Northern Europe, Chalcolithic / Corded Ware culture, ca. 2800 BCE. A pair of handmade, sanded river cobble axes with round sockets, broad butts, and long, tapering blades. Viewed from above or the side, each axe is in the form of a boat, with a prominent prow. Axes like these have been found in over three thousand graves, mainly in southern Scandinavia, and were status objects, not weapons - there is no evidence for any kind of uptick in battles or migrations of people around this time period. Size of largest: 4.95" L x 2.75" W x 2" H (12.6 cm x 7 cm x 5.1 cm)
The boat-like shape is echoed through rock carvings from this era, which also depict what appear to be thousands of ships. Current research on ancient Europe suggests that the seas and rivers were their versions of highways, and posits cultures based along coasts, with settlements on water having much more in common with those further inland. Axes like these may have explicitly tied their owners to this seagoing world.
Provenance: private Orange County, California, USA collection
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