FRAL - Programme franco-allemand en Sciences humaines et sociales

CELTIC GOLD : Fine metal work in the Western Latène culture – CELTIC GOLD

Submission summary

The aim of the project is to contribute to the understanding of the economic, social, artistic and technological development of the continental part of the Western Latène Culture (mid 5th-1rst centuries BC) through the study of the production and consumption of gold objects.
This culture of the Late Iron Age, cross-bordering a large part of the European continent and the British Isles, is characterized by new social and economic dynamics leading to foreign contacts (trade, mercenary, individual mobility…), more precisely with the Mediterranean, and migration phenomena of the Celtic population. The new context is visible through metal working, style and technology. This period is crucial for the development of the Celtic art, which finds its most important expression in gold work. It also marks the starting point of coinage, with new exchange systems and new access to the raw material gold (with minting Greek, Carthaginian, Celtic and finally Roman coins). Apart of the emergence of coin use, furthermore intense gold mining, in particular in the Limousin area, brings an innovative point into gold studies.
We intend to study the social dynamics and hierarchies, combined with craft specialization during the Latène period by mainly investigating prestige objects, except coins, from rich burial sites and hoards. Our geographical focus will mainly concern Germany, France and Benelux, but also Switzerland.
Fine metal work is especially suitable to reveal traditions and local innovations as well as foreign influences and exchange networks in arts and crafts. It shows the mobility of people, objects and ideas. The strength of the project is in the international collaboration of German and French scientists and in their interdisciplinary excellence in archaeology, archaeometry, technology and experimental archaeology. It is also based on new laboratory equipment allowing innovative high precision observations and material analyses.
We intend to take into account all aspects of Late Iron Age fine metal work for the first time: from the raw material, covering the transformation into artefacts, their artistic creation, utilization and distribution, until to the final deposition and finally the archaeological discovery. In addition we take into account coins, in particular those found associated with fine metal work, for their information about material composition, probable raw material provenance and the their economic value. These observations will be integrated into a wider socio-economic and technological context in order to enlighten changes in stylistic traditions and technologies of luxury objects in relation to the socio-economic organization of the Latène period for a discussion of historical, archaeological and theoretical interpretations.

Project coordinator

Madame Barbara ARMBRUSTER (Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces et les Sociétés)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CEZA Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie
TRACES Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces et les Sociétés

Help of the ANR 350,048 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: May 2017 - 36 Months

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