Rediscovered at the Back of a Desk - Tiny Works of Art from the Bronze Age

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 23, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Rediscovered at the Back of a Desk - Tiny Works of Art from the Bronze Age


ANCIENT gold studs have been unearthed from the back of a college professor's desk after sitting there for more than 40 years.

The 4,000-year-old jewels, each the size of a pinhead, once decorated the handle of a Bronze Age dagger buried in the grave of a warrior at Bush Barrow, just one kilometre south of Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, between 1900 and 1700BC.

But sometime in the early 1960s Cardiff University's Professor Richard Atkinson - well-known for his excavations at Silbury Hill and Stonehenge - borrowed about 200 of them from Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes for research.

He died and they were looked after by Professor John Evans. But in 2005 he too died.

Now they have been found again in an old film canister, labelled "Bush Barrow", by senior lecturer Niall Sharples.

The reader in archaeology described them as "minute" saying: "The largest one is a millimetre long and about point three of a millimetre in diameter. It's estimated there were about 150,000 of them on this dagger handle. A ridiculously large number of tiny, tiny things."

It is believed the metal was twisted and rolled to make thin narrow strips before being chopped into little pieces.

The process would be almost impossible to replicate today.

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Rediscovered at the Back of a Desk - Tiny Works of Art from the Bronze Age
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