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Clay birds as religious objects and works of craft in the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age of the Balkans and the Carpathian Basin

Maricevic, D. (2016) Clay birds as religious objects and works of craft in the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age of the Balkans and the Carpathian Basin. In: Davison, D., Gaffney, V., Miracle, P. and Sofaer, J. (eds.) In Croatia at the Crossroads: A consideration of archaeological and historical connectivity. Archeopress, Oxford, pp. 91-108. ISBN 9781784915308

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During the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age many European communities adopted similar iconographic themes through shared cosmological understanding of the world and perhaps religious practice too. Different combinations of solar, anthropomorphic and ornithomorphic imagery, in particular, occur repeatedly in different locations at different times during this period, not least along the southern margins of the Carpathian Basin and the northern Balkans. This paper explores the creativity and the role of craftspeople in these regions in shaping the religious discourse through making of bird-shaped objects, either as vessels, rattles or figurines. Rather than explaining the similarities and differences in these objects as resulting from the socio-political relationships between different ‘cultures’, as they were commonly treated in the literature, I emphasise the importance of the decision-making process in craft by examining why certain forms, techniques and styles were chosen over others. I conclude that it is the relationship between the craftspeople and their immediate community that is the most influential factor affecting their practice. Finally, by considering clay birds as both symbolically charged religious paraphernalia and works of craft I offer an explanation as to why stylisation and abstraction were the dominant creative forces in their making during the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:73904
Additional Information:Proceedings of the conference: Croatia at the Crossroads, Europe House, Smith Square, London 24-25 June 2013

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