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8 December 2003
Ancient stone warrior found in France

Archaeologists are delighted by a 2,500-year-old stone statue that offers a rare insight into life in western Europe before the Roman conquest. The stone torso, unearthed at Lattes in southern France, is one of just a few detailed figurines considered to have been made by the ancient Celts. The statue of a male warrior wears a style of armour worn in Spain and Italy and was life-size when it was complete.
     The "Warrior of Lattes" is around 79 centimetres in height and was discovered in the wall of an Iron Age house where it had been used as a building stone.
     Some time after it was created, the statue was mutilated to be re-used in a door opening. The head was removed, the left leg and arm hacked off and the crest of the warrior's helmet smoothed away. The statue's pose is also unusual for Iron Age sculptures from southern France. Most are shown cross-legged, but the Lattes sculpture was in a crouched position - a pose reminiscent of some Greek sculptures.
     The style of armour worn by the warrior is similar to that found in graves and on statues associated with the Iberian culture of ancient Spain. However, the Iberians may have adopted this style of armour through links with Italy. This is unusual because the people of the region of France where the statue was found, are generally thought to have had a Celtic culture, different from people from the Iberian zone to the west.
     Michael Dietler, of the University of Chicago, US, and Michel Py of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Lattes, France, propose that a cultural elite in the eastern Languedoc may have adopted exotic customs, while the majority of the people held on to their old ways. Professor Greg Woolf, a historian at the University of St Andrews in the UK, said: "I can't think of anything to compare it to. But this could be the result of a broad range of interaction [in the Mediterranean]."

Source: BBC News (4 December 2003)

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