Postgraduate Students

Study links Neolithic weapons to injuries

PhD candidate Meaghan Dyer and Dr Linda Fibiger have demonstrated, for the first time, that it is possible to identify blunt force weapons from the European Neolithic by injuries left. (Published 7 December, 2017)

HCA Thames Beater and replica

Experimental work by PhD candidate Meaghan Dyer and Dr Linda Fibiger in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, has for the first time been used to test weapons in the Neolithic.

Using synthetic models of the human head and a club modelled on the 'Thames Beater' - a fourth century BC wooden club found in London’s River Thames in the early 1990s (right) - the project replicated real-world scenarios of violence and looked at the potential results of this tool when it was used as a weapon, producing a near perfect match to trauma found on an adult male skull from the site of Asparn/Schletz in Austria.

Meaghan Dyer, PhD candidate, said, 'This is the first study of its kind to demonstrate that it is possible to identify blunt force weapons from the European Neolithic, and provides valuable insight into violent interactions and the social complexities of human prehistory.' 

Meaghan and Linda's paper, 'Understanding blunt force trauma and violence in Neolithic Europe: The first experiments using a skin-skull-brain model and the Thames Beater' is published in the current issue of 'Antiquity', (360,  1515-28) and can be read and downloaded via Edinburgh Research Explorer, below.

'Understanding blunt force trauma ...':

Dr Linda Fibinger's staff profile