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Sword and Scabbard

ca. 60 B.C.


This magnificent anthropomorphic Celtic sword is also one of the best preserved. The beautifully modeled head completing the hilt is one of the best preserved depictions of a Celtic warrior. The human shape of the hilt - looking like the geometric reduction of a classical warrior - was supposed to enhance the strength of the wearer and carry a talismanic meaning. The face with large almond-shaped eyes, the omega-shaped head and finely drawn hair are clearly articulated.

Although the scabbard is fused with the iron blade, affecting part of its surface, its ornamentation and exquisitely worked hilt make all this a strong testament to the technical abilities of the Celts, the powerful conquerors of ancient Europe. The sword is of a type associated with the La Ten culture, named after an important Celtic settlement on Lake Neuchâtel in what is now Switzerland and eastern France. Other related anthropomorphic swords from various finds in France, Ireland and the British Isles testify to the spread of the Celts throughout Europe. As the first such specimen in the museum's collection, this sword is a superb and unique example, richly complementing a select group of Celtic works of art.

Sword and Scabbard