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Stratum plus. 2021. No2

D. V. Panchenko (Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation)

Warrior’s Razor in Bronze Age Europe: Symbol and Function




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Pages: 253-262


Razors are frequently found in warrior graves of the later half of the second millennium BC in Scandinavia, central Europe, Italy and Greece. It is common to treat such razors as indicating a status and symbolizing an elite lifestyle. This view is justified, but it offers no explicit explanation of why the razor acquired such a role. It was repeatedly observed that razors are frequently found in the graves that contain a sword as well. It is further worth noting that Nordic razors (the most remarkable class within the type) appear in graves during period II of Montelius when also a new kind of weapon — the slashing swords appear there. This epoch-making weapon spread throughout Europe and the Mediterranean in the course of a few centuries. A close association between the slashing sword and the razor is clarified by occasional remarks by Greek authors. One learns from them (Plutarch, Theseus, 5 is particularly important passage) that swordsmen, being close fighters, cut off their hair in the fore part of their heads not to give their enemies a hold of their hair and beards. It remains true that the razor was used as a symbol, but this happened because of its function.


Keywords: Central Europe, Scandinavia, Mediterranean region, Bronze Age, razor, sword, ancient warfare


Information about author:

Dmitri Panchenko
(Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation). Candidate of Historical Sciences. Saint Petersburg State University. Universitetskaya Emb., 7―9, Saint Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation; St. Petersburg Branch of the National Research University Higher School of Economics. Soyuz Pechatnikov St., 16, Saint Petersburg, 190121, Russian Federation
E-mail: [email protected]

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