Sculpture of a satyr


Archaeological site: Biatorbágy, Káposztás-dűlő
Inventory no.: 2009.9.1.1
Material: bronze, silver
Period: Roman period (2nd century AD)
Storage: Gödöllő, Ferenczy Museum Center

The kneeling Satyr of Biatorbágy most probably arrived in Pannonia as a valuable import object in the 2nd century AD, and it probably belonged to a small table, a vessel, a tripod, or to some other kind of furniture.

Short description: The function of the sculpture, based on the posture and the prefiguration mentioned above, was probably a supportive one, and the hole drilled into the top of its head, fitting some kind of metal rod originally, supports this theory. Without any available parallels we cannot decide if it belonged to a small table, a vessel, a tripod, or to some other kind of furniture.

The Satyr of Biatorbagy almost certainly arrived in Pannonia as a valuable import object in the 2nd century AD. Due to its detailed elaboration, its rare subject matter, and its uniqueness, it is not only an exceptionally significant archaeological find in our province, but also in the entire Roman Empire.

Context: The bronze sculpture featuring a young, kneeling satyr was discovered in 2009 in Káposztás-dűlő, Biatorbágy. Thanks to the painstaking documentation of József Melegh, who submitted the artefact, the precise location of the find can be determined. Based on this, it is likely that the sculpture originates in a Roman villa or a little further to the north, from the southern end of a Roman settlement in Páty, Malom-dűlő, excavated by Katalin Ottományi.

Dávid Bartus

3351

Celtic silver coins from Tótfalu


Archaeological site: Szentendre Island, Tótfalu
Inventory no.: VVM 31–53.
Material: silver
Date of issue: First trimester of 1st century BC
Storage: Gödöllő, Ferenczy Museum Center

The Celts were the first to mint coins in the Carpathian Basin from the middle of the 3rd century BC copying a Greek design that gradually more and more of Celtic art and myths. The horse, with or without its rider, often interpreted as a sun symbol is the most common Celtic coin design. The occasionally appearing bird image can be linked to the warrior gods of Celtic mythology.

The Celts were the first to mint coins in the Carpathian Basin from the middle of the 3rd century BC copying a Greek design. They primarily copied Philip II of Macedon’s (359 BC- 336) 14-gram tetradrachms displaying the head of Zeus and a rider. Initially these copies were very similar to the original, but in the course of time they adopted more and more of Celtic art and beliefs. Motifs from other, more distant Celtic regions as well as own self-coloured images by Celtic artists and masters replaced the Greek design. The horse, with or without a rider, is one of the most general coin designs. The horse, similarly to the wheel, is regularly interpreted as a sun symbol. Thus they can be connected to Belenus, whose other names, “luminous” or “shining,” suggest that he can be considered as a certain type of Sun God, and who was identified with Apollo of Greco–Roman mythology in Antiquity. The bird, possibly a raven, occasionally appearing above the horses on the reverse of the Tótfalu silvers, can probably be linked to the warrior gods of Celtic belief. The raven belongs to the entourage of Lugus, one of the main deities in Gallia. In Roman times he was identified with Mercury. This Gaul Lugus may be the same as Lugh from Mediaeval Irish legends, god of all trades and arts as well as the divine military leader. The raven or crow can, however, also be an attribute to other deities. In the Irish-Celtic myths, war, too, has its goddesses, and they, or one of them, appear in the form of ravens or crows over the battlefields.

Context: The coins were found during the building of a dam on Szentendre Island in 1903. Unfortunately the altogether 2.5 kilograms of silver coins did not remain a hoard but were distributed among different public and private collections.

Dr. Melinda Torbágyi

3353

Cart modell


Archaeological site: Budakalász, Lupa Inn, grave no. 177
Inventory no.: 61.2.35.5
Material: clay
Period: Late Copper Age, Baden Culture (3400 BC–2900 BC)
Storage: Gödöllő, Ferenczy Museum Center

The cart model of Budakalász is a symbolic embodiment of social development. It proves the existence of real carts, but also indicates an intellectual content behind it: privilege and prestige. Only its miniature version was buried in a grave where no human remains were found.

The cart model of Budakalász is not a toy, but a symbolic embodiment of social development. It proves the existence of real carts but also indicates the intellectual content behind it: privilege, prestige, and a special status. A cart was considered an object of value for the community; therefore, only a miniature version was buried in the grave in which no human remains were found.

We know of 18 Late Copper Age cart models from the Carpathian Basin. If we collate the miniature cart models and real-size wooden parts recently found in western and northern Europe, as well as the cart roads and the more and more recent representations of carts in rock paintings, we can infer that the earliest center of the creation of the cart might have been Europe.

Context: The object is one of two cart vessels with accurate dating found in 1956 in Budakalász in two graves of a Late Copper Age cemetery with a large number of graves, still outstanding in Europe.

Dr. Mária Bondár

3363

Jar with hunting scene


Archaeological site: Budakalász, grave no. 740
Inventory no.: 93.2.1
Material: brass with silver and copper inlay,
Period: end of 5th century AD or the beginning of 6th century
Storage: Gödöllő, Ferenczy Museum Center

The jar decorated with hunting scenes is a prestigious relic of the early Byzantine period of the Carpathian Basin. In accordance with Avar traditions, food and drink offerings of food and drink were placed in the vessel as supplies for the interred in the afterlife.

The jar was moulded with a lost-wax casting procedure and currently is covered with greenish brown noble patina. A gracefully curving handle was soldered onto the edge and belly of the jar, and the curve of the ear carries a rhombus-shaped leaf, from which, the figure of a predator appears on. Similarly to ate Antique vessels, the body is divided by horizontal floral and figural friezes. There are four plus four hunting scenes evoking Hellenistic traditions in the two wide friezes divided by an “earth line” of uneven width and framed by the Lesvos kyma. Still no analogy of the relief jar is known from ate Antiquity.

Context: The jar with a hunting scene found during the excavation of the Avar period (6th–8th century AD) cemetery in Budakalász in 1989 is a prestigious relic from the Early Byzantine period of the Carpathian Basin. In accordance with Avar traditions,offerings of food and drink were placed in the vessel as supplies for the interred in the afterlife. It was put in the corner of the grave, so it was overlooked by raiders of the tomb who disturbed the graves hunting for treasures.

Dr. Tivadar Vida

3365

Sabretache plate


Archaeological site: Bugyi, Felsővány, grave no. 2
Inventory no.: 2014.1.1.1
Material: gilt silver, copper
Period: Conquest Period (10th century)
Storage: Gödöllő, Ferenczy Museum Center

The silver-plate-covered sabretache is an emblematic object of the Hungarian Conquest Period. Men wore this object, decorated with the typical ornaments of the period, suspended from their belts, keeping their extremely highly esteemed fire-making tools in it. Its cover was decorated in several, highly artistic ways.

The sabretache covered with a silver plate is an emblematic object of the Hungarian Conquest Period. Men wore this object, decorated with the typical ornaments of the period, suspended from their belts, keeping their extremely highly esteemed fire-making tools in it. Its cover was decorated in several ways: some pieces were ornamented with metals; the most beautiful sabretache plates were, however, artistically elaborated. Metal ornaments were often put on the buckle and tip of the belt—we could also observe these during the excavation in the graves at their original location. The small number or sabretache plates, their uneven regional spread, and the context of the authentically excavated graves imply that these objects could have indicated ranks—most of them were discovered in the rich cemeteries of the Upper Tisza region from the early 10th century. We are unaware of sabretache plates from Pest County, all originate in Kiskunfélegyháza and Dunavecse.

The front plate of the Bugyi-Felsővány sabretache was embossed with silver alloy and its back plate with red copper, the upper one fifth of which was subsequently finished off with rough iron plate. The front plate has an internal framed structure, the background of the floral ornaments, embossed from the back and punched from the front, is gilded.

In the exterior strip, half-palmette bouquets unfolding from wavy vines run around on three sides. At the top and the bottom, at the juncture of the vines, smaller leaf bouquets, unfolding in two opposite directions, close the frame. The vines are divided by longitudinal lines closed by circle punches and cross-hatched semi-circles. Palmette bouquets unfolding upwards and sideways from each other, composed vertically in the center field, are surrounded by the simple ribbon of the inner frame tracing the curve of the sabretache. The edges of the leaves are emphasised with cross-hatching, their ends finished off with single or in places triple circle punches. Semi-tubular rivets line the flat border edge of the plate, once used to hold together the ornamented plate, the textile or leather cover of the sabretache, and the back plate.

The object was damaged during usage, thus its surface is fragmented, incomplete in the middle, and was subsequently repaired with copper rivets.

Context: The first finds in Bugyi-Felsővány were discovered by civilians using metal detectors at the beginning of 2011, who notified the archaeologists of the Directorate of Pest County Museums. Three graves from the period were found during the authentication excavation. There was a real surprise in the third grave: the gilt silver ornamented, uniquely structured belt and the plate of the sabretache indicated the high rank of the interred. Horse bones, trappings, and the remains of archery equipment were also found. As a result of trial trenching carried out on the area later on, 20 additional graves were found. Unfortunately the graveyard had been wearing thin for decades due to soil erosion and ploughing.
The large number of jewellery and pieces of ornamented clothing found in the upper humus level, which is mixed up and rolled out by the plow, indicate that the richer graves located on the hill fell victim to agricultural activities.
Based on the finds, the cemetery was used in the second half of the 10th century, and the beautiful, but in the long usage rather worn, sabretache plate was discovered in the grave of the community’s prestigious leader.

Ágnes Füredi

3367

Drinking horn


Archaeological site: Bugyi, Felsővány, grave no. 17
Inventory no.: 2014.1.1.57
Material: glass
Period: 5th-6th century AD
Storage: Gödöllő, Ferenczy Museum Center

An incomplete skeleton lying on its back and a complete glass drinking horn were found in an excavated grave of a cemetery from the time of the Hungarian Conquest. There are so far three drinking horn pieces known among Hungarian Avar finds.

This is a very rare object among Hungarian Avar finds. There are three known pieces so far from the area of Hungary (Kiskőrös, Kisköre, Csólyospálos), all of which were found on the Great Plain.

Context: In the second half of 2011 the museum staff—as a result of a cooperation with metal detector archaeologists—launched research into a cemetery from the time of the Hungarian Conquest, situated next to the village of Bugyi. During the excavation of the cemetery, in addition to the Conquest graves, Sarmatian and Avar burial places were found, too.

An incomplete skeleton lying on its back was unearthed from shallow grave no. 17. Due to disturbance and bad soil conditions only the leg bones and an arm bone of the interred remained. However, despite the bad conditions, the bottom part of a vessel and a complete glass drinking horn was found in the north-western end of the grave. Because of the sandy soil it was in bad condition, but thanks to the detailed restoration work of Sándorné Szórádi the object is complete once again.

Zoltán Farkas

3369