image/svg+xml33XI/1/2020INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euRituals, Hoards and Travellers? Archaeometry of the Iron Age Bronze Wheel AmuletsAlžběta Danielisováa*, Daniel Bursáka, Ladislav Strnadb, Jakub Trubačb, Hana Čižmářovád, David Daněčeka,c, Kamil SmíšekcaInstitute of Archaeology CAS, Prague, Letenská 4, 118 01, Prague 1, Czech RepublicbInstitute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Mineral Resources, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Albertov 6, 128 43, Prague 2, Czech RepubliccStředočeské muzeum v Roztokách u Prahy, Zámek 1, 252 63, Roztoky, Czech RepublicdMoravské zemské muzeum, Archeologický ústav, Zelný trh 6, 659 37, Brno, Czech Republic1. IntroductionWheel rings or spoked-wheel amulets are a ubiquitous and popular part of the material culture of the La Tène period. They occur from the 5thcentury BC onwards, from France to Hungary, across the vast territory of the La Tène culture. The symbolism of wheel amulets remains unexplained. They are usually associated with Sun symbology, as chariots or wheels represented the Sun carriage from the Bronze Age (Green, 1984). Another common association is with other celestial bodies or phenomena, typically thunder (Green, 1986).In material culture, spoked wheels were most probably used in personal jewellery, perhaps as amulets or special symbols, as is suggested by their depiction on Celtic coins (e.g.Manching, cf.van Endert, 1991) and evidence from burials since the early La Tène (Werner, 1979; Hecht et al., 1991; Stöckli, 1975). They were often worn as pendants on necklaces or suspended from brooches on bronze chains (e.g.numerous fnds from the oppidum of Stradonice; Píč, 1903).In central Europe, a signifcant concentration was observed at the oppidum of Stradonice (Figure 1; Píč, 1903; Kysela and Venclová, 2018), and at Manching (van Endert, 1991), which suggested that the amulets were typical oppida objects; they had frst been described as such in Déchelette’s well-known comparative table (1914). In recent years, however, they have been observed in increasing numbers in the countryside, largely as a result of the increased use of metal detectors (Čižmářová, 2014; Danielisová et al., 2018a). They are now known to be present at almost every site from the middle to the late La Tène period (i.e.3rdto 1stcentury BC) with a particular profusion during the “oppida period” (2ndto 1stcentury BC).The spoked wheels difer in size, shape, and number of spokes (Čižmářová, 2014). The basic and typologically most homogeneous group comprises the eight-spoked wheels Volume XI ● Issue 1/2020 ● Pages 33–45*Corresponding author. E-mail: danielisova@arup.cas.czARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received: 1stApril 2020Accepted: 9thJuly 2020DOI: words:Iron AgeCentral Europeamuletscoin hoardsfahlorestrace elementslead isotopesABSTRACTThis paper aims to discuss the origin and signifcance of the so-called spoked-wheel amulets from the late Iron Age (3rdto 1stcentury BC). The type with eight spokes, which most resembles a real chariot wheel, was discovered to be made of a specifc alloy containing a large amount of lead and a signifcant amount of antimony, plus traces of silver and arsenic. This combination of elements signifes the use of a copper known as fahlore (tetrahedrite). Its use in Bohemia after the early Bronze Age is rarely observed, if at all. These amulets are therefore a conspicuous exception. Research in Bavaria has revealed other objects made from fahlorecopper. Another connection to Bavaria may be indicated by coin hoards accompanied by bronze closure rings of a similar alloy design. Other cases may suggest that antimony was added as a separate component. Here we discuss the composition and provenance of these objects from the perspective of compositional and lead isotope analysis.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2020 ● XI/1 ● 33–45Alžběta Danielisová, Daniel Bursák, Ladislav Strnad, Jakub Trubač, Hana Čižmářová, David Daněček, Kamil Smíšek: Rituals, Hoards and Travellers? Archaeometry of the Iron Age Bronze Wheel Amulets34which imitate chariot wheels. They are usually made entirely from lead or from a heavily-leaded alloy (Schwab, 2011). The eight spokes are a regular feature; sometimes there are multiples of eight, as with the sixteen-spoked wheel depicted on a Gundestrup cauldron (Green, 1986). Four- and six-spoked wheels make up a larger and more heterogeneous group. These wheels appear only to suggest rather than imitate chariot wheels and have a simpler design that is perhaps more decorative in the context of late La Tène art.Archaeometric analysis of large assemblages from the La Tène period revealed the recurrence of a particular material composition of the eight-spoked wheels (Danielisová et al., 2018b), which included a large amount of lead, unusually large amounts of antimony, and increased amounts of arsenic and sometimes silver. It was noteworthy that this chemical composition was found only in these amulets and not in the other types of object. West of Bohemia, however, particularly in Bavaria, antimony bronzes have regularly been recorded and associated with the alloying of fahlorecopper (Schwab, 2011; 2014a; 2014b). It was not until we detected the same composition in two bronze rings with a rhombic section, used as a closure mechanism in the context of a Celtic coin hoard from Libčice nad Vltavou (Figures 2 and 3), that the connection with Bavaria became worth considering.We therefore decided to give more attention to this matter and to investigate the alloy design and provenance of these objects and to explore the broader socio-cultural or political implications. In addition to “ofcial” commercial