Back to the ROOTS of metallurgy and violence: A dagger from Slovakia

Khurram Saleem provides an overview of a finished project about a prehistoric artefact
The Eneolithic dagger (lenght: ca. 30cm; photo by H. Skorna)

At the end of September, Marketa Havlikova (Masaryk University/Brno) and Dr. Martin Bača (Comenius University/Bratislava) visited the Focus Group “Material Science and Analysis” of the ROOTS Subcluster Conflict and Conciliation (link). Together with Prof. Lorenz Kienle, Dr. Ulrich Schürmann, Khurram Saleem and Henry Skorna, they discussed joint research efforts regarding prehistoric metal objects from Central Europe. A specific focus of this research interest is a new find from Slovakia: a copper dagger, found in the Váh River during the extraction of gravel. A first archaeological assessment of this find indicates that this artefact probably belongs to a rare group of large daggers from Moravia and southwestern Slovakia, dating to approximately 4000 BC. Within the ongoing archaeological debate, this kind of large dagger could also be interpreted as a so-called halberd or “Stabdolch”, a specialised weapon that is better known from the Early Bronze Age.
The aim of this joint interdisciplinary research is to acquire information about the dagger, including its metal composition, the provenance of the metal, the manufacturing processes associated with the find, including specific production techniques, and the use of the weapon.
The dagger was sampled in Kiel and will now be investigated with a wide range of available methods at the Institute of Material Science of Kiel University (link). These studies will help to identify the elemental composition and the structure of the dagger. Combined with further metallographic and use-wear analyses, which will be completed by Marketa Havlikova, these investigations will provide different insights into the production, manufacturing techniques and the use of the dagger.
Even though the object was damaged by a dredging machine, there is a possibility that prehistoric metal wear could be still preserved and identified, e.g. around the rivet holes. With the support of the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology of Kiel University (link), another sample will be investigated to determine the ratio of lead isotopes and the composition of trace elements of the used metals. It is expected that these joint efforts will provide more pieces to the puzzle of early metallurgy and violence in prehistory.

Dr. Martin Bača: "We enjoyed the warm welcome in Kiel and benefited greatly from fruitful discussions. After the first promising steps of this joint project, we intend to provide additional samples from other comparable metal finds of the same period for further analysis and comparison. Marketa Havlikova and I will also ensure that the dagger as well as all other future finds will be properly documented by the laboratories of the universities in Brno and Bratislava.
We would like to thank Prof. Lorenz Kienle for the kind invitation, Khurram Saleem, Kathrin Brandenburg and Henry Skorna for the organization of our research stay, Dr. Ulrich Schürmann for the great lab tour, and Prof. Johannes Müller for support and access to the library."

Dr Ulrich Schuermann and Khurram Saleem explain the function of the electron microscope and the possible analysis Dr. Ulrich Schürmann and Khurram Saleem explain the function of the electron microscope and the possible analysis (photo by H. Skorna).

Henry Skorna presents the Eneolithic dagger

Henry Skorna presents the Eneolithic dagger (photo by F. Wilkes / T. Pape).

Bild4Khurram Saleem provides an overview of a finished project about a prehistoric artefact (left to right: Marketa Havlikova, Khurram Saleem and Martin Bača) (photo by H. Skorna).


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