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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1992.256.131
Title
Axe Head
Classification
Weapons and Ammunition
Work Type
axe
Date
3rd millennium BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Anatolia
Period
Bronze Age
Culture
Syro-Hittite
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/304584
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Arsenical copper
Technique
Cast, lost-wax process
Dimensions
14.7 x 5.9 cm (5 13/16 x 2 5/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Arsenical Copper:
Cu, 95.19; Sn, less than 0.25; Pb, 0.05; Zn, less than 0.001; Fe, 0.74; Ni, 0.53; Ag, 0.05; Sb, 0.09; As, 3.36; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.01; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is a mottled chocolate brown and light green with coppery metal shining through in a few worn areas. The surface has probably been waxed. Some cuprite and pitting is present. The blade end is mildly dented and notched in a few areas, probably from use.

The object features a simple flat shape that was cast in bivalve mold. Chatter marks and traces of hammering and filing are present on the body of the implement and on the edges from both its original finishing and a later cleaning.


Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2012)

Provenance
Louise M. and George E. Bates, Camden, ME (by 1971-1992), gift; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1992.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Louise M. and George E. Bates
Accession Year
1992
Object Number
1992.256.131
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This type of thin, flat, unhafted axe blade was widespread throughout the Aegean, Anatolia, and western Asia during the third millennium BCE (1). It flares out very slightly at the subtly curved cutting edge and tapers, also slightly, to the rounded butt at the opposite end. It is unclear whether these objects were meant to be used by themselves, or were inserted into the ends of wooden or bone handles. It is also unclear whether they were tools for cutting, shaving, or smoothing wood.

NOTES:

1. Axes generally similar in shape from the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum are published in J. W. Hayes, Ancient Metal Axes and Other Tools in the Royal Ontario Museum: European and Mediterranean Types (Toronto, 1991) 5-8, nos. 2-8. All seem to be from the third millennium BCE. The reported findspots of these objects range from eastern Europe to Cyprus.


David G. Mitten

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu