Richard Francis Burton
Relevant Non-Istrians


A Discovery at Laibach.

Trieste: December 30,1875.

[From Academy, Vol. IX, Jan. 15, 1876, p. 63.]

On Tuesday evening, December 28, Baron Carl von Czvernig (fils) lectured upon a prehistoric or protohistoric collection from Carniola. The site of the find is a turbary about one hour's walk south of Laibach (Lubiana), near Brunndorf; the date of discovery is July 1875; and the lucky explorers were Signor Peruzzi (proprietor) and a local guide. When digging a ditch to drain the road in the tourbière which surrounds Laibach, the labourers, at from five to six feet below the surface, came upon the remains, of which about two-thirds were stolen and sold to strangers. The piles number some 2,000; they are mostly of elm and oak; a few are of pine, and none show signs of burning. The discovery was reported to M. Carl Deschmann, custos of the museum, Laibach, and the building was soon crammed with specimens.

Baron von Czvernig exhibited hatchets, daggers, scrapers, and needles of stag's horn, some of the hatchets unfinished, and showing marks of the drill by means of heated quartz. The animal must have abounded, as remains of some two hundred skeletons were found in an area of 600 square fathoms. A few lance-heads and arrow-piles of silex and hornblende, two small axes of polished serpentine, grinding stones, and five bronzes (sword, knife, pin, &c), serve to fix the comparative date. Man supplied only an old jaw with worn teeth: apparently he had not eaten grain. Small pots of black clay, plain and rudely ornamented with points and lines, and in shape not unlike those of the Istrian Castiniere, contained kernels of the Cornus mas and Crataegus (apple-wort); husks of the hazel-nut; Vallisneria spiralis seeds (see "Loves of the Plants"); and abundant remains of the Trapa natans (water chestnut), suggesting that the caltrop was the staff of life. So Pliny (xxii. 12),"Thraces qui ad Strymon habitant, equos foliis tribuli (T. natans) saginant; ipsi nucleos vescunt panem facientes praedulcem." Our mistranslations read "very agreeable." Apparently this "rude Carniolian" did not want meat; three species of "beef" were found, B. primigenius, aurochs (B. urus), and a third not yet determined. The mutton shows a wild, long-legged type. The dogs' skulls are all old and unbroken, proving that man did not eat his best friend. The boar and the goat, the wolf, the lynx, and the beaver (very common) are those of our day; on the other hand, the badger is the M. spelaeus, with stronger jaw and smaller brain-pan than the modern and more intellectual animal.

Strangers are advised not to visit the site in the rainy season, which floods the ground. They will find in Herr Deschmann a most able demonstrator, and the custos, who has some 150 specimens of horn hammers, is perhaps ready to make exchanges of duplicates with other museums.

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