Temporary camps in Gerulata
The archaeological topography of the Roman castellum Gerulata, which was uncovered on the right bank of the Danube river, in the centre of Rusovce, near Bratislava, had until now comprised of the permanent camp, vicus (civil settlement), burial grounds and wider surroundings, where the villa rustica and rustic habitation have been explored. The recent archaeological research added another type of typical Roman construction to this structure, the temporary camps.
The first camp in Rusovce was researched in 1982 by Magda Pichlerová, in 1984 by Jaroslava Schmidtová, in 1996 by Igor Bazovský and in 2004 again by Jaroslava Schmidtová. Another research took place in 2009, before the construction of a family house at Balkánska Street in Rusovce. The archaeologists re-explored the Gerulata trench and found a unique material from the second half of the 2nd century AD. The discovery of artefacts of specific craftsmen, found in the destruction layers of several forts on the Roman Limes in Pannonia from the Marcomannic wars, clearly links the trench with war activities in Gerulata and on the Limes. The dispersion of the terra sigillata splinters points to the quick and single-shot destruction of the trench. The discovery of the defensive trench in the explored site is evidence of a fortified area built for defence and against attack.
The findings confirmed the assumption that the fortification existed during the Marcomannic wars, when it was necessary to accommodate more army units in Gerulata, and was named Gerulata II. During that time, they also built a stone fort, which represents the second construction phase of Gerulata. Given the fact that the described camp, Gerulata II, is only separated some 200 metres from the fort, it could have been a temporary camp.
The second trench, which might be considered as a defensive circuit trench of a temporary camp from the Roman times, is located in the north-western part of Rusovce, near the Roman settlement situated in the fort’s wider area. There are constructions, which were discovered by an aerial research and verified by the classical archaeological research in 1997. A rescue archaeological research took place in this poly-cultural locality in 2010. While exploring the graves, hard-core basis of constructions, habitation holes and canals, it also discovered a trench that is 320 cm wide and 240 cm deep from ground level. It runs from north-west to south-east and has a profile of the letter V. Its sloping walls get narrower in the lower part and the bottom is slightly rounded.
The Romans built the temporary, or provisional, field or short-term military camps for short or longer periods in order to protect their army in foreign territory. They could be used as strong points before battle and in case of a longer stay, for over-wintering. The dimensions and shapes of the camps were adjusted to the number of soldiers and nature of the terrain. The findings of the many short stay or temporary camps in the area north of the Danube are considered to be one of the biggest successes in terrain exploration in the last twenty years. They directly document the movements of Roman armies in barbarian territory during the Marcomannic wars.
Iconography of the saint in the painting of Thurzo’s house in Banská Bystrica
The late-gothic wall paintings on the ground floor of the house No 4 at SNP Square in Banská Bystrica were discovered in 1954. Their quality was one of the main reasons for suspending the demolition of the entire building, which was expected. The character of the wall paintings, significantly influenced by using green pigment and applying floral ornamentation, makes the room covered by a barrel vault one of the so-called green rooms – profane rooms, which were most popular in the Central Europe in the last decades of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century.
Despite the damage and fragmental preservation, the Banská Bystrica paintings raise justifiable interest amongst explores. The quality painting technique and extraordinary iconography, group them among the top works of late-gothic wall painting in Slovakia. Expert opinions date the paintings between 1465 and 1500. The indicative works are the painted coats of arms of King Matthias Corvinus and his wife, Beatrix of Aragon, in the top of the barrel vault. Also unknown is the person, who ordered the paintings.
The identification of iconography is problematic in several scenes, especially in the painting neighbouring the scene of Zuzana in the Bath on the eastern wall. The literature lists it under several titles: Landscape Scene, Historic Scene with Matthias Corvinus, Scene with St. Eustache, King David and Bathsheba at her Bath. Mária Smoláková was the last to identify the painting as the Legend of St. Christopher. This interpretation has several problems: faulty identification of one of the figures as St. Christopher with a dog’s head, unfounded explanation of the present stag, and mistaking the female figure for the saint’s temptress.
Based on the recognizable parts of the painting, it is possible to identify the wall painting in the green hall as the Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller. Following the The Golden Legend (Latin: Legenda aurea or Legenda sanctorum) by Jacobus de Voragine, Julian was a noble young man, who met a stag while hunting, which told him he would kill his parents. The painting depicts this scene in the foreground, where the jumping stag looks at the saint, who holds an arrow in his hands as the reference to hunting. The story continues with Julian’s escape to a far-away country (the rider on the right side of the painting) and his meeting with a rich widow at her castle (in the background), who becomes his wife. During Julian’s absence, the woman invites his parents to stay and sleep in their own bed. When returning home, enraged Julian accidentally kills his parents, because he thinks it is his wife in bed with a lover. The couple then go to a big river, at the bank of which they build a hospital as an act of penance. One night, Julian hears a freezing poor man calling for help. He carries him across the river and puts him in his bed. The poor man tells Julian that God forgives him and will soon meet him. Soon after that, Julian and his wife die peacefully. There are recognizable fragments of feet of the poor man sitting on the river’s bank as well as of the scene where the saint carries the man on his back.
In order to explain the reasons why this untraditional theme of St. Julian’s legend was found in this part of the Central-European region, it would be necessary to review the iconographic programme of the green room of Thurzo’s house, with the focus on its original functions.
Precious belongings of Košice bourgeois in the 16th century
The Košice city archive, stores testaments and property inventories of the Košice burghers, which provide information on movable as well as immovable property of the city inhabitants and enables reconstruction of their everyday life in different periods. The documents only talk about the higher and wealthier group of burghers in Košice’s early modern times, who owned the most valuable movable property. They do not concern other societal groups.
The amount and composition of the Košice burghers’ property depended on their social status. The most valuable was immovable property, chiefly houses and farm land, mainly vineyards, but also fields, meadows, gardens and farmsteads. The movable property mainly included clothes, furniture, books, carpenter’s tools, kitchen and other utensils, as well as other items of the bourgeois’ everyday life. The most precious in this group were the “luxury” goods, mainly jewellery, expensive items as well as decorated weapons, which demonstrated the social and property status of the bourgeois. One of the wealthiest Košice burghers in the researched period was bell-maker Andrej Illenfeld.
The author lists examples of the most valuable items made of gold and silver, precious stones and other decorations, which are mentioned in the archival documents and part of which is also represented in the collections of the Eastern-Slovak Museum in Košice. These include precious cups, spoons and knives from silver, cutlery made of gold, jewellery worn by men and women (seal rings, chains), buckles and buttons from expensive clothes, decorated weapons and other precious items. They were usually stored in hutches, which represent the most valuable pieces of period furniture.
End of millennium memorials in Devín and Zobor
The article describes the demolition of millennium memorials in Devín and Zobor. Based on the original archival documents, it introduces experts to the reasons for pulling down these monuments, the participants and work processes, as well as reviews written about this activity in the period’s Slovak, German and Hungarian print media.
Hungary celebrated a big event in 1896 – an ostensible millennium/one thousand years of assuming the country (honfoglalás – land-taking) by the old-Hungarian (Magyar) tribal union. During the celebration it was decided to build ten special sculptures. However, only seven of them got erected, two of them in Slovak territory. The dates on them, though, were historical lies. For instance, in 896, Devín and Nitra were still part of the Great Moravia; Hungarians only colonized them in the 10th century. After the origin of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, these memorials were politically unacceptable for the new state. They were reminiscent of the Hungarian nationhood, mainly taking into account the fact that the Horthy’s Hungary had never accepted the Treaty of Trianon from June 4, 1920 and from the very beginning carried out an unfriendly revisionist activity against Czechoslovakia, with the aim to renew the times from before the coup in 1918, which was meant to bring back the Holy Crown of Hungary.
Despite appeals from several nationalistic organisations and various associations, the Czechoslovak state authorities failed to arrange the removal of these memorials, but a group of Czechoslovak legionaries took the initiative into their own hands. It was led by the head of the Advertising and News Office in Bratislava, First Lieutenant Jozef Honza Dubnický. Based on Honza’s handwritten notes, stored in the Slovak National Archives in Bratislava, a group of Russian, French and Italian legionaries (all of Slovak origin) formed under his leadership at the beginning of 1921. They removed the memorials at the Devín Castle and Zobor on the 12th of January and 8th of February of 1921, respectively.
The author of the article also mentions other memorials celebrating the Hungarian millennium in Slovakia. One of them was the millennium inscription on the demolished tower of one of the oldest Bratislava churches, the Franciscan Church. The tower was later restored into an open, ornamental chapel in the park of Sad Janka Kráľa in Bratislava-Petržalka. Another example was the memorial in Trnava’s city park near the railway station. These were also broken and removed by the Slovak legionaries in March 1921.
Relief of Our Lady of Sorrows in Šaštín basilica
The relief of Our Lady of Sorrows, in the national sanctuary of Mary, The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Šaštín (western Slovakia), was created by the renowned Bratislava sculptor Alojz Rigele (1879 – 1940). The Slovak priest and parliament member Ferdinand Juriga (1874 – 1950) ordered the work to counterbalance the “Hungarian” sculpture of the Holy Virgin at the chapel’s altar, which was considered to be reminiscent of the no longer existing Austro-Hungarian monarchy (ended in 1918).
Rigele’s relief, made of Carra marble from the group of sculptures depicting Empress Maria Theresa’s visit in Bratislava (demolished in 1921), was to be purely an independent Slovak expression of worshiping the nation’s patroness, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. The semi-circular board, 141 cm wide and 82 cm high, very likely originated from the front or rear semi-curved pedestal of the Theresa’s sculpture group. Its original dimensions, documented on the monument’s projects, also refer to it. Into this stone semi-circle, Rigele arranged thirty-two figures. The worshippers of Mary are gathered around the dominant three-peaked hill with a double cross and are wearing traditional Slovak costumes. The buyer of this work and his family are also among them.
The seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary are expressed in the central motif of the Pieta and six medallions. Their depiction is inspired by the Calvary work in Pružina, which was ordered by the first vice-president of the Catholic Association of St. Vojtech (Adalbert), Mary’s worshiper and patriot Štefan Závodník, whom Juriga admired. The interpretation key of the work is the prayer-book issued by Juriga, which can also be seen in the Šaštín relief in his hands. The work was ceremoniously opened in May 1927.
Flak jacket from World War II
This article, written by the employee of the Slovak National Museum-Červený Kameň Museum, talks about an interesting item from the collections of this museum, which refers to the air combats above the Slovak territory during the Second World War. The people of the Small-Carpathian region in western Slovakia saw an aircraft of Slovak or other air force only sporadically. For instance, on 28th April 1943, the pilot of the aerial regiment of the Slovak Air Force J. Dúbravec crashed during a training flight above the municipality of Častá. He is buried at the local cemetery. Machines of other fighting air forces were a rarity for the citizens of this region until 1944.
The unique collection item of the SNM-Červený Kameň Museum, a flak jacket of a member of the US Air Force (USAAF), is linked with the forces of allied airplanes. The jacket was made by Crawford Manufacturing Company, Ohio, USA. The metal parts of the jacket were made in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The flak jacket consists of two parts – the top one protected the upper body and the bottom one protected the waist, loin and crotch. The overall weight of the jacket is 5.15 kg.
Since the airmen only wore flak jackets for combat action, it is more than clear that this collection item comes from an American bomber shot down above the area of southwestern Slovakia in 1944. The author writes about the allied flight actions above Slovakia in the monitored period. He mainly describes the memorable attack on Bratislava’s Apollo refinery on 16th June 1944, which also saw victims from the 15 unit of the USAAF, and air combat on 26th June 1944, were six hundred and seventy seven allied bombers of B-17 and B-24 types accompanied by some two hundred and sixty fighter jets joined in. The Allies lost thirty seven bombers and six fighter jets. The targets of the American bombardment units were industrial zones in Vienna; however, part of the battle was also fought above southwestern Slovakia.
Despite the enormous effort of Slovak offices, the Slovak citizens were not spared of contact with the American airmen and their shot down machines. The local inhabitants were often the first ones, who came to the place of the accident. Some tried to help the shot airmen, like gamekeeper M. Mihálik, who was hiding pilots Charles Edison and Fred Oswald. Their bomber crashed on 13th September 1944 above the town of Modra. Others took “souvenirs” from the wrecks of the shot down aeroplanes, among which might have also been the flak jacket, now kept in the SNM-Červený Kameň Museum.
Odescalchis in Trnava museum
The art collection of the Western-Slovak Museum in Trnava contains thirteen small portraits of the aristocrats of the Odescalchi family. Eleven portraits were made using the technique of coloured drawing and adjusted in unific frames of 260 mm by 230 mm. They portray older members of the family’s Italian branch and were probably created by copying graphic or painting artworks. Most of them have a detailed manuscript text on the back side, thanks to which the portraits can be identified. Two remaining pictures are framed lithography works. Other items related to this family were also found in the museum’s collections.
The aristocratic family of d´Erba Odescalchi comes from northern Italy, from the region around Lake Como. Their history goes back to the 13th century. The family got rich at the beginning of the 17th century, when the members worked in a banking system. Benedetto Odescalchi (1611 – 1689) was a significant member of the family. In 1676 – 1689, the Pope named him Inocent XI.
Livio II Odescalchi from the Milano family of d´Erba (1725 – 1805) gained a Hungarian nationality in 1751, with properties that included manors in Nitrian¬ska Streda, Solčany and Skýcov. His descendants owned them until the 20th century. In the first two mentioned municipalities, they had representational classicistic manor houses with large parks. The family members held important national as well as courtly functions.
The Odescalchis were the last owners of the manor house in Suchá nad Parnou near Trnava, which belonged to the Pálffys until the middle of the 19th century. The renaissance manor house, documented since 1551, existed in the municipality of Suchá nad Parnou until 1952. The last owners, Helena and Ladislav Odescalchi, lived there during the Second World War , when the manor house was destroyed and demolished in 1952. A school stands in its place today.
The photographs preserved from the first half of the 20th century document the look and interior of the manor house. They helped to identify several furniture solitaires in the collection of the Western-Slovak Museum in Trnava. Apart from them, the museum also owns two other items from the manor house in Suchá nad Parnou – an altar painting of St. John of Nepomuk and miniature portrait of Livio Odescalchi.
Modra’s dessert set
The year of 2013 marked 130 years since the origin of the Slovak Folk Majolica in Modra. The majolica products, made by the hands of Modra ceramic craftsmen, are stored in several collections of Slovak institutions. Even though, the Modra pottery enjoys a permanent interest from explorers, it is still possible to discover new faience products of the Modra provenance in collection funds of Slovak museums, which have not yet been assessed by experts. This is also the case with the Slovak National Museum – Červený Kameň (Castle) Museum, which has around twenty Modra products in its collections of porcelain, glass and pottery.
Among the Modra bowls, jugs and plates in the Červený Kameň collection, seven items stand out. Their classification structure suggests that they are part of a dessert set. The stylized heraldic motif of Pálffy’s family coat of arms, a three-peak hill with a half wheel and jumping stag, which is used in the set’s floral decoration, is another characteristic feature of the earthenware. This interesting assortment consists of a tea or coffee pot, milk jug, cup, two saucers and two dessert plates.
It is faience with a red-brown splinter. The clay is soft, perfectly mixed with the grit material, which is fine-grained and equally distributed in the entire faience material. The shapes of the containers in this set are not typically traditional, meaning they do not belong to the usual assortment of the Slovak Folk Majolica. Chiefly their elegant lines, as well as their typical floral décor (apart from the Pálffy’s sign), refer to the forms of porcelain sets, or other patterns, intended for wealthier clientele.
The fact that these are the products of the Slovak Folk Majolica, confirm the characteristic marks on some of them, as well as other imprints underneath the glazing, probably initials of the designers with the year of origin. JH 36 is the imprint on one of the dessert plates, which was probably designed by Júlia Horová (1906 – 1978). In the interwar period, Horová worked in the Slovak Ceramics (Modra’s Majolica) as well as at the School of Applied Arts in Bratislava, also known as “Slovak Bauhaus”.
The dessert set from the Červený Kameň Museum is an example of converting the mass production into custom-made products. The shapes of this set’s containers follow the KH pattern of model II, which is pictured in the period product catalogue, published probably in the 1930s.
Silvia Seneši Lutherová
Biedermeier furniture from Spiš
Biedermeier furniture in the collections of Spiš museums, which was probably made locally, represents a specific variant of the Biedermeier style. The Spiš Biedermeier not only creatively reacted to the influences from other countries, it also succeeded in adding new features. Analogies with Hungarian, Austrian and German Biedermeier serve the function of the source basis. The forms of the Spiš Biedermeier furniture sensitively and openly approach the local artistic tradition, which can be seen in incorporating the elements from the rich ornamental selection of the Spiš, renaissance, baroque and classicistic architecture, as well as the craftsmen’s works.
The typical feature of Spiš Biedermeier furniture is the “rationality”. For instance, the intricate shape of the sides of the table (Ev. No. 10471, Inv. No. 546/74) from the Exhibition of Burghers’ Housing Standards in the Kežmarok Museum, demonstrates a solid and plastic modelling of the individual parts, which is typical for the Spiš region. The geometric shapes of the furniture point towards simplicity and practicality, looking for a constructive essence of furniture forms. The armchair (Ev. No. 11776,1-2, Inv. No. 728/78,1-2) from the depositary of the Kežmarok Museum shows a tendency towards an open form and lightening of the construction. The back of the seat has a specific form. The carved outline of the back resembles the decoration shapes that cap the shields of Spiš renaissance architecture, as well as the ornamental plastic decoration of walls or cornices above windows. The traditional folk furniture has even more clear shape analogies, which can be seen on the carved shields and footstalls of hutches, closets, wardrobes and cupboards, as well as the profiled chair and bench arms. The connection between the artistic and technical work is typical for the Spiš region. This might be one of the sources of the specific inventiveness in the furniture that has been made in the region for centuries.
Daniela Pellová – Martin Molnár
Church of the Assumption of the Lord in Strážske
Strážske is one of the oldest housing estates in the Zemplín region in eastern Slovakia. Traces of its settlement go back to the Paleolithic Era. The territory has been continually lived in since the early Middle Ages. The name of the town refers to Slavic inhabitants. The settlement was founded by the guardians of the regional road and borderland, commissioned by the King of Hungary, sometime between the second half of the 11th and 12th centuries. The written sources registered Strážske under the name Ewrmezew and its alternatives, meaning Guarded Domain, till the 17th century. The Slovak name Strážske appeared in the 18th century.
The first written evidence about Strážske is in the document from 1337. Until the beginning of the 14th century, it belonged to the king as part of the Brekov castle estate. In the course of the 14th century, Strážske ended up in the hands of the lower aristocracy. The Drugeth family from Humenné owned part of it in 1451, and gradually acquired the whole property. After the death of Žigmund Drugeth in 1684, the property was divided among the families of Szentiványi, Zichy, Okolicsány, Csáky, Sztáray, Szirmay and Széchényi. The Okolicsánys, who were the patrons and benefactors of the parish, significantly influenced the history of the Strážske church.
The church in Strážske is first documented in the middle of the 15th century. In 1447, the municipality had a parish. The parish school, which existed for several centuries, is first mentioned in 1485. The Catholic services were held in the Strážske church until the middle of the 16th century. Later, influenced by the reformation, the majority of the Hungarian nobles changed to the Protestant religion, which dominated the region for the whole century. By the end of the 17th century, the inhabitants returned to Catholicism, often violently.
A strong earthquake damaged the church in 1789, which initiated construction of a new building. Ján Okolicsányi established a foundation for this purpose in 1808. Part of the new church was built in 1821. The building was completed in 1840. The church and its roof were modified, in the course of the following century and the interior refurbished. The works on the reconstruction of the church and parish started in 1990. The old home-stead was demolished, and the chapel and crypt behind the church were renovated. The repaired church was consecrated in July 1995.
Brigita Hradská – Juraj Hradský
Books of blueprint patterns of dyer Ján Mudrončík
Blueprint is a kind of textile that is decorated with applying the so-called reserve with wooden or metal forms on the linen. The blueprint was invented in the 2nd millennium BC in China, where for the first time they used natural indigo for dyeing the textiles. In Europe, the technology of blueprint was not recognized until the 17th century, when the blue-white colours became fashionable on the clothing at the Dutch and Spanish royal courts. This consequently led to a boom in the European textile production, which gave origin to thousands of manufacturers.
Since the beginning of the 18th century, the blueprint started to expand from the Rhineland, Silesia and Prussia to the Habsburg monarchy, where the first blueprint manufacture opened in 1736 in Šaštín (western Slovakia). The invention of clear synthetic indigo, in 1880, restored the popularity of blueprint. It was very widespread in Slovakia, mainly in the hilly regions of Orava, Spiš and Liptov, but also around Trenčín, Banská Bystrica and Pohronie. The Centre for Folk Art Production (ÚĽUV) was established in the 1950s and grouped around ten fabric-dyeing workshops. Stanislav Trnka from Púchov is believed to be the last manufacturer of blueprint in Slovakia. He died in 2010.
Three valuable books of blueprint patterns of Ružomberok dyer Ján Mudrončík (who died in 1946), which are stored in the Museum of Folk Art Production in Stupava, are unique in having the patterns printed on paper rather than textile. They were used by the dyers, so they could have a system in their wooden and metal blueprint forms, as well as by customers, who could select the pattern they wanted to have on the fabric. The patterns were printed on the paper using the wooden forms.
Mudrončík’s paper books of blueprint patterns, from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, were preserved in a very damaged and fragmental form, and contaminated by micro-organisms. Their recent restoration started with in-depth physical and chemical analysis, which helped to define special approaches, including dismantling them into individual foils, sterilising and mechanical cleaning, to fixing the colours and foils, and storing them in protective boxes.