CORDIS - EU research results

Metals, weapons and social change around the Adriatic and Ionian seas 2000-1000 BC: A longue durée vista on the impact of military praxis on technology, politics and communication networks


The invention of metal weapons irrevocably changed prehistoric societies in Europe. The weapons of the hunter that could be used against man or beast were supplanted by those of the warrior – tools with a primary purpose of inflicting physical harm on other humans. This led to changes in the manner in which combat could take place, which in turn changed how communities organised themselves for war, and in particular how they provisioned warriors with the requisite equipment and training to fight effectively. Without metals, these changes could never have taken place. This project therefore seeks to explore the interrelationship between the development of metallurgy and changes in combat practice, as both were fundamental for the transformation from tribal groups to more complex societies. Case studies will be taken from the Adriatic and Ionian coasts of the Apennine and Balkan peninsulas (including Greece), and major river routeways in these regions. These have particular value as they represent interface zones between societies in Europe, Southwest Asia and North Africa. The timeframe of 2000 – 1000 BC encompasses the transition from simple metal daggers, axes and spears to complex weapon panoplies with swords, armour, helmets, lances and shields.
A multidisciplinary framework that incorporates material analysis (e.g. pXRF), spatial relations (GIS), primary artefact examination and experimental research will provide new data to analyse the dynamics between metal acquisition, weapon production, combat practices and political transformation. A key outcome will be a critical understanding of how traditions of military organisation and legitimacy of violence, as well as events of war in themselves, were fundamental for shaping these communities. A further objective is to understand to what extent metals provided the catalyst for these changes and how much we may consider military requirements as forces that drove metal craft techniques forward.

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EU contribution
€ 199 549,60
S10 2TN Sheffield
United Kingdom

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Yorkshire and the Humber South Yorkshire Sheffield
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Joanne Watson (Ms.)
Total cost
No data