Universiteit Leiden

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VICI Grant for Dr. David Fontijn

The subsidy funds new research into the: Economies of Destruction. The emergence of metalwork deposition during the Bronze Age in Northwest Europe, c. 2300-1500 BC.

 Bronze Age sword that was deliberately bent and destroyed before it was placed in the landscape. Found at Werkhoven, the Netherlands, and currently on view in the National Museum of Antiquities Copyright RMO, National Museum of Antiquities

The accumulation of wealth is generally regarded as a universal way of achieving power and prestige. How can a society function when its members systematically destroy wealth? This will be the focus of the new research by Dr. David Fontijn


In Bronze Age Europe, communities deliberately deposited prestigious metalwork on a massive scale. We want to understand this puzzling practice by reconstructing how it emerged and developed in Northwest Europe from 2300-1500 BC and how a society with such destructive practices operates.

Was what happened in the Bronze Age historically unique, or is object destruction a universal social strategy? The project will add a thought-provoking dimension to objects that have a great appeal to the general public and yield models that can be used to predict the location of still-undiscovered depositions. This will help to safeguard this heritage. Protection is essential in light of the alarming rate of illegal looting of metalwork from deposition landscapes.


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