- Celtic Luxembourg
Celtic Luxembourg existed during the period from roughly
600 BCuntil 100 AD, when the Celtsinhabited what is now the territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Their culture was well developed, especially from the 1st century BCas can be seen from the remains of the extensive Titelbergsite in the far southwest of the country and from the impressive finds in several tombs and necropolises in the Mosellevalley and its surroundings.
The Celts inhabited large areas of Europe from the
Danubeto the Rhineand Rhône during the 6th to 1st centuries BC, a period sometimes referred to as La Tèneafter a site in Switzerlandwhere Celtic remains were discovered in 1857. It was around 100 BCthat the Treveri, one of the Celtic tribes, entered a period of prosperity. They constructed a number of fortified settlements or "oppida" near the Mosellevalley in what is now southern Luxembourg, western Germanyand eastern France. [ [http://188.8.131.52:591/PDFs/45-1/The%20Celts%20and%20Urbanization.pdf Elizabeth Hamilton: The Celts and Urbanization - the Enduring Puzzle of the "Oppida"] . Retrieved 21 November 2007.]
In the territory now covered by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, there is evidence of primitive inhabitants right back to the
Paleolithicor old stone age over 35,000 years ago. The oldest artifacts from this period are decorated bones found at Oetrange. [ [http://www.mnha.public.lu/collections/prehistoire/paleolithique/art/index.html Paleolithic period from National Museum of History and Art, Luxembourg] ]
However, the first real evidence of civilization is from the
Neolithicor 5th millennium BCwhen houses began to appear. Traces have been found in the south of Luxembourg at Grevenmacher, Diekirch, Aspeltand Weiler-la-Tour. The dwellings were made of a combination of tree trunks for the basic structure, mud-clad wickerwork walls, and roofs of thatched reeds or straw. [ [http://www.mnha.public.lu/collections/prehistoire/neolithique/maison/index.html Neolithic houses from National Museum of History and Art, Luxembourg] ] Pottery from this period has been found near Remerschen. [ [http://www.mnha.public.lu/collections/prehistoire/neolithique/poterie/index.html Neolithic pottery from National Museum of History and Art, Luxembourg] ]
While there is not much evidence of communities in Luxembourg at the beginning of the
Bronze Age, a number of sites dating back to the period between the 13th and the 8th century BCprovide evidence of dwellings and reveal artifacts such as pottery, knives and jewelry. These include Nospelt, Dalheim, Mompachand Remerschen.
The Hallstatt culture
The discovery in 1846 of a prehistoric cemetery at Hallstatt in
Austriarevealed distinctive artifacts from the Neolithic through to the early Iron Agefrom 600 to 450 BC. These are considered to be the first evidence of Celtic civilization and served as a model for similar finds which were to occur in other parts of Europe in areas inhabited by the Celts. In Luxembourg too, evidence of this early period comes mainly from fairly modest tombs such as those found in Niederanven. However, the tombs found in south-east Luxembourg at Grosbous, Flaxweilerand Altrierwhich date back to between 450 and 250 BCcontained much richer finds. [ [http://www.mnha.public.lu/collections/protohistoire/fer_ancien/index.html Old Iron Age from National Museum of History and Art, Luxembourg] ]
Judging from the objects discovered at Altrier, the tomb from about
450 BCmust have been that of a high-ranking chieftain. It contained a bronze Etruscan stamnos, an iron sword, an ornate bronze and coral fibula (brooch)and a gold bracelet. The Grosbous tomb, part of a small cemetery, is particularly interesting as the corpse had been placed on a two-wheeled chariot providing indications of how the Celts constructed such vehicles. [Jeannot Metzler, Catherine Gaeng: Protohistoire from Préhistoire et Protohistoire au Luxembourg, Musée national d'histoire et d'art, Luxembourg, 2005]
Principal Celtic sites
The Celtic civilization reached its height in the 1st century BC, prior to the Roman conquest in
54 BC. Most of the evidence from that period has been discovered in tombs, many closely associated with Titelberg, a 50 ha site which reveals much about the dwellings and handicrafts of the period.
Titelbergis the site of a large Celtic settlement or oppidumin the extreme south west of Luxembourgnear Rodangeand Differdange. Though it had been inhabited from about 300 BC, by the 1st century BC, the community had reached a high level of urbanization and was almost certainly the capital of the Treveripeople. [ [http://184.108.40.206:591/PDFs/45-1/The%20Celts%20and%20Urbanization.pdf Elizabeth Hamilton: The Celts and Urbanization - the Enduring Puzzle of the "Oppida"] . Retrieved 21 November 2007.] It was by far the largest of the Treveri settlements at the time, no doubt as a result of its proximity to two of the most important Celtic roads, one from the south connecting the Rhône to the Mosellevalley and the north, the other leading to Reimsand the west. Another attraction was the iron orewhich could be mined in the immediate vicinity and was indeed increasingly smelted to produce knives, lances, swords and cooking utensils and equipment.
Covering an area of some 50 ha, the oval-shaped Titelberg plateau rising 100 m above the
River Chiers, is approximately 1 km long (NW to SE) and 500 m wide. Evidence of the foundations of numerous dwellings, a public space for religious or political purposes, and the 9-m high ramparts which still stand at the SW entrance today, clearly demonstrate the importance of the "oppidum" which, until the Roman conquest, appears to have been the seat of the Treveri chieftains. [http://www.unizd.hr/Portals/20/Gheorghiu,%20Nash,%20Cavulli.pdf Ralph M. Rowlett: Stratified Iron Age Chieftainsʹ Houses on the Titelberg, 13th Annual Meeting of European Association of the Archaeologists, Croatia, Zadar,September 2007.]
One of the most important finds on Titelberg has been a huge number of Celtic coins which come not only from the Treveri themselves but from several other Celtic tribes. This indicates that it had become a centre of trade and commerce showing signs of urbanization. Facilities for minting coins have been excavated close to the residential area and appear to have been used over an extended period, both during the purely Celtic period and under the Romans as the Celts began to adopt Roman culture. [ [http://edt.missouri.edu/Winter2007/Thesis/ShawM-050407-T6309/research.pdf Matthew L. Shaw: The North Smelter at Titelberg - Post-imperial Bronze Recycling in Belgic Gaul] . Retrieved 21 November 2007.]
A very large number of both Celtic and Gallo-Roman fibulae have also been found on the site. In a multitude of different shapes and sizes, these bronze clasps, sometimes hinged, were used either as ornamental brooches or for pinning garments together. [Nicolas Gaspar: Les fibules gauloises et gallo-romaines du Titelberg, Luxembourg, Musée national d’histoire et d’art, 2007]
Initially, the Romans converted the Celtic dwellings to houses with stone foundations. But towards the end of the 1st century BC, the Romans established their centre of interest in
Trierwhich also became the new capital for the Treveri. Indeed, the Romans dismantled the ramparts and reduced the oppidum to a vicuswhich nevertheless continued to be inhabited for another 400 years.Jeannot Metzler. "Le Luxembourg avant le Luxembourg." In "Histoire du Luxembourg : Le destin européen d'un « petit pays »" (ed. Gilbert Trausch, 2003). Toulouse: Éditions Privat. ISBN 2-7089-4773-7. fr icon]
A Celtic funeral chamber measuring 4.30 m by 4.20 m, the largest Gallic tomb ever found, was recently discovered at Clemency. From the offerings in the tomb, it was obviously the burial place of a Celtic nobleman. These included ten wine amphorae, an Italic bronze basin, an oil lamp from
Campania, an iron grill and some 30 Gallic pots. There was also a chimney from an iron smelterin the chamber testifying to the deceased's association with iron production. [ [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Clemency%2C_Luxembourg&action=edit Clemency L'âge du Fer récent from Luxembourg's National Museum of History and Art] . Retrieved 26 November 2007.]
Tombs excavated at "Kreckelbierg", just north-west of the village of
Nospelt, contain an impressive range of articles including wine flagons, articles of pottery, spurs, knives, lances and a lantern testifying to the nobility of those buried. [ [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Goeblange&action=edit Beigaben von Grab D. Spätkeltische Zeit 50 - 30 v. Chr. Goeblingen-Nospelt Scheierheck] . Retrieved 21 November 2007.] It is thought the tombs might belong to chieftains from the Titelbergsettlement. It is interesting to note that some of the artefacts including a tall amphoracame from as far away as the Mediterranean, showing the extent of trade with other regions at the time.
necropolisfrom the 1st centurywas discovered in the early 1970s on the "Juckelsboesch" plateau between Mamerand Kehlen. A beautiful dark blue glass bowl was among the offerings found there. [ [http://www.mnha.public.lu/collections/epoque_galloromaine/paix_romaine/bol_verre/index.html Bol de verre côtelé from Luxembourg's National Museum of History and Art] . Retrieved 28 November 2007.]
In 1993, the
National Museum of History and Artexcavated Celtic tombs dating back to 50 BCto 30 BCwhich had been discovered in 1966 about 1 km NW of the Roman ruins in an area known as "Scheierheck". The tombs were no doubt the resting place of aristocrats - four men and one woman - judging from the artifacts which were found there. These included: 1 amphoric wine flagon, 4 bottles, 7 plates, 5 pots, 7 bowls, 5 cups, 1 flat plate, 1 goblet, 1 drinking horn, 1 iron knife, 2 lance blades, 2 spurs, 3 bronze broches, 1 pair of scissors and the remains of cremation, including those of a wild boar. [ [http://www.schockweiler.net/bestfind/mar.htm Beigaben von Grab D. Spätkeltische Zeit 50 - 30 v. Chr. Goeblingen-Nospelt Scheierheck] . Retrieved 21 November 2007.]
The 133 tombs uncovered at
Feulenin 1996 date from the 2nd century BCuntil Gallo-Romantimes. They have revealed numerous fibulae, arms and tools made of iron, and a large collection of pottery including two amphorae. [Sebastian Schendzielorz: Feulen : ein spätlatènezeitlich-frührömisches Gräberfeld in Luxemburg, Dossiers d’archéologie du Musée national d’histoire et d’art (lX), Luxembourg, Musée national d’histoire et d’art, 2006]
Crisis of the
3rd century BC
During the century from 250 to
150 BC, the area between the Rhine and the Meuse underwent a drastic restructuring as some crisis forced most signs of inhabitation into the heights of the Hunsrück. Following this crisis, population returned to the lowlands in the form of the Gaulish tribes known to us from classical texts.
The Celtic tribe in what is now Luxembourg during and after the La Tène period was known as the
Treveri. Though Celtic in language, they claimed to be descended from the Germans to bolster their warlike reputation. [ [http://www.unrv.com/tacitus/tacitus-germania-7.php Tacitus: Germania, Chapter 28.] Retrieved 12 December 2007.] By and large, the Treveri were more successful than most Gallic tribes in cooperating with the Romans who completed their occupation in 53 BCunder Julius Caesar. Two first-century AD revolts did not permanently damage their cordial relations with Rome, and the Treveri adapted readily to Roman civilisation.
*Gaspar, Nicolas: "Die keltischen und gallo-römischen Fibeln vom Titelberg: Les fibules gauloises et gallo-romaines du Titelberg," Luxembourg, Musée national d’histoire et d’art, 2007, 325 p., ISBN 13 : 978-2-87985-936-1.
*Metzler, Jeannot: "Das treverische Oppidum auf dem Titelberg : zur Kontinuität zwischen der spätkeltischen und der frührömischen Zeit in Nord-Gallien," Luxembourg, Musée national d’histoire et d’art, 1995, 789 p., ISBN 287985024X
*Metzler, J.,/ Metzler-Zens, N./ Méniel, P. et al. (Hrsg.): "Lamadelaine – une nécropole de l’oppidum du Titelberg." Dossier d’Archeologie du Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art IV. Luxembourg 1999.
*Rowlett, R. M./ Thomas, H. L./ Rowlett, E. S.-J..: "Stratified Iron Age House Floors in the Titelberg", Luxembourg. In "Journal of Field Archaeology." Vol. 9, No. 3, 1982, 301–312.
*Thomas, H. L., Rowlett, R. M., Rowlett, E. S.-J.: "The Titelberg: A Hill Fort of Celtic and Roman Times". In "Archaeology" 28:1, 1975, pp.55–57.
*Thomas, H. L., Rowlett, R. M., Rowlett, E. S.-J.: "Excavations of the Titelberg. Luxembourg." In "Journal of Field Archaeology" 3:3, 1976, pp.241–259.
*Shaw, Matthew L.: "The North Smelter at Titelberg - Post-imperial Bronze Recycling in Belgic Gaul." University of Missouri-Columbia. 2007.
*Weiller, Raymond: "Coins From Features Found by the Missouri Excavations at Titelberg". In "Horizons and Styles: Studies in Art and Archaeology in Honour of Professor Homer L. Thomas," ed. Paul Åström, pp. 269-289, Paul Åströms Förlag: Jonsered. 1993, ISBN: 91-7081-072-9
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