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Gold jewellery found in a princely sepulchre, around 500–480 BC, Ensisheim
In 1873, an exceptional discovery was made at Ensisheim: a tumulus burial site was found to contain gold jewellery of exceptional quality as well as a spearhead. The individual buried at this site was certainly of princely status. We know of only about twenty similar tumuli in all of temperate Europe. These tombs, dating to between 550 BC and 480 BC, illustrate the immense riches acquired by the elite during this period, who often took with them to the afterlife bronze tableware of Mediterranean origin, like that found in the famous tomb of the “Lady of Vix” in Burgundy. The gold necklace with relief decoration found at Ensisheim certainly exemplified the temporal and spiritual power of the “prince”. The narrow strips of gold undoubtedly served as decorative elements affixed to perishable materials; we can easily imagine that these might include leather shoes or rhytons, as evidenced by objects found in the princely tomb at Hochdorf. Last but not least, the solid gold bracelet included in this collection is an object without equal in any site yet unearthed dating from the Hallstatt period.