A ‘Taranis’ Belt Buckle from Dalj (Eastern Croatia)

UD: August 2016

 

 

Taranis buckle

 

 

 

The area around the village of Dalj (Osijek-Baranja County) near the confluence of the Drava and Danube rivers in eastern Croatia, has yielded a wealth of archaeological material indicating that Dalj was an important area of Celtic settlement in the middle-late Iron Age. 

 

 

 

DAlj

Bronze anthropomorphic figurine with penis and breasts, from the Celtic settlement at Dalj (4th – 3rd c. BC). An almost identical figurine, but portrayed with a torc, has been discovered at Prašník (Trnava reg.) in western Slovakia

 

 

 

 

 

In the year 1906 a pair of Celtic (Scordisci) belt buckles were found at the site of a destroyed Celtic necropolis at the Busija site in Dalj. Dating to the 1st c. BC, the buckles are of a specific kind called the Laminci type, the main characteristic of which is their construction, consisting of an iron plate with a button hook on the front side, on which a punctuated bronze sheet was attached with pins (Drnić 2009).

This buckle type was worn by Celtic females, and examples have been found over a wide area among the Celtic and Celto-Scythian (Bastarnae) tribes from Southern Pannonia and Romania to Ukraine (Drnić 2009), as well as Slovenia (Knez 1992:62, T. 65: 1–5), Hungary (Kovacs 1982:145-146), Serbia (Drnić op cit) and Bulgaria (Babeş 1983:207).

The decoration on such buckles generally includes different combinations of double or triple garlands, horizontal and vertical lines, concentric circles, fishbone motives, and spherical bulges. The ornament on the first Dalj buckle fits into this pattern, being decorated with two triple garlands and three spherical ornaments within the circles.

 

 

Buckle 2

 

The decoration on the second buckle from Dalj is a unique composition based around a core central symbol. In the corners of the buckle four triple garlands were placed with smaller concentric circles in between (two circles between the central motive and the lower side of the buckle remain visible).

 

Taranis buckle

 

 

The central decorative composition on the second Dalj buckle is particularly interesting. Consisting of a ‘cross within a circle’, the symbol is in fact a ‘Taranis Wheel’ which, while not hitherto found on other buckles of the Laminci type, is a common symbol on late Iron Age Celtic artifacts, and is to be found, for example, on numerous Scordisci coin issues from Serbia and Croatia dating from the same period (2nd/ 1st c. BC).

 

 

 

scor tar
Scordisci AR Drachm. Dachreiter type. (Serbia 2nd – 1st c. BC)
(Laureate head (of Zeus?) right / Horse trotting left. Taranis Wheel above)

 

 

 

 

rib ho
Celtic tetradrachms from the Ribnjacka Hoard (Bjelovar, Croatia) – 2nd / 1st c. BC. Note the Wheel of Taranis in front of the horseman on the reverse.
(After Kos, Mirnik 1999)

 

 

 

 

In the late Iron Age the multi-spoked Solar Wheel, associated with the Thunder God Taranis, is gradually replaced by a simplified 4 spoke version, depicted on numerous Celtic works of art from this period. It also appears likely that this simplified Taranis Wheel forms the basis for the ‘Celtic Cross’ in later Early Christian art.

 

 

 

Rat

Lead amulet with Taranis Wheels from Ratiaria (modern Archar) northwestern Bulgaria.
(See also https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/taranis-the-thunder-god/).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Babeş M. (1983) – Paftalele Latène târzii din sud-estul Europei. Zusammenfassung: Die spätlatènezeitlichen plattengürtelhaken südeuropas. SCIVA, 34/1983,3, p.: 196–221

Drnić I. (2009) Dvije pojasne kopče tipa Laminci iz Dalja, VAMZ, 3.s., XLII 305–319

Kos P., Mirnik I. (1999) The Ribnjacka Hoard (Bjelovar, Croatia). In: The Numismatic Chronicle 159,1999

Knez, T. (1992) Novo mesto II, keltsko-rimsko grobiste Beletov vrt. Novo mesto II, keltisch-römisches Gräberfeld Beletov vrt. Novo Mesto, 1992

Kovacs, T. (1982) Latènezeitliches Gürtelblech Südlicher Herkunft in Ungaren. Savaria, 16/1982:145–159

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Celtic Burial Complex at Zvonimirovo (Croatia)

UD: May 2017

 

intr. ill

 

 

The late Iron Age burial complex at Zvonimirovo-Veliko Polje (central Podravina province) in Croatia is rapidly developing into one of the most significant archaeological sites of its kind, with each excavation season uncovering new material which increases our understanding of the Celtic population who inhabited this region of Europe.

 

 

 

Map z

Location of the Zvonimirovo-Veliko Polje site

 

 

 

The site was discovered in 1992, when artifacts of the early medieval Bijelo Brdo culture were found during ploughing. However, rescue excavations at the Medieval cemetery in 1993 produced a surprise when a Celtic cremation burial was also discovered. During 1994, two more Celtic burials were found, one of which was a warrior burial. Based on the typological characteristics of the finds from three graves dated to the second century BC, the La Tène cemetery at Veliko Polje in Zvonimirovo has been ascribed to the territory of the Celtic Taurisci tribe.

RkS

Shield boss94

(Illustrations after Dizdar 2013)

 

 

So far the Celtic cremation burials discovered at Zvonimirovo date from the early 3rd – late 2nd c. BC. These include a number of multiple burials, and several individual finds from destroyed graves have been documented, indicating that the number of graves was considerably greater.

Zn g 11

Burial LT 11 from Zvonimirovo which contained the remains of a man and a young girl

Zvon. gbead

 

(After Dizdar 2004; on multiple burials from the site see also:

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

 

 

(Burnt) bronze belt from burial LT 29 Zvonimirovo

 

 

 

A further 6 cremation burials (LT 94-LT 99) were excavated during the 2012 season at Zvonimirovo. The most interesting of discoveries from these excavations included warrior burials with weapons – ritually bent swords in scabbards (associated with belt sets and long spears), a long tanged iron knife, and shield bosses.

The toiletry items in the burials consist of scissors and razors, while the costume is represented by iron fibulae of Middle La Tène type. A female burial contained costume and jewellery items, while ceramic vessels and animal bones were found as goods in graves of both sexes. Based on the weapons and costume items, the latest burials have been dated to the Mokronog IIb/La  Tène C2 phase.

pot 96

The pot from grave LT 96 is decorated with stamped concentric circles, connected with garlands executed by a series of tiny impressions.

b97

Updates: 

Further rescue excavations at the Zvonimirovo-Veliko polje site in 2014 uncovered 6 more La Têne cremation burials (LT 102- 107). Apart from warrior burials, most interesting was a double female burial (LT 103).


a - a - a - Kantharos LT104 Zvonimirovo

Kantharos discovered in a Celtic burial (LT 104) during the 2014 excavations at Zvonimirovo (3rd c. BC)

(After Dizdar 2015)

 

 

Excavations during the 2015 season revealed 6 further Celtic cremation burials (LT 108 – LT 113). Noteworthy were the deep, larger pits of female graves LT 109 and LT 110; in the LT 110 grave, a bowl was placed on the bottom of the pit, with the burnt remains of the deceased placed on top of it with a bronze fibula and probably a burnt bracelet.

lt-110

Detail of burial LT 110 with the burnt remains of the deceased laid above the pot

 

 

Next to a warior burial (LT 112), which included weapons and toiletries, graves were found which, based on the clothing and jewellery features, belonged to female burials. Grave goods consisted of ceramic vessels (pots and bowls), and the burials dated to the LT C2, i.e. Mokronog IIb phase.

 

lt-112

Warrior burial LT 112 at Zvonimirovo

(after Dizdar 2016)

 

A further recently discovered phenomenon at the complex was identified in female burial LT29, where a wooden burial chamber was constructed. Wooden “coffins” like that from the Zvonimirovo cemetery have recently been documented at many eastern Celtic burial complexes, notably in Hungary and Slovakia.

 

lt-29

Zvonimirovo-Veliko polje: Reconstruction of female grave LT 29 with wooden burial chamber (3/2 c. BC)

After Dizdar M.(2016) Late Iron Age Funerary Practice in Southern Pannonia. In:Proceedings of the 14th International Colloquium of Funerary Archaeology in Čačak, Serbia 24th – 27th September 2015. Beograd – Čačak, 2016. pp. 293-312

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a full report on the 2012 excavations (in Croatian) see:

https://www.academia.edu/5747104/Rezultati_zastitnih_istrazivanja_groblja_latenske_kulture_Zvonimirovo_-_Veliko_polje_u_2012._godini_The_Results_of_the_2012_Rescue_Excavations_of_the_La_Tene_Culture_Cemetery_in_Zvonimirovo_-_Veliko_polje

2014 Report:

https://www.academia.edu/19608223/Research_results_from_the_La_T%C3%A8ne_cemetery_at_Zvonimirovo-Veliko_polje_in_2014

Report on the 2015 Campaign:

https://www.academia.edu/29047308/Research_results_of_the_La_T%C3%A8ne_culture_cemetery_at_Zvonimirovo_Veliko_polje_in_2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail