Archaeology in the Raetic area

From Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum
Jump to navigationJump to search

Material culture and archaeological groups in the Raetic area


Within the area of settlement that has yielded Raetic inscription finds, three major parts must be kept apart from an archaeological perspective:

1. the northern East Alpine area, i.e. the Inntal and its tributaries north of the Brenner pass (maybe including the Wipptal down to Franzensfeste),
2. the southern East Alpine area, including the Unterengadin, the Eisack- and Pustertal, Osttirol, and the Adige valley from the river's source down to Rovereto,
3. the Alpine foothills between Trento and the Padan plain.

The local Middle Bronze Age culture of the eastern Alps is the Inneralpine Bronzezeitkultur, an inhomogenous entity formed by the input of various migrant groups in the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (Sperber 1992: 79) which extends roughly over the Inntal (Nordtirol), the Engadin and the Alpenrheintal (Graubünden) and possibly parts of Südtirol (Sperber 1992: 55; Rageth 1992: 196). In Nordtirol, this culture is succeeded by the Late Bronze Age Nordtiroler Urnenfelderkultur. In Südtirol, the Nordtiroler Urnenfelderkultur triggers the emergence of the Laugen-Melaun culture, extending from the Unterengadin and Münstertal over Süd- and Osttirol and the Trentino to Rovereto. During the Late Bronze Age, the archaeological groups of the Alpine area are unified by the common source of their wealth, their richness in copper. While Laugen-Melaun A reflects the dependence on the northern Urnfield cultures, Laugen-Melaun B and C (Early Iron Age) show a reorientation towards the south-east Este culture (Gleirscher 1992: 119): in the 10th century BC, the mining of copper, and with it the inner-Alpine populations, lost in economic importance with the rise of iron working (Gleirscher 1991: 12). The Venetian Alps and Alpine foothills between the rivers Adige and Brenta in the Late Bronze Age belong with the southern Proto-Villanova culture (Leonardi 1992: 136).

Late Iron Age

A slow convergence of the three areas can be observed from around the turn of the Early (Hallstatt C–D) to the Late (La Tène) Iron Age, though they never consolidate to form a homogenous "Raetic" culture. From the late 6th century BC onwards, triggered by the Etruscan and Greek presence in the Padan plain, a new horizon emerges, first manifest in the Southern Alps: the Fritzens-Sanzeno group. The north in the Early Iron Age remains more closely associated with the northern Alpine foreland; Marzatico 1992: 224 f. sees a reorientation towards the south indicated by the ceramics already in the middle of the 5th century, but more recently Gamper 2006: 32, 85 argues for a later date at the turn from the early to the middle LT period around 300 BC. In the south, the Venetian Alps and foothills see an increase in settlement in the 6th century, the relations with the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture becoming more evident in the course of the 5th century (Lora & Ruta Serafini 1992: 267).

The term "Fritzens-Sanzeno" was introduced by Frei 1959: 38, using (as in "Laugen-Melaun") the names of type sites of ceramic index fossils: Fritzens bowls, bowls with S-shaped profile, and Sanzeno bowls, which form (with intermediate and sub-types) an evolutionarily continuous line of pottery types distinguished by an omphalos (Marzatico 2001: 510–512; Gamper 2006: 13–17 and passim; see the drawings in Marzatico 1992: 217 [fig. 2, 1–6]).

Apart from the typical ceramics, the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture is characterised by a number of features pertaining to dress, buildings, armament and cult. A concise overview of the relevant fibula types can be found in Marzatico 2001: 516–519. The typical structure of the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture is the casa retica, a house characterised by a lowered floor which is protected from the surrounding moisture by drywalls. The interior was reached via an L-shaped entrance corridor with a slope or steps (Sölder 1992: 384 f.). The houses could have two storeys, in which case the living quarters were situated in the upper storey, while the basement was likely used as a stable (Gleirscher 1991: 24; Sölder 1992: 388–394). On weapons in the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture, e.g., the Sanzeno shaft-hole axe and the Hellebardenaxt (probably the weapon referred to by Horace; see Ancient sources; Marzatico 2001: 526), see Egg 1992: 418–430. A number of helmets of the Negau type, sometimes inscribed, were found in the Raetic area. The type is of Etruscan origin, but it was locally produced, adapted and used in the Alpine area far longer than its model (Egg 1992: 423–426).

Fig. 19: Depictions of the πότνια θηρῶν, one with arms ending in horses’ heads and a bird on the chest, cut out of bronze sheet, found in Sanzeno and Meclo, respectively (from ). Particularly in the cultic sphere, the dependence of the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture on influence from the south is manifest in the ornamentation and imagery on situlae and other luxury items (Gleirscher 1991: 51 f.; De Marinis 1999: 648 f.). Of particular importance in this context are the bronze votive figures, cast or cut from bronze sheet, which prominently represent (stylised) horses and female figures (Gleirscher 1986; Marzatico 2001: 538 [fig. 62,5 and 7]). While it is likely that these figures, particularly the specimens with arms ending in horse's or bird's heads, are representations of a female deity with ties to Mediterranean goddesses, the popular equation with the Venetic Reitia, who was worshipped at the Baratella sanctuary in Este, is tenuous. Finally, the inscriptions are a central feature which distinguishes the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture from its predecessors (Gleirscher et al. 2002: 202–207). While examples from Mediterranean cultic practice can be adduced to explain the antler piece as an object of cult (ibid., 207), the inscribed "Hirschhornvotiv" is almost exclusive to Fritzens-Sanzeno contexts and the Raetic corpus. Also specific to the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture are perforated "bone points" and bronze batons which come in sets of four. They are sometimes marked or even inscribed, and assumed to belong in the sphere of lots and divination (ibid., 208).

The Mediterranean element is generally attributed to the Etruscan presence in the 6th-century Padan plain (Marzatico 1992: 233; in detail Gleirscher 1993: 77–95). The Etruscans founded – among other proto-cities and emporia – Marzabotto, Forcello (near Bagnolo San Vito) and the harbour city of Spina, and took control of the Veneto-Greek harbour of Adria between 540 and 525 BC (De Marinis 1999: 624). Direct contacts between the Padan Etruscans and the inhabitants of the Central Eastern Alps, without Venetic or Celtic mediacy, are demonstrated, for example, by objects of Alpine make found in Forcello (De Marinis 1999: 624–626); a list of Etruscan imports found in Fritzens-Sanzeno context – not as many as might be expected, because much was manufactured locally from Etruscan models – can be found in Nothdurfter 1992: 60–62. De Marinis 1999: 628 stresses the importance of Forcello for the Etruscan–Raetic connection, which is notable insofar as the route of transit from that settlement into the north would conceivably not have led up the Adige valley, but along the Mincio to the Lago di Garda, via its influent, the Sarca, and over the plateau between the Adige and the Brenta mountains to the Noce and into the Val di Non, then over the Gampen pass to Meran. Particularly Sanzeno's evident role as a centre of metal working, trade and cult is difficult to reconcile with a main transit route passing it by in the Adige valley (Nothdurfter 1992: 51). That trade also flowed through the Adige valley is demonstrated by Etruscan finds from the Vallagarina and Pfatten (Nothdurfter 1992: 50; Marzoli & Wiel Marin 2013: 26), but, according to Nothdurfter 1979: 105, the valley in antiquity was swampy and "monatelang unpassierbar" after heavy rains. Gleirscher (Gleirscher et al. 2002: 124) hesitates to decide between Mincio and Adige as the main inlets for Etruscan culture into the Central Eastern Alps; he points to ties between the Val di Non and the Golasecca culture in the west. In any case, the major trade routes between Italy and the European mainland are thought to have bypassed the Raetic area entirely, making use of passages in the Golaseccan area (De Marinis 1988: 120; Gleirscher 1991: 13, 20; Schmid-Sikimić 2000: 215–219).

The Fritzens-Sanzeno culture appears to have flourished in the 5th–4th century (Marzatico 2001: 493) – i.e. during its intensive contact with the Etruscan culture. Celtic influence, which can be detected in both the Fritzens-Sanzeno and the Magrè group, largely replaces that of the Etruscans from the 4th century onwards, when the Celtic migration put an end to Etruscan dominance in the Padan plain (Lang 1999: 375–379; Gleirscher 1993: 97–100; Marzatico 2001: 527–537), though Etruscan elements do not disappear completely (Marzatico 2001: 521 f.). While Celtic enclaves seem to have existed in the Veneto, an actual Celtic presence in the Central Eastern Alps is thought to have been restricted to individual craftsmen (Marzatico 2001: 531 f.; though Pompeius Trogus [via Justin XX 5] lists Trento as a town founded by the Gauls). Eventually, Celts from Noricum (the Saevates; see Ancient sources) took over the Pustertal; the Germanic Cimbri's march over the Alps around in 103/102 BC may be reflected in the settlement structures of certain valleys (Gleirscher 1991: 21; Gamper 2006: 348 f.). Gradual Romanisation begins to make itself felt around 200 BC (Marzatico 2001: 537–541; Demetz 1992: 631). The Roman expansion marks the end of the indigenous Iron Age cultures of the Alps, though there are sanctuaries which were active well into Roman and even early Mediaeval times (Gleirscher et al. 2002: 196–199). The transition appears to have happened more peacefully in the southeast than in the militarily subdued inner Alpine areas (Marzatico 1992: 225 f.).

The Fritzens-Sanzeno culture extends over the area of the precursory Laugen-Melaun culture and beyond. Its border in the west lies in the Unterengadin between Scuol and Susch, in the east somewhere along the Puster- or Drautal, probably including Osttirol (Stadler 1992: 560). In the north, the Inntal, despite its clear affinity with the Fritzens-Sanzeno group, retains some distinguishing characteristics (Gleirscher 1999: 259, 261; Gleirscher et al. 2002: 173). The Montesei di Serso settlement displays intermediate features, suggesting a gradual transition into the peninsular cultures (Gleirscher 1999: 259; Gleirscher et al. 2002: 124 f.): the region south of Trento is considered part of the Raetic area (Marzatico 1999: 503), but kept apart archaeologically, its material culture being designated the "Magrè group". Find places in the Valli Giudicarie south-east of Trento (Stenico, Monte San Martino) yield different types of ceramics, some typical for Fritzens-Sanzeno, others for the Breno-Dos dell’Arca group associated with Camunic (De Marinis 1992: 155–161). Burnt-offering sites with altars of stacked stones, female votive figures and antler votives may indicate a cult community within the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture which excludes the Unterengadin, the Inntal and the areas east of Brixen and south of Trento, though the above-mentioned bronze batons commonly interpreted as lot sticks are found throughout the Raetic area (Gleirscher et al. 2002: 184, 213).

Fritzens-Sanzeno and the Raetians

Throughout the developments outlined above, there are no sudden breaks of tradition which would indicate drastic changes in the population (Gleirscher 1991: 58). The Fritzens-Sanzeno culture, identified as the material culture of the Raetians (Marzatico 2001: 483 f.), developed gradually from its precursors: Fritzens-Sanzeno pottery can be shown to be developed from local types, with new inspirations drawn from the south (De Marinis 1988: 117; Lang 1992: 98–100; Marzatico 2001: 511); Marzatico 1992: 232 points to the continuity of the places of worship. The emergence of Fritzens-Sanzeno can hardly be connected with an immigration of the non-Indo-European Raetians into the area; Gleirscher 1993: 95 f., 102 and Marzatico 2001: 485 stress the absence of any indication for Etruscan immigration into the Alpine area during their intensive contacts or at the time of the Celtic invasions. Yet it is also difficult to reconcile the excellent fit between the archaeological Fritzens-Sanzeno group and the distribution of a linguistically homogeneous inscription corpus with the fact that Fritzens-Sanzeno is the result of the incremental consolidation of two areas which can be clearly distinguished in the Bronze Age, which leads Gleirscher et al. 2002: 173 to use the term "Koine". Should we expect the bearers of both the Nordtiroler Urnenfelderkultur and the Laugen-Melaun culture to be speakers of Raetic, or did one group impose its language upon the other? Lunz, who is generally inclined to think of cultural expansion in terms of migration (1973: 10; 1974: 124–129), associates the expansion of the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture to the north with population movements (1974: 129; 1981: 20; 1981b: 38; also De Marinis 1988: 119), but Nothdurfter 1992: 49 (with n. 12) points out that the continuity of burial rites in the Inntal speaks against Lunz' "südalpine Unterwanderung", arguing that the main connective factor was trade. Gleirscher 1991: 20 suggests that the Fritzens-Sanzeno extension into the area of the Magrè group "auf venetischem Substrat" may be connected with immigration from the middle Adige valley (also De Marinis 1988: 119).

From an archaeological perspective, speakers of the Raetic language or of Raetic dialects must have been settling somewhere between the Inntal and Rovereto since the Bronze Age, or have immigrated so unobtrusively that their presence and ultimate dominance left no clear marks on the material culture of the previous inhabitants. Although it could account for the paucity in onomastic material which can be compared to that of Etruscan (see Raetic onomastics, a mere shift in language is unlikely, as it is not evident why an indigenous Alpine population should have decided to adopt a Tyrsenian language (i.e. Etruscan or a language related to it). That the inscriptions reflect not the indigenous language(s), but a literary language which was adopted together with script and cult from the neighbouring Etruscan prestige culture of the 6th century is hardly possible (Schumacher 1998: 113 [n. 33]) – see The Raetic language on the differences between Raetic and Etruscan. The assumption is also unattractive in light of the fact that Livy (who was born ca. 59 BC in Padova) specifically refers to the Etruscan sound of the Raetic language (see Ancient sources).

Epigraphic material and dating

When talking about the dating of Raetic inscriptions, the usual caveats apply: archaeological dating on the basis of excavation context and typology is sometimes uncertain, and time frames of different extent make it hard to establish a chronology even where datings are available. Particularly in the Raetic corpus, we have a great number of old findings which cannot be dated, because their archaeological context is unknown. When dating an object through context, it must be observed that objects which have a short life span, such as ceramics, are likely to date from about the time which is determined by that context, whereas objects with a longer life span (especially if they are valuable), such as fibulas, may be considerably older. Moreover, the time of production or even use of an object does not necessarily determine the time when the inscription was applied. A date for production or widespread use of objects gives a terminus post quem; a date for a grave or deposit gives a terminus ante quem (Schumacher 2004: 246; MLR: 10). The following paragraphs give an overview of the dating of objects with Raetic inscriptions which is strictly based on the archaeological data as presented in the literature. See the object and site/field name pages for details and additional literature. For a discussion of the possibility of dating inscriptions based on palaeography, see Script.

Isolated objects with (possible) early dating

The oldest objects bearing Raetic inscriptions appear to be two of the more remarkable items in the Raetic corpus: the Situla in Providence and the Paletta di Padova. The situla is dated to the third quarter of the 6th century (Frey 1962: 46), the Paletta to the 6th–5th century (Gambacurta et al. 2002: 186 [no. 20]), both on the basis of typology. The testimonies are similar insofar as the objects are atypical (the situla being the most elaborately decorated one in the Raetic corpus), and come from places to the south(-east) of the Raetic area proper, which have not yielded any other Raetic inscriptions.

Two similarly stand-out objects may also be among the oldest in the Raetic corpus. The "Spada" di Verona is dated to the 6th–5th century by Marinetti 1987: 138 f. (n. 5) (but other scholars give lower datings, down to the 4th century). The Lothen belt plaque can be dated typologically to the 5th century by its figural decorations – two deer – which are known from the iconographic programme of situlae (Lunz 1981: 22).

Val di Non

The oldest inscribed find from the Raetic core area between Trento and the Bozen basin appears to be the astragalos from the Ciaslir on the Monte Ozol, the only high-altitude site to yield Raetic inscriptions. The bone comes from a layer dated to Retico A (middle of the 6th–middle of the 5th century; Perini 2002: 767).

The material from Sanzeno is difficult to interpret and date. Of the seven find spots, only the northernmost, Casalini, has demonstrably yielded inscribed objects, most importantly the bronzes, which were found by chance in a sand pit in the late 1940s. While the other find spots, dated to Retico A, testify to a large settlement (for an overview see Gamper 2006: 334–337 and Marzatico 2001: 496–501), the function of the excavated buildings (case retiche) at Casalini, dated to Retico B–C (LT A–B), is unclear – they are arranged in neat lines, sharing walls, as if planned out (Marzatico 2001: 496). A projected settlement is a possibility, even though a settlement clearly lay just to the south: the Casalini site may have been a replacement. One may also consider an emporion with rows of studios and shops (in light of the numerours iron finds) or, like Gleirscher et al. 2002: 251 (no. 155), a temple district with treasuries (regarding the votive objects). Nothdurfter 2002: 1136 thinks of cult buildings with bothroi in the basement and space for attaching votive gifts to the walls on the upper storey, together with administrative buildings and workshops which produced the votives. See also Marzatico 2001: 494 f. on the question of indoor sanctuaries. The large number of finds, many of them old findings without a precise context, is yet to be systematically reviewed in its entirety.

The oldest inscribed object from Sanzeno which can be dated independently of its context is the Sanzeno warrior, dated typologically to the second half of the 5th century (Walde Psenner 1983: 108 [no. 85]). The half-plastic votive bronzes, which are typical for the Raetic area and therefore difficult to date through comparison with models from the south (Gleirscher et al. 2002: 207), are still likely to belong in the context of Etruscan-style bronze votives and to be from the same time or not much younger. Gempeler 1976: 51 f. argues for the 4th–3rd century (specifically for the horse bronzes SZ-9 bronze and SZ-14 bronze, and HU-5 bronze and HU-6 bronze) with regard to Venetic and Etruscan influences (also Dal Rì 1987: 174 f. [no. 722 and 723] and De Marinis 1988: 122). Gleirscher apud Schumacher 2004: 247 (and impicitly in Gleirscher et al. 2002: 207) gives the 5th–4th century. He points to the fact that that the Cavaliere di Sanzeno features a rider who wears a Negau helmet and to the similarity of SZ-3 bronze with the more securely datable Horse of Dercolo. The bronze objects SZ-87 rod and SZ-96 rod can also be compared with pieces included in the Dercolo hoard. Following the common dating of situlae, the situlae SZ-30 situla and SZ-82 cist and situla handles SZ-17 handle, SZ-19 handle and SZ-31 simpulum can be dated typologically to the 5th–4th century. The iron helmet from Sanzeno is datable to LT A/B1 through typology (Nothdurfter 1992: 56). Nothdurfter 1979: 97–103 dates most of the iron material with marks to between the 5th and the end of the 2nd century, the phase which is thought to be the time in which the settlement flourished. The bulk of the pottery appears to belong in the later phase, the prominent Sanzeno bowls being dated to the 3rd–2nd century (Marzatico 2001: 511, but see Gamper 2006: 13–17 on the issues of bowl chronology). The youngest inscribed object from Sanzeno is a Roman Imperial Age iron knife (Nothdurfter 1979, Beilage 2).

The major sanctuary of Valemporga (Meclo) was in use from the Late Bronze to the Late Roman Imperial Age, with a bulk of finds from Retico A demonstrating an increased frequency in the early La Tène period. The stratigraphy being destroyed, individual finds can only be dated through typology (Gleirscher et al. 2002, 236). The inscribed miniature shield and the fragment of a bronze-plaque figure, both from the sanctuary, are the only two inscribed specimens of the typical bronze plaque votives which belong in the context of situla art and are dated to LT A–B1 (Tschurtschenthaler & Wein 1998: 243; Gleirscher et al. 2002: 205 f.; Marzatico 2012: 320–324), though a later date cannot be excluded (Gehring 1976: 161). The inscribed fragment of a situla may be assumed to belong in the same time frame. The neighbouring site of the Campi Neri south of Cles, also a sanctuary with an even longer duration (Gleirscher et al. 2002: 236 [no. 81]), yielded a number of bronze objects, none of which can be securely dated. The inscribed bronze baton can be compared with similar objects from the Dercolo hoard; the horse bronze which was found together with the baton in a pit can only contingently be compared to the Sanzeno bronzes, as it is worked in full-plastic (cf. SZ-71 statuette), yet rather crudely made. The bronze strainer dates to around the birth of Christ (Gleirscher apud Schumacher 2004: 248). The inscribed slab from Tavòn, a stray find, cannot be dated.

Most of the find places of inscriptions in the Val di Non are situated in the northern part of the valley. The only outlier is the more southerly Dercolo, where a hoard find of unclear function (Schindler 1998: 222–224, 232 f.) contained the Horse of Dercolo. The hoard was deposited around 400 (Lunz 1974: 83; Schindler 1998: 231); considering that the objects deposited in the situla appear to have been comparatively new (Schindler 1998: 231), the bronze may be dated to the late 5th century. Two unassociated Sanzeno bowls (NO-12 bowl, NO-18 bowl) are younger (LT C–D; Schindler 1998: 224). The single Fritzens bowl sherd, an old finding from somewhere in the Val di Non, dates from the 5th–3rd century based on typology.

Unterland, Überetsch, Bozen basin, Upper Adige valley

The valley of the Adige between Salurn and Meran and the immediately adjoining mountainous areas have yielded a fair number of inscribed objects. While many finds come from well researched archaeological contexts, no homogeneous group finds of inscriptions like the Sanzeno bronzes have so far been made in the area. The oldest settlement complex is situated on the east side of the Mitterberg, facing the Adige, southeast of modern Pfatten in the Unterland. It yielded the oldest object in the corpus, a bronze Hallstatt-age axe from a hoard found above the grave field (Lunz 1974: 211 f.), dated to the 7th or early 6th century (Marzatico 1997: 453). Like many of its kind, the bronze axe bears marks, but these are not Raetic characters; the find has no bearing upon the chronology of Raetic script. The associated grave field of Stadlhof dates from the Hallstatt to the early La Tène period; the inscribed fragment of a cist from grave XVIII (Ghislanzoni 1939: 514 f.) and the Pfatten stela from grave A (Franz 1951: 130) must therefore be dated to LT A or B. For the bronze key, possibly from the potential bothros near the Leuchtenburg (Gleirscher et al. 2002: 261 [no. 198]), no dating is available. The potsherd from the settlement of Laimburg may be younger (3rd–2nd century; Schumacher 2004: 211). Finally, the precise find spot of the fragmentary miniature vessel which surfaced in the museum is unknown, but the votive situlae belong typologically with the miniature shields and bronze plaque figures, and are, like these, well represented in the Meclo sanctuary.

Four inscribed objects come from Überetsch. The only sporadically excavated site on the Putzer Gschleier west of St. Pauls near Eppan yielded three finds (none from the casa retica), which cannot be dated. The inscribed stela from Maderneid (Eppan) can be dated to the Late Roman Republican period by the style of its decoration (Stefan Demetz p.c.).

The area in the Bozen basin between the Bozen district of Moritzing and Siebeneich in the west is called the "sacred corner" (Heiliger Winkel / Sacro angolo) for the numerous find spots (see Tecchiati 2002); unfortunately, it has not so far been systematically excavated. Four finds from the Moritzing grave field come not from excavated contexts, but from chance finds in the 19th century. Two – BZ-9 handle and BZ-4 fragment – are from a grave context dated to the second half of the 5th–first half of the 4th century (Steiner 2002: 258); two cists with marks come from a context dated to the 4th–early 3rd century (ibid., 254). On the dating of the helmet hoard found on the Kosman property (Jenesien see below. The inscribed handle of a cist, found during one of the minor excavations on the Greifensteiner Hang, can be dated typologically to the 5th–3rd century through typology (Lunz 1985: 145); the handle of a simpulum, an old finding from the area of the Großkarnell property, is dated by typology to the 5th–4th century.

Further up the Adige valley, the inscribed bronze axe, a stray find from the vicinity of the church St. Christoph near Tisens, is dated typologically to the 5th century (Zemmer-Plank et al. 1985: 165 [no. 34]). The three potsherds with marks from the settle-ment of St. Hippolyt near Tisens and the iron sickle from the hilltop cannot be securely dated, but the ceramics partly bear resemblance to material from the nearby sanctuary on the Hochbühel near Meran, which appears to be no younger than LT A–B (Lunz 1974, 193).

A single inscribed antler piece comes from the Tartscher Bühel near the place where the Münstertal meets the Adige valley. The major settlement appears to have been most important during the early and middle La Tène period, but must be expected to have been in use until LT C2, when it was essentially replaced by the Ganglegg settlement (Gamper 2006: 290 f.). The latter site, situated somewhat to the south on the northern flank of the valley, had already been settled in Ha D/LT A, and appears to have been constructed within a rather short time at the end of the 2nd century and abandoned again just as suddenly at the end of LT D (ibid., 254). Among numerous perforated bones and bone needles of unclear (original) function which were found on the floors of houses and apparently deposited there during the ritual abandonment are numerous pieces with marks and some with inscriptions.

Northern Raetic area

No inscription finds come from the Münstertal, and only one from the Engadin: the inscribed potsherd from Suotchastè near Ardez is dated to LT A–B through context and typology (Caduff 2007: 16). Both the potsherd and the miniature shield from the sanctuary on the Pillerhöhe near Fliess date to the early La Tène period (Tschurtschenthaler & Wein 1998: 247). To my knowledge, no datings are available for the settlement on the Hörtenberg near Pfaffenhofen. The Demlfeld sanctuary, part of a larger complex around Ampass, was in use throughout the younger Iron Age, but no precise dating is known for the inscribed bronze plaque. The settlement on the Himmelreich near Volders yields a great number of potsherds bearing marks (including IT-1 potsherd, IT-2 potsherd, IT-3 potsherd) which are dated to the middle and late La Tène period (Gamper 2006: 265 f.). The carved antler from the Pirchboden settlement near Fritzens comes from house 2, which was destroyed by fire in the Late Iron Age, possibly in the course of the Roman Alpine campaign (Tomedi 2001: 32).

A stray old finding in the form of a bronze handle comes from Matrei am Brenner – being the handle of a situla, the object can be dated to the the early La Tène period. The ceramics from the settlement on the Kronbühel near Sterzing, which yielded a potsherd with marks, is dated to the Early Iron Age by Lunz 1974: 167, but Gamper 2006: 316 also mentions a middle and late La Tène period find group. From the large settlement of Stufels near Brixen come an isolated and undated antler piece and a potsherd; the latter is dated to the 4th century through both context and typology (Tecchiati et al. 2011: 50). No secure datings are available for the potsherds from the Mellaun grave field and the burnt-offerings site on the Rungger Egg, and for the finds from the settlement on the Piperbühel.

In the Pustertal, besides the above-mentioned Lothen belt plaque from the Burgkofel, there are finds from the immediate vicinity of St. Lorenzen. The settlement on the Steger hill, whence come three bones and three potsherds, is dated principally to the 5th–4th century by Constantini 2002: 41, though individual finds may be younger. The settlement on the Sonnenburger Weinleite, which yielded an inscribed stone plaque and a loom weight with marks, is dated to the 5th–3rd century (ibid., 48); another loom weight comes from the Puenland settlement, dated to the 5th–4th century (ibid., 22).

Southern Raetic area

The find complex of the settlement near Tesero in the Val di Fiemme is dated mainly to the early La Tène period (Marzatico 2001: 498), but younger finds make a later dating for the antler handle possible (Gamper 2006: 329) – Dal Rì 1987: 176 suggests the 4th–3rd century. The Situla di Cembra, an isolated find from Caslir – arguably a burnt-offerings site – in the Val di Cembra, is dated to the 4th century (Marzatico 2001: 512; Oberosler 2004: 646).

From the meeting point of Valsugana and Valle dei Mòcheni come twelve pieces of antler and three other objects bearing marks, found scattered in house 2 of the settlement on the Montesei di Serso (Perini 1965: 35 [fig. 2]). The excavation report (Perini 1965) lists eight of the ten antler pieces as found in the two older layers C"' and C" in the north-western corner of house 2, while two more (unidentified, I believe) were found in the eastern part in the layer C' (ibid.: 58). According to Marzatico 2001: 505, the settlement dates to the 5th–4th century, with only house 3 yielding younger finds (3rd–2nd century). Thus, the dating given by Gleirscher apud Schumacher 2004: 247 (5th–4th century) is to be preferred to that of Dal Rì 1987: 176, who, for reasons not evident, gives the 3rd century for the antler pieces (but cf. Gamper 2006: 332). De Marinis 1988: 121 gives the 5th century.

The settlement of Bostel near Rotzo in the western Altopiano di Asiago, above the Adige valley, has been yielding inscribed objects, mostly pottery, since the 1880s. All but one of the finds from before 1920 are currently untraceable and probably destroyed. The more recent finds, which were found during systematic excavations, fit in well with the descriptions of the older material. The settlement, and with it the finds, is dated to the 4th–2nd century; the most recent ceramic finds, retrieved from structures C1 and 2, can be dated more specifically to the end of the 4th–3rd century (De Guio 2011: 176). No dating is availably for the isolated potsherd from Piovene Rocchette.

The bothros of the burnt-offerings site of Magrè near Schio contained one of the most important Raetic inscription finds in the form of twenty-three inscribed antler pieces. The site was in use throughout the Late Iron Age (Ruta Serafini 2002b: 258). Pellegrini 1918: 175 f. dates the complex to Este IV (LT B–D); his specification of 4th century is based on palaeography (ibid.: 206), as is that of De Marinis 1988: 121 (5th century). The dating given by Gambacurta 2002b: 122 (3rd–2nd century) requires substantiation – cf. Markey 2006: 147, who assumes that the antler pieces date from different phases of the sanctuary's existence. Four inscribed bones, among about thirty uninscribed ones, were found in a large (cult?) building in the settlement of the Colle di Castello (Trissino), the only find place in the Agno valley. The site was inhabited from the middle of the 5th century to Roman times, but the bones are dated to the end of the 2nd–beginning of 1st century through context (Ruta Serafini 2002: 259).

From the cult building at Casaletti near San Giorgio di Valpolicella come two bronze objects of unknown function and a number of bone objects. Associated with the building's second phase, the material can be dated to the 2nd–beginning of 1st century (Salzani 2003: 96–100; Marinetti 2004: 412). The isolated bone from Castelrotto is dated to the 1st century through context (Marinetti 1991: 42). The four inscribed objects from a settlement near Montorio Veronese can be dated through context to the 4th–3rd century (Marinetti 2004: 409). The site near San Briccio di Lavagno has yielded two antler pieces, datable through context to the 5th–4th century (Gambacurta 2002b: 122 [n. 22]). No dating is available for the opisthograph which was found built into the outer wall of the Chiesa di San Martino di Castelcies near Cavaso di Tomba.

Negau helmets can be dated typologically: the Slovenian type, variant Vače, of which both the Vače helmet and the Negau helmet A are specimens, was in use between the second half of the 5th and the early 4th century (Egg 1986: 82, 129); however, the presence of two younger helmets indicates that the helmet-only depot in which Negau A was found was laid down at the end of the 2nd century at the earliest (Egg 1976: 302). The Kosman hoard from Jenesien can be dated to the first half of the 1st century through the included coins (Lunz & Morandi 2003: 344). The Vače helmet, a stray find, lacks a datable context.

(Text: Corinna Salomon)


Caduff 2007 Bruno Caduff, "Ardez-Suotchastè. Eine urgeschichtliche Fundstelle im Unterengadin (GR)", Jahrbuch der Historischen Gesellschaft von Graubünden (= 137. Jahresbericht der Historischen Gesellschaft) (2007), 5–98.
Constantini 2002 Raffaela Constantini, Sebatum [= Città romane 4], Roma: L'Erma di Bretschneider 2002. Atlante tematico di topografia antica; XII Supplemento
Dal Rì 1987 Lorenzo Dal Rì, "Influssi etrusco-italici nella regione retico-alpina", in: Raffaele De Marinis (Ed.), Gli Etruschi a nord del Po, Mantova: Regione Lombardia - Provincia e Comune di Mantova 1987, 160–179.
De Guio 2011 Armando De Guio (Ed.), "Bostel di Rotzo (VI) - stato di avanzamento delle ricerche", Quaderni di Archeologia del Veneto (QdAV) XXVII (2011), 168–183.
De Marinis 1988 Raffaele De Marinis, "Le popolazioni alpine di stirpe retica", in: Anna Maria Chieco Bianchi (Ed.), Italia Omnium Terrarum Alumna. La civiltà dei Veneti, Reti, Liguri, Celti, Piceni, Umbri, Latini, Campani e Japigi [= Antica Madre 11], Milano: 1988, 101–130.
De Marinis 1992 Raffaele C. De Marinis, "Il territorio prealpino e alpino tra i Laghi di Como e di Garda dal Bronzo recente alla fine dell’età del Ferro", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 145–174.
De Marinis 1999 Raffaele C. de Marinis, "Rapporti culturali tra Reti, Etruria padana e Celti golasecchiani", in: Gianni Ciurletti, Franco Marzatico, I Reti / Die Räter [= Archeologia delle Alpi 5], Trento: Artigianelli 1999. (2 volumes), 603–649.
Demetz 1992 Stefan Demetz, "Rom und die Räter. Ein Resümee aus archäologischer Sicht", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 631–653.
Egg 1976 Markus Egg, "Einige Bemerkungen zum Helmdepot von Negau (Südsteiermark)", Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 6 (Heft 4) (1976), 299–303.
Egg 1986 Markus Egg, Italische Helme. Studien zu den ältereisenzeitlichen Helmen Italiens und der Alpen. Teil 1: Text, Teil 2: Tafeln, Mainz: Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum 1986.
Egg 1992 Markus Egg, "Ein eisenzeitlicher Altfund von Schloß Greifenstein bei Siebeneich in Südtirol", in: Andreas Lippert, Konrad Spindler (Eds), Festschrift zum 50jährigen Bestehen des Institutes für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck [= Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie 8], Bonn: 1992, 135–172.
Franz 1951 Leonhard Franz, "Der älteste Fundbericht über das vorgeschichtliche Gräberfeld von Pfatten", Veröffentlichungen des Museums Ferdinandeum 31 (1951), Innsbruck: 1951, 125–132.
Frei 1959 Benedikt Frei, "Die Ausgrabungen auf der Mottata bei Ramosch im Unterengadin 1956-1958", Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 47 (1958–1959), 36–42.
Frey 1962 Otto-Herman Frey (Ed.); Wolfgang Lucke, Die Situla in Providence (Rhode Island). Ein Beitrag zur Situlenkunst des Osthallstattkreises [= Römisch-Germanische Forschungen 26], Berlin: 1962.
Gambacurta 2002b Giovanna Gambacurta, "Manufatti iscritti in osso o corno", in: Giovanna Gambacurta, Daniela Locatelli, Luigi Malnati, Patrizia Manessi, Anna Marinetti, Giovanna Luisa Ravagnan (Eds), Akeo. I tempi della scrittura. Veneti antichi: alfabeti e documenti, 121–126.
Gambacurta et al. 2002 Giovanna Gambacurta, Daniela Locatelli, Luigi Malnati, Patrizia Manessi, Anna Marinetti, Giovanna Luisa Ravagnan (Eds), "Catalogo. Veneti antichi. Alfabeti e documenti", in: Giovanna Gambacurta, Daniela Locatelli, Luigi Malnati, Patrizia Manessi, Anna Marinetti, Giovanna Luisa Ravagnan (Eds), Akeo. I tempi della scrittura. Veneti antichi: alfabeti e documenti, 157–275.
Gamper 2006 Peter Gamper, Die latènezeitliche Besiedlung am Ganglegg in Südtirol. Neue Forschungen zur Fritzens-Sanzeno-Kultur [= Internationale Archäologie 91], Rahden/Westfalen: Leidorf 2006.
Gehring 1976 Brigitte Gehring, "Die Fibeln von Mechel (Meclo) im Nonsberg", Archaeologia Austriaca 59–60 (1976), 143–173.
Gempeler 1976 Robert D. Gempeler, Werke der Antike im Kunsthaus Zürich [= Sammlungsheft 5], Zürich: Kunsthaus Zürich 1976.
Ghislanzoni 1939 Ettore Ghislanzoni, "Il sepolcreto di Vadena (Bolzano)", Monumenti antichi Lincei 38 (1939), 319–534.
Gleirscher 1986 Paul Gleirscher, "Stilisierte Frauenfigürchen aus Südtirol und dem Trentino. "Reitia", Göttin der "Räter"?", Der Schlern 60 (1986), 178–190.
Gleirscher 1991 Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter, Chur: Rätisches Museum 1991.
Gleirscher 1992 Paul Gleirscher, "Die Laugen-Melaun-Gruppe", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 117–134.
Gleirscher 1993 Paul Gleirscher, "Zum etruskischen Einfluss auf die Golaseccakultur und dessen Auswirkungen auf die Kulturverhältnisse im Alpenrheintal", Helvetia Archaeologica 24 (1993), 51–68.
Gleirscher 1999 Paul Gleirscher, "Zur archäologischen Gruppengliederung im Rätergebiet", in: Gianni Ciurletti, Franco Marzatico, I Reti / Die Räter [= Archeologia delle Alpi 5], Trento: Artigianelli 1999. (2 volumes), 257–268.
Gleirscher et al. 2002 Paul Gleirscher, Hans Nothdurfter, Eckehart Schubert, Das Rungger Egg. Untersuchungen an einem eisenzeitlichen Brandopferplatz bei Seis am Schlern in Südtirol [= Römisch-Germanische Forschungen Band 61], Mainz: Philipp von Zabern 2002.
Lang 1992 Amei Lang, "Von der Hallstattzeit zur Frühlatènezeit in Nordtirol. Bemerkungen zum Beginn der Fritzens-Sanzeno Keramik", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 91–115.
Lang 1999 Amei Lang, "Religiöse Ausdrucksformen der Inntalgruppe vom 6.–4. Jh. v. Chr.", in: Gianni Ciurletti, Franco Marzatico, I Reti / Die Räter [= Archeologia delle Alpi 5], Trento: Artigianelli 1999. (2 volumes), 43–60.
Leonardi 1992 Giovanni Leonardi, "Le prealpi venete tra Adige e Brenta tra XIII e VI secolo a.C.", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 135–144.
Lora & Ruta Serafini 1992 Silvana Lora, Angela Ruta Serafini, "Il gruppo Magrè", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 247–272.
Lunz 1973 Reimo Lunz, Die archäologische Sammlung des Bozner Stadtmuseums [= Reihe "Kultur des Etschlandes" 11], Bozen: 1973.
Lunz 1974 Reimo Lunz, Studien zur End-Bronzezeit und älteren Eisenzeit im Südalpenraum, Firenze: Sansoni 1974.
Lunz 1981 Reimo Lunz, Archäologie Südtirols. Von den Jägern des Mesolithikums (um 7000 v. Chr.) bis zum Ende des Weströmischen Reiches (476 n. Chr.) [= Archäologische Forschungen in Tirol 7], Calliano (Trento): 1981.
Lunz 1981b Reimo Lunz, Venosten und Räter. Ein historisch-archäologisches Problem [= Archäologisch-historische Forschungen in Tirol Beiheft 2], Calliano (Trento): 1981.
Lunz 1985 Reimo Lunz, "Eine neue "rätische" Inschrift aus Siebeneich", in: Assessorato alla Cultura del Comune di Bolzano (Ed.), Scavi nella conca di Bolzano e nella Bassa Atesina 1976–1985. Ausgrabungen im Raum Bozen und Unterland 1976–1985, Bolzano: 1985, 143–147.
Lunz & Morandi 2003 Reimo Lunz, Alessandro Morandi, "Un frammento di elmo di bronzo con iscrizione retica da Settequerce – Siebeneich", Archeologia Classica LIV (2003), 341–349.
Marinetti 1987 Anna Marinetti, "L'iscrizione retica (PID 247) da Ca' dei Cavri (Verona)", in: Alessandra Aspes (Ed.), Prima della Storia. Inediti di 10 anni di ricerche a Verona, Verona: Museo Civico di Storia Naturale 1987, 131–140.
Marinetti 1991 Anna Marinetti, "Una Iscrizione Retica su un Piccolo Osso di Animale dal Maton di Castelrotto", Annuario Storico della Valpolicella 1990-1991 (1991), 39–42.
Marinetti 2004 Anna Marinetti, "Nuove iscrizioni retiche dall'area veronese", Studi Etruschi 70 (2004), 408–420.
Markey 2006 Thomas L. Markey, "Early Celticity in Slovenia and at Rhaetic Magrè (Schio)", Linguistica 46 (2006), 145–171.
Marzatico 1992 Franco Marzatico, "Il gruppo Fritzens-Sanzeno", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 213–246.
Marzatico 1997 Franco Marzatico, I materiali preromani della Valle dell’Adige nel Castello del Buonconsiglio [= Patrimonio storico artistico del Trentino 21], Trento: 1997. (3 volumes)
Marzatico 1999 Franco Marzatico, "I Reti in Trentino: Il Gruppo Fritzens-Sanzeno", in: Gianni Ciurletti, Franco Marzatico, I Reti / Die Räter [= Archeologia delle Alpi 5], Trento: Artigianelli 1999. (2 volumes), 467–504.
Marzatico 2001 Franco Marzatico, "La prima età del Ferro", in: Michele Lanzinger, Franco Marzatico, Annaluisa Pedrotti (Eds), Storia del Trentino. Vol. 1: La preistoria e la protostoria, Bologna: Il Mulino 2001, 417–477.
Marzatico 2012 Franco Marzatico, "Waffen in Sanzeno - Deutungshypothesen im Vergleich", in: Wolfgang Sölder, Anton Höck (Eds), Waffen für die Götter. Krieger, Trophäen, Heiligtümer, Innsbruck: Tiroler Landesmuseen-Betriebsges.m.b.H. 2012, 152–155.
Marzoli & Wiel Marin 2013 Catrin Marzoli, Federica Wiel Marin, "Der ausgedehnte jüngereisenzeitliche Kultplatz von Siebeneich. Ein Vorbericht", Der Schlern 87 (2013), 6–39.