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Stratum plus. 1999. № 5

O. A. Scheglova (St.-Petersburg, Russia)

Female Adornment from the Hoards of the “Antiquities of Antes”: Gothic Influence or Gothic Heritage?

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Pages: 287-312

Clothing and adornment both are an essential part of material culture, especially in traditional societies. For early medieval and barbarian societies, the lack of fine arts, human images or description of the cloths in literary sources force scholars to turn to the archaeological data, uncompleted and poor, but the only sources for reconstruction. The situation in early Slavonic archaeology is even more complicated, because of the specific burial customs – cremation with a poor grave goods, which were spread around the Slavonic lands in the second part of the I-st Millenium A. D. The only source to reconstruct the traditional adornment produce a number of hoards found in a Middle Dnieper basin, just in the neighbouring regions of the modern Ukraine, Russia and Buelorus’. Now it is known 24 hoards included sets of women’s decorations, belt fittings and some other things, all dated back to the 7-th and 8-th centuries A. D. The richest treasures (some of them contains more than 150 samples) are Martynovka, Kozievka, Novaya Odessa, Kharievka and three hoards, found at Pastyrskoye in Ukraine; Sudza, Gaponovo, Trubtchevsk in Russia). Set of female decorations usually included lamellate silver head-bands; bronze and silver torques; temple rings with slightly widened or spiral edges; bispiral, shield-boss shaped and trapeziform pendants; radiate-head, zoo-anthropomorthic and two-splint fibulae; small bells, beads and arm rings of different types. In the latest hoards temple rings were submitted by the earrings with the star-shaped or hollow pendants. It is necessary to estimate the possibilities of the material possessed as a source to reconstruction of the traditional set of ornaments. I am about to ground that the hoards of the “Antiquities of Antes” were not the treasures of the nobility or votive complexes,  but accumulation of festive decoration, which were kept in each ordinary family and served for ritual purposes. That’s why it is possible to use these complexes for reconstruction of traditional costume, keeping in mind, that there could be more than one different sets of festive ornaments. The next step would be defining the limits for involving of the parallels, borrowed from ethnography and traditional cultures. As it is not proved yet that inhabitants of the Middle Dnieper basin in the third quarter of the I-st millenium A. D. were ethnically the ancestors of modern Slavs, so only general principles of ethnology could be extrapolated on these archaeological material without special preliminary studies. Nevertheless it seems to be possible to define special set of ornaments that belonged to maiden dress of bride and another one that belonged to dress of young married woman by comparing with traditional sets of ornaments inherent to these different age female groups in traditional societies. The first attempt to reconstruct the traditional set of female jewelry on the base of the data of hoards was made more than 40 years ago by B.A.Rybakov. He used traditional Russian peasant clothing as a comparable material, and created the example of reconstruction, which became classic. All of the modern reconstructions made on a base of newly founded treasures are very close to that model. Although the interest to the problems of the early Slavonic culture is evidently grow, ornaments are usually used for the needs of chronology establishing, or to characteristic of the trade or international connections. Conventionally it is no doubt, that the hoards which got a name “Antiquities of Antes” belong to one of the early medieval Slavonic tribes, mentioned in Byzantine Chronicles – the Antes. But now became evident, that the closest parallels and analogies to the sets of female ornaments from the hoards are spread from the territories, where were no Slavs that time. So, many scholars rejected the idea of the Slavonic origin of the adornments, although new hoards were found exactly in a contexts of the early Slavonic sites. A rare cases when a set of described female jewelry was reproduced in details in a burial complexes in Crimea (Lutchistoye) and in Steppe zone (Mokhnatch near Khar’kov and Dancheni in Moldavia), where were evidently no Slavs, is analyzed as like as a small number of inhumations with the same grave goods found in the Middle Dnieper region. Some observations on the peculiarities of construction of brooches reveals that one set usually included a pare of similar fibulae, one of which was dedicated for left shoulder, and the other – for the right. This feature is of grate importance, because after the works of J.Werner a common view existed, that the Dnieper Slavs wore only one fibula on the breast unlike all Germans who used a pare of fibulae in different compositions. Two fibulae on the shoulders were a characteristic feature of the dress of the Eastern German tribes: West- and Ost-goths and Gepids. So the fact that the inhabitants of the Middle Dnieper basin wore the dress familiar to traditional German needs the historical explanation. It is noticeable that only ornaments of head-dress survived in Slavonic culture of the Medieval Times and even up to the beginning of the XX century, transformed from metal into organic materials. The area of the distribution of the unified set of female adornments was not corresponded with any of the synchronous archaeological cultures, which traditionally are connected with the Slavs, but lay at their borders. One of the suggestions to prove is that the set of ornaments represented in hoards might reflect the market of the production of the flourished center of decorative metalworking, which determined the fashion even more, than the local traditions.

Information about author:

Scheglova Olga (St.-Petersburg, Russia). Candidate of historical siences. Institute for the History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences
E-mail: [email protected]


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