The early medieval assemblage of iron axe-like bar fragments found in the valley of the szklarka stream near Cracow in Poland
Keywords:axe-like bar, Early Middle Ages, Central Europe, iron production
The aim of this paper is to present the assemblage of 40 intentionally cut elements of iron axe-like bars and one iron small plate donated to the Archaeological Department of the Sztygarka City Museum in Dąbrowa Górnicza. According to the donor, this deposit was found buried in a small pit located in the lower part of the valley of the Szklarka Stream near Cracow. The characteristic shape of the preserved fragments allows for them to be included in the so-called Lesser Poland’s (Vistulan) axe-like bars. The geographic spread of such axe-like bars across the areas of Poland is limited to the basin of the Upper Vistula. Therefore, the iron axe-shaped bars are more numerous from sites located to the south of the Carpathians (mostly area of the Great Moravia). In the comparative material available, no analogous find could be traced which parallels such intentionally cut-off fragments of the bars. The differentiation of sizes and the location of their cuts indicates that they had been prepared (collected from various places) to be further processed, or maybe to be forged anew into new axe-like bars – a task which certainly required proper skills. The fact that they were found about 10 km distant from, and over several dozen kilometres (about 65 km) from the area of Early Medieval Cracow, confirms that this town was a special place in the Vistulan’s settlement network and revenue sharing system. The discussed assembly can be dated only approximately within certain frames, i.e. between the beginning of the 9th century and the middle of the 10th century.
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