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2018-11-09 17:47:17   •   ID: 2049

Bell Beaker Wrist-Guards

Figure 1
Figure 2
This is a broad (Sangmeister 1974) Bell Beaker Wrist-Guard, found more than 100 years ago in S-Germany.

The Bell Beaker phenomenon has already introduced in the blog-see here: 1409

Wrist-guards are traditionally thought to have functioned as archery equipment, protecting the arm against the sting of the bowstring.

This view has been challenged recently by the proposition that many of these highly elaborated artifacts were artifacts associated with symbolic meaning and had no utilitarian connotation. Both explanations are complementary to one another and not mutually exclusive.

Sangmeister in 1974 proposed a simple typology in which the distinction between broad and narrow played a critical role. The broad wrist-guards have their main distribution in Central Europe (S-Germany, Austria,Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary) while the narrow ones occur in all European regions where the Bell Beaker complex is present.

Archery had a defining aspect of the Bell Beaker Complex, evidenced by the personal gear found in the graves, including stone wrist-guards, barbed and tanged flint arrowheads found in Bell Beaker graves.

Other artefacts commonly associated with such burials include copper daggers (Figure 3) and buttons with V-shaped holes.

Figure 3
The dispersal of this ideological system all over Europe took only some centuries and was not accompanied by much genetical exchange, except in Britain, where the genetic profile of the early Neolithic inhabitants was almost completely replaced by a signature of steppe-related ancestry after 2,5 k.a. BC, when the Beaker Complex first arrived in the region.

The Bell Beaker phenomenon was characterized by an highly standardized set of burial practices expressing unknown beliefs.

The introduction of the stone wrist-guard as an artifact was probably associated with an appealing ideology most probably centered around the idea of martiality, foreshadowing the violent conflicts of the European Bronze age- evidenced by the Bronze Age Battlefield in the Tollense Valley, north-eastern Germany.

Other ideological aspects may have been also important: the demonstration of mastery in skilled production of wrist-guards.

The raw material of Wrist guards was not local and came from afar, and that indicated travel, adventure, and myths, aspects that can charge objects and their owners cosmologically (Helms in Fokkens 2008).

Wrist- guards may therefore be cosmologically-charged objects that could have been associated with higher values, not necessarily just with power or prestige ( Fokkens ‎2008).