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Dear All, I am pleased to present the new number of our newsletter „Experimental Archaeology at Nicolaus Copernicus University”. It presents only our past works, nevertheless, we hope You will find it interesting! Stay healthy and have a nice reading!
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December 2020
People of the experiment
A graduate of the Instute of Archaeology
NCU and a long-term member of the Society
for Prehistoric Archaeology. She specializes
in Stone Age hunng techniques, especially
in the int arrowheads and geometric inserts
of the projecle weapons. She was a parci-
pant and organizer of several dozen educa-
onal events in the eld of experimental
archaeology that took place throughout Po-
land between 2000 and 2005.
Osipowicz, Nowak, 2017. Complexity of use-wear
traces formed on int projecle points : a voice in
discussion, Cuad. Prehist. Arqueol. Univ. Granada,
No. 27, 83-109.
Number 12 (2020/4)
ear Readers, conducng research in the eld of
experimental archaeology is extremely dicult
during the Covid pandemic, and in the case of
our centre, most of the projects in this area
have been temporarily stopped. Therefore, in this issue, we
present only our past works, with the hope that the next issue of our Newsleer that is
planned to be published in spring 2021 will bring the possibility to present the results of
some fresh research. The rst arcle in this number is about one of the oldest experi-
ments carried out in our centre, i.e. about Kazimierz Żurowski's research on methods of
soening osseous raw materials. In the second text, we present the experimental works
carried out during the two-week camp organised in 2004 by the members of Society for
Prehistoric Experimental Archaeology. The last arcle presents recently conducted expe-
riments with casng bronze axes. On behalf of the Editorial Board, I wish you a pleasant
reading and all the best in the New Year!
dr hab. Grzegorz Osipowicz, prof. NCU
dr Justyna Orłowska
MA Justyna Kuriga
Acid or water? The history of the first studies on methods of softening of the
osseous raw materials carried out at the Institute of Archaeology NCU
one and antler are one of the basic raw materials
used by man throughout history. For a long me, the
studies on methods of soening these raw materials
have been an important part of the experimental
work carried out in the Instute of Archaeology, NCU in Toruń.
The rst researcher in our centre to take up this topic was Prof.
Kazimierz Żurowski (Fig. 1), who in the years 1953-1976 was the
head of the Department of Archaeology of the Polish Lands at
the NCU. The starng point for his research were numerous
nds of bone and antler products, as well as semi-nished pro-
ducts and producon wastes discovered at the medieval sites,
such as a rich collecon of antler and bone artefacts with nume-
rous traces of processing from Gniezno (Fig. 2).
The idea for the experiment was born in Żurowski's mind as a
result of an accidental observaon of the soening of a spoon
made of antler which was le for a long me in mustard, which
contained vinegar. In the rst experiment carried out in 1951 in
Ostrów Lednicki (Żurowski 1953), natural plant acid was used for
soening. Among the acid-containing plants, hogweed
(Heracleum Sphondylium) and sorrel (Rumex Crispus and Rumex
acetosella) can be menoned. The seeds of these species were
discovered in the layers of medieval sites such as Gniezno, Po-
znań or Santok.
In the described experiment, fresh sorrel leaves were used,
which were chopped into a pulp. Then, an aempt to cut a frag-
ment of the non-soened deer antler with a knife was made -
without any eect. The next step was to place the same piece of
antler in the sorrel pulp. Aer a week, another aempt of
cung was made, this me successful. It was soened to a
depth of about 3 mm.
Fig. 1. Prof. Kazimierz Żurowski.
Fig. 2. Few examples of fragments of antler with knife cuts from Gniezno
(photo by K. Żurowski).
The antler was placed back in the sorrel for a further ve weeks,
aer which complete soening of the material was observed
allowing for easy treatment (Fig. 3). Two days aer taking it out
of the sorrel, the antler slowly began to harden, and on the fo-
urth day, it completely regained its original hardness.
For Żurowski, the successful course of the rst experiment
proved that the soening of osseous raw materials with plant
acids could be used in the Middle Ages. As he emphasized, this
process was simple, it did not require any special equipment,
only soaking the raw material unl the item was nished. In his
opinion, the raw material could be pre-cut or broken into smaller
fragments to accelerate soening, because the internal porosity
of the antler facilitates the absorpon of acid. He considered
numerous nds such as features with deposits of antler frag-
ments as indirect evidence for the use of such treatments.
The results of the rst experiment and its posive recepon from
the archaeological community encouraged Żurowski to conduct
further research in this eld (Żurowski 1974). In the following
years, he tested substances such as sauerkraut, sour milk and
sour buermilk. In their case, he noced that the raw material
was soened 2-3 days aer immersion, and in his opinion, sour
milk gave the best results. He also made aempts to soen the
antler by boiling it in water for many hours (7-11 hours), which,
as he emphasized, had a paral eect, as the raw material qu-
ickly hardened as it cooled. The next experiments concerned
soening the bones and giving them a specic shape. The basis
for these works were the nds of Neolithic arm bracelets made
of bone (Fig. 4A). In his experiment, he used a plate made of ox
rib, which he soened by soaking in sour milk. Then the soened
plate was slowly bent to the desired form. The next step was to
e it to secure the shape and let it dry. As Żurowski noted, the
arm bracelet that he made hardened and retained its shape (Fig.
4B), and the aempt to straighten it dry failed.
The pioneering works of Kazimierz Żurowski have been connued
in our Instute to this day. An example of this is, among others, a
book "Methods of soening bone and antler in the Stone Age in
the light of archaeological experiments and use-wear analysis"
wrien by Grzegorz Osipowicz (Osipowicz 2005), as well as nu-
merous experiments in this area, including new research on so-
ening techniques and their idencaon on historic materials,
the results of which we hope to present soon.
   Metody rozmiękczania kości i poroża w epoce ka-
mienia w świetle doświadczeń archeologicznych oraz analiz traseologicz-
nych, Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, Toruń.
 Uwagi na temat obróbki rogu w okresie wczesnośre-
dniowiecznym, Przegląd Archeologiczny, t. IX, s. 395-401.
Zmiękczanie poroża i kości stosowane przez wytwór-
ców w Starożytności i we wczesnym średniowieczu, Acta Universitas
Nicolai Copernici, Archeologia, z. 4, s. 3-23.
Fig. 3. Cung the soened fragments of deer antler with a knife
(photo by K. Żurowski)
Fig. 4. A - Neolithic arm bracelets from Brześć Kujawski, district Wło-
cławek (by K. Jażdzewski) B - arm bracelet made of ox rib bone, so-
ened in sour milk (photo by K. Żurowski)
Number 12 (2020/4)
So recently and at the same time so long ago...
The second two-weeks experimental archaeology camp of the
Society for Prehistoric Experimental Archaeology. Spring 2004.
004 was an evenul year for members of the Society
for Prehistoric Experimental Archaeology. There was a
generaonal change in Society, which meant lots of
new ideas and new energy, but also extra work for
the old members teaching the new "fry" how to sciencally
conduct experimental research. At the Instute of Archaeology
NCU, it was slowly planned to formally establish the Laboratory
of Traceology, which needed many experimental tools from va-
rious raw materials used for various acvies for its research.
Thanks to them, a database of products of this type was to be
created, being a comparave material used during microscopic
analysis of artefacts. All these factors contributed to the shape
of the experiment program, which was planned and carried out
during a two-week experimental camp organized in spring of
this year at the Ethnographic Museum in Toruń. 10 members of
the Society for Prehistoric Experimental Archaeology aended.
One of the most important experiments performed successfully
during the event was the producon of birch tar without the use
of ceramic vessels. (Fig. 1). The goal was to develop a method
which uses in the Stone Age would have le no clear traces po-
ssible to idenfy in the archaeological materials today.
The designed kiln was built directly on to the ground. For its
construcon, small stones were used, that were sealed with a
mixture of sand, grass and a lile bit of clay. When dry, this
cover" formed a solid and compact shell, resilient to cracks that
form during the drying or ring of the kiln. Aer the kiln walls
were nally sealed, their thickness was about 8-10 cm. The kiln
had the shape of a dome, it was about 40 cm in diameter and
had a similar height. It was le to dry for about 16 hours. Then,
it was lled up with the fresh birch bark ripped into narrow
strips, covered with a big stone, nally sealed and red. The
ring took about 3-4 hours and was preceded with the process
of preheang, which means keeping a re at the beginning in
some distance from the kiln for about 1,5 hour. When the ring
was nished, the remnants of burned wood and ashes were
removed and the kiln was le for about 3 hours to cool down.
Then, it was opened. The wood tar made with this method is
strongly contaminated with charcoal and the remnants of birch
bark. The detailed descripon of this experiment can be found
here - Osipowicz 2005a).
Fig. 1. Experimental producon of birch tar without the use of ceramic vessels.
Number 12 (2020/4)
The aim of the second important experimental project carried out
during the camp was to reconstruct the method of making holes in
the stone axes known from Europe since the Neolithic. The work
was carried out with the use of reconstructed drilling machine and
drill bits made of long bones of mammals (Fig. 2). The experiment
required the use of a sand bed as drilling material. The work was
successful. As a result, a fairly regular hole was drilled in the stone
axe made of porphyry, 2.9-2.3 cm wide and 2.5 cm deep. A detailed
descripon of these studies can be found in an arcle published
elsewhere (Osipowicz 2005b). Work in this eld was connued by
the members of the SEPA. However, in subsequent experiments,
wooden drills were used.
An interesng, though unfortunately insuciently veried, an expe-
riment conducted during the Camp were the rst aempts at tur-
ning wooden and bone objects with the use of a reconstructed la-
the and int tools. We have already wrien about these works in
one of the previous issues of the Newsleer (1/2019), so we will not
devote more space to them here. It is worth nong, however, that
despite the preliminary nature of these works, they were quite suc-
cessful, both from the perspecve of the eecveness of the recon-
structed device and the uniqueness of the use-wear traces created
with its use on the products of int.
Fig. 2. Experimental project carried out during the camp conected with the reconstrucon of the method of making holes in the stone axes
known from Europe since the Neolithic.
Fig. 3. First aempts at turning wooden and bone objects with the use of
a reconstructed lathe and int tools.
As menoned in the introducon, a large part of the experi-
ments carried out during the camp was aimed at creang a da-
tabase of experimental tools used as comparave material du-
ring the traceological analysis of artefacts. This was also the
purpose of the work conducted with the use of obsidian tools.
Several dozen of this type of experiments were carried out, du-
ring which tools made of this material were used for many ac-
vies within the framework of processing such materials as
leather, wood, bone, shells, so stone and ceramics (Fig. 4).
The experiments with bone products had a similar prole. In
this case, however, not only experiments related to the poten-
al funcon of artefacts were realised, but also works with a
technological prole, aimed at reconstrucng the techniques of
processing bone raw materials in prehistory (Fig. 5).
An important part of the work conducted during the camp was
the experimental processing of various types of plants. In this
eld, both typical woodworking was carried out with the use of
int and bone tools and various supporng processes, such as
burning technique. However, many experiments were also reali-
sed with the bark and bast from various tree species, which
were used to produce ropes and various types of containers,
modelled on archaeological nds and ethnographic analogies.
Fig. 5. Experiments with bone
and antler processing.
Fig. 4. Experiments with using tools for various acvies.
Fig. 6. Experimental processing of various types of plants.
The last type of experiments conducted at the camp were works
aimed at reconstrucng the prehistoric techniques of amber pro-
cessing, and above all the methods of drilling holes in this mate-
rial, using tools made of various stone and organic materials (Fig.
In total, during the described camp, members of the Society for
Prehistoric Experimental Archaeology performed about 150
dierent archaeological experiments. Some of them lasted a few
minutes, others even 25 workhours. The results of these studies
have already been used in several scienc arcles, and the
experimental tools used during the Camp are used every day at
the Instute of Archaeology of the Nicolaus Copernicus Universi-
ty during microscopic analyses of prehistoric artefacts and the
educaon of students. We would like to thank all parcipants of
the camp for that!
Fig. 7. Experimental processing of amber.
A method of wood tar produc-
on, without the use of ceramics. EuroREA: (Re)
construcon and Experiment in Archaeology – Euro-
pean Plaorm, 2, pp. 11-17.
Drilling through stone
axes. Experimentelle Archäologie in Europa, 4, pp. 115
The experimental casting of the model of a bronze mould and
socketed axe from Elgiszewo, Poland, 900700 BC
he complete two-part bronze casng mould (Fig. 1)
was discovered by chance in 2013 in the village of
Elgiszewo (Golub-Dobrzyń district, north Poland). The
mould was part of the so-called founders hoard de-
posited on the southern borders of the territory occupied by the
Chełmno group of the Lusaan culture between 900 and 700 BC
(Kowalski et al. 2019). The well-preserved negave parts indica-
te that the mould was designed to mulply the looped socketed
axes. A widely held belief in Polish archaeology has been that
metal moulds, due to their low thermal resistance, were used
only for preparing wax or lead models. The aim of the presented
experiment was to check if the mould from Elgiszewo was capa-
ble of ensuring direct casng and was in fact used by the Lusa-
an metalworkers for this purpose.
Fig. 1. Casng mould from Elgiszewo (Poland; courtesy of the Province Historical Monuments Conservaon Oce in Toruń; aer Kowalski et al. 2019).
Number 12 (2020/4)
Described experiment was performed by Łukasz Kowalski, Aldona Garbacz-Klempka, Jacek Gackowski, Dominik Ścibior,
Małgorzata Perek-Nowak, Kamil Adamczak and Piotr Długosz and was described in the arcle entled: Towards direct
casng: Archaeometallurgical insight into a bronze mould from Elgiszewo, Poland, 900700 BC., published in 2019 in
the journal Archeologické Rozhledy LXXI (Kowalski et al 2019).
The experimental casng was divided into two stages and carried
out in the Metal Color Starachowice foundry. In the rst stage, a
model alloy similar in chemical composion to the mould from
Elgiszewo was used to cast an experimental mould. The mould
was shaped in the sand mass. The melts were carried out in a
graphite crucible and a NABER TERM resistance electric furnace.
An organic coang was applied. The bath was mixed with a cera-
mic body and the temperature was monitored. The pouring was
completed with the use of a thermocouple. The alloy was com-
posed of pure ingredients which were successively introduced.
Aer the chemical composion and temperature were stabilized,
the sand form was poured at the temperature of 1180 °C. The
second stage of the experiment involved casng the socketed
axe which t the reconstructed mould. The hardness (HB) of the
axe model alloy was controlled. The HB tesng was conducted on
samples cut perpendicular-ly to the direcon of casng and mea-
sured with a universal Brinell hardness tester at the temperature
of 20 °C.
In the rst stage, a model alloy consistent with the chemical
composion of the mould from Elgiszewo was used to cast an
experimental mould (g. Fa). The second stage of the experiment
involved casng a socketed axe that would t the reconstructed
mould. The alloy used for the model axe was composed with
reference to other LBA socketed axes (Przedmieście and Czarków
type) recognized in terms of chemistry.
Two parts of the mould were covered with a layer of organic coa-
ng (composed of milled charcoal mixed with animal fat and ash
in a 1:1 rao) to prevent welding with the poured liquid metal.
The coang was mechanically applied on the mould surface and
red in the ame of the burner. Next, both parts were matched
together and pre-heated to the temperature of 130150 °C (Fig.
2b). The casng temperature was 1150 °C. The alloy solidicaon
proceeded very quickly due to the rapid dissipaon of heat from
the mould which was allowed to cool, and aer 10 minutes, the
casng was knocked out (g. Fc).
An experimental approach proved that the mould from Elgiszewo
could have been successfully employed by the Lusaan metal-
worker for direct casng. If the mass of the mould was adequate-
ly high in comparison to the casng, there was no danger of mel-
ng the mould. However, direct casng required an extremely
short cast me of about 3 s. Otherwise, the nal product would
be incomplete in the edge parts. It is reported that the casng of
een socketed axes in one bronze mould is possible with no
apparent damage to the mould (Baron et al. 2016, 188).
    . Bee-
swax remnants, phase and major element chemical composion of the
Bronze Age mould from Gaj Oławski (SW Poland). Archaeological and
Anthropological Sciences 8, 187196.
  -      -
   Towards direct casng: Ar-
chaeometallurgical insight into a bronze mould from Elgiszewo (900700
BC, Poland) Archeol. rozh., 71 (1) (2019), 45-66
Fig. 2. The stages of the experimental casng of the Przedmieście type
axe compable with the casng mould from Elgiszewo: a – casng the
mould; b – pre-heang the mould; c – knocking the casng out of the
mould. (aer Kowalski et al. 2019).
Number 12 (2020/4)
Monday, March 29, 2021 - Thursday, April 1, 2021
The #EAC12 Conference will be an around the world in 80 experimentstaking place in March 2021 (exact dates to be conrmed). It
will start in New Zealand & Australia, turning towards Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America as the me proceeds. #EAC12
has online lectures as well as presentaons by local hotspots in dierent me zones. With the lectures and hotspots, #EAC12 shows
the diversity of experimental archaeology and the geographic spread. EAC12 is open access, and will include many ways of interac-
on between the parcipants, the speakers and the hotspots...
Our recent publications
The starng point for the studies described in the arcle were the results of traceological
studies of a collecon of seal craniums discovered during archaeological excavaons at a Subneolithic
site complex in Šventoji, Lithuania. Microscopic analysis revealed repeve technological traces and well
-developed use damages on the surfaces, the characteriscs of which most likely indicate their use du-
ring ritual pracces, possibly in a similar way to that suggested for antler frontlets known from several
Mesolithic sites. This is the rst such discovery in this part of Europe, shedding new light on the symbolic
culture of the hunter-gatherer communies inhabing the south-eastern Balc Sea coast between 3200
and 2700 cal BC, and especially the role of seals and their skulls, what is discussed in the arcle in a wi-
der perspecve. The use-wear traces described in the arcle are also a unique example of damage crea-
ted on the surface of artefacts that are associated with ritual pracces, and can, therefore, provide im-
portant informaon in idenfying and correctly interpreng similar objects of this type elsewhere.
Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 34 (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102638
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.