Author Topic: Przeworsk/Vandal shields  (Read 895 times)

Duncan Head

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Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« on: November 01, 2019, 01:51:13 PM »
The Przeworsk Culture in Poland is often linked with the Vandals before their migrations (though some writers deny a connection or consider it ethnically mixed). An article "A sign of identity, power, and protection. Some remarks on the nonmilitary role of shields in the Przeworsk culture in the Early and Middle Roman Periods" includes (p.124) drawings of some of the nice little model shields found in Przeworsk graves. I especially liked the scallop-edged ones in figure 13, which I don't think I had seen before, and which reminded me of the shield of the earlier Celtic Bormio standard-bearer from the Italian Alps.
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Erpingham

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Re: Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2019, 02:24:51 PM »
Reminded me of this chap too

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Duncan Head

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Re: Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2019, 02:46:49 PM »
Oh yes, I'd forgotten him. Closer in date to the Przeworsk examples, too.
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aligern

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Re: Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2019, 11:18:23 AM »
Isn’t there a collection  of many miniature pointy cornered shields innthe British museum?
Roy
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Erpingham

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Re: Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2019, 11:30:30 AM »
Isn’t there a collection  of many miniature pointy cornered shields innthe British museum?
Roy

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Duncan Head

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Re: Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2019, 11:39:18 AM »
Isn’t there a collection  of many miniature pointy cornered shields innthe British museum?
The "Salisbury Hoard" shields. Very similar style of miniature model, but the Salisbury shields have cut-outs at top and bottom rather than the scalloped sides of the Przeworsk and other shields.

(Taking models like this together with surviving bits like metal edging from actual shields, this is supposedly the commonest shield-shape in Iron Age southern Britain.)
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aligern

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Re: Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2019, 02:15:23 PM »
Is there any consensus on what the purpose of these small shields is?
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Duncan Head

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Re: Przeworsk/Vandal shields
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2019, 02:30:59 PM »
Is there any consensus on what the purpose of these small shields is?

From the originally-cited Raczyńska-Kruk & Kruk article (p.123, references removed for ease of reading):
Quote
Among customs connected with the belief in symbolic functions of shields, there were exceptional funeral practices well-documented in the territory of the Przeworsk culture. This comment applies particularly to ritual furnishing of burials with shield miniatures meticulously crafted from iron. Miniatures (or parts) of weapons, tools, and objects of everyday use known from the territory of barbaric Europe are interpreted, in general, as amulets to which apotropaic properties were attributed. In the Early Roman period, artefacts of this type appear in the Przeworsk culture, in the Wielbark culture and, most frequently, in the Elbe basin and in eastern Bohemia. Against this background, however, shield miniatures discovered in Poland are unique because of their close links with the Celtic culture. This issue was discussed in detail by Jacek Andrzejowski.

Hexagonal, oval or rectangular shield models have been excavated in Nadkole, Siemianice , and Siemiechów. All of them, dated to the phase B2, presumably were representations of battle shields of the Przeworsk culture warriors at that time. A reduction in size,  however, did not at all mean a reduction in significance; therefore it is the symbolical function that seems to be the most intriguing and thought-provoking. Generally most of the miniatures, as Andrzejowski claims, can be interpreted as evidence or relics of some widespread beliefs and practices typical for societies influenced by the La Tène culture. The symbolic function of the artefacts mentioned was rather different than in the case of Celtic and Gallo-Roman miniatures regarded as votive offerings deposited in special places (Salisbury in south Britain, the Tiber River) or sacrificed in a sanctuary or in a religious object context (e.g. Flavier and Baâlons Bouvellemont near Mouzon – Mosogamus oppidum; Saint Marcel – Argentomagus; Mont Auxois, Alise-Ste-Reine – Alesia in France; or Baratela near Este and Norcia – Nursia oppidum in Italy. To the contrary, in the central-eastern Barbaricum these items most likely served as magical amulets, and were placed into graves in order to protect the deceased. A similar specimen is a shield excavated in the settlement at Pełczyska. This context suggests that shield miniatures could have been used not only for funeral purposes, but also in everyday life, with their ornamental and protective aspects, e.g. as parts of costume.


So perhaps the iron Przeworsk shield-miniatures were amulets, the copper-alloy Salisbury ones purely votive?
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