image of ancient Gauls
Image: British Library’s Flickr account

Looking for a little interior design inspiration? Well, apparently the ancient Gauls really did embalm the heads of their enemies and display them proudly. Something for once everyone’s finally tired of shiplap and mason jars???

From the Guardian:

Experts say they have found traces of conifer resins on the remains of skulls discovered at the iron age settlement of Le Cailar in the south of France – a discovery they say backs up ancient reports that the Celtic Gauls preserved their grisly trophies.

“In fact the ancient texts told about us the head [being] embalmed with cedar oil … thanks to our chemical analysis we know that this information is right,” said Réjane Roure, co-author of the study from Paul Valéry University of Montpellier.

“Writing in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Roure and colleagues describe how they analysed human skulls found with weapons in an area of Le Cailar where they would have been widely visible – suggesting they would have been on display,” explained the Guardian, adding that, “Roure said the purpose of the preservation might have been to make sure the face and features of the enemy remained on show.” What’s the point of displaying some battered old skull that could belong to anybody? You want everyone to know exactly who that is on your mantlepiece or there’s simply no point in bothering.

Honestly, though, “traces of conifer resins on the remains of skulls” sounds... strangely festive? Maybe they were just trying to go in a different direction one year—something a little less boring old evergreens, a little more “tree of bones.”