(Plate C)

This plate shows an intriguing iconography of two deities with a broken wheel: in the center of the plate, a bust of a bearded deity is depicted with a half-shaped wheel on his right side and a full-length leaping figure is holding the rim of the wheel from the right. Under this leaping figure, a horned serpent is presented. The rest of animals are placed clockwise around this group of two deities: in the upper part of the plate, two identical beasts are depicted on either side of the group, both facing the left side of the deities and in the lower part, three griffins are depicted in parallel, all facing the right side of the deities. The space between the upper and lower group of the animals is filled with some botanical patterns which are usually identified as ivy tendrils.

The bust of a bearded god in the center is almost identical with the small bust on the right shoulder of the goddess on plate (e). On the other hand, the leaping figure holding the wheel on the left is similar to the gods of the plate (A) and (E) in its size and dress. He wears tight fitting, short-sleeve clothes and a horned helmet ending in knob like terminals. Drawn on these similarities, Olmsted reconstructs the narrative of this plate in relation to the other plates; according to him, the gods on plates (A), (C), (E) are different representations of the same god, the Gaulish version of Cú Chulainn in Irish tale Táin Bó Cuailnge. Like Cú Chulainn in the Táin, the young god wearing the horned helmet uses a broken wheel in confrontation with the bearded god, Fergus who, on plate (e), accompanies the goddess sharing traits with Irish Medb. The horned serpent under the feet of the young god can be read as the Irish goddess Morrigan who, in another anecdote from the tale, disguised herself in the shape of an eel and finally had her ribs crushed under the feet of Cú Chulainn.

Indeed, the unique presence of a broken wheel suggests that this plate may be a description of a particular narrative. Yet, there is no guarantee that this half shaped wheel was meant to be a broken wheel. Ellis Davidson notes that the wheel was a familiar Scandinavian symbol in the period of the late Bronze Age, a basic motif in the rock carvings which continued to appear throughout the Iron Age. On the other hand, some scholars identify the bearded deity with Jupiter Taranis of the Celts whose traits are wheels. Besides, Olmsted fails to explain the existence of the fantastic animals such as lions(?) and griffins. Even if we accept his argument that the beasts in the upper part of the plate are variants of the wolf, the griffins are completely inexplicable in the context of the Irish tale, Táin, for griffins are unknown in early Irish tradition. Actually, these griffins are all the same with their segmented wings, rounded bird heads and hanging feet as those on plate (B). As manifest examples of Thracian style, they are often compared with the fantastic animals of Sark, Helden, Paris phalerae of Thracian origin and the Agighiol vase (belonging to 4th BC Thracian style). Especially the Agighiol vase shows the parallel expressions of the hanging feet depicted on plate (B) and (C): the deer with their legs dangling in midair as well as griffins and lions.

   (Agighiol Vase)


Go to the Main Page, Plate (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), (base)