Čurug – A Balkan Celtic Treasure From Vojvodina (northern Serbia)

 

The Vojvodina (Српска Војводина) region of today’s northern Serbia has yielded a vast amount of archaeological material dating from the second half of the 4th to the 1st century BC pertaining to the Balkan Celtic (Scordisci) population who inhabited this part of Europe in the pre-Roman period.

 

Female inhumation burial, one of 18 Celtic burials discovered at Zrenjanin in eastern Vojvodina, Serbia. The burials, from the late 4th c. BC, relate to the first phase of Celtic settlement in this part of Europe.

 

The spectacular Celtic hoard from Židovar, a Celtic oppidum (settlement) on the eastern border of the Deliblato Sands (Deliblatska Peščara), in the Vojvodina region of modern Serbia. (2-1 century BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/the-balkan-celtic-treasure-from-zidovar-serbia/

 

 

According to the archaeological data, one of the most important Celtic settlements in this region was that at the village of Čurug, situated in the lowlands of the south-eastern part of the Bačka area of the Vojvodina region.

 

 

Lead solar/ Taranis votive wheel from Čurug (2-1 c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/taranis-the-thunder-god/

 

 

Ritual ceramic rattle discovered at Čurug (2-1 c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/chasing-demons-celtic-ritual-rattles/

 

 

While most of the Celtic material recorded at Čurug dates to the late Iron Age/ immediate pre-Roman period, the most spectacular find, a hoard of silver jewelry, dates to the earlier period of Celtic expansion into the Balkans, i.e. the late 4th / early 3rd c. BC.

 

The Balkan Celtic silver hoard from Čurug

 

 

As with other major Balkan Celtic treasures from the area of modern Serbia (Hrtkovci, Židovar, etc.), the Čurug hoard consists of wonderfully executed silver jewelry – bracelets, finger- and arm-rings, as well as fibulae, notably the distinctive hinged serpent-head fibulae (below). The latter have been recorded in other Balkan Celtic hoards of this period and, as with numerous other examples of eastern Celtic jewelry, bear eloquent testimony to artistic influences of the native Balkan and Hellenistic cultures in Balkan Celtic art of this period.

 

 

Hinged serpent-head fibulae from the Čurug hoard

 

 

 

The origin of the silver that the Balkan Celts used for producing jewelry and minting silver coins has not yet been established with any degree of certainty. However, it is likely that a substantial amount came from the silver / lead mine at Kosmaj near the large Celtic settlement of Singidunum (today’s Belgrade).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE GLASS REVOLUTION – Celtic “Érsekújvár” Bracelets

UD: November 2016

 

 

Swiss Illus. ready

 

 

While the production of glass jewelry had been a feature of Celtic culture since the Bronze Age, from a technological and artistic perspective the middle La Tène period, specifically from the 3rd century BC onwards, marked a revolution in European glass production. High quality glass jewelry, particularly bracelets, which has been found at all the better investigated Celtic sites of the middle and late La Tène period, displays a wide typological variety hitherto unseen in Europe.

Archaeological evidence clearly indicates that during this period Celtic glassmakers mastered to perfection not only the skill of creating ready-made products, but also how to control the chemical composition of the raw material in order to achieve the optimum quality, transparency and colour (Karwowski 2012).

 

Fragments of glass bracelets from the Celtic sett at Erkelenz-Westfalen (Nordrhein-Westfalen)

Fragments of glass bracelets from the Celtic settlement at Erkelenz-Westfalen (Nordrhein-Westfalen), Germany (3-1 century BC)

(After Karwowski 2012)

 

 

 

 

While evidence of glass production has been discovered at a large number of sites, it is interesting to note that the vast majority of these are not oppida, but large settlements of an open character dating to the middle La Tène period, i.e. date to the period before the oppida emerged. Notable examples of such include Nìmèice in Moravia (Venclová 2006, Venclová et al 2009), Etzersdorf  in Lower Austria  (Karwowski 2004, 46), Egglfing in Bavaria (Uenze 2000, 17–20), the settlement complex at Dürrnberg in Salzburg (Brand 2002, 110–113), and the open settlement on the site where the oppidum at Manching in Bavaria later emerged (Gebhard 1989).

 

 

Palárikovo und Maòa, Slowakei.

Bracelets of light green glass from Celtic burials at Palárikovo and Maòa, Slovakia (3/2 c. BC)

(After Karwowski 2012)

 

 

Fragments of glass bracelets from the Celtic settlement at Pelczyska, southern Poland (2-1 c. BC)

Fragments of glass bracelets from the Celtic settlement at Pelczyska, southern Poland (2-1 c. BC)

(see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/the-celts-in-poland/ )

 

female-italyyy-brcelet

Celtic bracelet of blue and yellow glass from Saliceta San Giuliano (Modena), Italy (ca. 200 BC)

 

 

 

“EYE BRACELETS”

 

Probably the most exquisite example of such Middle La Tène arm rings are the “Érsekújvár” type, produced by the Eastern Celts. Such bracelets are of high quality blue glass with white opaque glass used to further highlight the relief; the composition, based on triangular/rhomboid forms with zig-zag/spiral decoration, thus creating the impression of human eyes.

 

Komját-Komjatice - Nové Zámky, Slovakia Middle La Tene 3 c. BC

Érsekújvár type bracelet from Komját/Komjatice (Nitra Region), Slovakia

(after Karwowski M., Prohászka P. 2014)

 

 

Bracelets of the Érsekújvár type were popular among all the eastern Celtic tribes. Besides Hungary and Slovakia, where the most intense concentration of such arm rings has been registered, examples have been found in Celtic settlements and burials in eastern Austria, the Czech Republic and southern Poland, as well as among the Balkan Celts, notably the Scordisci. The easternmost example yet recorded was discovered during excavations at the Greek colony of Tyras – today’s Bilhorod-Dnistrowskyj in the Odessa region of Ukraine (Karwowski, Prohászka 2014).

 

 

Hungarian nat. museum - unknown loc Hungary

Érsekújvár type bracelet from an unspecified location in Hungary (Hungarian National Museum)

(After Karwowski M., Prohászka P. (2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail / Krusseva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Brand C. (2002) Graphitton und Glas: Studien zur keltischen Keramik- und Armringproduktion vor dem Hintergrund Dürrnberger Siedlungsfunde. In: Claus Dobiat/Susanne Sievers/Thomas Stöllner (Hrsg.), Dürrnberg und Manching. Wirtschaftsarchäologie im ostkeltischen Raum. Kolloquien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte 7 (Bonn 2002) 107–116.

Gebhard R. (1989) Der Glasschmuck aus dem Oppidum von Manching. Ausgr. Manching 11 (Stuttgart 1989).

Karwowski M. (2012) Die Glastechnik und ihre Entwicklung in der Latène-Kultur – fremder Einfluss  oder eigene Kreativität?. In: Technologieentwicklung und –transfer in der Hallstatt- und Latènezeit. Beiträge zur Internationalen Tagung der AG Eisenzeit und des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien, Prähistorische Abteilung – Hallstatt 2009. pp. 243 – 252

Karwowski M., Prohászka P. (2014). Der mittellatènezeitliche Glasarmring von Komjatice/Komját. BemerkunGen zu Den Keltischen armringen Der Form „Érsekújvár” AAC 49: 231–248.

Uenze H. P. (2000) Die jüngerlatènezeitliche Siedlung von Egglfing. Bayerische Vorgeschichtsbl. 65, 2000, 1–38.

Venclová N. (2006) Le verre celtique de Nemcice nad Hanou. In: V. Kruta (Hrsg.), Les Celtes en Bohême, en Moravie et dans le nord de la Gaule. Dossiers d’Arch. 313, 2006, 50–55.

Venclová et al. (2008) Venclová N., Drda P., Michálek J., Vokolek V., Výrobní areály a activity. In: N. Venclová (Hrsg.), Archeologie pravìkých Èech 7 – Doba laténská (Praha 2008) 53–82.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BROTHERS IN ARMS – The double warrior burial from Szabadi (Hungary)

mian illust

 

 

 

 

The village of Szabadi (Somogy county) is situated on the Kapos river in southern Hungary, circa 2.5 km. from the Iron Age oppidum at Szalacska. South of the village a Celtic burial site, used from the end of the 4th – early 2nd c. BC, yielded 12 cremation burials including 3 female graves and 5 warrior burials (# 1,4,5,11 and 12).

 

 

 

s map f.

Location of the site

 

 

 

 

During rescue excavations at the site in 1981 a wealth of archaeological material was uncovered, including ceramic, bronze and iron fibulae, decorated iron, bronze and glass bracelets, ankle rings and weaponry. The most significant find at the site came from grave # 11, where a double warrior burial dating to the late 3rd/early 2nd c. BC was discovered. Material from the burial included 3 swords in their sheaths, 3 spearheads, 2 sword belts, 2 shield umbos, bracelets (iron and glass), and fibulae (Horváth, Németh 2011).

 

 

 

 

umb illust

Shield umbo from warrior burial #11 at Szabadi

(after Horváth, Németh 2011)

 

 

Hun. swo styl illust

One of the decorated scabbards from burial #11. Although badly corroded, at the opening of the sheath a simple symmetrical carved decoration can be observed, composed of tendrils and two drops, known as the Hungarian Sword Style (phase 2, after Szabó, Petres 1992; illustration after Horváth, Németh 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

PARTING GIFTS

 

In the south-west and south-eastern parts of the grave meat (chicken and pork) for the afterlife had been placed in bowls. A further notable find in the warrior burial was a small glass bracelet, much smaller than the iron bracelets of the warriors. Such glass bracelets are characteristic for Celtic female burials of this period; a significant marker of Celtic eastwards expansion, they have been found in 3rd c. BC contexts as far east as Celtic sites such as Arkovna, Kalnovo, Sevtopolis and Zaravetz in e. Bulgaria. It is believed that the bracelet in burial #11 at Szabadi was a present to one of the warriors from his girlfriend or wife, which he also carried with him into the afterlife (loc cit).

 

 

 

Glass b. h

Glass bracelets from various Celtic female burials in Hungary (late 4th – early 2nd c. BC)

(after Tanko 2006)

 

 

 

 

The double burials in grave #11 at Szabadi were performed at the same time, and it has thus been assumed that the warriors fell in battle (Horváth, Németh 2011). Although the nature of the cremation process makes forensic confirmation impossible, this indeed appears the most plausible explanation for such a phenomenon. Finally, it is noteworthy that similar burial assemblages to those at Szabadi are common in the territory of the Scordisci (loc cit), logically indicating a close relationship between the Celts of the Kapos Valley and those in Serbia and n. Bulgaria.

 

 

 

mian illust

Full inventory of warrior burial #11

(after Horváth, Németh 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Celtic Multiple Burials see also:

https://www.academia.edu/5275216/Multiple_Burials_And_The_Question_of_Celtic_Suttee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Horváth L., Németh P. (2011) Celtic warriors from Szabadi (Somogy County, Hungary) In:The Eastern Celts. The Communities between the Alps and the Black Sea. Koper–Beograd 2011. p. 20-30.

Szabó M., Petres É. F. (1992) Decorated Weapons of the La Tène Iron Age in the Carpathian Basin. Inventaria Praehistorica Hungariae 5, Budapest.

Tankó K. (2006) Celtic Glass Bracelets in East-Hungary. In: Thracians and Celts. Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Bistriţa, 18-20 May 2006. p. 253-263