Kultbäumchen – Keltischer Bauernkult

Archäologische Staatssammlung München


In 1984 gold leaf particles were found in a pit in the large Celtic settlement of Manching. A block excavation then made it possible to uncover and prepare a little gold tree with ivy leaves, acorns and buds in the restoration workshops. It had a 70 cm high gold-plated curved trunk decorated with circles and a 16.5 cm long branch, which was also covered with sheet gold. The nine heart-shaped ivy leaves are inserted into the trunk except for one specimen on u-shaped, riveted bronze stems.

The little tree is interpreted as an oak shoot entwined with ivy. It is conceivable that the transportable Manching tree was carried along in solemn processions as a sacral implement. Cults were bound to sacred groves. Oaks and mistletoe play an important role in Celtic natural shrines.

The little gold tree was buried as an ensemble: iron and bronze frames were found in the layers of earth, as well as large areas of gold leaf, which once probably decorated a richly decorated ornamental box that served as a container for the tree. Details of the production method, such as the use of wool grease to fix the gold foil and the decoration of the box with the typical Celtic triple swirl ornament, suggest local production. The leaves of the little tree, on the other hand, are worked using a technique where the only known models come from workshops in Taranto in lower Italy.


Archäologische Staatssammlung München

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