eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
Archaeology cover
Estonian Journal of Archaeology
ISSN 1736-7484 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-2933 (Print)


Full article in PDF format |

Mathias Bjørnevad, Tõnno Jonuks, Peter Bye-Jensen, Mikael A. Manninen, Ester Oras, Signe Vahur, Felix Riede


All too often archaeological objects are found as stray finds. As such, they have little or no contextual information, which often makes them difficult to handle analytically and in terms of their exhibition appeal. As a consequence, they often languish un-researched in museum storerooms and there is the critical risk that such objects fall victim to the ongoing curation crisis and are deaccessioned due to a perceived lack of value. Therefore, in this paper we aim to illustrate the applicability of an extended biographical approach to such legacy material by studying the changing character of the Ulbi dagger, an Early Mesolithic flint-edged bone dagger, in its both archaeological and modern contexts. By using both a combination of traditional archaeological methods, coupled with a critical analysis of past illustrations, the dagger went from an isolated, undated, and unique object to a tool with a complex life history extending more than 9000 years. Our analysis reveals multiple stages of manufacturing and ornamentation including the presence of possible anthropomorphic figures. Use-wear analysis also allows us to address the object’s likely primary function. Finally, we speculate about its deposition and discuss previously overlooked post-recovery episodes of damage and repair.



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