Archaeological Museum of Bologna

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Collections / Ricerca / Etruscan Collection: Villanovan phase (900-680 B.C.)

Bronze axe

This axe has been discovered in the grave goods of the area around Bologna that date back to the 8th century B.C., and represents one of earliest signs of prestige that are attested together with the horse bits. Solely the blade of this axe has preserved itself up to the present.

More info

Though rare, this weapon is depicted more frequently and in the most accurate manner as possible in the sepulchres of the city of Bologna and the surrounding area, both in examples of real usage and versions that can be considered symbolic for the sharpness of the blade and the lavishness of the decoration. An axe could have been used for several purposes, as a tool for carpentry, a weapon at war and hunting, and an instrument for the sacrifice of animals. The last two purposes particularly made an axe the distinctive sign of the social class of the man who placed it in the sepulchre. The axe therefore indicated that he held the role of a warrior and/or a high priest. The rare axes that can be discovered in women’s sepulchres could also be associated with the role of a high priest. A lavish decoration etched with geometric designs characterises the sample presented here.

Provenance: Bologna, Benacci Necropolis, tomb 263
Datation: 800 - 760 B.C.
Material: bronze
Dimensions: height: 20 cm.
Inventory #: 14340

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