Villa Vecchia, Manerbio sul Mella, Italy, first century bc
This disc is part of a find that was made at a grave in Cenomani territory. It is a phalers, which a soldier might wear on his chest as a form of military decoration or which could be added to the trappings of his horse. The two largest discs in the collection featured a triskele (three-legged) device on the central boss, but this one is plain. However, it remains interesting as an illustration of the way that Celtic artists depicted heads. These rarely showed any signs of individuality and were notable for their bulging, vacant eyes, puffed-out cheeks and downturned mouths.
The severed head was a potent image for the Celts appearing as decoration on metalwork and carvings. This may have been due to their head-hunting practices. Celtic warriors often decapitated their foes, fastening the heads to their saddles or preserving them for use as cult vessels. Alternatively, they became ritual trophies.
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