The comprehensive study of the Early Copper Age site at Rákóczifalva-Bivaly-tó 1/c

Archaeologists of the Damjanich János Museum, Szolnok, Dr. Marietta Csányi and Dr. Judit Tárnoki uncovered an Early Copper Age (ca. 4350-4000 cal BC) settlement and cemetery during a preventive excavation in the vicinity of Rákóczifalva, Szolnok County, Hungary (Siklósi & Szilágyi 2021). The completely excavated settlement, in which three houses with bedding trenches were identified, and the cemetery was separated by a 120-140 m wide empty area (Csányi et al. 2010). As a result of this fortunate coincidence we have a unique opportunity to study several aspects of a Copper Age community’s life. The complexity of this site and its many aspects, such as the settlement structure, the grave groups and rows in the cemetery, the large find assemblage offer a solid basis to use diverse scientific methods. By doing so, we can reconstruct the everyday life of the people who lived here, their activities, and their relations to each other and to other communities. The main goal of this project is a monographic publication based on multidisciplinary studies of the find materials.


Bedding trenches of a Copper Age house from Rákóczifalva-Bivaly-tó 1/C

In this research, a comprehensive study of the site's pottery, stone and metal find material is underway. The evaluation of the Bodrogkeresztúr-style settlement is an important step forward understanding this underrepresented period in the prehistoric research (Szilágyi 2015). The processing of the pottery assemblage of the cemetery – which can be classified mostly in the Bodrogkeresztúr style, and to a lesser extent in the Tiszapolgár and Kisrétpart style, or even in the Hunyadihalom style due to a plastic application with discoid ends (so-called Scheibenhenkel) – is of great importance in the understanding of the use of Early Copper Age pottery styles, their chronological relations to each other, and their use in different contexts. The statistical-based stylistic analyses are supported by petrographic studies.

Bodrogkeresztúr-style milk jug from Rákóczifalva-Bivaly-tó 1/C

Numerous stone and metal objects made of distant raw materials were found in the graves of the cemetery. The making of these artefacts needs a high level of specialised expertise. We can reconstruct a complex social network by the analysis of the raw material, the technology and the typology of stone tools, copper and gold artefacts. The first lead isotope and chemical composition analysis that was carried out on Copper Age copper artefacts from Hungary shed light on the relations between the people who lived here and Balkan communities (Siklósi & Szilágyi 2019).

Copper and stone artefacts from the Copper Age cemetery of Rákóczifalva-Bivaly-tó 1/C

The anthropological analysis of the single burial within the settlement, that of a young male, was carried out by Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann (K. Zoffmann 2011, 2015). An interesting question in itself is why someone was buried here instead of the cemetery that lies only a little more than 100 m away. The fact, that some characteristics of this burial are often related to males, while some others are usually related to females, makes the situation even more complicated. We perform strontium isotope analysis on the human remains in order to better understand the mobility of the people who were buried here, and to reveal possible relations between the use of the material culture (pottery styles, stone tools and metal objects) and individual lifeways.

Copper Age burial from Rákóczifalva-Bivaly-tó 1/C

A comprehensive study of this complex site gives us a unique opportunity to understand the settlement patterns, social relations, and ritual habits of this period. A combination of state-of-the-art archaeological theories and the detailed study of this site will enable us to present a realistic image of the life and death of the Copper Age people of Rákóczifalva, not only to the scientific community, but also to the public.

We are very grateful to Dr Marietta Csányi, Dr Judit Tárnoki and Dr Pál Raczky for allowing us to study the site.


Principal investigators:

                              Zsuzsanna Siklósi (Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, Régészettudományi Intézet)

                              Márton Szilágyi (Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, Régészettudományi Intézet)


                              János Dani (Déri Múzeum)

                              Katie Faillace (Cardiff University)

                              Norbert Faragó (Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, Régészettudományi Intézet)

                              Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann†

                              Attila Kreiter (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum)

                              Richard Madgwick (Cardiff University)


                              Zsuzsa Hegedűs (Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, Régészettudományi Intézet)

                              Eszter Solnay (Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, Régészettudományi Intézet)

Csányi, M., Raczky, P., & Tárnoki, J. (2009). Előzetes jelentés a rézkori bodrogkeresztúri kultúra Rákóczifalva-Bagi-földön feltárt temetőjéről. Tisicum, 18, 13–34.

Csányi, M., Raczky, P., & Tárnoki, J. (2010). Das kupferzeitliche Gräberfeld von Rákóczifalva-Bagi-föld in Ungarn. Das Altertum, 55, 241–270.

K. Zoffmann, Z. (2011). A bodrogkeresztúri kultúra népességének Kárpát-medencei Penrose-kapcsolatai – Embertani lelet Rákóczifalva-Bivaly-tó lelőhelyről. Anthropologiai Közlemények, 52, 77–84.

K. Zoffmann, Z. (2015). Anthropological data of the Copper Age cemetery at Rákóczifalva – Bivaly - tó, Bagi föld 1 . Anthropologiai Közlemények, 56, 27–42.

Siklósi, Z., & Szilágyi, M. (2019). New data on the provenance of copper finds from the Early-Middle Copper Age of the Great Hungarian Plain. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 11(10), 5275–5285.

Siklósi, Zs. & Szilágyi, M. (2021). Culture, period or style? Re-consideration of Early and Middle Copper Age chronology of the Great Hungarian Plain. Radiocarbon 2021.

Szilágyi, M. (2015). Kora rézkori településszerkezet a Közép-Tisza-vidéken, Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem.