Tomb of Lavau Celtic Prince reveals its secrets

Analysis of the wealthy Celtic tomb, dating to 5th century BC, found in the village of Lavau in eastern France in 2015 produces first results of the extremely valuable find.

Site of the tomb (by Denis Gliksman & INRAP)

According to archaeologists a number of objects, including the prince’s belt, appear to be extremely valuable as they are unique. Other artefacts, including Greek and Etruscan artefacts and a bronze cauldron ornamented with the head of the god Dionysus, bear witness to the cultural exchanges which took place at the time between different civilisations.

The Lavaeu Celtic prince (by Denis Gliksman & INRAP)

The discovery of the site is considered to be the most important archaeological discovery made in France in recent decades – comparable to the 1953’s discovery of grave belonging to the so-called “Lady of Vix”. The tomb of the Lavau Prince was discovered in 2015 after Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (National Institute of Preventive Archaeology) was asked to search a site on the outskirts of Lavau, in the heart of a small businesses industrial park, prior to scheduled construction works.

Bronze vessel (by Denis Gliksman & INRAP)

The remains of the prince were found a little later, laid out on his chariot. The skeleton was still wearing the same fine golden jewellery he was buried with. The artefacts were documented using X-ray radiography and tomography as well as 3D photography to gather information about their composition and morphology – and to learn more about their state of conservation.

Precious vase (by Denis Gliksman & INRAP)

X-ray radiography shows that the belt worn by the prince is decorated with threads of silver, assembled together to form Celtic motifs. This is a unique object, as none similar have ever been recovered elsewhere before. Analysis of the metals in the bronze cauldron suggests that the people who created it perfectly mastered smelting and engraving techniques. Moreover, researchers have showed that the deceased was indeed a prince and not a princess. While golden jewels recovered on the skeleton could have belonged to a female, the shape of the pelvic bones suggest he was a male.

Details of a bronze vessel (by Denis Gliksman & INRAP)

The investigation and analyses are scheduled to go until 2019, in order to find out more about the prince’s identity and to learn more about the origins of all the objects which were places within his tomb for the afterlife.

(after Denis Gliksman, International Business Times & Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives)

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