Ottomány culture

The Ottomány culture, also known as Otomani culture in Romania or Otomani-Füzesabony culture in Hungary, was an early Bronze Age culture (c. 2100–1400 BC) in Central Europe named after the eponymous site near the village of Ottomány (Romanian: Otomani), today part of Sălacea, located in modern-day Bihor County, Romania. The Middle Bronze Age period of the Ottomány culture in eastern Hungary and western Romania (c. 1750 BC to 1400 BC) is also known as the Gyulavarsánd culture.[1]

Ottomány culture
Geographical rangeHungary, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland
PeriodBronze Age
Dates2100-1400 BC
Preceded byNyírség culture, Hatvan culture, Coțofeni culture
Followed byTumulus culture, Urnfield culture

Territorial extentEdit

The Ottomány culture was located in eastern Hungary, eastern Slovakia, Crișana in western Romania, western Ukraine - Transcarpatia (Zakarpattia Oblast - within a stretch of the Carpathian mountains) and southeast Poland (stretch of Carpathian mountains and nearby areas). Thus, people of the Ottomány culture secured a middle stretch of what will be later known as the Amber Road, and indeed, amber is often found in Ottomány sites. The expansion of the Ottomány culture is associated with the end of the Hatvan culture.[2]

Habitat, settlements, housing and material cultureEdit

Reconstructed bronze dagger, axe and pendant
Fortified settlement at Góra Zyndrama, Poland, 1750 BC

People belonging to this vast culture settled along river banks and in valleys but also on strategic places like mountain passes and hills used for mighty fortified settlements. Some places like caves and natural springs were used like for cult activities. This culture was contemporary with Wietenberg culture in Romania, Unetice-Madarovce-Veterov-Boheimkirchen cultural complex in Moravia, Germany, Austria and western Slovakia, Mierzanowice culture in Poland and Makó/Nagyrév culture in Hungary. The high cultural level is illustrated most by fortified settlements with highly advanced defensive architecture including ditches, stone walls, ramparts, towers and complicated gates protected by bastions, as well as by urbanistically organized houses (1, 2 or three rooms), tell disposition at lowland sites (consequent use of houses made of clay, creating an artificial hill with many stratigraphic levels), the high level of metal working (bronze, gold, silver), a high level of bone and antler working (including elements of horse harness made of antler), sophisticated pottery, often considered one of the most exquisite ceramic cultures of prehistoric Europe, with beautifully adorned amphorae, jugs, broad bowls, small cups, pottery of milk processing, and piraunoi - transportable ceramic ovens, richly decorated, often interpreted as being used not only for profane, but also cult activities (burning incense). Some distinctive features of Ottomány ceramics are decoration with spiral or circular motifs, rich plastic ornamentation, use of a wave pattern or pattern of "running spirals", polishing of pottery to reach "metallic effect" and high firing temperatures. Metalworking is illustrated by gold jewelry, mainly earrings, small bronze objects (pins, personal ornaments, small tools - needles, awls), military items include battle axes, spear-heads, daggers, knives, and arrowheads. Although stone was still widely used for sickles and working axes.

Hajdúsámson-type sword, Hungary, 1700-1600 BC.[3][4]

According to Anthony (2007), chariotry spread westwards to the Ottomány culture from the Multi-cordoned ware culture.[5]

Mortuary riteEdit

Burials were typically inhumations with the body in a flexed position in large flat cemeteries in direct vicinity of settlements, with different sides for men and women, at the final stages shifting towards bi-ritual rites, with more cremations, using urns. Graves are equipped with rich grave goods, including personal adornments like beads (in male graves often made of animal teeth and boar tusks) and metal jewelry, tools, arms and ceramics. In a child grave at Nizna Mysla cemetery (Eastern Slovakia), a ceramic model of a four-wheel wagon was found and has been interpreted either as child's toy or a cult object.

Collapse and legacyEdit

The end of the Ottomány culture is connected with turbulent events at the end of Old Bronze Age in Central Europe, where there was a collapse of the whole "Old Bronze Age world" with its highly advanced culture of mighty hill-forts, rich burials, and trade over vast distances. The gradual decline in the number of fortified settlements, change of burial rites, and the decision of people to desert fortified settlements could have had several reasons, including the collapse of trade and exchange networks, the attacks of enemies, the internal collapse of society or environmental causes. The following Middle Bronze Age/Late Bronze Age cultures are very different in their burial rites (cremation, erecting of barrows) as well as in their handling of bronze - there is an "explosion" in bronze working, and many bronze hoards found across all of Europe illustrate this change in quantity and quality of produced bronze objects. We see not only bronze ornaments and arms (including first examples of swords), but also bronze tools (sickles, axes, adzes), which changed the everyday life of prehistoric man.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Szeverényi, Vajk; Fischl, Klara (January 2013). "Transformations in the Carpathian Basin around 1600 BC". In Meller, Harald; Bertemes, Francois (eds.). 1600 – Cultural change in the shadow of the Thera-Eruption?. Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt. pp. 355–371.
  2. ^ Kulcsár, Gabriella (2003). "The Early Bronze Age". In Visy, Zsolt (ed.). Hungarian Archaeology at the Turn of the Millennium (PDF). Ministry of National Cultural Heritage. pp. 146–147. ISBN 9638629185.
  3. ^ "Hajdúsámson hoard". Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. 2022.
  4. ^ "Hajdúsámson sword, Hungary, 1700-1600 BC".
  5. ^ Anthony, David (2007). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language. Princeton University Press. p. 411. Chariotry spread west through the Ukrainian steppe MVK [Mnogovalikovaya] culture into southeastern Europe's Monteoru (phase Icl-Ib), Vatin, and Otomani cultures
  6. ^ Wolfgang, David (2010). "Die Zeichen auf der Scheibe von Nebra und das altbronze-zeitliche Symbolgut des Mitteldonau-Karpatenraumes". In Meller, Harald; Bertemes, Francois (eds.). Der Griff nach den Sternen. Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle. p. 435. ISBN 978-3-939414-28-5. Etwa in die gleiche Zeit gehören auch der ur-sprünglich acht gewölbte Goldscheiben umfassende Gold-fund aus der Siedlung von Sacueni (Zickelhid/Székelyhid) sowie eine gleichartige Goldscheibe aus der Tellsiedlung von Varsand-Laposhalom, die beide der Gyulavarsánd-Otomani-Kultur zuzuordnen sind. English translation: "The gold find from the settlement of Sacueni, originally comprising eight domed gold discs, and a similar gold disc from the tell settlement of Varsand-Laposhalom, both belong to the Gyulavarsánd-Otomani culture.

Bronze Age culture in Transylvania, Central Romania

  • Die prähistorische Ansiedlung auf dem "Wietenberg" bei Sighisoara-Schässburg [Gebundene Ausgabe]
  • European Societies in the Bronze Age. A. F. Harding. Cambridge 2000. ISBN 0521367298

External linksEdit