8th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Fregni

Getting hammered: An analysis of comparative wear on Late Bronze Age hammers and modern replicas

Elpidia Giovanna Fregni

University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S1 4ET, UK

In Archaeology by Experiment, (1973) John Coles outlined the ways in which experimental work is a valuable asset to the study of archaeology. It can be used to test hypotheses pertaining to early technology, in that replicas can be made, tested, and assessed against original archaeological artefacts (Mathieu and Meyer 2002, 75). Earlier studies have used experimental archaeology to evaluate the performance of bronze axes (Mathieu 2002, 3), and to compare wear on replica axes to damage on archaeological artefacts (Roberts and Ottaway 2003). For this study, replica metalsmithing tools were made based on the analyses and examination of Bronze Age tools in museums. These tools were then used in a series of experiments designed to replicate Bronze Age metalsmithing activities that would assess their durability and performance. The experiments included using a bronze hammer to sharpen an axe, forging a bronze bowl, and breaking metal objects.

After the experiments were completed, the replica tools were compared to the original artefacts using a schematic designed to quantify wear. The comparative wear analysis provided insight into how bronze hammers and other metalsmithing tools were used, their durability and limitations, in addition to gaining knowledge of the practice of Bronze Age metalworking.

Coles, J. 1973. Archaeology by Experiment. London: Hutchinson and Co. Ltd.

Mathieu, J.R. 2002. Introduction. In Experimental archaeology, replicating past objects, behaviors and processes, edited by J. R. Mathieu. Oxford: BAR International Series.

Mathieu, J.R., and D.A. Meyer. 2002. Reconceptualizing Experimental Archaeology: Assessing the Process of Experimentation. In Experimental archaeology, replicating past objects, behaviors and processes, edited by J. R. Mathieu. Oxford: BAR International Series.

Roberts, B., and B.S. Ottaway. 2003. The use and significance of socketed axes during the Late Bronze Age. European Journal of Archaeology 6.

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