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L’Âge du Bronze en Bourgogne. Le dépôt de Blanot (Côte-d’Or)

Jean-Paul Thevenot

The hoard of Blanot (Côte-d’Or)

Traduction de Marie-Aimée Vial

Texte intégral

1Summary.—This hoard was found by chance in december 1982, at the foot of a tree tom down by a tornado, in the territory of Blanot located on the eastern edge of Morvan, in the department of Côte-d’Or. The observations made during the find and the check-digs verified that the objects had been buried, without any particular protection, in a shallow pit of about 80 cm to one meter wide and 40 cm deep, dug down to the rock through a layer of granitic sand. The objects were distributed into four different parts, the disposition of which has been recognized (fig. 2).

2Firstly we will mention eleven biconical-shaped bronze phials decorated on their upper part by alternated lines of points and bosses. The cylindrical neck is slightly tronconical with an oblique rim (fig. 9 and 10). These vessels are made up of three pieces; the bottom, which looks like an upside-down cone, is set, under a narrow peripheral flange, into a troncated cone shoulder which supports the lower half of the neck; the upper part of the neck is fixed in a groove of the lower part. The phials can be sorted according to the shape of their body and some technical particularities. Some of them, with a low bulging body, have been made out of salvage sheet of bronze, whereas the others, with a high belly, have been made out of a new sheet of bronze; the inside of the cupels is smooth in the first case and shows traces of rough hammering in the second. They both correspond with two differents series, but they probably both came out of the same craftsman’s hands, or at least of the same workshop.

3Next of them were three pairs of leggings small, medium and large, with spirals and recurrent threads. They were tied together in a single package. Their pattem is the same as those of Wollmesheim-type with a wide grooved and engraved plate. The smallest ones are of the same shape and decoration (fig. 14). The medium size leggings do not match perfectly because of their different making and decoration; the decoration on the first is less elaborated than on the second (fig. 16); the second is made of three elements bound together by rivets, either originally or by way of repairing (fig. 19). The large size leggings look far more alike in spite of their decoration which is not exactly the same; for instance the second received an extra engraved band between the marginal ribs of the plates; both have recurrent threads elongated in one case by twisting, in the other by a special fitting (fig. 23 and 25). The proportions and the style of the big and small leggings are the same; each area between the ribs has decorative and engraved patterns composed of two levels from a central panel.

4These objects were in contact with a bronze cauldron filled with carefully arranged jewels and covered with a bronze cup, upside-down, as a lid. The cauldron is of type B1 with a curved side, an annular bottom and a convex rim decorated with two lines of festoons set between four engraved lines; it shows cross-attachment with short arms, but the handles are gone (fig. 29, n° 2). From bottom to top, the following items were piled up:

  • a linked belt, like the type of Billy, made of three rows of rectangular ribbon-shaped links engraved and embossed, of a row of triangular pendants with engraved marks, and two snake-like buckles; one of them, when found, had still two laces of leather attached to it (fig. 32);

  • a kidney-shaped bracelet of solid bronze of the Pfeddersheim type adorned with groups of protruding ribs whose spindle-shaped body, open on two enlargements, has been decorated with dotted circles, stippled and engraved lines (fig. 37);

  • a leather finery made up by overcast stitches (fig. 42 at 45) adorned with a sheet of embossed bronze (fig. 54) and with 68 applied ring-buttons of six different models, kept in lines by leather threads passing from hole to hole (fig. 49 at 53);

  • a necklace composed of thin sheet of bronze pearls alternating with small bars, of unknown pattern, on a leather core made of a flat piece of leather under a three square sectioned laces (fig. 56);

  • two necklaces respectively with four or three rows of tubular gold pearls decorated with continuous ribs or with ribs alternating with smooth areas (fig. 58 and 63), fitted on leather laces set in concentric arches and fixed together in a braid sewn by overcast stitches;

  • a shallow cup with a ring-shaped base, of Jenisbvice B type, decorated with three lines of dots framing two lines of bosses (fig. 29, no 1).

5The last elements of the hoard include a pot of baked clay and its content. This «um» type vase with a biconical body and a cylindrical neck, is decorated with two large flutes separated by a narrow flute on the shoulder. It contained two decorated triangular pendants, five pendants in the shape of pincers, two applied ornaments (fig. 67) as well as 590 bronze rings made up of different sections, 310 of which have a jagged edge (fig. 68).

6All these documents are of different interest from the chronological and the cultural points of view. Each of them covers variable periods of time which can span a great part of the Later Bronze Age, if we consider for example the pendants with pincers, some applied ornaments or the ribbed tubular gold pearls. The leggings with spirals and recurrents threads of Wollmesheim type can span the Ha A1 to Ha B1 periods; the linked belt of Billy type, the kidney-shaped bracelet of Pfeddersheim type span more specifically the Ha A2 and the Ha B1 periods. The biconical shaped-body phials rather belong to the Ha B1 period because of their form, their decoration in «point-boss system» and their setting technique. In return the cup of Jenišovice B type and the cauldron with cross-attachments of the group B1, are clearly limited to this last phase. Therefore one can to fix the period of the burying of the objects to the Ha B1 period.

7The hoard of Blanot holds a special place in Burgundy where it has no known equivalent. Some items comparable with the belt, the bracelet or the leggings, can be found in Ha B1 hoards from Franche-Comté of Bouclans and Pont-de-Roide (Doubs) and in a grave of Champigny-sur-Aube (Aube), in the Champagne area, which constitues the most pertinent reference for this period.

8The ways on which we located the main elements of the hoard show the occidental characteristic of most of them (fig. 75, 78, 80, 82 and 83). This is true of the jewels, leggings, belt, bracelet, gold necklaces, and of the cup of Jenišovice B type, as well, which has been known for a long time. The jewels in particular seem to be very representative of the «Rhin-Suisse-France orientale» culture (R.S.F.O.) defined recently. However the morphological characteristics and the composition of metals show that the components of the hoard have been manufactured in different regions and even at fairly different epochs because some of them, such as the medium size leggings or even the belt, can be traced back to Ha A2 period; but now it is hardly possible to put them into a precise regional group, either from the Champagne, Rhenish, Swiss or Burgundian areas for example. They only confirm the existence in the Rhin-Suisse-France orientale area of an extremely close network of exchange and underline the importance of the crossroads of this western area which has been influenced by this cultural entity. The cauldron, which is the only exception, has obviously been imported probably from the Carpathinan basin, maybe from the upper valley of the Tisza (fig. 73); it gives evidence of a relationship, probably based on trade exchanges, between the Rhin-Suisse-France orientale area and central Europe through the cultural groups related to the «Complexe nord-alpin».

9In itself, the association in the hoard of Blanot of bronze vessels and jewels seems to made up of a composition of a particular type which can be seen in hoards of the Ha B1 period of Fresnes (Loir-et-Cher) and Saint-Chély-du-Tarn (Lozère). In the same way, the presence in Blanot of an assortment of ornaments including necklaces, bracelet, linked belt, pendants and clothes adorned with cabochons, seems to correspond to the specific equipment of a person of high social status; such a set of ornaments exists, for example, in the more recent hoard of Bénévent-en-Champsaur (Hautes-Alpes).

10The condition of fair wear and tear of some jewels, their morphology, sometimes ancient, prove that the objects of the hoard have been gradually accumulated and used for a long time; they constitute a wealth and a real heritage. Nowadays there is a tendency to think that such sumptuous objects have been buried in a votive or a worshiping aim. Then they seem to be a ritual offer; but it is not possible to say if it has been dedicated, however to the benefit of an individual or of a family or of a particular social category, either lay or religious. The holders of this wealth can be recognized as people of distinction. The hoard of Blanot therefore puts forward some arguments in favor of the actual theory of the exchanges of «prestige goods» during the Later Bronze Age.

© ARTEHIS Éditions, 1991

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