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Graduate Defense: Samantha Beier

February 27 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Thesis Defense

Thesis Information

Title: Celtic Cultural Identity In The Late Iron Age: Regional Comparisons Of Pit Burials

Program: Master of Arts in Anthropology

Advisor: Dr. Cheryl Anderson, Anthropology

Committee Members: Dr. Allison Wolfe, Anthropology and Dr. Kristin Snopkowski, Anthropology


Celtic speaking peoples were once distributed across a vast territory from Europe to southwest Asia in the Middle and Late Iron Age. The movement of some of these Celtic peoples, the Galatians, from Europe to Anatolia may be responsible for the appearance of new cultural practices and belief systems that have been observed at two communities in the region during the Hellenistic period/Late Iron Age (ca. 300-100 BCE). Burial rituals are one cultural practice that can be observed archaeologically in order to further investigate the migration of the Galatians and other Celtic groups. Human deposits in storage pits in Europe and southwest Asia are characterized by the internment of either whole or partial bodies in storage pits, usually grain storage pits. This research compares these pit burials across three different regions, Britain (United Kingdom), western Europe (France), and central Anatolia (Türkiye). In particular, the presence or absence of artifacts, animal remains, and perimortem trauma is analyzed through statistical tests. In addition, the minimum number of individuals and paleodemography of the burial pits will be discussed. Fisher’s Exact Tests for presence/absence of artifacts and perimortem trauma resulted in a p-value that was not statistically significant, meaning there is continuity between all three regions for these burial aspects. A Chi-Squared test for presence/absence of animal remains resulted in a significant p-value, meaning that there is not continuity between all three regions. There have been many interpretations about who is represented in these burials, including sacrifice victims, captives, or individuals with unique social status. These hypotheses are difficult to test given the available data, but overall, it appears that there is some continuity in burial ritual regarding human deposits in storage pits across these regions, suggesting that this practice was brought into Anatolia with the migration of the Galatians after 300 BCE.