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Kostoľany pod Tribečom

St George’s Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom forms an important representative of Central European pre-Romanesque art. The wall paintings in the interior belong not only to the eldest and best preserved in the Slovak Republic, but in the whole of Central Europe.

  • AD 850 – 1050

AD 850 – 1050

History

There are no preserved written records concerning St George’s Church and the municipality of Kostoľany pod Tribečom for the period of AD 850–1050. The local name Kostoľany, which is derived from the Slavonic word for church, generally appears no later than in the 10th century. 12 The first written reference to Kostoľany and its church was made in the first Zobor Deed, which in 1111 mentions it as the property of the Benedictine Zobor monastery of St Hypolitus. 13 According to the second Zobor Deed from 1113 one part of the municipality together with St George’s Church was in the possession of this monastery, another part belonged to the inhabitants of the royal Nitra Castle.14 Fig. 7 The monastery was founded and endowed with property sometime after 972 15 in connection with the activities of the missionary Bishop Bruno, formerly a friar from St Gallen 16, either by the Nitra magnate family of Poznan/Pázmány or by the Hungarian King Stephen I himself.17 The Poznans/Pázmánys appeared as patrons of the Zobor monastery in the 11th–13th centuries and are most likely to have been donators of the Church of St George in Kostoľany pod Tribečom at the end of the 10th or in the beginning of the 11th century.18

Fig. 7: The Zobor Deed from 1113, issued by King Coloman (1070–1116), confirming old land tenures of the Benedictine order on the territory of western and eastern Slovakia. Credit: The Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic

Fig. 7: The Zobor Deed from 1113, issued by King Coloman (1070–1116), confirming old land tenures of the Benedictine order on the territory of western and eastern Slovakia. Credit: The Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic

Archaeology

The oldest monument still in existence in Kostoľany pod Tribečom is St George’s Church. Its first building phase was a modest wooden post structure in block assembly, most likely erected in the second half of the 10th century on an irregularly trapezoid ground plan. The only evidence of this structure are round post-pits that have been found inside the oldest walled part of the church.19 Fig. 8 Fig. 9 Fig. 11 This initial wooden building phase was later replaced by a stone walled one with a simple rectangular nave and a slightly trapezoid presbytery.20 Fig. 10 The use of oblong quarry stones is typical for the architecture of the 9th and the first half of the 11th century.21 Fig. 11 The results of the archaeological research, as well as the architectural-historical and technological investigations, have placed the date of the building to the beginning of the 11th century at the latest.22

Fig. 8: St George Church, postholes of the structural system of the wooden church in the northern part of the pre-Romanesque nave. Credit: Martin Frouz

Fig. 8: St George Church, postholes of the structural system of the wooden church in the northern part of the pre-Romanesque nave. Credit: Martin Frouz

Fig. 9: St George Church, reconstructed floor plan of the wooden church, drawing. Credit: Geo-cz Tábor

Fig. 9: St George Church, reconstructed floor plan of the wooden church, drawing. Credit: Geo-cz Tábor

Fig. 10: St George Church, first building phase, drawing. Credit: Kateřina Vytejčková

Fig. 10: St George Church, first building phase, drawing. Credit: Kateřina Vytejčková

Fig. 11: Elevation of the wooden church and the pre-Romanesque stone church of St George. Credit: Geo-cz Tábor

Fig. 11: Elevation of the wooden church and the pre-Romanesque stone church of St George. Credit: Geo-cz Tábor

Around the church developed a cemetery that was in use from the first half of the 11th century at the latest. Until now, 85 graves have been uncovered 23, of which 10 can be safely dated back to the 11th century.24 Among these a grave made for an approximately 14-year old girl deserves special attention.25 According to the items found in the grave, this site can be counted among the richest gravesites in church cemeteries in Slovakia.26 Fig. 12 Fig. 13 The set of jewels consists of a necklace, a pair of bronze S-shaped temple rings and a silver bezel ring. The denarius of Bohemian duke Oldřich I, minted shortly after 1012, served as Charon’s obol.27 Besides the apparently high social rank of the girl we have to deal with the oldest attested grave of this cemetery that aided at the dating of the church into the beginning of the 11th century.28 The original settlement, where the inhabitants of Kostoľany lived at the time of the construction of the church, could be located within the borders of the present municipality on grounds of modest ceramic finds.29

Fig. 12: Grave 78, selection of finds: bead types, temple ring and finger ring. Credit: Peter Baxa

Fig. 12: Grave 78, selection of finds: bead types, temple ring and finger ring. Credit: Peter Baxa

Fig. 13: Grave 78, part of the necklace uncovered during the excavation of the skeleton. Credit: Peter Baxa

Fig. 13: Grave 78, part of the necklace uncovered during the excavation of the skeleton. Credit: Peter Baxa

Art and Architecture

St George’s Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom with its cycle of wall paintings from the first (walled) building phase forms an important representative of Central European pre-Romanesque art.30 The interior walls of the church were divided into regular horizontal rows of individual panels that respect the architectural elements of the interior. Fig. 14 Fig. 15 Fig. 16 Fig. 17

Fig. 14: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, southern nave wall, scheme of the wall paintings. Credit: Jana Maříková-Kubková

Fig. 14: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, southern nave wall, scheme of the wall paintings. Credit: Jana Maříková-Kubková

Fig. 15: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, southern nave wall. Credit: Tomáš Berger

Fig. 15: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, southern nave wall. Credit: Tomáš Berger

Fig. 16: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, northern nave wall, scheme of the wall paintings. Credit: Jana Maříková-Kubková

Fig. 16: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, northern nave wall, scheme of the wall paintings. Credit: Jana Maříková-Kubková

Fig. 17: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, northern nave wall. Credit: Tomáš Berger

Fig. 17: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, northern nave wall. Credit: Tomáš Berger

The individual image panels are divided by a simple double line. The overall concept of the paintings can be followed from the upper row on both walls. The four narrow corner panels of the upper row showed simple standing figures in long garments, who are probably the holy evangelists. In three of six panels below the windows we can identify half-figures with a nimbus and drapery, in one case with an object (book?) in hand. It is likely that this gallery of saints, patriarchs and holy kings continued in an unbroken row of medallions along the whole length of nave and presbytery. Four large panels between the windows are very badly damaged, though we may assume that those depicted Old Testament scenes.31

The central row consists of panels from the Marian cycle. The story from the ‘Annunciation’ to the ‘Escape to Egypt’ is complete. Likewise the position and composition of the Maiestas Domini corresponds to early mediaeval tradition. Of interest are the scenes on the sides of the triumphal arch. On the southern side we find a scene depicting the donation of the church. Fig. 18 Four figures, a pair of smaller and a pair of taller ones, approach the presbytery, the left taller one carrying the model of a church, all four confronted by an angel. On the northern side, as it appears so far, are two exalted figures in luxurious garments nearing the presbytery. This last scene fully corresponds to the New Testament story. The order of the panels on the opposing site clearly points to a connection with the donator scene. Both were intended to illustrate the construction of the church, initiated by the member of an important family and inspired by an important event connected with a high ecclesiastical milieu.32 It could have been a member of the Poznans/Pázmánys, whose relations with the Benedictine Order, especially those at the monastery at Zobor are otherwise attested as well.33

Fig. 18: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, southern nave wall, central register, field J8. Donor portrait after its discovery. Credit: The Monumets Board of the Slovak Republic

Fig. 18: St George Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, southern nave wall, central register, field J8. Donor portrait after its discovery. Credit: The Monumets Board of the Slovak Republic

International Connections

Due to its nature and location outside the regional early mediaeval centre of Nitra, Kostoľany pod Tribečom are characterised within the international criterion by following identifications and information.

Art

1. Wall paintings: international style of c. 1000, author most probably from Northern Italy.34 Fig. 19

Fig. 19: St George Church, ‘Arrival of the Three Magi – Adoration of the Star’ on the northern façade of the nave, international style about AD 1000, state in 1965. Credit: The Monumets Board of the Slovak Republic

Fig. 19: St George Church, ‘Arrival of the Three Magi – Adoration of the Star’ on the northern façade of the nave, international style about AD 1000, state in 1965. Credit: The Monumets Board of the Slovak Republic

Trade

1. The denarius of Duke Oldřich I (1012–1033, 1034), minted in Prague shortly after 1012, used as Charon’s obol (obolus mortuorum) in the church cemetery and found in a girl’s grave (No. 78), connects Kostoľany with Prague Castle. 35 Fig. 20

Fig. 20: Denarius of Oldřich I (1012–1033, 1034) from grave 78 of the St George cemetery. Credit: Jan Gloc

Fig. 20: Denarius of Oldřich I (1012–1033, 1034) from grave 78 of the St George cemetery. Credit: Jan Gloc

2. The beads from a necklace found in grave 78 most likely attest to trade relations with the territory of the Kievan Rus’ and perhaps even Poland. Fig. 21 Fig. 22 The glass beads were produced by Byzantine masters in their Russian workshops, the ceramic beads come from Novgorod, Kiev, possibly Poland and the carnelian beads are a product of the workshops in the Kievan Rus’.36

Fig. 21: Parts of the necklace from grave 78 of the St George cemetery. Credit: Peter Baxa

Fig. 21: Parts of the necklace from grave 78 of the St George cemetery. Credit: Peter Baxa

Fig. 22: Reconstruction of the necklace from grave 78. Credit: Danica Staššíková – Štukovská

Fig. 22: Reconstruction of the necklace from grave 78. Credit: Danica Staššíková – Štukovská

References

12 Jankovič, Vendelín, ‘Kostoľany pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum tutela 2, 1968, p. 36

13 Keresteš, Peter, ‘Kostoľany pod Tribečom v rokoch 1113–1848′, in Baxa, Peter (ed.),Kostoľany pod Tribečom. Monografia dejín obce, Kostoľany pod Tribečom, 2012, p. 40

14 Ibid, p. 41

15 Foltýn, Dušan, ‘Pražský děkan Kosmas a jeho zpráva o údajném předchůdci benediktinského opatství na Zoboru’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, p. 15

16 Steinhübel, Ján, Nitrianske kniežatstvo. Počiatky stredovekého Slovenska, Bratislava, 2004, p. 201

17 Foltýn, Dušan, ‘Pražský děkan Kosmas a jeho zpráva o údajném předchůdci benediktinského opatství na Zoboru’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, pp. 11–16;
Lukačka, Ján, Formovanie vyššej šľachty na západnom Slovensku, Bratislava, 2002, p. 26

18 Keresteš, Peter, ‘Kostoľany pod Tribečom v rokoch 1113–1848′, in Baxa, Peter (ed.), Kostoľany pod Tribečom. Monografia dejín obce, Kostoľany pod Tribečom, 2012, p. 39;
Lukačka, Ján, Formovanie vyššej šľachty na západnom Slovensku, Bratislava, 2002, p. 30;
Maříková-Kubková, Jana, ‘De Costelan est terminus vallis; de suburb(anis Costelan) est terminus fluvius nomine Dreuenizza’, in: Antiqua Cuthna, sborník z konference Vlastnické kostely, dvorce, sídla a vývoj raných elit ve střední Evropě (26.–28. května 2010 v Kutné Hoře), in press

19 Baxa, Peter and Maříková-Kubková, Jana, ‘Objev nejstarší fáze kostela sv. Jiří v Kostoľanech pod Tribečom’, in Ranostredoveká sakrálna architektúra Nitrianskeho kraja. Zborník zo seminára a katalóg k výstave, Nitra, 2011, pp. 99–100; fig. 11

20 Maříková-Kubková , Jana and Berger, Tomáš, ‘První stavební fáze kostela sv. Juraja v Kostoľanech pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum tutela 21, 2009, pp. 98–99

21 Ibid, p. 151

22 Ibid;
Baxa, Peter and Bisták, Peter, ‘Prvé výsledky revízneho archeologického výskumu cintorína pri Kostole sv. Juraja v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, p. 61

23 Ibid;
Baxa, Peter and Bisták, Peter, Predbežná výskumná dokumentácia, 2009;
Cf. Habovštiak, Aloj, ‘Archeologický výskum v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum Tutela 2, 1968, p. 75;
Baxa, Peter and Maříková-Kubková, Jana, ‘Objev nejstarší fáze kostela sv. Jiří v Kostoľanech pod Tribečom’, in Ranostredoveká sakrálna architektúra Nitrianskeho kraja. Zborník zo seminára a katalóg ku výstave, Nitra, 2011, p. 94, fig. 11

24 Baxa, Peter and Bisták, Peter, ‘Prvé výsledky revízneho archeologického výskumu cintorína pri Kostole sv. Juraja v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, p. 61

25 Kolena, Branislav and Luptáková, Lenka, ‘Antropologická analýza jedinca 78–06 z archeologickej lokality Kostoľany pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, p. 92

26 Baxa, Peter, Polanský, Luboš and Bisták, Peter, ‘Hrobový nález denáru Oldřicha I. (1012–1033, 1034) v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom (Slovensko)’, in Numismatický sborník 21, 2006, p. 306

27 Ibid, 305–306;
Stašíková-Štukovská, Danica and – Hložek, Martin, ‘Materiál korálikov z hrobu no.78 z Kostolian pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, p. 86

28 Baxa, Peter, Polanský, Luboš and Bisták, Peter, ‘Hrobový nález denáru Oldřicha I. (1012–1033, 1034) v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom (Slovensko)’, in Numismatický sborník 21, 2006, pp. 306–308; Baxa, Peter and Bisták, Peter, ‘Prvé výsledky revízneho archeologického výskumu cintorína pri Kostole sv. Juraja v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, p. 61

29 Baxa, Peter, Rejdovianová, Zuzana and Srančíková, Jana, ‘Nález pravekej a včasnostredovekej keramiky z Kostolian pod Tribečom’, in Archeologické výskumy a nálezy na Slovensku v roku 2009, in press;
Borzová, Zuzana and Pažinová, Noemi, ‘Osídlenie kostolianskej doliny’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, p. 39

30 Maříková-Kubková , Jana and Berger, Tomáš, ‘První stavební fáze kostela sv. Juraja v Kostoľanech pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum tutela 21, 2009, pp. 97–152

31 Krása, Josef, ‘Nástěnné malby v kostele sv. Jiří v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum tutela 2, 1968, pp. 115–128

32 Maříková-Kubková , Jana and Berger, Tomáš, ‘První stavební fáze kostela sv. Juraja v Kostoľanech pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum tutela 21, 2009, pp. 148–152

33 Maříková-Kubková, Jana, ‘De Costelan est terminus vallis; de suburb(anis Costelan) est terminus fluvius nomine Dreuenizza’, in: Antiqua Cuthna, sborník z konference Vlastnické kostely, dvorce, sídla a vývoj raných elit ve střední Evropě (26.–28. května 2010 v Kutné Hoře), in press

34 Ibid.

35 Baxa, Peter, Polanský, Luboš and Bisták, Peter, ‘Hrobový nález denáru Oldřicha I. (1012–1033, 1034) v Kostoľanoch pod Tribečom (Slovensko)’, in Numismatický sborník 21, 2006, p. 307

36 Stašíková-Štukovská, Danica and Hložek, Martin, ‘Materiál korálikov z hrobu číslo 78 z Kostolian pod Tribečom’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, pp. 76, 80, 83

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