In 1960 Werner Kramer reported in ANTIQUITY on excavations at the oppidum of Manching (Kramer 1960), setting out both the leitmotivs in the history of the oppidum and an overview of the finds. After 40 years, the excavated area of the oppidum (380 ha) has grown by more than 20 ha and the picture of Manching has acquired new colours and shadows. The 1996-1999 excavations, in the northwest of the oppidum, with finds from the 2nd century and the first half of the 1st century Bc, should be at the centre of any overview (FIGURE 1).
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Kramer highlighted the important economic geographical position of Manching, at the point where the Paar flows into the Danube. The convergence of the excavations in 1984-1987 (Maier et al. 1992) and 1996-1999 with an old meander of the Danube, which runs through the oppidum in the north, has now raised the possibility of a Celtic harbour. The most recent investigations (Volkel/Weber in Sievers 2000) show that this meander contained water in Celtic times, with an opening into the Danube, and hence was well suited as a landing place. Hydraulic installations and a concentration of grain stores on the edge of the landing place fit well with these findings.
As well as wood and stones for the construction of the town wall, built around the end of the 2nd century BC, amphoras were unloaded here. These were probably used to transport not only wine but also fish sauces, as attested by a tiny bone from a Mediterranean fish (Manhart in Sievers 1998) which was recovered from a densely populated quarter further south. A concentration of other prestige goods, such as campana and glass dishes, were found here, as well as special weapons such as a dagger, fragments of chain mail or spurs, suggesting the presence of equites. A 62-g lead weight with a divine bust (the second of its kind from Manching (Sievers 2000)) attests to the importance of trade.
Related constructions were laid out along the route of a trackway flanked by trenches. In addition to wells and storage pits, houses, commercial buildings and longhouses, whose function (as stables or magazines) remains unclear, there are unusual types of buildings (quadrangular enclosures with a central structure, Umgangsbau (processional buildings) and hall-like structures) which indicate status or have some cultic significance (Leicht in Sievers 1998). A small bronze hippocampus and a horse's hoof carved from antler horn found near by underscore this impression. The closest parallels for such special structures are found in the `Viereckschanzen'. On the basis of this, it seems that a member of the elite, active in secular as well as religious spheres, resided in the centre of the area excavated in 1996-1999. Here, as throughout the excavation area, scattered human skeletal remains were found, which can no longer be associated with the capture of Manching by the Romans, but should rather be interpreted as connected with a multi-tiered burial practice or as trophy skulls (Lange 1983). However, complete and partial skeletons (FIGURE 2) still raise many questions. The lack of late La Tene burials from large parts of southern Germany makes comparison with other regions of the Celtic world difficult. An interesting find in this connection came, from between a densely inhabited area and the landing place. Although not a burial, it is reminiscent of elite burials from the central Rhein region because of the associated finds: over a burial trench for a body were found remains which could be interpreted as parts of a cart and bronze vessels. …