Slav Jewelry and Cross-shaped Reliquary

Slav Jewelry and Cross-shaped Reliquary

  • Site: Belgrade and surrounding area
  • Period: Great Migration and Middle Ages
  • Date: 9th-10th centuries
  • Material: silver, bronze
  • Technique: filigree, granulation, incision
  • Inventory number: Cross AS 23, jewelry AS 105, 111, 120, 125, 128-129, 133, 1262, 2022-2023; AS I/118, 197, 204-206; ZA 1267, 1658-1660, 1688, 1728, 1734, 2421, 3233, 3254

The jewelry found in the graves of the Slav population of this time is a reliable indicator of the sex, age, and social status of the buried person: it can also provide information on of the ethnic tradition, the economic conditions in the society, and even on the current fashions. These finds come from the Belgrade Fortress, Karaburma, Rospi-Ćuprija, Vinča, Mirijevo, Ritopek, Brestovik, Zemun, Batajnica and Novi Banovci. They include earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, and bells. The earrings are of various forms - crescent-shaped, with strawberry-like pendants, combined, and (the most popular type) grape-like - and come in a number of variants, materials and techniques of work.

The presence of competent masters, skillful in the casting of fine objects of coloured metals, is attested by finds of small recipients for the casting of jewelry, discovered in the Lower Town of Belgrade, and a fragment of a cross-shaped reliquary.

On the preserved side of the cross is a representation of the Virgin Orans, with the letter M incised above her nimbus. This cross is unique in showing the busts of three iconographically enigmatic persons, each bearing a mark of Jesus Christ. At the time of the restoration of the episcopal seat in Belgrade in the 11th century the demand for such crosses increased because their holy content imparted a particular feeling of divine protection. It may be therefore supposed that the local craftsman tried to copy some earlier model of the Syrian-Palestinian type, particularly revered because of its content, which was only briefly seen or kept in the town.

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