Organic residue analysis reveals the function of bronze age metal daggers

Caricola, I. et al. (2022) Organic residue analysis reveals the function of bronze age metal daggers. Scientific Reports, 12, 6101. (doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-09983-3)

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Abstract

The article discusses results of organic residue analysis performed on ten copper-alloy daggers from Bronze Age Pragatto, Italy, c.1550–1250 BCE. Metal daggers are widespread in Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Europe, yet their social and practical roles are still hotly debated. Are they symbolic or functional? Are they tools or weapons? How were they used? For what tasks and on what materials? The research addresses these questions through a novel application of biochemical staining and SEM–EDX analysis. The method has proved successful in extracting and identifying animal residues located on cutting edges including bone, muscle, and tendons. These are interpreted as evidence of prehistoric carcass butchering and carving. Further residues were observed on blade faces and hafting plates or tangs; these are interpreted as remnants of bone handles and sheaths, the latter made of either wood fibers or processed hide and fur. The readings proposed in the article are validated by original experiments with replica daggers, as detailed in the Supplementary Materials. The analysis and experiments shed new light on Bronze Age metal daggers, showing that they were fully functional tools (and perhaps tool-weapons) primarily utilized for the processing of animal carcasses. This original research result contributes significant knowledge towards interpreting an under-studied, yet socially salient, prehistoric metal artifact.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The research was carried out as part of the EU-funded EuroDag project, a Marie-Sklodowska Curie Fellowship, Grant Agreement no 798688.
Keywords:Archaeology, organic residue, fibre, animal fibre, Bronze Age.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Harris, Dr Susanna
Authors: Caricola, I., Charles, A., Tirillò, J., Charlton, F., Barton, H., Breglia, F., Rossi, A., Deflorian, M. C., De Marinis, A. M., Harris, S., Pellegrini, A., Scacchetti, F., Boccuccia, P., Miari, M., and Dolfini, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN:2045-2322
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 12: 6101
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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