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Iron Age secrets exhumed from riches-filled crypt

Treasures point to trade links between Central Europe, Mediterranean cultures

2:00pm, February 2, 2017
Iron Age gold spheres

GOLDEN FINDS  Five gold spheres and a gold pinhead (far right), each shown from two angles, were found on the skeleton of a woman buried near an early Iron Age hill fort in Germany. These and other items in the grave show connections to Mediterranean societies, probably via trade.

Discoveries in a richly appointed 2,600-year-old burial chamber point to surprisingly close ties between Central Europe’s earliest cities and Mediterranean societies. Dated to 583 B.C., this grave also helps pin down when people inhabited what may have been the first city north of the Alps.

An array of fine jewelry, luxury goods and even a rare piece of horse armor found in the grave indicates that “there were craftsmen working in the early Celtic centers north of the Alps who learned their crafts south of the Alps,” says archaeologist Dirk Krausse of the Archaeological State Office of Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Previous research has established that speakers of Celtic languages inhabited parts of Europe as early as 3,300 years ago. Celtic iron makers appeared in Central Europe by around 2,700 years ago — marking the beginning of that region’s Iron Age — and founded what’s now called the Hallstatt culture.

The grave and a

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