Gold belt with 'cosmological' designs from the Bronze Age found in Czech beet field
By: April Carson
Late last month, a Czech beet farmer had the shock of a lifetime when he found an ancient, 2,500-year-old sheet of gold while farming. Theobjet d'art was covered in dirt but well preserved nonetheless, so the farmer decided to send pictures of it to archaeologists at Opava's Silesian Museum.
The experts were just as surprised as the farmer. They believe that the gold sheet is a type of belt known as a "girdle" which would have been used to hold up clothing or a weapon.
In an interview with Radio Prague International, Jiří Juchelka, head of the Silesian Museum's archaeology department stated that the object was likely a piece of a leather belt. The 20-inch long gold object is decorated with concentric circles and rose-shaped clasps at the end. He went on to say that although there are a few tiny missing parts, it is otherwise in perfect condition.
Tereza Alex Kilnar, a conservator, has started work on thestrapat Museum Bruntál to stabilize and study it with other specialists. The style of the strap's decoration suggests that it is from tmiddle to late Bronze Age--from around the 14th century B.C.E. It is made of gold that was hammered out thin and then cut with a chisel into geometric shapes.
Central Europe around 2000 B.C. to 1200 B.C was a time of multiple cultures coalescing and being connected by trade networks. Most people back then were subsistence farmers that grew wheat, barley, and other crops; they also domesticated various animals for food sources. As society became more complex, those in power - the wealthy political and economic elite - arose frompoor farmers.
By the middle of the Bronze Age, people had began living in larger settlements as opposed to earlier timber-frame houses. Religion was also a significant part of people's lives, as evidenced by the burial practices of the time.
Although the Bronze Age gets its name from the copiousamount of bronze artifacts produced during this time, other materials such as gold were widely traded and used to make prestigious items for those in power. For example, archaeologists have found numerous gold objects in high-status gravesites throughout Central Europe. However, hoards of gold have also been discovered in special locations that appear to be isolated from society, which suggests some sort of gift exchange between cultural elite and supernatural entities may have taken place.
Since the gold belt was only recovered in late September, not much else is known about its context yet. "We can't say for certain if the object was part of a larger feature like a burial or hoard," Kilnar told Live Science by email, "because the belt was discovered on the surface." She suggested that conducting some type of archaeological research may be under consideration and being discussed with other institutions. Kilnar stated to RPI that the belt probably " belonged to a powerful individual in society, because items of such value were not commonly produced during that era."
Although the composition of the gold has not been determined, it is most likely an alloy of gold and silver. The way the different colors appear on the metal may be due to corrosion that happened over time. Other than its design, very little else is known about this mysterious artifact.
Someone of high social or spiritual status owned the gold belt, as research Catherine Frieman concludes. Ms. Frieman is an Australian National University archaeologist whose areas of expertise include Metalworking in the European Bronze Age. She told Live Science that "The Bronze age saw a really extraordinary flourishing of metalworking practice, including very ornate gold objects and wide distribution [of these objects] in central and western Europe." Solar cycles were of great importance in the Bronze Age, and this is often represented through gold objects with circular motifs.
Although the decorative details have not been completely analyzed, the value of the gold belt is already evident. "It's uncommon to locate ornaments as delicate as this one that are also in such good condition," Frieman said. He went on to explain that because "sheet gold tears easily, like paper," it is improbable for an intact item such as this to be discovered during excavation."
"It is an unprecedented discovery," Kilnar told RPI, "not only in our region, but all over the Czech Republic." After the belt is studied and preserved, Museum Bruntál plans to put it on public display.
The finding of this ornate and well-preserved gold belt is a significant archaeological discovery. Not only does it provide valuable insights into the art and craftsmanship of the Bronze Age, but it also sheds new light on the cosmological beliefs of the people of that time. The intricate designs on the belt are thought to represent the movements of the sun, moon, and stars, and may have been used as a tool for predicting eclipses and other astronomical events.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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