The eastern Alps

Notwithstanding these regional concentrations in the Hunsrück-Eifel and Champagne, longer-distance contacts are attested within north-alpine Europe, as well as with the Mediterranean world. A prime example is afforded by the cemetery of Dürrnberg-bei-Hallein in the Austrian Alps (Penninger, 1972; Moosleitner et al., 1974; Pauli, 1978). The Dürrnberg was evidently an important centre for the production of salt from the late Hallstatt to at least the middle La Tene period, and salt mining in fact continued in the vicinity from the Medieval period until recent times, making more difficult the task of identifying early workings. Like Hallstatt itself, a few kilometres to the southeast, the principal archaeological finds are from the cemeteries which adjoined the salt workings, overlooked from the north-east by the hillfort on the Ramsaukopf. Earlier work from the inter-war years has been supplemented by excavations from 1979—82 (Megaw, 1990; Stöllner, 2003), as a result of which more than 350 graves have now been excavated, with many more quite certainly as yet undiscovered. More recent work

Durrnberg Flagon
Figure 3.5 The Somme-Bionne, Marne, open-work disc. © Copyright the Trustees of The British Museum.

concentrated on the mines themselves. Spoil heaps indicated where adits had been tunnelled into the mountain, from which prehistoric textiles, leather, tapers for lamps and a wealth of other material remains have been uncovered. Several Iron Age burials indicate how potentially hazardous the process of mining must have been. But it is by no means clear that the miners themselves were drawn from the local community, or that they were beneficiaries of their labours, rather than being serfs, slaves or social outcasts. The princes who controlled the production and distribution of salt evidently enjoyed considerable wealth, which enabled them to support specialist craftsmen in glass and metal-work.

Among the products interred in the Durrnberg cemetery was the magnificent Celtic rendering of a beaked flagon from Grave 16, with its tall, slightly concave body-profile accentuated by the slender, vertical repoussé panels, and separately-cast handle and rim with parade of exotic beasts. The shape and execution of this vessel are now strikingly matched by the beaked flagon from the Glauberg overlooking the Wetterau valley in Hesse, a tantalizing hint of possible long-distance links between princes or their craftsmen. Another richly furnished burial was Grave 44, a double inhumation in which the lower, earlier burial included a two-wheeled chariot and accompanying warrior's equipment (Figure 3.6). In addition to the long, iron sword, a pair of spearheads, arrowheads and knife, the assemblage was completed by a conical helmet, not quite so tall, but otherwise of the classic Marnian type. The drinking service was equally distinguished. It comprised a high-shouldered, sheet bronze bucket, or situla, standing 88 centimetres in height and with a capacity around two hundred litres. Together with this was a small, bronze basin, and a Celtic copy of an Italic bronze 'pilgrim flask', a type comprising a cylindrical container with tubular spout, not unlike the shape of a western cowboy's water-bottle, but with four supporting feet in the form of human legs. Inside the situla was a plain, two-handled, stemless Attic cup of the late fifth century. Among other items in the grave was an open-work belt-plaque that itself bears similarities to the open-work mounts of the Marne, both groups having antecedents in northern Italy, and a series of sheet-bronze mounts, including a human face with 'leaf-crown' head-gear, that have been interpreted as attachments for a wooden, spouted flagon.

The decoration on the Durrnberg pilgrim flask warrants consideration, since it is typical of the predominance of compass-drawn designs in this eastern zone of Early Style art. The repetitive designs on the neck and body of the flask comprise essentially arcs or intersecting circles, highlighted by dotted infilling. The style is more commonly represented on pottery, the so-called 'arc and circle style' of the region east of the Rhine that Schwappach (1973; 1976) contrasted with the 'floral or plant style' of the middle Rhine and Marne. That there is a regional contrast seems clear, but it is a contrast that may have been accentuated by the dependence of the eastern distribution on examples from pottery, whereas the western distribution is predominantly of metal-work. The eastern arc and circle style itself is a complex phenomenon, including stamped ornament of arcs and circlets arranged in clusters rather than simply in linear friezes. This is especially notable in the interior-stamped 'Braubach' bowls of the ensuing La Tene B phase. Regarding the origins of the eastern style, in the east it may derive in part from the geometric decorative tradition of the preceding Hallstatt phase (Schwappach, 1976, 94), but some of the repetitive friezes suggest southern influences. The total effect is an independent Celtic abstract style (Frey and Schwappach, 1973, 343) to which Jacobsthal gave insufficient weight.

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