A Byzantine Gold Cross in an Avar Period Grave from Southeaszern Hungary


in: Lebenswelten zwischen Archäologie und Geschichte. Festschrift für Falko Daim zu Seinem 65. Geburtstag. . Monographien des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, Drauschke J., Kislinger E., Kühtreiber K., Kühtreiber T., Scharrer-Liška G., Vida T., Editor, Verlag Des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, Mainz, pp.25-42, 2018

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Vocational Book
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Verlag Des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums
  • City: Mainz
  • Page Numbers: pp.25-42
  • Editors: Drauschke J., Kislinger E., Kühtreiber K., Kühtreiber T., Scharrer-Liška G., Vida T., Editor


This article presents a unique Byzantine gold pectoral cross pendant from the Avar period archaeological site of Makó, Mikócsa-halom, located in Maros Valley, Southeastern Hungary (Kom. Csongrád). The adult woman (aged 23-35) who wore the cross from Makó was buried according to pagan rites, with grave goods (an earring with a large spherical pendant, two cast bronze bracelets with widening terminals, a necklace assembled from three pressed silver disk-shaped pendants and thin bronze tubes) as well as sacrificial animals. Based on our in situ observations, the woman had worn the gold cross at her neck, among beads. The cross was not a symbol of her affiliation with the Christian community but was probably worn as an amulet. The pectoral cross belongs to the type of hollow sheet-metal crosses with widening arms that were widespread primarily in the Eastern Mediterranean. Based on its hollow body, this was probably originally a reliquary cross. The representatives of the types are known mostly from the Balkan Peninsula. A few exemplars are attested in the southwestern part of the Crimean peninsula. To date the cross, we used the known chronological position of the other finds from the grave. Based on these, the grave can be dated to the beginning or the first decades of the 7th century. The radiocarbon date obtained from the human remains in the grave confirms this. At the same time, the use-wear traces and damage to the cross indicate that it had been in use for a long period before it was buried in the grave. Thus, it had most probably been manufactured in the 6th century. Based on the analogies, it was probably made in one of the workshops of the Byzantine Empire in the Balkans.