Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conquest-period sabretache plate found at Hungarian excavations

Sabretache plate excavated in Pest county
Photo from Sírásók naplója blog 
A Hungarian archaeological blog (Sírásók naplója) reported on a recent lucky find in Pest county of Hungary. Last week, remains from the period of the Hungarian Conquest (early 10th century) have been found on a field, and excavated by archaeologists from the Pest County Museums. Of the three tombs found, one belonged to a high-ranking male, and all his accessories were found intact, including his belt and his arrow. Most important is the his sabretache plate. To quote András Róna-Tas (Hungarian and Europe in the Early Middle Ages - An Introduction to Early Hungarian History), "the sabretaches are the most characteristic finds from graves of the Conquest period. They were strengthened with metal plates, generally of silver. At the side of each bag, a strap was threaded through, and both this strap and that which attached the bag to the belt were decorated with mountings. The sabretache, which fulfilled the function of a pocket, would have held fire-making tools." 

Only about two dozen similar objects have been recovered from the Carpathian basin, and very few of them come from documented excavations, so the find is of great importance. As the archaeologists, Ágnes Füredi and Tibor Rácz report on their blog, the last similar find was made in the late 1980s, when tombs at Karos were excavated.

Sabretache from Galgóc
Hungarian National Museum 

The photo above is from the Sírásók naplója blog - you can find more images of the excavations there. For more information on Magyar metalwork of the Conquest period, visit the website of the Archaeological Department of the Hungarian National Museum. Sabretaches enjoy some popularity in contemporary Hungary - I found the most complete list of such finds on one of the traditionalist websites, the Tarsolybearers' Homepage. Defitinely have a look at the sabretache plate from Galgóc, maybe the finest of such objects, and the first one to be found, back in 1868.

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