School of History, Classics and Archaeology


The First Halberds in Europe

The project seeks to investigate the chronology, manufacturing technology, and function of early metal halberds from the Italian peninsula.

Prehistoric halberds have long been at the forefront of Bronze Age studies. Areas of scholarly debate encompassed the place and time of their origin as well as their real or intended function, but the dearth of radiocarbon dates and targeted edge-damage analysis have left these and other questions unresolved.

This is especially true of the Italian evidence, which is less understood compared to other regions of Europe.

The project comprises three main steps:

  1. A literature review, including collation of all radiocarbon dates, chemical analyses, and use-wear data available for early Italian halberds.
  2. Fresh chemical and use-wear analysis of Italian halberds from the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, the ‘Pigorini’ Museum (Rome) and the ‘Poldi Pezzoli’ Museum (Milan)
  3. Radiocarbon dating of halberds from Spilamberto, Rinaldone, and other Copper Age sites in Italy.