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Hittite axe mould discovered

8 October 2009 by Karen

Françoise Chircop Rutland of the University of Liverpool, who is doing her PhD on NML Hittite collections, asked Annemarie Le Pensèe in Conservation Technologies to scan a mysterious mould from an excavation by Professor Garstang in 1907 to 1911 at Sakje Gözü, southern Turkey.  Making a computer positive from the scanned negative it turns out to be a mould for a type of axe known in Middle to Late Bronze Age Egypt – between 1300BC and 1180BC.

Shiny grey outline of an axe head

Screenshot of a 3D computer model of the the cavity of a Hittite mould mirrored and reversed. The 3D model was created using non-contact laser scanning.

The axe – called a ‘fenestrated “duck-bill” axe’ on account of its window shaped apertures and its duck-bill shape – is known from other examples (not in our collections) though both moulds and axes of this type are rarely found outside of Egyptian collections. There’s not many moulds about… and moulds, presumably, facilitate the production of more axes for use in the ‘smiting’ of which the Hittites were so fond according to the Old Testament of the Bible.  Some archaeologists now believe that these axes were used for ritual battles between prize fighters and symbolised high social status both in life and death – since these axes were buried with them. 

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