3,000-Year-Old Gold Bowl Decorated With Solar Motif Found In Austria


During the course of rescue excavations prior to the construction of a railway line in Ebreichsdorf, Lower Austria, archaeologists discovered an extremely rare gold bowl, adorned with a sun motif - the first the kind to be found in Austria. 

Late Bronze Age gold bowl and fragment from it found in Ebreichsdorf
[Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

Side detail of the bowl [Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

Exterior of bowl [Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

The excavation site, stretching along a north-south and east-west axis over several hundred metres, is believed to be a Late Bronze Age settlement of the Urnfield culture. Occupied between 1300 and 1000 BC, the settlement consisted of several pile dwellings built around a large central building.

The bowl was found relatively close to the ground surface, near the wall of one of the pile dwellings in the settlement. Measuring 5 cm high and 20 cm in diameter, it is made of a thin sheet of gold finely decorated in the repoussé technique. The side of the bowl is features rows of concentric circles, lozenges, and dots while the bottom has a radiating sun.

The bottom of the bowl with the radiating sun design
[Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

Bowl, bracelets, and organic materials wrapped in gold wire
[Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

The bowl and its fragments were found with two bracelets made of gold wire 
[Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

Inside the bowl were four objects: two gold bracelets made of twisted wire and two clumps of organic material, possibly fabric or leather. The fabric was stitched with gold thread, which was then rolled up - and wrapped with additional gold wire.

Archaeologists believe that the bowl and its contents may have been a votive deposit. Indeed, in addition to this precious bowl, archaeologists found nearly 500 bronze objects, including pins, knives, and daggers, as well as an abundance of animal bones and ceramics, the arrangement of which seems to indicate that they were deposited there over time.

Bronze pins discovered during excavations within the sacrificial site 
[Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

Bronze knives discovered in the river bed or swamp 
[Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

Full handle bronze knife [Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

Deposit of clay vessels [Credit: Andreas Rausch, Novetus]

According to archaeologists, the site would have been of ritual importance since it was located near a watercourse: it is, therefore, possible that these objects and animals were thrown into the water for religious purposes.

According to the head of the excavation, Polish archaeologist Michal Sip, this is one of the most important archaeological finds in Austria in recent decades. "I have worked on several continents, especially in Egypt and Guatemala, but I had never discovered anything like it," he commented.

He estimates that only around 30 similar bowls have been discovered across Europe. "This is the first find of its kind in Austria, and the second east of the Alpine line," the archaeologist explained. "Single vessels of this type have so far been discovered in Spain, France, and Switzerland. Certainly more are known from the area of northern Germany, Scandinavia, and Denmark - because they were made there," Dr. Sip added.

The bowl will soon be exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (Museum of Art History).

Source: PAP - Science in Poland

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