New track of M0 motorway reveals more than 100 Scythian graves – Budapest History Museum

MúzeumCafé 19.

Mention ‘Scythian’ in Hungary and most people associate the word with a stag, its legs folded underneath, made of electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) and found in the Tápiószentmárton kurgan in 1923, as well as a stag looking back made of gold leaf excavated at Mezőkeresztes-Zöldhalompuszta in 1928. Both most likely decorated an ornamental shield. (Today they are on display in the Hungarian National Museum.) Currently the oldest archaeological findings of a Scythian character originate from the Arzhan kurgan burial excavated in 1971 in Tuva, at the source of the River Yenisei in Central Asia. The Scythians soon appeared much farther to the west, namely on the steppes to the north of the Black Sea. Findings of Scythian culture from the middle of the 7th century B.C. have been unearthed in the eastern Carpathian Basin. Their reign was ended by the Celts in the 4th century B.C. In Hungary Scythian finds have been located to the Central Northern Hills, in the central and northern parts of the Great Plain as well as the northern part of the Small Plain. The borderline between the central European Hallstatt culture and the Scythian finds is marked by the Danube. Archaeologists from the Budapest History Museum explored the Soroksár section of the M0 motorway. On an area of 5738 square metres there were more than 155 units, of which twenty can be dated to the 7-8th century A.D. The rest originate from the Scythian period. In 2009 Budapest’s largest Scythian site so far was discovered in the southern outskirts of Soroksár. Of the 135 Scythian units 109 were graves, including 33 with and 51 without cremation. Neither bones nor ashes were found in 25 presumably symbolic graves containing dishes. There was evidence of all the burial rites characteristic of the Scythian age. One double grave was discovered, which we excavated in its original position and transported to the museum. An adult female and a child of 6 or 7 were buried in the grave. The adult was lying in an interesting position: the feet were crossed as if they had been tied at the ankles. The child was placed lying sideways on the woman’s chest. A traditional Scythian Bronze Age three-edged arrowhead in good condition was discovered by the woman’s right-side ribs, which may have caused her death. A high-handled wheel-turned jug, a flat bowl and a grindstone were also in the grave. The preliminary analysis of an anthropologist at the Hungarian Natural History Museum, shows that far more women than men were buried in the cemetery. Of further interest is that both the cerebral and facial skulls were generally narrow, indicating a Mediterranean population. At least half of the cremation burials were of children. A solitary – unfortunately disturbed – horse burial was also discovered at the northwestern part of the cemetery. Finds which cannot be directly connected to burials were also documented, for example, a string of beads. In addition to a Szentes-Vekerzug-type bridle bit, the three-edged traditional Scythian Bronze Age arrow-head provides clues to date the cemetery. Preliminary analysis of the finds suggest that it originates from of the 5th century B.C.