Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Help needed to pin down an answer | enigmatic artefacts

One of the delightful things about having a presence in archaeology-related social media is that I frequently receive requests for help, advice, and assistance from a wide variety of people. Some questions I can answer directly and some I can at least offer pointers as to who may be better placed and more knowledgeable. In any case, I always feel honoured that people think I can help and reach out for assistance. In this case, I am, however, stumped!

I was recently contacted by a student of archaeology at Warsaw University, in Poland. She is currently working with a collection metal detected finds from central Poland. Most of the artefacts date to the period for the 1st to 3rd centuries AD (the Roman Influences Period) and appear to derive from a cemetery related to the Iron Age Przeworsk Culture. However, the collection also contains some pieces of Migration Period date (4th and 5th centuries AD) that appear to have affinities with German artefacts.

She is having difficulties finding parallels for one of the pins in this collection and none of the Early Medieval specialists she has spoken to can help. The reason she made contact with me is that she sees a slight parallel between the Gajew  example and one from Drumclay crannog, Co. Fermanagh, that she saw on this blog.

Bronze? Pin from Gajew, Poland (Source)
Copper alloy dress pin from Drumclay, Co. Fermanagh (Source)
Unfortunately (for me), I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as I would like to be/give the impression that I am. I am certainly no expert when it comes to pins – be they Irish or Polish! I’m also not sure who’s the best person to reach out to on this, either. For the record, I suggested that while I can recognise some similarities between the two artefacts, I reckoned that it was coincidence, rather than any genuine commonality … but I really have no idea! Rather than give such a bland and unhelpful response, I suggested throwing the question open in the hope of crowdsourcing a better answer.

She is obviously very hopeful that this process will bear fruit, as she has also asked that I show an image of a second artefact. She thinks it may be part of a bracelet or necklace, but has no clear idea as to its time of manufacture. It appears to have been created by moulding a bronze plate over an iron core. I'm afraid I've no clear ideas on this one, either, though I seem to remember that some of the Irish equestrian 'Y-pieces' may have been made in this way, though I'm wary of falling into the old trap of ascribing every piece of metalwork that's not easily identifiable to the category of 'horse harness'.

Possible bracelet/necklace fragment. Bronze on iron core from Gajew, Poland (Source)

If anyone has any ideas, suggestions, or definite leads, I would be grateful if you could share them in the comments on this blog. 

Thanks to all who can help,

Robert