A Unique Sword Scabbard from a Przeworsk Culture Cemetery at Orenice, Łęczyca County
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie, ul. Długa 52, 00-241 Warszawa
Muzeum Archeologiczne i Etnograficzne w Łodzi, Plac Wolności 14, 91-415 Łódź
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2015;LXVI(66):320–330
A remarkable sword scabbard surfaced in a cremation burial excavated on the cemetery at Orenice in 2012 by the team from the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography in Łódź led by W. Siciński PhD. The scabbard, made of two pieces of brass sheet, had been destroyed deliberately. Its mouth is bell-shaped. Originally, the upper part of the scabbard was provided with a decorative plate in an openwork design, now surviving only in fragments, but the very distinct impression left by the now missing fragments permit a fairly accurate reconstruction (Fig. 5, 6). The lower plate of the suspension loop, rectangular of shape, passed to a long, narrow gutter fixed with rivets (Fig. 7), similarly as in specimens from Witaszewice, Łęczyca County, grave 147/1937, or Zemplín, Trebišov County, grave 108 (cf. K. Czarnecka 2014, fig. 1, 3:2, 4). The most remarkable element of the scabbard is its triangular chape, ending in a massive, lightly flattened knob, H. 1 cm, D. 1.5 cm (Fig. 6:2). Chapes with a knob, characteristic for swords type Mainz and a little later, for type Pompeii, were mounted onto the base of scabbards made of organic materials (M. Biborski 1999, fig. 13; C. Miks 2007, p. 222–228; L. Pernet 2011, p. 102, 104, fig. 124). Scabbards of this form were part of the Roman Republican army equipment. At the same time, metal scabbards with openwork plating, but with a different form of chape, appear among the Celtic military gear. The combination of these two evidently divergent traditions and techniques of scabbard making in the specimen from Orenice is unprecedented. The dating of the grave inventory is problematic. Most of the grave goods: spur, knife with a clamp (Fig. 4:5.12) and scabbard, date to the close of phase A3, possibly the onset of phase B1. At the same time, the inventory features a brooch, variant K (Fig. 4:2), datable to phase A2. This chronological discrepancy may be explained in two ways: the brooch could have entered the assemblage by accident or a no longer recoverable cut had been made into an earlier grave.