In the 1950’s a remarkable discovery was made at the village of Gornje Psarjevo (near Zelina, located 24 km. northeast of Zagreb), in today’s Croatia. Dating to the 1st c. BC, the silver necklace (above) consisted of small intertwined chains ending with stylized serpentine heads made of silver sheet with filigree decoration. The serpentine terminal preserves a mount for an inlay, probably of glass (Vinski 1957, Pandzic 2009). The technical execution of the chain is of a Celtic type which developed from Hellenistic prototypes, and is known as the Fuchsschwanz or Foxtail type.
As this particular necklace was not discovered in an archaeological context there has previously been a lack of certainty concerning the ethnic group which produced the Psarjevo necklace and similar examples of such late Iron Age chains from the Balkans, such as those from Chelyustnitsa (Montana reg.), Bulgaria, an example from the Seika Mica hoard in the Sibiu area of Transylvania, or a gold chain of the same type, but made of gold, from a late Iron Age burial at Smochan (Lovech reg.), Bulgaria (Tonkova 2011).
Silver chain from Seika Mica, Romania, executed in the Foxtail technique
(after Tonkova 2011)
In fact, the technique of Fuchsschwanzketten (Foxtail chains) had already emerged among the European Celtic tribes by the early La Tene period, as clearly illustrated by examples such as that from Pottenbrunn (Lower Austria) (Ramsl 2002 a, b; 2012), and was also used for Celtic sword chains – e.g. those from Monte Bibele, Italy (Vitali 2003, Ramsl 2012), or Guntramsdorf, Austria (Urban et al 1985; Ramsl 2012).
Pendant and chain discovered around the neck of a 25 year old woman in an early La Tene burial (no. 54) at Pottenbrunn, Austria. The silvered bronze pendant is combined with a classic Fuchsschwanzkette – Foxtail chain
(after Ramsl 2012)
In this context, particularly interesting are recent finds of silver Foxtail necklaces, discovered in a hoard with other Celtic jewellery at the Scordisci hillfort at Zidovar in Serbia, dating from the late Iron Age. The Zidovar treasure, the only stratified find of this kind discovered in a systematic archaeological excavation in south-eastern Europe, contained silver Foxtail chains identical to that from Psarjevo and other examples from south-eastern Europe, in addition to cylindrical boxes decorated with filigree and glass inlays, of the kind presumed to have present on the Psarjevo necklace, as well as late La Tene fibulae of the Jarek type (Jevtic et al 2006). The presence of Foxtail chains in the Scordisci Zidovar hoard again confirms that such Fuchsschwanzkette /Foxtail chains were produced by the Balkan Celtic tribes.
Celtic Foxtail chains from the Scordisci Zidovar hoard (1st c. BC)
(after Jevtic et al 2006)
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Jevtic M., Lazic M., Sladic M. (2006) Zidovarsko blago (The Zidovar Treasure) Vrsac/Beograd
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