7th Experimental Archaeology Conference Poster Abstract – Maria Lowe Fri

To use or not use a Minoan chisel? Ancient technology in a new light

Maria Lowe Fri

Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Section of Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Stockholm University

A PDF of this poster, copyright of the author, is available to download.

This paper concerns the use and users of the Minoan chisels. Previous research conducted includes chisel typologies and hypotheses of the chisels’ use on wood, stone, metal and bone. However, no further investigations have been conducted in order to try and substantiate these assumptions. Furthermore, if the chisels were used in these different materials and for different work, would it not be possible to exclude certain types of chisels for certain use? That is, would all the chisels be suitable for working on wood, stone, metal or bone? Would the use-wear on the chisels be the same for stone and metal? My aim is to complement and explore these theories with experiments and visual examinations of the Minoan chisels.

So far, I have experimented with cast bronze replicas on stone. This exercise probably seems rather straight forward, however when considering the Minoan archaeological record the chisel was used for attaining a variety of working tasks such as dressing stone for building, to more complicated objects such as vases, detailed reliefs, plaques and moulds. In order to draw conclusions, experiments have to be conducted in all these working fields. I have, so far, with help from two stone masons had a mould and a relief-plaque made with the chisel replicas. All the chisel types were included in the experimental studies and some could be excluded, at once, since they were either too broad or too long for the small and tricky parts of carving details. Other interesting results were that depending on if a stone or a wooden mallet was used as a hammer, the striations made by the chisel on the worked stone were different; an important result when addressing questions of different tools-kits for different users during the Bronze Age.

An important aspect in concluding use and users is to study the Minoan chisels and the use-wear visible on them. This in order to compare the Minoan chisels with the replicas and the use-wear created during the experiments. The comparison will, hopefully, show what types of chisels really were used on stone during the Minoan period and further substantiate the question of use and user in the Minoan archaeological material.

This work is in progress, and further experiments in stone, wood, metal and bone need to be conducted in order to conclude further on the Minoan chisel’s use and users. This conference will give me the opportunity to widen my horizons with possible solutions and fruitful discussions in the sphere of experimental archaeology.


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