Dawn of the Celts


Thousands of years ago, one of the most mysterious civilisations flourished in the high alpine region: the Hallstatt civilisation. They had accumulated enormous wealth from a natural resource far more worth than gold: salt.

Mining for salt was the biggest industry of the time, and the salt miners of the bronze age around 1,500 BC already applied very sophisticated mining techniques. The ‚white gold’ was then distributed through a net of trade routes throughout Europe.

The Hallstatt culture developed its own form of society with a special religion. And most importantly: they never waged war. This poses a mystery. Why didn’t anybody try to conquer this precious resource? Were the salt mines and the people mining them considered sacrosanct? Was salt some kind of divine treasure?

Many answers were found in a huge burial ground: 1,600 graves were excavated, together with thousands of precious grave goods allowing a glimpse into a civilisation long gone. And important archeological evidence of the time was discovered in the salt mines: textiles, wooden constructions, even biological material preserved in the salt, nearly unscathed.

And now an even more amazing new discovery has been made.

We follow the steps of an international excavation team who are working on a very special grave at the burial ground in Hallstatt, one of the world’s biggest archeological sites. In the past, many graves with the most splendid grave goods have already been dug up here.

In this particular grave, two giants rest – beside an urn. Urn burials were a privilege of the elite, and the urn is accompanied by many precious grave goods. A grave full of mysteries, yet it gives us a chance to understand how the people in this civilisation lived. After all, Hallstatt is one of the least understood prehistoric cultures.

But what about the two giants, whose bodysize is unusual for the Hallstatt area? They were buried in a more conventional way. Why do they share the same tomb? Were they the bodyguards of the noble person buried in the urn? Were the giants from a different part of Europe?

Scientific methods such as isotope analysis of the tooth enamel may help provide answers as to who the giants in the graves were – and where they came from. The same technique was also applied to trace Stonehenges’s famous Amesbury Archer back to alpine regions.

This film follows the latest scientific investigations of the archaeologists. The results of their work will require a substantial part of European prehistory to be rewritten.