Station: [4] Wagon Grave

F: Wagon wheels, storage vessels and weapons – all these objects are associated with an Early Celtic wagon burial from the Hallstatt period – otherwise known as the Early Iron Age from around 750 to 450 BC. The wagon grave was discovered in 1972 during excavations in Offenbach’s Rumpenheim district.

M: The Rumpenheim wagon grave is very much in the tradition of richly furnished princely tombs in southern Germany. For the interment, a stone burial chamber known as a “cist tomb” was built underground, while a mound was heaped up above ground. The deceased was placed on a wagon, one of the funerary objects buried with them. The idea was that it would allow them to travel to the afterlife in style, as befitted their rank.

F: The iron rims and hub fittings of the wagon wheels have been partially preserved. From the position of the wheels inside the tomb, it’s assumed that the wheel base was sixteen hundred millimetres (or 63 inches), with a track width of thirteen hundred millimetres or 51 inches – in other words, about the size of a dining table for six to eight people.

M: If you want to know what the wagon burial looked like, check behind the display case, where you’ll find a faithful reconstruction created by the Romano-Germanic Museum in Mainz. The deceased, who was about five foot nine (or 173 centimetres tall), was buried lying on his back on a wooden wagon. He had a lance with a bronze decoration lying next to him. An iron slashing knife lay next to his left leg. Other grave goods included a vessel with a conical neck and a small pottery bowl. The originals are in the display case.

F: Both the wagon and the lance proclaim the dead man’s rank – they were upper class status symbols. Iron was a new material that had become established locally in the 8th century BC. It was available almost everywhere. The trade in iron and the forging of weapons formed the basis for wealth and the rise of an elite. The evidence is right here in this richly furnished tomb.


Foto 1, 2: © Haus der Stadtgeschichte
Foto 3: ©  J. Baumann