Fishtail-Daggers

This is a heavily resharpened and worn flint Fishtail-dagger from the latest Neolithic (1900-1700 BC) of Southern Scandinavia.

Although Fishtail-Daggers are often interpreted as prestige goods, many of them show extensive traces of resharpening, which is suggestive of a use embedded within profane activities. It has been shown, that Fishtail-Daggers start as long and very long artifacts (>20cm) but, over the course of many careful resharpening phases, these were reduced significantly in size.

Interestingly, preserving a pointed tip seems to have been a main goal during rejuvenation of these daggers. Thus their use as a stabbing instrument and weapons can not be ruled out, although newer interpretations rather focus on their use as implements for the slaughter or offering of livestock.

Over half of the fishtail daggers in Jutland are recorded as single stray find with unknown context. In contrast to the frequent hoards of Type I flint daggers far fewer fishtail daggers seem to have been included in hoards.

Flint daggers of the European North are generally seen as “Skeuomorphs”. Skeuomorphism means a non-functional survival in shape or design which implies derivation from an earlier form or from a prototype in another material. In the case of Nordic flint daggers it has been suggested that the forms of knapped Fishtail-daggers produced during the latest Neolithic in Southern Scandinavia were inspired by the metal daggers which began to circulate in Europe during the fourth millennium BC. At this time point no useful native metal was available in Scandinavia. It is possible, that the imitation of metal daggers allowed the owners of flint daggers to symbolically participate in the economic world of metal users in the south. Anyhow, this does not mean, that the Scandinavian and Metal- daggers fulfilled the same social functions. Quite the contrary contextual data point to a very different use.

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