Gürtelhaken, Altheimer Kultur (Kupferzeit)

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Gürtelhaken, Altheimer Kultur (Kupferzeit)

Beitragvon Steve Lenz » 06.12.2005 12:50

Im Folgenden der Zusammenschnitt einer Diskussion zu einer Gürtelschließe der Altheimer Kultur (aus dem provisorischen Forum hierher transferiert):

Hello to Thomas especially,

Whilst bored with other work (yeah, even Roman castella can be boring), I spent some time tracing the stippled pattern on a cardboard cut-out of the Altheim beltclasp.
Now, as I don't have its original report this might be complete nonsense what I am going to say... but has anyone ever described that, to my eye at least, vèry clear figure of a man in the decoration??

And if you turn the image so the 'forks' face right, you get a series of triangles at the bottom which one could interpret as three or four short legs... at first I thought the man was sitting on a horse, but now it looks to me like the slaughter/sacrifice of a small animal (a sheep or goat?). The man's right arm (slightly bent) is then holding the animal at the neck and he is raising his other arm.

Interpretation of the man would perhaps mean that to show him to others, that the antler clasp would have been worn with the 'forks' facing the person's left side... the other way around from how you had it on your photographs, Thomas.


I also made lifesize cut-outs of the bone 'arrow' objects of the Altheimer culture which Probst says might have also have been sown to clothing... and immediatly thought "Hey, these look like toggles!".
Here are some modern toggles: the arrowshaped bit passes through a loop, then sticks fast on its broad side. Nowadays these are still used to close jackets... and large, sown-together fragments of 'a possible jacket' are just what researchers were said to have found at Pestenacker.
The man on the beltclasps also seems to be wearing a garment open down the middle: ...a jacket, yes.


I'd be glad to hear your-, or any other's opinion. As I said, I do not have copies of the original publications (...yet, hint, hint).

Kelvin Wilson

Here is a photograph of the original beltclasp, for comparison:


Kelvin Wilson

Hello Kelvin,

I?m damned glad you made it to the new forum.

I?v send my photos of my reconstruction to your private email-adress, not to lose time anymore.

To the Altheim finds.
Both, the beltclasp and the triangle objects are coming from Ergolding, Fischergasse. Ergolding is in South-East Bavaria.
But, alas, both finds are NOT publicated in the official publications by B. Ottaway (A British Archaeologist, working a lot in the neolitic Bavaria). I don?t have the slightest idea why she doesn?t include it.
So any interpretation is up to us.
I followed the same path as you did. IF there is any "picture" on the beltclasp, it looks like a person, if not two. The idea of an animal plus a person is also a very good idea.
But I was never very shure about it, due to the fact, that the clasp is not complete.
But I think you don?t need it to fix it on the other side of the belt. If the "man" has to be on top of the clasp, the beholder sees it quite perfect, if the wearer fixes it to his right side. Am I wrong ?
It would also make the wearer to a left hander...Well, no problem, but a bit against the statistics...

The arrowhead-shaped bones are a bit erratic.
But I also think they where sawn to something. The holes a rather small, just 1 mm, so I don?t think the lace can bear the strength you need, if you want to use them as toggles. The triangels themself are also rather thin, not more then 2 mm, so I also think the might break.
What me puzzles, is that they resemble very, very close to the actually used Altheim flint-arrowheads. Same sizes, same form. If there would be no decoration on some of them, my first thought would be: Ah, arrowheads, fixed with threat !
But so, I think they are fixed decorations to the clothing.

Jackets, made from leather are of course a very good idea, the ice-man had one. Unfortunately it?s not clear in detail, if his jacket had any device for closing it. The egdes of the frontpart are totally destroyed, so we will never know, if he had any closing-device.
Togglers from wood or horn are not out of area, I think. Some horn was found, resembling very much to togglers, looking indeed like those you have on modern coats. (At least on English ones )

So - I think your interpretation of the picture on the clasp is very good. It makes sense. Lefthanders existed in the neolithic, I?m convinced that the ice-man was one, but that?s another story.

If you have another idea about this Altheim finds, please let us know.

Thomas T.

This was my first attempt, one that I now consider at fault: as you can see, I exchanged one leg of the man for the hem of the woman's skirt, but then was still left over with half a woman! I read into it a dance, a 'marriage' scene or even a sex scene... it is still quite possible a man having sex with an animal!(if the double line I have drawn as the man's belt/tunic hemline is in fact his, ehm, 'third leg'..)


Personally I find the animal's legs a pretty convincing match. What I did was trace the lines with an artist's mind: looking for pairs and for items drawn as seperate entities. That way you cannot miss the round heads, and can see that the man's left arm and his legs were meant to be seen as seperate objects (a widely spaced stipple does not read as a line unless you double and accentuate it..).

Might the stipples have been inlaid with a colour (like black ash)??


Well, I have just ordered the Barbara Ottaway publication!... if not for these exact finds, then at least for some more context in understanding them.

There are probably lots of these unpublished and thus undiscovered 'figural sketches' in museum storerooms... One that is known from the Netherlands is the late-palaeolithic 'Dancer of Mierlo, the carving on a pebble of a halfnaked woman wearing a triangular loincloth decorated with fringes. For a long time the find was distrusted, and thought to be fake.... until someone cleaned an old find in an old crate from an old excavation and found a similiar stone, the 'Dancer of Wanssum'-- this time showing a man in a long rectangular loincloth (like the one Ötzi wore millennia later).

Not all too many people know of them because of the earlier doubts, even though, well ...how many palaeolithic pictures of clothing do we otherwise have?



Well, tricky.

All in all I follow your ideas (except that the man is having...well..a relationship with his sheep or dog...shock: )
I think there are two persons, the right one with his/her legs bend.
But again- I don?t say I?m right.

interpretation, interpretation.

I also think the that holes have been filled with birch-pitch (Do we say so in English.."birch-pitch" ? )
I would not use any wax. We don?t have any hints for using this in the Neolithic. But, anyway, the holes can be shown pitch-black in a drawing, whatever the filling material was or if they had been filled or not.
And I think, that on a reconstruction or on a drawing, any interpretation is also left to the eye of the beholder.
What puzzles me is:
Why did they make a "drawing by numbers" on it, and not scratch a picture, if they wanted to show something ? Maybe because holes, filled with birch-pitch last longer ? But don?t lines, also filled, also work ?
No idea....


I don't see the legs bent yet, Thomas, but in my first thoughts about this (which I scrapped for the most part before mailing them), I also thought of an battle/execution scene... why else would that hand be raised so high?

And sorry, but I wouldn't put away the man-'doing'-his-sheep option yet. If one doesn't accept it that way, then the double line across is a belt, of course, or the hemline of what would then be a short tunic/jacket.

As to the style of drawing: I would tend to say, as an artist myself, that there hasn't been much thought or effort put into this drawing! All the stipples around the edges, for instance, are simple infill. The drawing hasn't been worked out well, neither: tha's why the man's arm runs off the edge, so to speak, and could be why his body is bent... or else it would never fit!

The most troublesome area to me is the animal's body... in a way it is drawn much less elegantly than the legs are.


P.S. Just found the Ottaway publication for 96 euros... but I paid 24 half an hour ago

Your interpretation shets new light on the scene.

In my first interpretation half a year ago, I did not come to my mind, that the (green) right figure could be an animal, because both figures got the same heads....
I saw the green figure more complete, your last four parallel stripes (green above and red unterneath) looked as a bend leg for me, belonging to the right (green) figure.

I also did not think of an small animal, because of the neolithic goats/sheeps had horns, even the female ones...remains a dog, but they normally have snouts.....but, again, your point of view has something, esp. the legs of the animal look convincing, I just did not see them.

I hope you won?t be disappointed by the Ottaway publication. It?s a typical, very, very technical one.....


"I also did not think of an small animal, because of the neolithic goats/sheeps had horns, even the female ones"

I was wondering about the horns too, but what about a lamb?

"...remains a dog, but they normally have snouts"

Mind you, this one might have a snout too... I must have another look, but the animal's head does not seem sound and indented on one side (but that might be the shape of the antler itself!)

You have seen the original object, Thomas-- am I assuming that right?? If so, do you have other photographs?

I'm having fun with this Kelvin Wilson

I have quickly made a tracing wherein I left out the bits that were missing from the object, and have done so in stipples and not interpretation-per-line ;-)


Looking good, is my honest opinion.

Kelvin Wilson

Sorry, I?ve neither seen the original, I don?t even know where it is, and don?t have no other photos.
There are some drawings and really good photos in an ten-year old-catalouge, "Die ersten Bauern in Bayern", years ago. I?ll send this drawings. It?ll take till next week.

Well, I hope this theme may cause some more discussion on Neolithic people, a rather negleted theme......


Hello Thomas!

I have just received the copies you sent me-- wonderful material! Thank you very much, indeed!

The hook on the back of the clasp is very nice, I must say. I am also surprised to see the author attempted a reconstruction of the stipple pattern... the 'animal' works out slightly different, but what I am most surprised at: the man is not recognised! It is in fact deemed no more than abstract art.

Wonderful, Thomas: I could not have wished for more. Let me get my head back together again, tidy up my studio, and then get back in contact with you.

Thanks again,

Kelvin Wilson

Hello Thomas,

You said you could perhaps copy other publications? Well, If I may suggest, what about this one:

Karl Schmotz (ed.), "Vorträge des 12. Niederbayerischen Archäologentages" (see http://www.vml.de/e/inhalt.php?ISBN=3-924734-58-5 ).

It has an article in called "Den Siedlung Ergolding-Fischergasse bei Landshut und ihr Hinterland." which deals with a certain 'Gürtelhaken aus dem Geweih von einem Fahnenhirsch / Unikat in Mitteleuropa'... which is of course the same object we're looking at.

Do you think you can find this in the museum's library? I'd be more than happy to read along

Kelvin Wilson

I?ll have a look.


To be continued....
Steve Lenz
Beiträge: 3162
Registriert: 05.12.2005 15:18

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