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Far beyond a warhorse: horse motif on Celtic coins of the Danube basin, curated by Yining Li Erin

      Following the Greek tradition of coinage, ‘Celts’ began to make their own coins since the third century BC at latest (Allen, 1987).  Imitative as they are, Celtic coins gradually developed their own visual language and other idiosyncrasies.  Since Celts in La Tène period did not leave a literary tradition, such material culture plays a significant role in helping to understand the features of the Celtic spiritual world. The earliest coinages of the La Tène period originated in the Danube river basin; with a noticeable presence and preference for the depiction of a horse on the coins.  This raises some interesting questions: With so many Greek prototypes to draw from, why do early ‘Celts’ favor the ones with horse most?  Compared to Greek prototypes, what are the characteristics of horse imagery on Celtic coins as opposed to Greek examples?  Why are horses juxtaposed with symbols such as the sun or a bird?  By presenting and analyzing a group of Celtic silver coins found in Danube basin, the exhibition will explore how horse motif on coinage signifies the significant and complex role of horse in Celtic culture.


Curated by Yining Li Erin, advised by Dorothy Verkerk