Excavating Early Medieval Material Culture and Writing History in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Hungarian Archaeology1
In this essay, I examine the initial stages in the nineteenth century of the study of material finds from the Middle Ages in the Carpathian Basin. I offer a brief overview of the history of the scientific work that led to the identification of archaeological findings from the Avar era and the era of the Hungarian Conquest, and I also shed light on some of the reasons underlying the failure to identify properly findings from the Hun era (i.e. the fifth century) and the late Avar era (i.e. the eighth century). I examine the principal considerations that shaped the research endeavors of historians and archaeologists in the nineteenth century, and I present the primary methodological approaches according to which historians drew on archaeological findings in support of their conclusions. I focus in particular on the works of Miklós Jankovich, Flóris Rómer, Ferenc Pulszky, Géza Nagy, József Hampel, Géza Supka, and Zoltán Felvinczi Takács, though I also consider the writings of less influential representatives of scholarly life.
Keywords: archaeology, late antique and early medieval history, historiography, Carpathian Basin, Avars, ancient Hungarians