The secret of the 2500-year-old tomb of Prince Lavau Celtic and the beautiful ancient artifacts buried with, it show cultural and economic interactions were taking place between the Celtic and Mediterranean worlds

Some years ago, archaeologists discovered an exceptional tomb of a Celtic Prince. The 2,500-year tomb was unearthed on the outskirts of Lavau in France’s Champagne region.

Inside the tomb researchers from National Institute of Preventive Archaeology (INRAP) found remarkable ancient Greek and Etruscan artifacts, but this was not the end of the story. It soon became clear that the tomb of the Lavau Celtic Prince had many hidden secrets. The French state ordered a more detailed exploration of the area and many more priceless artifacts were unearthed in the vicinity. Soon, archaeologists found magnificent artifacts from the 5th century B.C., including a bronze cauldron ornamented with the head of the god Dionysus. The skeleton of the Celtic prince was also unearthed. He was laid out on his chariot, still wearing beautiful jewelry. He who was still remains a mystery, but this particular discovery is considered one of the most important archaeological discovery made in France in recent decades – comparable to the 1953’s discovery of grave belonging to the so-called ‘Lady of Vix’.

Examination of the Lavau Celtic Prince’s tomb has been going on for two years now, ever since it was unearthed in 2015. The artifacts have been analyzed in a laboratory and the first results are reaching the public. Using sing X-ray radiography and tomography as well as 3D photography, scientists hope the artifacts can shed light on Iron Age European trade and unravel the identity of the Lavau Celtic Prince. One of the goals is to understand the influences from different cultures in the way the ancient objects were decorated. For instance, a large jar used to pour wine is made up of Greek-style ceramic and decorated with golden Etruscan motifs and silver Celtic designs. Hopefully, 3D photography and chemical analyses can shed more light on the origin of the ancient artifacts. Scientists have so far been able to confirm that the artifacts discovered in the tom of the Celtic prince were manufactured by various ancient cultures. X-ray radiography shows that the belt worn by the prince is decorated with threads of silver, assembled together to form Celtic motifs. This is a unique object, as none similar have ever been recovered elsewhere before. Furthermore, an analysis of the metals in the bronze cauldron – one of the most elaborate artifacts recovered from the grave – suggests that the people who created it perfectly mastered smelting and engraving techniques.

It has also been established beyond doubt that the person buried in the grave was male and not a female as some previously suggested. Researchers plan to continue the examination of the tombs, skeleton and artifacts until 2019, to try and find out more about the prince’s identity and to learn more about the origins of all the objects he had taken with him in the afterlife.

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