Bronze Age Swastikas

I recently came across an interesting Facebook post about Bronze Age “Celtic” chariots that were discovered near Býči Skála (Bull Rock) in Moravia (modern-day Czech Republic). [1] The chariots are presently kept at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, where the public is free to view specially designed “reconstructions” — the claim is that the originals on which they’re based date to about 6 B.C. or so. [2]

bull-rock

Reconstruction of a Bronze Age chariot discovered near Býči Skála in Moravia, Czech Republic.

Labeling these chariots as “Celtic” — in the modern sense of the word —  is, I think, slightly misleading. The word “Celt” was never used to describe the Insular populations of the British Isles until 1707. [3] My suspicion is that the modern “Celts” of the British Isles are more closely related to the Basques of Spain than they are to Central Europe or Anatolia. Likewise, I suspect that much of what is presently labeled as Bronze Age “Celtic” culture in Central Europe is actually ethnically Slavic — or perhaps more accurately, ethnically Venetic — but I’ll leave a full explanation of that for a future post.

The NSDAP-style swastikas on the reconstructed bronze chariots are certainly interesting. When I was a kid, the going story was that the NSDAP had plagiarized the Buddhist-style swastika (which rotates in the opposite direction) during the 1938 Ahnenerbe expedition to Tibet, and had “inverted” the rotation since they were “evil”. This is, of course, impossible since the NSDAP had been using the swastika logo long before their trip to Tibet — but such is the wizardry concerning anything involving NSDAP history in Western, and especially American sources.

If the reconstructed chariot in the Viennese museum is accurate, it would be evidence of NSDAP-style swastikas in Central Europe dating to pre-Christian times. It would also suggest that if the NSDAP was plagiarizing anybody, it would have been an originally Slavic source (supposing, of course, that the chariots are in fact not “Celtic”).

 Býči Skála in the Křtiny valley in Moravia.

Bull Rock Cave was first explored by a local doctor, Jindřich Wankel, in 1867, although the site had been visited earlier by two European monarchs — first by Holy Roman Emperor Francis II in 1804 and then later by Prince Alois I of Liechtenstein. [4] The bronze chariots were discovered on an archaeological dig in 1872.

Some additional interesting facts:

  • Bull Rock Cave is part of the second-longest cave system in Moravia, running for more than 13 km through the Moravian Karst.
  • In 1920, after water was pumped out, a second cave system named Nová Býčí Skála (“New Bull Rock”) was discovered.
  • Since WWII, additional connecting cave systems have been discovered, including Sobolova, Májová, Prolomená and Proplavaná.

During WWII, the German Army intended to use Bull Rock Cave as a weapons factory, and paved the entrance of the cave under a thick layer of concrete. It would be interesting to excavate this concrete and see what, if anything, lies underneath. [5]

Footnotes

  1. Facebook Group Celtic Dawn.
  2. In other words, since it’s a “reconstruction” we can’t be sure if, or to what extent the museum curators are trying to “reconstruct” history in their own image.
  3. The idea of collectively labeling the Welsh, Scots and Irish as “Celts” was first proposed by the Welsh antiquarian Edward Lhuyd in 1707. Previously these people had been known collectively as Brythonic.
  4. In fact, Prince Alois I is buried nearby in the Mausoleum of Liechtenstein in the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Brno-Vranov.
  5. A more in-depth discussion of Bull Rock Cave is available on the blog BalkanCelts.

 

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