AN ARROWHEAD MARK (GRZYWNA) FROM PRZEMYSL
Languages of publication
The Old Magyar cemetery (9th/10th-middle of the 10th century) and some pottery from sites scattered across the city area provide the only archaeological evidence of settlement in early medieval Przemysl. Extensive surveys aimed at identifying the contour of the town were ultimately rewarded with a discovery of the remains of the ancient defences in Matejko Street as well as in Cathedral Square (Przemysl, Site 20). This report presents only one of a number of objects which have so far been recovered. It is a relatively small iron artifact resembling an arrowhead, shaped like a wedge from the butt end to the point, with an incision, still clearly visible on one side at about 2/3 of its height. The object is 6.5 cm long, 0.9 cm wide, and weighs 15 g. It was found at the depth of 233.95 m a.s.l., in Layer 5, interpreted as a the debris of the earliest form of the wall. The pottery found in that layer is dated to the 10th–11th century. The weight, size and shape of the object indicate its affinity to the class of arrowhead marks. The only feature which sets off our find is the incision, which other specimens in that class lack. The term 'arrowhead mark' was introduced by K. Wachowski, who came to the conclusion that artifacts shaped like arrowheads from Gilów in Silesia were in fact bullion substitutes. He linked them with other forms of metal 'currency', the Silesian bowls. Some researchers reject outright the idea of their paramonetary function and insist that they could well have been used as iron spikes of wooden maces, awls, peforators, chisels, blades, not to mention the use as mere arrowheads. Although most of the assemblages of those arrowheads come from Silesia, an increasing number of similar finds in Malopolska make it necessary to revise the claim that their distribution area was local, ie. restricted to Silesia. At the present stage of research the artifacts in question are dated to the 9th-early 10th century. Kotowicz believes that the accumulation of arrowhead marks in south Poland points to their local provenance and production. They could well have functioned as a paramonetary medium, alongside other forms of bullion substitutes. The arrowhead marks recovered from sites in south Poland are linked to the culture of Great Moravia. The connection is evident as the marks are analogous to those found south of the Carpathian arch while various Great Moravian artifacts feature prominently in assemblages with arrowhead marks from Polish sites, eg. Trepcza (Horodyszcze), Chodlik Zmijowiska, Obiszów and Naszacowice. The artifact presented in this report comes from the 10th century judging by the chronology of the pottery in the layer from which it was recovered and the dating of analogous specimens from the south of Poland. A verification and full explanation of the function of the so-called arrowhead marks and the nature of their Great Moravian links will require more research. Its findings can be expected to be of considerable importance to the interpretation of the Przemysl artifact presented in this article.
Publication order reference
CEJSH db identifier