Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dagger diggers

Archaeologist Stuart Needham, formerly of the British Museum and an internationally renowned expert on bronze age metalwork, thought he was familiar with all British dagger burials... until a chance conversation with a colleague. After being discovered in the corner of a Sussex field by a metal detector in 1989, "Racton Man" had been excavated by archaeologist James Kenny of the Chichester district council and displayed in the local museum (IMAGE ABOVE). The tall warrior died of a slashing sword wound at his elbow and was buried 4,200 years ago holding his dagger, which was sharpened to a fine edge and therefore no ceremonial object. New analysis has shown that the find was an important one and the dagger is in fact the oldest bronze object ever found in Britain. Exclaims Needham, Dagger burials of any kind are rare, and these daggers are hens’ teeth rare, it was a very short-lived fashion, certainly no more than a few generations. To find one with the skeleton, giving it a secure and such an early date, makes it a find of national and indeed European importance.”

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