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Celtic tomb hailed as great archaeological find

The Local · 28 Dec 2010, 15:26

Published: 28 Dec 2010 15:26 GMT+01:00

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The noblewoman's tomb, dating from early Celtic times, measures four metres by five metres, and is exceptionally well-preserved. It contained gold and amber jewellery that makes possible for the first time the precise dating of an early Celtic grave.

Using heavy cranes, the excavation team lifted the entire burial chamber out of the ground as a single block of earth and placed it on a special truck so that it could be carried off for further analysis.

The dig leader and state archaeological chief Dirk Krausse labelled the find a “milestone of archaeology.”

Judging by the ornamentation in the chamber, the archaeologists believe the tomb was built for a woman from the nobility of the Heuneburg fort, though this couldn’t be said with certainty until further investigations could be made under laboratory conditions.


Click here for a photo gallery of the dig.

This will be done by the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in Stuttgart. Initial results are expected to be announced in June 2011.

The Heuneburg hill fort site is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in central Europe and possibly the oldest settlement north of the Alps.

It has been the focus of intense interest because it reflects socio-political developments in early Celtic Europe when, after about 700 BC, wealth, population and political power began to be concentrated in small areas.

Story continues below…

It was the area of a large settlement from about 700 BC and became one of the key centres of power and trade in southern Germany.

DAPD/The Local/djw

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Your comments about this article

19:59 December 28, 2010 by Lreed1999
Very interesting but can you elaborate on why you removed the whole tomb and maybe even how you accomplished this. When can we see what you find inside.
21:10 December 28, 2010 by LancashireLad
Who the hell is digging in the frozen ground in this weather? Or was it intentional so that they *could* get the thing out in one block?
21:14 December 28, 2010 by diggin
Burials are generally removed "en bloc" as a large block that has been cut out of the surrounding earth so that the excavation can be performed in a controlled environment. Once ancient materials are exposed to air their deterioration can be sped up. With such a find there are quite frequently very small objects (beads, for example) that take time to find. Excavating such an important find in the field would take a very long time and some materials would be threatened -- both by the elements and by thieves. This chamber is already proving to be of great importance: it hasn't been robbed, the wooden floor and other organic materials (cloth) have been partially preserved. The chamber was removed by digging out around the boundries of the chamber and pulled out by a crane and transported to a flatbed. 7.5 x 6m, 50cm thick and nearly 80 tons. This is a link to a German article with a picture of the chamber being loaded onto the flatbed.

09:12 December 29, 2010 by proclusian
To answer the question about "When can we see what you find inside?" Die Zeit said there will be an exhibit in Stuttgart in 2012 of the contents of the grave.
10:46 December 29, 2010 by jlmcnamara
Celtics in Germany? This explains the Kelly Family.
11:44 December 29, 2010 by mixxim
Now Germany can have its own Celtis Rangers team....
22:06 December 29, 2010 by wxman
If they did this to a 40 year old grave, they would be arrested for graverobbing. Why is it OK if it's 2,600 years old? I'm sure this lady's family would be horrified if they knew this would happen someday. I guess human beings only have value if there is still someone alive who knew them.
22:25 December 31, 2010 by hermannyorks
Modern burials are regularly dug up, moved, relocated. There is no guarantee that a burial will remain in place. In quite a lot of circumstances burials are moved by church authorities for development, buildings in cemeteries. There are even companies who specialise in this work


With regards archaeology a lot of burials are uncovered during development work and would have been lost in road schemes, pipelines or housing developments, so would be lost in the progress of this work. This means that recovering in this way at least they get understood better, rather than just ending up in a developer's spoilheap.
18:02 January 2, 2011 by Peter Hammerer
The Celts were all across the continents back then only the uninformed think it is solely on the Celtic isles ! Which pushes . Where were they from originally ? This debate is the hard one !! It seems to be changing from previous opinions or so called former facts !!
02:51 January 3, 2011 by CmacQ
The term 'Celt' has been rather loosely used over the years. If one intends the Classical usage then there were only three types of Celts; the Gaulish or western-Celts, the Cisalpine or southern-Celts of northern Italy (over the Alps-Celts), and the Volcae/Noric or eastern Celts who the Romans also called the Istriaones. This name came from the Goddess and the Danube, as the Greeks called the river the Istros. The article above is most likely about a sub-tribe of the Tectosagii; a sept of the Volcae­Celts. They were responsible for the late Hallstatt/early La Tene princedom called ¦#39;Pyrenon¦#39; centered on the large lower-town (or residential area), several surrounding necropoleis, and a well-fortified citadel at Heuneburg. The Romans called this type of settlement an oppidum.
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