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29 January 2013
Archeologists revise image of ancient Celts

The Celts were long considered a barbaric and violent society, but new findings from a 2,600-year-old grave in southwest Germany suggest the ancient people were much more sophisticated.
     In 2010, on the site of an early Celtic settlement not far from the Heuneburg, beside a small tributary of the Danube called Bettelbuehl, researchers stumbled upon the elaborate grave of a Celtic princess - a 3.6 by 4.6 metre subterranean burial chamber fitted with massive oak beams. It was an archeological sensation. After 2,600 years, the chamber was completely intact, preserved by the constant flow of water.
     The Heuneburg is a centre of Celtic culture in south-western Germany. In its heyday, giant walls protected a city of as many as 10,000 people. Wealthy members of society led lives of luxury: Etruscan gold jewellery, Greek wine, and Spanish tableware were all traded here.
     Elaborate pearl earrings, solid gold clasps, an amber necklace and a bronze belt are just some of the findings from the grave. Stacks of burial objects made of gold, amber, jet and bronze were discovered alongside the skeletons of the princess and an unidentified child.
     Researchers are also particularly interested in the plant and animal remains found in the chamber. "The organic material is actually just as important as the artefacts because it gives us information about their burial rituals," said Nicole Ebinger-Rist, director of the research project handling the find.
     The researchers are also hoping to learn more about the Celts' wars of domination - one of the greatest mysteries of central European history. We still don't know why the Celts were advancing quickly from the sixth century BCE until the birth of Christ, and then abruptly disappeared.

Edited from DW.de (19 January 2013)

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