A Historical Review of the Research of the Cemeteries and Single Graves from the 10th-11th Centuries in the Banat and Partium Regions and the Transylvanian Basin Cover Image

Az Erdélyi-medence, a Partium és a Bánság 10–11. századi temetőinek és szórványleleteinek kutatástörténete
A Historical Review of the Research of the Cemeteries and Single Graves from the 10th-11th Centuries in the Banat and Partium Regions and the Transylvanian Basin

Author(s): Erwin Gáll
Subject(s): History, Archaeology, Cultural history, 6th to 12th Centuries
Published by: Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület
Keywords: cemeteries; graves; 10th-11th centuries; archaeological research; Carpathian Basin

Summary/Abstract: Part I. Among the regions of the Carpathian Basin or medieval Hungary, it was Transylvania – both in geographical and historical sense – where the archaeological research was the most neglected. In 1895, the year of the Millennium, Ferenc Pulszky, the director of the National Museum wrote his third treatise on the finds from the era of the Hungarian Conquest, however, he could not register in it any cemetery or single grave discovered in Transylvania. In the mountainous region of Transylvania the research of the time of the Hungarian Conquest and the early Árpád era was started with a delay of 60 years compared to the eastern microregions of the Great Hungarian Plain, where the archaeological excavations of the burials from this period had begun a few decades earlier due to their geographical locations. So far none of the studies addressing the history of archaeological researches in the regions of Partium, the Banat and the Transylvanian Basin have aimed to survey the state of the basic research, in other words the quality of our data base on the archaeological sources of this era. 1. What was the quality of the excavations that were carried out? 2. What can be the quality of the publications concerning the archaeological sources of this time period? In the first part of this study, the quantity of the finds, the extent of the excavations in the burial sites, the level of documentations and their usability and the results of the anthropological and paleozoological researches or the lack of them will be analysed. In the second part the quality and the quantity of the publications on the excavated sites will be focused on. It is important to note that it would be unfair to measure the publications written at the beginning of the 20th century by the same standards as those written in the 21st century, therefore we wanted to solve this contradiction by dividing the publications from the past eras into three systems of criteria in three sub-periods. According to these considerations the following criteria can be drawn up in the various periods: I. From the second half of the 19th century to 1946: 1. Publications of high standards. The turn of the 19th and 20th centuries saw the refinement of archaeological methods. The analyses of burials by András Jósa and Márton Roska can be considered important landmarks. Expectations: site map, grave descriptions, exact location of the finds in the graves, and drawings or photos of them. 2. Acceptable analyses of cemeteries: those publications fall in this category which are not supplemented with a site map, but contain grave descriptions, more or less exact locations of the finds in the graves and the drawings or photos of them. 3. Publications of poor standards: the graves were excavated but their description is not included, nor is the more or less exact location of the finds in the graves or the drawings or photos of them. II. 1947-1989: In the second half of the 20th century the development of the infrastructure of museums was completed, well-trained archaeologists were to be placed in each museum and at the beginning of the 50s, following the Soviet example, academic research institutes were established. Therefore higher quality standards of the excavations and the publications are to be expected in this era. As in the case of the previous period, three quality criteria have been established: 1. The criteria of high standard publications: a site map, a drawing or photo of the grave, a detailed description of the skeletons' position in the grave, drawings or photos of them, the identification of the sex of a given skeleton, an analysis of the animal bones, recording any other burial custom or phenomenon that was observed. 2. The criteria of acceptable publications: a site map, an exact registration of the position of the skeleton, exact location of furnishings in the graves, drawings or photos of them, recording any other phenomena. 3. The criteria of low standard publications: lack of a site map, lack of the description of the skeletons' position and the exact registration of the position of the grave goods, the registration of other phenomena is missing. III. 1990-2007: At the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century the archaeology, and mainly the Western- European archaeology, made substantial technological and methodological advances, parallel with the technological development of this age. Together with the various analyses, the arsenal of archaeological research was completed with a wide range of methods borrowed from natural sciences, widening the scale of archaeological assessment. Unfortunately, this advancement did not affect the research of the 10th -11th centuries in Romania, the archaeological and paleozoological analyses are still considered scientific curiosities not to mention archaeogenetics. Together with the basic researches no sign of any new conceptions can be discovered in Romanian archaeology. In the case of this period, the publications were divided into three groups according to the criteria: 1. The criteria of high standard publications on cemeteries: a site map, drawings or photos of the graves, an exact description of the position of the skeletons, an exact registration of the location of the grave furnishings, drawings and photos of them, the registration of other phenomena, identification of the sex of a skeleton, DNA samples and other scientific tests. 2. The criteria of publications of acceptable standards: a site map, drawings or photos of the graves, an exact description of the position of the skeleton, an exact registration of the location of the grave furnishings, the photos or drawings of them, the registration of other phenomena, anthropological test. 3. The criteria of low standard publications: the lack of site maps, and drawings or photos of the graves, the exact description of the position of the skeleton(s) and the registration of the location of the grave furnishings are missing, the lack of drawings or photos of them, the lack of anthropological tests or DNA samples. We also aimed to survey the current stage of anthropological and paleozoological researches. The anthropological material found in the archaeological excavations raised interest among the scientists way back in the 19th century, and in some cases from the Banat region we are presented with some analyses of high standards. Unfortunately, the situation is different in the case of the finds from Transylvania and the Partium because the anthropological analyses were not even started there. A. The Transylvanian Basin A.1. Statistics of the burial sites and the number of graves. From the three regions under study, a considerable number of finds were sent to the museums until World War I, owing to the work of the archaeological school in Cluj, which was marked by the name of Béla Pósta: until 1920 the finds from 24 sites were transported to the museums in Cluj, Aiud, Alba Iulia and Budapest (L14, L23, L29, L30, L32, L44a, L51, L63, L66, L72a, L73, L79, L80, L82, L84, L87a-c, L90, L97, L116, L139, L147, L150, L151, L152). From the era between 1920 and 1940 we know only about one grave from one site (L68). Between 1940 and 1946 excavations or rescue excavations were carried out in two new sites, but only four graves are to be registered in these sites. Apart from these three single graves were found (L54, L62, L69, L72b, L130). After World War II, due to the planned economy and the state controlled industrialization, some major excavations were conducted, unfortunately, influenced by political considerations. 21 new sites are to be registered in our data base: 9 of them are parts of cemeteries, 4 treasure finds and 8 single graves. However, it is necessary to note that no complete cemetery was excavated in this era either (L1, L13, L25, L26, L28, L44b-c, L46a, L47, L48, L49, L70, L71, L81, L86, L88, L89, L91, L92, L96, L136, L146). In the 9 partially excavated cemeteries a great number of graves were unearthed, 1456 altogether, among which 50 are dated to the 10th century and 199 to the 11th century. 1207 graves cannot be dated more precisely, so they are categorized as dating from the 10th-11th centuries. These graves are unpublished. The first years after the change of the political system in 1989 were unfavourable for the research, especially for the archaeological research of the 10th-11th centuries. In those years of turmoil the number of archaeological excavations declined in the first half of the 90s, and the situation remained the same until the end of this decade. Towards the end of the 90s the economic recovery and the growing investments enabled more rescue excavations, but cemeteries from the 10th-11th centuries were only found near Alba Iulia. The excavations 6 cemetery sections can be registered (L42, L43, L44d, L45, L52, L134) and it is very important that in one case for the first time in the Transylvanian Basin (L134) a whole cemetery was excavated. Many graves were excavated, 387 altogether: 255 are dated to the 10th century, 15 to the 10th-11th centuries, and 117 to the 11th century. All in all, 1987 graves have been documented since 1892, most of them during the time of the national-communist dictatorship (1456) (see Figures 1 and 2). A. 2-5. A qualitative and quantitative analysis on the finds and the number of graves, thecurrent stage of the anthropological and archaeozoological research. The present stage of the publications concerning the finds, the cemeteries and their basic units, the graves that have been excavated in the Transylvanian Basin, shows a very sad picture. The total number of graves excavated in the four different eras is 1987, but only 12.6 % of them have been published so far, most of them, 130 graves, at the beginning of the 20th century, using methods that are now considered obsolete (see Figure 3). Most single graves were registered before World War I (see Figure 4). The level of the first era according to our categories indicates that the level of gravedocumentation, owing to the efforts made by Béla Pósta's school, could have been set as an example, showing the way forward that archaeology was to follow. This can be explained by the fact that Béla Pósta laid a stress on the importance of applying the basic practical methods such as the mapping of a burial site, drawing maps of the cemeteries, and drawings of the excavated graves, both in the excavation sites and in university education. Unfortunately, as the statistical data show, the standards of grave documentation and the scientific level of the publications show a declining tendency, which has continued until now (see Figure 5). An examination of the standards of the anthropological researches reveals a picture similar to that of the documentation (see Figures 6 and 7). Only 2.76 % of the excavated graves have been analysed. A similar lack of interest can be observed concerning the animal bones found in the graves, only one analysis has been published so far which meets the professional standards (Cluj-Napoca Zápolya street, horse- and sheep bones from Grave 10). B. Partium. B.1. Statistics for the finds and the graves. Among the three regions it was the Partium, where a find was unearthed back in the middle of the 19th century (L10), but it was documented in detail only in 1903 in Bihar-Somlyóhegy (L9). In sharp contrast with the Transylvanian Basin and the Banat, where we know several well documented partially excavated cemeteries or graves, in the Partium only one cemetery was researched partially and documented with more or less certainty. Beside this, two other graves were discovered, but the level of their documentation is at least doubtful. Most of the sites that were found before 1920 were single graves (L10, L11, L37, L53a-b, L55, L83, L94, L95, L107, L157), excepting a treasure find from the 11th century (L108). In the two partially excavated cemeteries only 10 graves were found. Compared to Transylvania, in the Partium there was not such wide gap following World War I. Between 1920 and 1940 34 graves from two partially excavated cemeteries were unearthed (L53c, L106a) and the finds from two other single graves were sent to museums (L33, L135). After 1940, although the northern part of the Partium became part of Hungary again, no excavation was carried out in the region (the only single find is the cross from Mezıtelegd-L93). The only exception, the raid of four graves in the Gálospetri cemetery (?), of which the finds found in one of the graves was published more than two decades later, hardly can be considered serious research (L41). After 1947 the same process can be observed as in the Transylvanian Basin. During the four decades 21 sites were excavated, among which 13 were partially excavated cemeteries (L2, L3, L53d, L64, L75, L103, L106b, L123, L129, L133, L131, L155, L156a), and 8 were single graves (L12, L31, L35, L36, L39, L57, L79, L154). Similarly to the Transylvanian Basin, no complete cemetery was excavated in this region, either. At the same time a tendency can be recognised that in some cases the excavations that were started before World War II were carried on (L53, L106b). In the 12 cemetery parts 388 graves were found, 57 of them are dated to the 10th century, 243 burials are dated to the 11th century and in 89 cases the graves can only be dated to either the 10th or the 11th century. After the change of the political system in 1989 there were not major excavations in the Partium, for almost a decade no excavation was documented. In the first years of the new millennium 21 graves in two parts of cemeteries were excavated: one part of a cemetery was found near the lower reaches of the River Mures, another one was found in the woodlands of Szilágyság (L100, L156bd). The 15 graves in the Nagylak cemetery are dated to the 10th century, and the six graves in the other cemetery can be dated to the 10th - 11th centuries. So in 150 years 453 graves were found in this region (see Figures 9 and 10). B. 2-5. The quality and quantity of the publications concerning the number of finds and graves, the current stage of anthropological and archezoological research. Our analysis shows a picture which is as sad as the one we saw in the Transylvanian Basin: in the four eras 453 graves were excavated altogether, but only 153 of them were published, which make up 32.14 % of the finds (see Figure 11). The publications are of similarly poor standard (see Figure 13) and the lack of anthropological anlyses is also striking (see Figure 14), archaezoological analyses have not been carried out except for the horse bones that were found in Sikló. C. The Banat. C.1. Statistics for finds and graves. Among the three regions discussed here it was in Nagyteremia in the Banat that a burial site from the time of the Hungarian Conquest was happened upon in 1839 (L105- two graves), but these finds were lost later. In 1875 another grave was found in the same site (L105). Owing to the soil conditions and the incredible commitment to archaeology shown by amateur archaeologists (e. g. field work is much easier than in the mountainous regions of Transylvania and the excavations are also easier to be carried out), 26 cemeteries and single finds were excavated until the World War, 18 of them were partially excavated cemeteries or graves (L16, L17, L18, L19, L20, L21, L98, L101, L102, L105, L114, L118, L119, L120, L127, L128, L137, L138), and 10 were single graves (L27, L40, L78, L99, L124, L125, L132, L140, L142, L144). Until World War I the most finds were registered in the Banat among the three regions thanks to the ungreatfully forgotten Gyula Kisléghi Nagy, who did most of the work excavating 30 graves in 14 sites. In the 16 partly and 2 completely excavated cemeteries (in two cases we might talk about single graves) 41 graves were excavated, and 31 of them can be dated with more or less accuracy to the 10th century. In every case these are small cemeteries, which have been considered family burials, but this question might be settled by DNA tests. It should also be remembered that many times Kisléghi collected the bones too in his excavations, and he often sent a part of them to Budapest so that they could be analysed, which reminds us of the professionalism of 20th century archeologists. The excavations conducted by Kisléghi were also important because they were centered on a microregion providing grounds for drawing up its archaeological topography. This could have been done if it weren't for World War I and its political consequences affecting science. In the two decades between 1920 and 1940 no finds dating from the 10th - 11thcenturies were registered. As it has already been mentioned, after the Communists had taken over in 1947, the museums were reorganised following the Soviet example. From this time on until 1990 6 parts of cemeteries were excavated in the Banat altogether (L4, L22, L56a-c, L111, L143, L153), and nine single graves indicating burial sites are known from this era (L8, L60, L61, L104, L112, L115, L117, L145, L158, L141). In the 6 parts of cemeteries 79 graves were found, 3 of these 79 graves can be dated to the 10th century, the rest are dated to the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries. Unfortunately, no completely excavated cemetery can be registered with the exception of one single grave. After 1990 the excavations did not gain momentum. 21 graves were excavated in 3 sites (L121, L148, L149), and two single finds, found during field work, were sent to museums (L110, L141).The 13 graves in these two sites are to be dated to the 10th century, the 8 graves in the third site can be dated to the turn of the 10th-11th centuries in general. It is also important to note that the cemetery in Újszentes can be considered fully excavated (L148). In the past 170 years, since the two graves in Nagyteremia were found and then lost, 139 graves were found altogether, most of them in the period between 1947 and 1990 (79 graves). Unfortunately, these are mostly parts of cemeteries, where the excavations could be continued in the future (see Figures 16 – 17). C.2. The publications concerning the number of finds and graves. Concerning the percentages, a major part of the burial sites found in the Banat, have been published. However, if the number of excavated graves is compared the number of finds in the Transylvanian Basin, it is obviously much smaller. 108 of the 139 graves have been published, which were excavated in the four different eras by different methods, these constitute 77,69 % of the finds.To be honest, part of them don't meet contemporary standards. C.3-4. Statistics for anthropological research. As opposed to the other two regions, where the scentists were not so much interested in anthropological researches, in the Banat Gyula Kisléghi Nagy, partly owing to his contact with Aurél Török, attached great importance to anthropological analyses, the gender of three skeletons were identified (L17, L118, L127), a deep analysis was done on one of them by Aurél Török (L17). One skeleton was examined by Kisléghi, but it should be treated with care (L20). After Kisléghi's death the anthropological researches in the Banat were not continued for 70 years, as far as the 90s when this kind of excavations were carried on by Marius Munteanu, who analysed 40 skeletons from those found between 1958 and 2006. In this aspect, considering the proportion of the excavated sites, the anthropological researches carried out in the Banat can be considered examples set before Romanian archaeology. D. Conclusions. A historical comparison of the researches done in the three regions When the beginning of of scientific researches is examined, some significant differences can be seen in the three regions. In the Transylvanian Basin the archaeological school led by Béla Pósta in Cluj, championed the advancement of archaeology. Pósta did not only support theoretical advancement, but he also pioneered the technological development used in excavations and their professional documentation. He made his point clear in his letter to Zalotai, in which he pointed out the drawbacks of narrow trenches in the excavations. The achievements of Béla Pósta's school are quite palpable: the first castle cemeteries from the early Árpád era and one of the earliest cemetery parts from the time of the Hungarian Conquest were excavated and documented professionally, owing to the work of Pósta's students Balázs Létay, István Kovács and Márton Roska. The results of this work were processed at once except for the cemetery in Zápolya Street (which was published 25 years later, in 1942). The graves found in the two cemeteries from the early Árpád era were published before 1914. The achievements of Béla Pósta's archaeological school, as is shown in the statistic charts, were ahead of those in the other two regions both in terms of the number of excavated graves and their documentation and the level of their publication. To be honest, it also has to be mentioned that the anthropological and paleozoological researches were pioneered only in the Banat, although Gyula Kisléghi Nagy was just an 'amateur' archaeologist. In the work of Kisléghi one can see a definite progress, which might lead to the conclusion that he represented a transition between professional and amateur archaeologists. The political changes following World War I resulted in the excavations of the graves from the time of the Hungarian Conquest being completely suspended. In the following 20 years no one did any archaeological research concerning this era except Frigyes Ardos and Márton Roska. It is also true that Graves 10 – 12 or A – C in Marosgombás were published by Márton Roska in 1927. The collection of single graves came to a halt, in the Museum in Arad two graves from this era were registered. After 1940 in northern Transylvania the excavations concerning the time of the Hungarian Conquest and the early Árpád era were begun again. Some important sites were published and new excavations were also started. In the Banat, following Kisléghi's death and this region becoming a part of Romania we don't know of any excavations, publications or single find reaching the museums until 1959. The Paris Peace Treaty declared the decrees of 1940 null and void and northern Transylvania became part of Romania again. After 1947, when the Internationalist Communists took control, major changes took place in science policy too. First of all, the scientific institutions were reorganised, and due to state financed investments, rescue excavations were carried out. However, the research of the time of the Hungarian Conquest was not affected in a positive way. In the Banat the first cemetery part from the 10th - 11th century wasn't excavated until 1959, in the Transylvanian Basin no progress was made apart from the part of a cemetery that was excavated in April 1949 by Gyula László. After the revolution in Hungary in 1956, in Romania the nationalist wing took control over the Communist Party, led by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and mainly Nicolae Ceausescu they abused archeology together with history for political purposes. The road roller of 'Daco-Roman continuity' was started: the main aim of 'scientific' research was to point out the archaeological remains of the Romanians living in the territory of present day Romania in the period of the Great Migration. Castle excavations were started (as the possible centres of pre-Hungarian principalities) and the excavations of cemeteries or cemetery parts were continued. Some 10th or 11th century cemeteries were registered, without being published, as the burial places of the local population (e. g. Alba Iulia-Ambulance Station). In the three regions the most graves were excavated in the Transylvanian Basin, but in contrast of this the fewest were published. Other strange things can also be observed: the anthropological tests of 50 graves were carried out but nothing is known about their archaeological context. So it can be stated that the Transylvanian Basin lagged behind the other two regions, where fewer graves were excavated, but a greater proportion of them were published. The situation changed a lot after 1990: Not only were a great number of graves excavated but many of them were published too, whereas in the other two regions, namely the Banat and the Partium, only small scale excavations could be carried out. Unfortunately, we also have to point out that the methods of natural sciences, as very important supplementations of the archaeological research, were not applied in the case of 10th and 11th century cemeteries. A concrete reason for this well-known fact that in the research of the 10th and 11th century Banat, Partium and Transylvania there is no projekt integrating archeologists and the experts of these sciences, the few results are personal achievements, which can only be incomplete. Romanian archaeologists should draw the conclusion that using only archeological methods won't promise too much in the future. At the same time those in charge of the European Institutes researching the Hungarian Conquest should also consider that leaving out the eastern part of the Carpathian Basin can only yield partial success. Part II. The evaluation of the archeological research of the 10th and 11th centuries in archaeology. 1- 2. The evaluation of the Hungarian Conquest and its directions in Transylvania in the archaeological publications. The Hungarian Conquest and the concept of Hungarians in the archaeological publications. The issue where the historiography of the two countries cannot agree, or to be more exact they talk at cross purposes, is the interpretation of the notion of the Hungarian Conquest, and they also express different ideas concerning the direction of the Hungarian Conquest, which is completely incomprehensible and cannot be interpreted from an archaeological point of view. According to the 19th century romantic notion, the Conquest was ushered in by fights in which the brave and valiant Hungarians defeated the Slavs. The richer and the poorer cemeteries are the memories of these battles. In fact, this tradition goes back to Anonymus, but it cannot be underpinned by archaeological finds because like communities, cemeteries also have their own 'lives', i. e. they are used for a shorter or longer period of time. According to our present knowledge it is out of question that these cemeteries are the remains of battles. In the Romanian publications the main problem is caused by the confusion of the notion of conquest (which derives from the stem of the verb 'a cuceri') and that of the organisation of the territory. In the archaeological literature this notion is in close connection with the general picture of the Hungarians the Romanians have in mind as even those experts who specialized in this field socialized and grew up in the Romanian society, so to say they are the 'products' of the Romanian educational system, which sometimes strums nationalistic strings. Even today this educational system talks about barbarians, looters and the enemies of Romanian people, and as a result of this students of archaeology begin – and in many cases finish – their studies having such a picture of the 10th century Hungarians in mind. The studies dealing with the history of archaeological research mainly highlight the negative influence of politics, but they ignore nationalism, which originated in the 19th century (in the case of Romanians it was frustrated nationalism), and its characteristics. The mental roots of this situation are much deeper and intricate, it is fashionable to blame Ceausescu's dictatorship for all the trouble, but it is a very superficial approach to the problem. To understand this attitude of the Romanian archaeologists/archaeology one must trace the general picture of Hungarians back to the 18th century, and it is also important to highlight the fact that the Romanian occupation of Transylvania in 1920 did not have a positive effect on this picture. In the years following 1848 the cosmopolitan notions of the Enlightenment are replaced with nationalistic views, which originated from Herder. At the same time the views concerning Hungarians also changed among the Romanians. The ethnic war between Hungarians and Romanians in Transylvania in 1848 also cast a shadow on this picture. So this was the picture that was formed of the Hungarians at the beginning of the 20th century. Folowing the World War, Transylvania along with the Banat and the Partium was given to Romania and as a consequence of this the general picture of the Hungarians was shifted even more toward the negative side. The Communist system was shifted towards a nationalist-communist regime mainly at the time of Nicolae Ceaușescu, but some obvious signs showing to this direction can be recognised during the regime of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. Ceausescu didn’t invent new nationalistic myths, but elaborated those that had already existed. Archaeology and history became part of the propaganda machinery of the political system. As has been mentioned, it became an important issue in science policy to try to find the archaeological remains of the Romanians from the period of the Great Migration, in which Romanian archaeology showed little interest between the World Wars. It was the time when the so called ’rock theory’ caught on among archaeologists, according to which the Romanians form a ’rock’, which remains steady and unmovable, although struck by newer and newer waves of other people. The migrators, such as the Hungarians, as if striking the ’rock’, can only be negative protagonists. Certainly, it gives a negative picture of the Hungarians, which wasn’t any different from the former picture of them, as the picture formed of the 10th century Hungarians was addressed to the Hungarians of the 20th century. Even such an expert as Radu Popa, who, after 1990, wrote an article on the distortions and falsifications of Romanian history and archeology, holds it unquestionable that the Hungarians conquered the Transylvanian Basin from the west. After the fall of the Ceausescu regime Romanian archaeology rediscovered the archaeology of the early Middle Ages in Transylvania and the time of the Hungarian Conquest within it. 3. Cemeteries: the remains of the Hungarian Conquest, opinions on the burial places in literature. The assessment and evaluation of burial sites have changed in the past 150 years together with the development of archaeology. It especially holds for the archaeology of the early Middle Ages, and within it the archaeology of the time of the Hungarian Conquest and the early Árpád era. One must also bear it in mind that the connection between archaeology and politics was much more conspicuous in those countries that were established in the 19th century because it was to support the identification of the state and its historical right to exist as well as the existence of the nation and their real or imagined rights as opposed to states that had century or millenium long history. A big mistake made by Romanian archeology is the misinterpretation of the concept of cemeteries and burials (e. g. both the Bihar and the Cluj cemeteries are considered the remains of the wars against Gelou and Menumorout even by Radu Popa) and the forced attempts made to support archeologically the topos of indigenous people. The large scale castle and cemetery excavations started under the nationalist-communist regime were to serve this purpose. The big amount of finds has remained unpublished up to now, so no conclusions can be drawn from a professional point of view. Such huge cemeteries as the one in Alba Iulia are still unpublished. However, they have been considered as the remains of the peaceful, free, indigenous Romanian people, dating to the period preceding the time of the Hungarian Conquest. The weakness of the method that is to support this concept is the notion saying: object = ethnic group. The crosses found in these cemeteries can only be considered Romanians because originally (and here we would like to emphasize the word originally) they are to be connected to the symbolic system of Christianity. But logical problems arise when one asks why objects that originally represented Christian symbolism should be considered to be Christian. According to the argumentation proposed by Károly Mannheim, concepts that are planted from one society into another change their meanings and functions and as a result, the items of material culture symbolizing this concept also lose their functions and first of all their symbolic value. A good example of this is the person found in Szob-Kiserdő, who wore both a cross and a pagan amulet, what can be considered as a Christian symbol in Byzantium, is only a commercial item in the Carpathian Basin. The change in the symbolism of material culture can be connected to different situations even today: for example a swimsuit representing an American flag does not indicate the American identity of the person wearing it, but the intensity of commerce, and it could not have been any different around the year 1000. So these few data show that Romanian archaeology still shows the signs of the past nationalist-communist and the Herderic romantic-nationalistic eras. Together with the improvement of the standards of publications and documentations it is methodology where there is a lot to improve, as the above mentioned data remind us of the argumentation that was common in the time of the dictatorship and not the scientific notion of the 21st century.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: III-V
  • Page Range: 63-113
  • Page Count: 51
  • Language: Hungarian