Finds of early medieval coins from Mazovia .
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The subject of the presentation are the early medieval coins stored in the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw, coming from the several finds from the area of Mazovia. Most of the coins shown comes from so-called hoards. The term means in archeology a find of numerous coins or other metal objects, distinct from individual (loose) finds, interpreted mostly as lost coins. The deposits of numerous coins are interpreted differently – these were deliberately hidden resources as financial resources securing temporal or after death future of the owner. So some of these deposits deliberately remained hidden for centuries, part of it was not taken due to force majeure, for example due to violent death of the owner. Some of the finds are accidentally discovered nowadays and as cultural property they usually go to museums.
Finds of numerous coins are the basic tool serving to reconstruct the monetary circulation in the studied historical period and on the studied area. Features of the monetary circulation, in turn, allow us to get to know the economic life in the past centuries. Therefore, any finds of the coins, as an important historical source, are carefully recorded by the archaeologists and then elaborated and published.
In the early Middle Ages (from Xth century – to the first half of XIIth century) the contents of the hoards changed with time, but it was always in the form of silver bullion coins, jewelry or unprocessed silver, for example so called silver lumps. The balance between these three components was various, but mostly the coins dominated. In the earliest finds discovered in Mazovia (Xth century) only the Arab coins (dirhams) can be found, whole coins or large parts, as well as whole and almost whole silver ornaments. In the deposits from the turn of the tenth century dirhams and decorations appear in the form of increasingly smaller fractions, and the majority are whole West European coins. Since the mid-eleventh century the characteristic Saxon coins start to prevail in the collective finds – cross denars, some part of which have already been produced on Polish territory.
Presented coins come from the hoards found in the historical Mazovia - in Maurzyce, Dzierzążnia, Zakrzew, Nowy Brzozów and Naruszew. They were hidden in the Xth and XIth centuries. A few coins come from the individual findings in Ośnica, Pokrzywnica Wielka and Serock. An interesting feature of the presented collection is its diversity – there are coins minted in India, Turkestan, Byzantium, Italy, England, Denmark. However most of the coins come from Germany: Franconia, Bavaria, Swabia, Lorraine and Saxony. This is a good illustration of the nature of the far-reaching business relationships at that time. Maciej Widawski
Origins of the early mediaeval exhibits.
Presented pieces are the most valuable specimens from the collections of the Department of Medieval and Modern Period Archaeology of the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw. These objects represent different decorative styles and types of ornament used during the early medieval period. Among them are simple pieces produced using uncomplicated techniques as well as ones which required greater skill. Many are truly unique pieces high in artistic and educational value distinguished by the richness of form and diversity of decorative motifs.
The exhibits originate from almost all types of archaeological site – cemeteries, earthworks, treasure hoards from the area of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. Finds from the area of Belarus derive from the 19th century collection formed by amateur archaeologist Konstanty Tyszkiewicz of Łohojsk. His acquisitions included objects from barrow cemeteries at Karpiłówka and Widohoszcz and a number of other locations in the region of Minsk.
Unique pieces were salvaged by Józef Choynowski, who was active in the 19th century in Ukraine. His collection included finds ranging in date from the Palaeolithic to the medieval and the modern period. Objects presented at the Exhibition are only a small fraction of his collections. They originated from earthworks in Kiev, Piekary, Rossawa and the cemetery in Traktomirów.
During the inter-the-war period the collections of Tyszkiewicz and Choynowski passed into keeping of the National Museum in Warsaw which eventually turned over a part of the objects to the State Archaeological Museum. Via the same route other archaeological finds found their way to our Museum, eg from hoards discovered at Korabliszcze in Ukraine, Mycielin, in wielkopolskie voivodship, and Leszno in łódzkie voivodship. Fine pieces of early medieval metalwork derive from acquisitions of the State Archaeological Museum from the Prehistoric Department of the Museum of Industry and Agriculture, National Polish Museum in Rapperswil in Switzerland and E. Majewski Archaeological Museum. They originated from Homel and Nowosiółki in Belarus, Ukrainian Miedwiedówka, Rudki, Zieleńcze, Kniaża Hora and Łuck, and from Poland – the region of Płońsk, Niewiadoma, Żarnówka, in mazowieckie voivodship, Kobylin – Kuleszki, in podlaskie voivodship. An exceptionally rich collection of valuable pieces originates from an earthwork at Werbyczka in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, the place and circumstances of discovery of many pieces remain obscure. They originate from 19th century or pre-war amateur excavation. From the eastern reaches of the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939) derive pieces secured during regular excavation carried out during the inter-the-war period by Polish archaeologists. They include finds from barrow cemeteries at Zaświrz and Podroś and the earthwork at Dawidgródek in Belarus.
Regular excavation made on territory of today’s Poland before and after Second World War also brought a tremendous amount of striking finds. During the inter-the-war period investigation was made of skeleton cemeteries in Końskie, Złota, Samborzec, and Sandomierz, in świętokrzyskie voivodship. During the post-war period for a number of years studies were made of early medieval cemeteries in the border zone between Mazowsze and Prussian lands, Mazowsze and Rus. Excavated at that time were cemeteries in Łączyno Stare, Grzebsk, Tańsk-Przedbory, Czekanów, in mazowieckie voivodship, Pokrzywnica Wielka, in warmińsko-mazurskie voivodship, Dołubowo, in podlaskie voivodship. These sites produced grave deposits containing ornaments and other items testifying to contacts with Balt tribes, Scandinavians and with Kievan Rus. Archaeological investigation was also made of cemeteries in Mazowsze at Bazar Nowy, Starogród, Czersk, in mazowieckie voivodship, and in Grochów, a district of Warsaw. Interesting pieces originate from earthworks at Serock and Czersk, in mazowieckie voivodship, and Drohiczyn, in podlaskie voivodship. Very rich sets of jewellery are known from early medieval hoards discovered at Brzozowo Nowe, in mazowieckie voivodship, Obra Nowa, in wielkopolskie voivodship, and Borucin, in kujawsko-pomorskie voivodship.
The collection of early medieval jewellery shown here helps present ornaments originating from different regions of central Europe, in particular, areas of Slav settlement. Among them we find common everyday adornments made of more popular materials, mainly bronze, and jewellery put on for special occasions, made of silver, and more rarely, gold. The above mentioned objects have been presented at the travelling exhibition “Treasures of the middle ages” since 2007. The exhibition was on show in main town in Poland and in Germany, Norway and Ireland.