The Forgotten Celtic History of Ancient Poland
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. ( 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.
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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. (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.
Featured image: Ancient (probably Celtic) cult sculpture of a bear at the top of Mount Slęża. Source: CC BY SA 3.0
Piotr Kaczanowski, Janusz Krzysztof Kozłowski, Najdawniejsze dzieje ziem polskich (do VII w.), 1998.
Magdalena Mączyńska, Wędrówki ludów, 1996.