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Celtic Jewelry

Five torques discovered during the construction of the canal lateral to the Garonne, in 1841, known as “Les Mauoris” in Fenouillet (Haute-Garonne) © J.-F. Peiré
Five torques discovered during the construction of the canal lateral to the Garonne, in 1841, known as “Les Mauoris” in Fenouillet (Haute-Garonne) © J.-F. Peiré
This magnificent set of gold work dating back to the end of the third century   was discovered in the nineteenth century near Toulouse.
The Celtic necklaces are called toques because the metal snap ring is composed of twisted wires.
Produced in large quantities in Western Europe beginning in 1500 BCE, they were worn by women.
At the beginning of the Iron Age, between 800 and 450 BCE, these become a prerogative of princes and warriors. The latter placed the precious jewelry in sanctuaries under the protection of the gods. They recovered them before leaving for combat as the jewelry fueled their bellicose ardor. Later they would dedicate their victory to the divinity who gave them strength and courage.

The torques were most popular between 450 and 50 BCE, the evolution of gold work allowing finer and more complex pieces to be created.

These gold necklaces testify to the presence of the Celts, the Volcae Tectosages, in Toulouse beginning in the third century BCE.

Excavated in an area that was probably humid, either they were offerings to a divinity associated with water or they were used as limit markers on a territory.
They are reminiscent of the history of gold in Tolosa. If the pillages of the Tectosages’ sacred lakes, organized in retaliation to the Roman consul Caepio, it is proven that the legend overrides the accepted story. The Tectosages’ gold would have come from the looting of the sanctuary in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in 279 BCE. To stop the wrath of the Greek divinity, the Tectosages would have had no choice but to offer this gold to their own divinity. Caepio did not bring the gold to Rome. He was robbed during the voyage which led to his decline and his family’s decline.
As a result, the expression “to have the gold of Tolosa” means that one never reaps benefits from wrongfully acquired goods.

Five torques discovered during the construction of the canal lateral to the Garonne, in 1841, known as “The Maouris” in Fenouillet (Haute-Garonne).
End of the third or beginning of the second century BCE.
Inv. 25045 to 25049

Jewelry set discovered in Lasgraïsses (Tarn) © J.-F. Peiré
Jewelry set discovered in Lasgraïsses (Tarn) © J.-F. Peiré
Fortuitously excavated in the nineteenth century, this jewelry set includes two pieces : a necklace and an armband or ankle bracelet - specialists disagree on its interpretation.
The context of the discovery does not aid in determining the rite for which it was buried. Perhaps a funerary rite or offering ?

It is a warrior’s jewelry set such as those that, according to Latin authors, were worn by the Celtic warriors.

The two pieces of jewelry bear a resemblance to crowns of wild flowers. On the torque, a ribbon encircles the flowered stem resembling the torque’s torsade.
The armband appears to have been made by superimposing two bracelets made of gathered bouquets, side-by-side and face-to-face, to form an alternation between floral nodules and smooth depressions made of stems as if they were encircles by fabric.

The two pieces of jewelry distinguish themselves by the technological aspects.
To create the armband, the goldsmith used a cylinder made of a sheet of gold from which the pattern was formed using the technique of repoussé and then reworked. He joined another smooth cylinder to the interior by welding. However, many elements of the necklaces were shaped by a different technique: the casting of lost wax on a clay mold. They were then assembled by welding. The two parts of the necklace fit together in the back with a hook secured with a sliding pin and on the front with two richly decorated stamps. The smaller piece of jewelry, when unopened, has a diameter that suggests that it is an armband.

The Greek influence on the gold work from southern Italy is perceptible, notably in the technique of creating the petals and the baroque aspect of the decorations.

Jewelry set discovered in Lasgraïsses (Tarn), in 1885.
End of the third century BCE.
Inv. 25043 and 25044.
Lu 1083 fois

Tolosa's gold age | Chiragan | Necropolis