Exhibition highlights South Bohemia’s Celtic past

A new exhibition highlighting the Celtic history of South Bohemia is currently underway in the South Bohemian Museum in České Budějovice. It presents the latest archaeological findings, but also sheds light on the everyday life of people living in the region during the Iron Age.

What did the Celts believe in? What deities did they worship? And what kind of traces of the Celtic culture have been preserved to this day? These are just some of the questions raised by an exhibition currently on display at the South Bohemian Museum in České Budějovice.

The title of the exhibition, Celts in the south of Boiohaema, refers to the first recorded Celtic name for Bohemia. It means home of the Boii people, a Celtic tribe that settled in Central Europe centuries before the Slavic peoples arrived.

Archaeologist Ondřej Chvojka is one of the authors of the exhibition:

“With this exhibition we want to show that in the Iron Age, and in other prehistoric periods, South Bohemia was not some forgotten periphery. It was really connected to all parts of Europe. People came here from all directions and the local people naturally traded with them.”

The exhibition highlights various archaeological findings from the region, including the oppidum in Třísov, one of the southernmost Celtic fortifications in Bohemia, lying on the bank of the Vltava River.

Visitors can also see a unique bronze buckle depicting a dog, that was discovered quite recently in the village of Závišín.


Among the highlights of the exhibition is a model of a nobleman’s funeral, featuring a replica of a two-wheeled chariot, says Chvojka.

“It is based on small finds from several sites in South Bohemia that featured monumental princely graves. Unfortunately we have never found such a preserved chariot here. This is due to the fact that the soils in south Bohemia are acidic and aggressive, so organic objects unfortunately decay pretty quickly.”

Photo: Petr Kubát,  Czech Radio

According to Mr. Chvojka, the two-wheeled chariots were used by the Celtic elite and had an important symbolic value:

“It was a war chariot. Those who owned it would occasionally ride it on ceremonial occasions. At the same time, the chariot accompanied its owner to his grave. Such burials were quite common in the Celtic world around the fifth century BC.”

The exhibition in the South Bohemian Museum in České Budějovice also features the latest archaeological finds from south Bohemia, including a yet unpublished discovery from Vitín, featuring a vessel and two bracelets.

“It is part of a grave find that we associate with a nomadic ethnic group that reached the Carpathian Basin in the sixth century BC. And from here they probably continued to south Bohemia. This is the first grave find of this type in south Bohemia.”

The exhibition Celts in the South of Boiohaema will run at the South Bohemian Museum in České Budějovice until 5 January 2025.

Authors: Petr Kubát , Ruth Fraňková
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