Dune Hoard, Gotland

Date: 1361
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Sweden
Medium: Gilt-silver, Gold, Silver
Description: Over 120 objects were buried at Dune, on the Swedish island of Gotland, probably in 1361 when the island was attacked by the Danes. They were found in a fragmentary wooden chest that was protected by a broken iron scythe: in many cultures, iron was thought to repel demons.

The chest contained a large quantity of jewelry (rings, bracelets, necklaces, belt fittings) and such household objects as spoons, knives, cups, and bowls. Some of the silver, gilt-silver, and gold objects were already centuries old at the time of their deposition. The objects came from a wide geographical range. Some twelfth-century Almoravid and Almohad dinars had been made into pendants with the addition of a loop. The hoard also contained gold or gilt-silver bracteates that imitated both Islamicate and German coins. In the Middle Ages, Gotland was clearly a commercial and cultural hub.

A silver cup (H 6.1 cm) is decorated with animals and stylized plants that recall Sasanian arts and has a flat, leaf-shaped thumb plate that has analogies in China. The cup may have been made in Bulgaria in the eleventh or twelfth century. One of its owners inscribed a name on the bottom, Vämund, along with a widely used magical palindrome, "Sator arepa tenet opera rotas," in which the protective Latin letters are arranged in a so-called magic square attested in antiquity.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 7, 8, 9, 10
Image Credits: Swedish Historical Museum, SHM, https://mis.historiska.se/mis/sok/bild.asp?uid=17632

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