Copper-alloy belt fittings and elite networking in Early Medieval Central Europe



Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Archaeological Science
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Avars; Slavs; Early middle ages; Bronze; Belt fittings; EDXRF; Lead isotopes analysis; 3D-prototyping; Digital morphometrics
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Description This paper attempts to change the traditional view of the Late Avar belt fittings, which in the 8th century AD delineated an extremely dense communication network within the Carpathian Basin and beyond, by using a groundbreaking combination of iconography, energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), lead isotope analysis, digital morphometry and 3D comparative prototyping. It presents a complex analysis of bronze belt ends decorated with an exceptional scene of a snake eating a frog-like creature, discovered in the last decade in Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. According to the iconography, this motif represents an important cosmogonic and fertility myth, known to various early medieval populations living in Central Europe. Some of these belt ends come from the same workshop and/or are derived from a common model, even though they were found in very distant regions. The study also focuses on the provenance of the raw material used in the production of Avar-style belt fittings in general. For the first time, it was possible to locate the Early Medieval source of copper in the Slovak Ore Mountains, using lead isotope analysis.
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