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Early medieval gombiky from Mikulčice: archaeological context, function, occurence, typology, construction and characterization of materials and manufacturing processes

  • The Czech Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology Prague


This paper deals with the archaeological context, function, typology and technological study of a type of spherical hollow pendants termed gombiky (sg. gombik), which were worn by members of the Moravian elite in the 9th century AD. The gombiky were recovered in elite graves from Mikulčice – one of the major central places of Great Moravia. The archaeological context, occurrence in graves and function of these enigmatic objects are discussed. Their typology and construction based on their decoration technique are presented. In order to determine the metal composition, construction, and manufacturing processes of these types of ornaments, several specimens were investigated by stereomicroscopy (Olympus SZ60), X-ray radiography and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), supplemented by electron microanalysis (EDS). Replicas of each main type of gombik were manufactured by a professional goldsmith to understand the different stages of manufacture and soldering techniques. The results have evidenced the use of high purity gold alloys, silver alloys, gilded copper, different types of soldering techniques (fusion welding, hard solder), fire-gilding, specific tool marks and masterful chasing, filigree and granulation. The research provided a better understanding of the materials, the construction, manufacturing and soldering techniques and the stages of fabrication of this type of jewellery.
of the
19-21 June 2019
Miskolc, Hungary
Preface 5
Eulogy 7
Committees and partners 9
Scientific program 11
Oral communications 11
Posters 21
Abstracts 25
Oral communications 25
Posters 100
Social events 139
Ancient copper metallurgy 143
(France): presentation and
characterization of an original
Neolithic metallurgy 145
, , Bruno
Desachy, Patrice Brun, Christophe Petit:
Multivariate statistical study of lead
isotopic data: proposal of a protocol
for provenance determination 165
Christophe Petit: Synthetic study of
the emergence of primary copper
sulphide metallurgy 183
The Application of Computer
Simulation on Reverse
Engineering of Artefacts 193
Roland Haubner, Susanne Strobl, Peter
Trebsche: Analytical investigations
on plate slags from the late Urnfield
Period copper mining settlement at
Prigglitz-Gasteil (Lower Austria) 205
, Benoit
Mille: Late Bronze Age new
statistical and archaeometallurgical
artefacts surveys from France and
Switzerland (950 to 800 BCE) 219
Stanislav Grigoriev: Development of
metallurgical production in N-Eurasia
and Europe and its socio-economic
Omid Oudbashi, Mathias Mehofer,
Sepehr Bahadori, Ahmad Aliyari, Hasan
The Emergence and Spread of
Tin Bronze Alloying in Prehistoric Iran
The LBA Metallurgy in Sagzabad,
Northern Iran 253
Copper based alloys 271
Ladislav Strnad, Ja
Fikrle: Life Cycles of Metals in the
Iron Age (4th 1st Century BC).
Sourcing and Recycling of Copper
Based Alloys 273
Alessandra Giumlia-Mair, Athanasia
Kanta: The Kuwano Sword from the
Fetish Shrine at Knossos 289
Alexander Maass, Angela Celauro,
Stephen Merkel:
The zinc mining area in the Dossena-
Gorno District near Bergamo as a
possible source for Roman Brass 301
metals in Roman (Late Republican
and Early Imperial) military
equipment from the River
Ljubljanica, central Slovenia 329
Milica Maric Stojanovic, Tatjana
Tripkovic, Deana Ratkovic: Analyses
of Ornaments on Roman Carriage
and Horse Equipment from Eastern
Serbia 341
Irina Zaytseva, Eduard Greshnikov,
Ekaterina Kovalenko, Mikhail Murashev,
Konstantin Podurets: Copper-based alloy
reliquary crosses with niello decoration
from North-
studies of the niello composition and
the technique of application 355
Svetlana Valiulina: Copper Incense
Burner and Bronze Mirrors of the
Toretsky Urban Settlement
(Bolumer Town) in Tatarstan 369
Precious metals 391
Alessandra Giumlia-Mair, Roberta
Conversi, Maria Pia Riccardi:
Middle Bronze Age Gold Sheet
from Albareto (Parma), Italy 393
Alessandra R. Giumlia-Mair, Susan C.
Ferrence, James D. Muhly, Philip P.
Betancourt: New Evidence for
Sophisticated Goldworking Techniques
from Middle Minoan Crete 405
Barbara Armbruster, Marilou Nordez,
Maryse Blet-Lemarquand, Sebastian
Milcent, Sylvia Nieto-Pelletier, Martin
gold torcs - An interdisciplinary
and diachronic perspective 417
Angela Celauro, David Loepp, Daniela
Ferro, Tilde De Caro: Experimental
and analytical study of gold parting
processes used in ancient times 433
New investigations
made on the 5th-century AD horse
harnesses from Untersiebenbrunn
(Austria) 457
bbiola: Early
archaeological context, function,
occurrence, typology, construction,
and characterization of materials
and manufacturing processes 477
The manufacture
of replicas of gombiky
century AD. 497
Iron 509
An insight into iron-making in the
Basque Country (Northern Spain):
Technical traditions from the First
Millennium BC to the later
Middle Ages 511
Carina Bennerhag, Lena Grandin, Ole
Early Iron
Technology in the Circumpolar
North 535
Costanza Cucini, Stefania De Francesco,
Maria Pia Riccardi, Marco Tizzoni:
Late Roman smithing workshops
from Cascina Castelletto, Pioltello
(Milan, Northern Italy) 551
Metallographic examination of
Hungarian Sabres from the 10th
Century first archaeometallurgical
approach in the Carpathian Basin
by a case study 565
examination of nine medieval knives
(Republic of Croatia) 589
Vladimir I. Zavyalov, Nataliya N.
Terekhova: The Problem of Studying
Sources of Raw Materials for
Medieval Craft Centers: Results
from the Site of Istye 2 (Russia) 607
The International Conference
Miskolc in Hungary from the 19th to the 21st of
June 2019 is by now a well-known and fully
established international scientific meeting, at
which scholars with different backgrounds can
present their research on ancient metal finds,
metal analysis, ancient mining, the
reconstruction of various kinds of production
processes, ancient technologies and every topic
that belongs to metals and their transformation
from ore to objects.
Our meeting at Miskolc was the fifth of a series
that begun in Milan in 2003, followed in 2007
by the conference in Aquileia, both in Italy. The
third was held at Bochum, in Germany, in 2011
and the fourth at Madrid, Spain, in 2015. The
special aim of our 2019 conference was that of
emphasizing and strengthening the
interdisciplinary character and the various
activities in the field of archaeometallurgy and
widening the focus towards Eastern Europe.
The papers we present in this volume use
scientifically collected data that allow the re-
examination of aspects of archaeology and offer
a view of antiquity based on materials science,
supplemented by archaeological, literary and
stylistic evidence, i.e. the methods by which
human activities have been reconstructed in the
The presentation of research, availability of
information, discussion and confrontation is an
important side of this conference. Publishing
new data and research in this frame - although
in some cases only in short form - is important.
The volumes of the conference
planned as a window on the world of
archaeometallurgy, as general information for
students, scholars and in general for anyone
interested in these topics and, finally, as a
tangible historical memory of the kind of
studies carried out at this time. We all know that
research can be dated, just like the ancient
objects we are studying. For these reasons and
more, even though we received a good number
of submissions, it is a pity that some interesting
papers presented at Miskolc were not delivered
for publication in this volume. Apparently, as it
transpired at the conference, some of the authors
decided to publish in a journal with impact
factor. Nevertheless, a shorter or different
version could have been submitted for
publication in this volume as well, in particular
as we know that the collection of papers, the
peer-reviewing, corrections and the printing
process normally take a couple of years. These
volumes play an important role for our scholarly
community, because they also represent an
occasion for valuable corrections and
discussion on weak points during the peer-
reviewing stage, which is always carried out by
two specialists in the field of the topic, while
most journals with impact factor simply use
their own reviewers, who do not know a thing
about ancient metallurgy. The result is that the
papers published in some journals are often less
than mediocre.
We hope that the next volumes of this series will
collect a larger number of papers presented at
the conference, and we will be able to
demonstrate once again that the frame within
which archaeology can be studied is - and will
be in the future - greatly enhanced by
archaeometallurgical research.
We are very grateful to all reviewers and
especially to the English native speakers who
took the time to check the language of the
papers in this volume.
To all of you a heartfelt thank you!
The editors
Previous Standing Committee of
the AiE:
Andreas HAUPTMANN (Germany)
Alessandra GIUMLIA-MAIR (Italy)
Yannis BASSIAKOS (Greece)
Ivelin KULEFF (Bulgaria)
Ignacio MONTERO RUIZ (Spain)
Barbara ARMBRUSTER (France)
Vasiliki KASSIANIDOU (Cyprus)
At the meeting of the Standing Committee that
took place d
Republic) and Miljana RADIVOJEVI (UK)
were nominated for membership of the
Standing Committee and accepted, and an
Advisory Committee without voting right was
New Standing Committee of the
President: Alessandra GIUMLIA-MAIR (Italy
and Russian Federation)
Yannis BASSIAKOS (Greece)
Ignacio MONTERO RUIZ (Spain)
Barbara ARMBRUSTER (France and
Vasiliki KASSIANIDOU (Cyprus)
Czech Republic)
Miljana RADIVOJEVI (UK and Serbia)
Advisory Committee of the AiE:
Andreas HAUPTMANN (Germany)
Ivelin KULEFF (Bulgaria)
Scientific Committee of the
Thilo REHREN (Cyprus)
Justine BAYLEY (UK)
Vincent SERNEELS (Switzerland)
Philippe DILLMANN (France)
Vladimir ZAVYALOV (Russia)
Mathias MEHOFER (Austria)
Martina RENZI (Qatar)
Local Organizing Committee of
the conference:
Katalin VOITH (conference secretary)
Cooperating and supporting
partners of the conference:
University of Miskolc (Archaeometallurgical
Research Group of the University of Miskolc)
General Council of Borsod- -
Institute for Geological and Geochemical
Research, Research Centre for Astronomy and
Earth Sciences
Atestor Ltd.
Image-Science Ltd.
Association for Hungarian Iron and Steel
Museum of Metallurgy, Miskolc-
Miskolc City Transportation Company
The Historical Metallurgy Society
associate professor, head of institute
Institute of Metallurgy, University of Miskolc
3515 Miskolc-
context, function, occurrence, typology, construction, and
characterization of materials and manufacturing processes
Estelle Ottenwelter
Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
Luc Robbiola
This paper deals with the archaeological context, function, typology and technological study of a type
of spherical hollow pendants termed gombiky (sg. gombik), which were worn by members of the
Moravian elite in the 9th century AD. The gombiky one
of the major central places of Great Moravia. The archaeological context, occurrence in graves and
function of these enigmatic objects are discussed. Their typology and construction based on their
decorative technique are presented. In order to determine the metal composition, construction, and
manufacturing processes of these types of ornaments, several specimens were investigated by
stereomicroscopy (Olympus SZ60), X-ray radiography and scanning electron microscopy (SEM),
supplemented by electron microanalysis (EDS). Replicas of each main type of gombik were
manufactured by a professional goldsmith to understand the different stages of manufacture and
soldering techniques. The results have evidenced the use of high purity gold alloys, silver alloys, gilded
copper, different types of soldering techniques (diffusion bonding, hard solder), fire-gilding, specific
tool marks and masterful chasing, filigree and granulation. The research provided a better understanding
of the construction, manufacturing and soldering techniques and the stages of fabrication of this type of
context, function, occurrence, typology, construction, and
characterization of materials and manufacturing processes
Estelle Ottenwelter
Luc Robbiola
This paper deals with the archaeological
context, function, typology and technological
study of a specific early medieval artefact a
spherical hollow button, named gombik. This
artefact appears in the material culture of Great
Moravia the first Slavic early state located in
present southeast Moravia (Czech Republic)
and southwest Slovakia, along the Morava river
basin (Fig.1a, Fig 1b). Great Moravia emerged
at the turn of the 8th and 9th centuries and lasted
one hundred years. It was destroyed at the
beginning of the 10th century under the attack of
the ancient Magyars. The Great Moravian
territory was represented mainly by fortified
centres so-called strongholds and their
religious architecture. The seat of the Moravian
where the largest concentration of religious
architecture was recognised with the remains of
ten churches (Fig.1c). The most important
group of graves were found in the church
rich. Men are buried with weapons swords,
axes, spears, spurs and dress fittings, buckles
and strap ends with incrustation of precious
metal, cross-pendants, and sometimes jewellery
including gombiky while women are buried with
a lot of jewellery earrings, rings, pendants,
beads or whole necklaces and the so-called
enigmatic gombiky. Gombiky played a specific
role in the Great Moravian material culture.
They were used as prestigious clothing fasteners
or pendants, as well as luxurious amulets
usually found in pairs in the wealthiest graves
and we can categorise them among the elite
attributes. There are several types of gombiky
which can be classified according to their
composition (gold, silver or copper-based
alloys), construction and techniques of
decoration. A technical study aiming to
characterise the materials and manufacturing
processes used in the manufacture of the main
representative type and materials was
conducted using SEM/EDS analysis, and X-ray
radiography. A replica of each type of gombik
was fabricated (see the contribution of L.
the detailed work on gilded gombiky from
2020), and presents a global vision of gombiky
manufactured in different materials (gold, silver
and copper alloys).
buildings: 1 fortifications, 2 significant terrain boundaries, 3 gateways and bridges, 4 churches with their
number (II-XII) and palace (P), 5 metal- casting workshop (W), 6
2014, 12
Archaeological context, occurrence and
Over 600 exemplars of gombiky have been
recovered from Great Moravian graves so far
the gombiky
gilded copper (153 pcs.), followed by silver
alloys (112 pcs.) and to a much smaller extent,
gold alloys (19 pcs.) or a specific combination
of materials (13 pcs. gilt silver, 1 pc. silver-
plated copper alloy; 17 pcs. from copper; 7 pcs.
from iron, 1 pc. from lead; 4 pcs. remain
unspecified and 49 pcs. are glass buttons)
The number of graves with gombiky varies
ordinarily between 6 and 11.5% at the central
16), but in
the other hand, the occurrence of metal gombiky
in the hinterland and in the countryside is low
and gombiky are represented in a very few
graves. Therefore, it is evident that the presence
of gombiky is connected to the presence of the
graves with gombiky might document the
burials of the local chiefs working for the
central elites.
graves, but they are also present in male graves
16). The occurrence of
gombiky ws the
general trend in Moravia 54% of gombiky were
infans I, infans II), and 37% in the graves of
adolescents and adults (age categories juvenis,
adultus, maturus, senilis), among which there
were 19% of female graves, 13% of male graves
and 5% undetermined graves. It is surprising
that gombiky do not belong to a specific gender.
This is unusual in the context of other European
early medieval societies such as the Viking or
Frankish environment, in which grave goods are
Gombiky are found most often in pairs near the
collarbones. However, we have also evidence of
graves with more pairs of gombiky in this
position or just one single gombik near the
throat or on the chest. The function of these
artefacts remains unclear. We have clear
evidence that some of them were used as
buttons (Fig. 2a). Textile parts of an eyelet from
the original garment are preserved on a pair of
889. The eyelets were threaded through the
gombik, stitched to the fabric, and were
intended as fasteners. They also served to attach
the gombik
59 64). On the other hand, we also have
evidence that small glass gombiky were used as
pendants in necklaces). These are threaded on a
string with other pendants and ornaments such
as copper coils (Fig. 2b). Gombiky used as
pendants are mainly made of glass, which are
more typical for the hinterland of the centres
and the countryside than for central graveyards
evidence of gombiky used like pendants are
known from the former Great Moravian
69). A
No. 472, where a pair of copper alloy gombiky
was found associated with a necklace (Klanica
et al. 2019, 81 82). It cannot be excluded that
gombiky found near collarbones with beads
might indicate the presence of a specific
decorative ornament hanging across the chest,
like those found in northern and eastern Europe
(e.g. Martin 1995, 43 44;
59, Fig. 46; Ajbabin and Chajredinova 2009,
118, Taf. 146; Ierusalimskaja and Borkopp
1996, 46; Ierusalimskaja 2012, 61, 68, 74).
Gombiky could also have a further function
since some of them contain a metallic pellet,
which makes them jingle like bells. The
frequent occurrence of the gombiky in
might link them to an apotropaic function. This
is the usual interpretation of the finds of jingle
bells, the largest concentrations of which occurs
Fig. 2: Exact evidences of using gombiky: a gombiky Inv. No. 1174a/57 and 1174b/57 from grave 498,
employed as buttons and b glass gombik
employed as necklace-
Gombiky are a composite of several
typologically consistent components, and they
can be divided into 3 construction types: two
hemispheres, a single globe and collar and
finally a combination of both forms (Fig. 3).
The suspension system is usually made of three
elements: a loop, a staple and a ring, but
sometimes there are made of only two
components: a split loop and a ring (Ottenwelter
et al. 2020).
This basic construction is decorated on the
surface with different techniques. The detailed
typology of gombiky is based on the type of
decoration (Tab. 1). The most common type are
chased gombiky with vegetal, simplified
geometrical or animal motifs. So far, there are
164 pcs (44%) of chased gombiky
Most of them are decorated with a palmetto
motif. The second most common group is
represented by the granulated type (68 pcs.,
18%), where the granulation work covers the
entire surface or creates a geometrical design.
The two prevailing types are complemented
with other decoration techniques including rich
filigree work, applications of bosses, beaded
wires, twisted wires, corrugated strips or
settings of glass cabochons. This less common
percentage of gombiky are not decorated (15
pcs., 4%). It is currently impossible to define the
decoration type for 29 pcs which were damaged
by an accidental fire (8%). The remaining
specimens are glass and iron gombiky made
with another technology).
Materials and manufacturing processes
A total of 38 representative metallic gombiky
(4 specimens in gold, 21 in
silver and 13 in gilded copper alloys) was
investigated at the Institute of Archaeology of
the Czech Republic, Prague to identify the metal
composition of the different components,
identify the mounting of the gombiky, the
processes involved in their manufacture and
tool marks and repairs (Ottenwelter 2018, 2019,
2020a; Ottenwelter et al. 2020; Ottenwelter
2020b, Ottenwelter in press). The analyses were
performed on the sub-surfaces (Sub-surfacec
were created by micro-scratches performed on
the surface with a scalpel under a microscope)
and cross-sections - when available - to limit the
impact of corrosion and surface enrichment
which can distort results (Blakelock 2016, 918).
The investigation methods followed the
methodology set up for the study of the early
medieval jewellery from the Lumbe Garden at
Prague Castle (Ottenwelter et al. 2014). It
included observation under a stereomicroscope,
X-ray radiography, analysis of each component
and the solder area with SEM/EDS,
metallography, when fragments were available,
manufacture of replicas by a professional
same volume), measurement of each
component, and weighing of the gold and silver
alloy gombiky. The SEM observation and EDS
elemental analysis were performed on a
PHILIPS XL30 Scanning Electron Microscope
equipped with an energy-dispersive X-ray
spectrometry (EDAX system), operated by J.
Phase Analyses (Faculty of Mechanical
Engineering VUT in Brno, Czech Republic).
In this paper, six representative gombiky, two
for each material will be presented in detail as
case studies. The analyses were performed on
each component and solder area to characterize
the materials and the soldering techniques. The
decoration techniques, including granulation,
filigree work and gilding were also investigated.
The different steps of the manufacture are
presented in detail in the contribution of L.
Four gold alloy gombiky were investigated.
Among them are exquisite specimens
demonstrating high goldsmithing skills. Two
specimens will be presented here: a so-called
gombik made with a rich
decoration of filigree and granulation and a
small chased piece (more about golden artefacts
-gombik 594-
This gombik -Valy,
in grave 505, near the third church (basilica). It
belonged to a wealthy adult female (20-30 years
old). The grave goods included three pairs of
gombiky, seven earrings in gold and silver
alloys, gilded copper belt fittings in form of a
codex, and a knife (Klanica et al. 2019, 94-95,
The gombik is complete and in good condition.
The gombik has a total height of 26 mm and a
diameter of 17 mm. It weighs 10.1 g. It consists
of two hemispheres and has a two element (split
loop - ring) suspension system (Fig. 4b), made
of a semi-circular sectioned split loop inserted
in a boss and straightened by two rings of
different diameter made of tight twisted strips
(Fig. 4c). It is intricately decorated with filigree
and granulation work (Fig. 4a). Decorative
components include 6 bosses, 24 undulating
strips decorated by 2 double rows of granules,
24 omega-shaped strips, 13 rings of tight
twisted strips with two different diameters and
approximately 1600 granules with a diameter of
0.5 mm.
A total of seven different types of components
were manufactured to produce this gombik
(hemisphere, split loop, tight twisted strips,
boss, undulating strips, omega-shaped
components, granules) and approximately 1670
components had to be soldered together.
The gombik is decorated with 6 bosses, four
placed on the joins of the hemispheres, one on
the centre of the upper hemisphere and the last
one on the centre of the lower one (Fig. 4a). The
omega shaped ornaments are soldered as
mirrored pairs (Fig. 4g). Four pairs are placed
longitudinally along the joining area of the two
hemispheres; four are placed on the upper
hemispheres and four on the lower hemispheres,
horizontally at the middle of each quarter. The
undulating strips are ornamented with a double
row of granules, soldered on the edges (approx.
60-70 granules per strip). The strips are soldered
to the bosses between two rings of tight twisted
strips creating a two-layer effect (Fig. 4c, d, f).
The suspension system is inserted in the upper
pierced hemisphere (Fig. 4c) and soldered with
patches of hard solder, some of which are still
visible on the object (Fig. 4e, i).
SEM/EDS elemental microanalysis performed
on the different components and solder areas as
shown on Fig. 4 are demonstrating that the
different components were made of ternary
alloys of Au-Ag-Cu with an average percentage
of 90 wt.% Au, 5.2 wt% Ag and 4.8 wt.% Cu
(Tab. 2, object 1). The gold alloy used is of high
purity and matches the composition of
Byzantine jewellery (Oddy- and La Niece 1986)
Patches of solder that failed to melt are visible
on the hemisphere under an undulating strip
(Fig. 4c, e, i). The analysis performed on the
solder patches (point 12) showed that a hard Au-
Ag-Cu solder with a slightly higher percentage
of Ag (6.9 wt.%) and a higher copper content
(13.8 wt.%) than the bulk metal was used to
assemble the different components as well as
the granulation work (Fig. 4f). The temperature
the melting temperature of the soldered alloy.
The goldsmith had therefore quite a convenient
temperature differential to solder safely the
different components. This gombik required a
very high level of technological skill. The
goldsmiths had an excellent knowledge of the
material and soldering technique. This is the
most time-consuming type of gombik found at
in this volume).
Fig. 4: Gombik, 594-1122b/57 -general view; b-detail of upper part of the gombik; c-detail of the
twisted strip around the split loop; d-detail of filigree and granulation work; e-unmelted patches of solder; f-
detail of granulation work on undulating strips; g-detail of omega shaped ornaments soldered on the
hemispheres; h- -unmelted
patch of solder, SEM micrograph, SE image, photo D.
Chased gombik
This small gombik was found on the surface at
-Valy. It is complete and in a good
This piece is a small gombik with a total height
of 17 mm, a diameter of 16 mm, and a weight
of 3.7 g. It consists of a single globe, a collar
and a two elements suspension system (split
loop-ring) (Fig. 5a). The wire used to form the
split loop was hammered to a square 0.8 mm
wide section (Fig. 5b). A round section wire
(0.8 mm diameter) was used to manufacture the
The manufacture of this gombik required only
four components (globe, collar, split loop, ring).
Fig. 5: Gombik -general view; b-detail of soldered loop; c-unmelted patches of solder,
-detail of lower part, SEM micrograph (BSE image, photo D.
- -g-detail of the chased
decoration on a dotted background. (photo E. Ottenwelter).
It is decorated by chasing with a motif of a
single palmette between arcades on a dotted
background (Fig. 5a, d, f, g).
The chased decoration was done after filling the
removed, the suspension system and the collar
were soldered to the globe with patches of hard
SEM/EDS elemental microanalysis carried out
on the surface of the different components and
solder localized in Figure 5 showed that the
different parts were made from ternary alloys of
Au-Ag-Cu with an average weight percentage
of 79 wt. % Au, 17.5 wt. % Ag wt. 3.5 % Cu
(Tab. 2, object 2). Hence a lower grade gold
alloy was used to produce this gombik.
Unmelted patches of solder are visible on the
joining area between the hemisphere and the
collar and between the ring and the collar (Fig.
5c). The analysis of the patches (point 5)
revealed that a hard Au-Ag-Cu solder similar to
the bulk metal but with a slightly higher
percentage of Ag and Cu (72.5 wt. %, Au 22.7
wt. % Ag, 4.8 wt. % Cu) was used as solder
material. The melting points of both materials
are very similar, which explains why the
patches were not melted entirely since the
differential temperature between the bulk metal
process must have been particularly risky.
This gombik was made in a lower grade of gold
to the previous gombik. The chemical
composition of the solder revealed a bad choice
of material to solder the different components
safely and the stippled background is rather
irregular and coarse. The goldsmith who
produced this ornament was less skilled than the
goldsmith who produced the previous gombik.
were investigated. Two representative
specimens are presented here in detail: a fine
chased gombik and a gombik with rich
granulation work.
Chased gombik 594-
This gombik -Valy, 3rd
church (basilica), in grave 216, where an adult
female of 20-30 years of age was buried. Grave
goods included a pair of identical silver
gombiky, a third gombik and a knife (Klanica et.
al 2019, 26, 177).
The gombik is not complete. 95% of the piece is
preserved. The suspension system was missing
and was completed with modern components.
Part of the decoration (blue glass cabochons) is
also missing.
This gombik has a diameter of 40-mm and a
total height of 48 mm. It weighs 18.7 g.
Its construction is of type 1: two hemispheres
(Fig. 6c) and a three-component suspension
system (loop-staple-ring). The loop has a
diameter of 9.6 mm. Its section is irregular and
bears heavy traces of coarse filing (Fig. 6b). The
staple is flat and 4 mm wide (Fig. 6b): it is
a modern repair. Three rings of beaded wire of
different diameter (9-6-5 mm) were soldered
around the staple and inserted in a bezel of
8.2 mm diameter (Fig. 6b). The gombik was
decorated by blue cabochons set in bezels and
surrounded by a line of small granules.
A total of nine different components were
manufac tured to produce this gombik
(hemisphere, loop, staple, three different
diameter rings, bezel, blue cabochons, small
granules), 6 constitutional components and
approximatively 300 decorative components
(bezels, blue cabochons, granules, filigree
A vent of 1.4 mm diameter was pierced in the
upper hemisphere (Fig. 6d, Fig. 6f) to avoid
bursting of the two hemispheres during
The entire surface of the gombik is decorated by
chasing (Fig. 6a). It is divided in nine fields by
ribbons (three on the upper hemisphere, three on
the joining area and three on the lower
hemisphere. The nine fields on the upper and
lower hemispheres are decorated with 8 petal
flowers (Fig. 6i), except one field which is
decorated with a 12 petal flower (Fig. 6f). The
fields on the joining area are decorated by a
floral motif with four petals (Fig. 6a), and
divided by ribbons defining rhomboids. A blue
glass cabochon was originally set in a bezel at
the four corners of the rhomboid (in total 10).
The cabochons are still preserved on the other
gombik from the pair, but are missing on this
specimen. A line of granules (0.4 mm diameter)
and a filigree ring decorate the bezels (Fig. 6e,
g). A regularly stippled background can be seen
around the chased motifs.
Ternary alloys Ag-Cu-Au and binary Ag-Cu
alloys were used in the manufacture of the
different gombik parts as shown in Table 2
object 3. The average composition of alloys
used is 93 wt. % Ag, 6 wt. % Cu and 1.7 wt. %
Au. A hard Ag-Cu hard solder, close to the
eutectic composition was used to solder the two
hemispheres together (point 12).
Fig. 6: Gombik 594- : a-general view; b-detail of suspension system; c-X-ray radiographs of
the gombik; e-filigree ring and line of granules around missing glass cabochon, SEM micrograph, SE image
-12 petals flower; g- bezel with missing cabochon; h-chasing grooves; i-eight petal flower
(photo. E. Ottenwelter).
The gold content here can be linked to the use
of a gold-rich silver. Where the gold content is
higher (3-10wt%), it can be due to recycling of
outmoded jewellery or scrap metal including
gilt silver pieces (Merkel 2016, 69). Gold-rich
silver alloys are quite typical of Moravian silver
Ottenwelter 2019, 2020).
A modern repair (Fig. 6b) using a modern alloy
containing Ni and Zn was identified on the
suspension loop system (point 13). The staple is
probably modern as well.
The gombik has an indifferent quality of
chasing, as the motifs, and in particular the
flowers, are rather irregular. The suspension
loop system was coarsely repaired in modern
times and is probably far from its original look.
This gombik -Valy, in
grave 505, church 3 (basilica), together with the
first gombik made of gold presented in this
It is a medium sized gombik of 25 mm in
diameter with a total length of 34 mm (Fig. 7a)
and a weight of 17.4 g. The gombik is complete
but several granules are missing.
Fig. 7: Gombik : a-general view; b- detail of suspension system; c-detail of granulation
work; d-detail of granulation and missing granules; e-detail of beaded wires; f-detail of half molten solder
fragments on granules; g-detail of large granule in the centre of the lower hemisphere of the gombik. Photo E.
Its construction is of type 1: two hemispheres, a
split loop of 7.5 mm diameter with a round
section of 1.5 mm (Fig. 7b). The ring is made of
a ring of granules of 2 mm diameter (6 in total).
There is no staple, but a fragment of beaded
wire of 0.8 mm diameter closes the split loop
(Fig. 7b). The gombik is decorated with double
lines of beaded wire that divide the hemispheres
into quarters (Fig. 7a). Each quarter is decorated
with granules of 1.3 mm diameter set on a tiny
plain filigree ring of 1.6 mm diameter. A larger
granule (2.7 mm diameter) set on a beaded wire
ring of 3 mm diameter decorates the centre of
the lower hemisphere (Fig. 7g). The gombik is
made of 5 components (two hemispheres, a split
loop, a ring of 6 granules, and a fragment of
beaded wire) and 939 decorative components
(beaded wires, granules and filigree rings).
Ag-Cu-Au ternary alloys with an average
composition of 94.8 wt % Ag, 3.8 wt. % Cu,
and 1.4 wt. % Au were used to manufacture the
different components of the gombik as shown in
Table 2, object 4.
The gold content measured on the different
components fluctuates on this gombik more
than in the previous one. It is probable than the
different pieces were made from recycled silver
including gilt silver. A higher percentage of
copper (4% higher than in the item) was
detected in the solder area where granules are
missing (point 6). A hard Ag-Cu solder,
probably applied as fine filings was used to
solder the different components including the
granules, since small half-molten pieces are still
visible on the surface of the granules (Fig. 7f)
and molten beaded wires are visible (Fig. 7e). A
modern solder was used to solder the granules
forming the ring (point 3).
This gombik is a fine jewel. The granulation
work is regular, nevertheless, several granules
have fallen off and the soldering technique is
rather coarse. The beaded wires may have been
made in a swage block.
Gilded copper
Twelve gilded copper gombiky
were investigated (Ottenwelter et al. 2020).
Here two specimens of chased gombiky will be
presented in detail.
Chased gombik 594-
The gombik was fou -
Valy, in the graveyard of church 3 (basilica). It
was a grave of a female child aged 4 years,
which contained two gombiky made of gilded
copper, one silver gombik, and one silver grape-
shaped earring.
The condition of the object is very good. It is
sound and complete.
This gombik has a total height of 33 mm, and a
diameter of 28.6 mm diameter. It weighs 9 g. It
consists of two hemispheres soldered together
(Fig. 8a, e). The suspension system is made of
three elements (Fig. 8b); a loop, a staple and a
ring. The staple is inserted in the upper
hemisphere through a hole and surrounded by a
small ring made of a tightly twisted strip (Fig.
8b). The loop was hammered (Fig. 8b). The
decoration was produced by chasing (see the
the description of the different steps of
The gombik is made of five components in total
(two hemispheres, a loop, a staple and a ring).
The upper hemisphere was repaired during the
manufacture of the object (Fig. 8c, 8e). The
gombik was gilded after soldering of all the
components and chasing.
The entire surface of the gombik is decorated. It
is divided into six medallions, four around the
equator of the gombik, one on the top, and one
on the lower pole. All medallions, with the
exception of the one at the top, show a flower
with six symmetrical petals (Fig. 8a).
The hemispheres of the gombik are made from
unalloyed copper (Tab. 2, object 5). Tin was
evidenced in the staple suggesting that another
material was used to produce the staple. An Ag-
Cu hard solder was used to join the two
hemispheres together. The joining area is well
visible on the X-ray radiography (Fig. 8e). The
solder usually smears around the joining area
and should not be interpreted as a silver plating
(Ottenwelter 2014, 173). Ag-Cu hard solders
have a lower melting temperature than the
components to be joined which allows safe
soldering. Ag-Cu solders were commonly used
to join copper alloys but also silver alloys
Fig. 8: Gombik 594- -general view; b- detail of suspension system; c-detail of repair; d-
detail of unburnished gilding layer observed in a recess; e-X-ray radiograph of the gombik
Photo E. Ottenwelter.
Gilding was performed by fire-gilding (mercury
was determined in the gilding). The typical
granular structure of fire-gilding after
evaporation of the mercury is visible in recesses
(Fig. 8d). Silver is also present in the gilding
This gombik shows an extremely precise chased
decoration and is of high-quality work.
Gombik 594-1038/57a (115/z)
This gombik -Valy,
church 3 (basilica), in grave 508. A male (?) of
50-60 years of age was buried in the grave with
two pairs of gilded and chased gombiky, a pair
of spurs, and perhaps a dagger (Klanica et al.
2019, 96-97, 271).
This piece is incomplete. The split loop is
This example is small, with 15-mm diameter,
and a weight of 2 g. It is consisting of two
hemispheres, but with only two elements
forming the suspension system (split loop-ring).
The loop is broken (Fig. 9b) and only the legs
inserted in the upper hemisphere are still
present. They have a rectangular section of
1.7 mm and 0.5 mm. Two beaded rings of
different diameters (5.6 and 4 mm) are soldered
around the loop remains. Three pellets were
identified inside the body (Fig. 9d).
The gombik is composed of 8 components in
total (a split loop, two beaded rings, two
hemispheres and three pellets).
This piece is decorated by chasing (Fig. 9a).
Three arcades define three medallions, in which
birds of prey are represented on an irregularly
stippled background (Fig. 9c). On the upper and
the lower pole, vegetable motifs are represented
in a triangle (Fig. 9f).
The different components were made of copper
alloys (Tab. 2, object 6).
Fig. 9: Gombik 594- : a-general view; b-detail of suspension system, SEM micrograph, SE
-detail of bird of prey motif on the stippled background; d-e- X-ray radiographs
revealing three pellets inside the gombik and joining area of the two hemispheres; f-detail of the chased motifs in
a triangle on the lower pole (photo and X-ray radiographs by E. Ottenwelter).
Unalloyed copper was used for the ring (point
2), and copper with a small amount of Sn and
Pb for the split loop (point 1) and the
hemispheres (point 3). A Cu-Ag hard solder was
employed to join the two hemispheres (Fig.9a,
point 4). It is interesting to note that the
proportion of Ag and Cu are inversed from the
eutectic composition. The gombik is gilded by
fire-gilding (point 5). The high percentage of
Ag detected in the gilding is due to the
underlying Ag-Cu hard solder.
The chasing work is less skillful than on the
previous gombik. The motifs are quite irregular
and were not first sketched. The stippled
background is coarse. Less skill in the use of
alloys is evident as well. The hard solder
composition is far from the eutectic point (Tab.
7). A peculiarity of this gombik is the presence
of three pellets inside it (Fig. 9d).
The different gombiky can be distinguished by
different parameters.
If we consider the size, we can observe that gold
alloy gombiky are smaller than their
counterparts in silver and gilded copper. Their
size does not exceed 15 mm in diameter, while
gilded copper gombiky fall in the range of
15 mm 28 mm and 33 mm and silver gombiky
reach larger sizes (33 mm 40 mm 44 mm).
As regards the construction, Type 1 (i.e.
consisting of two hemispheres) is observed
whatever the material used to manufacture the
gombiky, while gold gombiky can either be of
Type 1 or of Type 2 (single globe and collar).
Type 3 (two hemispheres and collar) is only
present in the group of gilded copper and silver
Considering the decoration, we can observe that
gold gombiky are usually plain, ribbed or
decorated by filigree and granulation work.
Chasing prevails in the group of gombiky made
of gilded copper and in that of silver gombiky,
but in the case of silver gombiky granulation and
bosses are also often encountered.
Regarding the materials, gold gombiky are made
of good quality gold alloys: ternary alloys Au-
Ag-Cu with an average of 81 wt % Au, 14 wt %
Ag and 5 wt % Cu. Differences in the purity of
gold is observed suggesting that no standard
was applied to gold jewellery (Ottenwelter
2020b). Recycling seems to have been a
common practice as it was the case in the
Scandinavian world (Armbruster et al. 2002,
199-200) Silver gombiky are made of good
quality silver with a small amount of copper and
gold. The average composition of silver
gombiky is 96 wt % Ag, 1.6 wt % Au, 2.4 wt %
Cu. The gold content in the silver alloys point
to recycling of gilt silver. Gilded copper
gombiky are made of pure copper or copper with
a small amount of impurities such as Pb, Sn or
Ag (Ottenwelter et al. 2020). The gilding
technique employed for the gombiky is always
the fire-gilding method (Ottenwelter et al.
The joining of the components was mainly
performed with hard soldering (Ottenwelter
2020b). Small patches of ternary alloy Au-Ag-
Cu were used for gold, while Ag-Cu solders
applied as filings or powder were used to solder
the different components of gilded copper and
silver gombiky. The use of hard solders was also
evidenced on gold jewellery from Hedeby
(Armbruster et al. 2002, 175).
The multidisciplinary approach combining
archaeology, material sciences and
experimental archaeology (see article of L.
understanding of the archaeological context, the
steps of manufacture and identification of
materials and manufacturing processes used to
produce these enigmatic pieces of jewellery. It
shed light on their different types of
construction and decoration. It has shown that
very fine pieces, produced by goldsmiths with a
long tradition in filigree and granulation work
as well as chasing, using high purity gold and
silver alloys coexisted with more coarse pieces
made by less skilled goldsmiths with lower
grade materials. It also brought new discoveries
about the complexity of the different types of
gombiky, and new data about the time, weight
and skills required to manufacture them.
Department of Structure and Phase Analyses
(Faculty of Mechanical Engineering VUT in
Brno) for having performed the SEM/EDS
This research was supported by a grant project
from the Czech Science Foundation (GACR,
No. 17-01879S: Lifestyle and identity of the
Great Moravian nobility: archaeological and
bio-archaeological analysis of evidence of
supports (RVO:67985912, The Czech Academy
of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology, Prague
and RVO 68081758, The Czech Academy of
Sciences, Institute of Archaeology, Brno).
Object Gombik
type Inv. No.
Analysed area Remarks Chemical composition [wt%]
Au Ag Cu
Zn Hg Ni
Loop, point 1
Ring , point 2 surface 83.6
5.5 - - - - -
Ring, point 3 sub-surface
4.4 - - - - -
Ring, point 4 sub-surface
6.5 - - - - -
Ring, point 5 sub-surface
5.4 - - - - -
Granule, point 6 sub-surface
4.2 - - - - -
Granule, point 7 sub-surface
4.8 - - - - -
Omega strip, point 8 sub-surface
3.6 - - - - -
Strip, point 9 sub-surface
5.2 - - - - -
Boss, point 10 sub-surface
4.1 - - - - -
Hemisphere, point 11 sub-surface
6.8 - - - - -
Solder, unmelted patch,
point 12 sub-surface
- - - - -
2 Chased
Loop, point 1
Ring, point 2 sub-surface
4.5 - - - - -
Collar, point 3 sub-surface
2.1 - - - - -
Globe, point 4 sub-surface
4.2 - - - - -
Solder, patch, point 5 sub-surface
4.8 - - - - -
3 Chased
Loop, point 1
1.3 82.9
Clamp, point 2 sub-surface
- 94.5
5.5 - - - - -
Ring, point 3 surface - 95.5
4.5 - - - - -
Ring, point 4 sub-surface
- 95.2
4.8 - - - - -
Ring, point 5 sub-surface
1.7 93.4
4.9 - - - -
Ring, point 6 sub-surface
1.8 93.9
4.3 - - - - -
Boss, point 7 sub-surface
- 91.3
8.7 - - - - -
Granule, point 8 sub-surface
1.4 96.3
2.3 - - - - -
Hemisphere, point 9 sub-surface
2.2 93.1
4.7 - - - - -
Hemisphere, point 10 sub-surface
1.9 93.2
4.9 - - - - -
Solder area under
granule, point 11 surface - 91.9
8.1 - - - - -
Solder area,
hemisphere, point 12 sub-surface
- 68.4
- - - - -
Modern solder, point 13
- 33.2
- - 25.9
- 3.1
Loop, point 1 sub-surface
1.1 96.7
2.1 - - - - -
Granule, point 2 sub-surface
- 85.9
9.7 - - 4.4
- -
Solder, granule, point 3 sub-surface
- 67.9
- - 8.4
- -
Granule, point 4 sub-surface
0.9 92.2
6.9 - - - - -
Beaded wire, point 5 sub-surface
3.2 91.7
5.1 - - - - -
Solder area, granule,
point 6 sub-surface
- 92.2
7.8 - - - - -
Filigree ring, point 7 sub-surface
1.9 96.0
2.1 - - - - -
Hemisphere, point 8 sub-surface
- 97.3
2.7 - - - - -
5 Chased
Hemisphere, point 1 sub-surface
- - 100.0
- - - - -
Clamp, point 2 sub-surface
- - 96.5
- - - -
Gilding layer, point 3 surface 86.2
4.5 - - - 7.0
Gilding layer, point 4 surface 86.2
2.4 - - - 9.8
Gilding layer, point 5 surface 88.7
1.7 - - - 7.6
Solder area,
hemisphere, point 6 sub-surface
- 25.9
- - - - -
6 Chased
Loop, point 1 sub-surface
- - 93.2
- - -
Ring, point 2 sub-surface
- - 100.0
- - - - -
Hemisphere, point 3 sub-surface
- - 96.4
- - -
Solder area, point 4 sub-surface
- 28.8
- - - - -
Gilding layer, point 5 surface 74.6
3.3 - - - 12.7
Table 2: Chemical composition of the different elements of analyzed gombiky and solder areas. SEM-EDS semi-
quantitative surface analysis (normalized wt.%, carbon not considered). Numbers of analysis correspond to those
reported on Figures 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 (from Ottenwelter 2020b).
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Full-text available
The trade of silver in Viking Age Scandinavia is intertwined with the development and collapse of long distance trade routes stretching as far as the North Atlantic in the West to Central Asia in the East. Hedeby, a Viking emporium, was an important gateway of trade between the Baltic and North Seas, and this makes it is an ideal place to explore the evolution of the silver supply in the 10th and 11th centuries A.D. The elemental and lead isotope compositions of locally minted Hedeby coins were compared to jewelry objects, hacksilver and imported silver coins, and four chronologically related shifts could be identified that reflect changes in the origin and type of raw materials used. This study features the use of laser ablation mass spectrometry of ca. 200 silver objects, and these analyses are placed in a broader context of early medieval silver metallurgy, mining archaeology and numismatics to interpret the compositional shifts as shifts in trade. Additionally, studies on crucibles and lead-based finds from Hedeby were carried out as well as the analysis of ore and slag from Central Asia to explore recycling and silver production technologies during the Viking period.
The Church Cemetery in the North-eastern Suburb), univerzity 455
  • Vii Pohansko
Pohansko VII. The Church Cemetery in the North-eastern Suburb), univerzity 455. Brno.
Technical study of jewellery from the Lumbe Garden cemetery at Prague Castle ed., Castrum Pragense 12 v Studie
  • W A Oddy
  • La Niece
Oddy W.A. and La Niece S., 1986, Byzantine gold coins and jewellery A study of gold contents, Gold bulletin 19(1), 19 27. Technical study of jewellery from the Lumbe Garden cemetery at Prague Castle ed., Castrum Pragense 12 v Studie, 163 287.