Exhibition highlights Celtic culture, identity

Many myths have circulated concerning the Celts and their way of life. Some may think of them as a barbaric and “headhunting” horde. In Stuttgart, visitors can find out the truth to the myths as well as historic facts about the Celtic civilization, its vibrant culture and identity during the “Der Welt der Kelten,” or “World of Celts,” exhibition. The exhibition runs until Feb. 17, 2013 in downtown Stuttgart.

The exhibition consists of two parts: “Zentren der Macht,” or “Seats of Power,” located in the Kunstgebäude (art building) at Schlossplatz, and “Kostbarkeiten der Kunst,” or “Treasures of Art,” located at the Alte Schloss (Old Castle). The exhibition aims to recreate the Celtic way of life as well as the historic influence of the Celts in Europe, according to Dr. Heike Scholz, spokeswoman for the Landesmuseum Württemberg. More than 1,300 artifacts and recent archeological findings from all over Europe are displayed throughout the exhibition. According to a Landesmuseum Württemberg press release, the Celts were mentioned for the first time in Greek documents around 500 B.C. The ancient historian Herodotus localized the Celts in Central Europe. However, archaeological findings proved that the Celts had already settled in Southern Germany, Switzerland and Eastern France about 100 years earlier. During the fourth and third century B.C., Celts were traced in Italy, the Balkan region, Greece and parts of Turkey in search of new settlements.

The tribal societies did not represent a Celtic nation, but its people embraced the same traditions in arts and crafts, religion and language. According to the press release, the Celtic culture originated in Southern Germany, Switzerland and Eastern France. The “Seats of Power” exhibition displays the evolution of the Celtic civilization in Central and Western Europe from the Iron Age until the beginning of the Roman era. Visitors can look at artifacts that depict the everyday life of the Celts to include trade, technical innovations, religion and the tribal societies’
structure, according to Scholz. The seats of some early Celtic princes, as well as large defended settlements, or “oppida,” are also on display. Visitors can fully experience some of the “seats of power” on three-dimensional media kiosks throughout the exhibition. 

One of the exhibit’s centerpieces is the “Glass Bowl of Ihringen.”  The bowl dates back to the early Iron Age and was found in the Breisgau Black Forest region. The drinking horn of the “Prince’s Grave of Kappel,” one of the most treasured Celtic graves in Central Europe, is another highlight. The excavated belongings of a Celtic princess also provide insight into Celtic culture. The Treasures of Art exhibition displays jewelry including colorful glass bracelets and golden necklaces, weapons as well as items for everyday use such as bowls, coins, belts and more. Patrons can see the bronze “Mirror of Desborough” with spiral and trumpet motifs that were typical for Celtic art in Great Britain. Findings from the grave of the Celtic “Prince of Hochdorf” such as golden footwear and the princes’ large coffin and a bronze cauldron are also featured. To get the most out of the “Celtic” experience, Scholz, the spokeswoman of the Landesmuseum Württemberg, recommends visiting the “Seats of Power” prior to the “Treasures of Art” exhibition. “Overall, the goal of both exhibitions is to clarify some of the common misconceptions of the Celts solely being barbarians,” Scholz said.
Editor’s Note: During the “Seats of Power” exhibition, the Celtic “headhunting” ritual is also explained. Celts thought of the head as the center of power. Therefore, taking an opponent’s head following a battle became a common ritual.
The exhibition is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday until Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The exhibition is closed on Monday. Tickets cost €15 and include admission into both exhibitions. Visitors can tour one part of the exhibition and come back for a second visit any other day until the exhibition ends. Family tickets cost €30. Entrance for children five years old and younger is free. Audio guides in English are available and can be purchased for €2. For English-guided tours, call civ. 0711-89535-445. For more information, visit www.kelten-stuttgart.de.