Symbolism and Significance – The Dacian Gold Spirals


The emergence of twenty-four Dacian gold spirals discovered in recent years in the course of illegal digging in the Orastie Mountains was not exactly welcomed by scholars[1]. It did not even help that the type had been known since the 19th century although not in gold but in silver with sometimes gilded terminals[2]. Twenty-six of the twenty-eight similar and sometimes even near identical silver spirals had been discovered in Romania. The fact that until the discovery of the gold spirals, Dacian gold artefacts did not seem to exist, led most scholars to consider them fakes. In the meantime, thirteen of the twenty-eight gold spirals have been recuperated[3]. Their authenticity has been established, the find spots scholarly examined[4], the origin of the gold determined as alluvial gold from Transylvania, and the manufacturing process analyzed[5]. Associated coins allowed to determine an approximate date, the second half of the first century B.C. But all this is far from being the end of the story of an important group of artefacts that will force us to revise firmly established theories in regard to Dacian history, art and religion. Important questions still need to be addressed. To start with, we have to ask what was the function of these gold spirals in life and what was the meaning of their figural terminals. Who made them and which are the implications of their unusually high weight in regard to a society that did not use gold for profane purposes?  Why were they put into the ground in certain manners and in certain locations and what was the purpose of these depositions? Although the silver spirals are not the subject of this paper, the relationship between them and the gold spirals is worth being analyzed as well as the meaning of the Dacian silver hoards in general and the locations where they have been deposited[6]. Finally, we have to ask what the gold spirals tell about the period to which they belong and about their place in the broader context of contemporary gold finds in other parts of Europe. With all likeliness, we will never be able to answer all these questions. This  paper is a preliminary effort to understand the new finds in the context of our very limited knowledge of  Dacian society, Dacian economy and Dacian ritual and religion. Surprisingly, it led to more results than expected, but more research including an open minded analysis of the numerous coin finds and of the silver hoards, new approaches, new ideas, and – with some good luck – new discoveries will be necessary to achieve a reliable picture.

The written history of the Dacians is brief. It comprises a few fragmentary accounts by Greek and Roman writers who knew very little about a barbarian people living beyond the borders of the classical world, who had never visited the country, who depended on hearsay and who were  biased. When treated critically, the information they give can be very helpful, when simply accepted very misleading. The Dacians themselves were illiterate, and left only their material heritage. Their laws and values, myths and beliefs, customs and rituals died with them. We can interpret the artefacts that have been excavated or discovered by chance, but the immaterial heritage is a different matter. The analysis of the gold spirals themselves, of the find spots, contexts and related finds will prove, that behind their artistic vitally, their workmanship, and their material value they offer information that goes far beyond art historical and technical considerations.   

I. Significance and Symbolism

When the first gold spirals physically became known, they were referred to as bracelets similar to the Greek and Roman bracelets terminating in snake`s or animal`s heads. In fact, such bracelets obviously provided the prototype or at least had been the source of inspiration[7]. Only when the number of known gold spirals increased and it became evident that in concept and workmanship all of them strictly repeated the same type and that this type was very different from any Greek or Roman bracelet, another picture started to emerge. And when detailed information about the locations where they had been found and about the contexts of those finds became known, it became obvious that the gold spirals were neither feminine nor male jewellery, but belonged to the religious sphere.

Each spiral consists of a strong wire twisted into a coil with the opens ends shaped as what archaeologists used to interpret as a combination of an animal protome and of a series of leave-shaped ornaments which in archaeological literature are generally and still today called “palmettes”. In other words, the terminals were considered to feature a combination of a zoomorphic and a vegetal element. This interpretation, fascinating as it might be, is insofar difficult to comprehend as drawings of the silver spirals discovered and published already in the 19th century, clearly present the image of a complete snake, from the head to the tapering tail[8]. The stylized snake`s head is fitted with a boar`s muzzle[9] and followed by an elongated rectangular neck, framed on both sides by raised ledges. An engraved feather on top of each ledge suggests that they are an abbreviated representation of wings, held closely to the body. The flat center of the neck, that is framed by the two ledges, shows an engraved mane. At a first glance a mane is an unusual feature of a serpent, but we find the same combination on  the Dacian dragon standard known through several images on Trajan`s column in Rome[10]. Here a wolf`s head is followed by a mane and the body of a snake. The mane might reflect the bristles on the neck of a wild boar or a horse`s mane as depicted on the winged horse-dragons on of the plaques of a Celtic silver cauldron found in Gundestrup in Denmark[11]. The thirteen gold spirals that have been examined until now offer three different interpretations of the mane. The first one is a rather abstract geometric design in the shape of a short branch of a fir tree. The second one consists of horizontal rows of short wavy strokes that on several pieces quite realistically indicate locks. The third one is an ornamental pattern of rhomboids. The same variations also occur on the silver spirals.  

A series of heart-shaped elements immediately follow the neck. Struck into the metal one after the other, they constantly diminish in size until the tip of the last one matches the cross-section of the thick wire that forms the spiral. The three sections of each terminal – head, neck, tail – are held together by an incised central axis that starts as a simple engraved line or as an engraved ornamental band at the tip of the muzzle, continues along the neck and then follows as a series of longitudinal relief lines in the center of each tail element. It is the anatomically correct representation of the vertebral column of a snake from which the ribs, indicated by short oblique lines, originate. Most likely, history of art has never seen a more stylized and yet surprisingly lively slowly moving snake.  

When we look at the serpentine finials of the gold spirals as an expression of Dacian art, the trend away from naturalism is their most remarkable feature. The flattened, stylized rendering of the head, the ornamental abbreviation of the wings, and the ingeneous design of the moving tail appeal to the modern eye. Whatever they meant to the Dacians, they certainly were not considered art, but images that were closely connected with religious beliefs. Even the question, if they were seen as two single snakes, one at each end of the spiral, or as a pair of snakes held together by a coiled wire can not be answered. Comparison with two gold appliqués in the shape of boar-headed large snakes  that were found in the first century B.C. Celtic warrior tomb in Cugir[12], in the neighbourghood of the find spots of the gold spirals, supports the second interpretation but does not suffice as proof. The Dacian gold and silver spirals are unique, but attention has to be drawn to some noteworthy comparanda in the western parts of Europe. In type, style and expressiveness the snake`s heads with the boar`s muzzles recall a boar`s head of a Celtic bronze carnyx found in Deskford in Scotland[13]. And also to be mentioned have the head and the mane with separately made locks along the neck of another carnyx that was of  part of a deposit in a Celtic sanctuary  in Tintignac in France[14]

Worldwide and from primeval times onwards, snakes have been viewed with awe or veneration[15]. Many attributes, good and dangerous ones, have been ascribed to them. They were believed to be reembodiments of deceased human beings, guardians of the entrance to the underworld or messengers between the real world and the Otherworld, the world of the supernatural forces, of spirits, ghosts and demons, and the world of the dead. They were considered to be benevolent or malevolent, to protect or to endanger, to heal or to kill. It is tempting to draw on the immense body of legends, myths and rituals from all over the world in order to try to understand the meaning of the Dacian snakes, but cross-cultural comparisons are usually misleading. Apparent similarities in other civilizations might express completely different ideologies. Some general considerations are, however, necessary. Typologically, the Dacian spirals do not simply represent snakes. The combination of a snake`s head and tail with a boar`s muzzle, the wings of a bird and the bristles of a boar respectively the mane of a horse, puts them into the realm of composite or hybrid creatures known from mythology and folklore through the history of mankind. The ancient Greeks knew a large number of composite creatures – the centaur, the pegasos, the hippocamp, the griffon or the siren, to name just a few –  but winged snakes were not part of their mythology. The image of the winged dragon, fierce and breathing fire like the one in the legend of St. George, does not occur in European art before the 11th century when the crusaders brought it with them from the Near East. The first scholar who called a Dacian serpent spiral a dragon was the archaeologist R. Florescu in his description of a gilded silver spiral found in 1856 in Orastie[16]. The word derives from the Greek word “drákon” . “the gazer”, a reference to the particular and sometimes petrifying gaze of a snake. Greeks and Romans used it for any great serpent, not necessarily a mythological one. Like all fictitious creatures, dragons owe their supernatural power to a combination of the physical characteristics and specific qualities of two or more different animals. The wings of the pegasos increased the speed of a horse, a griffin with the body of a lion, wings and the head of eagle was invincible because it combined the strength of both, the feline and the bird of prey. The combination of the physical features of a snake and of a bird allowed the dragon to move in two different spheres, the earth and the sky, and to control and wield power in both of them.   

Alternatively, a combination of the physical characteristics of two creaturs can refer to the capacity to shift shape, to metamorphose from one being into another. Shape-shifting is as old an element of mythology and folklore as fictitious creatures. Greek gods, Celtic heroes, Nordic divinities and the protagonists of fairy tales, all had the capacity to shift shape. Metamorphis might reflect experiences of early societies who lived in a world in which natural phenomena were considered the work of supernatural powers, in which the boundaries between the real world and the Otherworld were often blurred and ill defined, and in which mountains and rocks, trees, rivers, and animals were imbued with divine spirits. In such environments certain animals held special significance and the snake was certainly one of them. Its noiseless movement, its peculiar gaze and its power of casting its skin already favoured a special position. And from the natural phenomenon that many snakes are ovipar, reproducing like birds by means of eggs, it was only a short step, if not a logic conclusion, that one could easily transform into the other. Even today, everybody who grew up in the country, at one point experienced with awe that a bird was flying up or the cry of a bird was heard the same moment a snake had just quietly disappeared – was there a better argument that both were the same?

Whatever interpretation of the winged snakes of the gold spirals is correct, we are reaching here the intangible, the religious beliefs of the Dacians. There is not much hope that archaeological evidence will ever be able to prove how readily the symbolism of the winged snakes was understood by the contemporaries, what they meant to the single person and to the society. We do not even know if their meaning was known to all or only to a few? The mysteries and rituals of the Dacians are completely unknown. If there is archaeological evidence referring to their religious beliefs, it is often not recognizable as such or prone to misinterpretation as we do not know what to look for. The Dacians did not leave written records regarding their beliefs and their attitudes towards the Otherworld and it is not very likely that they would have shared them with any Greek or Roman. Contemporary Greek or Roman authors who lived in urban civilizations with perfectly organized religious systems, were never able to perceive barbarian religions other than according to the framework of their own world. They desperately tried to equate barbarian divinities with the gods of the Olymp or with those of the Capitol without ever understanding the less sophisticated traditions and beliefs of societies who lived in completely different environments. And the danger of seeing Dacian beliefs in a fixed pattern of existing religions continues to exist for the modern scholar brought up in monotheistic European cultural traditions based on Christianity. We do know various types of Dacian sanctuaries, but there is no information to whom they were dedicated, what their interior looked like and which rituals were practiced in them. It is tempting and most likely completely misleading  to imagine  that they functioned in a similar way as Greek or Roman temples or as Christian churches. As we do not know what we should be looking for, we have to accept that we will never get much more than a glimpse into it Dacian religion[17] . And that glimpse can only be gained through meticulously scrutinized archaeological evidence. 

 When the Romans conquered Dacia in 106 A.D., they made sure to completely destroy existing religious structures which allows the conclusion that the Dacian religious system had been closely connected with the political one. Soldiers and settlers from various parts of the Roman Empire soon established the same deities that were venerated in other Roman provinces. But as always under such circumstances, a substratum of Dacian religious beliefs will have survived underneath the new religious surface in the form of superstitions, myths and legends. Even when their roots and the original meanings have long been forgotten, some of them are known still today. Superstitions and oral traditions in the villages of the Orastie Mountains might be more reliable sources of information in regard to Dacian religion than the classical Greek and Roman authors.

A key to a tentative understanding of the winged snakes of the Dacian gold and silver spirals are the Dacian dragon standards on Trajan`s column mentioned already above[18]. Although no wings are indicated, the long poles that hold them up, leave no doubt that they were meant to be flying. The heads are clearly defined as wolf`s heads and locks do not only form a mane but are also found along the serpentine bodies, a detail that might explain the hatched edges of the gold dragons`tail elements. Differences between the standards and the terminals of the gold spirals are due to different functions, materials and craftsmanship. A. Bodor has interpreted the Dacian standards as a reminiscence of a totem that had survived from a period during which the Dacians had not yet reached the stage of anthromorphic gods[19]. There is no archaeological evidence if they ever reached that stage in pre-Roman times, but the interpretation of the winged snake as a totem that became the heraldic device of a tribe or a clan is certainly worth further consideration. 

Representations of snakes in Dacian art are rare and usually not very conspicuous. The pair of large appliqués in the shape of snakes with boars heads, made in gold sheet, from the Celtic princely tumulus of Cugir in South western Transylvania has already been mentioned[20]. Among the few Dacian silver neckrings, or torcs, terminating in snake heads, two of them found in La Marca in northern Transylvania are particular close[21]. Not unlike the spirals, a short section between the heads and the neckring itself is shaped as a pair of wings held close to the body. Also to be mentioned have the two different types of snakes depicted on the famous silver phalerae from Lupu, today in the museum of Alba Julia[22]. Two phalerae feature the peaceful togetherness of a snake and of a splendid bird. Such representations are usually interpreted as a fight between bird and snake, symbolizing “the above” and “the below”, the sky and the earth. But as there is not the slightest aggressiveness between them, it might be a reference to a metamorphosis between bird and snake. The second version of the Lupu snakes is a rather thick, twisted serpent with an animals head, held by a winged female. It is similar to a serpent on an iron roundel found in the Dacian fortress of Piatra Rosie[23]

II. Weight and Workmanship

When the detectorists discovered the spirals, they were overjoyed by the large amount of gold they had found. Archaeologists were at a loss when the news  reached them. No other part of Europe is richer in ore deposits than Transylvania and after the Roman conquest in 106 A.D., Dacian gold became legendary in the ancient world[24]. The written information was never confirmed by archaeological evidence. Hardly any gold objects dating to the Dacian period had been found in archaeological excavations or as chance finds. The discrepancy between the accounts of classical authors, Transylvania`s natural wealth in gold ores and the near complete lack of actual finds of gold artefacts, was difficult to understand. Ancient writers were blamed for having being badly informed, Dacian kings suspected of having held a strict monopoly on all gold found in Dacia, and the Romans believed to have carried away whatever gold object had existed in pre-Roman Dacia[25]. All these theories fell apart with the discovery of the heavy gold spirals, each one with a weight in the range of a kilogram of gold. One of the immediate questions was, if the Dacians already had exploited the gold mines later used by the Romans. It is futile. Natural erosion of gold-bearing rocks over many hundreds of years had provided easily accessible sources. Rain washed gold into streams and rivers and when the current did not have the power to carry it further, it collected at the bottom of pools and formed placers. This explains that even a few centuries ago large and very heavy lumps of gold could be found among the stones. Smaller pieces were collected using the fleece of a sheep or washed with the help of simple wooden constructions[26]. The constant supply was obviously not met by the demand of a self-sufficient rural society for which gold was neither a status symbol nor an economic factor[27].  As the British archeologists B. Cunliff stated in 1994 “Apart from coinage, the Dacians seem to have imported virtually nothing made of durable material. They had the spending power to import all manners of luxuries but, on available evidence at least, it seems that they were both culturally isolationists and military expansionists”[28]. Imports from Greece or Rome are, indeed, limited in regard to quantity and quality. Ancient civilizations linked gold with myth and magic, at least as long as they did not have a monetary economy. The Greek originally had considered gold as a gift of the gods and for the Dacians its use was obviously restricted to the sacred sphere. There might have been a taboo on it, but at the same time it was not left in the river. Either deliberately or when gold happened to be discovered, it was collected and hoarded, possibly in a similar manner as described by Diodor in regard to Celtic gold: In temples and sacral locations there is plenty of gold, dedicated to the gods, and the fear of them is so great, that none of the natives touches it, inspite of the greed of the Celts.[29]

Scientific analysis has proven that the gold spirals were made from river gold. For each piece the manufacturing process started with an ingot cast from the amount of raw gold considered necessary. The ingot was hammered into a length of thick wire, the ends of which were then shaped by free hand forging, punching, stamping and engraving into winged dragons. Forging was never a characteristic gold smithing technique but that of blacksmiths working iron and there are various reasons to assume that It were blacksmiths who made them. This does not come as a surprise. A society that did not use gold for jewellery or plate did not need goldsmiths[30]. For both metals, for gold and iron, the technique of forging is similar except that iron has to be heated before it gets worked and reheated in the course of the working process while the natural malleability of gold allowed to shape it in a cold state. Striking iron required a certain physical strength, less impact was needed for the softer gold which corresponds faster to the blows of the hammer. In both cases, the tools were more or less the same, an anvil and a few hammers. Tool marks on all examined spirals betray the remarkable physical strength of the craftsmen used to heavier work. The heavy impact of the striking hammer occasionally  drove the metal too far, an error that could not be reversed. Little chips were even left standing upright, larger areas of excess gold pressed down. None of them would have survived if the spirals had been worn as bracelets or handled in any other way. While the enormous experience of free-hand forging of the gold spiralsbetrays the hand of the blacksmiths, the use of dies, not unlike coin-dies, to shape the tail ends of the dragons makes it evident that these were also responsible for the imitation of Hellenistic gold coins that , in addition to the original Lysimachoi issued in the first century B.C. by the Greek cities on the western coast of the Black see, were discovered in larger hoards either with gold spirals or without in the Orastie Mountains. The Greek issues as well as the Dacian imitations feature on the obverse the posthumous portrait of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great (356 – 326 B.C.) with the horn of Ammon in his curly hair, and on the reverse the title and name of the Thracian king Lysimachos (306/5 – 285/4 v. Chr.) and the image of a seated Athena holding a Nike on her outstretched right hand[31]. The  first century B.C. date of the Greek prototypes offers a terminus for the Dacian imitatios. To about the same period date a second group of Dacian coins, the so-called Kosons, gold staters with an eagle on one side and three walking figures above the legend in large letters on the other[32]. Not much is known about the Kosons except that they were found mainly in larger hoards in the Orastie Mountains and seem to have been minted locally. As the Kosons imitate the type of a Roman denarius issued in 54 B.C. they offer a reliable post quem date not only for their issue but also for the deposition of the hoard.

Once the shape of the terminals had been achieved by cold forging and the tail elements struck, anatomical details were indicated with the help of engravers and punches. The hatched edges along the raised rim on both sides of the tail elements have already been mentioned. The fine hatching might be an abstract transformation of the locks along the bodies on  Dacian standards on Trajan`s column. Variations in detail were obviously allowed and so we find on some pieces additional decoration in the shape of dotted lines, a final ornament at the tip of the tail, an ornamental rendering of the mane, or an ornamental band instead of the central axis. Noteworthy are the variations in rendering the eyes. On some pieces they are simply punched, on others they are beautifully engraved and shaped like human eyes  Punched teeths often create a frightening if not cruel expression. We do not know, if all these variations were decoration in the true sense of the word, reflect a certain artistic freedom, a personal touch of the craftsman, or had a special religious meaning. The final step in the manufacturing process was a slight polishing of the surface with very fine sand. Under magnification, the scratches caused in the course of this process are still visible and have led to the misleading conclusion, that the spirals have been exposed to wear and tear before being buried.

 Gold and silver spirals were made in the same manner, the same techniques of forging, engraving and stamping with dies were applied. Archaeologists recognized the silver spirals as the finest Dacian silverwork but except for the efforts of Florin Medelet, who, in vain, tried to establish die connections between the various spirals[33], they never attracted much attention. 

In numismatics, coins can be attributed to one issue when the same dies have been used to strike them. When a die became worn or cracked, it had to be replaced. Theoretically, a similar procedure could be expected in regard to the dies that had been used to strike the tail elements of silver and gold spirals with serpentine terminals, but surprisingly, there is no evidence  that dies were changed only when it was a technical necessity. Like the silver spirals, none of the known gold spirals shows the impression of a damaged die. Nevertheless, a larger number of dies was used than actually necessary. For some pieces a single die sufficed to stamp all tail elements, on others two or even three were applied. Does this indicate that several craftsmen were privileged to participate in the manufacturing process  of a single gold spiral and each one used his own die? Whatever the explanation is, the use of various dies Difficult  to explain are also the differences in weight. At least for the moment no system or standard can be recognized. This is insofar amazing, as the Dacian imitations of Greek gold and silver coins more or less follow certain weight standards. Dacian metal smiths had there means to weigh metal but obviously there was no need to control the weight spirals.  

III. The Craftsmen

What do we know about the craftsmen to whom we owe the gold spirals? Several metal working centers working in bronze and in iron have been excavated in Sarmizegetusa regia, in the immediate vicinity of the find spots, but we do not have any information in regard to their organization or to the number of craftsmen involved. There are the furnaces, there are the tools, and there are the immense amounts of iron slag they left, but nothing is known about the position of metal smiths in the hierarchy of Dacian society, a society that very much depended on their capacities[34].  In myths and legends blacksmiths have often been credited with immense and even magical powers and this is what Dacian metal smiths must have had In the eyes of their contemporaries Their sophisticated knowledge made them superior to any other craftsmen, their skills to the community in general. They were able to turn rock into iron, to control a fire hot enough to turn black iron into glowing metal and they were able to shape this red hot metal simply with the blows of a hammer amidst sparkling flashes. Ancient metal smiths did not confine their skills to one material only. They knew how to make bronze and how to turn solid gold nuggets into liquid gold, let it get solid again and turn it into precious artefacts. They worked the gold destined only for the transcendent divinities and not used by ordinary men. No other social group came into closer contact with the divine forces of the Otherworld.. The exceptional position metalsmiths enjoyed in early civilizations is best illustrated by Hephaistos, a blacksmith and the only craftsman whom the ancient Greeks made a god. 

Based on few literary references and on archaeological evidence, scholars have tried to understand the social structures of pre-Roman Dacia[35]. We know that there were at least two different classes – the usual classification of any ancient society.  There were so-called noblemen, but it is elusive if their status was heritary or meritory, and there were commoners. Craftsmen are not even mentioned. Priests are generally believed to have belonged to the aristocracy, but how they became priests remains a mystery as well their functions and obligations. We can assume that like priests in general, Dacian priests linked the two worlds, the real and the irreal one, together, that they interpreted natural phenomena, tried to controll supernatural forces and made sure that taboos were respected, and that rituals and ceremonies were performed in the proper way. We can also assume that they decided which commodities were appropriate for offering, the size of the offering and the locations where they had to be placed. No doubt were they involved in the production of artefacts that were made to be sacrificed. In other words;  Dacian sacrificial offerings and sacred depositions needed both, the capacities of the metal smiths and the knowledge of the priests. Modern thinking would automatically suggest, that socially superior priests instructed and controlled socially inferior workmen, but the reality might have been very different.  In the Celtic social hierarchy artisans, especially blacksmiths and other metalworkers belonged to the same social group, that of  “men of art” and it is tempting to assume a similar equal standing for Dacian metal smiths and priests, if both were not the same. 

IV. The Find Spots – High Ground Finds

Art historical analysis and technical and scientific examinations can tell a lot about an artefact, but never the whole story. The true nature of the gold spirals and their fate in antiquity as well as in recent years would never have become known but for the information about the find spots and the context of the find[36]. The first spiral to be discovered in the second half of the nineties of the last century by an illegal detectorist had been pressed from the top into a heap of several hundred gold staters, first century  B.C., either issues of  the Greek cities on the western coast of the Black Sea or Dacian imitations of the same type. In both cases they show the posthumous coin types of Lysimachos, his name and title on the reverse, the portrait of  Alexander the Great on the obverse. 

The hoard was discovered at Muchea Cetatii, the citadel on the highest level of Sarmizegetusa regia, undoubtedly one of the key sites of Dacian history. The spiral turned up in a public sale in New York where it was not sold and then disappeared in an anonymous private collection[37]. This find was followed by the discovery of six gold spirals again on Muchea Cetatii, emphasizing the sacred importance of the site. The uncertain chronology of the archaeological relicts of Sarmizegetusa regia does not allow to determine, if the citadel already existed at the time when the two Muchea Cetatii hoards were deposited or not. It the hoards were placed in the ground before a fortification existed, the location was definitely a sacred site, possibly even a natural sanctuary like sacred grove, on the summit of the mountain. If they  were offered at the time the citadel was built, they might have been foundation deposits and if they were buried when there already was citadel, such a fortification might have served also a religious purpose. Whatever hypothesis is correct, it would be interesting to know, if later generations were aware that their ancestors or predecessors had placed precious offerings at Muchea Cetatii.

A third hoard consisting of two gold spirals, c. 200 gold staters, again the usual first century posthumous Lysimachoi or their Dacian imitations, and of c. 500 Greek silver tetradrachms, was discovered in the summer of 1999 in the course of illicit detectoring. This time the find spot was in the immediate vicinity of the sacred precinct of Sarmizegetusa regia, just below the citadel and therefore called Sub Muchea Cetatii. Once again the uncertain chronology of Sarmizegetusa does not allow to determine, if proper sanctuaries already had been built before gold and silver offerings  were put into the ground, if it was a sacred location or a natural sanctuary. Difficult to accept is the composition of the hoard. The occurrence of gold and  silver items or of gold and silver coins in one and the same Dacian hoards is most unusual. Although the proper significance of the Dacian silver hoards, be it objects or coins is still open to discussion, there seems to be a strict social if not also religious line between the use of gold and that of silver. Further research therefore has to take into consideration that the   Sub Muchea Cetatii hoard represents two depositions.   

May 6, 2000, a hoard of ten gold spirals was discovered in the course of illegal research on one of the steep mountains that are part of the larger Sarmizegetusa regia complex. Before the discovery of this large hoard, this mountain, known as Muchea Capraretei, was famous for the metal working shops on one of its terraces. The  distance between the findspot and the sacred precinct of Sarmizegetusa regai is only c. 600 m, as the crow flies. The hoard had been placed  in a depth of ca. 50 cm only ca. three meter below a large rock on the summit of Capraretea. But for this rock that most likely had a ritual function, and at the same sheltered  the pit, torrents could easily have washed down the hoard. The ten gold spirals had been placed in two layers, one above the other, into a pit that had been carefully prepared on a ledge just big enough to offer the necessary space[38]. Bedrock formed the bottom of the pit, the walls were lined with flat stones  and a larger slab served as cover. The site itself, the care and attention given to the pit, the remarkably large number of gold spirals and the vicinity to the metal smiths`s quarter, make not only this hoard but also the location very special. The summit of Caprareata is difficult to reach and not very spacious. Even if there had been no grove but a clearing, it would never have allowed the gathering of a larger assembly. On the contrary, only very few members of the Dacian society would have been privileged to arrive and remain there. In fact, the summit of Caprareata recalls descriptions of the famous Celtic “ nemata”, natural sanctuaries where only priests communicated with the divinities.[39]. The same year and again on “Muchea Caprareata”, a coin hoard composed of pseudo-Lysimachoi and Kosons was discovered by detectorists. Finally, between May 26 – 28, 2001, on the slope opposite to the pit with ten spirals, three spirals and two single ones surfaced in the course of illegal activities on “Muchea Caprareata”.

The terms “hoard” and “treasure” used here for the finds of Dacian gold spirals and gold coins discovered in the citadel and near the sanctuaries of Sarmizegetusa regia and on Caprareata, signify collections of valuable artefacts that were purposely buried in the ground. Archaeology knows two different categories of hoards or treasures, profane and sacred ones. Profane hoards consist of a collection of personal belongings buried for safety in times of unrest with the intention of later recovery. They usually consist of valuables  that vary in shape and purpose and have been acquired by the original owner over a longer period. When a profane hoard includes coins, types, nominal and the state of preservation varies as they have been accumulated in the course of several years. Sacred hoards are distinguished by the homogeneity of their content and by the fact that they were not meant to be retrieved but to remain forever in the ground. The main source of origin of sacred hoards is a lack of understanding of natural phenomena, that threatened human life, of the fear of supernatural powers and of  the hope to influence fate. Catastrophies, disastrous experiences, illness and death could be explained  only as having been caused by invisible powers. Rituals and ceremonies might have helped to establish good relations with these powers, to win their benevolence, but the only means to influence them, for which there is archaelogical  evidence, are propitiatory hoards placed in the ground which occasionally also meant watery contexts or even water. Sacred offerings in the ground were usually placed not very deeply and when deposited into water, sources, fords and the banks of rivers and lakes were the preferred gateways to the Otherworld.

The exact purpose of a propitiatory hoard was not necessarily specified, but in any case there were reciprocal expectations. Those who offered, expected help from the beneficiary, those who accepted the gifts were obliged to help. Archaeology has several terms for sacred hoards, offerings, sacrifices, votive deposits or simply depositions. They all refer to the same phenomenon known from all over prehistoric Europe, deposition of fine artefacts on land and in watery contexts that can be traced over an enormous time span and over a vast geographic area, including the Carpathian basin[40]. The tradition started as early as the Neolithicum, saw its pinnacle in the Bronze Age, and became less common in the course of the last millennium B.C. when proper temples and sanctuaries replaced the traditional sacred sites and became “centers of communication”  with the divinities. In all Europe, the Celtic society was the only one that continued with the deposition of sacred hoards until the early first century B.C., even when there were already proper sancturaries and temples[41]. The nature of the objects that were offered, varied and also the beliefs and rituals behind them. Bronze Age depositions usually consist of tools, weapons and personal ornaments. Gold artefacts are rare except for Transylvania where c. 125 gold finds dating to the Later Bronze Age have been recorded[42]. Tools, weapons, arms and armour and personal ornaments continue to be offered in the early Celtic periods, but from the second century B.C. onward, they were replaced by gold neck- and arm rings and by gold coins[43]

From the very beginning, the homogeneity of the offerings remarkable. Series of similar and even identical tools, weapons and personal ornaments have been found in larger numbers in sacred hoards. The Capraeata pit with the ten near identical gold spirals fits perfectly into this pattern. It would be wrong to interpret this repetition of the same type of object as a lack of imagination. Although its significance remains a mystery, the nature and quantity of the commodities must have been an important part of the religious act of depositing offerings.   

A homogeneity of the offerings can even be noticed in sacred hoards consisting or including coins. In archaeology, coins are usually understood as a means of payment, but closer examination of Celtic coin hoards dating to the last two centuries B.C. has revealed, that their majority of had not been struck for circulation but to be hoarded and to be deposited as sacred offerings[44]. Quite often the coins from these hoards belong to a single issue, have been struck with a limited number of dies, and are in mint condition without the slightest traces of wear. Identical coin types and  – as far as illegally excavated coins hoards could be scholarly examined – limited numbers of dies and perfect condition are also the hallmarks of the Lysimachoi and Kosons in the hoards discovered in the Orastie Mountains. In the non-monetary Dacian economy gold staters hardly functioned as means of payment but were a sort of religious token, accumulated or fabricated to be sacrificed. How exactly the Dacians interpreted the images on the Lysimachoi is not known, but certainly not as Alexander the Great or the Thracian king Lysimachos.. The large horn in the curly hair of the handsome head of a young man on the obverse of the Lysimachoi would have made him a hybrid creature, a hero or a divinity of their own myths and legends.  The Greek goddess Athena with her helmet, one arm resting on a shield, the other supporting a winged female figure, a Nike, might have been an armed goddess or a female spirit. For the illiterate Dacians,  the legends – Basileos Lysimachos – and the monographs of the magistrates in charge of the Hellenistic issues – might have been magic formulae, emphasizing the sacral character of the image. As to the so-called Kosons,  it is not very likely that the Dacians were aware, that the image with the  three men walking to the left imitated a Roman denarius issued 54 B.C. and originally interpreted a Roman magistrate accompanied by two lictores carrying their fasces[45].

The various hoards of gold spirals, gold spirals and coins or only gold coins mentioned so far had been placed in antiquity on high ground, on exposed hill sites. None of the sites had been picked at random[46]. Offerings were sacrificed only in locations that were believed to be gateways to the Otherworld,. Bizarre mountain formations, caves, rocks, trees or water were es.sential elements to believe that a place was inhabited by numinous spirits[47]. Some of such locations are still today landmarks, others can no longer be identified. Trees, that once formed a sacred grove, no longer exist, rivers meandered or were regulated, agriculture and industry changed the landscape. But even when there is no external indication, any ritual deposition is evidence, that the finds spot was once considered sacred. At least at one point in their history, the summit and the sacred precinct of Sarmizegetusa regia as well as the steep slopes of Caprareata had been places that allowed  to communicate with the transcendent powers of the Otherworld.

V. The Find Spots – River Finds

Judging by the large number of offerings placed in or near water all over Europe, watery contexts might have been even more important than those deposited on high ground. Depending on the geographic conditions, lakes and ponds, marshland and bogs as well as  rivers belong into this category. Water seems to have facilitated contacting the forces of the Otherworld. In some cases  there is evidence for a single deposition on the bank of rivers or at the shore of a lake,  but there are also offering places that were continuously  used for a long period. One of the best known is the Celtic offering site of La Tène on the lake of Neufchâtel in Switzerland, where great numbers of artefacts, deliberately deposited in the water in the course of several centuries, were discovered when in the mid­-nineteenth century the water level receded. The deposition of propitiatory hoards on the bank or in a river started as early as those on high ground[48]. Rivers were natural boundaries in the landscape, and at the same time they constantly changed. A quiet stream might turn into a dangerous torrent, leaving its bed and flooding the adjacent meadows, turn them into swamps and then withdraw again and even may dry out. Fords were important as they linked both sides together and allowed to cross rivers even at high water. It does not come as a real surprise, that the two largest Dacian gold treasures ever discovered had not been buried on high ground, but on the banks of rivers. None of them any longer exists. All we know about them we owe to literary sources that are, however, worth to be reconsidered in the light of the recent finds of the gold spirals and of the impressive number of coin hoards. One of them is the so-called hoard from the Strei, discovered in 1543, and deposited at about the same time as the recent finds from the Orastie Mountains. The other is the Sargetia treasure, usually called the treasure of Decebalus, that was deposited shortly before the Roman conquest of Dacia in 106 A.D. 

The Strei treasure, that consisted of ca. 40.00 gold coins, Lysimachoi and Kosons,  two gold roundels with figural decoration, an unknown number of pieces of gold sheet and a  gold “dragon” was discovered on the bank of the river Strei, one of the tributaries of the Mures[49]. It starts as a lively torrent in the Orastie Mountains and becomes calmer only after it reaches the Hateg plain. None of the literary sources offers precise informations about the find spot, but as Gradistea de Munte is frequently mentioned, it is obvious that it must have been in the vicinity of that village, somewhere  along the upper part of the Strei, a few kilometer away from Sarmizegetusa regia.  As the narrow valley does not offer much space for the river to meander, we can assume that still today it follows more or less the same course as in antiquity. The written information suggests an area wide enough valley for a herd of cattle to graze, and with easy access into the river for the cattle to drink. There are not many places along the upper part of the Strei that fulfill  these conditions. A possible location for a sacred deposition is the marshland Lunca Jorzului, still used as pasture and  featuring  three remarkable landmarks, a ford, a huge rock directly on the bank of the river, and the bizarre formation in the shape of a pointed tower at one end of an impressive limestone massive that is overlooking this part of the valley[50]. According to the sixteen and seventh century sources based on the information given by eye witnesses of the discovery, a man-made stone vault had protected for over fifteen hundred years the deposit against the strong current of the Strei, until the roots of a nearby tree damaged it. Heavy rain washed out some of the coins and these were discovered by peasants, who noticed the glitter of the gold in the water when they took their cattle into the river. Most of the coins, gold staters with the coin types of Lysimachos and Kosons, were soon dispersed, but several thousand pieces and a “gold dragon” were confiscated by the then time governor Georg Martinuzzi (                  ) who kept them in his castle Vintu de Jos near Alba Julia until he was murdered in December 1551. According to eye witnesses, the so-called gold dragon had been lying like “a guardian” on top of the coins, exactly like the first gold spiral discovered in 1998 on Muchea Cetatii that had been pressed from the top into a heap of coins[51]. The fact, that Martinuzzi kept the dragon filled with Lysimachoi leaves no doubt, that it, too, had been a coiled gold spiral. It  is the only shape in which a snake can serve as a container. After the governor`s death, the dragon filled with thousand coins were sent to Vienna, where they were all seem to have ended up in the crucibles of the royal mint. 

The Strei treasure is what is generally called a river find although it was not just put into the water but protected by a stone wall against being washed away by a strong current.  Whoever deposited the material was familiar with the enormous power of mountain torrents and made sure that the deposition remained exactly where it had been placed. It was not the river in general that was considered sacred, but a limited location. With ca. 40.000 gold coins, the 

 hoard was considerably larger than the total amount of gold coins discovered in later centuries and in modern times. The meaning of the plain gold sheets that belonged to it is difficult to interpret. The two gold roundels, that at the time of the discovery were interpreted as the biblical king and queen Nino and Semiramis, were sent to the emperor Charles V and their future fate is unknown. There is detailed description except that one featured a male figure, the other a female one. The term “medallion” used for these roundels suggests that only the heads and busts were shown, like on contemporary 16th century medallions. 

The second known Dacian river find, the Sargetia or Decebalus treasure, was not haphazardly discovered, but salvaged by the Roman army under Trajan who had learnt about it through a Dacian aristocrat after the conquest of Sarmizegetusa regia. With a few sentences the Roman historian Cassius Dio (ca. 169 – after 229 A.D.)[52] describes how the Dacian king Decebal hid his treasures in the bed of the river Sargetia, today the Gradistea river, a brawling trout river of great picturesqueness that passes the royal residence Sarmizegetusa regia.  Decebal allegedly first had the Sargetia turned into another riverbed, placed gold and silver and other valuables in dug out holes in the original bed, had them covered with stones and earth and then diverted the river back to its original bed. Roman captives, who had done the actual work, were killed so that they could not betray the location. This clever scheme with which the Dacian king is believed to have tried to protect his treasure from falling into the hands of the enemy, has been admired by the Roman author as well as by the modern reader. Both, the king`s motif and his plot make sense, except that “hiding” treasures is not consistent with Dacian attitudes towards precious metal nor with their customs. Precious valuables were meant to be offered to the gods, either in gratitude or as a propitiary gift, but not to be simply hidden. Cassius Dio, a Roman citizen used to a monetary economy based on gold and silver, would hardly understand such an attitude. Romans hid their valuables for safekeeping, but did not offer them to their gods. The first scholar who interpreted Cassius`s text cum grano salis was  I. Marazov  He explained the hiding of the treasure by Decebalus as a practical step that was given  the ritual form of a sacrifice[53]. A comparison of Cassius Dio`s description of the Sargetia treasure with all we know about the Strei treasure and also the find contexts of the recent Dacian gold finds, Decebal seems to have been more concerned to assure transcendental help than worried about a possible loss of precious metal. Assuring the help of the gods was certainly worth immense offerings, including Roman captives as human sacrifice. 

Inspite of a time span of  ca. a century or about three generations between the Strei and the Sargetia treasure,  the similarities between the two hoards are amazing. In both cases the rivers were diverted in one way or the other, but definitely not by digging a new bed. The narrow valleys near Sarmizegetusa regia and the rocky ground would hardly have allowed that. It sufficed to block a limited section along the bank and thereby divert the current. To dig holes into the river bed was necessary as the water level in mountain torrents can change considerably and often it is not very high. The Strei treasure was protected by a stone” vault”, the holes dug into the riverbed of the Sargetia were covered with earth and stones. In other words, man-made stone walls protected both river hoards. Such similarities suggest  that Decebal followed a well established tradition in depositing votive hoards in mountain rivers. The ritual started with blocking the current, placing the offerings into holes, covering them with stone wall and flooding the location. It ended with human sacrifice. 

In addition to the deposition of the Sargetia hoard  Cassius Dio also mentions the hiding of precious garments and other objects in caves. And here, too, we find the same misunderstanding as before. Sacred caves were as characteristic for prehistoric religion as the offering of garments[54]

VI. Conclusion

There is something fascinating about ancient gold treasures particularly as the reasons why they have been buried vary from strictly economic to religious.  The Dacian gold spirals and the large hoards of gold coins found with them or in their vicinity belong to the second category. The analysis of their meaning and  of their different find spots suggests that the Dacians venerated transcendent powers by depositing sacred offerings on high ground, in rivers and in caves. This seems to imply different beneficiaries who had to be reached through different locations. Judging by the size of the offerings, access to the most influential transcendent power was through water or, to be precise, at certain areas of a rivers. The commodities offered included gold coins, gold spirals, garments and unknown “other objects”. That the gold coins that were offered had any monetary value has to be doubted. For the Dacians the different coin types were not what they are to the modern numismatist. With all likeliness they were images of deities or spirits of the Otherworld. The two gold roundels with figural decoration in the Strei treasure most likelyt belong to the same category. The exact significance of the gold spirals with dragon terminals is open to discussion, but there is some indication that they were guardians, messengers or maybe both. Comparison with contemporary comparable hoards in various parts of the Celtic world suggest certain Celtic influences in the Orastie Mountains that might we worth being in consideration particularly in regard to the princely Celtic burial from Cugir[55]. There is little information in regard to Dacian history of the second half of the first century B.C., the period to which all gold spirals seem to date. It seems to have been a period of important transitions and of events that were either linked to or led to establishing Sarmizegetusa regia as the important center. The written evidence about the Sargetia treasure proves, that the early traditions known from the Strei treasure and the recent finds continued until the end of Dacian independence.  


[1] D. Spanu, Puncte de vedere asupra  bratarilor dacice de aur. O dezbatere in cadrul  Academiei Romane. (In memoria lui Constantin Preda), Materiale si Cercetari Arheologice, serie noua III, 2007, pp. 103 – 106.

[2]  F. Medelet, Tipologia bratarilor spiralice de argint, in Studii si Comunicari, Caransebes, II, 1977, pp. 277 – 297 with further references; id. Au sujet d`une grande spirale dacique en argent du Musée National de Belgrade, Banatica 12,1, 1993, pp. 177 – 211.

[3] Inspectoratul General al Politiei Romane, Identitati Regasite pp. 6 – 11;  B.Deppert-Lippitz, Spirale Dacice din aur din Muntii Orastiei (with English and German translation) , Patrimonium I, 2008, pp. 203 – 288; E. Oberländer-Tarnoveanu – G. Trohani, Tezaurul de la Sarmizegetusa Regia (jud. Hunedora) in: Comorile Dacilor, Catalog de Expozitie, Poiesti 2009, pp.28 – 35; cat. nos. 13 – 16.

[4] M. Ciuta – G. Rustoiu, Consideratii a asupra unui complex descoperit in proximitatea Sarmizegetusa Regia, Patrimonium I, 2008, pp.190 – 202.

[5] E. Oberländer-Tarnoveanu- B. Constantinescu, Analize de suprafata si compozitionale privind autenticitatea unor bratari …. (with English resumé)  Patrimonium I, pp. 289 – 332.

[6] B. Deppert-Lippitz Thrako-Getische Silberschätze. In: Goldhelm, Schwert und Silberschätze, Reichtümer aus 6000 Jahren rumäni­scher Vergangenheit. Exhib. cat. Frankfurt/M, pp. 85 – 89; K. Horedt, Die dakischen Silberfunde, Dacia N.S. 17, 1973, pp. 127 – 167.

Zu dem sich im Kunsthistorischen Museum in Wien befindenden Silberfunden aus Siebenbürgen s. Fr. Florescu – I. Miclea, Tezaure Transilvane (1979) passim; 

Zu den Silberfunden gleicher Herkunft im Nationalmuseum Budapest s. N. Fettich, Archäologische Beiträge zur Geschichte der sarmatisch-dakischen Beziehungen, Acta Arch. Hung. 3, 1953, pp. 127 – 178 passim.  

[7] B.Deppert-Lippitz, Greek Bracelets of the Classical Period, in D. Williams (ed.), The Art of the Greek

 Goldsmith (London 1998), pp. 91 – 94.

[8] V. Parvan, Getica, O prtoistorie a Daciei (1982) figs. ….; for the reproduction of a drawing s.  V. Sirbu – G. Florea, Géto-Daces, Iconographie et imaginaire (2000), Fig. 41, 1.

[9]  S. the boar`s head from a carnyx found at Deskfor in Scotland,  www., and  the boar-headed carnyx from Titignac in France, Chr. Maniquet, Les bronzes guerriers de Titignac-Naves (Corrèzes)) (2009) 

[10]  cf. V. Sirbu – G. Florescu, Géto-Daces, Iconographie et imagination (2000), pp. 144ff. 

[11]  Cf. Sirbu – Florea 2000, fig. 78,3.

[12]  I.H. Crisan, Necropole dacice de la Cugir (jud.Alba), Apulum XX, 1980, pp. 81ff.


[14] S. Chr. Manquet, Les bronzes guerriers de Titignac-Naves (Corrèzes) (2009).

[15] C. Staniland Wake, Serpent Worship and Other Essays with a Chapter on Totemism (1888) pp. 96ff.

[16] R. Florescu – I. Miclea, Tezaure Transilvanie (1979)  cat. No. 42, p. 25ff., fig. 19f.

[17] R. Hoddinott, Rogozen and Thracian Religion: the Indo-European Factor,  In: B.F. Cook, The Rogozen Treasure, Papers of the Anglo-Bulgarian Conference, 12 March 1987 (1989) 51ff.

[18] Cf. note 9

[19] A.Bodor, Die griechisch-römischen Kulte in der provinz Dacia und das Nachwirken einheimischer Traditionen , Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, Teil 2 Bd. 18 (1989), 1142.

[20] S. note 11.

[21] R. Florescu – I. Miclea, Tezaure Transilvane (1979) cat. No. 36, p. 23 f., figs. 14f.

[22] D. Spanu, Studien zum Silberschatzfund des 1. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. von Lupu, Rumänien, Praehistorische Zeitschrift 77, 2002, Heft 1, pp.84 – 136, figs. 7 – 12.

[23] V. Sirbu – _G. Florea, Géto-Daces, Iconographie et imaginaire  (2000)  fig. 39.2

[24]  Joann.Lyd. De mag. II 28

[25]  D. Spanu, Consideratii privind teoria “Monopolului” regal dacic si circulatia metalelor pretoase in Dacia Preromana,  Argesis, Studii si comunicari, Seria Istorie XIII, 2004, pp. 59 – 97.

[26] R. Tylecote, The Early History of Metallurgy in Europe (1987) p. 47; G. Morteani – J.P. Northover, Prehistoric Gold in Europe, p. 69 with further references.

[27] I. Glodariu, Relatii comerciale cu lumea elenistica si romana (Cluj 1974) = Dacian Trade with the Hellenistic and Roman World, BAR Supplementary Series 8, Oxford 1976

[28] B. Cunliffe, The Oxford Illustraded History of Prehistoric Europe ( 1994) p. 407.

[29] Diod. 5,27.

[30] For Dacian jewellery s. D. Spanu, Piesele de orfevrerie din Dacia din secolele II a.Chr. – I p. Ch., Studii si cercetari de istorie veche si arheologie, tomul 57, 1 – 4, januarie – decembre 2006, pp. 187 – 200.

[31] Cf. H. Temporini – W. Haase, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römsichen Welt (1979) pp. 37, p. 45, n. 34.

[32] O. Iliescu, Sur les monnaies d`or à la legend ΚΟΣΩΝ, Quaderni ticinesi di numismatica e antichità classiche, Lugano 1990, vol XIX, pp. 185 – 213.

[33] F. Medelet,  In legatura cu o mare spirala dacica de argint  aflata in Muzeul National din Belgrad, in Analele Banatului, III, 1994. 

[34] E. Iaroslavschi, Tecnica la daci (1997); id. Eisengewinnung und Verarbeitung, in:  Die Daker, 1980, pp. 11ff.

[35] G.A. Florea, The “Public Image” of the Dacian Aristocracy, Studia Universitatis “ Babes-Bolyai”, Historia 51, no. 1, 2006, pp. 1 -11.

[36] The archaeological community is indebted to the Romanian police and to the Prosecutor`s office, particularly to A. Condruz, M. Ciuta and A. Lazar, for having meticulously gathered important archaeological information that otherwise would have been lost..

[37] Christie`s New York, Christie`s New York, Ancient Jewelry, Dec. 8, 1999, Lot 26.

[38] Ciuta – Rustoiu  Patrimonium I, 2008, pp. 177 – 202

[39] Nemata……..

[40] R. Bradley, The Passage of Arms. An Archaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Hoards and Votive Deposits (Cambridge 1990); Only in the Celtic world, the period of transition from one system to the other lasted even into the early first century A.D. Precious offerings continued to be offered at the traditional natural locations, even when there were already sanctuaries A. and B. Hänsel, Gaben an die Götter, Schätze der Bronzezeit Europas, Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Staatl. Museen Berlin,  Bestandskataloge Band 4 (1997);  The Spoils of Victory, The North in the schadow oft he Roman Empire. Exhibition Catalogue  Nationalmuseet Copenhagen (2003).

[41] A. Haffner (ed.) Heiligtüme und Opferkulte der Kelten (1995), passim.

[42] M. Roska, Thesaurus Antiquitatum Transsilvanicarum Bd. 1, 1942, p. 360f. ; D. Popescu, Die frühe und mitlere Bronzezeit in Siebenbürgen (1944);  D. Popescu,  Prelucrarea aurului inm Transilvania inainte de cucerirea romana, MCA II, 196 – 250; St. Foltiny, Einige spätbronzezeitliche Goldfunde aus Siebenbürgen im Naturhistorischen Museum, Ann. Naturhistor. Mus. Wien, 72, 1968, pp. 703 – 711. S. also I. Marazov, The Rogozen Treasure (1996) pp.  270ff.

[43] Ph. Baval et al. Dépots, lieux sacrés et territorialité à l`age du fer, actes ….. 2007; F. Müller, Götter, Gaben – Rituale, Religion in der Frühgeschichte Europas (2002), pp. 159 – 169; I. Stead, The Snettisham treasure: excavations in 1990, Antiquity 65, 1991, pp. 447 – 464; R. Hobbs, Treasure, Finding our past (2003), pp. 137 – 142.

[44] M. Nick, Am Ende des Regenbogens … Ein Interpretationsversuch von Hortfunden mit keltischen Goldmünzen. In: C. Haselgrove – D. Wigg-Wolf (eds.) Iron Age Coinage and Ritual Practices,. Sturdien zu Fundmünzen der Antike 20 (2005) pp. 115 – 155; M. Nick, Economic and Social Patterns in Celtic Coin Use. In: H.-M. von Kaenel – F. Kemmers (eds.) Coins in Context I. New Perspectives fort he Interpretation of coin Finds. Colloguium Frankfurt a.M., Oct. 25 – 27, 2007. Studien zu Fundmünzen der Antike Bd. 23 (2009), pp. 173 – 186; M.  Nick, Gabe, Opfer, Zahlungsmittel – Strukturen keltischen Münzgebrauchs im westlichen Mitteleuropa, 2 vol., Freiburger Beiträge zur Archäologie und Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends 12 (2006).  M. Nick, Göttergeld und Fürstengold – Schätze mit Goldmünzen am Oberrhein und in Europa. In: Kelten an Hoch- und Oberrhein. Führer zu archäologischen Denkmälern in  Baden-Württemberg 24 /2005) pp. 65-71.

[45] M. Crawfortd, RRC, no. 3981; no. 433/1.

[46] R. Hobbs, Treasure – Finding our Past (2003), pp. 38ff.

[47] F. Müller, Kultplätze und Opferbräuche in:  H. Dannheimer – R. Gebhard, Das keltische Jahrtausend,  Prähistorische Staatssammlung München, Ausstellungskatalog 1993, pp. 177 – 188, figs. 147 and 151; J.N. Bremmer,  „Religion“, „Ritual“ and  the Opposition „Sacred vs. Profane”. Notes towards a Terminological “Genealogy” in F. Graf (ed.) Ansichten griechischer Rituale. Geburtstags-Symposium Walter Burkert  1996 , pp. 9 – 32.(1998) pp. 9 –32.

[48] Vgl. F. Torbrügge, Vor- und frühgeschichtliche Flußfunde. Zur Ordnung und Orientierung einer Denkmälergruppe. Berichte der Römisch-Germansichen Kommission 51/2, 1970/1, S. 1ff.; R. Bradley, The Passage of  Arms. An Archaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Hoards and Votive Deposits (1998).

[49] Makkay Spanu ……..

[50] For bizarre rocks in the vicinity of Celtic sacred locations s.  F. Müller, Kultplätze und Opferbräuche in: H. Dannheimer – R. Gebhard, Das keltische Jahrtausend,  Prähistorische Staatssammlung München, Ausstellungskatalog 1993, pp. 177 – 188, figs. 147 and 151.

[51]  Ascanio etc.

[52]  Cassius Dio

[53] I. Marazov, The Rogozen Treasure (1996) pp. 278f.

[54] F. Müller, Götter, Gaben Rituale (2002) pp. 181ff. 

[55] S. note no. 12.