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Possibly Embalmed Heads Unearthed in France

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

France Celtic Embalmed SkullsMONTPELLIER, FRANCE—Live Science reports that scientists led by archaeologist Réjane Roure of Paul Valéry University examined thousands of Iron Age skull fragments recovered from the fortified Celtic site of Le Cailar, which is located on a lagoon of the Rhône River. The researchers estimate the fragments, which date to the third century B.C., represented about 50 broken-up skulls. Weapons were found alongside the bones. Chemical analysis of 11 of the skulls detected conifer resin in six of them, suggesting the heads had been embalmed. Roure and his team think the weapons and embalmed heads may have been put on display in a large, open space near the settlement gate, where they would have been seen by visiting Mediterranean traders. Ancient Greek and Roman sources claimed that Celts living in Gaul decapitated their enemies after battle and hung the heads around their horses’ necks as trophies. Iron Age sculptures depicting the practice have been found in southern France. Roure said sources also indicate the Celts displayed the heads in front of their homes “to increase their status and power, and to frighten their enemies.” For more, go to “Tomb of a Highborn Celt.”

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