Last month a beet farmer in the Czech Republic unearthed an ornate Bronze Age gold artefact. It was well preserved in mud and the anonymous farmer took a photo of the golden treasure and then sent the images to archaeologists at the Silesian Regional Museum in Opava, a city in the Moravian-Silesian Region.
It is estimated that the thin and crumpled gold sheet was created around 2,500 years ago.
Appearance of Bronze Age gold artefact before conservation. ( Muzum Bruntál )
Crafted with Supernatural Concepts in mind
Dr. Jiří Juchelka is an Opava archaeologist who heads the archaeological sub-collection of the Silesian Regional Museum. The researcher told Radio Prague International (RPI) that the golden piece is “51 centimeters (20 inches) long” and was found “in almost perfect condition” with inclusions of silver, copper and iron. The museologist said, “it is decorated with raised concentric circles with rose-shaped clasps at the end.”
According to Live Science , museum curator Tereza Alex Kilnar said that while no one can be sure, the golden artifact was most likely “the front of a leather belt.” But this is no ordinary belt buckle either, as archaeologists believe it was built with cosmological/supernatural concepts in mind.
3,500 Years Old and Still Shining
Dr. According to the museum’s website, this is a contributing organization of the Moravian-Silesian Region that manages important cultural heritage sites in northern Moravia – Bruntál Chateau, Sovinec Castle, and the House of the Scythian Maker in Karlovice in Silesia.
Without testing the gold, and based on the artistic style alone, Killarney suspects that the gold belt buckle is mid to late Bronze Age, meaning the piece was cast around the 14th century AD .Ch. At this time small communities of farmers lived in timber frame houses and had not yet begun to form the larger agricultural settlements that occurred in the following centuries.
Researchers believe that the gold belt buckle dates back to the middle to late Bronze Age. ( Muzum Bruntál )
Earlier this year a team of Czech archaeologists published the image of a Bronze Age woman reconstructed after DNA analysis. The woman was found in an ‘elite grave’ in Mikulovice, in Eastern Bohemia. According to a report in Expat.cz, she had “fair skin, brown hair, wide-spaced brown eyes, prominent chin, petite figure,” and died at around 35 years old.
Described as “one of the richest [Bronze Age burials] ever found in Europe,” the woman was of the Únětice culture, and was found wearing bronze and gold jewelry, including a rare amber necklace. This group of early agriculturists lived in Central Europe from about 2300 to 1600 BC, and were contemporary with the Bronze Age gold belt binder culture.
Elite Connections to the Other World
It is not possible to determine exactly which group made the gold buckle, because at that time ( 2000 BC to 1200 BC ) there was a rich mixture of different cultures in Central Europe. Smaller communities began to come together and establish a trading network through which livestock and crops such as wheat and barley were exchanged.
New social divisions emerged in this period. Those who ruled the lands around the emerging trading centers were the basis of the societal elite. At that time silver and gold became hallmarks of the ruling economic class and Kilnamartra told RPI that the gold item probably belonged to someone of “high social status”, as the items were rarely produced. of that value at the time.
Professor Catherine Frieman at the Australian National University is a specialist in Bronze Age metallurgy in Europe. She agreed, and told the RPI that the owner of the gold belt buckle was “a person of high status, either socially or spiritually”.
The gold item probably belonged to someone who had “a high place in society, as items of that value were rarely produced at the time.” ( Muzum Bruntál )
Creating Cosmology in Bronze Age Gold
Live Science reports that during the Bronze Age, gold objects, and gold hoards, were generally placed “in special isolated locations, suggesting an exchange of gifts between the cultural elite and the supernatural.” Frieman told LiveScience in an email that gold objects with circular motifs are often associated with “Bronze Age cosmological systems believed to focus on solar cycles.”
In 2013, Dr Joachim Goldhahn at the University of Western Australia published a paper “rethinking Bronze Age cosmology using a northern European perspective.” This researcher concluded that the cosmologies of the Bronze Age world were based on “pragmatic ritual practices, which were continuously repeated at certain times and occasions.”
Therefore, the gold belt buckle probably represents the annual cycle of the sun. But more than that it may have been an integral part of repeated rituals, worn at particular “times and occasions” in the year, for example, perhaps to mark key stages of the solar cycle to symbolic, such as the equinoxes and solstices.
Top Image: Bronze Age gold artifact found in a beet field in the Czech Republic. Source: Muzum Bruntál
By Ashley Cowie