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Scythians/Saka's were already in Hungary in the Iron Age

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Scythians/Saka's were already in Hungary in the Iron Age

Mesajgönderen TurkmenCopur » 24 Haz 2015, 16:26

http://www.academia.edu/3660910/Living_ ... ge_Hungary

9.  Living On The Frontier: “Scythian” And “Celtic” Animal Exploitation In Iron Age Northeastern Hungary

László Bartosiewicz and Erika Gál

By the 5th–3rd c. BC, present-day Hungary fell under the inflence of three distinct cultural formations.
While Scythian Period pastoralists still occupied the Great Hungarian Plain, the eastward expansion of Celts reached the northern border of this area as the Eastern Hallstatt culture withdrew from Western Hungary.

Animal remains from fie settlements were used in characterising Iron Age lifeways in the zone between the Great Hungarian Plain and the Northern Mountains. “Steppe elements” of the domestic fauna, sheep/goat and horse tend to dominate and were important even at the “Celtic” settlement of Sajópetri, distinguished by hunting from previous “Prescythian”/Scythian Period settlements. Grave goods from coeval Celtic cemeteries in the region, however, show Celtic tradition in the dominance of pig remains.

Keywords: Iron Age animal exploitation, Scythian Period, Celtic Period, Carpathian Basin Introduction

In Hungary, the fist evidence of iron use dates to the 8th c. BC. The Iron Age lasts until the establishment of the Roman province of Pannonia during the AD 1st c. in Transdanubia, west of the Danube. It is characterised by tumultuous events that differed between the southeastern and western sections of the Carpathian Basin. In this paper the term frontier is used for a zone of transition that lies between political and administrative units of varying complexity or, more importantly, between such a unit and its hinterland where no matching entity exists (Prescott 1987, 36–37). Three areas may be defied along the courses of two principal rivers:

• the Tisza river Valley, forming the core area of the Great Hungarian Plain in the southeast,
• the Danube marking the border of hilly Transdanubia towards the west,
• the foreland of the Northern Mountains, north of the Danube–Tisza interflve in the Great Hungarian Plain.

A rigid view of “natural boundaries” (Ratzel 1895, Curzon 1907, Pounds 1951) imposes a modern topos on ancient frontiers, presuming that human occupation was largely defied by geographic barriers (Prescott 1987), a concept also applied for prehistoric Hungary (Sümegi et al. 2002).

The situation, however, has been more complex, even in the case of most unambiguously defied rivers, effiient barriers in a transversal sense (cf. the Danubian limes), but passages and means of communication lengthwise, e.g. during the Celtic advancement into the Carpathian Basin along the Danube Valley (Szabó 2005, 15). Ecotones, i.e. interfaces between different natural habitats also serve as areas of increased contact, with access to resources from either side of a zone that combines advantages of both.

During the Iron Age the foothill area focal to this paper was peripheral relative to both the Great Hungarian Plain and Transdanubia. However, it was near resources of iron ore. Its complex role as a valuable zone of transactions is indicated by the distribution of Iron Age archaeological sites in Fig. 9.1. Animal bone assemblages from fie sites in this section represent three major groups, the widely
debated “Prescythians”, Scythians and Celts. These terms are used not to describe intangible ethnic affiiations, but assemblages distinguished on the basis of artefactual evidence for their respective material cultures.

Iron Age in the study area “Prescythian” is contradictory term, applied to a vaguely defied group of equestrian people (Gallus and Horváth 1939), who supposedly arrived from southeast into the area of the Late Bronze Age Gáva and Kyjatice cultures in eastern Hungary. Additional southeastern contacts in the 7th c. are indicated by the occurrence of luxury artefacts (weapons, horse tacks and jewellery) in the Great Hungarian Plain, in Thraco-Cimmerian style. Recently, frontier research has offered a conceptual framework within which attention turned from core polities to such peripheral zones (e. g. Chase-Dunn and Hall 1991).

Possibly, fundamental changes in the discussed area during the 9th c. BC resulted from shifts in the environment, forcing local populations to develop a pastoralist lifestyle with contacts across the Carpathians toward the east: the hypothesised immigration of populations could not be reconfimed (Metzner-Nebelsick 2000, 165).

Importantly, Gallus and Horváth (1939) clearly distinguished between “culture” and “race”, in that culture can develop with changing ethnic characteristics of people sharing it and that a group of continuous characteristics may change almost completely its culture. This was a signifiant step forward, considering that, in the absence of written data, allegoric migrations, invasions of and even feuds
between “cultures” represented by artefact styles, have dominated historical theories in prehistoric archaeology.

Iron Age archaeology in Hungary is the fist to have at least indirect written references. Scythians and Celts were treated in numerous classical sources, as they interfered with the Mediterranean World. The names of the northern towns in Ptolemy’s list indicate Celtic origins (Vaday 2003a). Information on Scythians and Celts, however, reflct how inhabitants within major Graeco-Roman polities saw them, often representing topoi toward occupants of the hinterland without.

The fial Early Iron Age began around 750–700 BC, when western Hungary belonged to the self-contained Hallstatt culture (Szabó 1971, 10). In “The Histories” (5th c. BC), Herodotus (v. 9) mentioned Syginnae, who dwelt beyond the Danube and are identifid with the Scythians, whose culture fist emerged in the Great Hungarian Plain around the turn of the 7–6th c. BC (Kemenczei 2000, 51).

Celts fist appeared at the Pannonia-Noricum border in the northwest during the 5th c. BC, while material culture in the Great Hungarian Plain shows trans-Carpathian contacts, with cultures under Scythian inflence in the forest steppe, along the Dniepr and Dniester rivers. By the 4th c. BC the Eastern Hallstatt culture disappeared from Hungary. Celts occupied Transdanubia, and stretches toward the northeast, the region studied here, beginning to create ‘Celticized’ areas with a substantial non-Celtic element. Celtic sites in the Great Hungarian Plain are fist documented from the second third of the 3rd c. BC, mostly along the right bank tributaries of the Tisza. Increasing Celtic occupation suggests that late 3rd c. BC Celtic campaigns against Hellenistic centres were launched from the Carpathian
Basin (Szabó 2005: 31).

Since no sources refer in detail to either Scythians or Celts in northeastern Hungary, they can only be tentatively identifid using their archaeological heritage from what was the fringes of their respective distribution areas. Animal remains can elucidate differences and similarities between these major Iron Age groups. While it is erroneous to single out any category of artefacts and equate it with “culture”, it may be hypothesised that food habits and basic forms of subsistence (such as pastoralism vs. hunting) reflct cognitive attitudes towards animals, being conservative and culturally idiosyncratic.

Archaeozoological assemblages Iron Age archaeozoological assemblages are scarce in Hungary. Similarly to high status artefacts, the overwhelming majority of animal remains originated from burials reflcting mortuary behaviour rather than everyday life. Settlement studies, therefore, have a key role in expanding our knowledge of the Hungarian Iron Age in this complex region.

The earliest animal bones originate from the so-called “Prescythian” settlement of Ludányhalászi–Sóderbánya (Fig. 9.1: Site 1), associated with the Late Bronze Age Kyjatice culture that survied until the Hallstatt C Period inside hilly regions, but pre-dates the 6–4th c. BC Scythian Period. Ludányhalászi was located at an altitude of 130 m in a valley of the Northern Mountains. A material of pivotal importance in this paper is the large, predominantly Scythian assemblage from Salgótarján–Ipari Park II (Fig. 9.1: Site 2). It dates from approximately 650 to 450 BC, largely the Scythian Period, but its location in another valley among the mountains (300 masl) was at a distance from “proper” Scythian territories in the lowlands. Sporadic occurrences of Late Bronze Age Gáva and Kyjatice as well
as Iron Age Hallstatt style ceramics at the site illustrate the Prescythian situation (Vaday 2003b: 34), Lacking absolute dates, however, the typochronological dating of Scythian Period artefacts seems to span a broad time interval.

A reasonably large assemblage of over 300 identifible Scythian Period bones came from Balassagyarmat–Káposztások (Fig. 9.1: Site 3) in yet another valley at 130 m. Previously, animal bones had been known only from two Scythian Period settlements. One represented a single pit at Hejőkeresztúr (Bökönyi 1958; Fig. 9.1: Site 4), whose 15 bone fragments do not lend themselves to reliable interpretation. Even the material from Jászfelsőszentgyörgy–Túróczi-tanya (Bökönyi 1974; Fig. 9.1: Site 5 at 100 masl), corresponds to only 1/3 of the Balassagyarmat assemblage.

Celtic inflx is represented by the Sajópetri–46 settlement (Fig. 9.1: Site 6). It covered the areas of Sajópetri–Hosszú-dűlő and Sajópetri–Hosszú-rét and yielded almost 2500 identifible animal remains from the La Tène B2–C1 Periods, the 3rd c. BC. In addition to pottery from this period, shards from hand-thrown Scythian ceramics were also found at the site (Szabó et al. 2004, 27–28). The settlement was located on an alluvial terrace (120 m asl).

Animal offerings from the largely contemporaneous La Tène Period cemetery at Ludas–Varjú-dűlő (Szabó and Tankó 2006; Méniel 2006; Fig. 9.1: Site 7) have also been taken into consideration.
These settlements (Fig. 9.1) fall within the zone of overlap between the consecutive cultures concerned. They represent hypothetical intrusions, fist from southeast, then from northwest. Frontiers may also be perceived between sedentary agrarian and mobile pastoral subsistence systems and their related ideologies (Eaton 1993). Differential exploitation of natural resources has contributed signifiantly to frontier dynamics in this region. Cultural differences, therefore, may be expected along the fringes of these peripheral power zones. The major settlement assemblages are summarised in Table 9.1.


Livestock and meat consumption Domesticates in Table 9.1 were reviewed in quantitative terms (NISP). Given the differences between sample sizes, the fie sites are diffiult to compare. Expected values
calculated for testing the homogeneity of distribution for these animal remains are listed in Table 9.2. The small assemblage of Late Bronze Age Ludányhalászi contained unexpectedly great numbers of pig bone. The “Prescythian”/Scythian assemblage from Salgótarján is characterised by a sheep/goat NISP greater than the expected value. The same holds true for the Scythian assemblage from Balassagyarmat. This trend falls in line with the “steppe” character of Scythian culture. Cattle and horse bones occur in unexpectedly great numbers at sites in open landscape, Scythian Jászfelsőszentgyörgy in the Great Hungarian Plain and Sajópetri near the Tisza valley.

The percentages of NISP values are shown in Fig. 9.2 with sites sorted by the decreasing ratio of sheep/goat NISP relative to those of pig. Salgótarján, Jászfelsőszentgyörgy and Balassagyarmat reflct “Scythian”, mobile pastoral patterning in the exploitation of domestic ungulates. The percentage of caprine remains consistently exceeds that of pig bones. In addition to domestic ungulates, large game
(pooled values for wild bovines, deer bone and wild pig) were included. Their contribution is greatest at Sajópetri, and this site also fis the decreasing trend of mobile pastoralism. Ludányhalászi at the bottom of Fig. 9.2, shows the most “sedentary” pattern of animal exploitation.

Withers height estimates for cattle (Zalkin 1960), sheep (Teichert 1969) and horse (Kiesewalter 1888) could be performed on complete long bones found in suffiiently great numbers at Salgótarján and Sajópetri. Student’s t-tests comparing the signifiance of size differences between periods are shown in Table 9.3.

Celtic Period cattle were 10 cm taller than the early Iron Age form identifid from Salgótarján. This difference reflcts situations centuries apart, but seems characteristic of the respective cattle populations. Three bulls were identifid at Sajópetri using the slenderness criteria by Nobis (1954), however, they were not particularly large, therefore would not have distorted the basic size distribution. The 109 cm mean withers height may be considered large compared to meagre Celtic cattle reconstructed from 1st BC oppida (Szabó 2005, 89).

On the other hand, no difference was found between the stature of sheep. Both groups fall behind even the withers heights of unimproved modern breeds in Hungary (Bartosiewicz 2006, 38). Two goats from Salgótarján measured 108 and 114.5 cm at the withers (Schramm 1967). Fragments of relatively large goat horn cores were also identifid.

Fourteen complete horse long bones from Sajópetri resulted in a mean withers height of 123 cm (113–134 cm, standard deviation=6.7 cm), smaller than the estimates for two individuals from Salgótarján (128.9 and 144.7 cm).

Although this difference cannot be tested statistically, it falls in line with the frequently emphasised larger size of Scythian horses compared to their “western” kin (Bökönyi 1968, 41; Szabó 2005, 88). Fig. 9.3 includes Scythian horses from Szentes–Vekerzug (Bökönyi 1952, 1954) whose large size contradicts Herodotus (v. 9), who wrote that the horses of Syginnae were small and shaggy, too weak to bear a rider, but when yoked to chariots, they were among the swiftest.

Non-measurable bone fragments of small equids also surfaced both at Salgótarján and Sajópetri. They are certainly larger than the remains of donkeys. Bones of this size may originate from mules. According to Aristotle (605a, 16) donkeys withstand cold very poorly, therefore they are not kept in Pontos and Skythia. Archaeological evidence for mules/hinnies, however, has been reported from Greek colonies in the northern Pontic region (Bökönyi 1974, 306) that had contacts with both communities under discussion here.

The percentages of ageable animal bones are identical in the two largest assemblages (Fig. 9.4). They rather reflct the biological characteristics and exploitation of livestock than cultural patterning. Forms of secondary (i.e. non-meat related) exploitation depend on longevity. Valuable horses, rarely eaten lead this list. Owing to exploitation for milk (bovids), draught power (cattle) and wool (sheep), domestic ruminants at both sites yielded more bones representing only slightly younger age groups. Finally, prolifi, single meat purpose pigs are killed at the youngest age.

Feature 17 at Salgótarján contained bones from a foetal horse used in estimating the time of conception (Table 9.4; Prummel 1989: 75). Foaling takes place in April–May, the obtained 6.5 months of foetal age is indicative of the animal’s death in the middle of the winter. It is impossible to tell whether the dam died or abortion took place, a familiar problem in the interpretation of foetal remains
(Bartosiewicz 1995, 88, Plate 15).

A dog radius from Ludányhalászi yielded a withers height of 55.4 cm, while a humerus from Salgótarján resulted in an estimate of 53.7 cm (Koudelka 1885). These Scythian dogs were not only of medium size, but a skull preserved at Salgótarján is reminiscent of unimproved cranial types of Skye terriers or Hungarian Pulis (Bartosiewicz et al. 2006). Such forms occur in prehistoric dog populations
lacking conscious human selection for special breeds (Bartosiewicz 2002). Although only disarticulated dog skeletons were found, it seems unlikely that dog-eating (known from Celtic times; Szabó 2005, 89) was practised at any of these sites.

The recovery of two Scythian Period femur fragments from domestic hen at Balassagyarmat deserves special attention. While hen was domesticated in South-East Asia, its monophyletic or polyphyletic origins as well as the way(s) and time of introduction to Europe are still unclear (Stevens 1991; Boev 1995). It has been hypothesised that domestic hen was already present in some areas during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, although its spread dates to the Iron Age (West and Zhou 1988; Carrasquilla 1992). Data from Bulgaria suggest that this happened already at the end of the Bronze Age
(Boev 1995). According to hen remains found in graves and settlements in Central Europe, the earliest evidence for this species has been dated to the Late Hallstatt Period in this region (Benecke 1993). In addition to the Scythian specimen from Jászfelsőszentgyörgy (Bökönyi 1974), the fids from Balassagyarmat offer the earliest evidence for domestic hen in the Carpathian Basin.

Celtic fids of domestic hen are more common. In addition to the nine specimens identifid among the food remains in Sajópetri, remains of 5 juvenile, two subadult and an adult skeleton were reported from the La Tène cemetery of Ludas–Varjú-dűlő (Méniel 2006, 360). By this time, domestic hen occurs at Transdanubian settlements as well. For example, skeletons of a subadult chicken and a crane (Grus grus Linnaeus 1758) each (as well as a single bone of a juvenile crane) were found in three Celtic Period pits at Balatonkeresztúr–Réti-dűlő (Gál 2007a).

Taxonomic richness: hunting and fowling Animal remains found in small numbers also carry valuable information. Remains of rare animals (birds, fur bearing game etc.) are more likely to occur in large samples. Relationships between assemblage size (NISP=x) and the number of species identifid (y) are described by a degressive exponential relationship: The number of animal species increases along with the number of identifible bone specimens, until a point where it starts lagging behind as the repertoire of animal species is exhausted. Comparisons between faunal assemblages of radically different sizes, therefore, may be heavily biased: the number of species also reflcts the number of bones studied (Grayson 1984, 136–137), not only the culturally idiosyncratic number of animal taxa. The relationship between assemblage size (x) and the number of taxa (y) at the sites under discussion here is described by the following equation:

y = 4.691x0.168 (R2 = 0.907) The 0.168 exponent in this equation is high compared to, for example, the value of 1.292, calculated for 53 Neolithic sites (Bartosiewicz 2005, 59). The coeffiient of determination (R2) confims that there is 90% interdependence between assemblage size and the number of taxa identifid. In Fig. 9.5, Scythian Period settlements fall below the trendline representing this equation, showing a rather monotonous, “nomadic” exploitation of domesticates. It shows that although the Salgótarján assemblage contains remains from a great number of taxa, this is partly the result of sample size. “Prescythian” Ludányhalászi and Celtic Period Sajópetri have a greater inventory of species than expected on the basis their sizes. Sources of this taxonomic richness are non-domestic animals.

At Ludányhalászi, both deer species and brown hare were present. A special, Late Bronze Age, Gáva culturestyle deposit of pots in Pit 4 yielded skull-, long boneand tooth-remains from cattle and sheep or goat. Most interestingly, a mandible fragment from starling was also found in this special feature. It is likely that the head of the bird was buried and the fragile calvarium was destroyed pre- or post-excavation. So far starling has been reported only from one prehistoric site in Hungary: the Early Neolithic (Körös culture) settlement Ecsegfalva 23 yielded six remains from two individuals (all those bones were from the wing: four humeri and two ulnae; Gál 2007b).

Bones of wild pig, aurochs and bison, occur only in the two largest assemblages. Of these, the occurrence of bison is of special interest. Its bones characterise a forested foothill habitat where its rare fids were encountered until the early Middle Ages (Vörös 1989, 1990). With the exception of Balassagyarmat, bones of red deer regularly occur and roe deer is present as well (antler fragments
were not included in this part of the material unless found attached to the skull).

The bird remains from Salgótarján represent species living in rocky (jackdaw) woodland (goshawk) and forest-steppe (crow) environments. Goshawk and crow yielded one bone each, while jackdaw contributed six remains from a single individual. Since most of the latter were complete, it has been suggested that the bird died by natural reasons and/or it was buried (Bartosiewicz and Gál, in press). All three species are part of the Hungarian avifauna year-round. Distinguishing bones of domestic goose from its wildancestor, grey-lag goose, is one of the hardest tasks in archaeo-ornithology. It is usually successful only in the case of morphological features and osteometric characteristics of certain skeletal parts. Since grey-lag goose is present throughout Europe and Asia, the time and place of domestication is unknown, only written sources provide reliable evidence of goose keeping. Therefore, the single Scythian Period goose bone from Balassagyarmat, a fragmentary coracoideum, has been assigned to the wild form.

The assemblage of Celtic Period Sajópetri is the only where the contribution of wild animal bones exceeded 10%. Much higher percentages of wild animal bones were observed at Celtic sites in Transdanubia, especially in the Celtic layers of Gellérthegy-Tabán (Matolcsi 1979) and Corvin Square (Lyublyanovics, this volume). Celtic burials of complete stags are also well known across Hungary (e.g.
Vörös 1986; Bartosiewicz 2004). Although no such deposit was discovered at Sajópetri, a curious skull fragment with the broken stubs of both antlers was recovered among the red deer bone (Fig. 9.6).
Another rare fid in the large Salgótarján assemblage was the distal half of a left humerus from a brown bear (Feature 13). It is as much an indicator of forested hilly habitats as of suffiiently large sample size. Bones of other carnivores (including burrowing badger and red fox) occurred sporadically. These may have also been exploited for fur the same way as beaver, identifid in great numbers at Sajópetri, also reflcting the location of this settlement on a forested river terrace.

Archaeo-ornithological data show the same type of habitat, since bones of waterfowl were recovered almost exclusively from Sajópetri. Mallard and ferruginous duck– among the four bird taxa identifid in this assemblage – live in fresh waters. The latter prefers smaller ponds or lakes. It usually nests in thick reed beds and also in the crown of small willows in the case of mallard. Cormorant prefers gallery forests since its nest is made in trees.

Grey-lag goose is a wetland species that forages over both grasslands and swamps, and nests on the ground. Ferruginous duck also feeds on plant materials such as roots, seeds, green leaves, etc. Mallard is omnivorous, while cormorant feeds entirely on fih. All four wild fowl are summer visitors in presentday Hungary, arriving in early spring and leaving in late autumn. Mallard and ferruginous duck may overwinter in the region when food is available during mild winters. Owing to different availability, greater taxonomic diversity and the reduced numbers of bones within the skeleton, taxonomic richness among birds increases more intensively with assemblage size than among mammals (Bartosiewicz and Gál 2007). The exploitation of wild birds, therefore, contributed signifiantly to taxonomic
richness at Sajópetri.

In the absence of water-sieving, only three large fih bones (two originating from catfih) were recovered at Ludányhalászi, and a perforated catfih vertebra was also brought to light at Sajópetri.
Modifid animal bones Although a detailed study of butchering methods is beyond the capacity of this paper, cut marks on many bones originate from metal implements. By the 3rd c. BC most iron tools had evolved to forms that survived almost unaltered until the industrial revolution (Szabó 2005, 86). In addition to heavy tools and agricultural equipment,evidence of fie metal knives is shown by butchering marks. One of the tibiotarsi from a mallard at Sajópetri (House no. 95) displays two short, parallel cut marks on the caudal-distal part, clearly indicative of careful secondary butchery using a fie blade (Fig. 9.7).

While burn marks on the bones found in the settlement materials cannot be unambiguously attributed to cooking, Méniel (2006, 353, fi. 35) identifid burnt pig canines in Grave 1050 at Ludas. Takács (1990–1991, 44–45) explained such marks with singeing, practised when carcass partitioning is aimed at maximising the size of lard attached to the skin. Ethnographically, this method is shown by
the vertebral column separated from the animal’s sides at the capitula costae on either side, rather than splitting the vertebral bodies by hacking (Takács 1990–1991, 46).

The use of iron tools did not only increase the effiiency of butchery. Utilitarian bone and antler tools were soon outcompeted by these artefacts at all discussed sites. The surviving types of bone artefacts barely were manufactured or curated. Choice of raw materials became haphazard, largely relying on the ad hoc use of any bone from the food refuse, corresponding to loosely defied “Class II” tools along the manufacturing continuum (Choyke 1997, 66). Antler processing is shown mainly by blanks and cut-off pieces of tine. Ludányhalászi yielded three artefacts. The best preserved, a large point made from a cattle ulna (Feature 79), corresponds to Type 1/5 in Schibler’s (1981, 26) Late Neolithic typology, although the proximal end is missing. It is likely that carefully curated point was abandoned after
long use as its handle, the olecranon, broke off (Fig. 9.8, specimen c). Similarly, the small chisel (Schibler Type 4/5), made from a caprine metapodium diaphysis (Feature 13) seems to have been used for a long period (Fig. 9.8, specimen b). The third artifact (Feature 53) is an ad hoc tool carved from a large ruminant metatarsus, possibly of cattle. These Late Bronze Age bone artefacts are more
carefully made than their later, Iron Age counterparts.

The Salgótarján assemblage yielded relatively fewer bone artefacts, most of them similarly poorly made. They included small, evidently improvised points made on caprine bone splinters, although one of the double points (Schibler Type 2/1) may have served as an arrowhead (Fig. 9.8, specimen d). The proximal end of a dog femur was not an artefact itself, but was cut around the diaphysis as if it were used in bead-making or producing some tubular object (Fig. 9.8, specimen a). The Scythian site of Balassagyarmat yielded only one manufactured bone. The fie needle (Feature 3), possibly made from a small ruminant tibia splinter, broke at the level of its eye (Fig. 9.8, specimen e). A goat horn core from Salgótarján was carefully cut to size and two dot-and circle patterns made on its surface may be considered a simple decoration. The entire object is smooth, probably as a result of handling (Fig. 9.9). Following the principle of pars pro toto, this object representing a “nomadic” animal species, goat, may represent pastoral tradition.

Of special typochronological interest is a cattle radius tool, worn flt at its anterior-proximal end, recovered from Salgótarján (Fig. 9.10, specimen a). Such objects, commonly occurring at Bronze Age settlements in northern Hungary and Slovakia, have erroneously been described as skates (Alice Choyke, personal communication).

This identifiation is contradicted by the irregular wear patterns on their working surfaces. While the function of the Salgótarján specimen is similarly unknown, it represents a markedly archaic, Late Bronze Age element in the bone artefact inventory of the site, “pre-dating” the overwhelmingly Scythian character of pastoral animal exploitation.

Most Celtic Period tools from Sajópetri were also very simple. Two dozen points and “scrapers” were found, similar to the ad hoc tool represented by the spinal process of a thoracic vertebra from cattle. This piece was used opportunistically and high polish developed on its surface (Fig. 9.10, specimen b). The most interesting utilitarian bone object from this site is a red deer astragalus, part of a bow drill or fie-making kit (Feature A2002/95).

Analogies from Greenland and Alaska show that this upper piece of the set, the handhold or socket, was made from the astragalus of a reindeer of very similar size and shape. The natural depression, called the fossa synovialis, located on the anterior surface, was not only rounded to a regular hole of 14.2 mm diameter by the rotating motion, but was also perforated by intense use (Fig. 9.10, specimen
c). Handling exposed the spongy inside of the bone on its convex surfaces. The top of the neurocranium from a mature stag, with antlers still attached, was recovered from one of two post holes (Feature 95.34) located at either side of a pit dwelling. As shown by a cut mark left by a fist attempt, the top was carefully cut off of the calvarium (Fig. 9.6, top). The weathered external surface may be indicative of outdoor display, while the shape is reminiscent of the headgear worn by the Celtic god Cernunnos on the Gundestrup cauldron found in Himmerland (Denmark, 1891) of supposedly Celtic origins, and on a rock carving in Zurla, Val Camonica, Italy (4th c. BC). Discussions concerning the possibly Thracian origins of the Gundestrup Cauldron, however, also point to the universal popularity
of the antler/stag motif. Antler has been a complex symbol and a desirable trophy for millennia, its presence therefore cannot be considered culturally idiosyncratic, although the time and place of this curious artefact is certainly thoughtprovoking.

Discussion and Conclusions

Frontiers have been seen as belts of separation between a polity and its sparsely inhabited hinterland. Modern studies show, however, the importance of understanding how culture contact is interpreted and negotiated between local and expansionist groups (Appadurai 1996, Clifford 1997). Instead of conceptualizing contact areas as zones of distinction, archaeologists have increasingly seen their roles in terms of interaction and hybridization (Van Dommelen 1997, 1998). The comparison of Iron Age assemblages from Northeastern Hungary revealed features of both Scythian and Celtic animal exploitation.
It is important that the studied geographical zone was peripheral from the viewpoint of both cultures, such that no homogeneous manifestation of animal related traditions was to be expected.

Following signs of sedentary animal keeping at the Late Bronze Age settlement of Ludányhalászi, the “Scythian” sample from Salgótarján Ipari Park II shows “steppe” elements (such as the dominance of sheep and the consumption of horse meat; Bartosiewicz 2003).

Scythian Period food refuse from Balassagyarmat and Jászfelsőszentgyörgy show very similar proportions between domesticates, with somewhat more pig in the hilly region and more horse in the plain. The early occurrence of domestic hen is remarkable at both sites, a clear, qualitative sign of cultural inflx from southeast.

Hunting was rather unimportant. Two interpretations of pastoral attitudes towards the “wild” may be contrasted here: some herders may have been reluctant hunters, killing game opportunistically, out of necessity. The other possibility more or less corresponds to the stereotype of warlike “nomads”, engaged in hunting as a sport or even military exercise. While the latter image has been perpetuated widely by Scythian artwork, archaeozoological evidence supporting this rich imagery is missing. This is what makes even the very few bones from large game, especially those of bison, aurochs and brown bear important at the sites under discussion here.

Perhaps by coincidence, the same fascination with the wild happens to be better reflcted in the animal bone assemblage from Sajópetri. To some extent this may be attributed to Celtic tradition known from Western Hungary, although it is a lot less pronounced. This meat diet is consonant with the ‘Celtic’ style of several archaeological artefacts recovered here. A relatively high consumption of pork as well as hunting and fowling are distinctive characteristics of animal exploitation at Sajópetri. However, neither of these sources of meat seem as important as at some Celtic sites in Transdanubia: in fact, this material is not strikingly different from the others, representing the “Prescythian”/Scythian Period in the area (see Fig. 9.2).

These “Celtic” features, however, look vague in light of the animal offerings identifid at the nearby cemetery of Ludas (Méniel 2006), that reflct far-reaching, classical Celtic mortuary rituals with an overwhelming dominance of pig remains. Fig. 9.11 shows two major Celtic cemeteries from Northern Hungary and one from Slovakia (Palárikovo), as well as a percentual summary of 326 graves from 50 smaller cemeteries (Vörös 1994, 86; note that percentages add up to more than 100% in this graph, owing to overlaps between animal species in several graves). Evidently, this clear pattern is far from what is reflcted by the refuse bone material from Sajópetri. In addition to the well known role of pigs in Celtic mythology, domestic hen, a relatively new domestic animal seems to have been a preferred species in mortuary rituals.

The ethnic identity of inhabitants at Sajópetri may have differed from those interred at the Ludas cemetery. Nevertheless, the relative importance of pork and evidence of deer hunting distinguish it from earlier, “Prescythian”/ Scythian Iron Age settlements in this frontier zone, consonant with Celtic inflx in the region. In summary:

• The remains of domesticates dominate at all sites in the studied region.
• The Late Bronze Age assemblage from Ludányhalászi shows the least external inflence i.e. seems most localised.
• The Salgótarján assemblage contains typical “steppe” elements (high proportion of bones from caprines and horse).
• Early occurrences of domestic hen at the Scythian site of Balassagyarmat and a previous discovery at Jászfelsőszentgyörgy are of great cultural signifiance.
• Sajópetri revealed relatively numerous wild animal bones, including a worked stag skull fragment, possibly
related to Celtic spiritual life. While important, the contribution of pork to the diet at this settlement does
not reflct the massive dominance of pig remains in Celtic cemeteries in the area.
• Probably in part owing to the availability of metal implements, bone manufacturing seems to be limited to extremes: the opportunistic use ofad hoc tools, and the production of a small minority of more sophisticated artefacts.

The ethnic composition of inhabitants in the study area is unclear. This frontier thus may be characterized by classical infitrations of settlers into a sparsely populated hinterland (Wynman and Kroeber 1957). Presuming unidirectional population movements, in this case, would not only represent an unjustifid core-centred view far away from both the Scythian and Celtic homelands. It would also contradict the dynamic overlap between archaeozoological evidence of inflences from the southeast (e.g. early domestic hen reaching into the Northern Mountains) and the west (e.g. the increasing importance of pig in the Tisza Valley).
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