Exceptional Iron-Age elite tomb discovered in France. Since October 2014, a team of French archaeologists have been excavating an early Iron-Age princely tomb within an exceptional monumental funerary complex on the outskirts of Lavau (Champagne region).
At the centre of a 40 m diameter mound, the deceased and his chariot lie at the heart of a large burial chamber of 14 m², one of the largest of its kind ever identified by archaeologists, dating to the beginning of the 5th century BCE (Hallstatt period).
The grave contains funerary goods worthy of the highest Hallstatt elite. The centrepiece of the deposit is a bronze cauldron, approximately 1 m in diameter. Its four circular handles are decorated with heads of the Greek river deity Acheloos who is represented here horned, bearded, with ears of a bull and a triple moustache. The edge of the cauldron is also decorated with eight lionesses heads.
The artwork is considered to be of Etruscan or Greek in origin. Inside the cauldron is an Attic ceramic jug decorated with black figures, one of whom is Dionysus depicted in a typical Greek banquet scene, lying beneath a vine and facing a woman. This jug represents the most northerly found to date, and reflects the Celtic elite’s love of feasting.
The end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 5th century BC are marked by the development of the economic activity of the Etruscan and Greek city-states of the West, Marseilles in particular. Looking for slaves, metal and other valuables (including amber), Mediterranean traders came into contact with the continental Celtic communities.
Those controlling the natural channels of communication, in particular the Loire, Seine, Saône, Rhine, Danube watersheds, took advantage of this traffic and saw their elites acquire many prestige goods which are found buried alongside their owners in monumental mounds – Heuneburg and Hochdorf in Germany for example, in Bourges, Vix and now this fine example.
For more photographs and French press release – INRAP