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"Koman pendants" and belt strap-end from Bribirska Glavica

Maja Petrinec ; Muzej hrvatskih arheoloških spomenika

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str. 79-87

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Within the frame of early medieval graveyards in Croatia, there have been discovered two bronze cast and pierced crescent-shaped pendants with a quoit and three ring-shaped additions at the bottom. One was found in Grave 54 on MakJinovo Brdo in Kašić, and the other in recently discovered and still unpublished grave on Veliš tak in Velim near Stankovci. ln Grave 54, next to the pendant, a pair of silver hoop earrings was found, with the end in the shape of a loop and clip, a necklace made of yellow and blue glass paste beads and one composite bead, a small clay disc and a little iron knife. In Velim, apart from the crescent shaped pendant found lying between the legs of a deceased woman, next to her scull was found a single bronze earring with loops and chains hanged through them. From the area of Dalmatia there are several other known examples of bronze pendants of the crescent type; from Drvenik near Makarska, from Ston on the Pelješac peninsula, and one example from an unknown site (most likely Salona) is kept in the Archeological museum in Split. Similar bronze pendants have also been discovered on sites in Albania, Kalaja Dalmaces (4) and Lješ (1), and on three sites in Macedonia (St Erasmus of Ohrid, Konjsko near lake Ohrid and Radolišta near Struge). These northern Balkan finds belong to the horizon marked by the material leg acy of the indigenous population (Romanized Illyrians), who shaped their culture in an isolated area in the tradition of Late Antiquity, all the way to the end of the 8th and beginning of the 9th century. We also find a similar situation in western Macedonia, in the area around Lake Ohrid. From Blibirska Glavica comes a hefty gilded bronze strap-end with pseudo-granulated frame and decorated with S-shapes placed opposite each other. Strap-ends like this one from Bribir are referred to in the literature as the Hohenberg type, because of their similarities to the objects which were constituents part of the luxury belt garniture discovered in that Austrian town. This garniture, found together with an early Carolingian sword, is to this day considered the most important find from the area inhabited by the Alpine Carantanians generally. Similar examples of strap-ends come from the areas of Szeged and Zahony in Hungary and from Bijelo Brdo in Croatia. Until the present day, these were considered to be the products ofAvar goldsmithery, and were chronologically placed in the Blatnica horizon, i.e. the last quarter of the 8th or the beginning of the 9t1l century. The reason why I am here linking the crescent pendants and strap-ends of the Hohenberg type, is the recently published wall fresco from the St Zacharius chapel in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome. This fresco shows two children; the boy wearing belt garniture with strap-ends of the Hohenberg type, and the girl wearing a belt from which hang s a chain or a plaited cloth strip, from the end of which hangs an object, we can assume represents a schematic depiction of a crescent shaped pendant with hoops. Of further interest is the fact that the girl is wearing a single earring in the shape of the circle with chains and beads hang ing from it. Although the part of the fresco depicting the girl's head is partially damaged, it has to be concluded that there is no other earring because it would be visible in the undamaged part. The way in which she is wearing the pendant and earring match the circumstances in which these objects were found inside the grave on Velištak in Velim. The fresco has been dated to the mid 8th century. The depiction from the Roman fresco, where we can see all the objects that are the subject of this essay, brings the dating of the crescent pendants to the 7th century into question, as well as their connection exclusively to the Komani-Kruje culture. This is especially important because of the chronological placement of the graves with finds of this type from the early medieval graveyards in Kašić and Velim, and the interpretation of the graveyard in Kašić as abiritual graveyard. Here it has to be emphasised that graves with cremated remains were discovered on the location of S Drče's vineyard in Kašić, partially destroyed by ploughing, about 50 m away from the graveyard with skeletal remains on Maklinovo Brdo. The area in between has not been archeologically researched and it is therefore difficult to make assumptions as to their mutual relationship. Although the results of the archaeological dig on MakJinovo Brdo have not been completely published, on the basis of data, brought out by J Belošević, it is a case of an ordinary single-layer graveyard in rows and no older archaeological layers were discovered at the site during the excavations. In connection to this I would also point out the circumstance that Grave 54 with the crescent pendant is situated on the northern peripheral part of the researched segment of the graveyard near Grave 55 with the find of the late Avar strap-end decorated with the rounded vine motif and Grave 52 with the find of pair of early Carolingian spurs with birdlike strap-ends, which all point to the late 81b and the beginning of the 9th century. Amongst the published objects from these graves, there is nothing that would support a dating earlier than second half, or even last third of the 8tb century. Here I am not trying to claim that these finds, which can be at least generally chronologically determined, also define the lower time limit for the beginning of burials on MakJinovo Hill and similar graveyards. I have written more extensively about this elsewhere, so I refer you to that text. But, at the same time, I want to emphasize that there is not a single valid archaeological argument on the basis of which the beginning of burials in graveyards of the Kašić-MakJinovo Brdo type should be placed in the middle or the second half of the 7th century. As far as the find of the crescent pendant is concerned, I interpret it as all the other finds of female jewellery (earriogs of star or droplet type, rings from beaten tin with an oval or rhomboid widening, necklaces, torques etc.) within the horizon of the graves we are discussing. All of these are the elements of the Late Antiquity (early Byzantine) female dress of the wider Mediterranean area. These shapes, most of which were created on the basis of examples from Roman jewellery, are most common in the late Imperial era and especially in Late Antiquity or early Byzantine culture, through which, during the Great Migration they started being used by a variety of peoples on European soil. By connecting the finds of strap-ends of the Hohenberg Type and crescent pendants, the wall fresco in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome additionally evidences the fact that the exclusive ascription of certain objects to "Koman", "Avar" or some other culture, or even some ethnicity can be wrong. With the suggested interpretation, the noticeable appearance of crescent pendants along eastern Adriatic coast becomes clearer, and the find from Maklinovo Brdo in Kašić can be fit into the time frame of the active use of that graveyard. Translation: Nicholas Philip Saywell

Ključne riječi

Kašić; Bribir; pendant; strap-end; fresco

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