Lombard Totemic Animals

Date
24/01/2019 - 31/08/2019
Region
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Emilia Romagna
Town
Cividale del Friuli (UD), Povegliano Veronese (VR), Spilamberto (MO)
Subject
Animals

During the twelve nights following the winter solstice, the god Wotan rides his incredible eight-legged grey horse. He crosses the sky, the water and other worlds, leading a ghostly procession of the souls of soldiers who died in battle in a furious hunting vortex with many horses, hounds and animals of the forest.

The wild hunt, with Odin performing his special role of accompanying souls to the afterlife, is one of the most cherished themes in Nordic mythology. and is also an expression of the bellicose vocation of the Germanic peoples. And – united with an existence strongly linked to nature – this very vocation reflects the social imaginary of Germanic peoples. In a context of daily life dominated by thick forests and the constant presence of animals, the latter become fundamental points of reference and may acquire strong totemic values.

Propitiatory ceremonies and special practices that accompanied burial offer an extraordinary insight into the Lombards’ imaginary world, populated by horses, dogs, bears, wolves, deer, wild boars, snakes and eagles, special companions and faithful companions throughout eternity.

The archaeological remains chosen to illustrate this theme offer, in different ways, an evocative cross-section: a burial of horse and rider from Cividale del Friuli (San Mauro cemetery, Tomb 43), a burial of headless horse and dogs from Povegliano Veronese (Ortaia cemetery, Tomb sn), and lastly burials of headless horses from Spilamberto (Ponte del Rio cemetery, Tombs 63, 66, 67.