The double axe in Minoan Crete: a functional analysis of production and use

Author(s): Maria Lowe Fri

Year: 2007


This study examines the production and use of Minoan double axes with the aim of finding out what working activities they were used for. The double axe has earlier been associated with a woodworker, a carpenter, a stonemason and a butcher. These assumptions have not been substantiated through any detailed investigation of who used the double axes and for what purpose. This study includes 229 double axes, of which 21 have been thoroughly studied.

The bronze smith’s knowledge reflects the end product and could make the difference between a good and a bad cast. The study has therefore included the whole production chain from obtaining the ore to casting and finally finishing treatments. The analyses showed that the double axes were cast in different moulds, had various casting defects and were finished off in different ways.

Use-wear on the Minoan double axes was recorded. The use-wear varied and some axes only have a few dents while other axes have extremely blunt cutting edges. The axe bodies were also studied in order to distinguish whether they revealed any use-wear.

In order to understand the results from the analyses of Minoan double axes, several experiments were undertaken. As comparative material 17 “modern” double axes were cast. The experiments included casting, finishing treatments and working activities on wood, stone and bone.

The results for the Minoan double axes were then discussed with the help of the results from the experimental axes. To further substantiate the interpretations of the use-wear, the Minoan axes’ find contexts were investigated and briefly discussed. The conclusions are that all working activities could be verified by use-wear and by contexts. For example, a stonemason could be verified as working at or in the surroundings of the Zakros palace.

Cite this Record

The double axe in Minoan Crete: a functional analysis of production and use. Maria Lowe Fri. . Stockholm university, Stockholm. 2007 ( tDAR id: 421987)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections



Axe Casting Use Wear Analysis

Geographic Keywords

Temporal Keywords
Bronze Age

Spatial Coverage

min long: 19.675; min lat: 34.931 ; max long: 28.207; max lat: 41.714 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager

Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 8471


Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.