Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós

Jug with Medallions

Unknown, 600 AD - 850 AD

Probably the most remarkable vessel in the gold hoard of Nagyszentmiklósis the “Jug with Medallions”, which was made in one piece with rich repoussé decorations. Four figural representations are found in the round fields created by two broad and intertwining ornamental bands. The best known of the four depicts a knight in helmet and mail, his arms protected by vambraces and greaves, holding a spear across his shoulder with his right hand. With his left hand he is dragging a prisoner by the hair, the latter also dressed in mail and with his hands tied. From the saddle hangs the head of a decapitated foe. In the scene to the right, an eagle is abducting a naked woman. A counterpart of this scene is found on a second jug in the find. One of the other two medallions depicts an archer who is riding a composite creature with a human head and shooting an arrow at a panther; the other depicts a griffin killing a fallow deer. There is no apparent connection between the various scenes, and even today they have not been convincingly interpreted. Other questions are raised by two letter-like characters, which are reminiscent of tents and scratched into the bottom, and another sign on the foot beneath the medallion with the archer. Most of the vessels from the gold hoard of Nagyszentmiklós have inscriptions, some of them in the Greek alphabet but more frequently in a runiform script, to which a parallel has been found on an Avar needle-case from Szarvas (Hungary). So far no satisfactory interpretation of these inscriptions has been made. Like the other jugs in the find, the “Jug with Medallions” was originally a flask that was later given a handle. Traces of it are still seen on the mouth and between two of the medallions on the pear-shaped body.

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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016