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Bracer ornaments! An investigation of Bell Beaker stone 'wrist-guards' from Central Europe

Abstract : This paper focuses on Bell Beaker stone bracers, so-called 'wrist-guards'. These objects have attracted attention for decades as symbols of warriorhood. As pointed out by various authors, such items appear to be rather bracer ornaments than proper wrist-guards for the protection of an archer's forearm. In this study, 153 bracers from the Czech Republic and Hungary have been investigated with a technological and functional approach in order to track the biography of these objects. It appears that, in this area, they are made of various sedimentary rocks. The manufacture of most bracers does not require a high-level of know-how, but some carefully made pieces could have been worked by craftsmen. The functional approach for an investigation of these objects reveals very few signs of their use as wrist-guards. However, these items are generally worn to various degrees and some of them have a quite long biography, having been consistently broken, reshaped and re-drilled. An analysis of deposition contexts concludes that the bracers were items for personal adornment, with highly symbolic character and can be regarded as male-gendered objects. In this respect, they should be definitely considered as bracer ornaments rather than wrist-guards.
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Contributor : Clément Nicolas <>
Submitted on : Monday, June 29, 2020 - 12:20:32 PM
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Clément Nicolas. Bracer ornaments! An investigation of Bell Beaker stone 'wrist-guards' from Central Europe. Journal of Neolithic Archaeology, UFG CAU Kiel, 2020. ⟨hal-02883699⟩

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