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Title: The intentional destruction and deposition of Bronze Age metalwork in South West England
Author: Knight, Matthew Giuseppe
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 2949
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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The intentional destruction of Bronze Age metalwork prior to deposition is frequently recognised within assemblages, but rarely forms the focus of study. Furthermore, most research focuses on why metalwork was deliberately destroyed without considering how this process was undertaken. This thesis therefore analyses how metalwork might have been intentionally damaged and uses this to better interpret why. The material properties of bronze are considered alongside past research into the use of different implements, before a series of experiments are presented that explore how one might best break a bronze object. A better understanding of the methods by which Bronze Age metalwork might become damaged means one can identify intentional damage over that sustained accidentally, through use or post-deposition. This culminates in a Damage Ranking System, which can be utilised to assess the likelihood that damage observed on archaeological specimens is the result of intent. The Damage Ranking System is applied to Bronze Age metalwork from South West England (i.e. Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset). The catalogue of metalwork from this region was recently updated, highlighting instances of deliberate destruction that would warrant further study (Knight et al. 2015). The present research builds on this catalogue and involved analysis of complete and damaged objects from across the study region and from throughout the Bronze Age. Approximately 1300 objects were handled and studied and set within the Damage Ranking System alongside a contextual analysis of the findspots. This allowed trends in damage and depositional practices to be observed, demonstrating increased intentional destruction throughout the Bronze Age. It is shown that the deliberate destruction of metalwork throughout the Bronze Age related to the construction of personhood and emphasised links with other regions of Bronze Age Europe. This research demonstrates a new approach to the material that has wide-reaching applications in future studies.
Supervisor: Hurcombe, Linda ; Brück, Joanna Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bronze Age ; Metalwork ; Destruction ; Deposition ; Personhood ; Experiment