Archaeologists uncover a bronze belt fitting from an unknown pagan cult

A team of archaeologists from Masaryk University have uncovered a bronze belt fitting from an unknown pagan cult in the village of Lány, located in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic.

The belt fitting dates from the 8th century AD and depicts a snake devouring a frog-like creature that appears in Germanic, Avar, and Slavic mythology.

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Such representations are related to the cosmogonic myth of the world’s creation which are found at various sites across Central Europe, while the interaction between the frog and the snake can be linked to fertility cult practices.

According to the researchers, the belt fitting provides evidence of a previously unknown pagan cult that connected diverse populations of varying origins during the early Middle Ages before the advent of Christianity which began in the 9th century AD.

The discovery in Lány belongs to the group of so-called Avar belt fittings, which were mainly produced in Central Europe in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. It was likely worn by an Avar, a Northeast Caucasian ethnic group who settled in the Carpathian Basin, however, it could also be from one of the cultures influenced by Avar cultural practices.

Using an X-ray fluorescence analysis (EDXRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), a lead isotope analysis, and 3D digital morphometry, an analysis of the belt fitting revealed that the greater part of the bronze was heavily gilded and was cast by using a wax model.

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A chemical analysis of the lead isotopes in the bronze alloy indicates that the copper used in the production was mined in the Slovak Red Mountains, while the morphometric analysis suggests that some of the fittings originate from the same workshop.

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Header Image Credit : Masaryk University

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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