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Were Bronze Age metalworkers skilled?

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Résumé

Beyond the provocation of the title, the question of ancient metalworkers’ skills, that has been recently discussed by Maikel Kuijpers for Bronze Age axes, makes perfect sense concerning Bronze Age swords, especially when equipped with a metallic hilt. These weapons are indeed almost always described as masterpieces of metalwork made by skilled and specialized craftsmen. This does not take into account the breakthroughs made since the 1960s in the study of the fabrication techniques of bronze artefacts. Even if it is true that most Bronze Age swords are looking flawless on the surface, imaging techniques such as X-ray or CT-scan enable archaeologists to have a glimpse of the inside of the objects, showing that defects commonly occur at different steps of the chaîne opératoire. The quality of the final product can vary a lot from an object to another, but also according to the considered periods or regions. Our aim in this presentation is to use archaeometallurgy to discuss the abilities of Bronze Age metalworkers to produce fully functional swords, but also to fulfill the expectations of their users, which will lead us to question the purposes of Bronze Age swords.
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Dates et versions

hal-02281018 , version 1 (07-09-2019)

Identifiants

  • HAL Id : hal-02281018 , version 1

Citer

Léonard Dumont. Were Bronze Age metalworkers skilled?: Perspectives from the study of the making of Bronze Age swords. EAA 2019: Beyond Paradigms, European Association of Archaeologists, Sep 2019, Berne, Switzerland. ⟨hal-02281018⟩
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