The Journal of Indo-European Studies
Monograph Series

The Gundestrup Cauldron: Cultural-Historical and Social-Historical Perspectives
Monograph No. 63 by Unto Salo

In this lively and extensively researched essay, senior Finnish archaeologist Unto Salo recounts the captivating story of the Gundestrup Cauldron as seen through his fascinated eyes. Dr. Salo's passion is indeed contagious as he takes us on a journey through millennia and across continents in search of answers to the mysteries of the Cauldron.

Though the magnificent silver Gundestrup Cauldron was found in a peat bog in Himmerland, Denmark, it has been established that it was actually made in Thrace or Dacia probably for a Celtic chieftain over 2000 years ago. However, Salo notes that scholars remain somewhat baffled in their attempt to interpret the finely executed high-relief images that decorate the exterior and interior of this huge sacral bowl. Some of the captivating figures portrayed on the friezes have been identified as Celtic and Germanic, but Salo demonstrates in great detail how others come from Greek or even matriarchal Minoan antiquity.

According to Salo, much of the Cauldron's imagery predominantly owe their origin to the beliefs of the earliest undivided proto-Indo-European peoples, while at the same time he amazes readers by the extent of the cultural diversity he sees in the Cauldron, from the Northern Baltic countries to Egypt. He argues that the most important theme portrayed on the Cauldron is that of the killing of a mythical great bull. He reveals how this was an integral part of early Germanic mythic beliefs, of the ancient Myceanean culture as evidenced by their bull jumpers and architectural horn decorations, and possibly stretching back in the Middle east as far as the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic of the 3rd millennium BC.

Unto Salo's valuable interpretation of the images that have fascinated archaeologists for the over a hundred years since this precious artifact was brought to light is accompanied by over 75 illustrations.

Prologue; The Cauldron; About the find and its background General features and research results, Was the Cauldron a kettle?, Time, From the point of view of metallurgy; Common features of the Cauldron images; About the images of the outer frieze The split-beard god, The bird goddess, The seahorse god, The god holding two deer, The goddess of Heracles, The triangle drama, The god of the fist fight, Discussion; About the inner plates of the Cauldron General points about the iconography, The Taranis composition, The goddess composition, The Cernunnos composition; The warrior composition; Windows into Europe The Cimbrians and the Teutons, The thunder god Thor and the divine ruler Odin; Fighting the bull Three bulls, three swordsmen?, The killing of the bull in the bottom plate; The big bull in Sweden; The big bull in Finland and the East Baltic lands In Finland, In Estonia and Livonia; The celestial bull in Rome; The bull in Cretan culture The earliest bull symbol, The horn symbols on the buildings, The worldview?, Other interpretations in Minoan culture; The Hagia Triada sarcophagus and the Cauldron The sarcophagus, Possible symbolism of the spirals, The matriarchs driving chariots; About even older bull beliefs Animal beliefs and the taming of the meat, The celestial bull in the Near East; The elk as a wind animal? The oldest wind animal in the North?; The Cauldron in relation to cultural history Perspectives on the Gundestrup Cauldron; Epilogue; Closing words (“The end of the song”); Bibliography

ISBN    978-0-9845383-2-4
ISBN    978-0-9845383-4-8
2018, Pages 210 with 80 figures
Hardcover: $96.00
Paperback: $68.00

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