University of Oulu

Janne Ikäheimo & Kerkko Nordqvist (2017) Lost in Narration: Rediscovering the Suomussalmi Copper Adze, Norwegian Archaeological Review, 50:1, 44-65, DOI: 10.1080/00293652.2017.1307268

Lost in narration : rediscovering the Suomussalmi copper adze

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Author: Ikäheimo, Janne1; Nordqvist, Kerkko1
Organizations: 1Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities, Oulu University, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Informa, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-10-20


The Suomussalmi copper adze is a native copper artefact discovered in 1980 on Kukkosaari Island (Suomussalmi, north-eastern Finland). Since then the artefact has been repeatedly used as an example when narrating the introduction of metal technology in prehistoric Finland, while its chronological position, function and significance have remained poorly studied. Here the object is reviewed both through the results of new metallographic analyses and by re-examining its position in the context of early metal use in north-eastern Europe during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. The results of metallographic analyses indicate that the adze was shaped by melting/casting followed by cold hammering; both techniques are shown to have been used in the research area — Finland and north-west Russia — as early as during the Neolithic. While the provenance of the metal remains to be assigned, possible domestic, Karelian as well as Uralian sources are assayed critically. Instead of plain analyses regarding techno-typology and function, the Suomussalmi adze is here connected to the general enrichment of the (material) world that took place multi-locally through the adoption of new raw materials and the increased interest in their real or presumed properties.

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Series: Norwegian archaeological review
ISSN: 0029-3652
ISSN-E: 1502-7678
ISSN-L: 0029-3652
Volume: 50
Issue: 1
Pages: 44 - 65
DOI: 10.1080/00293652.2017.1307268
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: The authors express here their gratitude to the benefactors University of Helsinki for the project ‘Copper, Material Culture and the Making of the World in Late Stone Age Finland and Russian Karelia’ (2010–2012) and Academy of Finland for the project ‘The Use of Materials and the Neolithisation of North-Eastern Europe c. 6000–1000 BC’ (2013–2017).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 269066
Detailed Information: 269066 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: Supplemental data for this article can be accessed
Copyright information: © 2017 Norwegian Archaeological Review. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Norwegian Archaeological Review on 20 Apr 2017, available online: