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Work Spearhead

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: The Origins of Greek Art, the Bronze Age, and the Geometric Style (3200-720 BC)

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Spearhead

© Musée du Louvre/C. Larrieu

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
The Origins of Greek Art, the Bronze Age, and the Geometric Style (3200-720 BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This leaf-shaped spearhead is characteristic of Clycladic objects dating from the third millennium BC. It was fitted onto a wooden shaft via holes in the lower part. The object, made c.2700-2300 BC, is believed to have been found in a grave on the island of Amorgós. It may derive from Neolithic prototypes that also had a slightly raised central ridge.

An item of weaponry

This bronze spearhead entered the collections of the Louvre as part of the Delamarre donation in 1903, and is thought to come from a grave discovered on the island of Amorgós in the Cyclades islands. It is crafted in the shape of a leaf, with a slightly raised central ridge running its length. It fitted onto a wooden shaft, now lost, via two holes made in the lower part of the tang. The metal was cast and worked by hammering.

A Cycladic object dating from the third millennium BC

The shape of the object probably derives from a Neolithic prototype that would also have had a central ridge. It is characteristic of works made in the Cyclades in the third millennium BC. This spearhead is related to a similar type discovered in Cyprus that was produced up to the end of the third millennium BC. The Cypriot spearheads have a rat's-tail-shaped tang. The Louvre spearhead may therefore be considered as one of the oldest proofs of contact between the Aegean world and the eastern Mediterranean. This type of weapon, which has been found on several of the Cyclades islands, is sometimes mistakenly identified as a type of dagger blade dating from the same period, whose leaf or triangular shape is indeed very similar.

The development of metalworking in the Cyclades

This object was made between 2700 and 2300 BC, in a period of the Bronze Age during which craftsmen made considerable progress in metalwork and when metallurgy was burgeoning. The metals most often used were probably copper and silver, to which were sometimes added lead, pewter and gold (these being no doubt imported). In the Cyclades, bronze was used primarily for the making of everyday objects (knives, drills, scissors, tongs, needles) and weapons (spears, daggers, arrowheads).

Bibliography

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Technical description

  • Spearhead

    c. 2700-2300 BC

    Amorgós, Cyclades

    Cyclades

  • Cast and hammered bronze

    L. 20 cm

  • Don Delamarre, 1903

    Br 1459

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Salle des Sept-Cheminées
    Room 74

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