Showing posts with label Mongol invasion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mongol invasion. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Medieval treasure and mass grave discovered from the time of the Mongol Invasion

Photo: Újvári Sándor / MTI

A sensational archaeological find has been announced by the Katona József Museum of Kecskemét on March 31: during excavations of a medieval village near Kiskunmajsa, a buried treasure was found, along with the burned remains of the former inhabitants, among them mainly children. The treasure includes more than 250 silver coins as well as rings and other jewels. Most of the coins date from the reign of King Béla IV (1235-1270), thus the find can be convincingly dated to the time of the Mongol invasion, which struck Hungary in 1241-42. The excavations took place by chance, after signs of the remains were found during plowing a field. Work was lead by archaeologist and museum director Szabolcs Rosta, with the help of archaeologists from Kecskemét, Kiskunhalas and Baja. It was established that the finds - including the human remains - were inside two former houses.
Similar finds have been uncovered in several places in recent years. In 2005, at the site of a village near Cegléd, the remains of a family have been found inside a burned-down dwelling. In 2010, another mass grave was found at Szank (also in the Kiskunság area): the remains were found inside a house, which the Mongols burned down. Among the remains of men, women and children, a treasure was also found.


Silver coins excavated near Kiskunmajsa (Photo: Újvári Sándor / MTI)

The Mongol invasion of 1241-42 caused the sharpest interruption in the development of Hungarian ecclesiastical structures. Especially on the Great Plains and in several areas of eastern Hungary, settlements and their early parish churches were destroyed beyond repair. 

Ring from the Kiskunmajsa treasure (Photo: Újvári Sándor / MTI)
Larger abbey churches and more important centers were also destroyed during the invasion and then abandoned. Recent archaeological research has brought to life the former abbey church of Péteri near Bugac, dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul. The abbey church (which must have been Benedictine, although it is not well documented) was first mentioned in 1219, but the large, three-aisled basilica was most likely built around the middle of the 12th century. During the Mongol invasion, the church was ruined and never rebuilt. The excavations have brought to light important remains of this once thriving monastic community: a fragment of a processional cross, remains of a reliquary decorated with Limoges enamel plaques (of which the figure of a saint survives), etc. Smaller churches were similarly destroyed and often never rebuilt.


Detail from the Szank treasure, excavated in 2010

Finds from the current excavation, as well as from Szank will be displayed in a new exhibition planned for later this year at Kecskemét.

Finds from the monastery of Péteri, near Bugac (via Archaeologia.hu)