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“My archaeologist colleagues discovered Iron Age villages at various locations in the Altmühl valley. They also discovered manor houses – larger, independent buildings set in their own estates. Over 180 of these early Celtic manor farms are known in Bavaria. They date from the beginning of the Iron Age in the 8th century BC and were in use for around 400 years. 

It seems that life was good on these manor farms, provided the crops didn’t fail and there was no war or epidemics. Ditches and palisades protected the groups of houses and other buildings from wild and domestic animals and from unwanted quests such as bands of robbers.

People lived mainly from arable farming and cattle breeding. The owners of the manor farms probably also engaged in trade for amber, salt, iron and other highly prized goods.

As you can see from the pictures, their pottery was very finely made and beautifully decorated. The decorative patterns remind me of those of the ancient Greeks, with their geometric shapes and almost mathematically straight lines. These patterns were used on clothing and other fabrics as well as pottery. The influence of Greek culture with its archetypal heroes and epic tales of the Iliad and Odyssey is apparent in many aspects of life in the early Iron Age here, in customs, decorative patterns and burial rites.

Interestingly, these geometric patterns of the early Iron Age were suddenly replaced by new, curved decorative designs including spirals, complex circular motifs, intertwined arches and swirls and plant shapes. A new cultural identity had appeared, with a new artistic self-confidence.”