Silver medieval communion set found in Hungary

An excavation at the site of a medieval Benedictine abbey in Tomajmonostora, eastern Hungary has unearthed a burial containing a silver communion set dating to the 13th or 14th century. The chalice and paten (small plate for the host) were found in the hands of the deceased, placed there at the time of burial.

The National Archaeological Institute of the Hungarian National Museum’s Public Collections Center discovered the remains of the three-nave Benedictine abbey basilica and an earlier round parish church in a trial excavation of the site in October 2023. Archaeologists returned for a more thorough excavation this year and found the burial.

The chalice is in good condition, with only some fragments missing. It has a ring of gilded beads surrounding the node on the stem. The paten is decorated with a perforated cross and wave designs. It too has a small area of silver loss around the bottom of the plate.

This season’s dig also sought archaeological material from the 1596 Battle of Mezőkeresztes, a clash between the forces of Ottoman Empire sultan Mehmed III and the allied Habsburg and Transylvanian forces. Mehmed III ultimately won the day, although it was such a close call at times that he had to be convinced not to flee the field. Several artifacts related to the battle were found and metal detectorist volunteers led by archaeologist Gábor Bakos uncovered 70 silver Viennese pennies from the 13th-14th centuries. They were issued from mints in Vienna, Enns and Bécsujhely and circulated widely before being assembled and buried.

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