In a muddy field located between a motorway and a meander of the Seine southeast of Paris, French archaeologists have uncovered an Iron Age graveyard that they believe will shed light on the great yet enigmatic civilisation of Gaul.
The site, earmarked for a warehouse project on the outskirts of Troyes, is yielding a stunning array of finds, including five Celtic warriors, whose weapons and adornments attest to membership of a powerful but long-lost elite.
Archaeologist Emilie Millet is crouched at one of 14 burial sites that have been uncovered in recent weeks.
At her feet are the remains of a tall warrior, complete with a 70-centimetre (28-inch) iron sword still in its scabbard.
“I have never seen anything like it,” said Millet, gazing at a metal-framed shield whose wood-and-leather core has long rotted away.
Buried next to the warriors are several women, whose jewellery — twisted-metal necklaces known as torcs, and large bronze brooches decorated with precious coral — also speak of high status.