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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Europe's largest (?) Copper Axe from Hyrup, Denmark. Reply to topic
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 9:29 am    Post subject: Europe's largest (?) Copper Axe from Hyrup, Denmark.         Reply with quote

At Hyrup, near Horsens you have found this copper axe weighing 1,5 kg from ~3400 BC.
[As usual no length given]


Source: [Scroll down, it's not a blank page] http://www.horsensmuseum.dk/Arkaeologi/Fantas...Oekse.aspx

The article claims it might be the biggest copper axe in Europe! (You have Jade Stone Age axes much larger and heavier also imported to Denmark from Central Europe in the previous Mesolithic and Earlier Neolithic period).

You have found 80 copper axes in Denmark from around ~3400 BC when it begins and it seems you had a copper import from Austria from this period and until 3200 BC, when it suddenly stops. Import of copper is not resumed, before the first Bronze Age weapons around 2000 BC. That is extremely interesting as why this trade suddenly stopped......

The Danish axes are locally crafted and apparently made at 100 degrees Celcius lower temperature than Austrian copper axes.

To compare with “Ötzi's axe“ from 3300 BC on the Austrian-Italian border (9,5 cm long).

Source: http://oetzi.com/en/axe

As the copper axes are of worse quality than Danish flint axes and knives, they are probably prestige items and/or used exclusively for burials (you see this with earlier giant stone axes, that are so big they are useless for anything than wow factor).

What is interesting is that it shows some kind a trade exchange between Austria and Denmark from 3400-3200 BC (so within Ötzi range).

More info should be from this book on page 59-60:
Klassen, Lutz (2004)
Jade und Kupfer. Untersuchungen zum Neolithisierungsprozess im westlichen Ostseeraum unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Kulturentwicklung Europas 5500-3500 BC.
Jysk Arkæologisk Selskabs Skrifter (47)

Aarhus Universitetsforlag - Link to book: http://en.unipress.dk/udgivelser/j/jade-und-kupfer/
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 4:52 pm    Post subject: Europe's largest (?) Copper Axe from Hyrup, Denmark.         Reply with quote


Interesting find. The Hyrup axe is older than Ötzi's axe itself. Both axes were used to chop wood instead of being weapons, I guess.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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Posts: 800

PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2015 12:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Europe's largest (?) Copper Axe from Hyrup, Denmark.         Reply with quote

[quote="Shahril Dzulkifli"]

The copper would likely be to soft to chop wood. So these are not tools, but prestige weapons (meant as exclusive man-killers). You show by having this weapon, that you are part of “the copper network“, even though a smaller stone axe would be a superior weapon when it comes to sturdiness as it is way more solid (but takes ages to make) and a flint axe would be a lot sharper.

Lots of types of neolithic stone axes -> these shown are all weapons and not tools:
Source: http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/1415

This is a very cool stone axe (as cool as the copper axes):
Source: http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/1519

As tools massive flint axes were likely used as they have sharp edges for cutting the wood and enough mass to give power in the chop. Here a likely flint work-axe from Arnakkegård.
Source: http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/9595

Then you have special axes likely just used for burials:

1) Skolæstøkse (imported stone axe) from late mesolithic:
Source: http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/1500

2) Massive flint axes often found unused in huge numbers in burials.
Source: http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/2238

Found a picture of other Danish copper axes from a hoard at Bygholm:
http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/2001

So 4 copper axes and one copper dagger-blade from this single find.

While the Ötzi axe is a palstave, it is not certain whether these Danish axes were palstaves or “normal“ axes.
The Danish axes doesn't have the look of a typical palstave axehead, but Ötzi's axe might not have the specialized form of palstave axes you see later in the Bronze Age
(I don't know how Ötzi's axe looks when dissembled from the palstave).

The largest copper axes in Denmark (besides the largest Hyrup Axe) are 12 cm long (Ötzi's being 9,5 cm)


Last edited by Niels Just Rasmussen on Tue 03 Mar, 2015 12:52 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Feb, 2015 6:38 pm    Post subject: Europe's largest (?) Copper Axe from Hyrup, Denmark.         Reply with quote

I didn't know that copper axes were used as weapons rather than tools, Niels.
I am sorry.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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Posts: 800

PostPosted: Sun 01 Mar, 2015 8:39 am    Post subject: Re: Europe's largest (?) Copper Axe from Hyrup, Denmark.         Reply with quote

Shahril Dzulkifli wrote:
I didn't know that copper axes were used as weapons rather than tools, Niels.
I am sorry.


Absolutely no reason to be sorry. It's a legitimate question.
It's just that copper is fairly soft and doesn't hold an edge well, so it would be pretty useless as a tool compared with the hefty sharp flint-axes, that had been in use for thousands of years.
I would reckon it would be a futile exercise to try a cut down a tree with a copper axe?!

Both the polished stone axes and copper axes were prestige weapons (and both imported). By having it you showed you were part of an elite network.
Since people generally were unarmed (or lightly armoured) in the Neolithic, then it doesn't really matter if you are hit in the head with a flint, stone or copper axe (it will still kill you).

So this short period (3400-3200 BC) could be called “the Danish Chalcolithic period“ - you just have a return back to Neolithic until the “earliest bronze age“ begins around 2000 BC.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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Posts: 800

PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Horsens Museum have updated their info about this copper axe, which is good news.
Source: http://www.horsensmuseum.dk/Arkaeologi/Fantas...obberOekse

It is 19 cm long and weighs ~ 1,4 kg.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2016 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Copper can be hardened to a fair degree by working it with a hammer. Conceivably, if you chose a small tree with soft wood and hardened the edge of your axe, you could indeed chop one down with a copper axe. The proper alloy will help, some coppers mixed with other metals will be slightly harder.

That said, odds are good that copper axes were always a prestige item-- bronze came on the scene fairly quickly I think after copper was first smelted, and stone tools were still in fairly wide use until bronze showed up because copper simply doesn't have the strength to be that useful as a tool.
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Martin Fischer




Location: Cologne, Germany
Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 43

PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2016 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,

copper-axes were used as tools and weapons - Ötzi's bow-stave, for example, was prepared with his copper-axe...:

http://www.iceman.it/en/equipment/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocb3c45XBEA

Regards

Martin
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

Spotlight topics: 15
Posts: 800

PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct, 2016 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Copper can be hardened to a fair degree by working it with a hammer. Conceivably, if you chose a small tree with soft wood and hardened the edge of your axe, you could indeed chop one down with a copper axe. The proper alloy will help, some coppers mixed with other metals will be slightly harder.

That said, odds are good that copper axes were always a prestige item-- bronze came on the scene fairly quickly I think after copper was first smelted, and stone tools were still in fairly wide use until bronze showed up because copper simply doesn't have the strength to be that useful as a tool.


Wouldn't you destroy the work hardening on your copper axe pretty quickly by doing it?
I mean in an emergency you could do it, but my point was simply that a hefty flint axe is a far better tool for wood chopping, so I agree that copper axes were prestige items. If you own a copper axe you most likely have guys to cut down wood for you!

You can use a longsword for felling trees if you really needed to, but would anyone sensible risk it? (edge damage, bending or breaking?). If you can afford to own a sword you certainly also can afford a lot of axes and men to wield them for you.

Martin Fischer wrote:
Hi,

copper-axes were used as tools and weapons - Ötzi's bow-stave, for example, was prepared with his copper-axe...:

http://www.iceman.it/en/equipment/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocb3c45XBEA

Regards

Martin


I highly doubt that the copper axe palstaves - like Ötzis - were used as a tool. The size of the copper axe head fits being a warrior weapon. I doubt high status men in society went tree felling on a daily basis?
Remember that flint is superior for felling trees and a lot cheaper (at least in Denmark which had a huge flint industry with exports around Northern Europe in the Neolithic and from what I remember the area Ötzi was from also had flint production). Flint probably performs their job better than even bronze and iron.

Sigerslev Mose: Polished flint axe (neolithic) with ash-wood preserved. This is a proper workman's-axe for clearing woodland and does not have a palstave setup.

Source: http://natmus.dk/typo3temp/GB/818827ffdd.jpg
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Martin Fischer




Location: Cologne, Germany
Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 43

PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct, 2016 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Niels,

surely - flint was the first choice and a lot of copper-axes - like the Copper Age Jaszladany type axes, for example - were primarly weapons or just status symbols, but there were also chisels or adzes from copper, that were used as tools - exclusively.

... by the way: If it's not unusual in mythology (... sometimes an interesting source for the prehistoric lifestyle...), that princes in prehistoric times have worked all day long as shepherds (Paris for example), why should we "highly doubt that the copper axe palstaves - like Ötzis - were used as a tool" or Ötzi - if he was a chief - cut his yews for bows himself - with his copper-celt?

Whatever his social status was - Ötzi`s body shows clearly, that he was a working man.

Regards

Martin
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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Posts: 800

PostPosted: Thu 13 Oct, 2016 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Fischer wrote:
Hi Niels,

surely - flint was the first choice and a lot of copper-axes - like the Copper Age Jaszladany type axes, for example - were primarly weapons or just status symbols, but there were also chisels or adzes from copper, that were used as tools - exclusively.

... by the way: If it's not unusual in mythology (... sometimes an interesting source for the prehistoric lifestyle...), that princes in prehistoric times have worked all day long as shepherds (Paris for example), why should we "highly doubt that the copper axe palstaves - like Ötzis - were used as a tool" or Ötzi - if he was a chief - cut his yews for bows himself - with his copper-celt?

Whatever his social status was - Ötzi`s body shows clearly, that he was a working man.

Regards

Martin


True, that for finer work you could use "prestige tool" (like chisels you mention), but it was just in the context of felling trees that using a copper axe would be highly unlikely - though it could be done in theory, but not without some damage to your precious status symbol. [So I meant palstaves with bronze axes, palstaves with flint axes would likely have been used as tools for more "heavy work"].

A lot with Ötzi is a mystery though.
If he is a chief with a bronze axe - what is he doing alone so high in the alps - and then apparently is killed and left there (theft was apparently not the case of this murder, since we have all these items). Was he killed by his own men?

For Ötzi being a working man:
The elite in society were likely those people who controlled the magical transformation of rocks (copper ore) into metal and the creation of the items through moulds and as such could be a gift network over distances when distributing these copper tools. So the elite in society were probably some kind of miners/survey geologists/smiths all in one as his hair reveals high levels of copper and arsenic. So while he was a man doing work, he was hardly an "average Joe" working man. He was likely a "man of magical powers" (other people likely in awe and fear) and also a well tattooed man.
These men had to keep their metal production a secret to retain their power, so in that respect you would have to do physical labour.

The high quality flint found with Ötzi was from Monti Lessini near Verona in Italy.
Source: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archi...lationship

So since Ötzi was likely an alpine crosser (between the copper and the flint marked) it also could explain his good physique.
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Paul Mullins





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PostPosted: Tue 18 Oct, 2016 6:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Copper may well be too soft for extensive chopping but it would work fine for some time. Who is to say this may have been used as a wedge for splitting wood, which would be much better than a stone wedge.
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