The Vix Burial

The burial found in Vix, France, dated to the late 6th c. to early 5th c. BCE has provided further argument for the high statuses that women held in Celtic society.  A debate rages about her status; some scholars believe that she was a Celtic princess while others argue that she was a Druidess.  The line has not yet been drawn between the two statuses in historical terms.  Although, scholars know that the Celts had kings and queens who used Druids as sources of council, they are not sure how fine the line was between the two.  Nevertheless, the woman buried in a most opulent manner at Vix shows that Celtic women could reach great heights of authority and accumulate great amounts of wealth.  Whether or not she was a Druidess is a question that can never be fully answered.  However, since she was obviously of high rank, her contact with Druids and Druidesses must have been a regular occurrence and her influence on society great.

Her burial chamber contained many opulent objects including some of Mediterranean origin.  "In the northwest corner the archeologists found a bronze krater (complete with lid), the most imposing ornamental vase that has so far come to light (Moscati, p.105).  The most important aspect of the vase is that female figure wearing long robe with a long shawl which she wears from her head to her waist has been carved in its center.  Scholars speculate that the Celts used it for mixing large amounts of wine and water (Moscati, p.105).  It also shows how the 'Vix princess' might have dressed.  Other Mediterranean artifacts included "attic cups in painted pottery, . . . Etruscan basins, [and] oinochoe in bronze" (Moscati, p.106).  The Celtic woman had been laid in the center of the chamber over a wagon with highly decorated elements.  The wheels were not attached to the wagon, but leaned against the chamber’s eastern most wall.

Archeologists have estimated her age at thirty-five and found that she suffered from tooth decay.  The Celtic woman wore great amounts of jewelry including a large torc, two armlets, one of gold and the other of lignite, and a bronze anklet.   Studies by C. Eluère conclude that the torc was the work of a "local goldsmith inspired by Mediterranean origins" (Moscati, p.106) and could only have been produced in a master goldsmith’s workshop. On her chest archeologists found a "large bronze coil and another necklace" (Moscati, p.106) along with a third necklace composed of amber, diorite, and serpentine beads.  Her clothes "were fastened with eight small fibulae, many embellished with coral" which are of Italian origin (Moscati, 106 

The eloborate manner in which was buried along with the spectular jewels that were buried along with her betray her power.  In any society wealth such as gold, jewels, etc.  represent power to people, not only because these "pronces"  have enough wealth to buy such objects, but because their decadence promotes respect from people subconsiously.  "The Celts made good use of gold as a symbol of power" (Moscati, 143).  The 'Vix princess' used gold to show those dwelling in the Otherworld that she was important and therefore deserved special treatment.  For this reason one could easily speculate that she was indeed a Druidess of great power who meant to show this power to the gods of the after life.   There are no records that indicate if Druid and Druidess burials included ornanment of any sort in thier burial chambers or even if they were buried at all.  However, since they did constitute the highest places in society, it is likely that their burials were quiet elaborate.  
In the area of France in which Vix lies, many other female graves have been uncovered.  "The tumulus of Sainte-Colombe was . . . erected in honor of a princess" (Moscati, 106), who also wore large amounts of jewelry and laid on a flattened four-wheeled wagon.  There was also a woman found at La Motte-Saint-Valentine as well as La Ronce.  In the period following the burial of the ‘Vix princess’ women were buried between the Rhine and the Moselle with equally spectacular goods and in some cases even "more magnificent than those of the majority of their contemporary warrior chiefs" (Moscati, 106).  The Vix burial is one of the earliest dated luxurious tombs found to date.

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