Roman Balsamarium in the Form of a Celtic Aristocrat, 1st-2nd Century AD
A bronze balsamarium in the form of a bust of a Celtic male with coils of lime-washed hair, handlebar mustache and closely cropped beard; eyes inlaid in silver; torc around neck with terminal inlaid in silver; hinge and loops to the top of the head, separate lid in the form of hair. 11cm
The Celtic tribes were divided into different classes or castes of hierarchical nobility. Their society was quite complex with a king or queen at the top of society and a warrior aristocracy below them, with merchants and peasants forming further subdivisions of society; the religious sect formed a separate class that was divided into Druids, Bards and Ovates and who not only dealt with religious matters but also formulated the laws. Classical authors, such as Caesar and Strabo, describe the Celtic aristocracy as dyeing their skin with blue paint and washing their hair in lime so that it formed spikes. Another feature of the aristocracy was the wearing of neck torcs, something that was only reserved for the royal family and the warrior aristocracy, as well as the gods, as it was seen to have divine connotations.