Abstract: The Dining Gaul (and His Phrygian Dishes)


In 279 B.C.E. the Gauls—a loose federation of tribes migrating east from their Danube homeland—reached Greece and plundered the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. In 277 B.C.E. three tribes crossed into Asia Minor and terrorized the western Greek cities. By the 260s, the Gauls had settled down in Phrygia (central Turkey). The migration of the Gauls is one of the best documented episodes of Hellenistic history: authors described their behavior with disgust, and sculptors represented their physiognomy in “noble savage” images like the Capitoline Dying Gauls. Such information, generated exclusively by their enemies, is obviously biased. But the Gauls left us primary evidence of themselves in the form of their homes and possessions, the material residue of domestic activities such as cooking, baking, dining, and drinking. The archaeological record reveals an aspect of the Gauls that did not concern ancient historians or artists. This lecture presents the results of my research on material recovered in excavations at Gordion, where many Gauls settled down to a relatively peaceful existence. Rather than trying to connect individual objects with a specific ethnicity, I instead focus on the overwhelming lack of evidence for the Gauls in the context we might most expect to find it: their private, daily lives. The Greeks may have lived in constant fear of raiding Gauls, but in terms of household behavior in villages where Gauls settled down, they are indistinguishable from their Phrygian, Greek, Persian, and Lydian neighbors.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

Dandoy, J.R., P. Selinsky, and M.M. Voigt. 2002. “Celtic Sacrifice.” Archaeology (Jan/Feb):44–49.

Voigt, M.M. 2003. “Celts at Gordion: The Late Hellenistic Settlement.” Expedition 45(1):14–19.

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