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Archaeologists find oldest Greek relic in Slovak area

It was discovered in a Celtic sacrificial place.

(Source: Karol Pieta)

Archaeologists found a significant discovery at a Celtic sacrificial place near the village Slatina nad Bebravou. They discovered relief-decorated shoulder boards made from bronze that were part of a breastplate of a prominent Greek warrior.

“It is the oldest original Greek art relic in the area of Slovakia,” said deputy of director of Slovak Archaeological Institute in Nitra, Karol Pieta, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Stolen relic?

The relief was made in the Greek colony of Taranto in southern Italy in the middle of the fourth century BC. It came to Slovak territory about one hundred years later.

“There is a justified hypothesis that Celtic warriors, who at that time were moving to the area of middle Danubeland, brought those bronze reliefs here. Theoretically, it is possible that the discovery was stolen from the Delphi oracle, which Celts plundered in the first half of the third century BC,” said Pieta for SITA.

The sacrificial place, located about 1.5 kilometres away from a significant Celtic ancient fortified settlement on Udriana hill, was found by accident in 2016, thanks to the attention of the locals.

Hellenic scene

This place used to be full of blood in the past because Celts used to bring not only material and animal but also human sacrifices to their gods that were ritually burnt, which is why the majority of objects found here are burnt.

Archaeologists did research here in 2016 and 2017, followed by an analysis of the findings. Professor Regine Thomas from Cologne University analysed the parts of the found breastplate.

She worked out a special analysis by digitizing small pieces of the shoulder boards. Through this method she succeeded in reconstructing the Hellenic scene decoration.

“It was a so-called Amazonomachy, a portrayal of the mythical battle between the Ancient Greeks and the Amazons, a nation of all-female warriors,“ explained Pieta, as cited by SITA.

Celtic curiosities

Celtic sanctuaries and sacrificial places are one of the curiosities of Celtic civilisation found in Slovakia but not surrounding countries. The finding from the village Slatina nad Bebravou from the end of the third century BC is the fourth ritual place of Celts found in Slovakia.

Archaeologists found a sacrificial hole as well as the place where a sacrificial pillar stood. They found also burnt human and animal bones, bracelets from blue glass, a spur and remains of metal clothing decorations.

A large amount of ceramics were also found, left after sacrificial feasts that used to take place after sacrificial rituals. Celts used to drink a beverage and throw the container to the bonfire. They would break various objects and then burn them to release the spirit of the sacrifice.

“Blood of victims – animals or humans – trickled down to the sacrificial hole,” explained Pieta for SITA.

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