The Otomani-Fuzesabony archaeological culture

In Transylvania, western Romania and eastern Hungary material conditions began to improve ca. 1800 bc, and the area undoubtedly became more attractive. The improvement was quite certainly tied to the beginning of a bronze industry. When survivors prepared a body for the grave they could now afford a bronze pin with which to fix the clothes or the shroud around the deceased, and the corpse might also wear a bronze ring on a finger or a bronze pendant around the neck.37 The pottery placed in the grave also tended to be more interesting than it had been: the pots are now regularly decorated, usually with a simple zigzag incision. These and other improvements are labeled the beginning of the Otomani-Fuzesabony archaeological culture,38 named after one type-site in western Romania and another in eastern Hungary. What had begun with the Unetice culture in the Erzgebirge, 500 miles to the northwest and 300 years earlier, was finally—early in the second millennium bc—reaching western Romania, although here was nothing so spectacular as the chiefly burials found near the Erzgebirge.

Approximately half way through the Otomani-Fuzesabony period, what Kristian Kristiansen and Thomas Larsson call “highly developed Bronze Age societies” began to appear in Transylvania and elsewhere in the Carpathian basin:

Their expansion corresponds to a qualitative and quantitative leap in metal production centered in the Carpathians, beginning around 1750/1700 bc. This represents an indigenous production of metalwork of high standard. A whole series of new weapon and ornament types were introduced—long swords, lances, battle-axes, arm rings, ankle rings, pendants, etc., together with new casting technologies and a new stable tin alloying. . . . Large-scale metal production of a scale and quality hitherto unknown in central Europe had emerged. A stratified settlement system with fortified central settlements for production and distribution allowed an organised and widespread distribution of this new metal industry, mainly prestige goods, weapons and ornaments.39

This intensification of metal production, the commencement of which I must date ca. 1650/1600 rather than a century earlier, continued through much of the third quarter of the second millennium BC, as more bronze seems to have been produced in the Carpathian basin (and especially in Transylvania) than anywhere else in Europe. In addition to accidental discoveries of hoards of bronze (and gold) artifacts throughout the basin, archaeological excavations have revealed details about the mining and working of metals in Bronze Age Transylvania. Most recently, eight seasons of digging at Palatca and Bolduf in northwest Romania have unearthed Late Bronze Age smelting furnaces and slag from copper ore, a workshop with an anvil and an oxhide bronze ingot, a variety of clay molds in which the molten bronze was cast into tools, weapons and ornaments, and possibly even a religious structure with an altar for rituals that accompanied the whole process of metallurgy.40

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