Ser. 3. No. 7. (2019)

Melted Swords and Broken Metal Vessels: A Late Bronze Age Assemblage from Tatabánya-Bánhida and the Selection of Melted Bronzes

Gábor János Tarbay
Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University
Published October 16, 2020
How to Cite
Tarbay, G. (2020). Melted Swords and Broken Metal Vessels. Dissertationes Archaeologicae, 3(7), 29-99.


This study discusses finds acquired by the Hungarian National Museum in 1880 from Tatabánya-Bánhida.
We presume that they have belonged to two assemblages. Assemblage ‘A’ consists of fragments of a burnt
flange-hilted sword, an armspiral, fragments of a Type B1 cauldron and two metal sheets of uncertain function that might have belonged to a Hajdúböszörmény-style metal vessel and a miniature greave. Assemblage
‘B’ contains only two fragments of a melted sword. Macroscopic characterization of the finds revealed that
all objects were finished products which were intentionally manipulated before their deposition. The sword
fragments were partially melted and hacked into pieces, the valuable sheet metal products were broken and
only small parts of them were buried. Assemblage ‘A’ is unique from a typological point of view as well as
object selection. It can be dated to the Ha B1 based on the metal vessels. It has a unique combination lacking
parallels among Ha B1 burials, however known among hoards from this territory and especially from the
Northeast Carpathian Basin. These finds from Tatabánya-Bánhida were previously interpreted as burials
because of the presence of melted objects. Within this study, several examples are also introduced for the
selection of melted bronzes and human remains to hoards. The combination of finds in the Tatabánya-Bánhida assemblage and the above examples suggest that Assemblage ‘A’ could have been a rare type of hoard
(funeral hoard), which is known from the only excavated context from Pázmándfalu.