About Avar-period grave robbings in relation to three cemeteries

at Kiskundorozsma

Samu Anita – Szalontai Csaba

Hadak útján. A népvándorláskor fiatal kutatóinak XXIV. konferenciája. Esztergom, 2014. november 4–6. Conference of young scholars on the Migration Period. November 4–6, 2014, Esztergom

MŐT Kiadványok 3.1 (2015) 763–811

DOI 10.55722/Arpad.Kiad.2015.3.1_29


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A szerzők három, a közelmúltban feltárt avar kori temető sírrablási szokásait elemzik, és ennek kapcsán a kérdéskör szakirodalmát áttekintve olyan általános érvényű eredményekre jutottak, amelyek jól hasznosíthatók a népvándorlás kor más népei esetében is a sírrablási szo-kások vizsgálatakor.

Kulcsszavak: Kárpát-medence, avar kor, kiskundorozsmai avar temetők, sírrablási szokások


In this paper we examine the methods of grave robbery in three Avar-period cemeteries located close to each other in the vicinity of Szeged, explored in the course of the preventive excavations preceding the construction of the M5 motorway. In the cemetery at Daruhalom on the west bank of the streamlet Maty ninety-three graves were discovered (Middle Avar period I–II). On the opposite bank of the bed, in the cemetery at Kettőhatár út I 298 graves were discovered (Middle Avar period II – Late Avar period IV), while sixty meters away in the cemetery at Kettőshatár út II forty-three graves were found (Late Avar period III).

At the sites of Daruhalom and Kettőshatár I, similar to other Avar cemeteries explored in the Carpathian Basin, about one-fifth of the graves had been robbed; thus, the cemetery at Kettőshatár II robbed to hundred percent, is in this sense unique.

In the cemetery at Daruhalom mostly male graves were dug up, whereas at the site Kettőshatár I male, female and children’s graves were robbed in a proportion similar to the original distribu-tion of graves. While grave robberies at Daruhalom were focussed on the upper body, robberies were much more intense in the other two cemeteries. In the cemetery at Kettőshatár I, robbery was also mainly focused on the upper body and primarily concerned male graves. In fourteen cases the graves were completely raided. The fourty-three graves of the cemetery at Kettőshatár II were robbed at the same time and also reburied quickly.

In the case of most graves at Daruhalom, pits were directed to the upper body. In the cemeter-ies Kettőshatár I and II, robbed graves had irregular patches which had been disfeatured by rob-ber pits. In cemetery II, however, robbers also dug trial trenches so to say, to locate graves at the edge and in the middle of the cemetery. In four cases they looted two or three graves with a sin-gle robber pit.

 In order to determine the time of robbery, we considered objective and subjective factors that were helpful in answering this question. Objective circumstances are the decomposition process of dead bodies and the decay time of the coffin, headboard, burial chamber and tomb structure; subjective factors include the care for graves which can significantly prolong their visibility or the memory that preserves the graves worth robbing. On this basis we can conclude that the first two cemeteries were robbed within at least ten but not more than sixty years, while in the third cemetery there are graves that were dug up within less then ten years and there are also some which might have been robbed after more than sixty years. In all probability, the robbers were Avars in all cases.