Celtic warriors and wives of ancient Gaul discovered in Iron Age graveyard near Paris

Celtic warriors and wives of ancient Gaul discovered in Iron Age graveyard near Paris

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French archaeologists have unearthed the remains of 5 Celtic warriors and several women in a 2,300 year-old cemetery on the outskirts of Troyes, southeast of Paris.  The site, a farmer’s field destined to become an industrial warehouse, is yielding a stunning array of Iron Age finds from the ancient civilisation of Gaul.



Cécile Paresys, who is leading the dig, said: “We found 30 graves and have searched half of them.  We identified 5 warriors and several women wearing jewellery characteristic of the La Tène culture, a period of significant Celtic migration.”

The warriors, who are up to 6 ft in height, were found buried with swords, iron tipped spears and shields (originally made of wood and leather long since rotted away), plus other iron and bronze artefacts such as bracelets, brooches and fine needles to pin together their garments and breeches.  The women were discovered with bronze torc necklaces, bracelets and brooches decorated with precious coral.  These adornments suggest that the site was a burial ground for a privileged elite.

There are no children’s graves present, but one of the warriors was discovered buried with a deposit of ash and bone pieces from a cremation – possibly the remains of a spouse or child – intentionally deposited in the grave in a cloth or bag.

The metal artefacts will now be X-rayed and powder blasted to remove layers of corrosion without damaging any underlying decorative designs – crucial for precisely dating the objects.  The design of the jewellery suggests, however, that the dead were buried sometime between 325 and 260 BC.

This period marked a high point for Gaul, which encompassed present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine.  During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul gradually fell under Roman rule and was finally subdued by Julius Caesar in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.

One of the excavated Iron Age Celtic graves, plus a sword and its scabbard, and a bracelet - images by Denis Gliksman
One of the excavated Iron Age Celtic graves, plus a sword and its scabbard, and a bracelet – images by Denis Gliksman

Source:  La Croix

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