Gjutningens arenor : Metallhantverkets rumsliga, sociala och politiska organisation i södra Skandinavien under bronsåldern

Sammanfattning: Production and use of metalwork in southern Scandinavia during the Bronze Age (1700-500 BC) has above all been attributed to emerging elites. That bronze was a source and medium for social power is evident from its use in socio-political and ritual spheres, the multiple skills and elaborate aesthetics involved in its crafting, and the arenas for influence and control offered by the acquisition of metals through long-distance exchange. Bronze crafting is often assumed to have been organized at two levels: elite-controlled prestige goods production at centralised workshop sites, set against widespread (controlled or independent) production of utility objects in common households. However, this model is inferred from a functionalist view of finished goods (utility versus prestige) and inspired by anthropological theories, rather than from the material remains of production itself. With evidence of metalworking practices now rapidly increasing due to large-scale contract archaeology, it has become evident that these concepts and interpretations need to be reassessed.The aim of this thesis is to develop our understanding of craft organisation through investigation of physical casting sites. Mould and crucible fragments, and their spatial relation to contemporary buildings and other activities, form the main focus of the analysis. I argue that most ceramic casting debris indicates casting loci, and was deposited as secondary waste, or accumulated immediately at the production site. Special, ritual treatment of casting debris is absent, with the exception of complete moulds occasionally found as house offerings in Late Bronze Age longhouses. The Mälar Valley area of eastern Sweden, which has seen particularly intensive archaeological excavation in recent decades, is selected for an in-depth case study, followed by comparisons with other regions of southern Scandinavia. These data demonstrate that bronzes were cast at most, if not all, settlements during the mid-late Bronze Age. Metalworking also occurred at small single farms; a production argued to be dependent on visiting specialists.The results reveal complex, user-oriented and multi-tiered craft organisation from Period III onwards. A distinction between prestigious versus utility objects did not structure production. Instead, the organisation and staging of bronze working was shaped by various social roles of the items produced. Rather than special workshop areas, castings were spatially oriented towards future owners. Prestige objects were manufactured in both longhouses and cult-houses within larger settlement complexes, in settings related to the status and gender of their intended users. Further, metalworking often appeared in central and highly visible settings, suggesting it had the character of a performance. I therefore propose that casting –the most dramatic event in the bronze-crafting sequence – was exploited in public or semi-public rituals. Taking into account the social projects and motifs behind new objects, castings were probably linked to transformations such as initiations, inaugurations or establishment of new households. Thus, metalworking played an active and conspicuous role in social reproduction at various levels and in several arenas in the decentralised, heterarchical societies of Bronze Age southern Scandinavia.

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