Regional coherence and group identities in the Hallstatt culture in the south-eastern Alpine region

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This paper presents an overview of research in the hinterland of the northern Adriatic, reaching as far as the south-eastern Alpine region and the Pannonian Plain. The western and northern parts of this region are predominantly mountainous in character, strongly marked by the Julian Alps. In the area of the so-called Postojna Gate mountain pass, it borders the chain of the Dinaric Alps, a dividing line between the Mediterranean and continental world. Towards the east, the Alps turn into the hilly subalpine region and further on onto the Pannonian Plain.

In the Early Iron Age, this varied geography was mirrored by its cultural diversity, expressed in differentiated settlement patterns and burial rites. Several new cultural groups developed in the region in the Iron Age (Fig. 1); they partly followed the traditions of the preceding Urnfield culture, while, to a certain extent at least, they evolved under the influence of a new military ideology, which spread from the Pontus region to the Atlantic Ocean and is known under the term “Hallstatt culture”. These cultural groups differ in their way of life and have different settlement types and patterns as well as diverse burial rites and practices. They possess a varied material culture, different attires and costume, weapons and status symbols; in short, they clearly differ in their identity. Here, I intend to discuss the main characteristics of the three most important and best researched cultural groups in the region – namely the Sv. Lucija/St Lucia or Posočje group, the Lower Carniola or Dolenjska group, and the Styrian or Styrian-Pannonian group, also known as the Kleinklein – Martijanec – Kaptol group and consider the relationships and interactions among and between them. The other two or three groups present in the region, such as the Notranjska group (also comprising the Karst/Kras region), the Gorenjska group and the Breg-Frög group in Carinthia will be mentioned only in passing when making comparisons between our entities. The development of the major groups took place from their formative phase between the ninth and eighth century BC to their heyday, in the seventh and sixthcentury BC. As for their decline, their timing varies, for different reasons, including the invasions of the Scythians in the sixth century BC (Teržan 1998) on the one hand, and on the other hand the Celtic invasions in the fourth and third centuries BC, which resulted in the spread of the La Tène culture (Gabrovec 1966b; Teržan 2014a; Teržan 2015; Teržan & Črešnar 2014, 721-725, fig. 43, 44).

Map of cultural groups in the south-eastern Alpine area: yellow: Sv. Lucija / St Lucia or Posočje group, green: Notranjska and Kras / Karst group, light blue: Dolenjska or Lower Carniola group, red: Štajerska or Styrian-Pannonian group, also known as Kleinklein-Martijanec-Kaptol group, violet: Gorenjska or Upper Carniola group, dark blue: Koroška/Carinthia or Breg/Frög group (after Gabrovec 1964-1965; Gabrovec 1966a; Gabrovec 1987).
Fig. 1. Map of cultural groups in the south-eastern Alpine area: yellow: Sv. Lucija / St Lucia or Posočje group, green: Notranjska and Kras / Karst group, light blue: Dolenjska or Lower Carniola group, red: Štajerska or Styrian-Pannonian group, also known as Kleinklein-Martijanec-Kaptol group, violet: Gorenjska or Upper Carniola group, dark blue: Koroška/Carinthia or Breg/Frög group (after Gabrovec 1964-1965; Gabrovec 1966a; Gabrovec 1987).

The area of western Slovenia, or more precisely the region of Posočje (the valley of the river Soča), was occupied by the St Lucia group (Fig. 1, yellow). The most prominent sites of this group are Most na Soči, formerly named Sv. Lucija/St Lucia (Gabrovec & Svoljšak 1983; Teržan et al. 1985-1986), the site of Kobarid (Gabrovec 1976; Mlinar & Gerbec 2011; Kruh 2014) and Tolmin (Svoljšak & Pogačnik 2001-2002). The settlements were usually positioned on strategic and naturally well protected sites at river confluences, as is the case of Most na Soči, located above the canyon-like confluence of the rivers Idrijca and Soča (Mlinar 2002, fig. 1, 3, 8-10; Svoljšak & Dular 2016, fig. 1-3, 5). The position of the Kobarid settlement is similar, controlling the main communication route between the Soča and Nadiža/Natisone valleys, connecting the Posočje region over the Friuli plain with the Veneto – the area of the Este culture (Mlinar & Gerbec 2011, fig. 1-2). According to Drago Svoljšak’s research, the entire area of the St Lucia group was organized so as to be a well-protected territory (Fig. 2). The central settlements of Most na Soči and Kobarid were surrounded by smaller outposts, strategically located at the entrances to the main valleys in order to control the only possible access points leading to the core of the region (Svoljšak 1983; Svoljšak 2001).

Map of the territory of St Lucia group: dots are settlements, crosses are outposts, strategically located at entrances to the group’s territory (after Svoljšak 2001, 132, Abb. 2).
Fig. 2. Map of the territory of St Lucia group: dots are settlements, crosses are outposts, strategically located at entrances to the group’s territory (after Svoljšak 2001, 132, Abb. 2).

Excavations at the site of Most na Soči revealed the settlement’s proto-urban layout, with a clear division of residential and cult areas and separate craft and trading quarters (Fig. 3) (Gabrovec & Svoljšak 1983, 17-21, fig. 18-19; Svoljšak 2001; Svoljšak & Dular 2016, app. 1). The importance of the settlement as a trading centre is indicated by imports such as Attic and/or Ionian pottery (Marchesetti 1893/1993, pl. 6: 9; Frey 1971, 364, fig. 11: 5-15, pl. 2: 1; Žbona-Trkman & Svoljšak 1981, fig. 17; Teržan et al. 1984-1985, 187, 188, pl. 102: 9; 104: 13; 288: 1; Mlinar 2002, 28-30, fig. 25; Svoljšak & Dular 2016, 70, 235, pl. 25: 1) and an Etruscan wine flagon (Vitri 1980). Also indicative are glass mask pendants in the form of a male human head (Gesichtsperlen) and other glass beads, including layered eye-beads (Schichtaugenperlen) and compound eye-beads (Perlen mit zusammengesetzten Augen) of Phoenician or Carthaginian provenance (Marchesetti 1893/1993, pl. 29: 8-9; Teržan et al. 1984-1985, pl. 127: 4, 5, 8; Svoljšak & Dular 2016, pl. 23: 8; 62: 1; 89: 19; Haevernick 1977/1981, 310, 343, fig. 5: 468; Haevernick 1972/1981, 233–244, pl. 2: 1; Haevernick 1974/1981, 261–264, pl. 1: 6-7; Kunter 1995, 78-85, 191-198, 357-359, pl. 2: 23, 25, 55; 5: 20-21; 9: 2; 29: 9; maps 12, 14). These outstanding items clearly come from the south and were found in both the settlement and in graves. Moreover, there are clear indications that trade with rather distant regions to the north was also lively, for example with sites of the western Hallstatt cultural zone, documented by exports to and imports from the St Lucia group (Frey 1971; Krause 2002, 502-503, fig. 18; Balzer 2010, 30-32, fig. 4-5).

The site of Most na Soči, formerly Sv. Lucija/ St Lucia: A. map of the excavated areas of the settlement with house structures and lanes; B. a lane with workshops along it; C. ground plan of a representative house in plan, photograph and as resonctructed (after Svoljšak 2001).
Fig. 3. The site of Most na Soči, formerly Sv. Lucija/ St Lucia: A. map of the excavated areas of the settlement with house structures and lanes; B. a lane with workshops along it; C. ground plan of a representative house in plan, photograph and as resonctructed (after Svoljšak 2001).

The St Lucia group, in particular the settlement at Most na Soči and its burial ground, where so far more than 7000 graves have been discovered (Teržan et al. 1984-1985; Marchesetti 1893/1993), grew in strength from the eighth century BC onwards, reached its peak in the seventh to fifth century BC, and then fell into decline (Teržan & Trampuž 1973; Bergonzi et al. 1981, 184-252; Gabrovec 1987; Parzinger 1988, 8-27, pl. 5-25).

The deceased were buried in flat cremation cemeteries, the burial rite remaining practically unaltered throughout the entire existence of the settlement of Most na Soči. Graves were usually marked with stone slabs (Marchesetti 1885/1993, pl. 10; Teržan et al. 1984-1985; Svoljšak & Pogačnik 2001-2002, 14-15, fig. 3-4). In the earlier period the predominant rite was cremation burial without an urn but later burials in urns became more common, especially in richer graves. Grave goods consist of fairly standardized and modest assemblages of pottery or jewellery items, regardless of male or female attire. Among the most typical items in the earlier period are spectacle fibulae of St Lucia type (Pabst 2012, 88-91, 209-220, tab. 16-17) as well as two-looped bow fibulae with knobs (Gabrovec 1970, 28, map IX; tab. 11: 2; 13: 2; Teržan & Trampuž 1973, 424-426, map 2; 1; 3; pl. 5: 5; 8:14), whereas later, bow fibulae of the St Lucia type are common. These fibulae represent a particular type of jewellery, exclusive to the attire of the St Lucia group, and can therefore be taken as a special symbol of its group identity (Teržan & Trampuž 1973, 428-434, pl. 1, map 4: 1, pl. 11: 3, 18; 12: 3-4; 13: 2, 8; 16: 1). Weapons, on the other hand, do not appear in standard burial assemblages; they are known only in exceptional cases, particularly in the later phases of the cemetery and clearly indicate the special status of male warriors (Teržan & Trampuž 1973, 434, Priloga 1, fig. 4: 3; pl. 20; Teržan 2009, 94, fig. 11).

The prestigious grave goods from Most na Soči primarily consist of bronze vessels, such as buckets, situlae, cists etc.
(Jereb 2016), and multi-coloured small glass cups (Teržan et al. 1984-1985, 42, pl. 104: 12; 260: 11; 264: 7; Marchesetti 1893/1993, pl. 8-9; Haevernick 1958/1981) as well as imported Greek pottery and some outstanding jewellery pieces, especially those made of amber. All these objects clearly indicate the existence of an upper class and hence point to social stratification in the St Lucia community.

In contrast to the settlement type of the St Lucia group, hillforts are characteristic of the Karst/Kras region, where they are dominant (Marchesetti 1903/1981; Flego & Rupel 1993; Slapšak 1995). These hillforts extend south of the territory of the St Lucia group and the Vipava valley, along the Gulf of Trieste and further in its hinterland up to the northern part of the Istrian peninsula (Fig. 1: green). The hillforts were fortified with impressive defensive walls, built in drystone (Fig. 4). Without doubt, they can be related to the masonry tradition of the Bronze Age Castellieri culture (Hänsel et al. 2015).

Aerial photographs of the hillforts Debela griža near Volčji grad and Vahta near Kazlje (according to Guštin 2012; Turk 2010).
Fig. 4. Aerial photographs of the hillforts Debela griža near Volčji grad and Vahta near Kazlje (according to Guštin 2012; Turk 2010).

The excavations and fieldwork we conducted a few years ago managed to show that along the northern mountain range of the Kras high plateau, which is also the northern border of the so-called Notranjska-Kras group (Guštin 1973; Guštin 1979; Gabrovec 1987), several watchtowers or small hillforts had been built at regular intervals of about 3 to 5 km (Fig. 5). A good example is the newly excavated tower on the hill of Ostri vrh near Štanjel, which was constructed in a drystone technique combined with timber, indicated by a series of postholes and niches for posts. The latter appear along both the inner and outer face of the wall and at roughly regular intervals of around 1.2 to 2 m (Fig. 6 A-C) (Teržan & Turk 2005; Turk & Jereb 2006, 12-15, fig. 2-5; Teržan & Turk 2014).

Hillforts of the northern Kras/Karst region with a line of “stone tumuli”, which most probably represent watchtowers along the northern edge of the Kras/Karst plateau (circles: hillfort settlements, red symbols: watchtowers) (after Teržan & Turk 2005, Fig. 14).
Fig. 5. Hillforts of the northern Kras/Karst region with a line of “stone tumuli”, which most probably represent watchtowers along the northern edge of the Kras/Karst plateau (circles: hillfort settlements, red symbols: watchtowers) (after Teržan & Turk 2005, Fig. 14).
Tower at Ostri vrh near Štanjel: A. view of the central stone structure, surrounded by a stone paved terrace; B. ground plan of the tower with a circular wall, built in drystone technique, together with postholes and niches for wooden posts, located along the inner and outer edges of the stone structure; C. a niche with a posthole at its base (after Teržan & Turk 2005); D. table of the radiocarbon dates obtained from charcoal samples (after Teržan & Turk 2014, 608-610, Fig. 40.10).
Fig. 6. Tower at Ostri vrh near Štanjel: A. view of the central stone structure, surrounded by a stone paved terrace; B. ground plan of the tower with a circular wall, built in drystone technique, together with postholes and niches for wooden posts, located along the inner and outer edges of the stone structure; C. a niche with a posthole at its base (after Teržan & Turk 2005); D. table of the radiocarbon dates obtained from charcoal samples (after Teržan & Turk 2014, 608-610, Fig. 40.10).

We contend that these towers or small hillforts were used to control a frontier and represented a defensive boundary delimiting the territory of the Kras community towards the Vipava valley in the north, along the so called “Amber route”, which ran through central Europe, linking Italy with the Baltic. The fortified line also delimits the area from the territory of the St Lucia group further north (Fig. 1; 5). According to the radiocarbon dates obtained from charcoal samples taken from postholes of the tower at Ostri vrh, these outposts were built and then maintained during the later Hallstatt period in the sixth and fifth centuries BC, if not earlier (Fig. 6 D). In this period, at the latest, we can assume that the Notranjska-Kras group was also organized territorially and possessed its own defensive system.

The south-eastern part of Slovenia was occupied by the Dolenjska cultural group, whose territory comprised the regions of Dolenjska or Lower Carniola and Bela krajina or White Carniola as well as the Lower Sava valley up to the so-called “Brežice Gates” and the Gorjanci Hills (Fig. 1, light blue). The region is predominantly hilly, and was densely populated with hilltop settlements that were usually well fortified, either with stone walls of the so-called Stična type or with earthen ramparts and palisades. Characteristic for the defensive system of the Stična type are drystone walls with additional timber construction (Fig. 7 B-C). The outer face of the wall had an earthen rampart, which was partly revetted with smaller stones, while a ditch lay at its base (Gabrovec 1994, 144-165; Dular & Tecco Hvala 2007, 70-104).

The best-investigated Iron Age settlement in the Dolenjska region so far is Cvinger above Vir near Stična. The settlement investigated by Stane Gabrovec stands out from other known sites for its size (Dular & Tecco Hvala 2007, 191–195, fig. 110, 113) as well as its fortifications (Fig. 7). It was undoubtedly the region’s central place, an interpretation supported by the fact that the hillfort was planned, involving the erection of defensive walls several kilometres long in a single building operation. Such a feat clearly points to a single act of foundation that can be dated to the eighth century BC and marks the formative phase of the Dolenjska Hallstatt community (Gabrovec 1994).

There are also clear indications that several other hillforts were founded at approximately the same time, that is, in the late ninth or during the eighth century BC. These settlements remained inhabited throughout almost the entire period of existence of the Dolenjska group, until its end in the late fourth century BC (Dular & Tecco Hvala 2007; Teržan & Črešnar 2014, 721–725), when it was overpowered by a Celtic invasion from the east.

In the Early Iron Age, the hillforts had a fairly good visual control over their surrounding territories. The same was also true for the intervisibility between individual hillforts; this improved as the density of hillforts increased in the Late Hallstatt period (Fig. 8). The entire territory of the Dolenjska group was therefore closely interconnected through a visual control and communication network, which would also imply a common defence system.

Territory of the Dolenjska cultural group, showing the ideal visual control over the territory in the late Hallstatt period (after Dular & Tecco Hvala 2007, fig. 130); marked in red are outposts at the western and eastern edges of the group’s territory.
Fig. 8. Territory of the Dolenjska cultural group, showing the ideal visual control over the territory in the late Hallstatt period (after Dular & Tecco Hvala 2007, fig. 130); marked in red are outposts at the western and eastern edges of the group’s territory.

A major characteristic of the Dolenjska Hallstatt community is its specific type of cemeteries and burial rites. In contrast to the flat cemeteries of the preceding Urnfield culture and of the contemporary groups of St Lucia and Notranjska-Kras, the cemeteries of the Dolenjska group feature a new type of monument, the tumulus (Fig. 9). The barrow cemeteries cover very large areas and are usually in several clusters, positioned around the fortified hilltop settlement and spread along the main roads that led to or from the settlement. They can consist of several dozens or even more than one hundred tumuli, as at Stična (Fig. 7 A), Šmarjeta, or Novo Mesto (Dular & Tecco Hvala 2007, fig. 89-109). A single tumulus represents the burial site of an extended family or clan and generally contains numerous burials, which can reach several hundred, as is the case of the large tumuli at Stična (Wells 1981, 45-89; Gabrovec 2006; Gabrovec & Teržan 2008) or at Magdalenska gora (Hencken 1978; Tecco Hvala et al. 2004; Tecco Hvala 2012). In an early stage, some graves in the tumuli could still be cremation burials, but inhumation burials prevailed relatively quickly throughout the entire area of the Dolenjska group.

Stična, A. Tumulus no. 48: graves arranged in several circles, but with different orientations, which ran either clockwise (light blue) or anticlockwise (yellow); also indicated are the graves of horsemen with sacrificed horses and / or horse equipment (framed in dark blue) and postholes (brown) for wooden posts, which most probably functioned as orientation marks (after Teržan 2008, 233-245, fig. 15, 19); B. Stična, view of tumuli located in the woods; C. Stična, view of tumuli in a meadow (after Gabrovec 1994, fig. 29; Gabrovec 2006, 226-227, fig. 45).
Fig. 9. Stična, A. Tumulus no. 48: graves arranged in several circles, but with different orientations, which ran either clockwise (light blue) or anticlockwise (yellow); also indicated are the graves of horsemen with sacrificed horses and / or horse equipment (framed in dark blue) and postholes (brown) for wooden posts, which most probably functioned as orientation marks (after Teržan 2008, 233-245, fig. 15, 19); B. Stična, view of tumuli located in the woods; C. Stična, view of tumuli in a meadow (after Gabrovec 1994, fig. 29; Gabrovec 2006, 226-227, fig. 45).

The internal structure of the tumulus is strictly standardized: the centre is occupied either by the grave of the founder of the family or clan (Fig. 9A) or it is left empty as a kind of cenotaph or memorial to a mythical ancestor. The latter is especially true for the tumuli of the late Hallstatt (Ha D) phase in Novo Mesto (Knez 1986, pl. 62-65; Teržan 2008, 192–224). All subsequent graves are arranged concentrically and tangentially around this central part, generation after generation and often in several circles. Through time, these burials increasingly emphasize the importance and status of the first individual buried. Indeed, the position and orientation of the individual graves within the tumulus depend not only on the factors mentioned above, but also refer to the celestial sphere and cardinal points. Judging from the orientation of the graves, the tumuli must have originally been divided into two halves, eastern and western (or northern and southern). This dividing line then separated the graves according to their orientation, which ran either clockwise or anticlockwise (Fig. 9A).

It seems that the position of the grave within a tumulus was also determined by the sex, age and status of the deceased individual within the social hierarchy. The tumuli thus reveal a community with a very complex social structure, organized according to a dualistic principle. This can most effectively be demonstrated in the large tumulus of Stična (Fig. 9A): those buried on the eastern side of the tumulus, where the sun rises, are warrior-horsemen accompanied by their retinue or entourage, as well as women of the highest rank. On the western side, other interments contain mostly women of different categories and men of lower social standing (Teržan 2008, 233–262, fig. 15-27).

It should be emphasized that burial customs in the Dolenjska community clearly show a society with a distinctive military organization. Offensive weapons, such as swords, axes, spears or arrows, are considered mandatory grave goods for male burials (Teržan 1985) and appear regularly. On the other hand, prestigious armour, be it cuirasses or helmets (Gabrovec 1960; Gabrovec 1962-1963; Egg 1986; Gabrovec 2006, pl. 135; 207; 212; Born 2008, 137-158), as well as sacrificed horses and horse gear signal leading warrior-horsemen (Guštin & Teržan 1977, 77-80, map 1, pl. 1-4; Dular 2007; Teržan 2011a; Teržan 2014b), the top of the military elite (Dular & Tecco Hvala 2007, 239-245, fig. 138-141; Teržan 2008, 267-272, 310-325).

The standardized sets of weapons suggest that the male population was divided into six classes in the Late Hallstatt period from the sixth to the fourth century BC, five of which can be ranked as warrior classes (Fig. 10). This implies a strictly military organization of a society led by a horseman-commander-king. An impression of such a social organization can also be gained from the iconography that features in situla art (Teržan 1985, fig. 1-2, 5-7, 12–13, 15-19; Teržan 1997, 661–663, fig. 6; Teržan 2014a; Teržan 2015, 6-69, fig. 1-4).

The Styrian-Pannonian group is characteristic of the eastern Hallstatt culture (Fig. 1, red). As the name suggests, the group extends across Styria (in Slovenia and Austria) from the Savinja valley in the south, across the basins of the rivers Drava/Drau, Mura/Mur and Raba/Raab, all the way to the Pannonian Plain in the east. In the Pannonian Plain, this group is labelled differently, due to different political and historical backgrounds, but essentially it refers to the same cultural phenomenon (Dobiat 1980; Vinski-Gasparini 1987; Patek 1993; Teržan 1990, 121-209, fig. 56).

The most famous sites of this group are Kleinklein and Strettweg in Austria, the latter the subject of quite recent publications (Egg 1996; Egg & Kramer 2013; Egg & Kramer 2016; Tiefengraber et al. 2013). Here, I shall limit myself to some general remarks about the characteristics of the group and to the presentation of new research at the site of Poštela, where geophysical and LiDAR surveys have been conducted.

With the beginning of the Early Iron Age, a change in the settlement pattern can be observed in this region, too. The sites are no longer located in the lowlands, but sited predominantly on high ground for strategic reasons. Recent excavations have shown that the hilltop settlements are mostly fortified with earthen ramparts and timber palisades and surrounded by ditches. Such fortifications are attested, for example, at Poštela (Teržan 1990, 25-30, 256-306, fig. 5, 9-11, 35-39) or the Burgstallkogel near Kleinklein (Dobiat 1980) and clearly differ from the Dolenjska and Notranjska-Kras groups.

The second characteristic of this group is that the cremated remains of the deceased were buried under tumuli. Here, the cremation rite doubtlessly belongs to the tradition of the preceding Urnfield culture, but the tumulus as a funerary marker and monument surely represents a significant innovation. Vast barrow cemeteries are usually arranged in clusters, located quite close to the hilltop settlement and often at its base (Fig. 11) (Dobiat 1980, map 1; Mele 2012; Teržan 1990, 256-257, fig. 1-2; 349, fig. 94; 355, fig. 99 etc.; Tiefengraber et al. 2013). Unlike the tumuli of the Dolenjska region – containing the inhumation burials of all the members of an extended family or clan in the same tumulus – the Styrian-Pannonian tumuli contain mostly just the cremation burials of a single individual quite frequently accompanied by his or her retinue of one or more persons who were most probably sacrificed on this occasion. Burial chambers, made of stone and/or wood, are usually located in the centre of these tumuli. The chambers are generally square or rectangular in plan and their orientation depends on the cardinal points; a few rare tombs with a round plan are also known (Teržan 1990, 55-58, 316-337, 351-352, 359-363; Strmčnik & Teržan 2004, 221-223, fig. 3-5; Teržan & Črešnar 2015, fig. 2, 5).

Poštela, LiDAR image of the hillfort with clusters of tumuli, lying lower, on the slopes of Pohorje, as well as at the hillfort’s base, between the villages of Razvanje und Pivola (after M. Črešnar).
Fig. 11. Poštela, LiDAR image of the hillfort with clusters of tumuli, lying lower, on the slopes of Pohorje, as well as at the hillfort’s base, between the villages of Razvanje und Pivola (after M. Črešnar).

Very large tumuli, where the burial chamber is often complemented by a dromos (a passage lined with walls and a paved floor) have also been recorded (Dobiat 1980, 53-63, fig. 5-6; Egg 1994, 63-66, fig. 7; Egg & Kramer 2013; Teržan 1990, 323, 335-336, fig. 69, 83-85; 103-104; Šimek 1998, 493-498, fig. 1-3; Šimek 2004, 102-127, fig. 24, 39-41; Potrebica 2013, 184-185, fig. 96; Tiefengraber et al. 2013, 30-42, fig. 13, 19-21).

The typical grave goods found in the tumuli are predominantly a rich and varied assemblage of pottery as well as bronze vessels, ranging from storage containers to eating and drinking sets, which are usually intended for several persons, i.e. for symposia. Male graves often contain weapons, such as swords, spears or axes and horse gear, while the exceptional warrior graves also include helmets, cuirasses, shields and sometimes even sacrificed horses. This indicates that here too the hierarchy was headed by warrior-horsemen (Dobiat 1980; Teržan 1990, fig. 14, 27-32, 34, 39, 41-43, 48; Egg 1996; Egg & Kramer 2013 and 2016; Teržan 2011a).

There are clearly differences between the cultural groups under discussion, reflected in the attributes that demarcate them, be it the settlement types, the construction of their defensive walls, the specific burial rite (cremation or inhumation, flat cemeteries or barrow cemeteries) or the composition of the grave goods (with or without weapons, with or without pottery sets, etc.). Yet, despite these differences, and irrespective of our thesis that the groups were territorially organized and had their own defence systems, our three major groups were obviously imbued with a common ideology.

The fundamental structure of society and its ideology, not just that of the Styrian-Pannonian group but of the eastern Hallstatt culture in general, manifests itself in the Strettweg wagon (Fig. 12) (Egg 1996). The wagon has at its centre the image of a goddess endowed with a life-giving force (carried in the bowl) and other powers. The cult of this goddess involves continuing and cyclical ritual activities, such as the sacrifice of animals and the “holy marriage”, which were of major significance for the maintenance of the social order. The figure of the Strettweg goddess is guarded by elite mounted warriors, a fact worth emphasizing here (Teržan 2001; Teržan 2011b). The latter clearly regarded themselves as divine representatives, as rulers and kings. This belief is also materialized in the prestigious graves on the far margins of the Hallstatt culture which represent another facet of the “holy world order” expressed in the complex iconography of the Strettweg wagon.

Strettweg, cult wagon (after Egg 1996).
Fig. 12. Strettweg, cult wagon (after Egg 1996).

Acknowledgements

 I wish to thank my colleague Miha Kunstelj for an initial translation of my text, Alenka Dovč for translation into French and Manca Vinazza for the layout of the figures.

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ISBN html : 978-2-35613-382-3
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Teržan, Biba, “Regional coherence and group identities in the Hallstatt culture in the south-eastern Alpine region ”, in : Brun, Patrice, Chaume, Bruno, Sacchetti, Federica, éd., Vix et le phénomène princier, Actes du colloque de Châtillon-sur-Seine, 2016, Pessac, Ausonius éditions, collection DAN@ 5, 2021, 163-178, [en ligne] https://una-editions.fr/regional-coherence-and-group-identities-in-the-hallstatt-culture [consulté le 23 juillet 2021].

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