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Journal Articles Études celtiques Year : 2021

“Ingots” from the Second Iron Age, A first overview


In a comparative numismatic study that was conducted on a European scale, we observed the regular presence of gold and silver “ingots” in certain habitats as well as in deposits. These objects, which are often little documented or even unpublished, are noteworthy due to their frequency. Therefore, the aim of this article is to shed light on these singular objects, so as to enable new hypotheses. In light of discoveries that have been made elsewhere and at other times, especially in the Mediterranean Basin, many interpretative perspectives now need to be taken into consideration, far from the traditional fixed patterns of monetary evolution. When we started this research, we were struck by the multitude and abundance of archaeological evidence. We therefore structured our corpus according to three major criteria. Firstly, only “ingots” of precious metals (gold and silver) were taken into account. Iron (currency bars, obeloi) and copper alloys, which may have performed identical functions, were therefore not included in this study. The quantity of corresponding objects (fragments, “ingots”, etc.), which may have had many uses on archaeological sites, would have made any inventory impossible. However, it is highly probable that other non-metallic objects were used as money, as well as certain perishable goods such as salt or wheat. Secondly, for the sake of chronological consistency, we have only included in the inventory “ingots” from sites where an occupation in the Second Iron Age has been documented or from hoards where “ingots” are associated with other objects from the Second Iron Age. Finally, from a geographical perspective, this article mainly focuses on temperate Europe. The chosen area therefore covers a territory lying north of the Pyrenees, between the Atlantic coast to the west and the Carpathians to the east. The Iberian Peninsula, where the use of weighed metal is now well documented, will be mentioned, but it is not our core subject because it presents specific economic and monetary dynamics. Before dealing with the objects themselves, we need to paint a broad outline of the situation of money known as “weighed money” throughout Europe. Putting things into perspective in this way enables us to place Celtic “ingots” within a wider geographical and chronological context of monetary practices. We will then return more specifically to the Celtic period by reviewing the ancient sources and historiography. Finally, we will present an attempt at a typology and a non-exhaustive inventory of the diffusion of these “ingots” in order to raise questions regarding their uses.
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halshs-03174088 , version 1 (18-03-2021)


  • HAL Id : halshs-03174088 , version 1


Julia Genechesi, Eneko Hiriart. “Ingots” from the Second Iron Age, A first overview. Études celtiques, 2021, 46, pp.185-224. ⟨halshs-03174088⟩
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