Call for papers! Please read the following announcement as it reached our inbox!

Submissions for oral and poster presentations are now invited for the session ‘Metalwork use-wear analysis: The loss of innocence’ to be held at the next Meeting of the Association of Archaeological Wear and Residue Analysts (AWRANA), Leiden University (Netherlands), 27-30 May 2015.

Abstracts should be a maximum of 300 words in length; they can be submitted to the conference website by 21st October 2014: Individual speakers are limited to being first speaker on one oral presentation only. Accepted submissions will be announced at the end of December 2014.



The last fifteen years have seen the publication of numerous studies in which the methods of micro-wear analysis have been applied to ancient and historic metalwork, and in particular to prehistoric copper alloys. These studies focus on various classes of artefacts including axe-heads, swords and halberds, spanning from the Mediterranean to the Nordic countries and from Eastern Europe to Ireland. The most important achievements include the realisation that, from the Late Neolithic to the late Bronze Age, metal axes were mainly used for woodworking; the reassessment of Bronze Age warfare based on the examination of combat marks on swords; and revolutionary insights into the use of Early Bronze Age halberds as actual weapons, as opposed to previous readings stressing their purely symbolic function.

Despite the giant leap forward made by metalwork use-wear analysis in this time-span, a number of unresolved problems and limitations still constrain its full development, thus delaying the ‘loss of innocence’ that, inevitably, must characterize the coming of age of this field of studies. These include, among others, (1) great variation in the procedures applied by analysts as well as great diversity in (and occasionally poor formalisation of) the protocols designed for the tests with replica tools and weapons; (2) issues of comparability with the traces observed on lithic and osseous artefacts due to the partly different procedures employed for metalwork analysis, and the lack of targeted comparative studies; (3) the dearth of shared databases of manufacturing and wear marks, and variations in the terminology adopted to describe the marks; (4) and the fact that most metalwork analysts lack the formal training of micro-wear analysts.

The papers presented at this session will seek to explore the achievements and limitations of metalwork wear studies as emerged in the last fifteen years, focusing in particular on the aforementioned and related issues. They will also investigate multidisciplinary approaches in which use-wear analysis is enhanced by other analytical techniques such as metallography, SEM microscopy, 3D imaging and X-raying. Finally, papers will be considered that discuss how use-wear analysis may enrich the archaeological, historic and biographical interpretation of ancient metalwork.

Andrea Dolfini, Newcastle University (UK)

Rachel Crellin, University of Leicester (UK)