Bronze Age axe, jewelry hoard found in Czech Republic

Bronze Age hoard with axes, a spreadhead and jewelry. Photo courtesy Lucie Heyzlová,.A Bronze Age metal hoard of weapons and jewelry has been discovered in Budyně nad Ohří, a town in north Bohemia about 25 miles northwest of Prague, Czech Republic. Experts are still analyzing the artifacts, but the design style of the objects date them to the Middle Bronze Age, approximately 3,500 years ago. One of the axes is older than the rest of the pieces; it dates to the Early Bronze Age (2000-1500 B.C.).

The hoard was discovered last year by a metal detectorist in a field on the outskirts of the town. He brought the objects to the Podřipské Museum in Roudnice nad Labem where they were examined by archaeologists who confirmed they were Bronze Age artifacts.

The treasure consists of eight bangles (bracelets or anklets), eight axe heads, two long ball-headed pins and a spearhead. They are all made of bronze. The axe heads would originally have been mounted to a piece of wood that naturally bent at a right angle so the blade could be used as a hatchet.

The hoard was transported to the Brno Institute of Archeology and Museology for further study. They were subjected to X-ray fluorescence analysis to determine the composition of the metal. Depending on the results, it may be possible to narrow down the origin of the metal based on its composition. Researchers will also use microscopic photography on the axe head to discover any damage on the surface that might attest to how the blade was used.

The hoard was deliberately buried. They may have been left as a votive offering for a deity, or in reaction to danger in the village like an enemy raid. The metal alone was very valuable, and the finely worked tools may have been cached to prevent them being stolen. They may also have been intended for sale by the manufacturer or by a merchant and placed in the ground for temporary storage.

The artifacts are currently undergoing conservation. When treatment is complete, they will go on display at the Podřipsko Museum in early 2025.