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Barbarian Potency

The princely tomb of Gommern

Roman silverware for wine, Germanic wooden buckets for beer, a solid gold neck ring, and many other precious objects were laid in the tomb of the 'Prince of Gommern' at the end of the 3rd century AD. This is the most richly furnished ›princely tomb‹ in all of Germania.

Some pieces indicate the rise of the 35 to 40-year-old man from warrior to representative of his tribe. He did not come from the area of the local Semnones, where cremation burials were common. In the midst of the urnfield cemetery, a timber block-built chamber tomb was erected for him. The only accompanying pottery vessel points to the Chatti, who lived about 100 kilometres away on the north-eastern edge of the Thuringian Basin.

As a young man, the ›Prince of Gommern‹ acquired a silver cloak clasp, which has been abraded by many years of use. It dates to the time when the Juthungi and Alamanni invaded the Roman provinces. The battles probably helped him to achieve the prestige that is expressed in his tomb by golden garment clasps and rings. The neck ring alone weighs half a kilogramme. 100 Roman gold coins must have been melted down to make it.

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