The Balkan Celtic Treasure from Židovar (Serbia)

 

 

Presented by Greek and Roman ‘historians’ as mindless savages, recent archaeological evidence from the central Balkans has thrown a completely different light on the Celtic Scordisci tribes who dominated this part of Europe from the 4th century BC until the Roman conquest. Most spectacular of these discoveries has been the hoard from Židovar, a Celtic oppidum (settlement) on the eastern border of the Deliblato Sands (Deliblatska Peščara), in the Banat (Vojvodina) region of modern Serbia.

 

 

FULL ARTICLE:

 

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/silvermasters-the-balkan-celtic-treasure-from-zidovar-serbia/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SILVERMASTERS – The Balkan Celtic Treasure from Židovar (Serbia)

UD: May 2019

 

“… a people … cruel and savage, and, as ancient history declares, accustomed to offer up their prisoners to Bellona and Mars, and from their hollowed skulls greedily to drink human blood”

(Ammianus Marcellinus Book 27: iv,4)

 

Zidovar m illust

 

Presented by Greek and Roman ‘historians’ as mindless savages, recent archaeological evidence from the central Balkans has thrown a completely different light on the Celtic Scordisci tribes who dominated this part of Europe from the 4th century BC until the Roman conquest. Most spectacular of these discoveries has been the hoard from Židovar, a Celtic oppidum (settlement) on the eastern border of the Deliblato Sands (Deliblatska Peščara), in the Banat (Vojvodina) region of modern Serbia.

 

zidovar opp hill

The Hill at Židovar today

 

 

Zid intor.

Silver bird pendants from the Židovar hoard

See:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/celtic-scordisci-bird-pendants/

 

Zidovar chains

“Foxtail” chains from the hoard

https://www.academia.edu/7915664/Celtic_Foxtail_Necklaces

 

 

Although excavations have been carried out at the site since the 1940’s, it was not until 2001 that the most spectacular discovery was made. Dated to the late 2nd / early 1st century BC, the rich hoard included 134 amber beads, a bronze mirror (with high tin content) and two pendants fashioned from brown bear teeth.

 

Mirror

Bronze mirror from the hoard

 

Zid Amber beads

Amber beads from the Židovar treasure

 

Beartooth

Brown Bear Tooth Pendants

 

 

The most fascinating part of the hoard consists of 163 silver objects, including fibulae/brooches of the Jarak type. In addition to these, the jewellery group contained pendants of different forms, two rings, three chains and small lidded cylindrical boxes made of silver sheet and decorated in filigree and granulation technique. Two folding razors and a mirror form the group of toiletry accessories of the Židovar treasure.

 

a jew box

Jewelry Box from Židovar

 

All 3 jewelry boxes from the hoard have a high percent of silver (average values over 95 wt%). Copper is the main alloying element (average values from 1.5–4 wt%). Lead contributes less then 1 wt%, and tin was not detected in the metal of any of the boxes.

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/barbarian-masterpieces-celtic-jewelry-boxes/

 

Fibula

Silver Fibula of the Jarak type from the hoard

 

While archaeological finds of Scordisci silver are known from several hoards in Serbia, such as Kovin, Jarak, Hrtkovci and Karaburma, the Židovar hoard is of particular significance, having been discovered in a clear archaeological context.

 

Pendantys X

Silver pendants from the Židovar Hoard

 

The origin of the silver that the Serbian 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 Celtic settlement of Singidunum (today’s Belgrade).

 

a silver finger rings

Silver Finger Rings from Židovar

 

Folding RAZOR

Folding Razor from the Židovar Treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘BARBARIAN’ MASTERPIECES – Balkan Celtic Jewelry Boxes

zid jew bo detail

 

 

Some of the most spectacular Celtic archaeological discoveries in recent years have come from the Scordisci hillfort at Zidovar (Banat region) in north-eastern Serbia, which has yielded a vast array of artifacts of various materials, mostly dating to the 2/1 centuries BC.

 

 

 

zidovar opp hill

The hill at Zidovar – site of an important Celtic (Scordisci) hillfort from 3-1 century BC

 

 

Zidovar trio

Silver finger rings, brown bear tooth talisman, and silver bird pendants from the Zidovar hillfort (2/1 c. BC)
(See also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/celtic-scordisci-bird-pendants/)

 

 

 

 

Among the most exquisite artifacts from Zidovar are 2 lavishly decorated silver jewelry boxes, and the lid of a third such box decorated with 4 spokes, thus constituting a solar/Taranis wheel.

 

 

jew bo lid

Silver lid of a jewelry box from Zidovar (2/1 c. BC)

(see also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/a-taranis-belt-buckle-from-dalj-eastern-croatia/)

 

 

 

 

zido jew bo 1

Silver jewelry box from Zidovar

 

Copy of j box X

Construction of the complete jewelry box from Zidovar

 

All 3 jewelry boxes have a high percent of silver (average values over 95 wt%). Copper is the main alloying element (average values from 1.5–4 wt%). Lead contributes less then 1 wt%, and tin was not detected in the metal of any of the boxes.

(after Živković J., Rehren T., Radivojević M., Miloš Jevtić M. and Jovanović D. (2014) XRF characterisation of Celtic silver from the Židovar treasure (Serbia). In: UNDER THE VOLCANO. Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Metallurgy of the European Iron Age (SMEIA) held in Mannheim, Germany, 20–22 April 2010. p. 157-174)

 

 

 

The chain used on the jewelry box is also noteworthy. These are of the ‘Foxtail’ type, similar examples of which are to be found in a number of necklaces from Zidovar and other Balkan Celtic sites.

 

 

Zidovar chains

Scordisci ‘Foxtail’ necklaces from Zidovar
(see also: https://www.academia.edu/7915664/Celtic_Foxtail_Necklaces )

 

Such chains are believed to have developed from Hellenistic prototypes, and the merging of Hellenistic and Celtic artistic models and influences on the Balkans from the late 4th century BC onwards resulted in a spectacular fusion of forms culminating in unique compositions in glass, ceramic and metal.

 

bland kantharos

Celtic kantharos of the ‘Danubian Type’ with anthropomorphic decoration from Blandiana, Alba County, Romania (3rd c. BC). Such kantharoi were developed by the Balkan Celts from Hellenistic prototypes.

(see: https://www.academia.edu/5992553/Late_La_T%C3%AAne_Ceramic_from_Bulgaria)

 

 

h.

Celtic gold ‘Janus Head’ pendant from Schumen region, Bulgaria (3rd c. BC)
(see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/the-archaeology-of-heads/)

 

 

 

 

 

zid jew bo detail

Full view of the Celtic jewelry box with ‘Foxtail’ chain from Zidovar (2/1 c. BC)

 

 

 

 

The sheer amount and diversity of artifacts discovered at Zidovar logically indicates that this area was one of the key centers for the production of Balkan Celtic jewelry in the late Iron Age. From a wider perspective, the level of technical accomplishment and craftsmanship to be observed on these and other recently discovered Balkan Celtic works of art is on a par with anything produced by ‘classical’ cultures, and the treasures from the Scordisci hillfort at Zidovar once again testify to the artistic and material sophistication which had been achieved by European Celtic society prior to its systematic destruction by Rome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail