Fischer, Brigitte, “Les animaux sur les monnaies gauloises”, Études Celtiques 37 (2011): 111–117.

  • journal article
Citation details
“Les animaux sur les monnaies gauloises”
Études Celtiques 37 (2011)
Études Celtiques 37 (2011), Paris: CNRS Editions.
Persée – Études Celtiques, vol. 37, 2011: <link>
Abstract (cited)
[FR] Almost every year new articles dealing with the Gundestrup Cauldron occur. The place of origin has been the main issue of the discussion. Two areas have been preferred : present day France and the areas around Lower Danube. The reason for this divergence is the ambivalence of the testimony provided by the cauldron itself : on one hand the style and workmanship is clearly Thracian, on the other, some of the motifs and objects depicted are Celtic. But many of these Celtic features (shields, carnyces, etc.) occur both in Western and SE-Europe. The style and technique however provide more decisive arguments : the cauldron shows so many close similarities with the Thracian art style that it is clear that it must be a piece of Thracian workmanship. Nowhere in the West do we find a well-established tradition of gilded silver repoussé works in the centuries before the birth of Christ. Amongst characteristic details which are typical of Thracian art, one could mention the way of depicting fur on animals. The cauldron displays a perplexing mixture of Celtic and Thracian elements. Its shape is Celtic, the workmanship Thracian. The antlered god is known as a Celtic god, but is wearing a Thracian garment and a Celtic torque and is surrounded by Thracian animals. On other plates we see torques, both Celtic and clearly non-Celtic – and so forth. If we accept this ambiguity in the evidence, we should not try to argue for a Thracian or a Celtic origin, but use the cultural ambiguity which it expresses as a positive base for understanding its cultural and historical background and accept that two different peoples were involved. One should thus ask where there existed an archaeological scenario which can satisfy the Gundestrup Cauldron’s requirement for cultural coexistence between a Celtic and Thracian tribe. Both archaeological evidence and historical sources hint at a cultural mixture or symbiosis between Thracians and the Celtic Scordisci during the 2nd century BC in NE-Bulgaria and SE-Romania.

[EN] The animals are exceptionally numerous on the Gallic coins. They can be realistic, fanciful or completely imagined. Originally, the Greek prototypes were ornated with horses on their reverses. These animals are the most numerous ones, sometimes associated with birds, wolves… The wild boar comes at the second place, followed by the lion, borrowed from the Massilian drachms ; the wolf and the bull are quite numerous too, as well as the birds which appear especially in Central Gaul. It’s mostly as war symbols that these animals were chosen. Some of them suggested fecundity and prosperity. The coins were privileged means of propaganda and a prestige selection was made to ornate them.
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