jueves, 3 de julio de 2014

Unique 7th century silver bowl found in South Holland

On an excavation site in Oegstgeest (South Holland), Leiden University archaeologists discovered a silver bowl dating to the first half of the seventh century. The bowl is decorated with gold-plated representations of animals and plants and inlaid with semi-precious stones. The discovery suggests the existence of an Oegstgeest elite with a wide international network.
Researchers believe that the bowl, which is 21 centimetres wide and 11 centimetres high, was buried as part of a ritual sacrifice. Such gilded discoveries are extremely rare. This one is exceptional because such bowls were usually made of bronze and were not, as a rule, lavishly decorated with gold leaf, making this is a unique artefact for the whole of Western Europe. Until the discovery of this bowl there were no indications of the presence of a local or regional elite on the Oegstgeest settlement.

Composite symbols

The bowl, which may have been used as a drinking vessel or washbasin, is composed of a number of elements dating from different periods. The oldest element, the bowl itself, probably dates from the Late Roman Empire and the figures seem to indicate that the bowl originated in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East. The other decorations date from the first half of the seventh century and show signs of German cultural influences, while the bowl’s suspension rings are characteristic of England and Scandinavia. Together, these elements symbolise the international position of the Netherlands fifteen hundred years ago.

Large village

This rare object was discovered a year ago, on 4 June 2013, in Oegstgeest, on the grounds of the Leiden Bio Science Park. The discovery was not announced earlier in order to allow the excavations, which continued until the end of June 2014, to proceed undisturbed. The bowl was found while excavating the remains of a large village from the sixth and seventh century. The village was located on the Rhine and intersected by a multitude of small waterways. The bowl was found along one of these waterways.

On display

This research was funded by Leiden University and led by Leiden archaeologist Jasper de Bruin. The Province of South Holland commissioned a restoration of the bowl. On 1 July, the bowl was transferred, on a long-term loan, to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, where it can be viewed until 26 October in the context of the exhibition on the ‘Golden Middle Ages’.
Following this period, the bowl will be integrated into the permanent presentation on ‘Archaeology in the Netherlands’. The bowl remains the property of the Province of South Holland.

Source: Past Horizons:

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