21 January – 14 March 2014

Exhibition curators: mgr Alicja Gałęzowska, mgr Jakub Tamulski

You are invited to visit an exhibition devoted to a peculiar necklace form, moulded as a  band with tooth-like projections and a hinged construction. The striking similarity of toothed necklaces to crowns made scholars misinterpret  them as crowns of ancient Germanic princes or female diadems. The necklace shown at the exhibition, from Ćmachowo, powiat Szamotuły, found already back in the 19th c., was also thought to be a female headdress by some of the then scholars.

Crown-shaped necklaces date to the Pre-Roman period and originate from the territories of Denmark and Northern Germany inhabited by peoples of the Jastorf culture. East of the Odra the rare findings of “crowns” are usually located in the region stretching from north-west to south-east over to Moldavia and Ukraine. Until recently they have been thought to be the relics of the migrations of the Germanic  tribes of the  Bastarnae and the Scirii, attested in ancient sources, who in the 3rd c. BC were moving towards the Black Sea. 

Today  the necklaces and other artefacts of northern and western origin are also attributed to the Jastorf culture communities that for a prolonged period after the 2nd c. BC inhabited some of our regions. However,  necklaces and other details of Jastorf culture dress (some  examples are presented at the exhibition: pins and clasps for fastening clothes, belt buckles) may have come from the milieu of  the Przeworsk culture which at the time was developing in the Polish territories. 

Usually, crown-shaped necklaces are single finds and the majority had been discovered in the 19th and the early 20th c. More often than not we are ignorant about their context. Only a few “crowns” come from incinerary graves, probably burials of people with high social status, including women and children. The grave artefacts include the two specimens shown at the exhibition: a necklace from Ćmachowo, preserved intact,  and a broken necklace from Staw, powiat Słupca, much damaged by the flames of the funeral pyre.

Necklaces with tooth-like projections have often been found in water environment: bogs, swamps and marshes, ponds and wells. Thus, the precious ornaments must have had a major role in religious practices and were used as votive offerings to deities inhabiting waters and wetlands.