Monday, July 31, 2017

Tumuli Early Celtic Grave Mounds

Landesmuseum Württemberg:
Tumulus Grave Mound:  tumuli images of burial mounds
"Starting in the years before 600 BC, large tumuli were erected by outstanding individuals.  They consisted of a central burial chamber covered by a large mound of earth and additional graves laid out within the same mound, sometimes up to one hundred.  These communities of dead seem to reflect hierarchic communities of the living, presumably clans or tribes, each of them headed by a chieftain."

"Gold has always been regarded as a symbol of wealth and power.  When several early Celtic burials containing rich gold objects were uncovered in rapid succession at the end of the 19th century, the pioneers of archaeology interpreted them as the burial places of ‘princes.’   Alone the effort required for the construction of the large wooden burial chambers and the monumental burial mounds erected above them was considerable.  In the tombs themselves, the high social rank of the deceased was expressed through symbolic and prestigious grave goods.  Special status symbols included gold torcs, other gold jewelry, daggers, as well as four-wheeled wagons and Mediterranean bronze tableware.  


"The princely burials of the 6th and 5th century BC did not suddenly appear.  As early as the 7th century BC, high social status began to find its expression in magnificent burials and rich grave goods." 

"For the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, festive gatherings were an integral part of
aristocratic life and image-building.  These highly ritualized celebrations also served to build alliances and to strengthen communities.  Depictions on bronze vessels from northern Italy and the eastern Alpine region show that the symposion, a tightly choreographed social gathering where men conversed and drank together, was of central importance.  Early Celtic ‘princely burials’ were normally furnished with the drinking and eating utensils that can be seen in these displays.  Whether the early Celtic elite imitated Mediterranean dining and drinking customs or whether they used the vessels according to their own customs and traditions is a question that needs to be answered."

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