EXPANSION AND SYMBIOSIS – A Major Celto-Scythian Settlement and Burial Complex at Gyöngyös in north-eastern Hungary

UD: April 2019

 

 

 

Discovered in the foothills of the Mátra Mountains in northeastern Hungary in 2015-2016, the bi-ritual burial complex at Gyöngyös is one of the largest and most important Iron Age sites in the region and has provided fascinating new information on Celtic (and Scythian) settlement in this part of Europe.

The burial site has yielded 154 burials from the La Tène period, and has parallels in other Celtic complexes in northern Hungary such as those at Mátraszolos, Sajópetri or Ludas, the latter being situated a few kilometers west of Gyöngyös (Szabó, Tankó 2006, 2012). Previous research at the site in 2003 had uncovered evidence of a Celtic settlement, dating to the same period (late 4th – early 2nd c. BC), close to the burial complex.

 

Notable among the inhumation burials at the site is grave #113, in which the skeleton of a young girl was discovered with a rich set of jewellery. A three-row bronze necklace, two amber ring-beads and many glass beads decorated her neck; a bronze bracelet was found on her right forearm, while a saprolite ring was on her left forearm. The young lady also wore a silver finger-ring on her left hand, an iron belt on her waist, as well as a pair of anklets made of bronze (hohlbuckelringe). A particularly interesting artefact was found beside the skeleton: a spherical clay rattle.

 

Gyöngyös – Inhumation Burial #113 (after Tanko et al 2016)

 

At Gyöngyös, material recovered from both the inhumation and cremation burials attest to a thriving and wealthy community. Bronze bracelets, anklets, glass or saprolite jewellery, finger-rings, various iron and bronze fibulae, bronze torques and small chain-necklaces with amber ring-beads came to light from the female burials; in male graves jewelry, iron swords / scabbards with suspension chain-belts, spearheads and shield umbos. Based on traces of burning, it has been established that the deceased were cremated wearing full costume as well as jewellery or other items of clothing (loc cit.).

 

Gyöngyös – Cremation/Warrior Burial #128

 

Iron weapons from Grave 186 at Gyöngyös

Iron weapons from Burial #186 at Gyöngyös

 

Based on the available data, the necropolis unearthed at Gyöngyös was established at the end of the 4th century BC, was mainly used in the 3rd century BC, and abandoned at the beginning of 2nd century BC.

A further interesting feature of the site is the fact that archaeological material from the settlement and burial complex, particularly pottery, represent both Celtic and Scythian traditions. In some cases the burials can be connected to the population of the Vekerzug Culture (or Alföld Group) featuring Scythian characteristics. This phenomenon has been observed at other sites in the area, such as that at Sajópetri–Hosszú-dulo, where excavations have established that a significant population of Scythian origin lived beside the Celts during the La Tène period (Szabó et al 1997, Szabó 2007), and Gyöngyös provides further evidence of a symbiotic relationship between, and fusion of, the two cultures in the aftermath of the Celtic expansion/migration into the region.

 

Folded iron sword Grave 59 at Gyöngyös

Ritually ‘killed’ / folded iron sword from warrior burial #59 at Gyöngyös

See: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/killing-the-objects-3/

 

Documentation of Cremation Burial #155 at Gyöngyös, using 3D photogrammetry

 

 

Ariel view of the Gyöngyös site using drone technology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITERATURE

 

Szabó M., Guillaumet J.-P. Kriveczky B. (1997) Sajópetri-Hosszú-dűlő. Késővaskoritelepülésa Kr.e.IV-III.századból. In: Raczky, P.–Kovács, T.–Anders, A.(eds.): Utak a múltba. Az M3-as autópálya régészeti leletmentései – Paths into the Past. Rescue Excavations on the M3 motorway. Budapest,81–88.

Szabó M., Tankó K. (2006) Nécropole laténienne à Ludas–Varjú-dűlő. Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 57, 325–343.

Szabó M., Tankó K. (2012) La nécropole celtique à Ludas–Varjú-dűlő. In: Szabó M.(dir.) –Tankó K.(ass.), Czajlik Z.(ass.): La nécropole celtique à Ludas – Varjú-dűlő. Budapest, 9–152.

Szabó M. (2007) Les relations Celto-Scythes. In: Szabó M.(dir.) –Czajlik Z.(ass.): L’habitat del époque de La Tène à Sajópetri – Hosszú-dűlő. Budapest, 325–332.

Tanko K., Toth Z., Rupnik L., Czajlik Z., Puszta S. (2016) Short report on the archaeological research of the Late Iron Age cemetery at Gyöngyös. In: Dissertationes Archaeologicae ex Instituto Archaeologico Universitatis de Rolando Eötvös nominatae Ser. 3. No. 4. Budapest 2016. P . 307-324.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY – Celtic Plastic Metamorphosis Art

UD: May 2019

 

 

brno fix

 

One of the most interesting Celtic artifacts to have recently ‘wandered’ into the Varna Museum in northeastern Bulgaria is a bronze zoomorphic head, executed in the Celtic ‘Plastic Metamorphosis’ style common across Europe in the La Têne B1 – C2 period*.

 

Var 1

 

The head is a fragment of a bronze mount, in all probability cast by the cire perdue method. Triangular in form, the face, probably of a bull judging by the fragment of a horn on the left side, consists of two almond-shaped eyes and a muzzle of 2 spirals. The patina, quite well preserved, indicates that the bronze head had been preserved in an enclosed atmosphere, i.e. a Celtic tomb, prior to being plundered by local ‘treasure hunters’.

 Var 2

The Bronze Celtic Zoomorphic head from Varna

 

 (After Anastassov J., Megaw V., Megaw R., Mircheva E. Walt Disney Comes to Bulgaria. In: L’âge du Fer en Europe: mélanges offerts à Olivier Buchsenschutz. Bordeaux : Ausonius, 2013, p. 551-565)

 

 

 

PLASTIC METAMORPHOSIS

 

The plastic metamorphosis style in Celtic art is characterized by the blending of human, animal, plant, and abstract forms; complex compositions incorporating various forms of symmetry, resulting in stylized, often grotesque, images.

 

Bronze Bird of Prey heads (with traces of red enamel) from the linch-pins of a Celtic chariot at Manching, Germany. 2 c. BC Celtic Plastic Metamorphosis style.

Bronze Bird of Prey heads (with traces of red enamel) from the linchpins of a Celtic chariot at Manching, Germany. Executed in the Plastic Metamorphosis style

(2nd century BC)

 

Lynchpin gaul double post rest

inchpin from the Celtic chariot burial at Orval, Normandy. - 300-250 BC post rest

Linchpins (Iron/Bronze) executed in the Plastic Metamorphosis style,  from a Celtic chariot burial at Orval, Normandy. ( 300-250 BC)

 

The forms appear more three-dimensional than earlier incised works and illustrate the ability of the Celtic artisan to sculpt high relief decorative objects.  A highpoint of this “plastic” style is marked by numerous höhlbuckelringe / anklets found in flat graves ranging from Bavaria and Moravia to the Balkans and Asia-Minor. All of the anklets are dated to the third century BC.

 

Detail of a bronze hohlbucklering from Plaňany (Kolín District), Czech Republic (3rd c. BC)

Detail of a bronze Celtic hohlbuckelring executed in the ‘plastic’ style – from Plaňany (Kolín District), Czech Republic (3rd c. BC)

 

Such anklets first appear among the Celtic tribes in the early 3rd c. BC, and include both plain and richly decorated examples. They first emerge in the area of today’s southern Germany and the historically identified territory of the Boii tribe – roughly the area of the present-day Czech Republic, and spread eastwards during the Celtic expansion of this period.

 

https://www.academia.edu/7212191/On_Hohlbuckelringe_as_a_Marker_of_Celtic_Eastwards_Expansion

 

 

Bronze linchpin, executed in the “Plastic Metamorphosis” style, from a Celtic chariot burial at Roissy (Val-d’Oise), France

(3rd c. BC)

 

Among the Balkan Celts, one of the largest groups of objects executed in the ‘Plastic Metamorphosis’ style are the chariot fittings discovered in a Celtic chieftains burial at the tholos tomb of Mal Tepe, Mezek (Haskovo  reg.) in southern Bulgaria. Other notable examples of this Celtic art style come from sites such as Roissy-en-France (France), Manching (Germany) and Brno (Czech Republic).

 

Mezek plastic 3 c. BC chariot

Bronze terret /rein-ring, executed in the ‘plastic’ style – from a Celtic chariot burial at Mezek, Southern Bulgaria (3rd c. BC)

 

Bronze disc executed in the Plastic Metamorphosis style (3 c. BC). From a Celtic chariot burial at Roissy-en-France (Val-d’Oise), France

(3rd c. BC)

 

brno fix 2

Bronze open-work mount from a wooden pitcher found at Brno-Malomerice, Czech Republic (3rd c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*While the publication of the bronze mount from Varna is an important step forward, a large number of Celtic artifacts still remain unpublished in Varna museum. These include a Celtic chariot mount whose spiral ornamentation and domed form have parallels in decorative roundels on shields and spears dated to the La Têne B2 and found in warrior graves in France and the Czech Republic, and examples of Celtic artifacts executed in the so-called ‘false filigree technique’ which have parallels among the Celts of Central Europe, particularly from Bohemia to Hungary. Also in the Varna museum, again unpublished, is a Celtic zoomorphic brooch with a foot in the form of a curved-beaked monster, a specifically Hungarian form of the La Têne B1 Münsingen-Duchov horizon (Megaw et al, op cit). Publication of these, and hundreds of other Celtic artifacts gathering dust in museums across the country, will undoubtedly shed further light on the significant Celtic presence on the territory of modern Bulgaria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hohlbuckelringe (Celtic Bronze Anklets) and Eastern Expansion

hohl-1

 

 

 

The most distinctive of personal ornaments, the hohlbuckelringe (bronze anklets) worn by Celtic women are also one of the most significant archaeological markers of Celtic expansion into eastern Europe and Asia-Minor in the 3rd c. BC…

 

 

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/7212191/On_Hohlbuckelringe_as_a_Marker_of_Celtic_Eastwards_Expansion

 

 

 

 

Bronze ankle rings, hollow cast, with ornament knobs, 3rd century BC, from Aholming ( Vilshofen - Bavaria ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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https://www.academia.edu/7212191/On_Hohlbuckelringe_as_a_Marker_of_Celtic_Eastwards_Expansion