Showing posts with label treasure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label treasure. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Medieval treasure and mass grave discovered from the time of the Mongol Invasion

Photo: Újvári Sándor / MTI

A sensational archaeological find has been announced by the Katona József Museum of Kecskemét on March 31: during excavations of a medieval village near Kiskunmajsa, a buried treasure was found, along with the burned remains of the former inhabitants, among them mainly children. The treasure includes more than 250 silver coins as well as rings and other jewels. Most of the coins date from the reign of King Béla IV (1235-1270), thus the find can be convincingly dated to the time of the Mongol invasion, which struck Hungary in 1241-42. The excavations took place by chance, after signs of the remains were found during plowing a field. Work was lead by archaeologist and museum director Szabolcs Rosta, with the help of archaeologists from Kecskemét, Kiskunhalas and Baja. It was established that the finds - including the human remains - were inside two former houses.
Similar finds have been uncovered in several places in recent years. In 2005, at the site of a village near Cegléd, the remains of a family have been found inside a burned-down dwelling. In 2010, another mass grave was found at Szank (also in the Kiskunság area): the remains were found inside a house, which the Mongols burned down. Among the remains of men, women and children, a treasure was also found.


Silver coins excavated near Kiskunmajsa (Photo: Újvári Sándor / MTI)

The Mongol invasion of 1241-42 caused the sharpest interruption in the development of Hungarian ecclesiastical structures. Especially on the Great Plains and in several areas of eastern Hungary, settlements and their early parish churches were destroyed beyond repair. 

Ring from the Kiskunmajsa treasure (Photo: Újvári Sándor / MTI)
Larger abbey churches and more important centers were also destroyed during the invasion and then abandoned. Recent archaeological research has brought to life the former abbey church of Péteri near Bugac, dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul. The abbey church (which must have been Benedictine, although it is not well documented) was first mentioned in 1219, but the large, three-aisled basilica was most likely built around the middle of the 12th century. During the Mongol invasion, the church was ruined and never rebuilt. The excavations have brought to light important remains of this once thriving monastic community: a fragment of a processional cross, remains of a reliquary decorated with Limoges enamel plaques (of which the figure of a saint survives), etc. Smaller churches were similarly destroyed and often never rebuilt.


Detail from the Szank treasure, excavated in 2010

Finds from the current excavation, as well as from Szank will be displayed in a new exhibition planned for later this year at Kecskemét.

Finds from the monastery of Péteri, near Bugac (via Archaeologia.hu)





Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Medieval news update

During the last five years, I wrote on various subjects on this blog, including the discoveries of treasure hoards and wall paintings, interesting exhibitions and new publications, museum collections and organizational changes and many others. The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to re-visit some of these topics, and to give a quick update on some of the news I reported. Here, then, is a medieval news update, focusing on some of the most popular topics on the medieval Hungary blog.

Wiener Neustadt treasure hoard published



Back in 2011, I reported on the discovery of a significant medieval treasure hoard found in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The objects - over 200 in total - have since been cleaned and restored, and are now presented in a lavish new publication issued by the Austrian Office of Monument Preservation (Bundesdenkmalamt).

The book describes the discovery of the treasure, and provides an exhaustive survey of the objects, including a detailed techical analysis of the materials, as well as studies on the art historical and cultural significance of the treasures. A catalogue of all the objects and an extensive photographic documentation is also included in the book. On the publisher's website you can browse the beginning of the book, and there are also a number of photos available (this is the source of the image above). A smaller publication, a brief introduction to the treasure, has also been published.

Nikolaus Hofer, hrsg.: Der Schatzfund von Wiener Neustadt. Horn - Wien, Verlag Berger, 2014. 496 pp., ISBN: 978-3-85028-636-7



Goldsmith works from the Herzog collection on view at the Hungarian National Museum


Another treasure collection, goldsmith objects once in the collection of Baron Mór Lipót Herzog, surfaced at a New York auction a few years ago, as I reported also in 2011. It has now been revealed that the mysterious buyer of the objects at the sale was the State of Hungary, and the objects have been placed in the National Museum. After three years, in late 2014, the collection has been put on view in a special exhibition at the museum (which is open until January 25, 2014). No catalogue has been published, and there is no information available on the website of the museum - but a photo gallery is available on the website of the Hungarian state news agency, hirado.hu, by clicking on the image on this page. A total of 32 pieces entered the museum, all of which at one time belonged to Mór Lipót Herzog, who passed away in 1934. The pieces have been recorded earlier as wartime victims of looting, and their whereabouts were unknown until the New York sale.

Transylvanian goldsmith works from the former Herzog collection - Hungarian National Museum, on view until January 25, 2015. For more information (in Hungarian), visit Obeliscus, an online journal on the early modern period.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Treasury of Gyöngyös parish church opens to public

The Treasury of the medieval parish church of Gyöngyös, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, reopened for visitor at the beginning of July. The Treasury - one of the richest in Hungary, after the treasuries at Esztergom and Győr cathedrals - has important medieval holdings as well. Most important in this respect are the seven late medieval chalices made around 1500, probably in a workshop in Upper Hungary, all decorated with a special filigree ornament.

The recent history of the treasury is quite interesting: the treasures were hidden in 1944, and were only recovered in 1967. The objects were later put on display, but a number of them got stolen in 2012. These five Baroque objects were soon recovered by the police, but unfortunately, in a dismembered state. However, as of now, all of the objects are on view in the newly created exhibition room in the parish building, the so-called Szent Korona House. In addition to the chalices, the Treasury also includes a number of other medieval objects, as well as a large number of Baroque liturgical objects, including reliquiaries, monstrances and church vestments. A number of paintings, sculptures and a significant library round out the collection. Visitors can also see two specialised conservation workshops (for goldsmith works and for textiles). More information can be found on the new website of the parish (which is still being developed). You can also read more about the recent history of the treasures in this article (in Hungarian).










Source of images: here and here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Part of the Seuso Treasure Recovered by Hungary

Hungary unveiled today seven pieces of the famed Seuso-treasure, the most significant late Roman find of goldsmith works ever found in excavations. The seven decorated pitchers, platters and bowls were unveiled by prime minister Viktor Orbán today in the Parliament of Hungary. It was announced that this half of the treasure was recovered by Hungary at the cost 15 million euros ($20.67 million).

The objects were dug up near Lake Balaton (=Pelso) in western Hungary in the 1970s and then smuggled to the West and not seen in public until a 1990 auction in New York that failed because of a dispute over where they were found. The pieces were owned by Lord Northampton, who had purchased them between 1982 and 1990, but was unable to sell them because of the contested origin of the objects. Hungary has always claimed the treasure as its own.  Part of the treasure was, however sold by him, and the new owners - two people described only as "British siblings" - contacted Hungary with a view to making a sale, Hungarian officials said. "Hungary has reacquired and brought home seven pieces of the invaluable treasure," Orban said. "It has always belonged to Hungary. This is Hungary's family silver."

The treasure was named after a high-ranking Roman officer, Seuso, who probably buried his silver vessels before a military attack at the end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th century. Today, 14 pieces of the treasure are known, but presumably more pieces were found originally. 

If you would like to know more about the treasure, I recommend this article by Zsolt Visy, one of the researchers working on the objects, or this study by Zsolt Mráv from a recent volume of studies. The English-language Wikipedia article has already been updated to include today's news. More publications are sure to appear now that at least part of the treasures will be accessible to researchers. The objects will remain on view at the Hungarian Parliament for the next three months - their future placement has not yet been disclosed.

(via Reuters).

More information is available on the website of the Government of Hungary. The Government website also published photos of the objects recovered by Hungary, these you can see below.









Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Medieval treasure discovered in Wiener Neustadt



Belt buckle from the Wiener Neustadt treasure 
An important cache of medieval goldsmith works was found a few years ago, it was announced last week. The treasure was found by a man digging in his backyard in Wiener Neustadt. He, however, only took an interest in the objects quite recently, finally bringing them to the Austrian Office of Monument Preservation. On Friday it was reported that about 200 pieces were found - rings, brooches, other jewels, most apparently dating from the 13th-14th century.


Currently no detailed information is available on the find, but several pictures are already circulating on the internet. The image on the left is from this report by Der Standard, but the same photos released by the Bundesdenkmalamt have been published in many other places. The Austrian weekly profil was the first to report on the find, and The Associated Press also reported on the treasure - finally the story was picked up by several news outlets worldwide. The Bundesdenkmalamt of Austria will provide more details at a press conference on May 2nd.

The author of this blog of course would like to know whether any of the objects can be identified as of Hungarian origin.

Update: here is the report on the press conference of the Bundesdenkmalamt, where some of the objects were put on display.