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A gold pendant made of solidus of Constantius II struck at Nicomedia, Cyzicus or Antakya in AD 340-355, with a loop decorated with vertical ribs; silver Roman coins - denarii of the following emperors: Hadrian (AD 117-138), Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180) and Commodus (AD 180-192); a silver Germanic coin - imitation of the Roman denarius, probably of Marcus Aurelius, with a Barbarian-like bust and signs imitating letters on the obverse; a gold pendant made of two square plaques with an embossed round knob and a loop, decorated with filigree and granulation; two brooches, tendril forms, type A 158, one of silver and one of bronze; nine silver pendants composed of rhomboid plaques with small openings for hooks made of twisted silver wire; two pendants in the same size and in the shape of a crescent (lunula), made together with loops of one piece of sheet metal, decorated with vertical ribs; two axe-shaped pendants made in the same way; a pendant made of a long pierced amber lump with a ring made of bronze wire; a pendant in the form of a ring of bronze wire with two glass beads; similar pendant with two bronze trapezium-shaped plaques with rounded corners; an amber pendant shaped on a lathe; two wheel-thrown pottery vessels which represent workshop tableware known as blue ceramics: the first one, an upper part of the biconical vase with three handles and a polished rim, the upper part of the body decorated with an ornament of grooves; the other vessel is an almost complete biconical bowl decorated with a plastic rib and polishing in the upper part of the body.

The finds collected over the years indicate that The Hanging Man Cave has been used frequently by men in various periods ranging from the Palaeolithic to modern times. The traces indicating the most intense use of the cave date back to the turn of the 4th and 5th centuries, the 10th-11th centuries, the 14th century and the second half of the 17th century when a counterfeiting mint functioned. In the modern period the interior of the cave has been strongly transformed due to calcite prospectors’ work. The first documented finds were made by amateur explorers in the late 1990s. Some objects were scattered in destroyed layers, so it can only be assumed that originally they had been part of the deposits. The first discovery of this kind is a hoard consisting of about 100 Roman denarii and at least one Germanic imitation buried by the eastern cave wall. Within the National Science Centre “Maestro” project: “The Migration Period between the Oder and the Vistula” in 2013-2016 the archaeological excavation was carried out led by Marcin Rudnicki of the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw. In 2014, by the western wall, a small fragment of ancient stratification was exposed where a deposit was found in situ. It consisted of two bronze brooches (including a fibula on the exhibition), a bronze belt mount, three pendants in the form of a ring made of a bronze wire (on the exhibition) with amber, beads of glass and trapezium-shaped plaques as well as several dozen glass beads. This find became the basis for the hypothesis that most, if not all, objects discovered in the cave before 2013 were originally from several hoards deposited in shallow holes by the walls. A parallel case was recorded in northern Czech Republic (Bohemia), south of Hřensko (Ústí nad Labem Region, Děčín District), where ornaments and dress accessories dated to the beginning of the 5th century were found in a small niche. Sometimes in caves, apart from metal objects and pottery, human skeletons are discovered. Out of the finds from the Hanging Man Cave remains of at least ten individuals were identified, including four adults and six children. Unfortunately all were found in the destroyed layers. Radiocarbon dating showed the presence of bones from the early Migration Period and the early Middle Ages. The former bones are assumed to be associated with a cult. Similar cave deposits dated to the late 4th and the early 5th century AD were registered in inaccessible upland areas of the central Elbe in the west to the Western Carpathian Mountains in the east. The population that had left them might have been a conglomeration of representatives of different cultures what could be confirmed by the finds from the Hanging Man Cave. Some of the found objects, such as brooches, are linked to the Przeworsk Culture (the Vandals), other finds like rhomboid pendants, to the Goths who came from the south-east. Identical sets of pendants are known from Cherniakhiv Culture cemeteries in modern-day Ukraine, Moldova and Transylvania (e.g. Sântana de Mureş, grave 63) and even from Crimea (Suvlu-Kaja, grave 7). They do not appear at all to the north of the Carpathian Mountains. Also silver lunulas and axe-shaped pendants found in the cave, due to their specific shape, are to be associated with arrivals from the north Black Sea and the Danube regions. The same conclusion applies to the deposit of denarii and gold pendants. The presence of representatives of different cultures in the inaccessible upland areas of southern Poland, Sudetes and Carpathians could be explained by an attempt to escape the invasion of the Huns which united the representatives of various Germanic tribes. Presence in Kraków-Częstochowa Upland of the arrivals from afar was proven by the results of the strontium isotopes analyses. The samples were taken from enamel of two individuals. Determining the place of their origin is not easy and still is the subject of the research.


the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century AD

Museum collection:

deposit in the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw

by M. Rudnicki

Exhibition organised by:

mns uw

Project co-organised by:

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