The study presents results from the analysis of agraffes discovered in graves dated to the Avar Khaganate period in Slovakia. The agraffes were identified in a total of 36 graves spread over 15 burial grounds. Given the large number of uncovered graves from the period in question, the scarcity of the artefacts is evident. Despite this rarity, the typological spectrum of the agraffes is of a surprisingly varied nature. Heterogeneity is visible also in the quantity of artefacts within selected typological groups, amongst which some contain relatively large number of agraffes whereas others are represented just by a single item. The typology itself describes the overall appearance of the agraffes, such as their flat and hollow forms, and also the shape. The shape varies between a square, oval or circular wire frames, however further division into variants considers decoration of the artefacts as well. Throughout the analysis, the chronological classification has been taken into consideration. This is based on simultaneous occurrence of different types of characteristic female jewellery such as earrings, beads and bracelets. Using this information, two consecutive chronological groups of the agraffes could be identified corresponding to the Middle and Late Periods of the Avar Khaganate. The interpretations are completed by analyses regarding the location and number of the agraffes within a grave as well as the age and gender of the deceased buried with them. The results suggest that not all of the agraffes were worn as a mantle brooch. The uncertainty arises especially due to the occurrence of single exemplars of the otherwise two-part brooches, the presence of identical artefacts in both male and female graves and their presence in non-functional positions within the graves. The study discusses the problem concerning correct identification of the agraffes due to their coexistence with other similar or even identical types of contemporary decorative dress adornments and jewellery. Majority of them evolved as a consequence of various Byzantine female adornment designs that had become popular in the period in question and spread across Europe on a large scale.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.