Saturday, August 13, 2016

Beaker Smith? Stone Hoard from Netherlands (Drenth, Freudenberg, Williams, 2016)

Drenth, Freudenberg and Williams review a bunch of metal working tools that were buried together in a pit.

A compelling case is made that these are the remnants of smith's tools and were buried within a rectangular style box.   Weirdly, the arrangement of the stones look as if it they were placed in a toolbox!

On page 47 there is a fascinating description of how the tools were placed into the toolbox to protect the work edges and faces.  The reason why the authors have come back to this find is the significance of the arrangement.  There have in various places been found fish hooks, weights and fishing lures; imagine if an archaeologist one day found a complete Late Neolithic tackle box.

Snip of page 43, Musaica archaeologica 1-1, 2016, 37-58. Online. 30.06.2016.
The inventory, quoting from the paper:

  • a non-flint stone axe with a rectangular cross-section or Fels-Rechteckbeil, variety A (width < half of the length) with a rectangular outline as viewed from above ( 3);
  • a hammer-stone with two polished short ends ( 19);
  • three hammer-stones (cat. nos. 6, 7 and 12);
  • two cushion-stones (cat. nos. 1 and 2);
  • two arrow shaft smoothers (cat. nos. 4 and 5);
  • six to seven whetstones (cat. nos. 8, 9, 14, 18, 20, 22 and 23);
  • one or two rubbing stones (cat. nos. 10 and 15).   (Drenth et al, 2016)

Also, from the table below you can see a little more clearly the intelligent selection of certain types of materials for certain purposes.  In a way, this reminds of the diversity of wood materials of Otzi's backpack and personal gear.

Snip from Fig 1 Musaica archaeologica 1-1, 2016, 37-58. Online. 30.06.2016.

Finally, they consider why the box was buried.  It appears that all of the tools are well used but still functional; a number of them are no longer functional or broken.  The authors suspect that the person who buried the tools did not intend to return, given the worn and sometimes broken state.  They suggest the tools were buried respectfully.

I think we are channeled towards the possibility that these were once the tools of a man who was no longer around.  Someone took a box of mostly functional tools and some broken tools, buried it, and never came back.

Drenth, Freudenberg, Williams 

The Belongings of a Bell Beaker smith? A Stone Hoard from Hengelo, Province of Gelderland, the Netherlands (*.pdf)  Erik Drenth - Mechtild Freudenberg - Gavin L. Williams
Musaica archaeologica 1-1, 2016, 37-58. Online. 30.06.2016. [Link]

Abstract: This paper discusses a pit in which 23 stones were discovered during the excavation of a cover sand ridge at Hengelo, province of Gelderland, the Netherlands, in 2007. In all likelihood it concerns the isolated deposition or hoard containing (part of) the belongings of a smith dating to the Bell Beaker period. Amongst the stones are two cushion-stones and a hammer with two polished short ends. They have been interpreted as metal-working tools that served as anvils and percussion instrument respectively. Copper and gold traces, revealed by neuron activation analysis, on the cushion-stones and a whetstone support this theory. 

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