Analysis of the symbolical aspects of jewelry from Iron Age
At the turn of the 2nd into the 1st millennium AD, i.e. the turn of Bronze into Iron Age, numerous bronze objects arose in Macedonia and wider in the middle Balkan, that, according to their basic shape and the presence of additional mechanical elements, could have be used as jewelry. On the other hand, however, it is obvious that this suggested use was strongly obstructed by their complex and very disjoined shape, as well as by the relatively big volume and weight. The use as jewelry can be justified only if we ascribe some additional functions to these objects as is the symbolic one, which would also justify their rich shape and iconography. This symbolic stack
could have been directed at three basic functions: (1) semantic, as a hallmark of different identity aspects of people wearing it (sex, age, social status, ethnicity); (2) stimulative, as an element which should have incited the biological or perhaps the social function of the person wearing it through the material of which it was made and the significance of the pictorial presentations it evoked; (3) apotropaic, directed at protection of the person wearing it from various real or supernatural negative impacts (a disease, a spell, supernatural creature, misfortune etc.) through the same components.
Most of the aforementioned objects found on the territory of Macedonia have a cabinet denomination as “Macedonian bronzes”, and are, in fact, the very focus of this project. Objects encompassed by this name belong to several specific types that are mainly dated between 8th and 6th centuries BC. Regardless of the “Macedonian” as an adjective, which is widely accepted in the science, it is considered that most of these bronzes were produced among Paeonians or some of their tribes, which does not exclude participation of other Balkan communities in their creation.
The project anticipates iconographical and semiotic analyses of these objects and establishing different models on how the original users could have considered, “read” or thought over the pictures coded in their shape. Then, these hypothetical model would be verified and rendered based on synchronic and diachronic comparative method, so they would be compared to relevant traditions of different cultures (pictorial presentations, myths and rites) close to the communities to which the analyzed finds belonged, from a chronological, a geographical and a cultural aspect.
An attempt will be made to correlate the similarities among Macedonian Iron Age objects and the already mentioned more immediate analogies and to put them in exact cultural links identified based on archaeological facts or written sources that would refer to given time and space or to exact ethnicities that could be linked to them. One of the aims of this research is to also give a real historical base, by synthesis of these levels, to the suggested iconographical and semiotic interpretations. A special attention will be dedicated to the connection of the religious stacks integrated within these objects and the archaeological context in which they were found to certain ancient written sources that refer to the spiritual culture (mythology, rites or religion in general) of ethnicities existing on Macedonian soil and the surrounding Balkan regions in that time or later. It should provide a discovery of the basic stacks i.e. the spiritual substrate of religious traditions that intertwined in the forthcoming ancient epoch, and even later.