Kuffern Situla

Natural History Museum Vienna

Natural History Museum Vienna

Iron Age. Circa 400 BC. Kuffern (formerly Kuffarn) in Traisen Valley, Lower Austria.

The Kuffern situla, the northernmost find of this type, is striking for its detailed bands of images from the life of the Celts 2,400 years ago.

Metal mixing vessels – known as “situla” in antiquity – are mostly known from Upper Italy, but also from Slovenia and the Tyrol. Artists in the eastern Alpine region often decorated them with chased reliefs, following Mediterranean models. Like a picture book, the scenes present a detailed insight into the life and ideas of the illiterate society on the fringe of the classical ancient world.
Boxing, chariot racing and a feast with a ceremonial drinking cup going the rounds – the images on the Kuffern situla, discovered in a grave in 1891, focus on the highlights of social life. Rulers in particular have themselves portrayed at important events – as hosts at festivals, as hunters and as combatants – to demonstrate their power. In addition, however, each scene contains a wealth of information on daily life - clothing, crockery, furniture, and stocks, means of transport, the use of weapons and much more.
According to the frieze of figures, the lifestyle of the European aristocracy during the Ice Age was not significantly different from the picture of the Greek heroes in antiquity painted by Homer in the Odyssey: “… The banqueters sit […], listening to the minstrel in the hall, tables in front of them laden with meat and bread, while the steward pours wine from the bowl and carries it round and fills the cups …”

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  • Title: Kuffern Situla
  • Rights: (c) NHM (Lois Lammerhuber)