{1-318.} Settlements and Villages in Transylvania at the Time of the Conquest and in the early Árpádian Period

Owing to the small number of excavated sites (archaeological digs of settlements are expensive, time-consuming, and seldom show 'spectacular' results), the pattern of settlement in the 10th–12th centuries is as difficult to ascertain in Transylvania as it is in the rest of Árpádian Hungary. Only a few of the early settlements can be dated by metallic objects: at Csernáton and at Sepsiszentgyörgy-Bedeháza, rhombus-shaped arrowheads and 11th-century spurs; at Angyalos, a rhombus-shaped arrowhead; at Marosgombás, a rhombus-shaped arrowhead and a horse skull; at Erősd-Csókásvár, fragments of an early bridle and sabre(?); at Maroslekence, a heart-shaped harness decoration, plain hair-rings, iron fire-starters, and spurs. The sites at Malomfalva and Doboka were described above. Some finds testify only to the later, 11th-12th century period of the villages: thus, the S-tipped hair ring found in a house (equipped with an earthen oven) at Székelykeresztúr-Gyárfáskert; coins, dating from Stephen II, at Baráthely, and from Coloman and Béla III at Betlenszentmiklós; and an 11th or 12th century spur at Réty-Suvadástető.

A common form of Árpádian pottery, the 'Csüged type', is an indicator of the political and economic unity that prevailed in the Árpádian period. The Transylvanian sites that have yielded such pots include Gyulafehérvár (-Csüged and -Püspökvár), Dobokavár, Marosvásárhely-Vár, Székelyudvarhely (-Budavár, -Székelytámad, and -Gyárosfalva), Székelykeresztúr, Malomfalva (-Csittfalva and -Hula), Radnót, Nagymedesér, Sajósárvár, Sepsiszentgyörgy (-Várgödre and -Bedeháza), Betlenszentmiklós, Vizakna, Vermes, Kézdiszentlélek-Perkő, Erősd-Csókásvár, Csanád, and Csákó. Although early versions still reflect to some extent the technical and decorative techniques of Bulgar-Slav potters of the 9th and 10th centuries, this pottery does not serve to identify an ethnic {1-319.} group. Other vessels, found at Ákosfalva, Alsó-Csernáton, Dedrádszéplak, and sundry locations, can be dated only individually and reveal even less information.

There is, however, one object that clearly indicates Hungarian settlements of the 10th–12th centuries and cannot be linked to the presence of other ethnic groups: the earthenware cauldron. Of late, this distinctive vessel has been the subject of much archaeological study. To be sure, its origins can be traced back to the Khazar- Bulgar 'Saltovo-Maják' culture, and finds in Moldova and Dobrudja indicate that the Pechenegs used similar vessels in the 10th and 11th centuries. But the fact is that, in contrast to the later-arriving Cumanians, Pechenegs never settled as a group in the Carpathian Basin; there is little trace of them in historical sources and in 10th-13th century place-names. Thus, from an archaeological perspective, Pecheneg finds are a sporadic, 'invisible' phenomenon.

What is more significant, and conclusive, is that the cauldrons — made of earthenware or iron, more rarely of copper (Betlenszentmiklós and Magyarbénye) — are found throughout the territory that was indisputably settled by Hungarians in the 10th-12th centuries. They are a distinctive characteristic of Hungarian settlement. Beyond serving as an 'ethnic' identifier, the cauldrons reflect specific social conditions, for they were the shared cooking vessel of clan- and family-based communities; the social structure based on these small communities took a long time to disintegrate, for they practised an isolated, pastoral way of life, and this, in turn, led to the prolonged use of cauldrons. Thus the earthenware cauldron may be regarded as an economic and social indicator of Hungarians from the 10th to the 12th centuries. This indicator bears no relevance to any of the other peoples living at the time in the Carpathian Basin, or, indeed, in all of Central Europe — with the exception of Pechenegs and Bulgars in the Prut and Lower Danube regions, and their cauldrons (found at Garvan and other sites) are {1-320.} clearly distinguishable from those of the Hungarians. By then, the great community of Germanic peoples had long since disintegrated, and while the Slavs, especially the Southern Slavs, continued to flourish, they did not have the semi-nomadic, pastoral culture which, in the case of the Hungarians, gave birth to this distinctive vessel.

When a new, feudal order and way of life became consolidated following the invasion and withdrawal of the Mongols, the family-clan culture faded away, and that important archaeological indicator, the cauldron, disappeared as well. There remain the traces of hundreds of early Árpádian villages that had been burned down by the Mongols or which had been abandoned from the 13th century onwards. Fragments of cauldrons have been found in the 'upper' layer, dating from the 12th and early 13th centuries, but most of the villages had a 'lower' layer as well, dating from the 11th and even the 10th centuries. The excavations at Doboz and Malomfalva have served as excellent case-studies.

Earthenware cauldrons have been found at settlements and excavation strata that Hungarian metal objects (such as arrowheads and belt ornaments) date from the 10th–11th century: Biharvár, Kolozsvár (Monostor), Tordavár (Várfalva), Aradvár (Glogovác), Gyulafehérvár, Dobokavár, Csernáton (upper level), Sepsiszentgyörgy-Bedeháza, Maroslekence, and Malomfalva. There is no trace of earlier cauldrons at any of these sites. At some locations — Csíkszentkirály, Radnót, Kelnek, Gyulafehérvár, Malomfalva, Réty, Sajósárvár, Dobokavár, Asszonynépe — the finds included not only cauldrons, but also that other distinctive Hungarian vessel, the Eastern, 'Saltovo type' pot. On other sites, the cauldrons are dated from the end of the 11th century to the second half of the 12th century by pieces of money: coins from the time of Ladislas II (along with an S-tipped hair-ring) at Ó-Bodrogmonostor, of Constantine IX at Csernáton, of Coloman and Béla III at Betlenszentmiklós, and of Stephen II at Baráthely. Cauldrons have also been dated by 10th {1-321.} and 11th century graves and cemeteries belonging to the settlements at Gyulavarsánd, Sajtény-Salánk, Pécska, Déva, Betlenszentmiklós, Biharszentjános-Klastromdomb, Öthalom-Glogovác- Földvár, Radnót, Sajó-Sárvár, Szászsebes, and Várfalva; the cauldron at Székelykeresztúr was dated by an S-tipped hair-ring found in the same dwelling. Finally, some cauldrons are dated from the 10th and 11th centuries by their decoration of incised, single or bunched wavy lines: at Segesvár-Szőlők, Sajósárvár, Bulcs- Kápolnás, Körösgyéres, Belényesszentmiklós, and also at Kolozsmonostor, where the finest example was found.

As of 1985, cauldrons had been found at some 160 sites in Transylvania and at the eastern end of the Great Plain; this corresponds to the frequency of finds in Hungary proper (1975), and thus indicates a similar level of archaeological activity as well as similar patterns of settlement. To be sure, systematic excavation can quickly alter these statistics: a single site may yield hundreds of fragments of earthenware cauldrons, and sustained search may lead to the rapid discovery of many new sites. Thus in Békés county, formerly a blank spot on the archaeological map, the recent, systematic exploration of two districts led to the discovery of cauldron-yielding sites greater in number than those previously known in the entire Carpathian Basin.

The greatest concentrations of cauldron sites are on the Great Plain (Nagyalföld), which straddles the Tisza River, and on the Small Plain (Kisalföld), in northwestern Hungary; toponymic data and historical sources confirm that these were Hungarian-inhabited territories. The cluster of sites in the eastern Great Plain, beyond the Tisza, extends into the flatland around the Ér, Berettyó, Körös, and Maros rivers; there are forty sites in present-day Arad county alone. In Transylvania, too, most of the cauldrons have been unearthed in the valleys and lowlands.

No cauldrons have been found in Central European regions where the population — according to historical, toponymic, and {1-322.} archaeological data — was wholly Slavic. The hypothesis, that the cauldrons, which were unknown in Transylvania prior to the 10th century, are of Eastern origin, is supported by the discovery of similar vessels on the territory of the former Khazar empire. The intense debate among archaeologists over the origin of the cauldrons has been somewhat attenuated by objective assessment of the sites. Most of cauldron sites have no relation to present-day villages and towns; at least 90 percent of them are villages or homesteads that were destroyed during the Mongolian invasion or abandoned in the 12th and 13th centuries. In terms of the history of settlement, the sites bear witness to the denser network of villages that existed in the Árpádian period.

The dwellings that housed the earthenware cauldrons and other vessels (Hungarian, Slavic, Árpádian) in Transylvania are similar to those found elsewhere in the Carpathian Basin and the rest of Eastern Europe. These 'houses' had rounded corners, measured 3 by 2–4 metres, and were dug into the ground to a depth of 80–100 centimetres. Some of the huts (e.g. at Mezőerked) had a stone fireplace, while in others (Székelykeresztúr-Gyárfás-kert, Csernáton-Domonkos-kúria), a firepit had been dug in one corner of the dwelling. It is hard to differentiate the latter from the sunken, 'outdoor' ovens found in other villages and dwellings (at Vermes, both types are present).

A small hoard of Byzantine coins, found in a pouch at Csernáton, serves well to date the early Árpádian, archaeological culture of Transylvania. The pouch had been concealed — or lost — when the village was destroyed by the Pechenegs in the course of one of their incursions in the latter half of the 11th century. The coins date from the time of Nicephorus II Phocas (963–969) and Johannes Tzimisces II (969–979) to that of Constantine IX Monomachus (1042–1055), shortly before the untimely death of the village. It follows that both the rhombus-shaped arrowhead and the cauldron that were unearthed at Csernáton antedate the latest coin.

{1-323.} The Pecheneg threat can be credited with another noteworthy trove. As early as the 10th century, the Hungarians had engaged in the trade of silver and salt, and thereby obtained some Byzantine-style jewels of old Russian and old Polish provenance. Most of these jewels had not been purposely concealed, for, in the 11th century, enemy incursions seldom reached farther than the borderlands. One such treasure, consisting of old Russian (as well as some Scandinavian) silver jewellery, was unearthed in the western gyepű (a ring of uninhabited and scarcely penetrable marches and waste land surrounding the country in the medieval Hungary) at Darufalva. Silver pendants similar to those found at Darufalva date the earliest period of the fort at Daruvár. The trove of jewels discovered in the 'Királyföld'/Königsboden, an early settlement area of the Székelys, is of uncommon interest and has no parallel in the Carpathian Basin. It consists, in smaller part, of 'broken silver' (possibly due to the carelessness of the finders), and, in larger part, of intact jewels: richly-filigreed, silver 'knobbed' beads, earrings, a half-moon shaped pendant, a cast-silver bracelet, and glass beads. This collection, similar to that found at Darufalva, probably belonged to the family of a border-guard; the jewels were made around the year 1000 and were presumably acquired in the same period. Judging from other troves, dated by coins, in Eastern Europe, such jewels were worn as late as the first half of the 11th century. Thus the Királyföld collection may well have been concealed by a supporter of the gyulas at the time of King St. Stephen's military campaign in Transylvania; the other possibility, suggested by the coin trove at Csernáton, is that it was concealed at the time of the first attacks of the Pechenegs.

Three coin treasures correspond in date and location to the first significant Cumanian incursion, led by Kapolcs, in 1091; the coins, dating from the time of Ladislas I, were unearthed at Torda (a pot holding 48 pieces, probably once part of a greater treasure), at Magyarfráta (120 pieces), and at Biharszentandrás (170 pieces, {1-324.} plus a coin of Constantine IX Monomachus [1042–1055]). After breaking through the Ojtoz Pass, the Cumanians had ravaged the environs of Torda and Kolozsvár, then proceeded to do the same in the Great Plain, beginning with Bihar and its hinterland. The buried treasures testify not only to the destructive advance of the Cumanians, but also to the amount of wealth that some individuals had accumulated by this time. The coin trove that was reportedly unearthed in the 1870s at Lámkerék (part of present-day Szászsebes) is more difficult to assess. If the account is correct, and the trove consisted of silver coins from the time of King Peter, then it might be concluded that one of his followers resided in this important place when the monarch was overthrown — which occurred twice, in 1041 and 1046.

The mountains and forests ('Királyerdő') around the Sebes-Körös and Fekete-Körös rivers, once famous for their stock of bison (in Hungarian, bölény, hence the toponym Belényes), were known in the 11th and 12th centuries as the Igfan/Ygfon, meaning 'sacred vastness'. In the 1060s and 70s, they were a favourite hunting ground of Duke Géza. On a plateau above the present-day village of Belényesszentmiklós, near the spot where the Fekete-Körös River meets the Poklos brook and reaches the lowlands, an archaeological site known for at least a hundred years was excavated between 1972 and 1982. A sizeable manor-house, measuring 10 by 28 meters at the base, had been built there around the middle of the 11th century. Set on a foundation of stone and packed clay, the brick house had the shape of an elongated hall; wood lean-tos had been added along its length on both sides. The remains of the manor's chapel, which dates from the same period, were discovered some 150 metres to the north, under the imposing ruins of a monastery. Judging from the archaeological strata and finds (11th century vessels and earthenware cauldrons), both house and chapel had been erected between 1050 and 1070, making this the earliest-known Árpádian, princely manor. Although there is no visible trace {1-325.} of fortification, the manor, situated on the highest promontory, must have been protected by a palisade. The building complex is probably the princely 'hunting lodge' that is known to have been erected during the dukedom of Béla or Géza. The original buildings may have been damaged during the Cumanians' incursion in 1091. The manor house was rebuilt and expanded, partly on the old foundations, perhaps during the dukedom of Prince Álmos, and in any event no later than the 12th century; its inner courtyard was sectioned by large pillars. As for the chapel, it was turned into a church with the addition of a pillared choir. In the 13th century, this royal property passed into the ownership of Borsa, who had a manor house in neighbouring Széplak. The Borsa family, which long enjoyed King Ladislas IV's favour, expanded the manor and erected a vast monastery on the site of the little church, drawing on the latter for building material.

Archaeological investigations have been pursued methodically for over 150 years, and even if they were not focused systematically on this period, the results produce a broad picture of the pattern of settlement in Transylvania during the 10th and 11th centuries.

The area that encompasses the eastern fringe of the Great Plain, reaching from the Ér region to the Lower Danube, as well as the contiguous valleys, differs from the more westerly plains in one significant respect: the presence of major centres of early settlement and political power, stretching from Szatmárvár, through Biharvár, Várad, Zarándvár, Aradvár, and Temesvár to Krassóvár and even Orsova. The pattern of settlement in the vicinity of these centres was more dense than in the middle and southern Tiszántúl (the region east of the Tisza River), which helps to explain why, in the 11th century, Marosvár/Csanád and Biharvár emerged as centres of political opposition to the seats of power at Esztergom and Székesfehérvár. The Szamos and the Szilágy regions, lying to the north around the valley of the Túr, Szamos, and Kraszna rivers, present {1-326.} a different picture, for they yield virtually no archaeological trace of early Hungarian settlement; linguistic and toponymic analysis confirms that the Slavic settlements in these regions survived into the 11th century. In contrast, the Slavic block in the Temes-Krassó-Lower Danube region began to lose its homogeneity as early as the 10th century.

The situation in historic Transylvania was somewhat different. The graves of armed members of the middle social strata indicate that at the time of the Conquest, military strategy demanded the occupation of the Mezőség, the larger basins (such as that of Háromszék), and both sides of the Maros valley; thus the Maros River could not have delimited the area of settlement or served as a political frontier. This extensive defensive system, designed to repel Pecheneg invaders, was gradually superseded in the course of the 10th century by the military occupation and settlement of the entire Transylvanian Basin. The first permanent Hungarian settlements arose around the salt-mines of central Transylvania, along the Maros and Aranyos rivers. They included Gyulafehérvár, which clearly served as a political and military centre, as well as Tordavár, Dobokavár, and some smaller villages along the Maros River; further archaeological exploration is needed to discover the location of other settlements dating from the later decades of the 10th century.

When the Hungarian state was reorganized after 1002, its new settlement policy still focused on the Maros valley. For centuries, that river served as the principal route for the shipping of Transylvanian salt into the country's interior; indeed, the military campaign against Marosvár's ruler, Ajtony, was prompted by his decision to impose a tax on the salt-carrying vessels of King Stephen. Judging from archaeological finds, it seems that the overland 'salt-route' — from Désvár (newly-founded at Transylvanian Szolnok) across the Meszes to Szolnok on the Tisza — came into use only in the later decades of the 11th century. As for the Szamos valley, between Dés and Asszonypataka/Nagybánya, archaeological {1-327.} finds indicate that until the end of the 11th century, it failed to attract significant Hungarian settlement and did not play a major role in linking the two parts of the country. (It had suffered similar neglect in the Avar period).

The Sebes-Körös-Királyhágó-Kis-Szamos route was already in use at the time of the Conquest, but, in terms of settlement, it remained less important than the principal artery, the Maros. The distribution of earthenware cauldrons in Transylvania confirms that this pattern continued to prevail until the end of the Árpádian period.

Until the last third of the 11th century, Transylvania's strategic defence was assured in the north by Dobokavár, in the east by Küküllővár, and in the south by Hunyadvár. The pattern of settlement was particularly dense around these strongpoints, and also around Kolozsvár and Tordavár, but Gyulafehérvár retained its preeminence. Archaeological findings have confirmed the conclusions of linguistic research: to the north, east, and south of this central region, there lay — at the time of the Hungarian Conquest — concentrations of Slavic settlement. In the regions that preserved Slavic toponyms, Slavic settlements survived well into the 11th, and, in some cases, as late as the 12th century.

In the last third of the 11th century, border-guard villages, grouped around small earthworks, were established in southern Transylvania and Beszterce — areas that were later settled by Saxons — to protect the central region. The people who were resettled from Hungary to serve as border-guards came to be known as Székelys. An ecclesiastical structure was implanted in these rural areas during the reigns of Ladislas I and Coloman. By that time, churches and churchyards had begun to appear in other, previously uninhabited districts and former woodlands. The counts' castles served as centres of Christianity — for example, Dobokavár, where traces were found of three early stone churches. However, higher levels of ecclesiastical authority were not put in place east of the Kolozsmonostor-Gyulafehérvár line until around 1100.

{1-328.} In the 12th century, when the first resettlement of German colonists to Transylvania got under way, the border-guards were progressively relocated to what became known as the Székelyföld (Székely land). Archaeological evidence testifies to the arrival of border-guards in that region. These Hungarians preserved old Magyar traditions that had gone out of fashion in the rest of the country; the importance of their function is attested by their apparel, which in its richness came close to that of their noble countrymen. There is no archaeological evidence in any border-guard village that the inhabitants might have been of Pecheneg origin.