Heidi Luik, Arvi Haak


Finds of decorated hammers or axes made of elk antler are rather rare in Estonia. One axe comes from the River Pärnu, and another from the Otepää hill-fort and later episcopal castle site. In addition, there are two almost identical hammers: one was a stray find from Harju county, and another was found in the Medieval town of Tartu. The two stray finds have no connected items that would enable their dating. The other two examples originate from contexts that cannot be dated exactly. The aim of this research is to find parallels to help us date the Estonian items, to ascertain the material and tools used for producing these items, and to discuss on the basis of the former, and an analysis of the find contexts, the probable areas of usage and meanings of these items. Although it is not possible to date these antler objects precisely, they probably come from the end of the Estonian Prehistoric period or the Middle Ages: the 11th to the 15th centuries. The function of the items is also not definite. Tools in the shape of a hammer were probably used as hammers. It was not possible to use any axe-shaped object as an axe, so assumptions about their function are still just speculative.

Key words: antler, axe, hammer, function, meaning, Middle Ages, Estonia.


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