The Function of The Bronze Age Daggers, Thought to Be Symbolic, Is Understood

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The Function of The Bronze Age Daggers, Thought to Be Symbolic, Is Understood

New research shows that Bronze Age daggers are not a dysfunctional symbol that represents a person’s identity or status, but are used on animal carcasses.

The Function of The Bronze Age Daggers, Thought to Be Symbolic, Is Understood
Early Bronze Age bronze dagger. 1750-1500 BC. A: National Museum Wales

Copper alloy daggers first appeared in 4,000 BC and became widespread in Europe, later found in weapons-rich tombs known as “warrior tombs”. Archaeologists have believed for many years that these daggers were mainly used as ceremonial objects at funerals to show the status of the deceased or to indicate who they were, or as a tool in weapons and crafts.

Thanks to a revolutionary new method, organic remains were taken for the first time from ten copper alloy daggers extracted in 2017 from the Bronze Age settlement of Pragatto in Italy. In this technique, picro-sirius red (PSR) solution was used for the appearance of organic residues in daggers; The daggers were then examined under various optical, digital and scanning electron microscopes.

Bronz hançer bıçağı. Kıbrıs. Yaklaşık MÖ 2500–1900. C: Metropolitan Museum of Art

So the team was able to detect collagen and micromedes of combined bone, muscle and tendons. The results show that daggers come into contact with multiple animal tissues and are used on various animal carcasses during the killing of animals, cutting and cleaning their carcasses and separating their meat from the bone.

The researchers then conducted a wide-ranging experiment with copies of the daggers to show they were suitable for the processing of animal carcasses and took remains from daggers used in the experiment to compare them to their Bronze Age counterparts.

Professor Andrea Dolfini, Head of the Department of Archaeology at Newcastle University, said: “Our research shows that it is possible to extract and identify organic remains from ancient metals, as well as increasing the diversity of materials that can be examined in this way. This new method is groundbreaking because it enables the study of various copper alloy tools and weapons from around the world. As well as the possibilities, the answers that the new method can and will bring in the future are endless,” he said.


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