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Hollow comb rivets made from strip-drawn copper wire and two possible antler draw plates from 11th-12th c. Sigtuna, Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
Number of Authors: 22019 (English)In: Fornvännen, ISSN 0015-7813, E-ISSN 1404-9430, Vol. 114, no 2, p. 88-99Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Modern metal wire is produced by drawing solid metal rods through a draw-plate. Scandinavian smiths used this technique already during the Viking Age, but little is known about earlier Scandinavian methods for making metal wire. It has previously been suggested that the metal rivets in composite bone and antler combs may have been hollow and produced by strip-drawing, but no metallurgical studies have so far been carried out to investigate this possibility. Here, we used scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to investigate copper-alloy rivets in 11th - 12th c. composite combs from Sigtuna, the administrative centre for middle Sweden's first Christian kings during the early Medieval period. Our SEM images showed that while some rivets were made from solid circular wire, other rivets are hollow and probably manufactured from strip-drawn wire. We also examined two perforated antler plates, likely dated to the 12th c. and excavated from a bronzesmith's workshop in the block Trekanten in central Sigtuna. The copper and lead particles detected by SEM analysis around the plates' holes indicate that the plates were used in metalworking activities. Because the holes are cylindrical and not conical, however, the plates would not be viable tools for drawing solid metal wire. In the strip-drawing technique, on the other hand, cylindrical holes might have been used to produce hollow metal wire. The holes in the studied antler plates have the same diameter - 2.0 mm - as many comb rivet holes, possibly suggesting a standardization for large-scale production. The bronzesmith's location next to a combmakers' workshop provides further support for a production connection between the two crafts. Taken together, our results indicate that the two perforated plates may have been tools for strip-drawing copper wire, used to make comb rivets.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 114, no 2, p. 88-99
National Category
History and Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-172082ISI: 000478106300003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-172082DiVA, id: diva2:1345220
Available from: 2019-08-23 Created: 2019-08-23 Last updated: 2019-08-23Bibliographically approved

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Wärmländer, Sebastian K. T. S.
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CiteExportLink to record
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