Millennia of continuity in the votive behaviour of Europeans

The testimony of tools for determining the value of metal


  • Martin Ježek Institute of Archaeology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Letenská 4, CZ-118 01 Prague



Europe, burial, votive behaviour, wetland, water, touchstone, pilgrim badges


Archaeology has a great deal of experience with how the misinterpretation of finds creates a false image of the past. The main reason for this is down to ideologically-conditioned stereotypes. The paper descri¬bes one such case involving hundreds of thousands of finds of one type of artefact, commonly classified as whetstones, pendants, amulets, etc., from the Chalcolithic up to the Early Middle Ages. The article emphasises that although touchstones from ancient burials had already been identified using an electron microscopy half a century ago, the interpretation of these finds corresponding to the paradigm from the early 19th century remains popular to this day. For the chemical microanalysis of metal traces preserved on the surface of these stone artefacts, samples were selected from Russian, Slovakian, Swedish and Ukrainian sites, from the Hallstatt period up to the Early Middle Ages, with special regard for their previous interpretation history. However, the main aim is to point out the symbolic role of tools used to test the value of precious metals outside the grave context. Finds from wet environments in particular reveal the continuity of the behaviour of European over the millennia, regardless of the current ideology or cult, and the diversity of artefacts that were, and still are, chosen as a medium for votive behaviour.


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How to Cite

Ježek, M. (2020). Millennia of continuity in the votive behaviour of Europeans: The testimony of tools for determining the value of metal. Archeologické Rozhledy, 72(3), 311–348.



Research Article