Zabytki z wczesnej epoki żelaza z terenów Rosji w zbiorach Państwowego Muzeum Archeologicznego w Warszawie
Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne, ul. Długa 52, 00-241 Warszawa
Data publikacji: 31-12-2003
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2003;LVI(56):69-85
Knives. The Museum collection includes three bronze knives: from Minusinsk (Fig. 1) – a gift from Karol Bołsunowski – and two unprovenanced specimens. All these pieces were acquired by the Museum before 1911. All are simple knives with holes for suspension (Fig. 2a–c), typical for the Tagar Culture (S. V. Kiselev 1951, p. 208–209, table E, pl. XXIII:, distinctive products of Siberian tribes. Their frequency of discovery indicates adaptation of these tools to the lifestyle of their owners. Kettles. The Museum has in its keeping three metal kettles similar in size and state of preservation: from locality Askyz on the river Abakan, right tributary of the Yenisey (Fig. 1) – presented by Leonard Jaczewski – and two unprovenanced specimens (Fig. 3). The kettle from Askyz (Fig. 4, 5) is a product typical for the Tagar Culture. It is characterised by very careful execution, in particular, the smoothing of its interior. The piece was repaired by adding a patch onto a missing fragment in its foot. Formal attributes of the kettle: ovoid body and hollow foot, in the form of a truncated cone, and ring-handles and ornamentation in the form of a narrow notched cordon imitating a double coil of rope running around the body of the vessel argue for assigning the specimen to type I (N. A. Bokovenko 1981), which groups nearly all kettles discovered in the Minusinsk Basin, and within this type, to subtype E (Fig. 9). In Siberian rock are one sees images of kettles analogous to the piece in question, of which the drawing noted on the so-called Askyz stone is remarkably similar to our specimen (Fig. 10). Interestingly enough another kettle from southern Siberia is recorded in Polish collections (Fig. 11), namely, that of the Lublin museum (A. Kloss, W. Misiewicz 1971). Its dimensions are nearly identical with that of the Warsaw specimen; the form of the body is also highly similar as is the ornament of a double-coiled rope. The Lublin specimen differs in having a bow-shaped handle (one of two which survives) and featuring nail-like protrusions and a slightly more splayed foot base. The surface of this piece shows even more careful polish than the one in the Warsaw specimen. In the classification of Bokovenko the kettle from Lublin also belongs in type I, this time in subtype C. The fact that two Polish museums found in the region of the former Russian partition have in their keeping two kettles sharing the same remote provenance brings to mind the presence in Siberia of Polish deportees and their or their descendant’s wish to enrich Polish collections. The dating of kettles recorded across vast reaches of eastern Europe and Asia tends to be rather broad, given that objects of this type as a rule occur as random finds. The specimen from Askyz in question most probably may be assigned to chronological boundaries proposed for the Tagar Culture after it acquired a “Scythian imprint”, ie from the 5th until presumably 3rd c. BC. Cemeteries of the people of the Tagar Culture on the river Ob, which have produced kettles analogous to Minusinsk specimens, are given this same dating of 5th to 3rd c. (F. J. Mec 2000, p. 133 ff.). A certain clue helpful in determining the closing date for the occurrence of kettles in SW Siberia may be the development in the Tashtyk Culture, from the late 3rd c. successor of the Tagar Culture, of pottery vessels imitating kettles and of pendants in the form of strikingly close miniature replicas of such kettles (S. V. Kiselev 1951, p. 430 f., pl. XXXVIII:7.9.10, XXXIX:6). It seems that these objects must have been a reflection of a presumably new tradition, expressing the same ideas previously associated with objects they were meant to imitate. Two further kettles found in the collection of the Warsaw Museum are visibly different from their Siberian counterparts (Fig. 6, 7). Although they were entered into Museum files with an annotation Siberia?, this provenance very likely originated by analogy to data accompanying the kettle from Askyz. The two vessels in question have relatively low set bowl-like bodies and cylindrical feet splaying out in funnel fashion at the base. In addition, the better preserved specimen of the two has one of two originally bowed handles with low protrusions, the body lacks all ornamentation whereas the base of the foot (also in the better preserved specimen) is decorated with amorphous knobs – supports. Formal attributes of the specimens in question suggest their Scythian-Sarmatian origin. Kettles associated with this culture cycle do not lend themselves easily to more definite periodization and geographical differentiation. Nevertheless, pieces analogues to specimens described here, both formal, but primarily associated with ornamentation (usually of the “cord” type) and knobs at the base of the foot (Fig. 12, 13), cluster in the region on the northern Black Sea, between the mouth of the Dnepr in the west and the basin of the lower Don in the east. It seems that particularly ornamentation in question may be considered a local feature. Burials accompanied by kettles with ornamented feet have been dated to the 5th – 4th c. BC. (A. P. Mancevič 1961; V. M. Kosjanenko, V. C. Flerov 1978). Therefore, a similar dating may be proposed for the two kettles in PMA collection. Analysis of chemical composition made in PMA laboratories using the method of UV spectrography (Fig. 15) revealed that all the kettles were cast in copper. Their raw material was defined as alloy copper, with a than 2% impurities content. Slight differences in chemical composition were determined, depending on the location from which the sample was taken (see Appendix). Traces of technological procedures (casting seams, traces of repair and secondary damage) suggest a number of conclusions as to the method of their execution. It appears that copper kettles were used primarily for ritual purposes. Their presence in graves, mostly of the so-called princely type, suggests their high value and at the same time link them with the sphere of sepulchral activities; their content in the form of animal bone indicates some sacrificial activity. Frequent discovery of damaged or destroyed kettles presumably indicates existence of animistic beliefs. At the same time, the kettles are known to occur in hoards and in sites evidently having a votive character; consequently, the nature of religions practices performed with their participation must have been broad. According to Herodotus (History, book IV, 60-61), the meat of sacrificial animals had to be cooked and in large kettles, presumably in vessels of the type described here. We may imagine that these practices are pictured in some images in rock art, their sacred character indicated by unusual headdresses of accompanying figures, perhaps shamans (Fig. 10a). At the same time, in another rock representation one sees numerous images of kettles in scenes de genre showing dwellings, people and animals against the setting of an ordinary it would seem, settlement (Fig. 10i). All of which suggests that the kettles could have been used also for household purposes, an essential utensil in communities largely dependent on animal sources of food.
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