Monday, July 31, 2017

Early Celtic Trade as Shown at the Heuneburg Hillfort Site in Southern Germany

Landesmuseum Württemberg:

"The early Celtic elite was part of a European network where goods were exchanged over thousands of kilometers.  As early as the 7th century BC, products from the southern and southeastern Alpine region made their way over mountain passes and valleys towards the north, finding there a ready market as prestige goods.  From about 600 BC, another route gained in importance:  from the newly founded Greek trading center of Massalia, today’s Marseille, goods were shipped along the Rhone, Saone, and finally the Rhine and its tributaries to southwestern Germany.  The Danube was the central east-west axis of this network.  One of the most powerful ‘princely seats’ was built at an intersection of river and land routes:  this was the Heuneburg."
"In the 7th and early 6th centuries BC, many Etruscan products from northern Italy found their way across the Alps, and a few were also used as exclusive grave goods in the earliest ‘princely burials.’  After the founding of Massalia/Marseille around 600 BC and at the same time as the emergence of the ‘princely seats,’ Celtic contacts with the Mediterranean region intensified.  From the mid-6th century BC onwards, products from the south are also found in larger numbers in the settlements, especially at the centers of power of the early Celts.  At the Heuneburg, most of these imports thus do not originate from the time of the mud-brick wall in the first half of the 6th century BC, but rather from the next occupation phase at this site.  The most impressive examples of long-distance trade relations are the large wine and oil amphorae, from Massalia and Italy and high quality ware from Athens."

"The raw materials used in the production and decoration of early Celtic status symbols and jewelry often came from far away:  amber from the Baltic coast, coral from the Mediterranean, Ivory from Africa and west Asia. 
However, it was not only the elites that depended on a well-functioning regional exchange of goods:  there was a great demand for salt in the entire population, as salt at this time was used not so much for seasoning but especially to preserve meat.  The inhabitants of the Heuneburg obtained their iron for making tools and weapons from local deposits in the Swabian Alp, the Alpine foothllls and the northern Black Forest, where iron ore had been mined and smelted on a large scale since early Celtic times."

"The construction of a mud-brick wall around the Heuneburg plateau, the fast-turning potter’s wheel, and the use of brooches as garment clasps – these three examples alone show that early Celtic routes were used not only to transport prestige goods or raw materials over long distances.  Ideas, technologies and customs also spread to the regions north of the Alps in the course of the 6th century BC.  Here they were taken up and developed, sometimes transformed to suit Celtic tastes and ideas.  Together with the artisans, the wealthy and powerful members of the elite of the central places played a pioneering role in this advancement:  the ‘princely seats’ were the focal points of trade, arts and crafts and places where innovative technologies and ideas fell on fertile ground."

"It was through their contacts with the Mediterranean that the early Celts came in contact with the fast-turning potter’s wheel.  This technique required a level of craftsmanship far beyond the know-how necessary for the production of coarse wares for everyday use.  Firing wheel-turned pottery also required specialized knowledge and experiences, as such items could no longer be fired in simple pit ovens but needed more modern kilns where temperature and firing conditions could be better monitored and adjusted.  There are no traces of potters’ workshops or kilns at the Heuneburg.  Remains of badly fired pottery disposed of on the spot are so far the only evidence of early Celtic pottery activity there."

 "Archaeological evidence shows that there was a great demand for carpenters, blacksmiths, bronze casters, weavers and potters at the ‘princely seats,’ just for the goods needed in everyday life.  Moreover, members of the early Celtic elite also commissioned various specialists, especially for the artistic craft products.  They created their own prestigious status symbols by having work done according to their own ideas, but at the same time they were also inspired by Mediterranean models.  It is no surprise that it was often at these central places that new impulses were integrated into local craft styles.  The ‘princely seats’ were thus not only centers of power, but also the nuclei of new ideas among artists and craftsmen from there spread throughout the Celtic world."

No comments: