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    STUDIA HISTORIA - Issue no. 1-2 / 2009  

Authors:  .
  Abstract:  Archaeologists, and generally the specialists in social sciences, have increasingly focused during the last two or three decades on the notion of identity. Their studies investigated aspects concerning the relationships (ethnic, social, political, professional, religious, sexual etc) established between different human groups, who are considering themselves and are perceived by others from outside these groups as culturally distinct. The identity of a group is expressed through distinct modalities of manipulating symbols and transmitting, either within the group or outside it, information and images which can be recognised and coherently “read” by “others”. Thus, a series of archaeological “events” may be interpreted from another perspective, different from the traditional one. The present study will analyse the way in which the Celtic warriors from Transylvania constructed their identity within their own social group and in relationship with the rest of their community. Therefore, a series of significant archaeological evidence, which may be interpreted in this way, will be investigated. First Celtic groups moved from Transdanubia to the east, in the northern part of the Great Hungarian Plain and up to the upper Tisza River. From these areas they moved again to the south, alongside the Western Carpathians, later also entering in Transylvania. This advance is proven by a series of cemeteries placed alongside the mentioned route (fig. 1). Within the communities created after the colonisation, as in other cases, the warriors played a major role as factors of cohesion and decision. Their social status determined the construction of a well-defined identity. Amongst other aspects, this is also reflected in the funerary domain. The external signs of an individual who belonged to the warlike elite consisted in the first instance of weapons. Their presence in graves reflects more than certain beliefs concerning the afterlife. The funerary ceremonies were social events through which the mourners used to also reiterate the status of the family or of the social group and to “inform” the community about the social status which was inherited due to the traditional kin connections. At the same time, the way in which funerary inventories were composed represents a true “strategy” through which the living maintained the memory of the deceased, but also contributes to the perpetuation of certain elements which defined their identity. Thus, some general aspects concerning the way in which the panoplies of weapons were constituted, as well as the way in which these were placed in graves, are discussed; the meaning of certain weapons (ritually bent swords, decorated swords, sword as status symbol etc) and the presence of other military equipment (helmets) in particular archaeological contexts (grave no. 40 from the cemetery at Piscolt, which contained a sword having three different and successive decorations – fig. 2-3; the helmet decorated with a bird of prey, discovered at Ciumesti) are also taken into consideration. The analysis also include some particular ritual and symbolic actions: the placement of the wheel of a cart into a grave belonging to a warrior from the cemetery at Fantanele – Dealul Popii and the inventory of the grave with helmet from Ciumesti, which also contains a pair of Greek greaves (fig. 4). In the end, it has to be observed that although the civilization of the Second Iron Age had a rural and, as a consequence, rather “static” character during the early and middle periods (excepting the moments in which large groups of people migrated to colonise new territories), a series of factors of mobility also existed, supporting the circulation of ideas, commodities etc. The warriors were one of these factors and their mobility was also facilitated by their status and by their constructed and assumed identity. At the same time, the imposition of certain cultural forms within their communities was also possible due to the accepting of this particular identity by other members of these communities.

Key-words: Transylvania, Second Iron Age, Celts, archaeology of identity, warlike elites.
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