Treasures under the City

 „New discoveries from the past 

 

Uncovering the archaeological heritage of Budapest,
1867/2005-2015

April 12 – September 17, 2017

Temporary exhibition in the
Castle Museum of the Budapest History Museum

 


 

We rarely pause to think while walking the streets of Budapest that the relics of the past lie hidden under our feet. The systematic investigation of the capital city’s archaeological relics began after the Compromise of 1867, in the last third of the nineteenth century. This exhibition shows how the archaeological investigation of the city began and the current state of the exploration of the past, inviting visitors on a tour of the city’s underground treasures. The tour takes us to several archaeological regions, from the Danubian islands, the prehistoric settlement chains extending along stream banks and the military forts guarding the frontier of the Roman Empire to Buda Castle, the seat of the medieval kings of Hungary.

 

     

 

Most of the excavations presented here were the valuable “by-products” of major development projects in Budapest such as the reconstruction of Kossuth Square, the renovation of the Castle Garden Bazaar, Matthias Church and the former Town Hall of Buda, as well as of the development of Graphisoft Park. The large-scale infrastructural development projects in Budapest such as the construction of the M0 Motorway and of the city’s sewage network likewise provided ample work for archaeologists.

 

     

 

The past ten years have seen over a hundred archaeological excavations in the city, which yielded several thousand finds and relics, many of which are displayed here for the first time. In addition to offering a glimpse into the daily lives and costumes of past peoples, these finds and relics also attest to the skills of ancient potters and the superb artistic quality of Roman-period mosaics and medieval wall paintings. The disc brooch from a Sarmatian burial and the cast bronze strap-end bearing the image of a stag bear witness to the high craftsmanship of the Migration period.

 

      

 

The excavation photos and the reconstructions enable visitors to feel part of the underground time capsules preserving various moments and experiences of the historical past. The skeleton found under the dome of a medieval oven or a musket bullet lodged in a ver­tebra adds a personal touch to the past. The broken vessels buried in a Bronze Age pit allow the reconstruction of the final act of a ceremonial feast held as part of a Bronze Age ritual. Our conservators refitted over a hundred vessels of the tableware used during the feast. The earliest finds date from the Neolithic, from around 5200 BC, while the latest objects are represented by a series of Latin class essays written in 1810, found during an archaeological and architectural survey.