Period I

Replica of a Celtic village. Photo: www.heuneburg.de

Celtic Culture in the Alpine Region

Switzerland and its rivers, roads and mountain passes have always been on the crossroads of European trade, ideas, culture and communication. Several Celtic tribes inhabited this area long before the Roman invasion (c. 15-13 B.C.). The Celtic culture and society have been upgraded by archaeological finds from the nineteenth century onward. The tribes were ruled by aristocracies and kings who owed their prestige to warfare and a clientele system. The settlements on the top of hills were called oppida (oppidum) by the Romans. The reconstruction of the oppidum Mont Vully on the shore of Lake of Morat (Vaud) is an example. The Celts are known for their craftsmanship, weaponry and trade. They were not the ‘barbarians’ as the Romans described them. Mont-Vully, Hallstatt (Austria), Bibracte (France) and Heuneburg (Germany) are just a few examples of the rich Celtic culture in the Alpine region.

The Celtic Museum Heuneburg in Herbertingen-Hundersingen features the original finds discovered throughout the many years of excavation. The exhibition shows the contacts with other cultures: Greek imports, amber from the Baltic Sea, jewellery from Slovenia, transport amphoras from Marseilles. The Heuneburg is an early Celtic princely residence. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in the region and is considered to be the oldest town in the Northern Alpine Region. The excavated features leave little doubt that during the early Iron Age (circa 620 – 480 BC) the Heuneburg area was an economic and political centre, where Celtic art and culture developed in close contact with other Celtic tribes and Roman, Greek, German peoples. (Further information: http://www.heuneburg.de/celtic-museum-heuneburg).