Monday, July 31, 2017

Heuneburg Hillfort in Southern Germany

Landesmuseum Württemberg:
Heuneburg Archaeology Site:
"The Heuneburg on the upper Danube is one of the best-researched ‘princely seats’ of early Celtic times.  Over 150 years, from the late 7th to the 5th century BC, it was the site of a center of power of paramount importance.  In its heyday, it was protected by a fortification unique north of the Alps:  a mud-brick wall of Mediterranean design.  Especially given the large size of the settlement, its planned layout and the numerous imports from the Mediterranean region, it is quite conceivable to assume that the Heuneburg might be the city of Pyrene mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus. "

"The sight of the Heuneburg hillfort must have been impressive, particularly the whitewashed mud-brick wall with its protruding bastions.  The fortifications of the settlement demonstrated the power and prestige of its ruling elite.  Together with the moat system surrounding them, they served to both protect and defend.  We know today that these defenses were necessary because of several layers which testify to large-scale fires that were presumably the result of armed conflicts.  While the steep slopes descending towards the Danube constituted a natural protection on one side of the hillfort, the mud-brick wall was reinforced with bastions on the other, less protected side.  From there, and also through the narrow arrow slits in the roofed battlements, the entire grounds could be overlooked and defended from attackers."

"Hardly any early Celtic Center provides better evidence of specialized artisanship than the Heuneburg.  In the period of the mud-brick wall (600 – 530 BC), there was a craftsmen’s quarter in the southeastern corner of the hillfort plateau where mainly bronze casters had their workshops.  Other artisans produced jewelry made of amber, coral, bone or jet."

"Starting about 500 BC (after destruction of the mud-brick wall), craftsmen and artisans tended to operate mainly in the densely populated areas outside the bailey area in the so-called lower town.  Some types of brooches found here are so numerous that one can assume they were manufactured locally."

"The Heuneburg site experienced its first heyday with the construction of the mud-brick wall around 600 BC and soon rose to become one of the most important centers of power in the early Celtic world.  The plateau was densely populated and had a regular, almost urban layout.  Below the inner fortification was the fortified bailey, and a huge outer settlement extended outside the gates."

"After a devastating fire around 530 BC, the settlement structure changed fundamentally.  Four large burial mounds were raised in the area of the cleared outer settlement, and the bud-brick wall was replaced by a traditional wood and earth wall.  At this time, the population of the plateau was much less dense.  Archaeologists note the presence of several large buildings.  Before 450 BC, another major fire marked the end of this early Celtic central place."
  Display below shows the strata at Heuneburg, with characteristic pottery and brooch styles

"The Heuneburg ‘princely seat’ did not consist only of the settlement itself and its imposing ramparts.  The area surrounding the hill fort was also an important part of the site.  Monumental burial mounds in direct view of the actual hill fort stood out in the landscape, reflecting the ruling elite’s status and claim to power outside the ramparts.  4954:  just outside the Heuneburg, four large burial mounds were erected around 530 BC at the site of the outer settlement that had been destroyed by a fire a short time before.  Those buried here must have held a special position within the ruling elite of the Heuneburg.  The magnificent grave goods salvaged during the excavation of the mound 1867/77 bear witness to this assumption:  as many as four tombs contained the special status symbol of the early Celtic male elite, the gold torc.  On the basis of these spectacular grave finds the then state officer for cultural heritage Eduard Paulus spoke of princely burial sites, and for the first time he postulated a connection with the Heuneburg as the place of residence of those buried here.  It was then that the terms ‘princely burial’ and ‘princely seats’ were born."
Below displays of gold torc necklace from Heuneburg tombs

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