Publication details

Identifying silver-coated surfaces on Early Bronze Age axes from Bohemia



Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Archaeological Science : Reports
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Early Bronze Age; Únětice culture; Axe Hoards; Silver coating; Metalwork wear analysis; Elemental analysis; Electron microscopy; Reflected light analysis
Description Deposits of bronze and copper artefacts are a common feature of the developed Únětice culture in Central Europe. Hoards of axes are especially frequent in Central Germany in the area between Halle, Salle and Dieskau. From this area come the most impressive assemblages of axe hoards. In Bohemia, Czech Republic, a more distant area from Central Germany, the hoards are less frequent and less rich. Until recently the largest hoards came from Northwest Bohemia, which was explained by its geographical closeness to Germany. However, this changed due to a find in Kukleny in Eastern Bohemia of 57 axes; it is the largest axe hoard in Bohemia so far. In total, 65 bronze axes were analysed in hoards found in Kukleny and Kunčice, a smaller hoard found only several kilometres from Kukleny. Our multimethod analysis, based on electron and reflected-light microscopy, identified surprising data related to the axes’ chemical composition, including strong evidence of silver and gold coatings, and we analysed the use-wear of the majority of the found axes.

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