Author: Stuart Needham. 74 pages; illustrated throughout in black & white with 3 plates in colour. 43 2017. Available both in print and Open Access. Printed ISBN 9781784917401. Epublication ISBN 9781784917418. |
This work presents a comprehensive classification of the morphology of early metal age axe-heads, chisels and stakes from southern Britain. It is illustrated by a type series of 120 representative examples.
Despite their relative simplicity, flat and early flanged axes from Britain and Ireland show considerable diversity in form. The main variation lies in outline shapes and the classification scheme arrived at therefore depends on careful evaluation of condition, followed by rigorous analysis of shape using metrical ratios. This ensures objectivity in both the formulation of the scheme and future object attributions, for which guidelines are given. Comparative material in northern Britain and Ireland is systematically referred to and a few crucial Continental parallels noted. Hoards and other associated finds, essential in underpinning the chronology, are cited throughout.
The style sequence outlined spans nine centuries of evolution, a regional trajectory which was nevertheless inextricably tied to axe developments in northern Britain, Ireland and, to a lesser extent, the near Continent. While technological advance is apparent at the broad scale, this was not the sole driver of the style changes taking place.
The study will be indispensable for those researching early metalwork, those concerned with European Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age cultures and those interested in patterns of style-cum-technological development.
About the Author
Stuart Needham specialised in metalwork in his early career and has since diversified to cover many aspects of the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age of north-west Europe, involving themes such as deposition practices, metal circulation systems, periodisation, life- and refuse-cycles of material culture, exchange systems, maritime interactions and alluvial archaeology. Further publications have emanated from excavations at Runnymede Bridge and Ringlemere. A curator at the British Museum for thirty years before becoming an independent researcher, he co-founded the Bronze Age Forum in 1999 and delivered the Rhind lectures for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2011. He is currently Research Director of the People of the Heath project investigating Early Bronze Age barrows in the Rother Valley of East Hampshire and West Sussex.
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