“Supernatural” Bronze Age Gold Device Unearthed in Czech Republic

Last month, a beet farmer in the Czech Republic uprooted a Bronze Age gold artifact. It was well preserved in the mud, and the unknown farmer photographed the golden treasure and then sent the images to archaeologists at the Silesian Regional Museum in Opava, a town in the Moravian-Silician region.

The gold wafer-thin and crumpled letter is estimated to have been created around 2,500 years ago.

Appearance before preservation of Bronze Age gold artefacts.  (Museum Brunthal)

Appearance before preservation of Bronze Age gold artefacts. ( Museum Brunthal )

Created by supernatural concepts in the mind

Dr. Jiri Juchelka is an Opava archaeologist who heads the archaeological sub-collection of the Silesian Regional Museum. The researcher told Radio Prague International (RPI) that the gold piece was “51 centimeters (20 inches) long and was found in “near perfect condition” with inclusions of silver, copper and iron. “It is decorated with raised concentric circles and topped with rose-shaped clasps at the end,” said the museologist.

According to Live Science, museum curator Teresa Alex Kilnar said that although no one could be sure, the golden artifact was most likely “in front of a leather strap.” But this is no ordinary belt fastener either, as archaeologists believe it was built with cosmic/supernatural concepts in mind.

3,500 years old and still shining

Dr. Kilnar is currently preserving and analyzing the belt fastener at the Brunthal Museum. According to the museum’s website, it is a contributing institution of the Moravian-Silesian region that manages the important cultural heritage sites in North Moravia – Bruntal Chateau, Sovinec Castle and the Scythe Maker’s House in Karlovy Vary, Silesia.

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Without testing the gold, and based solely on the artistic style, Kilner suspects the gold belt buckle is from the Middle to Bronze Age, meaning the piece was worn around the 14th century. At this time small communities of farmers lived in timber-frame houses and had not yet begun to build the large agricultural settlements that followed in the following centuries.

Researchers believe that the gold belt buckle dates from around the Middle to Bronze Age.  (Museum Brunthal)

Researchers believe that the gold belt buckle dates from around the Middle to Bronze Age. ( Museum Brunthal )

make an invention

Earlier this year a team of Czech archaeologists published an image of a Bronze Age woman that was reconstructed after DNA analysis. The woman was discovered in an ‘elite grave’ in Mikulovice in eastern Bohemia. According to a report in Expat.cz, she had “fair skin, brown hair, wide brown eyes, a prominent chin, a small figure” and died when she was about 35 years old.

“Described as one of the richest [Bronze Age burials] Never found in Europe,” the woman was from the Únětice culture and was found wearing bronze and gold jewelry, including a rare amber necklace. This group of early agriculturalists lived in central Europe from about 2300 to 1600 BC and was contemporary with the Bronze Age culture that produced gold belt fasteners.

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Elite connection to other worlds

It is not possible to determine with certainty which group made the gold buckle, as Central Europe at that time (2000 BC to 1200 BC) was a rich fusion of different cultures. Small communities began to band together and form a trade network through which livestock and crops such as wheat and barley were exchanged.

New social divisions emerged during this period. The people who controlled the lands around the emerging trade centers represented the origins of the social elite. Silver and gold became the hallmark of the controlled financial class at the time, and Kilner told the RPI that the gold object probably belonged to “someone of high social standing, as objects of such value were rarely produced at the time.”

Professor Catherine Freeman at the Australian National University is an expert on European Bronze Age metalworking. She agreed and told RPI that the owner of the gold belt buckle was “someone of high status, either socially or spiritually.”

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The gold object probably belonged to

The gold object probably belonged to “someone of high social rank, as objects of such value were rarely produced at the time.” ( Museum Brunthal )

Crafting Cosmology in Bronze Age Gold

Live Science reports that during the Bronze Age, gold objects and gold plaques were commonly buried “in special, isolated locations suggesting a kind of gift exchange between the cultural elite and the elite.” Gold objects with circular motifs are often associated with “Bronze Age cosmological systems focusing on solar cycles,” Freeman told LiveScience in an email.

In 2013, University of Western Australia Dr. Joachim Goldhan published the paper “Rethinking Bronze Age cosmology using a Northern European perspective”. This researcher determined that Bronze Age cosmology was based on “practical ritual practices, which were constantly repeated and recreated at specific times and occasions.”

Thus, the gold belt fastener probably represents the annual cycle of the sun. But more than that it could be central to a repetitive ritual and worn at certain “times and occasions” of the year, for example, perhaps to mark major stages in the sun’s cycle, such as the equinoxes and solstices.

Top image: Bronze Age gold artefact found in a beet field in the Czech Republic. Source: Museum Brunthal

By Ashley Cowie


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