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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

Advertisements

THE GLASS REVOLUTION – Development and Evolution of European Glass Jewelry in the Later Iron Age

UD: March 2019

 

 

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.

 

Bowl of clear glass from the burial of a Celtic aristocrat at Ihringen (Baden-Württemberg), Germany

(ca. 500 BC)

 

 

Archaeological evidence clearly indicates that during the latter 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)

 

Image may contain: jewellery

Bracelet of blue glass beads from the Balkan Celtic settlement at Osijek in eastern Croatia.

(2 c. BC)

 

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)

Glass bracelets from the Celtic settlement of Epomanduodurum (Mandeure-Mathay (Doubs), France

(2/1 c. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celtic (Scordisci) Bird Pendants

UD: June 2017

 

 

 

Zid intor.

 

 

 

The importance of birds in Celtic culture and religion is well attested to by their frequent appearance on artifacts and coins, with birds by far the most commonly depicted creatures in Celtic art. For example, of the more than 500 Celtic brooches with representational decoration now known, from Bulgaria in the east to Spain in the west, more than half depict birds (Megaw 2001: 87).

 

 

 

sc.c mon. dag dec.

A = Reverse of a Scordisci tetradrachm depicting a bird behind the riders right shoulder (Serbia II c. BC) (see ‘Catubodua’ article)

B = Detail of a Celtic dagger decorated with mirrored bird symbols from a Scordisci warrior burial at Montana, northwestern Bulgaria (late II/early I c. BC)

 

 

 

In this context, particularly interesting are recently discovered hoards of Celtic jewelry among the Scordisci in Serbia which contain a large number of silver ornithomorphic beads/pendants (Ruševljan, Jevtić 2006; Popovic 2011). The first of these hoards came from the village of Hrtkovci in the Syrmia District (Vojvodina province) of Serbia. The Hrtkovci hoard contained, in addition to a large amount of Celtic fibulae and other items, 6 silver ornithomorphic beads/ pendants. The heads are triangular in shape and sheaves of slanting, ribbed channels are used to decorate the short tail while the rather broad neck is denoted by two concentric ribs. The lower segment of the birds are funnel-shaped and also decorated with sheaves of narrow channels arranged in a herringbone pattern. On top and bottom of the birds are openings for them to be laced through a cord/chain  (Ruševljan, Jevtić op. cit).

 

 

 

Hrtkovici brds f.

Silver Scordisci bird bead/pendants from Hrtkovci
(Length of the beads 22-32 mm.; width 12-17 mm.; weight range = 3.43 g. – 1.68 g.)

 

 

 

hrt. fib

Silver La Têne fibulae from the Hrtkovci hoard

 

 

 

Hrtkovici gld fib

Gilded Silver Hinged Type Fibula from the Hrtkovci hoard

 

 

 

The finds from Hrtkovci (with the exception of the gilded hinged fibula which is earlier) date to the late La Têne period (2/1 c. BC), and the latest discoveries of Celtic jewelry from this area of Serbia confirm the existence of a local Celtic workshop connected to the Scordisci settlement in Sremska Mitrovica (loc cit).

Also dating to the late La Têne period are a number of exquisite Scordisci silver bird pendants discovered in the Celtic hillfort at Zidovar near Vršac (Banat region), also in the Voivodina province of Serbia. In 2001 during the systematic archaeological excavations on the Celtic hillfort at Zidovar near Vrsac a rich hoard of silver jewelry and amber was discovered, dating to the first half of the 1st c. BC (Popovic 2011; on the Scordisci hillfort at Zidovar see also Todorović 1974: 50, 181; Brukner, Jovanović, Tasić 1974).

The spectacular Scordisci hoard from Zidovar consisted of 163 silver items, 134 amber beads, two brass rings and two pendants from Brown Bear teeth. Also among the items in the hoard were 22 bird shaped silver pendants.

 

 

zidovar brds 3

Zidovar 2

Silver Scordisci bird pendants from the Zidovar hoard

 

 

 

As in the case of the Hrtkovci ‘beads’ the Zidovar bird pendants ranged significantly in dimensions and weight (length = 34 – 25.5 mm.; width 9-20 mm.; weight 1.98-1.08 g.). Interesting also is the fact that, unlike the majority of Celtic ornithomorphic depictions where birds of prey are generally represented, the Scordisci beads/pendants from Hrtkovci and Zidovar both portray smaller birds (sparrows?), indicating that these were items of Celtic female jewelry.

 

 

 

 

Zidovar 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On birds in Celtic art and religion see also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/catubodua-queen-of-death/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

 

Brukner B., Jovanović B., Tasić N. (1974) Praistorija Vojvodine, Institut za izučavanje istorije Vojvodine, Savezarheoloških društava Jugoslavije, Novi Sad

 

Megaw V., Megaw R. (2001) Celtic Art from its Beginnings to the Book of Kells. London

 
Popovic I. (2011) The Zidovar treasure and roman jewellery from the Balkan provinces of the empire. In: The eastern Celts : the communities between the Alps and the Black Sea, p. 179-188. Koper-Beograd: Univerzitet u Beogradu, 2011. (Annales Mediterranei)

 
Ruševljan V.D., Jevtić M. (2006) Silver Jewelry of Hellenistic and Celtic Type from Hrtkovci in Srem. In: Starinar LVI/2006. P. 291-307

 
Todorović, J. (1974) Skordisci: istorija i kultura, Institut za izučavanje istorije Vojvodine, Savezarheoloških društava Jugoslavije, Novi Sad, Beograd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CELTIC POLAND

 UD: April 2019

pol

 

The area of present day Poland is not generally associated with the Celtic culture, yet in recent years the amount of Celtic archaeological material discovered in this part of Eastern Europe has increased significantly. This increasing body of evidence indicates that the role played by the Celts in shaping the culture of Poland in the late Iron Age and early Roman period is much greater than previously thought.

 

Beszowa - celtic sword 2011 - forest 1 c. BC -

Celtic sword with openwork scabbard discovered in 2011 in a forest near Rzeszów, southeastern Poland

(1st c. BC)

 

Metal artifacts, before and after restoration, from a Celtic settlement at Pakoszówka (Sanok distr.) South-Eastern Poland. (Plough, scythe, two adzes, a socketed axe and knife of the  “Dürrnberg” type ; 3/2 c. BC)

(after Bochnak T., Kotowicz P., Opielowska Z. (2016) Dwa celtyckie depozyty przedmiotów żelaznych z Pakoszówki, pow. sanocki, Materiały i Sprawozdania Rzeszowskiego Ośrodka Archeologicznego 37, 209–246)

 

 

 

SOUTHERN POLAND

 

 In the first half of the 3rd c. BC (the end of the La Têne B period), the same period as the massive expansion into the Balkans, groups of Celts began to arrive in southern Poland (Woźniak 1996). Evidence of Celtic settlement on the territory of today’s Poland has thus far been found in the Middle Silesia region, the Glubczyce Highlands, Lesser Poland, and in areas of the upper San river valley on the border with Ukraine. In Poland, as in other areas of Eastern Europe during this period, the arrival of the Celts logically brought them into contact with local cultures, quickly resulting in mutual cultural exchange, and the formation of new ethnic groups. A good example of this is to be seen at the Pelczysha site near Krakow of the so-called Tyniec group that existed between circa 270-30 BC, and which developed as a result of contact between the Celts and the local population (Rudnicki 2005).

 

 

pol bracel

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

 

KRAk. F.

Celtic one-eighth stater (1-2), stater (3-4) and painted pottery from site 2 at Modlniczka, Krakow region.

(After Bryska-Fudali et al, 2009)

 

Killed sword

Ritually ‘Killed’ Celtic Sword from Korytnica, (Świętokrzyskie province), south-central Poland

(see  https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/killing-the-objects-3/)

 

3 - 3 - Pakoszówka near Sanok

Celtic hohlbuckelring (bronze anklet), one of a pair discovered at Pakoszówka near Sanok in south-eastern Poland (3/2 century BC)

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

pol

Coins and metal artifacts, including zoomorphic figurines, from the large Celtic settlement at Nowa Cerekwia (Upper Silesia), southern Poland (3-1 c. BC)

(Found by Igor Murawski and Anna Brzezinska in 2005)

 

a - nowa cer

Excavations at the Nowa Cerekwia in 1936, and ceramic kiln discovered at the site in 1925

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/nowa-cerekwia-a-major-celtic-settlement-and-economic-complex-in-southern-poland/

 

No photo description available.Bronze humanoid figurine – A sensational find from recent excavations at the Celtic settlement in Krzelków (Lower Silesia), Poland

 

 

 

CENTRAL POLAND

 

Besides the aforementioned areas of Celtic settlement in southern Poland, recently published evidence has also established a significant Celtic presence in the Kalisz area of central Poland – one of the most unexpected developments in Polish archaeology in recent years (Rudnicki et al, 2009).

 The most interesting feature of Celtic settlement in the Kalisz area has been the identification of an economic and coin production centre (loc cit) – only the second such (after Rousse in n.e. Bulgaria – see ‘Mediolana’ article) to be identified in Eastern Europe. The Celtic coin discoveries in this area represent one of the largest concentrations in Poland, ranking only after the enclave at Nowa Cerekwia in the Glubczyce Highlands in terms of Celtic coins discovered.

Kal GC FV

Celtic Coins from the Kalisz Area

(after Rudnicki et al 2009)

 

All of the Celtic coins found at three sites in the Kalisz area belong to the minting system of the Boii tribe but, with one exception, they were not produced at the great Boii mints of Bohemia, Moravia or southwestern Slovakia, and have therefore been assigned to a new group of Polish Celtic coins – the Kalisz group (loc cit). Also noteworthy is the fact that the coinage from Kalisz was issued comparatively late, i.e. late 1st c. BC/first half of the 1st c. AD, which logically indicates that the Kalisz area was still a significant Celtic economic and political centre during the early Roman period (loc cit).

Kal g. C

(after Rudnicki et al 2009)

 

 

 

BASTARNAE

 

Also of particular interest is the discovery of coinage of the Huşi-Vovrieşti type attributed to the Bastarnae tribes (Preda  1973: 111 – 131) in southern Poland (Rudecki 2003). The typical feature of this type of coinage, as with other types of Celtic  ‘imitations’  of the coinage of Philip II of Macedonia in Eastern Europe (see numismatics section), is the wide differentiation of stylistic images on the coins, from relatively faithful imitations of the prototypes to variants with extremely schematic images. In Poland tetradrachms of this type have been found exclusively in areas of Celtic settlement in the south and southeast of the country, indicating trade and cultural contact between the Polish Celts and the Celto-Scythian Bastarnae to the southeast (on which see also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/face-of-a-stranger-a-female-burial-from-little-poland/).

 

Bastarnae HVo

Bastarnae Huşi-Vovrieşti type tetradrachms from Pelczyska (55 km northeast of Krakow)

(after Rudnicki 2003)

 

 

Archaeologically confirmed areas of Celtic settlement in southern Poland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature

Bryska-Fudali M., Przybyla M. M., Rudnicki M. Celtic Coins Found At Site 2 In Modlniczka, Dist. Cracow. In: Sprawozdanie Archaeologiczne 61, 2009. P. 273 – 295.

Preda  C. (1973) Mondedele geto-dacilor. Bucureşti.

Rudnicki M. (2003) Celtic Coin Finds from a Settlement of the La Têne period at Pelczyska. In:

Polish Numismatic News VII, 2003. P. 1-24.

Rudnicki M. (2005) A Late La Téne Inhumation Grave from Pelczyska: Comments on the Cultural Situation in the Upland Area of Little Poland (with an analysis of the anatomical remains by Karol Piasecki). In Celts on the Margin – Studies in Euopean Cultural Interaction 7th Century BC – 1st Century AD. Krakow 2005. p. 195 – 206

Rudnicki M, Milek S., Ziabka L., Kedzierski A., (2009) Mennica Celtycka Pod Kaliszem. In: Wiadomosci Numizmatyczne, R. LIII, 2009, z. 2 (188). P. 103-145

Rudnicki M., Miłek S. (2011) New Evidence on Contacts Between Pre-Roman Dacia and Territory of Central Poland. AAC 46. P. 117–143.

Woźniak Z. (1996) Neue Forchungsergebnisse über die jüngere Laténezeit in Südpolen, Arheološki Vestnik 47, Ljubljana 1996, p. 165-172

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail