Celtic bronze with golden eyes found in Slovakia

An Iron Age figurine of a man with golden eyes has been unearthed at Jánovce, northern Slovakia. The small bronze depicts a nude male wearing a very thick torque around his neck. The wide eye sockets are filled with gold that shine brightly in contrast with the dark patinated bronze. It was created by the Celtic La Tène culture which dominated the area until it was conquered by Rome in the 1st century B.C.

The town of Jánovce was founded in the Middle Ages — the first documented reference to it was written in 1312 — but it has been known since the 19th century that it was replete with archaeological material from the La Tène period. That has made it a target for looters and while there has been some archaeological excavation work in the area, Jánovce hasn’t been systematically excavated in a targeted fashion. A team of researchers from the Spiš Museum has been doing a preliminary archaeological survey to get an idea of the site’s potential. There was no excavation. All they did was collect objects churned up to the surface by agricultural activity, and over their work in the spring and fall of this year, they recovered more than 800 artifacts from prehistory to the modern era.

Most of the finds were from the La Tène period overlapping with the Roman Iron Age (ca. 3rd – 1st century B.C.). The artifacts include Celtic coins, bronze fibulae, ceramics, glass beads and jewelry. These were luxury objects, and an enormous density of them has been found in the Spiš area, with a particularly high concentration in Jánovce. The richness of the finds indicate the Celtic settlements of the La Tène period were exceptionally affluent, far more so than in another regions of what is today Slovakia.

All of the objects recovered from the ploughed soils of Jánovce are now at the Spiš Museum where they are being documented, cleaned and conserved. Aided by experts from the Department of Archeology, Faculty of Arts, University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra, the museum plans to put some of the finds on display next year in a new exhibition. The golden-eyed figurine will be the foremost among them.

Left side view of figurine. Photo by Milan Kapusta, TASR. Right side view of figurine. Photo by Milan Kapusta, TASR.