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Antiquity and the medieval period (7/15)

Antiquity and the medieval period (AD 0 to 1500)

In the year 15 BC the Romans conquered the area and stayed some 500 years. It is not sure that any finds originated from that period. Centuries passed. The medieval period came (AD 500). When Columbus discovered America 1000 years later the hill carried at least four metal objects.


Skull Hill Finds AD 0 to 1500.

There are several candidates for the price of the oldest find. Actually, we cannot really decide. So there are several winners.

A tool or weapon

Tool or weapon

Find #5 is made of iron, some 12 cm / 5” long and has a square cross section. In the first moment I regarded it as a medieval crossbow bolt. It is not. But no matter how carefully I studied the literature I cannot tell whether it is a projectile or a tool, let alone put a precise date to it. In the literature I found following similar but not identical Roman items. They were declared as tools but from all I read not even the archaeologists are sure about that. This find reflects all the misery of relic hunters in contrast to coin hunters. It is not possible to narrow the time frame to more than 15 centuries.

Since it is possible that the item is Roman the time frame starts at AD 0. The purpose of tools did not change in the last 2000 years, so neither did the form. Often they virtually cannot be dated, in strong contrast to coins. Some types of hammers we can buy today were used by the Romans also.
Since the item is certainly not modern I decided to let the time frame end at 1500.

Twisted iron

Twisted iron

Next comes an undetermined object made of twisted iron.

Find # 20 Undetermined twisted iron object. AD 800 – 1400. Handle?

Twisted iron terminal

Twisted iron terminal

Find #20 terminal.

While it looks like a handle both terminals are not in the same plane. Instead, they are perpendicular.

Knife handle

Embroidered solid knife handle

# 17 solid iron handle of knife. Excellent condition. AD 800 - 1400

The handle some 1 cm / 0.4” thick so it uses much more iron than necessary to handle the force. Embroidered by lines this was once an expensive piece. In literature I found a very similar knife originating from a Roman grave.

Delicate knife

Slim knife

My favourite old find from skull hill is this very delicate iron knife (find # 19).

# 19 iron knife with copper alloy handle appendices AD 500 - 1000

In general knifes are notoriously hard to date. Their form follows the function which did not change during the centuries. Still, it is possible to assign a time frame to some forms. This is one of them. These slim knife, just some 17 cm / 6.7” long, is between 1000 and 1500 years old and a fine example how well iron finds survive on this hill. This is because the limestone neutralizes acids that cause iron to deteriorate.
I found a similar knife a few years ago which was dated by the state’s archaeologists to roughly AD 500. With the possible exception of find # 5 this is the oldest item found on this hill.

If you look at it from above (top view) you see that handle and blade are parts of the same long, thin triangle. The handle is not in the same pane as the blade but turned by 90 degrees. This is highly unusual and reveals the striving for beauty. Somebody had something special in mind when he made this knife so many centuries ago.

From a purely functional point of view you can build a more solid knife capable of handling bigger forces without using more iron. You only need to keep iron handle and blade in the same pane. This knife was made by someone to whom function and economy was not everything. An early designer knife.

The small part at the end of the handle is made of copper alloy. It appeared green before the knife was sealed with paraffin to slow down further corrosion.

(C) Thorsten Straub 2006-2011.

Journey through time (6/15) AD 1500 to 1939 (8/15)