Station: [231] Clothes in the Iron Age - Woman of Treben

In this mirror, you can see a wealthy woman from the pre-Roman Iron Age. She was buried near Treben on the river Mulde in around 450 to 400 BC, along with precious jewellery and a sumptuous belt. Large and richly decorated bronze plates were the fashion for Hallstatt Culture belts in Southern Germany during the early Iron Age. About a hundred years later, they were also being worn in the area around the Rivers Mulde and Elbe. Her arm rings and the pair of brooches that clasp her robe at the shoulders also conform to South German fashion. Her two large bronze neck rings, though, are in the traditional local style.

There was nothing haphazard about this lady’s mixed outfit. She was clearly following the regional fashion in the area between the rivers Elbe and Mulde.  Owning items of jewellery and costumes from distant regions showed ones social status and influence.  As far as we know, no such grave goods occur during the former Bronze Age in Saxony. Back then, the role of the deceased during his or her lifetime, his or her wealth or standing, were almost never represented. This changed radically during the pre-Roman Iron Age in West Saxony. Clasps such as pins and brooches, belt hooks and arm rings were placed in the urn, along with the cremated ashes.  This suggests that the deceased was not dressed in a special shroud during the cremation process, but was wearing his or her everyday clothes.

In contrast to these regional accessories for costumes, some urn burials contain different sorts of grave goods, such as tools or weapons.  A man’s grave from Liebau in Vogtland clearly identified the dead person as a warrior. He was dressed entirely in the Celtic manner, which presumably meant no clothes at all, in accordance with the Celtic warrior ideal. You will also find the man from Liebau here in the Cabinet of Mirrors.