The Celtic Oppidum of Manching
In particular, in the second century BC, the Celts began to build city-like settlements, so-called "oppida". One of the most thoroughly-researched sites between Hungary and France is the settlement of Manching, which has been systematically made accessible through extensive excavations since 1955. Oppida were regularly organised and offered space for several thousand people. To live together and to receive care was only possible through new social and economic structures. These innovations included the development of handicrafts geared towards surplus production. Iron products, glass, pottery and foodstuffs were produced on a large scale and sold nationwide.
Unlike other fortified settlements, Manching was not situated on a mountain plateau, but on the plain of the Ingolstadt basin. The Oppidum was particularly conveniently located, since an east-west connection ran through the settlement to the south of the Danube. To the north, there was probably a harbour at an arm of the Danube, now silted up. Manching was surrounded by a 7km long city wall, which was initially half-timbered ("Murus Gallicus") and later used as a post-slot wall. The Oppidum covered an area of c.380h. The surrounding area was used for agricultural purposes, and nearby bog-iron deposits were also made use of.
Numerous finds provide information about the settlement of Manching, which lasted from the end of the fourth to the middle of the first century BC; a widely ramified network of streets can be found in the central area. Along these roads were fenced-in farmsteads with residential and commercial buildings. Craftsmen's districts and a sanctuary were also discovered. The ritual significance is emphasised by the finds of fragments of a large iron horse statue and of a gilded cult tree.
Weapons, imports (e.g. wine, tableware) and the adoption of southern models (e.g. coinage) suggest close contacts with the Mediterranean region. Discoveries of coins and of matching minting tools refer to a regulated trade. The specialised processing of various raw materials (e.g. metal, amber, wood, bone, glass, sapropel, leather) made Manching a national centre of production and distribution.
The end of Manching is documented, among other things, by the interruption of imports and by the reduced size of the farmsteads, probably a reference to a continuous decline in population and importance.
>> These finds are part of the "Archaeological finds from Manching" of the holdings of "Archaeological Findings" of the Archäologische Staatssammlung München (Archaeological Collection of the Bavarian State).