Welcome to the Fertility Idol Room. The artifacts exhibited in the room relay stories of an ancient era. These were times when the human race had just barely turned up around Szarvas. About 9000 years ago, there appeared a population who represented what we call the Körös Culture in this area. These people came from the Balkans, and brought the greatest innovation of their times – agriculture. Compared to the fisher-hunter-gatherer lifestyle pursued before in these lands, this represented a real breakthrough. The grain crops could feed much larger numbers of people, and even support domestic animals. These changes transformed people’s lives. The population grew, and new technological improvements spread – polished stone tools became more sophisticated, and fired pottery was invented. In addition to animal hides, woven fabrics also gained ground in clothing. Instead of dugout sheds, wattle-and-daub houses became common. These transformations deeply influenced the belief system as well. Fertility cults came to the fore among human beliefs, which better expressed people’s attachment to the cultivated land, the weather, and Mother Nature in general. The figurine standing in the center of this room is a true embodiment of this religious mindset. Researchers think that these kinds of statuettes were goddesses. According to some, their simplified form symbolized the unity of the masculine and feminine polarities. Several thousands of so-called steatopygous /ˌstɪəˈtɒpɪɡəs/, or fat-bottomed, idols were found across Inner Asia throughout the Carpathian Basin, clearly indicating the great prevalence of this culture and belief system. The figurines took their name from their enhanced lower body. Pieces of this statuette were found in different pits, far from each other; it is thus nearly certain that it was intentionally shattered and buried in different holes dug in the ground. The idol’s nose is pointy; its mouth is symbolized by a horizontally incised pattern, while the female features are indicated by both incised lines and appliqués. Red traces of long locks of hair fall all over the forehead, top of the head, neck, and back, while its bottom and thighs were incised with geometrical patterns. Typical everyday objects of this period are on display in the showcases on the right-hand side wall. These include agricultural instruments, like an antler hoe and the stone inserts of a sickle; polished stone axes, minerals taken from distant places and bone tools, such as spoons, prickles, and needles; as well as altars and zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures characteristic of the belief system.
Welcome to the Bookstore. This room will teach you about the history of runiform script and show you two rare artifacts with runic inscriptions on them found in the Szarvas area. One is a needle case from the Avar period. The iron or bronze needles were pierced into a leather or linen strip which the needle case was pulled onto. A knot was tied at the end of the strip to prevent the needle case from slipping off. Small bone needle cases of the like are often found in female graves from the Avar period, as their use was characteristic throughout the era. However, this is a special piece that stands out because all four sides of it are covered with runiform inscriptions. This is our earliest contiguous example of a runic script. There is another object with a short inscription on display – a cast bronze strap end, also originating from the Avar period. In your travels in Hungary you might have seen that next to the sign that identifies a town there is generally another sign on which the name of the town is written in runic script. But what do we know about these strange notched letters? The boards in the room will show you the history of runic scripts. The Germanic runes, the Turkic runic scripts discovered in Inner Asia and Mongolia, and the Eastern European runiform writings are each covered on a separate board. The runic scripts of the Carpathian Basin belong to the last group in the row and can be organized into three major periods. The first type was the Avar script which emerged in the Late Avar period in the 8th and 9th centuries. These can be found on the famous gold treasure of Nagyszentmiklós as well. The longest text written in the Avar runic script consists of at least 59 characters and was discovered on the needle case in this room. Unfortunately, the inscription has not yet been completely deciphered, but some signs and deity names have been reliably identified. If another record of a similar size was found, we could come closer to understanding the inscription of the Szarvas needle case. The other two periods of the runiform scripts of the Carpathian Basin are the Hungarian Conquest Period and the age of the Szekler script in the 13th century. In addition to the two objects showcased, the boards on the wall also deal in detail with the history of runic scripts in general and their other archeological records in the Carpathian Basin. If you want to delve deeper into learning about runic signs, we suggest you try the runic script games in the room. Remember that runic writing should be read from right to left.
Welcome to the Movie Theater. Join us on a journey in time through the adventurous history of the city of Szarvas. The events that took place in and around this city could provide content for a whole series of feature films. That’s why we decided to make short trailers in anticipation of these future films.
Welcome to the Domán exhibition, where you can see a selection from the veterinarian Imre Domán’s ethnographic collection, which was established in Szarvas in the second half of the 20th century. In the course of his 40-year-long career, Domán received a significant number of disused farming tools, furniture and other artifacts of ethnographic value from the peasants of Szarvas. The exhibition provides an insight into this rich collection of about 2,500 objects. You can see the characteristic tools used in the living room, the kitchen, and the pantry of a Szarvas peasant house. The farming equipment and tools for animal husbandry vividly evoke the everyday life of the peasants who once lived here, while the herders’ garments and their herding tools introduce you to the organization and operation of herding communities on the Great Hungarian Plain. The exhibition also presents an ornate Hungarian mantle called a cifraszűr, a bullwhip, and a herdsman's crook, as well as the branding iron used for numbering and marking animals. The exhibition cart leads you to a show on the horsekeeping people known as the Vlax Romani, who were engaged in horse trading and travelled around in covered wagons. In the corridor, an interactive Roma, or Gypsy, cartomancy game will give you an insight into the ancient customs and traditions of the Gypsies. The methods of horsekeeping and of making a living from and for the horses passed down from generation to generation among the Gypsies. Doing his veterinary job, Dr. Domán came into direct contact with the Gypsy people of Szarvas, who lived in rather poor conditions, oftentimes in miserable sheds called putris. He managed to acquire the Romani, or Gypsy, language over time and learned much about the methods the Gypsies used to cure their sick horses. The tools used in veterinary medicine are considered an outstanding part of the collection.
Welcome to the Jewelry Store. Through the artifacts displayed here, we will guide you through the history of local jewelry. Throughout the journey, you will learn what kinds of jewelry were worn by the people of ancient times and how jewelry evolved as time progressed. Entering the room, you will see the first display case on the left-hand side with prehistoric jewelry. In addition to simple amulets, you can also observe pieces made of sea shells and sea snail shells, providing indisputable evidence that long-distance trade existed as early as prehistoric times. Besides Bronze Age jewelry, there are also pintaderas exhibited in this showcase, which the Scythians used as stamps on their bodies or apparel, leaving various motifs on the skin and fabric. Some typical knobbed anklets used by the Iron Age Celts are also on display. Towards the left hand, in the next showcase, you can see a selection of Migration Period jewelry, featuring double-sided bone combs from a Germanic tribe called the Gepids and wonderful gold jewelry from the Avars. Located in the counter display case in front of the showcases, you can marvel at the jewelry of the Sarmatians from Roman times. The lively commercial relationship the Sarmatians maintained with the Romans can be very well traced in their jewelry. This case contains several original Roman pieces, as well as other adornments made in the Roman style. The most distinctive piece of jewelry of the era was the fibula, an ornately crafted clothespin holding together the Romanized toga-like clothes of its wearer. The Sarmatians used a great many pearls for necklaces and bracelets, and also adorned the borders of their clothes with pearls. We know that Sarmatian women wore pants because of the placement of the beads in their graves, which were crafted from glass paste and various stones, including amber. The bracelet placed in the center of the room is related to the conquering Hungarians. Originally, it was a hinged strap bangle made in the Byzantine style. Due to its great value, the bracelet was probably already cut into pieces by the heirs of its first owner, so only these two chunks survived. The mythical animal figures and plant motifs decorating the bracelet were characteristic of pieces owned by the highest-ranking conquerors. Finally, nearing the entrance again around the room in the showcase next to the door, you can see some of the simple pieces from the Conquest Period as well as medieval Hungarian jewelry. In addition to introducing certain ancient cosmetic practices, the boards on the wall will offer you a more comprehensive look at the connections between jewelry and social aspects and at the impact of the belief system that lay behind how people used to wear these pieces.
Welcome to the Lived Space Lebensraum exhibition, which provides an insight into the Hungarian peasant culture starting from the 18th century, with special stress on the daily life of Szarvas in the era. Customs and traditions related to the rites of passage in human life, birth, marriage, and death, are presented through 19th- and 20th-century objects. You can view an animated video made up of old photographs on a screen behind a plexiglass wall, and see a stroller and a mud boat from the age. The first moment of life is birth. In traditional peasant culture, women did their usual work until the last moment before childbirth. At the time, midwives assisted with the delivery, with obstetric knowledge that rarely exceeded that of the average locals. In the postpartum period, a woman was considered unclean and, along with her infant, vulnerable to hexes. Thus it was very important to have the newborn receive the baptismal water as soon as possible. In the 18th century, the bride and groom hardly knew each other before the wedding. Among the destitute, affection between young people may have prevailed to some extent, but wealthy families regularly forced their children into marriages. Still, both the rich and the poor celebrated the wedding with great splendor, and the feast that followed was perhaps the biggest and most memorable celebration of human life for everyone. The third decisive moment which is also the final event in a person’s life is death, followed by the funeral ceremony. During the 18th century, it was still common practice for the body to be laid out in the church in an open coffin. The people of Szarvas adhered to this tradition for a long time, until cemeteries were relocated to the outskirts of town and the custom changed for good. The authorities disapproved of wedding and funeral feasts, complete with binge eating and drinking, and attempted to phase out these celebrations in order to prevent people from falling into greater poverty.
Welcome to the exhibition room devoted to the exceptional life and work of Sámuel Tessedik. Tessedik was a Lutheran pastor who did not content himself with doing a pastor’s religious duties. He also wanted to pass on his enlightened ideals and knowledge to his community and homeland. You can study his work and varied efforts on the boards on the wall. Today, he is primarily known for his soil improving and educational measures, but he also did a lot to change the way people thought and to encourage them to accept new things, especially the achievements of science. He had a church and a school built, educated the people, farmed the lands, and fought all kinds of superstitions, folk beliefs, and gossip. He was an exemplary man who is a potential role model for all of us. In the corner, you can see Sámuel Tessedik himself, whose oeuvre /ˈɜːvrə/ we pay tribute to here, and you can find a table in the room and a game next to it dealing with the prices and values of the time, which will reveal to you whether life was easier or harder at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries than it is today.
Welcome to the room of the triangle-headed idol. You can see the 7,000-year-old statue which has become the emblem of our museum. In this room, you can learn a lot of interesting things about this figure and the people who made it. In this period, farming techniques continued to develop so that more and more food could be produced. Thanks to the abundant food supplies, the population also grew, and their lifestyle also changed with this growth. The first villages appeared because tribal communities no longer needed to migrate and could thus live in one place for many decades. New houses were built where the old houses had been demolished, and over the centuries, residential hills called tells rose out of the plain landscape. Archeologists have observed a characteristic decorative style on the ceramics made in the era – this linear decoration can be found all over the Great Hungarian Plain, which we call the Alföld, so the culture of this group of people was called the Alföld Linear Pottery Culture. Some of the culture’s more advanced branches survived for a very long time in this region. The group maintained commercial relationships with neighboring peoples, and they may even have invented writing. This triangle-headed idol in the center of the room is one of the largest human-shaped works from that era. The pattern on its flat square body resembles the weaving of clothing. Based on its triangular head, it probably depicts a god wearing a mask. The holes in his shoulders were probably used to hang it up on the wall in a central location of the house to aid in performing various rituals. These sculptures were believed to provide the power of fertility for worshippers. In the showcases around the idol, you can examine other objects and pots made in the Alföld Linear Pottery Culture period. You can also watch a video on how farming emerged in the region and how people’s cults were related to fertility. You can observe how much the homes of the time were similar to today's houses. By browsing through the four boards on the walls, you can also observe the daily life of a Neolithic man and woman.
Welcome to the witchcraft tourism exhibition room. It gives you a closer look at tourism in Szarvas and sends you on a journey through the world of witches. The exhibition features a digital flipbook placed next to the entrance presenting an exciting compilation of the sights and attractions of Szarvas. On the two screens above the counter, you can watch five commercials about Szarvas and one about witch tourism. You can also find two VR headsets in the room. One shows you a short animation on the old beliefs concerning witches; and the other guides you on a sightseeing tour around the city of Szarvas. From the 16th through the 18th centuries, Hungarian folklore ascribed all kinds of troubles to witchcraft. However, a witch was able not only to cast a spell, but also to break it, and even had the power to heal the sick. In the interactive game located across from the entrance, our visitors can experiment with the mutual canceling effects of hexes and healing practices. According to reports by Pastor Sámuel Tessedik from Szarvas, superstition was still a considerable obstacle to the spread of the scientific world view in the 18th century. He found that superstitions not only spoiled the lifestyle and health of the locals, but also hindered the development of sensible farming. Despite the efforts made, the majority of the population in the 19th century still resorted to home remedies and herbs or visited quacks if they were ill. They made little use of the expertise of qualified doctors and pharmacists or the effects of medicinal substances. Folk medicine could not be separated from the folk belief system. That is why folk healers were considered people with twofold supernatural power, destructive and preventive at the same time. That is, they were also witches.