Manufacture of Eastern European decorative tin–bronze discs from twelfth century BC


During the European Bronze Age, flat discs with a variety of decorative elements were produced to be used most likely as either decoration attached to clothing or as parts of horse harnesses. The size and decoration differ according to region and period. The discs discussed here were all found in hoards deposited in a rather short period around 1200–1100 BC in Croatia, Bosnia and Austria. They were analysed to obtain information about their composition and manufacture, both of which may have changed in relation to increasing distance from the centre of distribution or supposed production as a result of copying, or might not have changed significantly if the discs were imported.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13


  1. Ammannati N, Ienco MG, Martellucci E, Piccardo P (2006) L’energia di attivazione nel processo di ricristallizzazione del bronzo: influenza del tenore di stagno. Metall Ital 1:31–38

    Google Scholar 

  2. Gleirscher P (2007) Fragmente spätbronzezeitlicher Helme und Beinschienen aus dem Südostalpenraum. Archäol Österr 18(1):48–53

    Google Scholar 

  3. Ienco MG, Pellati G, Piccardo P, Pinasco MR, Stagno E (2007) Metallographic approach to the investigation of metallic archaeological objects. Ann Chim 97:553–574

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Jacob C (2005) Metallgefäße der Bronze- und Hallstattzeit in Nordwest-, West- und Süddeutschland. Franz-Steiner-Verlag, Stuttgart

    Google Scholar 

  5. Karavanić S (2009) The Urnfield culture in continental Croatia. Oxbow books, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  6. Mödlinger M (2011) Bronze Age warfare in Eastern Europe: development technology and usage of defensive armour. A short presentation of a forthcoming project. Bull Assoc Promot Rech Age Bronze 8:86–88

    Google Scholar 

  7. Mödlinger M (2012a) Star ornamentation on late Bronze Age helmets, cups and decorated discs in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Arheološki Vestnik (in press)

  8. Mödlinger M (2012b) From Greek boar tusk helmets to the first European metal helmets: new approaches on development and date. Oxford Journal of Archaeology (in press)

  9. Mödlinger M, Ghiara G, Campodonico S, Piccardo P, Bongiorno V (2012) Journal of Applied Physics A (in press)

  10. Müller R (1972) A pötrétei későbronzkori kincslelet. Veszprém Megyei Múz Közleményei 11:59–74

    Google Scholar 

  11. Pankau C (2004) Die älterhallstattzeitliche Keramik aus Mediaş/Siebenbürgen. Habelt, Bonn

    Google Scholar 

  12. Piccardo P (2000) Tin and copper oxides in corroded archaeological bronzes. Microsc Anal 63:13–15

    Google Scholar 

  13. Piccardo P, Pernot M (1997) Studio analitico e strutturale di alcuni vasi celtici in bronzo. Metall Ital 11:43–52

    Google Scholar 

  14. Piccardo B, Mille B, Robbiola L (2007) Tin and copper oxides in corroded archaeological bronzes. In: Dillmann P, Béranger G, Piccardo P, Matthiesen H (eds) Corrosion of metallic heritage artefacts: investigation, conservation and prediction for long-term behaviour. Woodhead publishing, Cambridge, pp 239–262

    Google Scholar 

  15. Piccardo P, Amendola R, Adobati A, Faletti C (2009) Studio della fluidità di leghe a base rame. Metall Ital 5:31–38

    Google Scholar 

  16. Piccardo P, Amendola R, Ervas A (2010) Metallographic investigation and experimental replication of an Etruscan bronze mirror. Hist Metall 44:10–14

    Google Scholar 

  17. Schauer P (2003) Zur Zeitstellung der vermeintlich ältesten Bronzekammhelme in Mitteleuropa. Archäol Korrespondenzblatt 33:193–203

    Google Scholar 

  18. Šinkovec I (1995) Katalog posameznih kovinskih najdb bakrene in bronaste dobe (Catalogue of individual metal finds from the Eneolithic and Bronze Ages). In: Teržan B (ed) Depojske in posamezne kovinske najdbe bakrene in bronaste dobe na Slovenskem. Narodni muzej, Ljubljana, pp 13–28

    Google Scholar 

  19. Škoberne Ž (2001) Prapovijesne kacige. In: Batušić Z (ed) Kacige u Hrvatskoj, Ministarstvo obrane Republike Hrvatske, Zagreb, pp 11–35

Download references


The authors would like to thank the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the FP7/Marie Curie actions for supporting the research of Marianne Mödlinger with Schrödinger-fellowship J 3109-G21. Special thanks to the curators of the museums concerned who permitted the sampling of the decorated discs: Jacqueline Balen (Arheološki muzej u Zagrebu, Croatia), Lidia Miklik-Lozuk (Muzej Slavonski Brod, Croatia), Vesna Isabegovic and Nataša Perić (Muzej istočne Bosne posjeduje Tuzla, Bosnia–Herzegovina) and Sieglinde Köberl (Kammerhofmuseum Bad Aussee, Austria).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marianne Mödlinger.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mödlinger, M., Piccardo, P. Manufacture of Eastern European decorative tin–bronze discs from twelfth century BC. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 5, 299–309 (2013).

Download citation


  • Copper–tin alloy
  • Microstructure
  • Corrosion
  • Bronze Age
  • Ornaments