Lipac – finds from the graves of the final stages of the Late Bronze Age in northern Bosnia


Aleksandar Jašarević


During the final stages of the Late Bronze Age (9th– 8th century BC) the territory of northern Bosnia was characterised by remarkable cultural dynamics, visible primarily in the distribution of metal finds: weapons, tools, jewellery, and functional costume objects. A new type of funeral practice – inhumation – emerged here, with this perhaps being an important factor in the formation and social stratification of communities living in this area at the end of the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Early Iron Age. In this paper, a group of remarkable objects is presented for the first time. The collection of chance finds from Lipac, near Doboj, consists of a group of metal functional- decorative objects of high craftsmanship, and a smaller group of ceramic vessels, most likely found as part of a burial inventory dated to the early 8th century BC. In addition to basic information on the distribution and chronological framework of certain pieces of ornaments themselves, the grave finds from Lipac provide us with exceptional insight into possible local technological innovations and adaptations based on local traditions, models and aesthetic criteria established among communities from this period. Objects in the grave can be divided into two groups: objects related to food and drink, and bronze ornaments related to personal attire. Metal finds consist of a small open-work belt buckle, five large conical buckles/phalerae richly decorated with geometric motifs, conical buttons, small spectacle pendants with a circular cross-section, bimetallic fibula and two spectacle pendants of discoid cross-section. The ceramic inventory came to the museum in a highly fragmented state. Typologically, they can be classified as vessels that have their analogies in the ceramic production of the Central Bosnian cultural group, primarily identified from the site of Pod, near Bugojno. Most of the described items show a strong development of local typologies originating in local workshops. However, it is obvious that links with distant areas also gave rise to the appearance of imported bimetallic fibula, which have their origins in the Danube region. Although the funerary inventory from Lipac arrived in a significantly fragmented condition, and devoid of archaeological context, the quality of the collected objects testifies to the strong and innovative local production of metal ornaments that adorned women’s costumes. In chronological terms, Lipac provides us with a homogenized inventory dating to the very beginning of the 8th century BC. Most of the items suggest a complex ornamental ensemble of women’s costumes, while small conical buttons can be attributed to the men’s part of the costume. The choice of jewellery and local costume for the female burials yields information on their origins, affiliations, status, and social and economic role within the community. Furthermore, women’s mobility played an important role in spreading cultural habits at the end of the Late Bronze Age and in the Early Iron Age in the Western Balkans, with such mobility being evidenced through the distribution of personal items. It is to be assumed that men’s costumes were equally visible and attractive. From the inventory from Paklenica it can be seen that prominent men identified themselves through the bearing of bronze swords, axes, spears or characteristic decorated razors. All of this is proof of a complex social hierarchy, economic strategies and, ultimately, the wealth of a community that found adequate objects to define cultural, social and class affiliations, which indirectly, albeit significantly, influenced the formation of their identities.


How to Cite
Jašarević, A. (2023). Lipac – finds from the graves of the final stages of the Late Bronze Age in northern Bosnia. Godišnjak Centra Za balkanološka Ispitivanja, 51, 65–84.