinage of the ‘Sattlekopfpferd’ type discovered in the Rousse region confirms large-scale Celtic coin production in this area.

 

 

 

Ru. MM

The ‘Mother-Matrix’ for production of Celtic “Sattelkopfpferd” tetradrachms from the Rousse area (late 2nd / early 1st c. BC)

(see ‘Mother Matrix’ article)

 

 

 

 

THE ZARAVETZ CULTURE

 

 Further Celtic settlements on this short stretch of the Danube included Ablana (today’s Gorno Ablanovo) to the west of Mediolana, and Tegris (today’s Marten) and Appiaria  (placed XIV and IX Roman miles from Tegris(respectively TP and IA), to the east of Mediolana (see ‘Celtic Settlements in Northern Bulgaria’ article). As with Mediolana, Ablana was situated at a vital strategic point – in this case near the confluence of the Jantra river with the Danube. Extensive Celtic archaeological and numismatic material discovered along the courses of both the Lom and Jantra rivers indicate that these were vital trade arteries connecting Celtic settlements on the Danube with those in the interior (see below).

  A high concentration of La Têne and Celtic numismatic material has been registered in northeastern Bulgaria, particularly in the aforementioned Rousse region on the Danube, and in the Veliko Tarnovo, Targovischte, Schumen, Razgrad and Western Varna regions (see Numismatics and Archaeology sections, especially ‘New Material 1 – 2’ articles).

 

 

Var. weap

Celtic Burial Artifacts from North-Eastern Bulgaria (Varna Archaeological Museum)

(see ‘Killing the Objects’ article)

 

 

 

 It should be noted that this concentration of La Têne and Celtic numismatic evidence also coincides exactly with the area of distribution of the Celtic Zaravetz lead and bronze coinage, indicating  that whereas the area further to the east and northeast was dominated by the Peucini Bastarnae (see ‘Bastarnae’ and ‘Peucini’ articles), this area was settled by different Celtic groups. Concentrations of the Zaravetz type coinage, in combination with the other types of Celtic coinage and La Têne material, in the Veliko Tarnovo/western Schumen region, such as that discovered in the cultural layers at Zaravetz hillfort (Veliko Tarnovo) indicate that this area, connected to the Danube settlements by the Jantra river, was also a key Celtic political and economic center in the late Iron Age.

 

 

 

VTF

Bronze Celtic fibula with zoomorphic ring from Veliko Tarnovo  (After Mircheva 2007)

 (see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

 

 

Zarav coin

(see Numismatics section 8)

 

 

VAr. BAFM

 

Mould for the production of Celtic ‘Battle-Axe’ fibulae from northeastern Bulgaria – Varna regional Museum

(see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

 

This mould is similar to another found in the Vratza region of northwestern Bulgaria. It is dated to the 1st c. BC, and was used for making Middle La Têne fibulae. A silver Celtic fibulae from Gorni Dabnik (Pleven region, Bulgaria) is very similar to the form produced by the Varna and Vratza moulds. It belongs to a certain type of nodular ‘battle-axe’ fibulae.

 

 

 

 

It appears that the main Celtic group in this area of Bulgaria were the Coralli (see ‘Coralli’ article). Another Celtic group, the Aboulonsoi, who were settled in the area between Tutrakan (Trasmarisca) and Razgrad (Abritu) (see ‘Celtic Settlements in n. Bulgaria’ article), were probably a sub-group of the Coralli. La Têne material in eastern Bulgaria, as far south as the valley of the Kamchya river in the w. Varna region, and sites such as the Celtic warrior burials at Kalnovo (Schumen region) have long been attributed to the Coralli (Domaradski 1984; on the Coralli tribe see ‘Coralli’ article, with relevant lit.).

 

 

 

Kal. A

Material from the Celtic warrior burials at Kalnovo, Shumen region

               (After Megaw 2004 – see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

 

 

 

Sch. M

Mould for the production of La Têne fibulae – Schumen region

(After Mircheva 2007 – see ‘New Material 2’ article)

 

The mould was used to produce fibulae of the type found at the Celtic burial site at Kalnovo, others found in Serbia, and another example from north-eastern Bulgaria, now in the Varna museum

 

 

 

 

 

Sh. Jan

Gold Celtic ‘Janus Head’ pendant from Schumen region, northeastern Bulgaria

(after Rustoiu A. 2008)

(See ‘The Mezek Syndrome’ article with relevant lit.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boba. C

Bronze Celtic chariot fitting from Bobata fortress, Schumen region

 

(see ‘ New Celtic Material 1’ article)

 

 

 

 

 

KRIVINA/ABLANA

 

One of the most fascinating sites to be discovered in recent years in this part of Bulgaria is the Celtic settlement at Chichov Elak on the Danube, again in the Rousse region of northeastern Bulgaria (Vagalinski L. A new Late La Tène pottery kiln with a bread oven on the lower Danube (northern Bulgaria) In: The Eastern Celts. The Communities between the Alps and the Black Sea.  Božič D. (ed) Koper -Beograd 2011. p. 219-226). This site, which lay to the west of Mediolana, is near the modern village of Krivina, and in immediate proximity to the Celtic settlement of Ablana. It is again situated at a strategic location – on the confluence of the Danube and the Jantra river (now 2km. east of the Jantra, before the construction of a dam in the 1920’s the river reached the northern end of the village), thus connected via the Jantra to Celtic settlements in the interior.

 

 

Kiln map

 

Location of the Chichov Elak Site

 

 

 

 

The recent excavations at Chichov Elak (carried out by Lyudmil Vagalinski, Director of the National Institute of Archaeology with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NIAMBAS), illustrates that this was not just a trading post, but an important Celtic economic centre in its own right, as the discovery of a bread oven and a large ceramic kiln at the site indicates. The kiln, which is dated roughly to the end of the 1st c. BC/beginning of the 1st c. AD, is especially noteworthy for a number of reasons. It’s unusually large size reveals a high capacity of manufacture, i.e. the mass production of Celtic ceramic, which included late La Têne painted ware. This type of ceramic was popular among the Celtic tribes from Normandy to southwest Germany in the west, to the Scordisci in the east, and especially along the Danube (Břeň 1973, Andrews 1991, Sladič 1986 note 90, Cumberpatch 1993, Vagalinski 2011 with relevant lit.), and is usually found in large settlements such as the Celtic oppida. It was produced by professional potters, and used by people of high social status. It is usually found together with late La Têne burnished pottery – exactly the case with the Celtic site at Krivina.

 

 

Kiln A 1

A.

 

 

Kil A 2

 

B.

 

 

Pottery Kiln (A) with detail of the flue (B)

 

(after Vagalinski 2011)

 

 

 

The kiln was dug into the hillside, and the Celtic potters used the hardness and the firmness of the thick loess layer, shaping the furnace (combustion chamber) and the flue (fire-tunnel) in it. The kiln is circular in form – the maximum diameter of the grate is 2.45 m (along the 45-225º axis), 2.40 m  (along the north-south axis or 0-180º), 2.34 m (along the east-west axis or 90-270º), and 2.27 m (along the 135-315º axis). The height of the furnace from the kiln foor to the upper end of the support wall is 0.75 m.

 

 

 

 

 

Both handmade and wheel-thrown pottery were found at the site. The handmade pottery included jars and cup-like vessels. It has also emerged that the latter, which have been referred to by Bulgarian and Romanian archaeologists as ‘Thracian-Dacian types of cups’, are actually Celtic lamps (Vagalinski 2011:204).

 

 

 

 

Kr. Cr

 

A Handmade Jar and Painted Pottery found in the Pottery Kiln

 

 

 

 

 

The final phase of this Celtic settlement/economic complex is roughly dated to the end of the 1st c. BC, and in the eastern part of the kiln was found the body of a female. The skeleton, of a woman of 35-40 years of age, was 1.66 m. long, and its location and absence of any burial goods indicate that this was not a burial per se, but that the woman’s body was simply discarded in the oven. The dating of the ‘burial’ coincides with the end of the barbarian Zaravetz culture, and the beginning of the Roman period in this region.

 

 

 

WMN OVEN

The Female Body found on the Kiln’s Grate

(after Vagalinski 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Krivina site is the latest example of the growing contradiction in Bulgarian archaeological science. The only ceramic production center to be found in ‘Late Hellenistic Thrace’ is a Celtic complex for the mass production of La Têne ceramic (Vagalinski, op cit). This once again highlights the Celtic presence in late Iron Age Thrace and, together with other discoveries in the Rousse region, and the large amounts of Celtic numismatic and La Têne material recorded in north-eastern, north-central, north-western, south-central, and south-western Bulgaria (see Archaeology and Numismatics sections), clearly illustrates that the territory of today’s Bulgaria in the pre-Roman period was inhabited by a population that had a significant (in many areas, dominant) Celtic element.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

In the early 1980’s excavations carried out at the Hill of Zaravetz (Zarevetz/Tsarevetz)  (Veliko Tarnovo) turned up unexpected results. Under the medieval Bulgarian capital, in what archaeologists expected to be layers pertaining to the Thracian culture, artifacts and habitation layers relating to a completely different culture began to appear. The settlement layers from the late Iron Age yielded La Têne material (Kvinto 1985) which clearly indicated that the site had been inhabited by a Celtic population. Subsequent excavations at the site in recent years have uncovered further material which confirms the earlier findings. (see ‘New Material (2)’ article)

   In the context of the present study of most interest are a number of coins found in the Celtic habitation layers at the site. In total 5 coins were uncovered – one bronze of Alexander III (the Great) and 4 ‘barbarian’ issues – 2 bronze and 2 lead. The barbarian coins were ignored in academic circles until further publications of such coins followed over the next decades. (Lazarov 1992; Burvarov 1994; Topalov 1999; Mac Congail 2008) It has subsequently emerged that these low value barbarian emissions provide invaluable information about the culture which inhabited northeastern Bulgaria in the late Iron Age.

   The Celtic Zaravetz type coins are based on autonomous bronze emissions of the Greek colony of Odessos (Fig. 1) which had been previously dated generally to the  3rd – 1st c. BC. The fact that the Celtic ‘imitations’  (Fig. 2) have been found in an archaeological context which dates to the end of the 3rd – beginning of the 2nd c. BC logically dates the Greek prototype to the period prior to the end of the 3rd c. BC.

 

 

In terms of distribution the Zaravetz issues have been discovered in an area which includes most of present day northeastern Bulgaria, with a particularly high concentration in the Veliko Tarnovo area. (See map  n8) Besides the Zaravetz hillfort (map n8 #1), further examples have been recorded in Veliko Tarnovo itself (Lazarov 1992), the Hill(fort) at Rachovetz, 7 km. north of Veliko Tarnovo,( map n8#2; Burvarov 1994; Topalov, 1999, 160) and in the vicinity of the village of Samovodene, slightly to the west of Veliko Tarnovo (map n8 #3; Gerasimov 1934). Other finds have been recorded in northeastern Bulgaria at Byala (Russe region) (map n8 # 4; Mac Congail  2008: 46-48), Schumen (map n8 # 5; Lazarov 1992; Topalov, 1999, 260 – 270 and 310 – 313), Tutrakan (Silestra region) (map n8 #6 -Fig. 3), Razgrad (map n8 #7 – Fig. 4 ), Opaka (Targovischte region) (map n8 #8; Gerasimov 1979; Stoykov 2002-2003), as well as in large numbers from the western Varna region (map n8 #9; Lazarov 1992; Topalov 1999; Mac Congail 2008).

 

 

 The local Celtic coinage circulating in northeastern Bulgaria in the late Iron Age therefore ranged from Celtic silver tetradrachmas of the Philip II and Thasos types, drachmas of the Philip III type, while the lower value coinage consisted of the aforementioned Zaravetz bronze and lead issues. This broad spectrum of coinage of differing intrinsic and economic value indicates a highly developed and organized economic system among the ‘barbarian’ population of this area in the pre-Roman period.

 

  From a scientific perspective the lowest value coins – the Zaravetz lead issues are most significant. (Chemical analysis has shown a lead content of 98.25%; Lazarov 1992: 20-21) Coins minted in lead are unknown in Europe in this period, and were produced neither by the Celtic culture nor in the Greco-Roman world. The Zaravetz leads as part of the coinage system in northeastern Bulgaria in the late Iron Age would therefore appear to be a unique numismatic phenomenon. 

 

  As has been pointed out (Lazarov 1992), such coins would not, because of their low intrinsic value, have circulated beyond the borders of the authority which issued them. The distribution of these coins therefore logically enables us to roughly delineate the extent of the Zaravetz Culture in the III-I c. BC period. Based on the present data at our disposal (topographic, historical and archaeological as well as numismatic – see ‘The Zaravetz Culture’ article – forthcoming) the influence of this ‘state’, which was in fact probably more a confederation of tribal groups, covered an area which extended to the Jantra river in the west, the Danube in the north, and the Stara Planina (Balkan) mountains in the south. In the east the Greek Pontus cities remained autonomous, but intense trade links between the latter and the Celto-Thracian state in the interior is indicated by numismatic data. The fact that the Zaravetz issues themselves are modeled on an Odessos bronze prototype further confirms these close economic links.

  Extensive trade links between the Zaravetz Celts of northeastern Bulgaria and the ‘Scordisci’ in the northwest of the country is confirmed by the circulation of Celtic Thasos, Philip II and Philip III issues throughout northern Bulgaria during this period. (see relevant sections) A similarly close economic relationship appears to have developed between the Celto-Thracian Zaravetz culture and the Bastarnae (Peucini) in the area of Scythia Minor (corresponding roughly to today’s Dobruja region in northeastern Bulgarian and southeastern Romania). (See ‘Bastarnae’ article – forthcoming) Discoveries of Celtic coins in Bastarnae territory, particularly in the Kavarna-Balchik-Silestra area, as well as archaeological data, indicates intensive trade and cultural contacts between the Bastarnae and the Zaravetz Celts, while the minting of Hellenistic type coins by the Bastarnae on which the royal title ‘Basileus’ is used (Fig 5/6), indicates that the latter, as was the case with the Greek cities on the coast, remained economically and politically independent – these relationships being  mutually beneficial from an economic perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 * Does not include Celtic Paeonia ‘imitations’, coins of the ‘Tyle’ state or Bastarnae coins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Over the past 20 years, mostly as a result of systematic and unchecked looting at archaeological sites in various parts of Bulgaria, hundreds of Celtic artifacts have been uncovered. The case of the northeastern part of the country is typical of this phenomonen. Of the large amount of archaeological material found in this area pertaining to the Celtic culture, only a tiny percentage has reached the regions museums, and even less has been published. (Lazarov 2010) According to sources within the Bulgarian Pametnitsi na Kultura (National Cultural Monuments Agency) ‘at least 1,000’ Celtic artifacts from this area lie unpublished in the Varna, Razgrad, Veliko Tarnovo and Shumen museums. In the Dobruja region La Têne material discovered along the Sucha River valley in the vicinity of the villages of Kragulevo and Bakalovo, as well as around the village of Tervel, and from a Celtic necropolis near Kavarna, has lain unpublished for years in the Dobritsch museum. (see Mac Congail 2008:52)

  The Celtic material from this region which we do have official information on in recent years includes La Têne B2/C1 fibulae from the Russe area (Atanassov 2007 # 1-5); Celtic bronze bracelets (Tonkova 2006:271 Pl. v 1-3) and daggers (Mac Congail 2010:125) from the Varna area; the aforementioned Celtic material from the Sboryanovo/Helis, Krivina, Dalgopol/Arkovna, and Kavarna sites (see section 1); and further Celtic material from the hillfort at Zaravetz (Veliko Tarnovo) (Lilova 2005: 276 ff. Abb. 3-6) which adds to that published from the site in the 1980’s. Here one should also mention the recent publication of Celtic coins of the ‘Zaravetz type’ (fig. 1) from the Razgrad, Veliko Tarnovo, Russe, and Varna regions, which will be dealt with seperately  (See Numismatics part 7 – Celtic Regional Coinage -Zaravetz).

 

Fig. 1 – Celtic ‘Zaravetz lead’ from the Razgrad region

 

  Other recently published material also throws more light on Celtic settlement in this part of Bulgaria.  A bronze fibula found in the town of Schumen (Fig. 2) has parallels from the Celtic burials at Piscolt in Romania, another from burial # NG3/ 1201 from Pećine – Serbia, and a pair of similar fibulae from Cakóháza in Hungary. According to Bujna’s classification this fibula belongs to the series EF – C10-a, and is dated to the 3rd c. BC (Bujna 2003:72. Fig. 48; Mircheva 2007:65).

 

Fig. 2         La Têne bronze fibula from Schumen (3rd c. BC) (After Mircheva 2007)

 

Another bronze fibula (Fig. 3) found in the Shumen area is a close parallel to a gold fibula discovered at the Celtic warrior burial at Sashova tumulus near Kazanlak in the ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’ (Fig. 4) (See ‘The Golden Empire of Orpheus’ article). According to the typology they belong to Bujna’s EF-K-B classification and correspond to the LT – C1b phase, i.e. the beginning of the 2nd c. BC (Bujna 2003:61; Mircheva 2007:66)

 

Fig. 3 – La Têne bronze fibula. Shumen area (2nd c. BC) (After Mircheva 2007)

 

Fig. 4  A golden double-spring fibula decorated in gold filigree, granules and inlaid with dark blue, light green and black cloisonné enamel discovered in the Celtic burial at Sashova mogila tomb, Shipka (2nd c. BC)  (After Kitov 1996: fig.10; Marazov 1998:102 – Both published the fibula as ‘Thracian’)

 

 Production of Celtic fibulae in the Schumen region is confirmed by the discovery of a mould for producing La Têne C fibulae found in the Schumen-Razgrad area (Fig. 5) The mould was used to produce fibulae of the type found at the Celtic burial site at Kalnovo (Schumen district – see below), others found in Serbia, and another example from north-eastern Bulgaria, now in the Varna museum (Mircheva 2007:71)

 

                Fig. 5  – Mould for Celtic fibulae – Schumen region (After Mircheva 2007)

 

A further mould for Celtic fibulae from northeastern Bulgaria (also in Varna museum) (Fig. 6) is similar to another found in the Vratza region of northwestern Bulgaria. It is dated to the 1st c. BC and was used for making Middle La Têne fibulae. A silver Celtic fibulae from Gorni Dabnik (Pleven region) is very similar to the form produced by the Varna and Vratza moulds. It belongs to a certain type of nodular ‘battle-axe’ fibulae. (loc cit)

 

Fig. 6  – Mould for Celtic ‘Battle-axe’ fibulae – Varna regional Museum (After Mircheva 2007)

 

 

Fig. 7 – Material from Celtic warrior burial at Kalnovo, Shumen region (After Megaw 2004)

 

 

   Contemporary to the aforementioned Celtic warrior burial in Sashova mogila near Shipka is the necropolis investigated on the left terrace of the Kamchiya River in northeastern Bulgaria, in the vicinity of the Kalnovo village in the Shumen region. During excavations in the communist period (early 1970’s) of the tumuli located there, several burial structures and pits were found. While most of the site was quickly destroyed ‘due to conditions pertaining at the time’ (see Megaw 2004), some results of the investigations from the Celtic necropolis were finally published two decades later. (Fig. 7) A clay lamp, La Têne fibulae, as well as elements of the warrior and equestrian equipment such as a La Têne C rectangular shield umbo, Celtic swords, H-formed horse bits and a chain mail tunic mark the burial of a Celtic chieftain, whose cremated remains were deposited about 220-180 BC, according to the dating of the pottery discovered there (Atanassov 1992; Megaw 2004:104). The features of the grave construction are similar to that at the secondary grave in tumulus N 10 near Branichevo in Shumen region dated to the beginning of the 3rd century BC. Similar constructions, although not so elaborate in plan and execution, are also known in tumulus N18 in the Eastern necropolis of Sboryanovo/Helis (Ivanov 2005: 22-38) and near the modern town of Tutrakan on the south bank of the Danube river. They are dated to the first half of the 3rd century and could be listed as prototypes of the structure at the Celtic burial complex near Kalnovo. (Emilov 2007)

  Four of the silver and two of the iron fibulae found at the Kalnovo site are similar in type to a bronze example recently published by Varna museum (fig. 8) and an iron Celtic fibula found at the Celtic hillfort at Arkovna (see section 1).

 

 

Fig 8 Celtic bronze fibula (2nd c. BC)  Varna Museum (After Mircheva 2007)

 

 

 A further Celtic bronze fibula found in the Razgrad area (Fig. 9) is the same type as a pair found during excavations at Seuthopolis in the ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’, as well as an example found at the Celtic hillfort at Zaravetz (Veliko Tarnovo). Bronze and iron Celtic fibulae of the same type have been discovered in level IV at Piscolt necropolis in Romania. According to the Bujna classification, these belong to series BF – Hy1Aa, and are dated to the end of of the 3rd / beginning of the 2nd c. BC. (Mircheva 2007:66)

 

Fig. 9 – Celtic bronze fibula – Razgrad region (Razgrad Regional Museum Inv. # 11386)

 

 Another iron fibula (fig. 10) from north-eastern Bulgaria, recently published by Varna museum, has parallels in Celtic burials typical for phase LTC weaponry – swords, arrowheads, and pottery – such as that at Piscolt and from Maňa (Slovakia). This type is dated to the beginning of the 2nd c. BC. (loc cit)

 

Fig. 10                 Iron Celtic fibula (2nd c. BC).  Varna Archaeological Museum

 

 

 A silver fibula (Fig. 11) from the hillfort at Arkovna (Varna region – see Section 1) is of the same type as Celtic bronze and iron fibulae found within the burial tumulus at Altimir (Vratza region) and at Kailaka (Pleven region). All are dated to the 2nd c. BC, while a bronze example found at Veliko Tarnovo (fig. 12) has a zoomorphic ring at its foot, typical for the La Têne B phase. It is dated to the end of the 4th / beginning of the 3rd c. BC. (Mircheva 2007:71)

 

Fig. 11 – Silver fibula from Arkovna  (2nd c. BC) (After Mircheva 2007)

 

Fig. 12 –  Bronze Celtic fibula with zoomorphic ring – Veliko Tarnovo  (After Mircheva 2007)

 

  A particularly interesting find comes from the Bobata fortress north of Osmar village in the Shumen region. The bronze Celtic chariot fitting (Fig. 13) (Atanassov 2005: 126, 130, fig.3) is similar in function to the chariot decorations in the dromos of Mal tepe (Mezek) tomb in southern Bulgaria. Two snake-like figures flank an abstract human face in high relief on the bronze plate of the fitting. The findspot of the application is in the territory of a fortified settlement and dated to the end of the 4th – the 2nd century BC. (Emilov 2007)

 

Fig. 13    Bronze Celtic chariot fitting from Bobata fortress, Schumen region (After Emilov 2007)

 

 
The material outlined above furnishes us with new pieces in the puzzle. Together with previously published archaeological and numismatic material from the region, it adds to our picture of the culture that inhabited this part of Europe in the pre- and early Roman period. As with the ‘Tyle’ state in eastern Bulgaria in the 3rd c. BC, the ‘Zaravetz Culture’ which inhabited northeastern Bulgaria / southeastern Romania in the late Iron Age was by no means a ‘pure’ Celtic culture, but contained significant Thracian (Getae) elements. The Germano-Celtic Bastarnae tribes, who gradually moved southwards from Scythia from the 2nd c. BC onwards into this and other parts of Bulgaria, were also a significant ethnic and cultural element in this ‘barbarian’ culture. (see Bastarnae article)

 It is ironic that in the 21st century it should be necessary, because of recent political manipulation, to again prove the existence of a culture which we were clearly told of 2,000 years ago. Writing at the end of the 1st c. BC / beginning of the 1st c. AD, the Greek author Strabo (vii, 3,2) tells us exactly who lived in this part of Bulgaria in the late Iron Age:

‘… the Bastarnae tribes are mixed with the Thracians mostly on this side of the
Ister
(Danube), but also partly beyond that river. Celtic tribes are also mixed with them…’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Modern) Sources

 

Antonova V. (1995) Šumen i Šumenskata krepost. Šumen.

Atanassov G.,1992. S’or’ženija ot III-II v. pr. n. e. ot okolnostite na s. K’lnovo, Šumensko. – Izvestija na Istoričeskija Muzej – Šumen, 7, 5-39.

Atanassov G.(2005) Instrumenti za proizvodstvo na juvelirni izdelija ot fonda na RIM-Šumen. – In: Marazov I., (ed.) Trakite i okolnija svjat. Naučna konferenciya Šumen, 2004, MIF 9. Sofia. 123-136.

Anastassov J. (2007) Le mobilier laténien du Musée de Ruse (Bulgarie) – Izvestie na Istoricheskia musea – Russe 11, 165 – 85

Bujna J. (2003) Spony z keltskych hrobov bez vyzbroje z územie Slovenska. (Typovo-chronologické triedenie LTB – a C1 – spŏn). Slovenská archeológia LI, 1, 39 – 103.

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