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Výskum žiarového hrobu z doby halštatskej. Foto A. Gašpar.jpg

Unique finds uncovered by archaeologists during the construction of the industrial park in Valaliky

2. 8. 2023 | 317 visits

Archaeologists and technicians from the Institute of Archaeology SAS, led by Marek Vojteček and Michal Cheben, have completed the first six months of a set of archaeological investigations at one of the largest construction sites in Slovakia - the industrial park in Valaliky, near Košice. The research confirmed that the comprehensively examined burial site is one of the largest of its kind in northern Potisie.

At the same time, it was proven that the potential construction will disturb a relatively large number of archaeological sites. "The advantage of this type of large-scale research is that during construction, archaeologists have the opportunity to examine not only a fragment of the site, as is the case with smaller constructions, but they can examine entire settlements or burial grounds. This fundamentally improves the possibilities of their interpretation and reconstruction of the settlement of the region, the social structure of the population, the relationship between man and the landscape in ancient times," explains Matej Ruttkay, director of the Institute of Archaeology SAS.

So far, scientists have examined the settlement of the people of the Baden culture from the Late Stone Age, a series of remains of Neolithic burial mounds, the cenotaph - a symbolic grave of the Otomani-Füzesabony culture from the Early Bronze Age. The next burial site is represented by approximately 30 urn graves of the people of the Pilin culture from the Younger Bronze Age. An urn from the Hallstatt period forms a certain solitaire. "Therefore, it is likely that a person subconsciously associated part of the examined space with a suitable place for ritual purposes," explains A. Gašpar.

As part of the research, a fragment of a Germanic settlement from the Roman era was also discovered. According to archaeologists, a large settlement from the early Middle Ages so far dated to the 9th– 11th centuries, which is one of the largest of its kind in eastern Slovakia, is also noteworthy. It consisted of incavated houses – earth-houses, which often contain a stone oven, storage pits and other types of objects in one of the corners.

As stated by M. Ruttkay, the examination of the burial site dated to the 10th or the beginning of the 11th century under the expert guidance of Lucia Luštíková is extremely important.  "More than 280 graves were uncovered. Most of the buried were placed in grave pits, sometimes in wooden coffins, oriented approximately in the west-east direction, with the head to the west. In the imaginations of the people of that time, this ensured that the deceased would be warmed by the first rays of the rising sun in the afterlife," adds L. Luštíková. Children's, women's and men's graves are documented. According to the archaeologist, the burial site shows several attributes of the presence of the newly arrived Old Hungarian ethnic group. This is evidenced, for example, by two equestrian graves, where, according to the customs of the Old Hungarians, parts of horses were also placed in the grave - head and long limbs, stirrups, quivers with arrows, iron branks, etc. In male graves, finds often include decorative fittings for belts and clothing, knives, sharpening steel, buckles, buttons, rings, beads and ceramic vessels. Rare grave offerings include weapons such as a sword, an axe, and bone bow mounts. Female graves contained earrings, decorative fittings sewn onto clothing, hair rolls, rivets decorating shoes, a necklace, bracelets, rings, beads and ceramic vessels. Children's graves contained fewer finds - ceramic containers and occasionally a knife, earrings, beads and various pendants. Meat food was also placed in the graves, from which were preserved animal bones placed near the feet or the head.

Scientists from the Institute of Archaeology SAS emphasize that the comprehensively examined burial site is one of the largest of its kind in northern Potisie. The prepared sets of natural science analyses – physical anthropology, stable isotopes, parasites, radiocarbon dating, archaeogenetic analyses, will make it possible to reconstruct not only the process of burial, but also the state of health of the buried, the way they ate, the relationship between the native and incoming population, and will specify the time of burial and the number of buried generations. In combination with archaeological analysis and evaluation of other sites from the region, they will shed light on events between the time of Great Moravia and the period of the foundation of the Kingdom of Hungary.

Field research continues in other areas as well. Laboratory treatment, conservation, reconstruction and documentation of findings are also carried out. Another tender company - AA Terra Antiqua, s.r.o. started with extensive archaeological discoveries. The investor of construction and research is Valaliky Industrial Park, s. r. o.