Schwert - Abbild des Kosmos (Detail, Vs.)

Archäologische Staatssammlung München


When in 1891 at a gravel quarry the Bajuwarenfriedhof (cemetery of Baiovarii/Baioarii) at Allach was excavated, a tomb from the early Celtic period was found with an iron sword stuck in a tin scabbard. During the immediate conservation at the Römisch-Germanische Zentralmuseum (Roman Germanic Central Museum) in Mainz the famous antiquarian Ludwig Lindenschmit recognised golden inlays on the blade: a half moon, a disc and in between a line. Only in 1973, during a second restoration campaign, it would become possible to discover further details of ornamentation. Underneath the mentioned three symbols on the front are five dots of diverse size. On the back are two motifs: the symbol of a bow ending into balls and a circular symbol with a triple spiral (triskelion) inside. These signs were put by the smith as a generally intelligible image code onto the sword. We lost this knowledge together with the missing written traditions of the Celts. The symbols on the front may be deciphered in accordance with the knowledge of Mediterranean ancient cultures. There, the seven heavenly bodies that can be recognised with the naked eye and that moved in front of the sky of fixed stars were termed as planets: on the day sky the Sun, on the night sky Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jove and Saturn. Each of them had a day of the week attributed – in the Romance languages the custom has survived to this day. In this imagination, the Earth rested in the centre of the cosmos and did, therefore, not belong to the seven planets. The images on the front of the sword transmit for us the essence of the cosmological world image of Old Europe. It is a symbolical image, created from the pre-scientific observation of natural phenomena. The depiction, therefore, corresponds in its intentions to the Bronze Age "Himmelsscheibe von Nebra" (Nebra sky disc). The motifs on the back are more difficult to understand, although they are frequently repeated in the late-Celtic period on Celtic gold coins. On the bow the beginning and the end are clearly marked with dots, the circle with the spiral is, however, a radially symmetrical sign of infinity. It remains unclear whether the circular bow symbolised for the Celts the horizon or the new Moon und whether the spiral denoted birth and death or rather infinity.


Archäologische Staatssammlung München

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