Sunday, February 15, 2015
Gaulish, Insubrian, reenactment group in Western Lombardy and Ticino; and "The Torc"
The Insubrians were a major Gaulish tribe which inhabited Western Lombardy (including Ticino, Switzerland) in pre-Roman times. I think Gaulish is perhaps a more descriptive term than "Celtic," even though most of these southern Alpine tribes were part of the greater Celtic world. Western Lombardy, with it's distinct western dialect of the Lombard language, is often referred to as "Insubria" within a regional-national context.
Gianluca Preti YouTube channel
I celti insubri north italian's ancient celtic tribes
[from the video description]:
The tribe of Insubres placed between today's Lombardy and Canton Ticino (Swiss), was one of the largest Celtic tribe populating a big part of northern Italy's territories. We know from Tito Livio, historical of the I° century. BC., the story that around the seventh century BC Belloveso, a celtic prince, came in a place where was living a tribe with the same name of an Edui's tribe, who was after him: this name was Insubres. He decided to found a village in those lands, and questioned 7 wise druids, who consulted the oracle to get a response to tell him where to place the first stone.
The answer was that seeing a semi-walled sow would be the sign who marked the city's boundary. When in the middle of a clearing a White semi-walled sow was found between hawthorn's bushes, they decided that this was the place where found Medhelan. (Milàn). Today we can suppose that those "Insubres" were the direct descendants of Golasecca culture, whose archaeological remains dating ninth - VIII century. BC, are massively present in the area around Milan and Lombardy.
Recently remains were found even in the Milan's midtown. Most of these findings, concern pottery and artifacts commonly used as, bowls, vases and ornaments such as brooches and jewelry of various kinds, but close to this findings it isn't rare at all to find objects of war, such as swords, shields and studs spearheads. The Celtic people, do not always lived peacefully, though not all disputes between the various tribes, were concluding in real battles. Its also common to find objects associated with religious rituals, proof of a deep spirituality connected with the cult of the Celtic deities.
The worship of the goddess Belisama or Brigh, name who might be the origin of the Brianza's place name thet is representing motherhood and fertility, and the cult of the god Cernunnos, the spirit of the forest with deer antlers and snake at his feet, that is a protector of animals, or worshipof Belenos, the sun-god, are just some examples. What at first seemed like a normal activity of a farming community, in reality could conceal preparations for a battle, as all members of the tribe were called to work for the preparation of weapons. Often, then, the women took part in the battle. Famous are the anthropomorphic hilt swords, found in much of Cisalpine Gaul, example of Insubre's and more generally Celtic art.
The figure of the Druid was in Celtic culture, who acted as intermediary with the divine forces of nature and that could change the fate of a battle with his sorcery. He knew the power of words, writing, used to designate the sacred territories and tombstones. The North Etruscan alphabet or Lepontic recently reclassified as Cisalpine Celtic alphabet, is the oldest form of Celtic writing known, and enable us to reconstruct, albeit in a very limited way, the ancient Celtic language of Insubrians. The splendor of till now discovered archaeological remains are barely unveil the complexities of a culture so far in time but so close to our roots. A documentary about Insubres the ancient celtic tribes who found Milano in north italy, and north italian history.
The torc as a cultural symbol
I wanted to add here the torc as having been an important cultural and spiritual symbol from the iron Age to the period of Romanization and Christianization. It seems to clearly have sprung from the Continental Celts, but extended to other nearby peoples as well, and right up to the edges of the earliest Greek and Roman borders. Cernunnos was depicted as holding a snake (representative of the Ophiuchus constellation) in one hand, and a torc in another. The Hellenic depiction of "The Dying Gaul" showed him wearing a torc, and was apparently a symbol of Greek victory against the nearby Celts. It's ironic that the torc seems to have symbolically "died" along with "The Dying Gaul," at least compared to its former significance over such vast regions. Perhaps it's time to start thinking about this symbol a bit more; maybe as a Gaulish equivalent to the Teutonic hammer or drinking horn?
A torc, also spelled torq or torque, is a large rigid or at least stiff neck ring in metal, made either as a single piece or from strands twisted together. The great majority are open at the front, although some had hook and ring closures and a few mortice and tenon locking catches to close them. Many seem designed for near-permanent wear and would have been difficult to remove. Torcs are found in the Scythian, Illyrian, Thracian, Celtic, and other cultures of the European Iron Age from around the 8th century BC to the 3rd century AD. For the Iron Age Celts the gold torc seems to have been a key object, identifying the wearer as a person of high rank, and many of the finest works of ancient Celtic art are torcs. The Celtic torc disappears in the Migration Period, but during the Viking Age torc-style metal necklaces, now mainly in silver, came back into fashion. Torc styles of neck-ring are found as part of the jewellery styles of various other cultures and periods.