Kocioł z Podola
Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne, ul. Długa 52, 00-241 Warszawa
Data publikacji: 31-12-2001
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2001;LV(55):31-46
The collection of the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw includes a large metal vessel (Fig. 1, 4, 5). Its exact findspot is unknown and only the general location in Podolia (western Ukraine) is known. The vessel was published by W. Antoniewicz (1945; 1958) and mentioned subsequently by Soviet authors (A. I. Terenožkin 1962; V. S. Bočkar’ov 1972). It belongs among vessels referred to as cauldrons, which are known mainly from Ukraine. The cauldrons are most frequently described as being made of bronze, although no analyses of metal composition have been made for them. Studies made at State Archaeological Museum have shown that the specimen in question was forged from sheet copper (List 1, fig. 3). The vessel has a hollow foot, profiled body and splayed neck. It is fitted with two vertical handles made of rods which were incised and beaten flat at both ends before being riveted to the vessel neck (Fig. 9a,b, 10). The ratio of the height of the cauldron to its rim is 71.4 cm, its weight – 14 kg. The vessel was manufactured of five sheets of sheet copper 1–2 mm in thickness, near the rim ca. 7 mm. The foot and the body were attached to each other and the bottom fixed to them in a striking manner (Fig. 6). Upper segments of the vessel are joined with horizontal rows of rivets. Given the lack of vertical riveting or traces of hammering of sheet edges (not revealed even by the X-ray analysis) we may assume that individual segments were fashioned in one piece and given their final shape on a special stand. The cauldron from Podolia is the most elaborately and uniquely ornamented vessel of its category known to date. The ornament is without exception concave (engraved and punched). It covers the foot and the neck. On the foot it occurs both on the outside (Fig. 11) and the inside (Fig. 12). On the outer surface in the upper section of the foot X-ray photography revealed yet another band of ornament based on geometric designs. The neck is ornamented on its entire surface starting from a wavy cutting out section of the lower edge of the sheet (Fig. 8). It is covered by five horizontal bands 25 do 32 mm wide bounded by horizontal lines and rows of points. The bands are filled with decorative designs varying in the degree of complexity (Fig. 4, 13). The ornament was produced with the help of at least four tools, each with a differently shaped blade. The cauldron is in a relatively good condition. The handles are only slightly collapsed inwards and the vessel wall near both the handle attachments is also sunken in (Fig. 10); the foot and the body suffered only slight deformation and there are small dents and cracks in the copper sheet. Some of these injuries probably developed after the cauldron either fell over or dropped from a height; as a result of the resulting deformation most of the rivets joining the neck to the body fell out; of eight rivets which survive today four are iron with copper lined heads – evidence of contemporary repairs made to the vessel. Of cauldrons known to date the vessel from Podolia is the largest, twice as high as other specimens of its kind. In its form it has analogies in several other strongly profiled vessels with a hollow foot (Fig. 2). Another variant is bucket-like cauldrons lacking a distinct foot (Fig. 14) having vertically riveted walls or walls hammered of half-sheets. Cauldrons of both variants may be plain or ornamented only very modestly, most frequently with araised ornament executed from the inside the vessel. In Soviet literature all forged cauldrons, irrespective of their form and ornamentation, are ascribed to the Srubnaya culture. A mound of this culture is known with certainty to have produced a bucket-like cauldron. On the basis of inventory accompanying it has been dated to the 14–13th c.BC (A. L. Nečitajlo 1975), possibly, to the 15–14th c. (A. I. Terenožkin 1982). It seems that the Srubnaya culture origin and so early a chronology may fit bucket-like vessels but not the much more technologically sophisticated strongly profiled forms with a hollow foot. Their dating may be defined on the basis of ornamentation of the Podolia specimen discussed here. It finds analogies in ornamentation of pottery and metal objects of Chornii-Lis culture (Fig. 15a–d,f), especially those originating from its younger phase, dated to 900–725 BC, as well as in the ornamentation of Scythian vessels (Fig.15e, g, h). These links suggest that the cauldron from Podolia should be dated to the 8–6th c. and it seems that a similar chronology may be ascribed to cauldrons of the same type from Antoniny in Volhynia, Tarashcha and Kuybyshev/Samara (cf.. V. S. Bočkar’ov 1972). However, evidence is insufficient to apply the same chronology to bucket-like vessels. The cauldron from Podolia presumably served religious purposes – this interpretation of the function of Scythian cauldrons bases on a reference in Herodotus (V. P. Levašova, È. R. Rygdylon 1952). Its circular handles were adjusted to suspending from a pole; the inward collapse of the handles and denting of the neck probably were caused by overloading of the suspended cauldron. The supposition that the cauldron used to be suspended is supported by the fact it features an ornament on the internal wall of its hollow foot, an ornament, which would not have been visible unless the vessel was suspended. It is also worth noting that originally the cauldron was fully watertight and was probably used for storing liquids or food.
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