Средњовековна керамика Београда

Весна Бикић





The development of Belgrade in the Middle Ages was decisively influenced by changes happening in its neighbourhood. Due to its extremely important strategic position on the natural border between two geographically distinct regions, where important land and water routes met, its significance was mainly the result of its military function. The changes of strategic function of the fortification had an impact on the development of its settlements and thus in the medieval period we can observe their territorial expansion, or stagnation and decline. The Belgrade fortress with its fortifications and settlements whose characteristics are mainly the result of its function during the longlasting medieval period, gives the wide range of possibilities for studying of various aspects of life in its territories. In this work we made an attempt, on the basis of the pottery discovered during perennial archaeological investigations, to elucidate at least to a degree certain spheres of everyday life of the inhabitants of medieval Belgrade which relate to their social and economic status but also to their cultural and aesthetic needs.


In order to establish possibilities to comprehend development and changes of the pottery during the Middle Ages, covering in Belgrade the period from the second half of the 9th century until the year 1521, the pottery was divided into five groups corresponding chronologically with developing phases of Belgrade and based on certain historical events. The basis for chronological determination was the ceramic material from stratigraphically clearly distinguishable cultural levels and particularly deposits with their complete inventory as well as the existing detailed analyses of fortification system development of the Belgrade fortress (table 1).


The earliest medieval pottery mainly dates from the 9th to the 11th century, which is, according to the results of archaeological investigations, the period of existence of the first Slavic settlement in this area. Considering the entire medieval pottery this group is proportionally small. Even though it was a period of almost two centuries the pottery produced during that time shows only insignificant diversities considering the shajxjs and technological attributes. The mentioned differences are connected primarily with mastering of the technique of working with potter's wheel and thus among the repertoire of pottery shapes there are sometimes product of varying quality. For that reason we can assume rather uniform ceramic production of local character distinguished by diversity of shapes and aptitude of decoration.


The inventory of vessels consists almost exclusively of pots, all of them being produced by the use of the slow-moving potter's wheel (Figs. 2, 12-15). Some of the vessels are of remarkably good quality as, for instance, pots classified as types II/55, II/39, II/54 and II/36 (Figs. 13/3, 8; 15/4, 6-8, 11, 12) but there are also some of coarse fabric and with very thick walls (Fig. 15/1, 9). The bowls appear rather sporadically during this time and they are of conical shape with rounded body (Fig. 2/2-3). The pot shapes are fully adapted for the kitchen use and their varying shapes and dimensions suggest their different use. Except for cooking on the open fire larger vessels could have been used for grain storage while small pots were most probably used for serving and consuming the food. The main pot types could be studied within two large groups differing in accordance with the general idea of their modelling (Figs. 12-15). The pots with wider mouth, ovoid body and wide bottom and pots of similar basic shape but with elongated recipient make the first group (Figs. 12-13). The most obvious distinctions among the specimens of this group concern the form of the rim. The other fairly large group consists of wide pots of ovoid or globular body (Fig. 14/1-3, 9-11) while other forms are less abundant (Figs. 14/4-8; 15). Besides the vessels of usual size this period is characterized by the occurrence of vessels of exceptionally small size which were used as toys (Fig. 39/4, 6,8).


Technological characteristics of this pottery are mostly uniform. The vessels were produced of sandy clay with addition of quartz/mica or limestone, they are usually gray or brown and some pots have a slip of yellowish or reddish clay. But their decorativeness is that what distinguish the earliest vessels dating from the 9th until the 11th century from the products dating from other medieval periods. The ornament usually covers the entire exterior of the vessel, from the shoulder almost to the bottom. The combination of various incised linear ornaments or their combining





with ornaments executed by comb or serrated wheel and sometimes even with plastic bands make each of the vessels from this period a total entity of artistic expression. The relief marks of the potters that produced certain pots should also be mentioned.


The abundance of various ceramic vessels from the Belgrade fortress might indicate that the settlement probably had greater importance than it should lie assumed according to the results of archaeological investigations conducted so far. The fact that Belgrade was an Episcopal seat in the second half of the 9lh century justifies this assumption.


Even though Belgrade was at the boundary of the Bulgarian state in that time, the settlement on the hill above the confluence of the Sava and the Danube, was neither isolated nor static. It developed under the same conditions as numerous other Slavic settlements within wide area from the Danube valley to the south Russian steppes. Belonging to the Danubian, that is Balkan-Danubian cultural group is recognized just according to the pottery of the same type and similar technological traits in that specific region. Studying of the Danubian type pottery within the other ceramic material context, different cultural i.e. ethnic influences which played significant part in the process of formation of the Danube valley culture could be assumed almost with certainty. Thus certain ethnic dualism which is represented as the synthesis of Slavic and Bulgarian-Turkish, that is, nomadic elements dating from the end of 7th - beginning of the 8th century could be noticed in its genesis. This phenomenon is, so far, most clearly demonstrated on the sites in the Dnieper area as well as in Dobruja and northeastern Bulgaria. During the intensive contacts of the two ethnically different groups of people - bearers of different cultures, Danubian and Saltovo-Majaki, the Slavic elements gradually prevailed and that resulted in the more precise differentiation and shaping of the Danubian culture in the second half of the 9th century. These changes can be noticed most clearly just in the analysis of the pottery. Mentioned ethnic dualism was not ascertained at the Belgrade fortress as archaeological excavations within the area did not reveal cultural horizons preceding the 9th century. Thus it can be supposed that this region was during the second half of the 9th century already inhabited by the Slavic population of clearly differentiated culture which is discernable in the ceramic production as well. In addition, the results of comparative analysis of the pottery finds from the wider area along the Danube revealed that Belgrade pottery dating from the 9th-11th centuries has the closest analogies with contemporaneous pottery from Rumania i.e. Dobruja.


When the Byzantine border was reestablished on the Danube in the year 1018 Belgrade entered the new period of development. Simultaneously with the increase of defensive function of the fortification the importance of the civil settlement also increased. Moreover, the change of political authorities meant probably the change in population inhabiting this region. This had implications upon the objects for everyday use which were under stronger influence of Byzantine culture during this period. The changes of pottery are slow but, nevertheless, follow other changes.


Even though the new kind of pottery appeared during the 11th century, the old one, typical for the previous century still existed (Figs. 3-4). The pottery typical for the period of Byzantine administration in Belgrade began to predominate only from the middle of the 12th century what is connected with increased activity on the border and building of the first medieval fortification - castellum as well as expansion of the civilian settlement. For the same reason the cultural layers dating from this very period are thicker and archaeological material more abundant, the pottery being prevailing material. The changes of pottery technology resulted in the new fashion of vessel modeling, which is also noticeable in the pottery discovered in the neighbouring regions, in Rumania and Bulgaria. The pottery types from the mentioned territory have no parallels neither in earlier nor in the contemporaneous Byzantine pottery but are representative of the Danube valley. For that reason, this pottery is considered as a local product originating under new conditions with the Byzantine garrisons in the frontier fortifications and corresponding civil settlements (Figs. 16-18).


The use of the improved potter's wheel influenced the qualitative unification of the pottery but repertoire of forms remained diversified. In addition to the pots the bowls also occur in greater quantities during this period, and quite sporadically small pots with handles. The most numerous forms, as in the previous period, were the pots, especially those with ovoid or globular body, averted rim grooved on both sides and short neck and protruding shoulder (Figs. 5-6; 17). The bowls are generally of conical shape with rounded bodies although there are some of more carinated type and some large conical bowls with thick walls (Fig. 16). Small singlehandled pots are entirely new form in the pottery of the 12th century (Fig. 19). There are three varieties, each type being the result of the influence of the different pottery production, that is different culture. More abundant are the pots which considering their shape and technology represent the continuation of older pottery types (from 10th-11th c.) in this area (Fig. 19/3-4) while those of Byzantine style (Fig. 19/1) and those resembling contemporary Hungarian ones (Fig. 19/2) occur only sporadically.





The miniature pottery vessels - toys appear in this period as well but in contrast to the older ones they imitate regular ware to a lesser extent but have entirely distinct forms (Fig. 39/1-3, 5, 7). Simultaneously with the change of pottery forms the decoration was restricted, that is, decorated surface as well as ornamental motives were reduced. Typical decoration are oblique nail incisions or finger impressions on the shoulder and underneath it mostly horizontal lines extending down to the lower half of the body are engraved. The technological changes are visible to a degree in the process of firing of the pots. Although most of the pottery is still of the uneven brown and gray hues there are some well-fired specimens of the red colour what indicates that pots were exposed to the higher temperatures in the kilns.


The pottery of the same features was discovered at each site investigated so far in the Danube valley, in Serbia as well as in Rumania and Bulgaria while it was discovered to the lesser degree or exceptionally in the interior of Serbia, e.g. at Ravno (Cuprija), Caricin grad near Lebane and Ras fortress near Novi Pazar. The occurrence of this pottery within the mentioned area of the Danube valley suggest the opinion that autochthonous pottery tradition played the decisive role in its stylistic formation and progress in technology should be connected with the change of cultural factors, that is, generally, new political conditions arising after arrival of Byzantine garrisons in the frontier fortifications. From the typological point of view and concerning quantitative presence of certain types the pottery from the Belgrade fortress is most similar to the pottery from the town of Branicevo which because of its proximity and identical function within the defensive system of the north Byzantine border has the fate similar to that of Belgrade.


Entering large Byzantine commonwealth was followed, in addition to everything else, by importation of goods produced in the home regions of the Empire. The imported pottery from this period discovered at the Belgrade fortress partially reflects the real needs of the people living there and partially their aesthetic demands (Figs. 7; 20-22). In contrast to the rather large amount of pottery containers, the luxurious pottery is rather scarce and mostly in a fragmentary state. Of the vessels used for transport or storing of the food, only amphoras were discovered at Belgrade fortress (Figs. 7/6-7; 21). The most common were shortnecked amphorae with an ovoid (pear-shaped) recipient (Fig. 21/3-4). Massive handles start from the rim or just below it. The body has thick walls with wider and wider ribs towards the oval bottom and a milder profilation. On the shoulders of these amphoras there is often some sign as owner's mark or as an ornament; on some specimens was a cursive inscriptions - tituli picti which usually speaks about the contents ol amphora. Besides above mentioned there are also some amphoras of spindly shape but rather infrequent ( Fig. 21/1-2). All the amphoras from the Belgrade fortress belong to the Black Sea production area. Judging by the amphoras it can be assumed that Belgrade fitted into the economic system of Byzantine empire. The supplying of troops and population with particular food, like wine and oil and sometimes honey and fish sauce was organized from one region for the entire territory of the Empire.


The luxurious tableware - glazed jugs and jugs with gold and silver slip and red-painted ornament reached Belgrade from Byzantine workshops (Figs. 7/3; 20). As in Belgrade, these jugs are not frequently found in other parts of Byzantine empire either, and it is supposed that they originated from some small pottery manufacturing center that had limited production. While for the amphoras it is established with great certainty that they came from the Black Sea area, the tableware workshops are not identified with certainty, but it is supposed that they were in Thessalonika or Corinth (map 1). All the mentioned goods reached the Belgrade consumers most probably by the river - Danube. The Danube route was the shortest, cheapest and at the same time safest transition route which connected Belgrade with Byzantine centers at the Black Sea coast. The pottery and other goods of Byzantine origin discovered at the sites along the Danube confirm the use of the Danube route in the mentioned period.


Besides Byzantine, another group of imported pottery, consisting of two different types of products: amphoroide jugs and cauldrons, was registered at the Belgrade fortress. Both pottery types in a certain way reflect identical ethnic provenance, that is, cultural heritage of the nomadic people. Even though the amphora-like jugs are supposed to be produced according to the former, late antique Byzantine models these vessels considering their technology and massiveness reflect the so called proto-Bulgarian tradition (Fig. 22/1-2). A few similar variants differing in shape, decoration and surface treatment can lie distinguished among the amphoroide jugs. In spite the fact that many of these vessels were discovered during archaeological investigations at the Belgrade fortress they are mostly in a fragmentary state. For that reason we can distinguish only two variants of the main type. The one is massive vessel with thick walls and narrow neck and mouth (Fig. 7/5) and other variant is represented with just one specimen of a jug with thin walls and slaying rim that greatly resembles the shape of early Byzantine prototype (Fig. 7/1). Few pots that are unfortunately in a very fragmentary state have technological characteristics similar to the amphoroide jugs (Fig. 7/2, 4).





In spite of the abundance of the amphora-like jugs discovered so far, they are most numerous in the territory of present Bulgaria, especially in its northern part, the supposed centers of these production being in Pliska and Preslav (map 1). The period of most extensive production of these vessels was during the rise and expaasion of the First Bulgarian state in the 9th-10th centuries, although the finds of amphora-like jugs in Belgrade and at other sites in the middle Danube valley as well as at some sites in Serbia indicate the continuation of their production during the 11th-12th centuries.


The shape of the cauldron indicates nomadic cultural heritage (Fig. 22/3). The cauldrons from Belgrade fortress judging by the time of their appearance in the form of the vessels with horizontal rim, conical body and rounded bottom should be primarily associated with corresponding specimens from the areas north of the Sava and the Danube, that is from the territory of Hungary in the 12th-13th centuries. The finds of cauldrons at Belgrade fortress within the context of existing records about older specimens from Dobruja and northeastern Bulgaria can be used as an important link in the development of cauldrous and their distribution and duration in the wide area from south Russian steppes to the sites in western Bosnia. Besides cauldrons sporadic finds of certain other vessels e.g. small pot with handle (Fig. 19/2) suggest the contacts of populations inhabiting both sides of Byzantine-Hungarian border from 1018 until the beginning of the 13th century.


After the retreat of Byzantium from the Danube border Belgrade and its surroundings became a part of Hungarian state and remind so during the 13th and 14th century. Becoming a part of Serbian state during the reign of king Milutin (1316-1319) and in the first decade of the reign of king Stefan Dusan (in the end of forth decade of the 14th century) Belgrade fortress gained great defensive significance as the state border was running along the Sava and the Danube. However, after final Hungarian occupation Belgrade remained frontier fortification but within larger defensive system of south Hungarian borders. Thus it lost its primary military significance and that reflected in the decline of the settlement. Even though all the main roads meet at this very point the economic character of the city was not yet established as one of the main factors of development and that restricted Belgrade to rather local importance. This distinctive phenomenon is noticeable in the remains of the material culture. The results of archaeological investigations revealed that cultural layers of this period are thin and archaeological material rather scarce. Certain expansion of the settlement is recorded on the slope towards the Danube in the area of contemporary Dorćol.


Studying of the pottery from all investigated areas of the Belgrade fortress could not establish the differences between pottery dating from Hungarian and Serbian domination, that is, the pottery dating from the 13th-14th centuries is exclusively of local origin, intended for kitchen use (Figs. 8; 23). The most numerous pottery group are pots, especially those with wide recipient, of bag-like form (Fig. 23/2-6). Besides pots there are only a few fragments of matching lids, all of them of conical shape (Fig. 23/1). The clay fabric is identical for all pottery types. It is sandy clay with usually large grains of sand or gravel, of gray, brown or yellowish colour. The pots of other, less common shapes have similar technological characteristics (Fig. 23/7-13). In addition to the unsophisticated form this pottery is characterized by farther reduction of decoration. There is simple, incised linear ornament usually on the shoulder or upper half of the body and vessels without any decoration are rather frequent. Among this mainly uniform ware there are, however, a few specimens of better quality with extremely thin walls and meliculously executed decoration (Fig. 23/9-11).


For the first time in its history Belgrade became the center of Serbia during the reign of despot Stefan Lazarević (1404-1427). During this rather short period of twenty-three years while the town was held by Serbs it became not only important defensive stronghold against the Turks but also economic, cultural and religious center. This period is not clearly defined by the remains of material culture. Cultural layers from that period at Belgrade fortress are in a very fragmentary state of preservation and were difficult to distinguish stratigraphically which is partially the consequence of large levelling works in the later periods. The political turn towards Hungary because of joint defence from the Turks was not accompanied by changes in other aspects of life. Pottery from Belgrade, dating from the period between years 1404-1427 from cultural, technological and typological point of view is analogous to the products of Moravian Serbia of the 14th-15th centuries and continued to show traditional inclination towards the Byzantine models. This tendency is mainly discernible in the tableware (bowls and jugs) while kitchenware is of very distinctive local type, particularly distinguishable in decoration. Two types of vessels predominate among the kitchenware and they are common for the entire territory of Despotovina (Fig. 24/1, 3-9). These are the pots with slaying neck and ovoid body and other with one handle, wide mouth, globular body and narrow bottom. Both types are decorated with incised lines combined with nail or finger impression. The band decorated with nail impression is prevailing for the rim decoration although the upper part of the body





was sometimes decorated in the same way. The pots with a handle are often completely or partially green glazed.


The tableware, in contrast to the kitchenware evinces other kind of ornamentation and different techniques, like glazing or sgraffito (Fig. 25). The bowl types with short foot are directly taken from older Byzantine production of the 12th-13th century. Even though they were generally very lavishly decorated, like the bowls from Kruševac and Stalać, at the Belgrade fortress only less luxurious pieces, coated with pastel shades of lightgreen glaze, were discovered (Fig. 25/1-2). The exception is the bowl with horizontal handle decorated with glaze-painted ornaments (Fig. 25/6). In relation to the well-known finds of these bowls from Stalae, Ravanica, Gradac and Petrova crkva near Novi Pazar as well as from Trnovo (Bulgaria) the vessel from Belgrade shows the harmony of size and shape and simple elegance of decoration. The more heterogeneity of shapes and decoration is recorded for the jugs. The jugs with rims adjusted for pouring liquid and with elongated, ovoid body, decorated in the sgraffito technique are more frequent at Belgrade fortress than any other types (Fig. 25/3-5). The most representative specimen is the jug decorated by combination of various techniques - sgraffito, glazing and applying of small drops (Fig. 25/10).  One single-handled pot of tableware group was partially decorated in the same techniques (Fig. 25/3). This ware, especially jugs, are directly connected with workshops in Novo Brdo which supplied local market with luxurious pottery during the 14th-15th centuries.


Both pottery groups, kitchenware as well as tableware, discovered in Belgrade resemble closely the pottery from Krusevac, Stalac, Novo Brdo and, sometimes later, Smederevo. So we can speak about clearly discernable pottery produced in Serbia until the Turkish occupation in 1459 when despot's last capital, Smederevo, was conquered. But, in spite of this, only the pottery from settlements close to each other and which developed under identical economic and political conditions in the certain period of time could be compared with certainty. From that point of view the pottery from Belgrade and Smederevo shows the greatest resemblance in the first half of the 15th century.


After incorporation in Hungary, in 1427, Belgrade was isolated from its natural background and it had complex impact on the life of its inhabitants. In addition, from this period until the year 1521 the town was one of the most important strongpoints within the defensive system of south Hungarian border against threatening Turkish danger. Its development was the result of its military function and its rapid economic progression was stimulated mainly because of the defensive reasons. Due to these circumstances Belgrade developed as fortified town with significant civil settlement during the 15th century. Long lasting Hungarian control left many traces of material culture as within the Belgrade fortress also beyond the city walls. On the basis of well-preserved cultural layers dating from this period we can investigate the development of urban fortifications and territorial expansion of the settlement. Their contents, as with cultural layers of other medieval periods, was mostly pottery (Figs. 9-11; 26-38). For that reason all the changes that happened on various objects are most evident on the pottery.


One of the first measures following the change of administration in Belgrade was the change of ethnic structure of population. Settling in the Belgrade fortress of many Hungarian soldiers but also civilians - subjects of Hungarian crown, first of all merchants and tradesmen, resulted in pushing away native population. The mentioned changes generated modifications of material culture and thus the earthenware considered traditional in this area gave way to the new Hungarian pottery tradition. Consequently, former inclination towards the south i.e. Byzantine and Serbian cultural milieu was disrupted.


The Hungarian pottery is of distinctive shapes and technological traits as a result of different production technology. It was produced on the fast-rotating potter's wheel and as a consequence the production was greater and mostly uniform. Also, the general line of the vessel is elongated and more acute while decoration is almost entirely neglected because of the Gothic art style influence in that period. The pots which continued to be most numerous category can be used as the basic element for analyzing characteristics of complete pottery production. They can be divided in two groups according to their shape, that is, general appearance. Pots with thin walls, everted, rounded or carinated rims and with large body that narrows towards the flat base, making pots to look generally rather unstable make the first group (Fig. 27). These pots have ribbed ornament on the upper part of the body while only the moulded band with finger impressions just beneath the rim should be considered as decoration in the strict sense. The mentioned ornament is, however, rather infrequent. The other less numerous group are larger pots of bag-like shape with wide mouth and completely adjusted to their kitchen use (Fig. 28/1, 7, 11). They are mostly not decorated but sometimes they have incised horizontal line that follows spirally the entire girth. If previously mentioned type is considered to be the result of the Gothic influence, the bag-like pots, no doubt, represent the continuation of older Hungarian tradilion,





from the 12th-13th centuries when this shape predominated among pottery vessels. The general impression about the kitchenware in this period is that it was mass production of uniform quality and to a degree of uniform shapes. The pottery vessels were produced of sandy clay of characteristic granular structure and thus the surface of the pots was rough. The colour varies - it is mostly red but also light gray, gray and brown. The products of white or yellowish kaolin clay are less frequent. In addition, because more attention is paid to the shape of the vessels, particularly to the rim, additional decoration in other techniques does not have any sense as the form itself fulfills aesthetic notion.


As we mentioned before, the production of traditional local pottery was interrupted suddenly but not completely. The native pottery was still produced, although in considerably lesser quantity, and its existence was confirmed bv the finds of mainly simple cooking-pots, of oval shape (Figs. 10/6-7; II/4; 29), The shallow bowls of conical shape which could have been used for baking bread ("crepulja") are also supposed to be the products of local potters (Fig. 26/5-6).


The decoration of the tableware was somewhat different (Figs. 31-33). Even though it was generally of the same quality as the kitchenware the bowls and jugs were decorated by red or brown painting while incised decoration is rather infrequent. In the later period, from the second half of the 15th century, bowls and pots, as well as jugs, pitchers and goblets were often green or brown glazed.


All the changes of the pottery that happened in the course of time are entirely the reflection of the fashion trends dictated by Buda as the large center of Middle European art and culture of that time. The most important changes could be noticed already from the reign of Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) when as a result of many different contacts with neighbouring regions in Hungary, the pottery resembling traditions of the Mediterranean culture - in the east of Byzantium and of Italy begins to be produced. These changes could be distinguished in various forms in the pottery of Belgrade fortress as well as the one from Buda. In a way it is the use of the new techniques on the well-known products of Hungarian pottery, that is, the bowls and pots of tableware category but also the kitchenware of distinctively Hungarian shapes and technology was glazed mostly green or brown. The other group of vessels, mostly the bowls with short foot and jugs could be understood as direct cultural heritage of Byzantine civilization, slightly changed to comply with the taste of Turkish conquerors. At the same time, certain changes in the technology of pottery production also happened. The vessels are made from average refined clay, fired red and with surface glazed green or brown. From the 16th century this pottery type prevailed at Belgrade fortress as well as at Buda but certain typically Hungarian types of bowls, pots and jugs made of white kaolin clay still remained in use but were not very frequent.


Judging by all this, it is most probable that pottery of this period was produced in large manufacturing centers in the Hungarian territory and brought to Belgrade where the inhabitants were buying it or exchanging it for some other products. It is suggested, first of all, by the mass production of the same style and uniform technological characteristics. Although during former archaeological investigations at the Belgrade fortress the manufacturing center has not been discovered the possible existence of some pottery workshop which produced vessels after Hungarian models and perhaps according to recipes concerning technology (refining of clay, firing temperature and surface treatment) should not be excluded. Pottery that is distinguished with more certainty as local product are shallow, conical bowls which resemble bread-baking pans (crepulja) or special cooking-pots (vršnik) as well as some pots because these vessels are similar in form and decoration to the chronologically earlier specimens from this area (Figs. 26/5-6; 29; 30/14-16).


During the 15th century certain Middle European manufacturing centers produced special mostly luxurious pottery. Part of this production is recorded in the material from Belgrade fortress (Figs. 34-37). Small jug made of white kaolin clay with brown painted geometric ornament was, no doubt, produced in Buda (Fig. 34/9). Most probably some larger jugs decorated in the same way came from the same workshop (Fig. 34/1, 6). Judging by relatively numerous specimens of assorted tableware it is most probably that workshops specialized for certain luxurious pottery types existed in the vicinity of other larger Hungarian urban centers (Figs. 34/2-5, 7-8, 10-12). The goblets with many small handles and the surface roughened by bubbles - so called Loštice type arrived in Belgrade from the manufacturing centers that functioned in the territory of north Moravia in the 15th century (Fig. 37). Yellow and green glazed goblets decorated with applied 'berries' and spines are supposed to be produced in the Rhineland where, for the time being, only manufacturing center at Siegburg is registered (Fig. 36/2). The larger jug of distinctive shape and with a spout probably originated from the same area (Fig. 36/1).


Besides luxurious pottery some kitchenware was also imported, like large pots with everted lip made of clay with addition of graphite as well as generally similar pots but of common fabric and red, brown or gray colour (Fig. 35). It is considered that vessels of





this type originate from Austrian potteries and for some of them we are almost certain about the specific workshops. This relates to the graphite pots with stamp signs on the rim. According to the mentioned stamps which were used as marks of quality of the workshops which produced these pots we know that graphite pots discovered in Belgrade were manufactured in Vienna. Besides cooking pots, the vessels for melting metal most probably also arrived from Austria. Only one of them has a stamp indicating that it was produced in Passau or Tuln. The inventory of the pottery, particularly luxurious, certainly speaks a lot about aesthetic criterion but also about economic strength of the Belgrade citizens during the 15th and in the beginning of the 16th century.


When we are studying the occurrence of the pottery which comes to Belgrade from more or less distant Middle European workshops, the inevitable issue is distinguishing of the routes of its arrival to the consumers in Belgrade (map 2). It is well-known that Hungary in the 15th century was very important intermediary in the international trade between Belgrade and cultural centers of the Middle Europe, and thus thanks to its intervention the mentioned goods arrived in Belgrade. However, it seems that in this stage the importance of the city location remarkably increased considering previous phases of the Middle Ages. That in itself, at the same time, increased the importance of the Danube route which was the most direct connecting link of Belgrade and other leading cultural centers of that time. In contrast to the preceding periods when due to the political circumstances, only lower Danube was used as trading route with Belgrade, later, due to the change of historical situation upper Danube and its tributaries became more important as trading route. Numerous goods used by its inhabitants arrived in Belgrade by ships from Regensburg, Vienna and Buda, i.e. from Czechoslovakia and Transilvania. Pottery vessels certainly made significant segment of this exchange during the long period between 1427 and 1521, particularly from the second half of the 15th century. Considerable trade was also going on within Serbian-Hungarian border area, so Belgrade most probably played significant part in the process of further transmission of cultural influences into the interior of the Balkan peninsula. Commercial activity in this area, confirmed by the data from historic sources, could be ascertained also according to pottery finds - the jug manufactured in Smederevo (Fig. 38/4) as well as some others which in their appearance combined former Serbian pottery tradition from the 14th-15th centuries and influence of the new style coming along with the Turks (Fig. 38/1-3).


In this final phase of production there was also the pottery of special purpose like candlesticks (Fig. 40) as well as technical ware - stove tiles (Figs. 41-44), melting pots (Fig. 45/1-5) and acoustic resonators (Fig. 45/6-7). In relation to kitchen and tableware these special pottery was proportionally sparse but still important for the complete picture of the pottery production in one of the most important periods of the Belgrade history.


Varying importance of Belgrade with its fortifications and settlements during the Middle Ages reflected on all the aspects of life. The objects of material culture discovered in the course of the longlasting archaeological investigations of Belgrade fortress reflect social and economic status of the inhabitants. They help to confirm and to a degree elucidate the changes generated by the sequence of historical events. In the pottery as most abundant group of objects of material culture, mentioned changes are more easily distinguishable.


The pottery from the Belgrade fortress studied through its six-centuries long, medieval history, from the 9th century to the year 1521 reflects precisely the connections of Belgrade with its geographical, political and cultural background. During the earliest period, from the 9th until the 11th century these are mainly cultural, that is, ethnic connections which are to a great extent result of the geographic position. During the Byzantine administration from 1018 to the beginning of the 13th century all these three elements were united by including the town within Byzantine world whose northern border was the Danube. During Hungarian and Serbian administration in the 13th/14th centuries Belgrade was reduced to the town without military and strategic importance, where life was going on within narrow, local limits, what is confirmed by the pottery finds. After this, from the beginning of the 15th century commenced rapid development of the city. Even though Belgrade was still in political sense turned towards Hungary, as political, economic and cultural capital of the Despotovina from 1404 to 1427 it was related to the cultural heritage of Moravian Serbia of the 14th/15th centuries and in itself to the Byzantine models. Entering the scopes of Hungarian state from 1427 to 1521 cultural and political unity was reestablished but connections of Belgrade with its natural environment were broken off and that meant at the same time breaking off of the traditional links which played part in establishing distinct and recognizable culture.


[Previous] [Next]

[Back to Index]