Glimpses of Royalty: The Late Hallstatt Extravaganza in the Vix Burial of a Celtic Princess.

Situated in the Cote D’Or, France, the Vix burial is a Hallstatt period wagon burial. It is exceptional because of its lavish grave goods and the fact that the body in the grave mound is a woman rather than a man.

Vix has provided archaeologists with important evidence on the nature of trade, interaction with other cultures — and the position of women in Celtic society.

Coupe du tumulus de Vix (Section of the Vix burial mound). Picture Credit: Claude PIARD.Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Wikimedia Commons

The Celtic Oppidum of Vix

Vix was a Celtic oppidum —a fortified Iron Age settlement — on Mont Lassois near Chatillon sur Seine in modern France.

It occupied a strategic position on the Iron Age tin route between northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Vix was a nexus where the tin was unloaded from transports on the river Seine before continuing its journey by land.

The settlement lends its name to the nearby burial mound, also known as the “Vix Princess tumulus” or the “Tombe Princiere”. This burial is exceptional because of the range of Mediterranean artefacts it contains and the fact that the occupant of the tomb was not a warrior chieftain but a woman.

Mobilier de la tombe de Vix, au pied du Mont Lassois (Musée du châtillonnais) (from the tomb of Vix, at the foot of Mont Lassois (Châtillonnais Museum))Picture Credit: Claude PIARD. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.Wikimedia Commons

The Vix Burial 

The burial was discovered on 12th and 13th February 1953. It was dated to around 500BC, making it late Hallstatt. Until its twentieth-century rediscovery, the grave had remained disturbed.

The burial consisted of a timber mortuary house with a central room encased by a 33-diameter mound. The central room measured 9 metres square and contained the body and grave goods.

The body lay on a bronze decorated wagon at the centre of the room. The wheels of the wagon had been removed and placed against the eastern wall of the chamber.

Gold Torc from the Princess of Vix burial. The two winged horses are reminiscent of Pegasus. Picture Credit: Rosemania. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Wikimedia Commons

The Princess of Vix

The body in the burial was of a woman estimated to be no more than 35 years of age. She appeared to be in good health, apart from the fact that she suffered from tooth decay.

The woman was of high status and archaeologists have suggested she was either a female ruler or a priestess. Either way, she was a significant person in her society and became known as “The Princess of Vix.”

The body of the “princess” was dressed in a large torc, two armlets of gold and lignite and a bronze anklet. She also wore necklaces of amber, diorite and serpentine beads and a 24-carat gold necklace weighing 480g.

These items were both local and Mediterranean. The torc, while locally manufactured, shows Mediterranean features in its design. Although the fabric of the princess’s clothing did not survive, its fasteners — an eight coral set fibulae — did and have been identified as italic in origin.

The Vix Krater, circa 530-510 BC.Musée du Pays Châtillonnais. Picture Credit: Peter Northover. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.Wikimedia Commons

Grave Goods in the Vix Burial

The artistry of the Vix burial’s other grave goods also emphasised the Mediterranean link. They included many imported items from Greece and Italy, including Attic pottery cups and Etruscan basins. The most spectacular item was an over 1.5 m high lidded bronze wine krater — one of the best pieces of archaic to survive from antiquity.

Greek Hoplite — detail from the Vix Krater. Picture Credit: cropped by User:Jastrow from Image:Cratère de Vix 0022.jpg by Michael Greenhalgh (source). Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.Wikimedia Commons.

Importance of the Vix Burial

The Vix burial is important for a number of reasons. It shows:

The importance of trade within Celtic society. Trade introduced not only new goods, but new ideas. The finds in the grave indicate that Mediterranean imports were highly valued and readily obtainable as part of the trade network established at Vix — for those who could afford them. From the number of goods related to wine drinking, it seems that this was perhaps one of many aspects of Mediterranean culture embraced by the Celts.

The status of Celtic women. The burial shows Celtic women were important people in their own right and did not necessarily acquire status due to their relationships with men. Gold was a symbol of power to the Celts and the amount the princess took to her grave indicates her social standing. Although it is the earliest, the Vix burial is not the only high-status Celtic female burial in the area. A series of similar graves spread over the Rhine and Moselle area where women were accorded burials sometimes more splendid than many male chieftains.

Related Posts

Ancient Wonders Revealed: Unearthed Giants (3.28m) Rewrite Philippines’ History

Αside from mythology and folklore remains of extremely tall people have been reported, although rarely documented. Everyone will decide for himself whether or not to believe they…

Urban Marvel: Witness a Fox’s Extraordinary Chase of Otherworldly Being in Remarkable Video Experience

On a tranquil day in the park, a diminutive and slender extraterrestrial being strolled leisurely when, out of nowhere, it found itself being pursued by a fox….

Journey to Treasure Mountain: A Billion-Year-Old Gold Mine

The Koпdyoɾ Mɑѕѕιf iп a NASA satellite image. (Photo: Sіbeɾіaп Tіmes). Seeп from above, Koпdyor Macsif looks like aп aпcieпt ʋolсɑпo oɾ а veѕTige саᴜѕed by a…

Diamond Lake Revealed: A Journey into a Treasure Trove of Dazzling Riches

Video: Iп the cɑptivɑtiпg reɑlm of treɑsυre hυпtiпg, few discoveries cɑп rivɑl the ɑllυre of diɑmoпds. These precioυs stoпes, formed over billioпs of yeɑrs deep withiп the…

Extraordinary Discovery: Massive WWII-Era Gold Chest Unearthed in Burial Site

VIDEO: Iп ɑ remɑrkɑble discovery thɑt spɑпs geпerɑtioпs, ɑ colossɑl treɑsυre trove hɑs beeп υпeɑrthed—ɑ mɑssive chest filled with gold, bυried siпce the dɑys of World Wɑr…

Revealing 5 Fortunes in Gold and Ancient Relics: Golden Discoveries

Title: 5 Fortυпes of Gold, moпeу, aпd Relics foυпd – Giпho da Selva Part 1: IпtrodυctioпGiпho da Selva is a Braziliaп explorer aпd treasυre hυпter who has…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *