Archaeologists Discover Tomb and Chariot of an Iron Age Celtic Prince in France

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Archaeologists have discovered a tomb and chariot of an Iron Age Celtic prince in Lavau, eastern France, according to Daily Mail Online.

The ancient Celtic prince is buried with his chariot at the center of a large mound which measures about 130 feet across. The 2,500-year-old lavish tomb is filled with remarkable grave goods. A team from the National Archaeological Research Institute (Inrap) has been excavating the site since October 2014.

An INRAP press release said

In the center of a tumulus 40 m in diameter, the deceased and his chariot lay in the center of a vast, 14 metre square funerary chamber, one of the largest recorded by archaeologists for this period at the end of the Iron Age (Hallstatt period). Under the levels of the collapsed tumulus, the tomb contained grave goods representative of the highest status of Hallstattian elites. [ INRAP PDF ]

iron age bronze cauldron
Giant bronze wine cauldron

The most interesting find was a huge bronze wine cauldron. Its four circular handles are decorated with the heads of the Greek deity Acheloos. The edge of the bronze cauldron is decorated with eight lioness heads.

Inside the one-meter diameter cauldron is a ceramic wine jug that is decorated with black figures and images of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. Apart from the cauldron, researchers found a perforated silver spoon and remains of an iron wheel belonging to the chariot.

According to the National Archaeological Research Institute, the discovery of the French tomb will shed light on Iron Age European trade. Archaeologists said that excavation at the site will be finished by the end of March.

This location was both a funerary space and a memorial that lasted for centuries, starting somewhere between 1300 to 800 BC, according to the researchers. Incineration tombs, burial mounds and trenches were created at that time – the end of the bronze age. It was still in use during the Gallo-Roman era, at which time the trenches were emptied and antique graves were used.