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|Článek||J. Wankel's famous discovery of the Hallstatt culture||Historie|
J. Wankel's famous discovery of the Hallstatt culture in the Bull Rock Cave
in the Moravian Karst (Czech Republic)
Translated from Czech and edited by Vojtěch A. Gregor
Petr Kos, V. A. Gregor
| 29.4.2012 17:36 |
The Bull Rock Cave (jeskyně Býči skála) is located in the Josefov area of the Křtiny Valley in the middle part of the Moravian Karst. It is part of the cave complex of the Jedovnice Creek. The complex is ca. 15 km long, second longest in the Czech Republic. The cave represents a paleo-resurgence (emergence) point of the underground Jedovnice Creek. However, during extraordinary floods it also serves as an active karst spring. The cave consists of several distinguished units, each of them bearing its own name. The entrance part is called the Hall (also Entrance Hall, Hallstatt Hall, Předsíň in Czech). The Hall is the site of the famous "Hallstatt burial" discovered by Jindřich (Heinrich) Wankel, M.D., in 1872.
The present-day Moravian archeology considers the Bull Rock Cave, namely the Hall, a locality of above-regional (super regional) meaning - a place of sacrifice (offerings) or a sanctuary (a shrine, holy of holies) (Parzinger et al., 1995).
A review of pottery (ceramic artefacts) from the locality by Golec (2003) attributed the finding to a single chronological horizont - to the late stage of the Horákov culture Ha D2, i.e., to the mid-6th century B.P. The following contributions by S. Ondroušková, V. Peša and M. Šimánek presented the cave as part of settlement structures that sprinkled the Moravian Karst landscape at that time. The Moravian Karst is seen as either a settlement or sacral area and the cave itself as a sanctuary or a burial place. Although generally acceptable, these views do not consider the possibility of the cave being a multi-purpose place that hosted a series of short-lasting events within the specified time span.
Šimánek (2008) tried to examine the Bull Rock Cave finding by means of cultural-anthropological resaearch methods that are based on the study and comparison of the behavior of various societies. However, no tangible results were achieved.
On the basis of the archeological relationship of the Bull Rock Cave to other caves in the Moravian Karst it is possible to reconstruct the social environment of that time and indicate links to several densely populated "chambers" of settlement. Some such "chambers" had been located in the Boskovice Furrow - a trench-like late Variscan (Hercynian) feature that is rich in metallic ore deposits and also contains evidence of their prehistoric mining and processing (Štrof, 1985). Other such "chambers" can be found in the area of Mokrá and Horákov villages. This area contains remains of a strongly differentiated society with rich tumuli, farmsteads and hillforts. It also contains evidence of well-developed metallurgy (Pleiner, 1958) that could have been based on local iron ore deposits (presently the subject of the author's research).
Hallstatt artefacts found in the Bull Rock Cave contain only a minimum share of material culture that could be attributed to the central Horákov population in the Brno hollow (depression). Discussable is the material influence of minor settlements along the upper course of the Svitava River; these settlements peter out in the Brno districts of Obřany and Maloměřice (Hradisko and Holý kopec). Nevertheless, numerous sets of articles (especially thousands of bronze rings, ankle rings, glass beads and certain types of pottery) lead to the Brno hollow. They are products of the peak evolution stage of the Brno Group of the Horákov culture and are found mainly in women's graves.
How these articles found their way into the cave remains a mystery. A possible explanation includes a cultural interaction between the Brno hollow and the Mokrá-Horákov area (this area belongs to the mixed Horákov-Platěnice Group that represents the periphery of the proper Horákov culture). Excavations in the hillfort of Horákov Castle (Horákovský hrad), which is located between the Mokrá-Horákov enclave and the central Brno Group site, yielded a rather rare article - a bronze tutulicious pass-through button of the Buchheim type. Analogies of this button come from rich tumuli in the Brno-Holásky area (part of the East-Hallstatt range) as well as sites within the West-Hallstatt range. The significance of this finding is supported by the discovery of the casting mould, which comes from the Bull Rock Cave. These and other sites from the Bronze and Hallstatt periods have links to the Říčka and Křtiny valleys in the Moravian Karst and to caves in these valleys.
A recent discovery of a loin pendant in the village of Pavlovice (Vyskov area) represents precious evidence of communication between the Platěnice culture and the people who left the Hallstatt artefacts in the Bull Rock Cave. The pendant closely resembles a similar item found by J. Wankel in the cave's Hall. The finding will be published by M. Čižmář, the director of the Institute of Archeological Care of Historical Monuments in Brno (Ústav archeologické památkové péče v Brně, ÚAPP).
The Bull Rock Cave was occupied, for a number of short periods, during the Palaeolithic, Eneolithic, Hallstatt, Latenian and Middle Age periods. There are certain degrees of similarity between this cave and some other caves in the Moravian Karst, namely those in the southern part of the area. In the following, the author attempts to outline the development of their use since the Neolithic period (according to his 2002 seminar study at the Philosophical Faculty of the Masaryk University in Brno).
Archeological research of the Pekárna (Bakery) Cave in the south of the Moravian Karst (Klíma, 1974; revised by Ondroušková, 2008) shed new light on the use of caves during the Hallstatt period: it showed that the cave had a fortified entrance. This fact has no analogy in any other Moravian Karst cave with the exception of the Middle Ages cave castle in the Rytířská (Knight) Cave in the Suchý žleb (Dry Valley) in the northern part of the karst area. The entrance to the Hladomorna (Dungeon) Cave beneath the ruins of the Middle Ages Holštejn (Holstein) Castle had also been closed with a masonry wall - the cave served as the castle's prison. These findings indicate that a fortified cave could have served as a refuge, especially for the upper social class. [Note. The industry discovered in the Pekárna Cave is not as rich as that from the Bull Rock Cave - it is only limited to fragments of pottery].
The above observations do not imply that the entrance to the Bull Rock Cave - namely to the Hall - was fortified. They are only mentioned in order to indicate that Hallstatt populations could have benefited from natural obstacles in cave entrances. With respect to the Bull Rock Cave, the original, natural entrance to the Hall was formed by a half (semi) siphon (sump) that, during floods, turned into an impassable siphon. [Note. The author localized another, until now unknown entrance below the so-called Okno (Window) - see the enclosed diagram.]
The skeleton remnants of human bodies in the Hall could again be explained on the basis of analogies from the south of the karst area. Human burials are known from the Slezákova díra, Naproti Výtoku, Kůlnička, Hadí and Puklinová caves. They date back to the Neolithic, Eneolithic, and the Early and Middle Bronze Age periods. Hallstatt burials and burials belonging to the culture of the People of the Urn Fields, however, are absent in these caves. Caves with burials also contain evidence of temporary settlements with open fireplaces and layers of refuse (waste). Evidently, the function of such caves was both of a temporary settlement and a burial place simultaneously, during the same time of occupancy.
Peša (2006, other references included) suggested that the Hall served as a burial cave with the dead laid on the floor in a rather chaotic manner, perhaps as part of a ritual ceremony. The question, still unanswered, is - did the deaths resulted from natural causes or violence? Anthropologists determined that some injuries (wounds) were deadly, inflicted upon living persons whereas others were post-mortal in nature. Similar situations are found in the Slovakian Karst where some caves were used by refugees during the Mongolian invasion in the Middle Ages (e.g. the Moldavská Cave, vide Soják, 2007). Representatives of all age groups were hiding in these caves and some were even buried there (possibly occupants of the Premonstratensian monastery in Jasová).
The occupancy of caves in the southern part of the Moravian Karst increased at the beginning of the 13th century. In addition, various rock shelters such as overhangs and crevasses were used. They served as hiding places for treasures of coins, secret stockpiles, etc. The Pekárna Cave provided an occasional shelter to inhabitants of the surrounding villages during the Middle Ages as well as during modern times. Church utensils (including monstrances) were also hid in the cave - hence its second name, Kostelík (Little Church or Chapel) - that was held for a sanctuary safely hidden in dense woods.
The Mongolian invasion apparently reached the southern margin of the Moravian Karst. This is supported by the discovery of a unique arrow tip (point) coming from the siege of the Horákov Castle. The castle (fortified farmstead or hillfort) served the residents of the neighbouring villages (mainly to the gentry) as a refuge; it also served as a point of support on the road to the Moravian Karst, namely to Slavic mining and smelting settlements on the Rudice Plateau (the cave system of the Jedovnice Creek, including the Bull Rock Cave, extends beneath this plateau).
In the light of modern archeological interpretations, the Hallstatt Bull Rock Cave looms as a refuge, burial cave or a sanctuary (shrine, holy of holies). It is possible to assume that the cave served these purposes during Scythian military aggressions from the Carpathian Fore-Deep in the east. The cave fell under the influence of the Horákov and Platěnice cultures. This fact accounts for the mixed nature of the discovered articles that, in addition, were enriched with articles acquired in exchange, trade and, as the case could have been, in robbery. Moreover, the cave probably concealed a smithy (forge) and, possibly, also other workshops such as glass works, metal toreutic and amber works. As a sanctuary, it could have been the place of occasional local and domestic rituals.
The question of the human sacrifices remains unsolved. The placement of bodies (skeletons) on the cave floor, the special treatment of skulls and limbs (e.g. a skull placed in a bucket) are rather unusual in the South Moravian Hallstatt culture. Recent reviews of the pottery and some other articles suggest that the oldest items might have been deposited at the turn of stage Ha D1 (between Ha C2 and Ha D1). The smithy could have been established as early as Ha D1; it ceased to operate during the Ha D2 or Ha D3 stage, i.e., at the end of the Hallstatt period.
Pottery, it appears, is not a reliable guide to elucidation of all the cave's mysteries. Fragments of pottery may indicate a prolonged occupancy whereas complete dishes could bear testimony to short-time stays with burials and other sacral activities (ceremonies) as pointed out by M. Golec. As far as "cave castles" are concerned, this term is usually connected with Middle Ages. However, the discovery of a primitive form of such a structure in the Pekárna Cave demonstrates that, in the Moravian Karst, their earliest forms already existed during the Hallstatt period.
A temporary residential dwelling that sheltered tradesmen, craftsmen, shepherds, traders, soldiers, medicine men, women, children and social elite in a cave hidden in the deep forests of the Drahany Upland evokes an image of a community that formerly belonged to a socially elite group. Obviously, a group hidden in a cave had to heighten its living standards by means of aggression that might have included robbery. These activities probably took place far from the cave - this would explain the diversity in the artefacts as well as the unusual accumulation of weapons. Analogically to findings from the Brno and Vyškov areas, the origin of this group could be traced to the south-eastern and eastern margin of the Brno hollow. The articles found in local settlements and graves there belong to the Ha D1 stage and display a material relationship to the Hallstatt culture in Switzerland.
Some degrees of similarity between the Bull Rock Cave and Brno hollow findings can also be found in metallurgical and smithery technologies and products - e.g., forge welding of iron with bronze (a hub of a funeral wagon wheel from Brno-Holásky) and the famous bronze bullock from the Bull Rock Cave. The unusual amount of Bull Rock Cave artefacts of Scythian, Italic and Venetian-Illyrian and proto-Celtic origin, thus of Pontic, Adriatic and western Hallstatt (which in turn was influenced by Greek colonies in southern Gallia) provenience, indicates the influence of a military caste of the south-eastern type. This caste could have brought about the deterioration and eventually extinction of some communities of the Horákov and Platěnice culture.
Note. The Scythian artefacts include side-piece members of harness ropes, arrows and iron battle axes with two cutting edges (double bit axes). The Italic and Venetian-Illyrian industry includes helmets, circular armour, ring belts and pendants, pectorals, toreutics, and various battle axes and their parts. Finally, the proto-Celtic assembly consists of metal sheet waist belts, daggers with antenna; a turban on his ankle; sapropel jewellery; and a four wheel wagon.
In the rich assembly of artefacts found in the Hall of the Bull Rock Cave, it is difficult to identify genuine products of the proper Horákov culture. Regardless of what could have happened in there, the majority of the laic public as well as many experts will continue to see the cave as a refuge and/or sanctuary. This view is not far away from the views of J. Wankel, the discoverer of the "Hallstatt burial" in the Hall of the Bull Rock Cave.
The following is a chronological list of attempts at the interpretation of the Bull Rock Cave Hallstatt finding(s):
1. Burial of a Hallstatt chieftain (J. Wankel, 1882)
2. Bloody family revenge, a war between family clans (J. Havelka, 1886)
3. Massacre of a group of refugees (M. Kříž, 1892)
4. Massacre of a group of blacksmiths (J. Knies, 1901)
5. Massacre of a group of merchant tradesmen from the south (J. Červinka, 1902)
6. Burial of a Hallstatt priestess (J. Nekvasil, 1969)
7. Burial of a Hallstatt chieftain (F. Adámek, 1972)
8. Burial cave (H. Peter-Röcher, 1977)
9. Cave roof breakdown (collapse) (Z. Weber, 1982)
10. Cave roof breakdown (collapse) (J. Nekvasil et al., 1885)
11. Cult and offering/sacrificial place with a large range of action (A. Přichystal, M. Náplava, 1995)
12. Cult place with a large radius of activity (H. Parzinger et al., 1995)
13. Cave sanctuary with a one-time act (M. Golec, 2003)
14. Cave sanctuary (V. Podborský, 2006)
15. Burial cave (V. Peša, 2006)
16. Cave sanctuary (M. Golec, 2007)
17. Cave cult place with a centralized regional function (S. Ondroušková, 2008)
18. Cult place with unknown background of country settlements (M. Šimánek, 2008)
19. Cult cave of the greatest European significance (Z. Holubová, 2011).
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