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Last modified: 2011-06-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: gaul | insignia | boar |
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Gallic insignia

Recent archaeological excavations made in Tintignac (municipality of Naves, department of Corrèze, Limousin) by Christophe Maniquet, from INRAP (Institut national de recherches archéologiques preventives), are briefly reported in Pour La Science, #327 (January 2005).

Several broken artefacts have been found in a square worshipping pit in Tintignac. The site, located on the territory of the Lemovices tribe, is dated Ist century BC; in De Bello gallicum, Julius Caesar reports the use of such pits; their desecration was a cause of capital punishment, which explains why the Tintignac pit was preserved in the later Gallo-Roman ages.
The main findings are nine Gallic helmets (until now, only a few dozens of such helmets have been found in Gaul) and five carnyx. These Gallic war trumpets were known only by small remains found in Scotland and the East of France and iconographical sources (Roman low reliefs and Gallic coins). A carnyx is made of a right tube ending with an animal's head-shaped pavilion. Beside the helmets, the trumpets, swords, shields..., remains of insignia were found in Tintignac: "several boar and horse's heads made of sheet bronze, brandished by the Gauls on the battlefield as their insignia".

A Gallic coin, shown in Larousse's Histoire de France Illustrée (Volume 1, Naissance d'une nation), depicts the Eduan chief Dumnorix, holding in one hand a carnyx and a boar-shaped insignia and in the other hand a human head. Astérix books do not report the use of the heads of the enemies as war trophies, which was fairly common in Gaul and upset so much the Greeks and the Romans.

Michel Pastoureau [pst98] explains that the boar was traditionnally associated with Gaul in the Roman times. On the Trajan's column, built in Rome in the IInd century to commemorate Emperor Trajan's conquests, Gaul is represented by a boar in the allegory of the provinces of the Empire. Pastoureau gives the drawing of the insignia of a Gallic legion, with a boar, seen on the column.

Ivan Sache, 27 December 2004