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Palstave

Original
 
Found: Zwaag (left) and Hoogkarspel (right), West-Friesland, North-Holland
Age: middle bronzeage

These two axes are found near the same location where our farm and shed in Archeon are found, and are also from the same time. Reason enough for me to make sure a similar axe is present in Archeon.

Model
 
Material: clay & sand

To make the mould, I first made a model from clay and sand. Models have rarely been found, except for a few wooden sword models. Clay is much easier to shape then wood, and it doesn't require any  tools. As non-baken clay doesn't stay preserved, if this method was used there won't be any archeological evidence. So I'm considering this a plausible method for how they may have made models.

Mould
 
Material: Clay & sand

The mould is made using two equally sized plates of clay, and pressing the model in them. After drying the mould was fired.

Casting result
 
Eventhough not all of the bronze was liquid, enough got into the mould give a complete axe. There are some charcoal inclusions, but those are only cosmetic. This occurs occasionally in the original axes of similar type, so in my opinion a fully succesful cast.

The finished axehead
 
The bronze is quite hard, so finishing it was quite labourus. The axehead has a high tin contents, as not all the copper had melted, leading to a tin rich bronze (above 10%). On one side of the axe blade there was a mismatch, which I couldn't entirely grind and hammer away. The cutting edge had a mismatch too, but this I managed to work away. The axe has some estatic flaws, but it's got a good hard cutting edge, which will make a very well functioning axe.

The haft
 
The haft is made out of ash wood, with as example the haft found at Guldhoj, Denmark. The only main difference is that the original is made out of the stem of the tree, with a branch, while mine is made from a branch with side branch. With this haft, I tried to see if it was possible to make the haft with only the axehead itself as tool. This worked quite well. So this experiment shows that additional woodworking tools, such as a bronze chisel are not really required. This may partially explain why woodworking tools as chisels are quite rare in the Netherlands. Bronze was very valuable, so bronze tools would only be acquired when strickly necessary. The presence of specialized woodworking tools probably indicates specialized woodworking activities, such as the making of sword hilts, wooden bowls etc. The ends of the haft are ground smooth using sand on a flat stone.

Hafted axe
 
The axe is attached to the haft using intestine and hideglue. Intestine shrinks when it dries and becomes very stiff. This is especially needed to keep the haft from splitting. To prevent the axe or wrapping from shifting hide glue is used.

First test results
 
Unfortunately the intestine wrapping wasn't strong enough. The same day I started using the axe, it already started to tear. The intestine was very thin, so I simply would need to apply more layers to make it strong enough. Another problem is that the wrap damages easily when it strikes against something, because it's so thin. This mad me decide to replace intestine alltogether, and use rawhide instead.