Date:

Research overturns the function of Bronze Age daggers

A new study led by Newcastle University has revealed that Bronze Age daggers were used for processing animal carcasses and not as a non-functional symbol of identity or status.

Copper-alloy daggers first appeared during the 4th millennium BC, becoming widespread across Europe where they were often found in weapon rich burials known as “warrior graves”. Archaeologists have long suggested that they were primarily used as ceremonial objects in funerals to mark the status or identify of the deceased, or used as weapons and tools for crafts.

- Advertisement -

A revolutionary new method has enabled the first extraction of organic residues from ten copper-alloy daggers excavated in 2017 from Pragatto, a Bronze Age settlement site in Italy. The technique used Picro-Sirius Red (PSR) solution to stain organic residues on the daggers, which were then observed under several types of optical, digital and scanning electron microscopes.

This allowed the team to identify micro-residues of collagen and associated bone, muscle and bundle tendon fibres, suggesting that the daggers had come into contact with multiple animal tissues and were used to process various types of animal carcasses during the slaughtering of livestock, butchering carcasses and carving the meat from the bone.

Researchers then carried out wide-ranging experiments with replicas of the daggers to demonstrate the suitability for processing animal carcases and extracted residues from the experimental daggers for comparison with their Bronze Age counterparts.

Professor Andrea Dolfini, Chair of Archaeology, Newcastle University, said: “The research has revealed that it is possible to extract and characterise organic residues from ancient metals, extending the range of materials that can be analysed in this way. This is a significant breakthrough as the new method enables the analysis of a wide variety of copper-alloy tools and weapons from anywhere in the world. The possibilities are endless, and so are the answers that the new method can and will provide in the future.”

- Advertisement -

Newcastle University 

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-09983-3

Header Image Credit : Scientific Reports

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill

Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

BU archaeologists uncover Iron Age victim of human sacrifice

Archaeologists from Bournemouth University have uncovered an Iron Age victim of human sacrifice in Dorset, England.

Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions

Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Archaeologists find missing head of Deva from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom

Archaeologists from Cambodia’s national heritage authority (APSARA) have discovered the long-lost missing head of a Deva statue from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom.

Archaeologists search crash site of WWII B-17 for lost pilot

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology are excavating the crash site of a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress in an English woodland.

Roman Era tomb found guarded by carved bull heads

Archaeologists excavating at the ancient Tharsa necropolis have uncovered a Roman Era tomb guarded by two carved bull heads.