The use of mollusc shells for ornaments in the Bronze Age of the southern Carpathian basin


  • Selena Vitezović Institute of Archaeology, Kneza Mihaila 35/IV, 11000 Belgrade


mollusc shells, Columbella, Dentalium, Bivalvia, ornaments, Bronze Age, Maros culture


Mollusc shells have been used for the production of ornaments since the Palaeolithic times. Some of the world’s oldest decorative items were, in fact, made from shells. Their smooth surfaces, durability and bright colours, were some of the reasons why they were aesthetically at- tractive to numerous prehistoric communities. Ornaments made from shell often had symbolic value – they were used to display status, prestige, belonging to a group, and may be used as indicators for trade and exchange routes. However, although they were in use in the prehistoric period, they have received less attention from researchers studying periods after the Neolithic. This paper will provide an overview on the use of shells for ornaments in the Bronze Age Maros culture in the southern Carpathian basin. They have so far been analysed only within the context of burial equipment and their relation to other jewellery items, mainly metal objects. However, they may provide an additional insight into some of the symbolic aspects, cultural attitudes towards certain raw materials, as well some aspects of trade and exchange.






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