A Completely Normal Practice: The Emergence of Selective Metalwork Deposition in Denmark, North-west Germany, and the Netherlands Between 2350-1500 BC [Hardback]

Dr. Marieke Visser(Author)

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ISBN: 9789464280166 | Published by: Sidestone Press | Year of Publication: 2022 | 290p, H10 x W7, 35 full color and 53 b&w imahes
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Paperback - ISBN: 9789464280159

A Completely Normal Practice


In Bronze Age Europe, an enormous amount of metalwork was buried in the ground and never retrieved. Patterns in the archaeological finds show that this was a deliberate practice: people systematically deposited valuable metal objects in specific places in the landscape, even in non-metalliferous regions. Although this practice seems strange and puzzling from our modern perspective, these patterns demonstrate that it was not simply a matter of irrational human behaviour. Instead, there were supra-regionally shared ideas and conventions behind this practice.

This book aims to acquire a better understanding of these ideas and conventions. By systematically investigating the objects and places that people selected for metalwork depositions, the logic behind the practice of selective metalwork deposition is unravelled. This research focuses specifically on the emergence of the practice in Denmark, northern Germany, and the Netherlands, a region without sources of copper and tin that has not been studied as a whole before, despite striking similarities in the archaeological record. Starting from the first introduction of metal to the research area, the emergence and development of selective metalwork depositions is examined and followed over time.

For thousands of years, deliberately depositing metal objects in the landscape was a completely normal thing to do. We are now beginning to catch a glimpse of the logic behind this human behaviour. This research does not only add a new chronological and geographical depth to the field of metalwork depositions, but it also provides a detailed catalogue of the metalwork from the research area.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1. Introduction
1.1 Introduction: the Torsted hoard
1.2 The Torsted hoard: not an isolated case
1.3 Conventional interpretation models of hoards
1.4 Ritual interpretations of Bronze Age depositions and the Scandinavian research tradition
1.5 The Scandinavian school of archaeology: emergence and characteristics
1.6 An economic approach to ritual depositions: ritual consumption of metalwork
1.7 Ritual interpretations: problems and challenges
1.8 Interpreting Bronze Age depositions: the European debate
1.9 Approach: patterns and practices
1.10 State of affairs
1.11 Aim and research questions

CHAPTER 2. Methodology and data
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Theoretical framework
2.3 Data selection and collection
2.4 Quality of the data
2.5 Database structure and variables
2.6 Network science
2.7 Research area
2.8 Chronology
2.9 Structure of the thesis


CHAPTER 3. Selective deposition before 2000 BC
3.1. Introduction
3.2. The introduction, disappearance, and reappearance of metal: a thousand-year gap?
3.3. Selective deposition in the Funnelbeaker Culture: an overview
3.4. Selective deposition in the Single Grave Culture: an overview
3.5. Patterns in selective deposition in the Bell Beaker period
3.6. Discussion

CHAPTER 4. Patterns in selective metalwork deposition in LN II
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Flint and metal daggers
4.3. Halberds
4.4. Axes and chisels
4.5. Ornaments
4.6. Unconventional hoards – unconventional events
4.7. Discussion

CHAPTER 5. Patterns in selective metalwork deposition in period IA
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Flint and metal daggers
5.3 Axes and chisels
5.4 Spearheads
5.5 Ornaments
5.6 Ösenringe
5.7 Hoards: unconventional events

5.8 Discussion

CHAPTER 6. Patterns in selective metalwork deposition in period IB
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Flint and metal daggers and swords
6.3 Axes and chisels
6.4 Spearheads
6.5 Ornaments
6.6 Hoards and burials
6.7 Discussion


CHAPTER 7. A completely normal practice: selective metalwork deposition through the ages
7.1 ‘Deviating beginnings’
7.2 The gap?
7.3 The reinvention
7.4 The big rise
7.5 Prelude to the finale
7.6 The grand finale: the Nordic Bronze Age and Sögel-Wohlde period
7.7 Epilogue

CHAPTER 8. The selection of objects: cultural biographies
8.1 Objects: developments over time
8.2 Foreign vs. local styles
8.3 Persistent vs. new objects
8.3.2 New objects
8.4 The use lives of objects
8.5 Conclusion

CHAPTER 9. Burying things with the dead: creating an image
9.1 Barrows and metalwork: social inequality?
9.2 Creating an image of the dead: a case study
9.3 Burial gifts and conventions: an overview
9.4 LN II: from burials to wetlands…
9.5 Period IA: …and back again to burials
9.6 Period IB: warrior burials and regional practices
9.7 Conclusion

CHAPTER 10. ‘Non-burial-gifts’: placing things in the landscape
10.1 The selection of landscape settings: an overview
10.2 Hoards vs. single object deposits
10.3 Hoards in LN II: international contacts and the community
10.4 Hoards in period IA: regional practices and the community
10.5 Hoards in period IB: shared ideas and regional interpretations
10.6 Conclusion

Epilogue: a completely normal practice
Nederlandse samenvatting (Dutch summary)

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