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A new early Bronze Age socketed axe/Uus vanema pronksiaja putkkirves.

As it recently became evident, there is a socketed bronze axe stored in the Museum of Viljandi, which had so far attracted no specific archaeological interest. The axe was discovered by Heino Mdlter during field cultivation on the land of Laane farm in the village of Eesnurga, located 1.5 km south of Kolga-Jaani (central southern Estonia) already in 1972 (Fig. 1). However, it was only in 1996 when the artefact was given to the Museum of Viljandi, and still ten years later when it finally attracted the attention of an archaeologist.

Laane farm was located on a drumlin of northwest southeast direction. The length of the drumlin is ca 1 km and its width is some hundred metres, with relative height until 48 m above sea level (in the Baltic system). The drumlin is situated in the central part of the Kolga-Jaani group of drumlins, where numerous sites and stray finds dating to various periods of the Stone Age and Bronze Age have been registered. Stone Age artefacts have also been reported from the land of Laane farm (Anni 1921, 14).


In April 2006, Aivar Kriiska, Arvi Haak and Andres Vindi visited the find spot. The whole drumlin had been turned into a cultivated field. A few flakes of local flint, and a small number of potsherds were collected during field-walking. However, the finds were rather scarce and cannot be connected with any clearcut prehistoric site.

The Eesnurga axe (Fig. 2) is relatively long and slender; its length is 142 mm and the width in the middle 24 mm. The maximum width of the blade reaches 43 mm, whereas the edge of the blade is slightly curved. The outer diameter of the socket's round-shaped mouth is 34 mm and the inner one--25 mm. The depth of the socket reaches 91 mm. The axe is relatively evenly thickening towards the mouth of the socket and ends with a sausage-like undecorated bulge immediately beneath the mouth. The axe is furnished with an oval-shaped loop. The only decoration of the axe consists of symmetrically curved narrow bulges running parallel to the sharp edges of the wider sides and joining arc-wise on the narrow sides. The weight of the axe is 285.7 g.


The dating and cultural determination of the axe under question is slightly complicated. From the first sight, it resembles the axes of the so-called Littausdorf type determined by Eduard Sturms (1936, 53 f, pl. 13: d) on the basis of a hoard in the previous East Prussia. Similar axes, which however have sturdier and smaller bodies, had been also reported from eastern Germany and Poland and dated according to co-finds from the IV period of the Scandinavian Bronze Age (1100-900 BC). Therefore Sturms did not exclude the possibility that the Littausdorf axes might belong already to the late III period (1300-1100 BC); according to him, such axes could be located, both in typological and chronological terms, in between the long and slender socketed axes of period II (1500-1300 BC) and those of period IV (Sturms 1936, 54). One bronze axe, typologically close to the Littausdorf axes, has also been found in Pohjaka near Suure-Jaani (Fig. 3), not far from the axe of Eesnurga. The Pohjaka axe was published by Harri Moora (1938, 370, fig. 2) who supposed that it could even originate from a later time, i.e. period V of the Bronze Age (900-600 BC).

Some axes of the IV period, analogous to the Littausdorf type, have also been reported from Scandinavia: Gotland, Skane and Denmark (Baudou 1960, 25). Further development of these axes was towards smaller dimensions, so that the length of the axes of period V or VI does not usually exceed 8-9 cm. On the other hand, there is also a rather similar group of socketed axes in Scandinavia, called group E by Andreas Oldeberg (1976, 9; 1974, figs. 470, 601, 1993, 2193, 2196b, 2218a), which on the basis of co-finds of at least some specimens seems to belong to the transition from period III to period IV. At least some axes of this group are decorated similarly with the Eesnurga axe.

However, all these axes are not the exact parallels to this new Estonian one. The main difference between the axe from Eesnurga and those mentioned above is that the former is remarkably longer, more slender and heavier than the latter. Judging by its general form and proportions, the Eesnurga axe resembles more the axes of periods II and III than those of periods IV or V. With this respect, one should mention a very unique socketed axe found from Jarvekala, northern Estonia, which in morphological terms has many similarities with that of Eesnurga. The Jarvekula axe can be considered the most beautiful artefact of the Estonian Bronze Age (Fig. 4), which still has no exact parallels. Generally, it should belong to the group of so-called nordische Streitbeile by Ekkehard Aner (1962, 180 ff, figs. 6-8), and it also has indirect similarities with some specimens from Sodermanland in Sweden (Montelius 1917/1991, fig. 878; Oldeberg 1976, fig. 2724). Judging by its general proportions, the shape of the blade and the decoration motifs, the Jarvekula axe was presumably made somewhere in southern Scandinavia or northern Germany during period II. It is interesting to notice that similarly with the Eesnurga axe, the Jarvekula axe is also decorated with additional bulges running parallel to the sharp edges of the wider sides and joining arc-wise on the narrow sides.



For conclusion it should be mentioned that judging by the general proportions, shape, dimensions and decoration, the Eesnurga axe should originate from the intermediate centuries between periods II and IV, i.e. most likely from period III of the Scandinavian Bronze Age. Where it was made is also difficult to establish; yet southern Scandinavia seems the most plausible area in this respect.

Thus, the axe of Eesnurga increased the number of metal artefacts of the Early Bronze Age (1800-1100 BC) in Estonia by one. Until recently, there was a total of 13 bronze artefacts dated to that era: eleven axes, one sickle and one spearhead (Fig. 5). In addition, there was data of two more flanged axes reported from the island of Muhu and from Valgjarve, southern Estonia, although they have not reached the museums. Thus, one can consider altogether 16 metal artefacts of the Early Bronze Age found so far in Estonia. All bronze axes in question have been imported from (southern) Scandinavia, whereas the spearhead and the sickle originate from the eastern- and south-easternmost cultural regions.


It should also be noticed that the Kolga-Jaani group of drumlins is rather significant as for the artefacts of the Early Bronze Age found there. On Raidsaare drumlin in the village of Tagakula, ca 8 km north of Eesnurga village, there was a flanged axe found in 1909 (Sturms 1935, fig. 1: 3). The find spot was located ca 50 cm deep in the layer of clay covering the bank of Navesti River, which is flooded in springs (Anni 1921, 36). One more find--the bronze sickle (see Sturms 1935, fig. 1: 6)--was discovered during the archaeological excavations of a multi-period settlement site and cemetery at Kivisaare drumlin in the village of Meleski (Indreko 1935, 12). As this area is also remarkable by the density of earlier, i.e. Neolithic finds (Jaanits et al. 1982, pl. III-V) and the scarcity of later, Iron Age sites, these artefacts represent the last long-distance exchange connections of this ancient settlement centre.


The authors are grateful to Kristel Kulljastinen for preparing all illustrations.


Aner, E. 1962. Die fruhen Tullenbeile des nordischen Kreises.--Acta Archaeologica, XXXIII, 165-219.

Anni, A. 1921. Kolga-Jaani. (Manuscript in the archives of Institute of History.) Tallinn.

Baudou, E. 1960. Die regionale und chronologische Einteilung der jungeren Bronzezeit im nordischen Kreis. (Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis. Studies in North-European Archaeology, 1.) Stockholm.

Indreko, R 1935. Viljandimaa muinasaeg.--Viljandimaa. Aratrukk. (Eesti, VI.) Tartu, 1-60.

Jaanits, L., Laul, S., Lougas, V. & Tonisson, E. 1982. Eesti esiajalugu. Tallinn.

Montelius, O. 1917/1991. Minnen frdn var forntid. Nytryck. Stockholm.

Moora, H. 1938. Neue Funde der Bronze- und fruhen Eisenzeit aus Estland.--OES Ar., 1937, I, 365-380.

Oldeberg, A. 1974. Die 5ltere Metallzeit in Schweden, I. Stockholm.

Oldeberg, A. 1976. Die 5ltere Metallzeit in Schweden, II. Stockholm.

Sturms, E. 1935. Die Kulturbeziehungen Estlands in der Bronze- und frdhen Eisenzeit.--OES Ar., 1932,245-277.

Sturms, E. 1936. Die dltere Bronzezeit im Ostbaltikum. (Vorgeschichtliche Forschungen, 10.) Berlin; Leipzig.

2006. aasta talvel koitis Viljandi Muuseumis tahelepanu pronksist putkkirves, mis seni ei ole teaduskiiibesse joudnud. Kirves leiti Kolga-Jaanist 1,5 km kauguselt Eesnurga kulast Liidne talu maalt juba 1971. aastal pollu kultiveerimise kaigus traktorist Heino Mdlteri poolt ja anti Viljandi Muuseumile ule 1996. aastal. Laane talu paiknes praegu terves ulatuses pollustatud umbes 1 km pikkusel voorel (joon 1). 2006. aasta aprillis tehtud inspektsioonikiiigul koguti kirjeldatud voorelt kull uksikuid tulekivi--ja savinoukilde, kuid selgemat muistist ei ole voimalik seal siiski eristada.

Eesnurga kirves (joon 2) on 142 mm pikkune, lehelt 43 mm laiune ja 285,7 g raskune; putke li,bimoot on valjastpoolt 34 mm ja seest 25 mm, sugavus on 91 mm.

Kirve dateerimine ja kultuurilise kuuluvuse mddramine on komplitseeritud. Esmapilgul meenutab see kirveid, mida E. Sturms eristas Littausdorfi tuubina. Need Ida-Preisimaal, Ida-Saksamaal ja Poolas esinevad kirved on aga uldiselt massiivsemad ja luhemad kui Eesnurga eksemplar. Uks niisugune on leitud ka Eesti alalt Suure-Jaani lahedalt Pohjakast (joon 3). Kaasleidude jargi on niisugused kirved dateeritud Skandinaavia pronksiaja IV perioodiga (1100-900 eKr). Littausdorfi tuubile analoogseid kirveid on teada ka Louna-Skandinaaviast. IV ja V perioodi kirveste pikkus aga ei uleta 8-9 cm. Selgeid sarnaseid jooni on Eesnurga kirvel A. Oldebergi poolt Skandinaavias eristatava E-ruhma kirvestega. Vahemalt moned selle ruhma kirved on Eesnurga eksemplariga isegi sarnaselt dekoreeritud. Kaasleidude jargi on vahemalt osa neist olnud kasutusel III ja IV perioodi uleminekuetapil.

Tapset vastet Eesnurga kirvele ei olegi voimalik praegu tuua, kusjuures peamine erijoon on just kirve sihvakus, mis sobib oluliselt enam II ja III perioodi kui hilisemate perioodide kirvestele. Selles mottes on Eesnurga kirves sarnane Pohja-Eestist Jarvekulast leitud unikaalse putkkirvega (joon 4).

Kokkuvotvalt voib Eesnurga kirve esialgselt dateerida Skandinaavia pronksiaja III perioodiga. Oletatavasti on see valmistatud Louna-Skandinaavias. Tegemist on varase pronksiaja 16. pronksesemega (neist kaks on fikseeritud vaid leiuteatena): 14 kirvest, 1 sirp ja 1 odaots (joon 5). Koik kirved on imporditud Skandinaaviast, odaots parineb aga ida ja sirp ilmselt kagu poolt. On tahelepanuvaarne, et Kolga-Jaani voorestikust on teada juba kolm varase pronksiaja pronkseset: Laane talust umbes 8 km kauguselt Taganurga kulas paiknevalt Randsaare voorelt on leitud rantkirves ja umbes 11 km kauguselt Meleski kulas paiknevalt Kivisaarelt sirp.

Valter Lang, Chair of Archaeology, Department of History, University of Tartu, 3 Lossi St., 51003 Tartu, Estonia;

Aivar Kriiska, Chair of Archaeology, Department of History, University of Tartu, 3 Lossi St., 51003 Tartu, Estonia;

Arvi Haak, Museum of Viljandi, 10 Laidoneri Square, 71020 Viljandi, Estonia; arvi.haak@muuseum.vilj
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Title Annotation:REPORTS
Author:Lang, Valter; Kriiska, Aivar; Haak, Arvi
Publication:Estonian Journal of Archaeology
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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