National Geographic : 1980 Mar
plows keep striking large stones there." I had seen such formations before. Surely it had to be a large early Celtic tumulus, or burial mound. Yet so worn was it by centu ries of erosion and cultivation that no one had recognized it. Find of a Lifetime In the end, peeling back the overburden from this acre or so of ground, we found what may be the most important discovery in this century from the early Celtic period for me it became the find of a lifetime. We dated it to about 550 B.C. This was during the early Iron Age, or Hallstatt period, so labeled after the Austrian burial site where, in the second half of the 19th century, hundreds of graves gave up an enormous array of artifacts. * I am a staff archaeologist with the State Service of Antiquities (Landesdenkmalamt) of Baden-Wiirttemberg, headquartered in Stuttgart. The early Celtic period has been a focus of archaeology in this region for 25 years. My agency is responsible for preserv ing archaeological sites in the area and for salvage when sites are threatened by con struction, road building, or farming. Beyond the uncovering of ordinary grave yards, excavations have revealed proof of a stratified society, including an aristocratic class, that (Continued on page 436) *Merle Severy traced the history of the Celts in the May 1977 GEOGRAPHIC.