UD: November 2016
The town of Supava (Malacky district) is situated in the Záhorie lowland, under the Little Carpathians, around 15 km (9 m.) north of the Slovakian capital Bratislava. In 1929 industrial work in the area uncovered an Iron Age necropolis, which has provided invaluable information on the early phases of Celtic settlement in this area of Europe.
Location of Stupava, and main early La Têne settlements and finds in southwestern Slovakia (LT A – LT B1; after Čambal 2012).
Among the 10 graves discovered at the Celtic necropolis, which dates to the La Têne A – Lt A2/B1 period, the most outstanding was the male inhumation burial (dated to c. 400 BC) located at the highest point of the cemetery. The situation of the burial, and the grave inventory – which included a sword, lance, iron knife, bronze armlet, stamped pottery decorated with bull horns, and a bronze belt-plaque with human mask – clearly indicate that the individual was of high standing in the community, i.e. a tribal leader/chieftain.
Metal finds from the Stupava Chieftain’s burial
(c. 400 BC)
Stamped ceramic bowl decorated with bull horns from the Stupava burial
Another fascinating find associated with the burial is a decorated bronze belt-plate with human mask. The Stupava belt-plate is a highly decorated type of a general class with rectangular plate which extend from the Middle Rhine to Slovakia (Megaw/Megaw/Neugebauer 1989; Frey 1996:202, 203, abb. 5, 6; Pieta 2007:307, abb. 10), and is an important example of the development of early La Têne art in this part of Europe. The anthropomorphic element/ face mask on the Stupava belt has many parallels in Celtic compositions of this period, notably those to be observed on a bronze fibula and belt hook from tomb #1 at Glauberg (Hesse), Germany.
Bronze Belt-Plate from the Celtic Chieftain’s Burial at Stupava
Celtic fibula (bronze with coral) with zoomorphic/anthropomorphic decoration, from Glauberg (5th c. BC)
Bronze belt hook with zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and geometric decoration from Glauberg
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