The life and times of an estonian Mesolithic slotted bone 'dagger'. Extended object biographies for legacy objects

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  • Mathias Bjørnevad
  • Tõnno Jonuks, The Estonian Literary Museum
  • ,
  • Peter Bye-Jensen, University of Southampton
  • ,
  • Mikael A. Manninen, University of Oslo
  • ,
  • Esther Oras, University of Tartu
  • ,
  • Signe Vahur, University of Tartu
  • ,
  • Felix Riede
All too often archaeological objects are found as stray finds. As such, they have little or no contextual information, which often makes them difficult to handle analytically and in terms of their exhibition appeal. As a consequence, they often languish un-researched in museum storerooms and there is the critical risk that such objects fall victim to the ongoing curation crisis and are deaccessioned due to a perceived lack of value. Therefore, in this paper we aim to illustrate the applicability of an extended biographical approach to such legacy material by studying the changing character of the Ulbi dagger, an Early Mesolithic flint-edged bone dagger, in its both archaeological and modern contexts. By using both a combination of traditional archaeological methods, coupled with a critical analysis of past illustrations, the dagger went from an isolated, undated, and unique object to a tool with a complex life history extending more than 9000 years. Our analysis reveals multiple stages of manufacturing and ornamentation including the presence of possible anthropomorphic figures. Use-wear analysis also allows us to address the object’s likely primary function. Finally, we speculate about its deposition and discuss previously overlooked post-recovery episodes of damage and repair.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEstonian Journal of Archaeology
Pages (from-to)103-125
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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