Page V
Part III - Western Europe

Alike the triskelis, Etruria departed leaving behind unanswered questions. This civilization is recorded ca. 900 B.C. thriving freely beneath Italian blue skies till five centuries later, their Roman neighbours decided otherwise. Thereuntil Etruria represented Italic culture, presence and politics .

It would seem Etruscans portrayed triskeles through art rather than coins. Unfortunately no literature survives defining symbolic relevances. Their art forms, well researched, prove Corinthian and Attican cultures amongst other Hellenic inspirers. Territorially they dominated from Rome till the Po Valley, naming themselves Rasenna whilst the Greeks chose Tyrrhenians considering prince Tyrrhenus, led his people to Etruria’s shores as Herodotus related.

Earliest known written Etruscan appears ca. 650 B.C. (some say in adopted Chalkidic — See Euboea). Alike Sumer, Lycia and others, their writing system is considered unusual, Greek in its alphabet yet grammatically unlike European languages or so it would seem. (Future archaeological research may soon enlighten us). Etruria lagged behind producing coinage, seemingly awaiting the Greek poleis of Magna Graecia, meanwhile accepting Greek coinage for trade. It appears their own mints were tardily conceived during the third century B.C.
Today’s Etruscology sets Orientalising years 600 to 300 B.C. Apparently immigrants arriving via Asia Minor during the 6th century, victims of Persian expansion, some experts believe they were Lydians. If correct, again stand two known possibilities justifying the symbol’s arrival into Etruria, lest Etruscans brought it with them, if indeed they did not originate within today’s lands of Italy — another contradictory subject regarding Etruscans. Although we sought an “Etruscan triskelis” we shamefully admit failure, offering not even the hint of an ankle. Numerous authors mention having seen such, thus doubly frustrating. We searched every pot, jar and vase we could find. We even snooped the tombs! What we chiefly remember throughout this search is a certain marvellous Etruscan smile of discreet hilarity.
It is striking to discover triskelis continuity after 210 B.C following Rome’s takeover of Sicily. Certain specialists date Rome’s coinage system to 269 B.C. Roman minting adroitly maintained the Island’s symbol and that of Victory (Nike). We encounter Trinacrus (enigmatic personage) leaning a foot upon a Roman war-vessel, therewhile holding or twirling a triskelis with his right hand. [ 24 ] Another Roman issue designates L. Sempronius Atratinus, Commander during the appointment of M. Antonius. The obverse offers Demeter's head behind which the symbol appears. Later, Roman Sicily minted a 47 B.C. silver denarius under proconsul A. Allienus, producing on behalf of Julius Caesar. A diademed head of Venus turns to an obverse depicting Trinacrus anew, “holding” a triskelis. The occasion is Caesar’s Sicilian based preparations readying attack upon Scipio the Pompeian away in North Africa. (Part 1 presents both coins). Is Trinacrus stilling the triskelis spin ,thus representing not Sicily but Roman domination, or is he clasping it after a nod of approval from mighty Rome? Further Roman issues are struck for Sicily under L. Cornelius Lentulus and C. Claudius Marcellus, the latter in 49 B.C. and Panamoros observed its triskelis reappearing upon bronze coins honouring Augustus. Varying triskelis reverses occurred, with and without Gorgoneion centres. [ 72 ]
Tunis’s Bardo Museum displays amongst its world-famous mosaics a representation of Rome as Athena (Minerva). Surrounding her, six allegories represent the Provinces with goddess Diana portraying Sicily. From behind her head emerges the legs of the Sicilian triskelis.

The significance of the Island's present-day symbol may contain a mythological source. Is Trinacrus an indication of Sicilian or Roman choice in maintaining the symbol? Or is Athena at the root of it?
B. Schenck

Celts, keltoi, were the “hidden” people Hecataeus identified (546-480 B.C.) and La Tène timing has been placed similarly, (500 B.C). Author Nigel Pennick situates Celts entwining Greek and Etruscan forms with that of Hallstatt, to approximately 650 B.C. A triskelis concept may indeed have inspired these tribal people whilst in Greece, considering their significant numbers as hired mercenaries battling about the lands of Zeus. Spirals, which Celts frequently used, when grouped in three’s, are occasionally termed Celtic triskelions, yet spiral representations priorly existed, for example, various museums display 16th century B.C. gold Mycenaean cups and 15th century Babylonian pottery (all with spirals), etc., therefore we shall not dwell upon this, but exclusively retain ibis-beaked forms (Naqsh-I-rajab) trumpet shaped (Lycia), or “triangled” and Eastern style (India-Soghdiana). Many of these the Celts used, perhaps admiringly imitative as they were of Greek coinage, albeit adding a delightful, unique flair. *12
- A few spiral exceptions shall be seen here concerning the drawings of Henry de la Tour.[ 25 ]

We quote the Numismatic Museum of Athens explaining Celts were not only mercenaries in the area:
“The coinage of Alexander the Great had great impact on the Celts, who had penetrated the Balkans massively from the early 3rd cent. B.C. onwards. Some imitations could have been issued by the Skordiskoi, a Celtic tribe that lived mainly in the present-day region of Srem, expanding later into (modern) Serbia and NW Bulgaria.”

Part 1 offers triskelis images or coins issuing from: the Danube belt up to the Netherlands (Vindelici gold staters) and Gaul’s Bituriges Cubi. It also offers: an unusual Celtic shield found in Brescia, Italy, a gold tetradrachm of the Eastern Danube (comparable samples [ 26 ][ 27 ] ), and a Cotini tetradrachm. The Danubian Celts lived across the famous River facing Thrace and Dacia. Legend tells the river’s mouth enclosed the death haunt of the Trojan war’s Ajax and Achilles.

Migratory Celts settled vast expanses commencing about 500 B.C. (400 B.C. in Italy). The Cimbri and Teutones settled in Germany and Rhineland Germanii produced electrum staters depicting a full triskele obverse, the reverse decorated with annulets, sometimes as many as six.
The Celts of Gaul and Switzerland sacked Rome, rampaged throughout Greece (278 B.C.), settled for some in Asia Minor (the Galatians) whilst others spread into Iberia or Italy. The Romans discouraged Celtic straying by the 3rd century B.C.

Time discourages sifting through enumerable Celtic tribes in search of triskeles. The field is too vast but readily available samples are: a gold stater of Vercingetorix's Arverni Celts, a triskelis tumbling midst the legs of a five-legged horse [ 28 ] followed by a Caletes issue depicting another horse, with behind what imaginatively resembles a fleur de lys pommeled staff or lance.*19 [ 29 ]. These circulated mid-second century A.D., the century Carnutes of Central Gaul produced drachms designed with a dog or wolf having a happy ride of it.[ 30 ]
Another tribe assisting Vercingetorix , the Petrocorii of the Périgueux / Périgord whom the Romans assimilated into Aquitaine, issued triskelis coins [ 54 ] [ 69 ] (see similarity with n°25 above). The Lingons of Langres, Gaul, staunch allies of Rome, produced a double-faced triskelis specie (see n° 53 pg 6). Needless mentioning Celtic stylisations created the largest number of variants known. One such example may be found in the book of Henri de la Tour 1982 edition : PL.XXXIX numbers 9942 / V.22, the latter bearing an “Odin” shaped triskelis described in part 1- Storia

Britain’s Atrebates sometimes shifted triskeles skyward, their half staters judged up to date the Island’s earliest (about 75 B.C.). [ 31 ] The first and second centuries B.C. set this tribe amongst Celts prevailing in the land. Their attachment to Gaul and support of Vercingetorix remaining firm throughout victory or defeat eventually brought Rome's disfavour allowing enemy Trinovantians to supplant their influence, encouraged thus by Julius Caesar 54 B.C. Less Romanised, north and west Britain preserved Celtic culture notwithstanding settlement of Germanic kingdoms. Today's Wales has fortunately upheld the language.(Further language information: Britain's uninscribed Corieltauvi (Coritani) issues encircled triskeles concurrently with Corinth (see coin n°15), reversing its position to the obverse. [ 68 ] Third century B.C. triskeles shaped as coin N° 27 or 54 were discovered at the Kirkburn burial site in East Yorkshire. These bronze linchpins served to secure chariot wheels and may be seen today at the British Museum.

A ladder-maned horse trots across a Boii issue, similarly styled to those above.[ 32 ] Traditionally located in Bohemia, the Boii, ever on the move, strayed into Moravia , Slovakia, Italy, France, and Bohemia. Possibly the name Bohemia derives from these Celts.

With apologies to the author whose name we misplaced in our triskelis chase, we cannot resist quoting his philosophical thoughts, hoping meanwhile he shall come forth in order we identify him in this site. His words crystallize impressions we felt while viewing Celtic coins with their swirling suns, stars, moons, running horses or diversely formed triskeles.
“While the ancient Celts felt no need to attribute meaning to their designs, there is nothing to prevent the modern viewer from assigning significance. It might even be argued that from a Jungian view of the collective unconscious, that the meaning was always there but hidden during the act of creation and revealed in their contemplation.”

Caletes Celts, Northern Gaul.
No 7221 PL. XXIX - Henri de la Tour

Two Celtic coins found on the Island of Jersey. [ 33 ] - [ 34 ]

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