Weapon and tool use during the Nordic Bronze Age

Keywords: Bronze Age, Use wear, weapons, tools, specialization

Abstract

The article is based on wear analysis carried out on 101 bladed objects including swords, spears, daggers, and knives. They are dating mostly to the Early Nordic Bronze Age. Wear marks vary over time and for each object category. The data are discussed to investigate the implications of the variation in the wear patterns. It is argued that a true specialization of the combat roles of swords and spears occurs first during the advanced Early Bronze Age. This may lead to the gradual loss of the role daggers had in combat. This is interpreted as evidence that the design and use of bladed objects inform each other and cause gradual changes.

References

Anderson, K., 2011. Slashing and thrusting with Late Bronze Age spears: Analysis and experiment. Antiquity, 85 (328), 599-612. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00067983

Aner, E., Kersten, K., 1973-2014. Funde der älteren Bronzezeit des nordischen Kreises in Dänemark, Schleswig-Holstein und Niedersachsen. . Wachholtz: Neumünster.

Brandherm, D., 2011. Use-wear on Bronze Age halberds: The case of Iberia. In: Uckelmann, M., Mödlinger, M., eds. Bronze Age Warfare: Manufacture and Use of Weaponry. Oxford: Archaeopress, 23-38.

Bridgford, S., 1997. The first weapons devised only for war. British archaeology, (22), 7.

Bridgford, S.D., 2000. Weapons, warfare and society in Britain 1250-750 BC. PhD Sheffield.

Dolfini, A., 2011. The function of Chalcolithic metalwork in Italy: An assessment based on use-wear analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (5), 1037-1049. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.11.025

Dolfini, A., Crellin, R.J., 2016. Metalwork wear analysis: The loss of innocence. Journal of Archaeological Science, 66, 78-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2015.12.005

Earle, T., Ling, J., Uhnér, C., Stos-Gale, Z., Melheim, L., 2015. The Political Economy and Metal Trade in Bronze Age Europe: Understanding Regional Variability in Terms of Comparative Advantages and Articulations. European Journal of Archaeology, 18 (4), 633-657. https://doi.org/10.1179/1461957115Y.0000000008

Earle, T.K., 2002. Bronze Age economics: The beginnings of political economies. Boulder: Westview.

Fontijn, D., 2005. Giving up weapons. In: M. Parker Pearson, I.J.N. Thorpe, eds. Warfare, violence and slavery in prehistory, vol. 1374 1374. Oxford: Archaeopress, 145-154.

Gentile, V., van Gijn, A., 2019. Anatomy of a notch. An in-depth experimental investigation and interpretation of combat traces on Bronze Age swords. Journal of Archaeological Science, 105, 130-143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2019.02.004

Harding, A.F., 2007. Warriors and Weapons in Bronze Age Europe. Budapest: Archaeolingua alapítvány.

Högberg, A., Brink, K., Grandin, L., Horn, C., 2016. A silver-coated copper axe from Late Neolithic Scania: Initial analyses. Fornvännen, 111 (4), 258-264.

Horn, C., 2013. Weapons, fighters and combat: Spears and swords in Early Bronze Age Scandinavia. Danish Journal of Archaeology, 2 (1), 20-44. https://doi.org/10.1080/21662282.2013.838832

Horn, C., 2014a. Harm’s way–an approach to change and continuity in prehistoric combat. Current Swedish archaeology, 21, 93-116.

Horn, C., 2014b. Studien zu den europäischen Stabdolchen. Universitätsforschungen zur Prähistorischen Archäologie 246. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt, VI, 404 S. in 2 Teilen.

Horn, C., 2017. Combat and ritual: Wear analysis on metal halberds from the Danish Isles and the Cimbrian Peninsula. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 14, 515-529. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.05.027

Horn, C., 2018. ‘Die by the sword . . . or the spear?: Early bronze weapons in Scandinavia‘. In: M. Fernández-Götz, N. Roymans, eds. Conflict archaeology. Materials of collective violence from prehistory to late antiquity, 1st ed. Themes in contemporary archaeology. London: Routledge, 51-60.

Horn, C., Holstein, I. von, 2017. Dents in our confidence: The interaction of damage and material properties in interpreting use-wear on copper-alloy weaponry. Journal of Archaeological Science, 81, 90-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2017.04.002

Hunt Ortiz, M.A., 2003. Prehistoric mining and metallurgy in south west Iberian Peninsula. BAR International Series 1188. Archaeopress: Oxford, xiv, 418.

Jacob-Friesen, G., 1967. Bronzezeitliche Lanzenspitzen Norddeutschlands und Skandinaviens. Hildesheim: Lax.

Kristiansen, K., 1979. ‘The consumption of wealth in Bronze Age Denmark: A study in the dynamics of economic processes in tribal societies‘. In: K. Kristiansen, C. Paludan-Müller, eds. New directions in Scandinavian archaeology. Studies in Scandinavian prehistory and early history v. 1. The National Museum of Denmark, København, 158-190.

Kristiansen, K., 1984. Krieger und Häuptlinge in der Bronzezeit Dänemarks. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des bronzezeitlichen Schwertes. Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz 31, 187-208. https://doi.org/10.11588/jrgzm.1984.0.58781

Kristiansen, K., 2002. The tale of the sword–swords and swordfighters in Bronze Age Europe. Oxford Journal of Archeology, 21 (4), 319-332. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0092.00166

Kristiansen, K., 2007. ‘The rules of the game: Decentralised complexity and power structures‘. In: S. Kohring, S. Wynne-Jones, eds. Socialising complexity. Approaches to power and interaction in the archaeological record. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Kristiansen, K., 2016. ‘Interpreting Bronze Age Trade and Migration‘. In: E. Kiriatzi, C. Knappett, eds. Human mobility and technological transfer in the prehistoric Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 154-180.

Larsson, T.B., 1989. ‘Bronze!: Power and wealth in Early Bronze Age Scania‘. In: H.-Å. Nordström, A. Knape, eds. Bronze Age studies. Stockholm: Statens Historiska Museum, 25-44.

Ling, J., Hjärthner-Holdar, E., Grandin, L., Billström, K., Persson, P.-O., 2013. Moving metals or indigenous mining?: Provenancing Scandinavian Bronze Age artefacts by lead isotopes and trace elements. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (1), 291-304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.05.040

Ling, J., Stos-Gale, Z., Grandin, L., Billström, K., Hjärthner-Holdar, E., Persson, P.-O., 2014. Moving metals II: Provenancing Scandinavian Bronze Age artefacts by lead isotope and elemental analyses. Journal of Archaeological Science, 41, 106-132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2013.07.018

Liversage, D., Liversage, M., 1989. A method for the study of the composition of early copper and bronze artifacts: An example from Denmark. Helinium, 28 (1), 42-76.

Mercer, R., 2006. By Other Means?: The Development of Warfare in the British Isles 3000–500 BC. Journal of Conflict Archaeology, 2 (1), 119-151. https://doi.org/10.1163/157407706778942321

Molloy, B., 2006. The role of combat weaponry in Bronze Age societies: The cases of the Aegean and Ireland in the Middle and Late Bronze Age. PhD, Dublin.

Molloy, B., 2011. ‘Use-wear analysis and use-patterns of Bronze Age swords‘. In: M. Uckelmann, M. Mödlinger, eds. Bronze Age Warfare: Manufacture and Use of Weaponry. Oxford: Archaeopress, 67-84.

Molloy, B., 2018. ‘Conflict at Europe’s crossroads: Analysing the social life of metal weaponry in the Bronze Age Balkans‘. In: A. Dolfini, R.J. Crellin, C. Horn, M. Uckelmann, eds. Prehistoric Warfare and Violence. Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. Cham: Springer, 199-224.

Molloy, B., Wiśniewski, M., Lynam, F., O’Neill, B., O’Sullivan, A., Peatfield, A., 2016. Tracing edges: A consideration of the applications of 3D modelling for metalwork wear analysis on Bronze Age bladed artefacts. Journal of Archaeological Science, 76, 79-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2016.09.007

Molloy, B.P.C., 2008. Martial arts and materiality: A combat archaeology perspective on Aegean swords of the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries BC. World Archaeology, 40 (1), 116-134. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438240701843611

Molloy, B.P.C., 2017. Hunting Warriors: The Transformation of Weapons, Combat Practices and Society during the Bronze Age in Ireland. European Journal of Archaeology, 20 (2), 280-316. https://doi.org/10.1017/eaa.2016.8

O’Flaherty, R., 2007. A weapon of choice – experiments with a replica Irish Early Bronze Age halberd. Antiquity, 81 (312), 423-434. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00095284

O’Flaherty, R., Bright, P., Gahan, J., Gilchrist, M.D., 2008. Up close and personal. Archaeology Ireland, 22–25.

Oldeberg, A., 1974. Die ältere Metallzeit in Schweden I. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Oldeberg, A., 1976. Die ältere Metallzeit in Schweden II. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Orfanou, V., Rehren, T., 2015. A (not so) dangerous method: PXRF vs. EPMA-WDS analyses of copper-based artefacts. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 7 (3), 387-397. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-014-0198-z

Sáez, C.G., Lerma, I.M., 2015. Traceology on Metal. Use-Wear Marks on Copper-Based Tools and Weapons. In: J. Marreiros, J.F. Gibaja Bao, N.F. Bicho, eds. Use-wear and residue analysis in archaeology. Manuals in archaeological method, theory, and technique. Cham: Springer, 171-188.

Shreir, L.L., 2010. ‘Basic Concepts of Corrosion‘. In: T.A. Richardson, R.A. Cottis, L.L. Shreir, eds. Shreir’s corrosion, 4th ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 89-100.

Tarot, J., 2000. Die bronzezeitlichen Lanzenspitzen der Schweiz. Universitätsforschungen zur Prähistorischen Archäologie 66. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt.

Uckelmann, M., Mödlinger, M. (Eds.), 2011. Bronze Age Warfare: Manufacture and Use of Weaponry. Oxford: Archaeopress.

van Wees, H., 2004. Greek warfare: Myths and realities. London: Duckworth.

Vandkilde, H., 1996. From stone to bronze: the metalwork of the late Neolithic and earliest Bronze Age in Denmark. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.

Published
2019-10-01
Section
Research Article