Golden Celtic coin with an image of Athena (avers), TrepczaThe archaeological collection of the Historical Museum in Sanok are represented by the artefacts date from three prehistoric ages: the Stone, the Bronze and the Iron Age as well as the Middle Ages and the Modern Period. The artefacts have been acquired in the course of excavations, terrain penetrations or donated by the finders being conscious of their scientific value. These are the sole sources of knowledge of the creative human activity which had not been described by any alphabet of history.

The Stone Age (until 2400 BC) Stone and flint tools as well as weapons, made out of a local or imported materials, are the oldest artefacts. They were left or lost by the first settlers reaching the Carpathian Mountains. These are mainly as follows: arrowheads, scrapers, retouched chips and flakes, flint and stone axes, hatchets, hoes and multifunctional tools. Many artefacts are hardly distinctive and impossible to connect with particular archaeological cultures. A scraper, made out of a chip, which was found in Bykowce and dated back to the Upper Paleolithic period is the oldest artefact in the collection of the Historical Museum in Sanok. More characteristic artefacts (axes, hatchets) represent the Lengyel-Polgar cycle from the 4th – 4th/3rd millennium BC. These are the Spherical Amphorae culture and the Funnel Beaker culture. Yet, the biggest number of the artefacts represent the Corded Ware culture which appeared here at the turn of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC.

The Bronze Age (2400 – 700 BC) is abundantly represented by the ceramic material, which is absent in the collection of the Stone Age, as well as by tools, weapons and ornaments made out of  metal. The Museum has an impressive battle axe ended with a disc shaped butt of a Hungarian type from the Early Bronze Age, which was found in Strachocina. Whereas from the Older Bronze Age the Museum has the artefacts which were found in the fortified settlement of the culture of Otomani-Füzesabony. The stronghold is located on the hill ‘Horodyszcze’ in Trepcza village. There are a bronze dagger hilt, chisel, axe and arrowheads. This period is also documented by clay vessels gained from settlement located in Sanok. There are pots and vases revealing also features of cultural influences coming from the south (beyond the Carpathians). The richest collection of vessels (vases, pots, bowls, mugs) as well as bronze ornaments (pins for pinning the robes, bracelets, rings and pendants) have been gained from one of the fullest examined cremation cemeteries in south-eastern Poland which was discovered in Bachórz. Sepulchral and kitchen vessels from a cremation cemetery and settlement in Sanok-Olchowce are dated back to the Younger Bronze Age  which covers the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. The two bronze item hoards found in Falejówka and Załuż as well as a necklace from Zagórz (perhaps part of a hoard) and an axe with a beak and a sleeve from Czerteż (made in style of products coming from beyond the Carphatians) are the loose finds date from theYounger Bronze Age.

The Iron Age (800 BC – 500 AD) Its elder periods are represented by the fragments of vessels, dated back to the Hallstatt period, which were discovered in the multicultural site in Sanok. The relics, which refer to the Celtic settlement, are slightly younger. Traces of the presence of those people in the San river region, which are dated back to circa 250 BC, are documented by the artefacts coming from defensive settlement (?) located on the hill ‘Horodyszcze’ in Trepcza. These are the fragments of a glass bracelet and vessels as well as a golden coin (a stater of Nike type) discovered as a loose find at the foot of this settlement. The recently discovered find, which is a Geto-Dacian silver coin from Wysoczany, got in northern side of the Carpathian mountains through the Celtic people.

The Roman influences period (1 – 400 AD) is represented by the fragments of clay and glass vessels and small tools from settlement in Liszna as well as two spearheads coming from a cremation cemetery of the Przeworsk culture in Prusiek. The late phase of this chronological period is represented, the most probably, by a wheel-thrown grey vessel which was excavated along with a coin of the Emperor Hadrian in Załuż as well as the fragments of storage dishes from, mentioned already, settlements in Liszna and Międzybrodzie. These artefacts are referred to Dacian influences. 

The Early Middle Ages (500-1250 AD) bring an increase in density of population and thus provided with a significant number of the artefacts collected in the Museum. The oldest artefacts are dated back to the tribal phase (the 8th – 10th c.). They are represented mainly by the fragments of clay vessels and single metal relics which were discovered, inter alia, during the excavations in Sanok-Olchowce and Sanok-Jerozolima. The discoveries in Trepcza (a village located next to Sanok), where are situated two strongholds (‘Horodyszcze’ and ‘Horodna’) on the neighbouring hills, are notable for the numerous metal artefacts excavated on the remains of the fortified settlements. There are, inter alia, a hoard of iron items dates from the 2nd half of the 9th century which is related to influences of the Great Moravia state as well as few ornaments (including the Avars belt fitting) and elements of the weaponry. They come from the first stronghold, situated on the ‘Horodyszcze’ hill. However, the most spectacular discoveries are referred to the period of the 12th-13th century which was one of the best for Sanok. These are the times of the Ruthenian dukes reigning. The excavations of ‘Horodyszcze’ stronghold in Trepcza, which is identified with mentioned in sources historical Sanok, have enlarged the archaeological collection on unique, in national and international scale, material relics of the old Ruthenian culture. The relics have been discovered on an entire area of the stronghold’s courtyard as well as within remains of the wooden Orthodox church surrounded by a cemetery. The most spectacular among them are bronze encolpions. These are the crosses with crucified Christ on the obverse side and the Mother of God on the reverse side. They used to be worn on chest. The discovery of a relic in one of them turned out to be a great scientific sensation as the relic has emerged to be a fragment of a meteorite. Commercial and diplomatic extensive contacts of Sanok are confirmed by two lead seals (date from the 2nd half of the 12th century) of Kievian duke Rurik Rastislavich as well as silver coins minted in territory of Lower Austria by the bishops of Aquilea. The wealth of the town is confirmed by the jewellery which is represented by the numerous and various collection of relics discovered both in the graves and on a surface of the site. They are as follows: bronze buckles and pendants, silver earrings, richly ornamented rings, gilded ring decorated with a motif of the cross in a niello technique and silver ring with glass stone which constitutes a complete with entirely survived, blue, glass bracelet. There are noticeable pair of silver ‘kołt’ (a decoration of a head cover of the Ruthenian aristocrats women) made out of silver sheets with pressed fantastic ornament in the form of gryphons. It is only small per cent of the all artefacts discovered in the stronghold in Trepcza. The relics associated with that period, which have been deposited in the Historical Museum in Sanok, were also discovered in others Carpathian strongholds: on the castle hill in Sanok, in Hoczew or Mymoń. Apart from ubiquitous frictions of the vessels, the metal objects draw special attention: tools, militaries and elements of horse ride equipment.

The Late Middle Ages (1250-1500) are represented mainly by artefacts found in the area of two castles (located on San river). That is, in the castle of ‘Sobień’ in Manasterzec and the Royal castle in Sanok and also from the stronghold in Biała Góra (a district of Sanok currently) which is dated probably from the turning of the Early and Late Middle Ages. Apart from the fragments of vessels, fire tiles, glass vessels and architectural elements, in the course of excavations a significant collection of metal objects (militaries, tools and coins) have been gained. This list is supplemented by the artefacts coming from various places in the old town of Sanok. There are notable sets of vessels discovered in dendrochronologically dated wooden wells. 

The same sites, located mainly in the Royal City of Sanok, represent the modern period (1500 – 1900). Apart from them, bigger collections of artefacts have been gained in the course of excavations in the ‘Castle’ in Nowotaniec, fortified manor in Niebieszczany or fortified monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Zagórz.

Maria Zielińska / Piotr Kotowicz
Translated by Piotr Zelny


Stone hatchets form Sanok and surroundings

Bronze battle axe from Strachocina

Funeral urns and vessels from cremation cemetery in Bachórz Golden Celtic coin with an image of Athena (avers), Trepcza
Early middle ages hoard of iron artefacts from Horodyszcze stronghold in Trepcza Engolpion, 12th c., from Horodyszcze stronghold in Trepcza Fragment of gilded princely diadem from Horodyszcze stronghold in Trepcza Silver "kołts" (decoration of a woman head cover) with images of griffins, 12th


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