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Abstract

During archaeological research in Łosień (c 32 km NE of Katowice), an early medieval smelting centre from the eleventh and twelfth centuries was revealed where lead and silver were smelted. Besides production equipment devices, seven iron, bronze-plated weights (weighing: 40 g, 39.7 g, 40 g, 40 g, 24.4 g, 17.19 g, 10.59 g) and elements of beam scales were discovered here. Nearby, a settlement was revealed. The whole complex was destroyed as a result of an armed attack. A hoard containing 1106 coins and 179 fragments of amorphous silver was discovered in the settlement (it is not clear whether it was located inside a building). All the coins were Polish: a younger variant of a cross-penny (1), and pennies of Boleslas III (1), Ladislas II (189) and Boleslas IV (949). These were almost exclusively coins minted around the middle of the twelfth century. The structure of the hoard does not reflect the structure of money circulating on the market. At that time, periodical exchange of issues was conducted every few years and use of only the coins of the newest type — at least in relations with the state — was obligatory. So the hoard was purposefully set aside as a treasure. It contains mostly better coins, minted according to the standard of 360 pennies to the mark (type 4 of Ladislas II and types 1 and 2a of Boleslas IV). A few slightly worse coins were collected, issued according to the standard of 480 pennies to the mark (types 2b and 3 of Boleslaus IV). However at the time of the deposit such standards were already a thing of the past: the standard of at least 540 pieces to the mark was already binding then. Only four specimens of such poor coins (type 4 of Boleslaus IV) were added to the hoard. It is probable that another money devaluation was related to the concealment of hoard. The presence of non-monetary silver in the hoard also proves it to have been intended as an accumulation of value in itself, consistent with the non-circulating character of the deposit. In Łosień, coins of these types have been found in a large hoard near Kraków for the first time. Previously known deposits occurring in central Poland, Great Poland, the Lublin region, and even in Silesia, made it possible to conjecture the existence of one more workshop operating in Great Poland, e.g. in Gniezno, where some types of Boleslaus IV’s coins might have been minted. Now these speculations have lost their raison d’etre. The analyses of the metal composition indicate the similarity of silver in coins and silver lumps, but the latter lack a deliberate admixture of copper. A single bracteate of Lower Silesia from the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century, with bull’s head, was also found in the remains of a richly equipped dwelling house. There is no strict analogy with the bracteates in the literature.
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