PATTERN OR RANDOM? CONTEXTUALISING ESTONIAN BRONZE AGE BRONZE STRAY FINDS ON THE LANDSCAPE

Kristiina Paavel

Abstract


The vast majority of Estonian Bronze Age (1800–500 cal BC) large metal items (axes, spearheads, sickles) are single stray finds. In contrast, bronzes from settlements are mostly associated with on-site metal casting (casting waste and broken objects), and burial sites have yielded objects of a personal nature, e.g. tweezers, razors, and clothing-related items such as buttons. Some of the stray finds have been linked to possible settlement sites. Deposition in bodies of water has been suggested as an explanation for a couple of items. Although deemed to have been precious prestige items, the reasons for their seemingly contextless find situation have until now not been systematically explored. This study addresses the character of the find locations. To infer the original deposition environment, archive material and topographical and geological data were combined. The results indicate site-specific patterns in the distribution of artefacts, with a preference for wet contexts (especially rivers). This is particularly well illustrated by two regions with bronze items from both the Early and the Late Bronze Age: Kumna in northwest Estonia, and Reiu in southwest Estonia. The patterns noted suggest intentional human activities, possibly related to the phenomenon of depositing bronzes on the landscape, as is identified in other parts of Europe.

Key words: stray bronze finds, Bronze Age, landscape, depositional customs, single depositions, multiple depositions, Estonia.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15181/ab.v24i0.1564


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