10th-century graves at Ferenc Szabó’s farm (Nagyszénás). Remarks on war injuries in the Hungarian Conquest period

Langó Péter – Balázs János – Lichtenstein László – Rózsa Zoltán – Marcsik Antónia

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 3.2 (2017) 531–556

DOI 10.55722/Arpad.Kiad.2017.3.2_25


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Nagyszénás közelében, a Vaskapunak nevezett kelet–nyugati dombvonulat egyik kiemelkedésén fekvő lelőhelyen az első leleteket 1948 vagy 1949 augusztusában találták. A rendelkezésre álló adatok alapján 2004. szeptember 17. – október 8. között az orosházi Szántó Kovács János Múzeum ásatást végzett, és három sírt, két felnőtt férfi és egy gyermek temetkezését tárták fel. Az első sírból egy 45–55 éves férfi koponyája és vázcsontjai kerültek elő. A koponyán többszörös vágás nyoma figyelhető meg, ezeket valószínűleg balta okozta.

Kulcsszavak: Orosháza régiója, honfoglaláskor, harci sérülés, trapéz alakú kengyel


In the vicinity of Nagyszénás the first items were found in August 1948 (or 1949) on a hilltop belonging to the east-west hillrange called Vaskapu. The owner of the farm, Ferenc Szabó, found in his courtyard, some four meters southeast of the granary, a horse-burial dating from the 10th century. Based on the available data, the local museum (Szántó Kovács János Museum, Orosháza) conducted an excavation from 17 September to 8 October 2004, during which three graves were explored. Grave No. 1 is of particular interest because the deceased man was severely injured on the head. The stirrup found in this grave suggests a date in the second half of the 10th century.

During the excavation, three skeletons were found: two adults’ and one infant’s. In the first grave, a 45‒55 year-old man’s skeleton was placed (with skull and postcranial bones). On the skull, multiple cuts were observed in three regions: on the frontal bone, on the mandible, and on the right external auditory meatus. The cuts were probably caused by axe. There is no trace of healing.

The present paper reviews the gravegoods, which are similar to those found at Nagyszénás, and discusses the contemporary burials of the surrounding region. The finds at nearby Vaskapu are especially relevant, since at this site the early graves had been cleared before new ones were dug during the 11th century, a date which is suggested by the coins of king Salamon (1063–1074) associated with the new burials. The skeletons lying in the earlier graves still had muscles and sinews on them when they were thrown out of their original position into a nearby trench. Even though the phenomena observed at the two sites near Nagyszénás are not exactly identical and are not necessarily connected to each other, they both indicate some kind of a violence, which seems to be unique in the region. The event underlying the anthropological evidence found in Grave No. 1 might have been of purely local nature without any wider political significance. We can arrive at a more accurate interpretation of the find only after the full publication and anthopological re-examination of other finds in the region.