Ancient (probably Celtic) cult sculpture of a bear at the top of Mount Slęża.

The Forgotten Celtic History of Ancient Poland

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Celtic Coins in Kalisz

There are some Celtic coins that have been discovered in Poland. The biggest hoard of them was found in Gorzów, near Oświęcim. Celtic coins were discovered in archaeological sites in the city of Kalisz in central Poland as well. That was a very unexpected find because no resource had ever suggested that the Celts were in the area.

Celtic coin of the 3rd century BC from Trepcza.

Celtic coin of the 3rd century BC from Trepcza. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

The results of a study of the coins was published in 2009. The coins confirmed that the Celts who lived in current territory of Poland were wealthy and powerful. They had strong contacts in all of Europe, but the economic and political center of the so called Polish Celts was located closer to the Baltic Sea than was previously believed.

Burials Help Explain a Forgotten Story

Celtic cemeteries have been found in many parts of southern and central Poland. The discovery in Nowa Cerkiew proved the existence of a settlement from the 4th to the 2nd century BC. The cemeteries discovered there and in Ślęża and Wroclaw in Lower Silesia confirm the strong religious traditions characteristic of other areas dominated by the Celts. Some graves contained a man and a woman buried together, which suggests the Celtic practice of killing the wife during her husband's funeral. However, most of the women were buried separately with jewelry.

Vandalic burial cemetery in Prusiek, Poland.

Vandalic burial cemetery in Prusiek, Poland. (CC BY-SA 3.0 )

In Iwanowice, archaeologists discovered the tombs of Celtic warriors dated to the 3rd BC who were buried with weapons and decorations. On Mount Ślęża in Lower Silesia, archaeologists also discovered sculptures and ceramics proving the connection between the Celtic people who lived there and Lusaians, but also Celtic people of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Disappearance of the Celts in Poland

Nowadays, the heritage of the Celts in Poland remains unclear. It is unknown what happened to the Celts, but perhaps they were dominated by the Przeworsk culture and later Slavs. Archaeologists suppose that there will be many more discoveries related to the Celts in the future. The oldest history of Poland is still not well researched. Much of this is due to the fact that pre-Christian sites have been destroyed over the centuries. Thus many of the sites which could bring new information are still hidden deeply underground or in forests.

Celtic costumes par in Przeworsk culture (3rd century BC, La Tène period), Archaeological Museum of Kraków.

Celtic costumes par in Przeworsk culture (3rd century BC, La Tène period), Archaeological Museum of Kraków. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 / ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Featured image: Ancient (probably Celtic) cult sculpture of a bear at the top of Mount Slęża. Source: CC BY SA 3.0

By Natalia Klimczak

References:

Piotr Kaczanowski, Janusz Krzysztof Kozłowski, Najdawniejsze dzieje ziem polskich (do VII w.), 1998.

Magdalena Mączyńska, Wędrówki ludów, 1996.

http://www.archeologia.univ.rzeszow.pl/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/bochnak/03_bochnak.pdf

http://www.celtica.pl/celtowie-na-ziemiach-polskich.html

http://www.pradzieje.pl/Archeologia/Co-kazdy-Polak-powinien-wiedziec-o-Celtach.htm

Comments

Very interesting article, however the translation from Polish to English is fair at best which makes the article difficult to read. Someone that understands English as a primary language needs to help this person write an article that is clearly written. Statements like "which put their civilization higher than tribes they met in the new land". Come on, you can do better than that.

Thank you for this great article, It's very well written and fascinating!

Really enjoyed this article. Wow, the Celts knew how to get themselves around didn't they!

Celt means salt. The Celtics harvested salt as a trading tool and for health reasons and it was very important in their society. Salt has always been the one mineral that has always controlled the societies of the world since civilization began. It was at one time equal in value per weight as gold. Many Celtic centers that still exist have salt in their name from Salzberg in Austria to Halstaed in England both communities that were founded by Celts to mine or harvest salt for trade. Gaul an old name for modern France also means Salt.

Justan,

One of the largest underground salt mines is the Wieliczka Salt Mines near Krakow, Poland. I don't think the celts knew about these mines, but perhaps there were salt deposits in the area back then?

Ummm, no. Etymology of the word salt from dictionary.com: before 900; (noun and adj.) Middle English; Old English sealt; cognate with German Salz, Old Norse, Gothic salt; akin to Latin sāl, Greek háls (see halo- ); (v.) Middle English salten, Old English s (e) altan; compare Old High German salzan, Old Norse salta, Dutch zouten; see salary.

Etymology of the word Celt: Via Latin Celtae (singular Celta) from Ancient Greek Κελτοί ‎(Keltoí).

English Celts is from the 17th century. Until the mid 19th century, /sɛlt/ is the only recorded pronunciation. A consciously archaizing pronunciation /kɛlt/ is advocated in Irish and Welsh nationalism beginning in the 1850s.

Celt means salt. The Celtics harvested salt as a trading tool and for health reasons and it was very important in their society. Salt has always been the one mineral that has always controlled the societies of the world since civilization began. It was at one time equal in value per weight as gold. Many Celtic centers that still exist have salt in their name from Salzberg in Austria to Halstaed in England both communities that were founded by Celts to mine or harvest salt for trade. Gaul an old name for modern France also means Salt.

Ummm - there is no Celtic practice of killing the wife at the husband's funeral. Check the Brehon laws. With that statement, the whole article is suspect.

Natalia, it seems that your dates are few centuries off.  I was reading about the amber necklace found in the Vix gravesite which is over 2500 years old (circa 6th century BCE) and sizeable beads of amber have been found in what was the remnant of a bronze necklace, which means Celts knew of the Amber Route and must have settled in Poland before 450 BCE

Si vis pacem, para bellum

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