Bracer Ornaments! An investigation of Bell Beaker stone ‘wrist-guards’ from Central Europe
Authors: Nicolas, C.
Journal: Journal of Neolithic Archaeology
This paper focusses on Bell Beaker stone bracers, so-called ‘wrist-guards’. These objects have attracted attention for decades, as symbols of warriorhood. As pointed out by various authors, such items appear to be rather bracer ornaments than proper wrist-guards, protecting the archer’s forearm. In this study, we investigated 153 bracers from Czech Republic and Hungary with a technological and functionnal approach in order to track the biography of these objects. It appears that, in this area, they are made of various sedimentary rocks. The manufacture of much bracer does not require a high-level of know-how but some carefully made pieces could have been done by craftsmen. The functionnal approach of these objects reveals very few signs of use as wrist-guard. However, these items are generally worn to various degrees and some of them have a quite long biography, consistently broken, re-shaped and re-drilled. Analysis of contexts of deposition concludes to personal adornment, highly symbolic and male-gendered objects. In this respect, they should be definetly considered as bracer ornaments rather than wristguards.