The Rise and Fall of Gold Metallurgy in the Copper Age of the Carpathian Basin: The Background of the Change

  • J. Makkay
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSE, volume 280)


The paper deals with the different use of gold and copper in the Early and Middle Copper Age on one side and the Late Copper Age cultures of the Carpathian Basin on the other side. Transylvania was in the antiquity one of the richest gold mining areas of Eurasia. This is demonstrated on the basis of Roman and Medieval texts, expecially on hand of those about the Decebalus gold treasure found by the troups of Trajan in 106 A.D.

In strong contrast to the wide use of gold (and also of copper) in the very gold rich area of Transylvania during Early and especially Middle Copper Age cultures (i.e. the Tiszapolgár and Bodrogkeresztúr and their corresponding cultures in other parts of the Carpathian Basin, among others the Lasinja culture in Transdanubia with its gold discs) there is no trace of the use of gold in the Late Copper Age. In the Late Copper Age also a very strong decrease in the number and also weight of the copper artifacts can be observed, too, and it is very remarkable that the few copper objects were daggers. This stays to indicate wartime or at least a continuing armed unrest during Late Copper Age. Invasions, conquests and similar events never promote production, accumulation, hoarding and public use of gold.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Banner, J. (1956): Die Péceler Kultur.- Budapest.Google Scholar
  2. Böckh H. et al. (1920): Mining and stone industry of Hungary.- Budapest.Google Scholar
  3. Bognár-Kutzián, I. (1972): The Early Copper Age Tiszapolgár culture.- Budapest.Google Scholar
  4. Brandsch, G. (1944): Georg Marienburg(er), ein vergessener siebenbürgisch-deutscher Dichter.- Mitteilungen aus dem Baron Brukenthalischen Museum IX-X, Hermannstadt: 34–76.Google Scholar
  5. Branigan, K. (1974): Aegean metalwork of the Early and Middle Bronze Age.- Oxford.Google Scholar
  6. Carcopino, J. (1924): Les richesses des Daces et le redressement de l’empire romain sous Trajan.- Dacia 1, Bucharest: 28–34.Google Scholar
  7. Chapman, J.C., Tylecote, R.F. (1983): Early Copper in the Balkans.- PPS 49: 373–379.Google Scholar
  8. Chernykh, E.N. (1991): Ancient gold in the Circumpontic area.- In: Mohen, J.-P., Eluère, C. (eds.): Decouverte du métal, Paris: 387–396.Google Scholar
  9. Ciugudean, H. (1986): The Bedellö tumulus group.- Apulum 23: 67–82.Google Scholar
  10. Ecsedy, I. (1979): The people of the Pit-grave kurgans in Eastern Hungary.- Budapest.Google Scholar
  11. Ecsedy, I. (1982): Excavations at Zók-Várhegy, 1977–1982.- A Janus Pannonius Múzeum Evkönyve 27: 59–105.Google Scholar
  12. Franzenau, A. (1892): The discovery of a big natural gold nugget in the area of Brád (in Hungarian).- Földtani Közlöny 22: 80–82.Google Scholar
  13. Häusler, A. (1985): Kulturbeziehungen zwischen Ost- und Mitteleuropa im Neolithikum?- Jschrift mitteldt. Vorg. 68: 21–74.Google Scholar
  14. Ivanov, LS. (1989): Les villages engloutis du lac de Varna.- Dossiers d’Histoire et d’Archeologie 137: 64.Google Scholar
  15. Jakó, Zs. (1966–1972): Recherches archéologiques a Gradistea Muncelului en 1803–1804.-Acta Musei Napocensis 3, 1966: 103–120Google Scholar
  16. Jakó, Zs. (1966–1972): Recherches archéologiques a Gradistea Muncelului en 1803–1804.-Acta Musei Napocensis 5, 1968: 433–443Google Scholar
  17. Jakó, Zs. (1966–1972): Recherches archéologiques a Gradistea Muncelului en 1803–1804.-Acta Musei Napocensis 8, 1971: 439–455Google Scholar
  18. Jakó, Zs. (1966–1972): Recherches archéologiques a Gradistea Muncelului en 1803–1804.-Acta Musei Napocensis 9, 1972: 587–602.Google Scholar
  19. Kalicz, N. (1963): Die Peceler (Badener) Kultur und Anatolien.- Budapest.Google Scholar
  20. Köleseri, S.O. (1717/1780): Köleseri: Auraria Romano-Dacica.- Cibinii 1717, Posonii 17802.Google Scholar
  21. Lazius, W. (15982): Rei Publicae Romanae in exteris provinciis, bello acquisitis, constitutae, commentarium libri duodecim.- Francoforti ad Moenum apud haeredes Andreae Wecheli, M.D.XCVIII2.Google Scholar
  22. Makkay, J. (1969): Zur Geschichte der Erforschung der Körös-Starčevo-Kultur.- Acta Arch. Hung. 21:13–31.Google Scholar
  23. Makkay, J. (1975): Some stratigraphical and chronological problems of the Tartaria tablets. Mitt. Arch. Inst. Budapest 5: 13–31.Google Scholar
  24. Makkay, J. (1976): Problems concerning Copper Age chronology in the Carpathian Basin.- Acta Arch. Hung. 28: 251–300.Google Scholar
  25. Makkay, J. (1985): Diffusionism, antidiffusionism and chronology.- Acta Arch. Hung. 37: 3–12.Google Scholar
  26. Makkay, J. (1989): The Tiszaszölös treasure.- Budapest.Google Scholar
  27. Makkay, J. (1990): A tartariai leletek (The Tartaria tablets, in Hungarian).- Budapest.Google Scholar
  28. Makkay, J. (1991): The most ancient gold and silver in Central and South-East Europe.- In: Mohen, LP., Eluère, C. (eds.): Decouverte du metal, Paris, 119–128.Google Scholar
  29. Makkay, J. (1992): Ancient metal names and the first use of metal.- Balcanica, Beograd, XXIII: 311–3180.Google Scholar
  30. Makkay, J. (1993): Pottery links between Late Neolithic cultures of the NW Pontic and Anatolia, and the origins of the Hittites.- Anatolica XIX, Anatolia and the Balkans Symposium, 117–128.Google Scholar
  31. Maksimov, M.M. (1988): Otcerk o zolote.- Moscow.Google Scholar
  32. Miles, M. (1670): Siebenbürgischer Würg-Engel oder chronicalischer Anhang des 15. Seculi nach Christi Geburth aller theils in Siebenbürgen theils Ungern und sonst Siebenbürgen angräntzenden Ländern fürgelauffener Geschichte.- Hermannstadt/Nagyszeben.Google Scholar
  33. Olah, N. (1938): Hungaria — Athila.- Budapest.Google Scholar
  34. Patay, P. (1984): Kupferzeitliche Meißel, Beile und Äxte in Ungarn.- PBF IX, 15, München.Google Scholar
  35. Szalay-Ritook, A. (1975): Un memorialista italiano al seguito di Castaldo in Transilvania.- In: Klaniczay, T. (ed.): Rapporti Veneto-Ungheresi all’epoca del Rinascimento, Budapest, 291–295.Google Scholar
  36. Téglás, G. (1897): Traces of gold mining of the Romans in Co. Hunyad.- In: Hun Yadmegye Monographiája (The description of Co. Hunyad), Budapest, 1–22.Google Scholar
  37. Téglás, G. (1896–1898): Decebál dákk király kincse (The treasure of Decebalus, king of the Dacians).- A Hunyadmegyei Régészeti és Történeti Társulat Evkönyve, Déva, 3–11 (in Hungarian).Google Scholar
  38. Tóth, E. (1986): In Erdely törtenete (The history of Transylvania).- Budapest 1: 46–47.Google Scholar
  39. Tylecote, R.F. (1987): The early history of metallurgy in Europe.- London, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Vlassa, N. (1967): Quelques problèmes du Neolithique de Transylvanie.- Acta Musei Napocensis 4.Google Scholar
  41. Vlassa, N. et al. (1985–1986): Burial mounds of the Late Copper Age in the Banat and Transylvania (in Rumanian).- Acta Musei Napocensis 22–23, 61–64.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Makkay
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ArcheologyBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations