MISCELLANEA
Bronzes from Słupia – an Incomplete Story
 
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie ul. Długa 52 «Arsenał» PL 00-241 Warszawa
 
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2017;LXVIII(68):119–145
 
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ABSTRACT
The State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw (PMA) has in its collections two striking Hallstatt bronze pieces (Fig. 1) recorded as “presumably from Słupia Nowa, Kielce County (PMA/III/5701). They had been purchased for the Museum in 1928 from G. Soubise-Bisier (1849–1937), Warsaw antiquarian, with an information that they came “from Słupia, from Wilczewski’s collection – presumably Leonard Tallen-Wilczewski (1857–1933 or 1935), a Warsaw lawyer. The Archaeological Museum in Cracow (MAK) has in its keeping a group of bronzes which in the inventory registers and catalogue are provenanced to Słupia Nowa vel Nowa Słupia (MAK/7653). Listed under one number are three objects which correspond chronologically and typologically to the pieces now in Warsaw, and two other artefacts whose association with the same assemblage raises some reservation. All of them used to be part of the collection of Bolesław Podczaszyński (1822–1876), a Warsaw architect, archaeologist and collector of antiquities whose holdings were sold in 1880 from his heirs to the Academy of Learning in Cracow. Both groups (the Warsaw and the Cracow one) were published as finds from Słupia Nowa, County Kielce, vel Sandomierz Region, by J. Kostrzewski (1964, p. 66, 67–68, fig. 87) in an article in which he presented and discussed Bronze Age and Early Iron Age metal finds from the middle and southern area of the Warta and the Vistula drainages. Basing on differences in their appearance (type of patina) Kostrzewski concluded that the bronzes originally belonged to two group finds (hoards). Hoard I supposedly included the two pieces now in Warsaw and two from the Cracow group, with a ‘water’ patina (Fig. 2:2.4–6), while Hoard II included the three other Cracow specimens with a green patina (Fig. 2:1). Moreover, Kostrzewski concluded that Hoard I included two almost identical spiral bracelets, one of which is at present in the Cracow, the other in Warsaw. The present paper proposes to revisit the attribution of the bronzes of interest into two ‘hoards’, basing on the criteria adopted by J. Kostrzewski to see if it is fully corroborated by the history of this whole set, of which the composition in any case also raises doubts, hindering the analysis and interpretation of these finds. Additionally, analysis is made of the reasons for various shortcomings in the way the pieces were presented in the publication of Kostrzewski, with serious consequences for their attribution. Answers to some of the questions raised, particularly those concerning the circumstances of discovery of the artefacts, and their acquisition and recording in a succession of collections (private ones at first, then public), were found in the now widely accessible archival resources of the museums in Cracow and Warsaw, as well as in the works of archaeological and historical literature from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Especially helpful were exhibition catalogues of antiquities and reports published in contemporary daily press and periodicals. Invaluable insight was furnished when our knowledge of the discussed bronzes was compared against the archival record in the legacy of B. Podczaszyński, now in the Museum in Cracow, and inventories of the Museum of Archaeology attached to the Academy of Learning (since 1919, Polish Academy of Learning). What our analysis established is that the group addressed by J. Kostrzewski in his publication included three Hallstatt bronzes, definitely previously owned by B. Podczaszyński, and earlier still, by the amateur finder Józef Bałandowicz of Radom: an ankle-ring folded from a thick bronze bar (type Stanomin), a heavy, twisted neckring with loop terminals, a spiral ribbon bracelet which in 1852 passed F. M. Sobieszczański (1814–1878), a Warsaw historian and journalist (Fig. 2:1–3). Podczaszyński is named as owner of these pieces as early as 1856 at the time of their display at the first great exhibition of antiquities and artwork held in Warsaw. They were published in the exhibition catalogue and discussed in texts dedicated to it. Podczaszyński recorded (Fig. 5, 6) that they had been discovered in Sandomierz (the bracelet) and at Słupia Nowa (the others). In the exhibition catalogue the site of the discovery Podczaszyński described very generally as Sandomierz Region. This shows that he was not certain as to the location of discovery of these bronzes. After B. Podczaszyński’s death in 1876, but before the sale to the Academy of Learning, his collection were put into order. Index cards with descriptions of individual pieces were made out and numbered, which duplicated or supplemented notes made out by Podczaszyński – “neckring, “armlet (spiral bracelet) and “ring (ankle-ring), i.e. pieces known from the Warsaw exhibition, were assigned numbers 71, 74 and 124 (Fig. 6). The value of the collection was estimated, complete with extensive and general lists of the pieces and their valuation. However, as a result of errors made when identifying the artefacts and when recording the contents of the collection, upon its entry to the museum of the Academy of Learning the set of artefacts named earlier was augmented by three objects of unknown provenance, namely: a plain rod bracelet, belonging earlier to Tadeusz Zieliński, a collector from Kielce, and two fragments of obliquely grooved early medieval Balt neckrings with angular terminals (Fig. 3), presumably from the ‘Livonian’ part of Podczaszyński’s collection. In an inventory book completed around 1890 by G. Ossowski, the whole group is described as stray finds “from Słupianowa. J. Kostrzewski, on his visit to Cracow presumably in the 1920s, personally recorded the archaeological objects placed in one assemblage by Ossowski. However, Kostrzewski had had no access to Podczaszyński’s archival papers or to early inventory books or some nineteenth century publications. This led him to describe and sketch in his card file all the recorded objects as a group of ornaments from “Słupia Nowa (Fig. 4). In his 1964 publication he had been drawing on his notes and on the photographs of most artefacts made available to him, but the latter were not explicit enough. In the numbered card file of Podczaszyński’s collection there are two more index cards, marked with numbers 237 and 238, on which were recorded two other pieces found “in the village of Słupia Nowa in the proximity of Kielce (Fig. 7). But at present they (“arm ring and “coil) are not to be found in the collection of the Cracow museum. The analysis of the archival documentation related to Podczaszyński’s collections and evidence furnished by e.g., the catalogue of artefacts exhibited in 1876 at Pest during an international congress of anthropology and archaeology suggests that these are the same as the two pieces now found in Warsaw. The bronzes from Podczaszyński’s collection, presumably also acquired from Bałandowicz, disappeared in unknown circumstances, presumably after his death, and before the sale of the collection to Cracow. It is likely that they were purchased by an unknown amateur antiquarian of Warsaw when after Podczaszyński’s death, Teodor Ziemięcki (1845–1919), a member of the Academy of Learning, proposed to purchase the pieces from his collection and present them to public institutions in Warsaw in a noble attempt to prevent the scattering of this valuable collection. The predecessor of Wilczewski and Soubise-Bisier, previous owner of bronzes now in the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw, remains unknown. It is certain only that these artefacts entered that museum only half a century later. J. Kostrzewski (Fig. 8) presumably examined and sketched them in the 1930s, when they were part of the permanent display of the State Archaeological Museum. After the war, until the time of their publication, he had had no access to them; after the wartime misadventures of the collection of the Warsaw museum the bronzes “from Słupia were identified and catalogued only in the early 1970s. This would explain their incomplete description and poor quality illustrations in Kostrzewski’s publication which do not convey the actual appearance of these objects. It may be concluded therefore that out of the objects which J. Kostrzewski had published as two hoards from Słupia Nowa five are pieces from the collection of B. Podczaszyński, discovered most likely near today’s Nowa Słupia, in Kielce County (Fig. 2:1–3.5.6). There is no sufficient basis to attribute them to one, possibly to two assemblages (hoards). Nevertheless, the current appearance of the spiral bracelet held by the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw (gold-brown, but with some green patina residue) and the information handed down by Podczaszyński about the original appearance of the bracelet now in the Archaeological Museum in Cracow (reportedly covered by a patina) suggest that these two almost identical ornaments could indeed have been discovered together. It is also feasible that they could have formed a set (a single find) with the other objects now in the Cracow museum, covered with a noble patina: the neckring and the ankle-ring, decorated similarly as the bracelets, with designs typical for metalwork provenaced to the workshops in the Kujawy Region. Outstanding in this group is the ankle-ring now in the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw with a residue of a ‘water’ patina (which was almost fully removed during conservation), and equally importantly, a decoration characteristic for ankle rings type Stanomin, Mazowsze variant, not encountered so far in the area of Kielce and Sandomierz.
ISSN:0043-5082