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28/11/2004France trumpets discovery of Gallic war trophies
BORDEAUX, France, Nov 27 (AFP) - French archaeologists said this week they had discovered an exceptional Gallic war treasure in the south of the country, including rare war trumpets and ornate helmets.
The some 470 objects, or fragments of objects, were found at the end of September during a dig at Naves, in the department of Correze in southern France, in a ditch hollowed out of a Gallic-Roman temple, they said.
"The exceptional character of this discovery lies mainly in the presence of five almost complete carnyx," Christophe Maniquet, an archaeologist at Inrap, France's national institute for Archaeological studies, said.
"They are Celtic war trumpets which were used to scare off the enemy, by confusing the battle," he said.
He said it was the first time these ceremonial musical instruments had been found in one piece. The long, bronze tubes, measuring more than two metres long, have flags on the end, four of which bear the head of a wild boar, the fifth a snake.
"In all, in the world, there have only been fragments of these instruments, in Scotland and Mandeure (eastern France). We only know these trumpets through drawings," he said, saying they had in particular been seen represented on coins.
The searches of the temple, including into the first occupations, which date back to the first century BC, started in September 2001.
In addition to the traditional warfare - swords, sheathes and spearheads, the archaeologists made another special discovery: nine war helmets, of which eight in bronze and one in iron, with their rear peaks.
One of them was particularly original, being decorated with a swan, while another was decorated with golden leaves.
"We have only found around 20 helmets in the territory of the ancient Gaul," Maniquet said.
The discovery does not end there.
Also unearthed in the search are bronze animals' heads - boars and a horse.
"These animals could be war signs, placed at the end of the poles which guided soldiers during battles," he said.
There are only five kinds of this kind of sign.
Experts say the experts could be a real "war trophy", and appear to have been buried for religious reasons.
"The fact of having buried them amounts to a ritual of offering," he said.
Most of the collection has been sent to a laboratory in Toulouse to be cleaned, carefully studied by archaeologists and then restored.
"We hope to see these objects on show in a museum in two or three years' time," Maniquet said.
"All specialists, whether English, German or Italian, of the Celtic period will come rushing to see these exceptional objects."
Subject: French News
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