The 108th Lecture in Sino-French Academic Lecture Series is Held at the Institute of Archaeology
From：Chinese Archaeology Writer： Date：2010-07-12
The 108th lecture in the École Française d’Extrême-Orient's (EFEO) Sino-French academic lecture series “History, Archaeology and Society” was held at the CASS Institute of Archaeology on the afternoon of June 29, 2010. The main theme of the 2010-2011 lecture series is “Représentations de l'au-délà : apports de l'archéologie et de l'histoire de l'art”, or, “Representations of the Beyond : The Contributions of Archaeology and Art History”. The key speaker of this lecture, “From Chieftain to Prosperous King: The Occupant of the Large Celtic Tomb at Hochdorf” was Professor Stéphane Verger from the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, France.
Bai Yunxiang, Deputy Director of the Institute of Archaeology, presided over the lecture. He began by giving the EFEO speakers a warm welcome on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology and expressed his deep wish that the two institutes would continue to strengthen their academic ties and cooperate on future projects. This was followed by opening speeches from Professor Marianne Bujard, the Head of the EFEO's Beijing Centre, and Professor Alain Thote, a Professor at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, who then went on to explain the origins of the Sino-French lecture series and give a brief overview of some of the key points that would be touched upon in the lecture. Experts and scholars from the CASS Institute of Archaeology, the EFEO, the Palace Museum, Peking University and the Beijing Institute of Clothing Technology attended this fascinating lecture on the ancient Celts.
The lecture focused on the discovery of a large Celtic tomb in Hochdorf, a German village in the central Danube Valley, in 1978. Professor Verger presented an in-depth analysis of the positioning of the grave goods excavated from within the burial chamber before discussing the ethnic and social relationships between the various Celtic tribes and the social position of the occupant of the Hochdorf tomb. He also described how the placement of the grave goods within the burial chamber reflected Celtic perceptions of the afterlife, or Otherworld.
Professor Verger began his lecture with an introduction to the ancient Celts before going on to give a detailed account of the Hochdorf tomb's construction methods and structure as well as descriptions of some of the grave goods that were found buried within it. The Hochdorf tomb has proved to be larger than other Celtic tombs discovered to date and the grave goods excavated from the burial chamber include a conical hat, a golden neck torc, and a throne. The findings led researchers to speculate that the occupant of the tomb had been an influential chieftain of a Celtic tribe that had once inhabited the Hochdorf area. By analyzing the tableware, the quantity and rank of drinking vessels, thrones and other grave goods excavated from Celtic tombs, researchers have proposed that there were eight main Celtic tribes, of which three were deemed relatively powerful. The occupant of the Hochdorf tomb may have been a high-ranking member of one of the three principal tribes. Furthermore, researchers believe that the excavated Celtic settlement at Heuneburg may have been the seat of power of the chieftain's tribe.
The research conducted on Celtic grave goods has cast light on the Celts' social customs, political systems and religious beliefs. For instance, the custom of sitting cross-legged on the ground and the traces of mead found inside the buried drinking vessels are all thought to have had symbolic links with the concept of royal power in Celtic lore.
The lecturer concluded his lecture by suggesting that being laid to rest in the burial chamber was the final phase in the chieftain's unparalleled career and that this final phase marked the journey towards the blissful Otherworld of ancient Celtic religious belief, an afterlife attested to in ancient Greek documents dating from the 6th Century BC.
After the lecture, the attending scholars engaged in a lively discussion about the functions of the grave goods, interpretations of Celtic beliefs in the Otherworld, and the cultural characteristics of the ancient Celts. (Translated by Kelly McGuire)