The 4th century BC bronze Ancient Greek breastplate found at a 3rd century BC Celtic sacrificial site in Slovakia was decorated with a Greek mythology scene, a so-called Amazonomachy, a portrayal of the mythical battle between the Ancient Greeks and the Amazons, a nation of all-female warriors. Photo: archaeologist Karol Pieta / The Slovak Spectator
The oldest Ancient Greek art relic in Slovakia and its region has been discovered at a Celtic sacrificial site near the northwestern town of Slatina nad Bebravou, namely, bronze shoulder boards decorated with reliefs from what was the breastplate of a Greek warrior.
The relief-decorated breastplate was made in the Ancient Greek colony of Taranto in Southern Italy in the middle of the 4th century BC, and it came to the territory of today’s Slovakia about one 100 years later, the Slovak archaeologists have found, reports The Slovak Spectator.
“It is the oldest original Greek art relic in the area of Slovakia," Karol Pieta, Deputy Director of the Slovak Archaeological Institute in Nitra, has stated, as quoted by the SITA newswire.
In his words, the Ancient Greek breastplate might have been stolen by the Celts after the plundered the Oracle of Delphi, and ended up in today’s Slovakia as a result.
“There is a justified hypothesis that Celtic warriors, who at that time were moving to the area of middle Danube land, brought those bronze reliefs here. Theoretically, it is possible that the find was stolen from the Delphi oracle, which Celts plundered in the first half of the third century BC," Pieta elaborates.
The sacrificial place where the Ancient Greek bronze breastplate has been found is located about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) away from a significant ancient Celtic fortified settlement on Udriana hill.
The Celtic sacrificial place in Slovakia was found by accident in 2016, thanks to the attention of the locals.
It was the site of blood baths in the past because the ancient Celts used to offer not only material and animal sacrifices, but also human sacrifices to their gods. Those were ritually burned, which is why the majority of the achaeological artifacts found there are charred.
The Celtic site was excavated by archaeologists in 2016 and 2017, and the findings have now been analyzed.
The parts of the Ancient Greek bronze breastplate discovered there have been analyzed by Professor Regine Thomas from Cologne University.
She has digitized the small pieces of the breastplate shoulder boards, thus managing to reconstruct its Hellenic scene decoration.
“It was a so-called Amazonomachy, a portrayal of the mythical battle between the Ancient Greeks and the Amazons, a nation of all-female warriors,“ Pieta has explained.
Celtic shrines and sacrificial sites are among the remnants of the Celtic civilization found in Slovakia but not in Slovakia’s neighbors.
The Celtic sacrificial site near Slatina nad Bebravou dates back to the 3rd century BC, and is the fourth ritual place of ancient Celts to have been found in Slovakia.
The Ancient Celtic sacrificial site with a ritual pit near Slatina nad Bebravou in Northwest Slovakia. Photos: archaeologist Karol Pieta / The Slovak Spectator
Slatina nad Bebravou in Northwest Slovakia. The relief-decorated breastplate was made in the Ancient Greek colony of Taranto in Southern Italy in the middle of the 4th century BC, and may have been stolen by the Celts when the plundered the Oracle of Delphi. It was brought to today’s Slovakia in the 3rd century BC. Photo: archaeologist Karol Pieta / The Slovak Spectator
Archaeologists have discovered there a sacrificial pit as well as the spot where a sacrificial pillar once stood. Charred human and animal bones, bracelets from blue glass, a spur, and remains of metal clothing decorations have also been found.
So has a large amount of ceramics left after sacrificial feasts that used to take place after sacrificial rituals. Celts used to drink a beverage and throw the container to the bonfire. They would break various objects and then burn them to release the spirit of the sacrifice.
“The blood of the victims – animals or humans – trickled down to the sacrificial hole," Slovak archaeologist Karol Pieta concludes.