Norwegian Archaeological Review ISSN: 0029-3652 (Print) 1502-7678 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/sarc20 Bronze Tooth Pendants from the Late Iron Age: Between Real and Fictional Zooarchaeology Tõnno Jonuks To cite this article: Tõnno Jonuks (2017): Bronze Tooth Pendants from the Late Iron Age: Between Real and Fictional Zooarchaeology, Norwegian Archaeological Review, DOI: 10.1080/00293652.2017.1367838 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00293652.2017.1367838 Published online: 04 Sep 2017. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 27 View related articles View Crossmark data Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=sarc20 Download by: [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] Date: 25 October 2017, At: 07:03 ARTICLE Norwegian Archaeological Review, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1080/00293652.2017.1367838 Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 Bronze Tooth Pendants from the Late Iron Age: Between Real and Fictional Zooarchaeology TÕNNO JONUKS This paper discusses bronze pendants resembling animal canines and commonly interpreted as replicas of bear canine pendants. The traditional identiﬁcation of these pendants to be representing bear canines is questioned, as bronze pendants do not follow the identiﬁable features of organic bear canines. Alternative interpretations and other species, like canids (dogs and wolves) or pigs, are suggested as prototypes for bronze pendants. Finally, it is also speculated that bronze pendants can represent fangs of fantastic creatures like dragons or serpents and, thus, be symbols of some ruling families. INTRODUCTION Previously, a distinctive kind of bronze pendants, traditionally interpreted as bear canines, from Finland and Latvia have inspired archaeologists to come up with sophisticated interpretations of the relations between bears and humans. This is often supported by references from recent folklore and folk traditions from across northern Eurasia. However, closer examination of the resemblances to organic bear canines reveals signiﬁcant differences. As an alternative, bronze tooth pendants are compared in this article with canines of dogs and wolves and with boar tusks. As none of these coincides with artiﬁcial tooth pendants, it is suggested that bronze canines could also represent some mythological animal, like an oversized snake or a dragon. PENDANTS: TERMINOLOGY AND INTERPRETATIONS The 5–7 cm long pendants resemble predators’ canines and are divided more or less in two parts – a slim root, covered with grooves and interpreted to be an imitation of bronze wire, and the crown, that can be either almost straight (Fig. 1:1) or distinctively curved (Fig. 1:2). The crown is usually of the same width as the root, or sometimes even slightly wider, which is an unusual phenomenon among natural canines. There are two major regions for the distribution of pendants: south-western Finland, where over 100 pendants have been found, and the Livs’ area in the lower reaches of the River Daugava in Latvia, with some 10 specimens (Fig. 2). One example is from the Åland islands, one from northern Sweden, Tõnno Jonuks, Department of Folklore, Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu, Estonia. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © 2017 Norwegian Archaeological Review Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 2 Tõnno Jonuks Fig. 1. Three kinds of bronze tooth pendants: straight (1), curved (2), and an exceptionally small pendant (3). All examples are stored in the National History Museum of Latvia in Riga and are published by permission (VI 124: 2460; VI 124: 739; CVVM: 58,923). and two examples from northern Estonia (Kivikoski 1965, p. 23; Asplund 2005, Kivisalo 2008, Kiudsoo et al. 2012). In addition, one exceptional bronze tooth pendant of unknown origin has been found in Estonia (Fig. 1:3). The latter is 2 cm long and has a distinctively small and curved crown, whereas the front side of the root is, similarly to larger examples, covered in grooves. Many pendants in Finland have been found from cremation cemeteries, scattered between stone layers, not allowing any further conclusions about the age or gender of the deceased. All bronze tooth-pendants with clear ﬁnd context from inhumation cemeteries are considered to originate from female graves. The ﬁnd context of pendants which have been associated with male graves are unclear and it is difﬁcult to estimate if pendants belonged to the deceased or they were scattered into the graveﬁll from some other burial or by accident (for more details see Asplund 2005, p. 15ff). For all the Finnish examples, whenever the exact location of pendants was recorded, pendants are reported to have been found from the waist area and are sometimes part of larger assemblages (Asplund 2005, p. 18). While these have received more attention, a few pendants also occur in breast decoration sets. The number of bronze tooth pendants in a set varies from one to six (see more in Asplund 2005, Kivisalo 2008). In contrast to the Finnish ﬁnds, Livonian examples are exclusively associated with chest ornaments of wealthy female burials and number from single objects to sets of three pendants (see examples in Zariņa 2006). In Livonia, also, other pendants and more functional objects such as knives and keys were attached to the breast chain (see Zariņa 2006, Špirğis 2008). Hence, any semantic meaning attached to the different locations of pendants on a body seems to be unreliable, as different locations are more likely to represent different regional traditions, or a fashion of using pendants as such. If more than one pendant forms a set, these are very alike, suggesting that the pendants have been produced either in a single mould or that the shape has been copied from one of the objects in the set. Most of the pendants date back to the Late Iron Age, only one has been found from the medieval Turku town, but even that has been interpreted to originate from an Iron Age cemetery (Asplund 2005, p. 19). The earliest pendant examples were published in the 19th century (e.g. Aspelin 1880, p. 292, ﬁg. 1534), without any interpretation of the animal species. Since the mid-20th century it has generally been accepted that the pendants are bronze replicas of animal canines. Sometimes several alternative interpretations are offered as the prototype. Kivikoski (1965) used the term Bären- oder Raubtierzahnanhänger (bear or predator tooth pendants). Asplund (2005) refers also to similarities to eagle claws, bear claws, and teeth of other large carnivores. Still, despite such a broad selection of possible prototypes, all concluding interpretations focus only on the bear, often followed by analogies with the ritual and mythological role of bears in recent folk culture. As Kivisalo (2008, p. 268) states: ‘Because of the pendant’s form and the occurrence of Late Iron Age organic bear-tooth pendants, the bronze pendants have been connected with bear’s teeth. This interpretation is supported by Finnish mythology and folklore relating to bears’. Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 Real and ﬁctional zooarchaeology: a case study of bronze tooth pendants 3 Fig. 2. Map of ﬁndings of bronze tooth pendants based on Asplund (2005), Kivisalo (2008), and Špirgis (2008). The usage of oral tradition is justiﬁed by a common approach to folklore as stable and conservative. This understanding is for interpreting even ﬁnds from other regions and periods where ‘original’ tradition is lost. Such an approach is particularly characteristic to Finno-Ugric and Eastern European traditions of archaeology. It is also widely accepted that such pendants are exclusively associated with wealthy female burials, and the interpretations have concluded the reason to have been ‘securing fertility’ (Riikonen 2005, p. 66) or more sophisticated female symbolism: When some woman in SW Finland during the Late Iron Age chose to wear them (i.e. bronze tooth pendants) this was not related simply to a symbolism of strength and power of the bear, but to the old myths of the bear, its origin, its kin and the special relationship between the bear and the female – an interplay between the domestic sphere of the women and the ‘sacred’ (Asplund 2005, p. 27). But how strong is the connection between bronze pendants and the bear? THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THE BEAR! One can but agree to the common statement that the bear is important. The bear occupies one of the most prominent positions in Nordic folk culture; it is one of the most favoured animals of power, and often appears in fairy tales and proverbs. As such, cognitive features seem to be crucial – the bear is perceived as a strong and highly threatening animal with Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 4 Tõnno Jonuks certain human-like capabilities, like a similar diet and footprints, the capability to stand and walk on two limbs, etc. A skinned carcass of a bear looks even more human (Molyneaux 1989, p. 193), and this fact could have been one of the sources for many narrative motives of shifting human and bear identities by changing the outer appearance, i.e. the fur. All these features are reﬂected in recent and contemporary indigenous traditions, in which the bear is called the brother of a man; several narratives in northern Asia recount shapeshifting between man and bear; the bear forming a family with humans, and so on (Pentikäinen 2007, Siikala 2012). Anthropological descriptions of bear funerals among native people in the North (e.g. Khanty and Sápmi; see Rydving 2010) attract interest and are used repeatedly in interpretations. The bear is also a valued trophy and a highly appreciated opponent in a hunt, raising the prestige of hunters. The animal is represented in different archaeological sources, e.g. rock carvings, ﬁgural art, and pendants from the Mesolithic period onwards. The bear is often highlighted in zooarchaeological osseous collections, and receives great attention in the rare cases when distinctive deposits of its skull and bones are documented. These occurrences of the bear in various contexts through different eras make it special, as no other animal has enjoyed such distinction through different periods and in different economic, social, and ideological contexts. The symbolic role of the bear in Fennoscandia and Eastern Baltic is manifested by numerous pendants made of organic bear canines and claws. While a few examples are known from the Stone Age, the main period of using bear canine pendants starts during the Iron Age. For instance, in the 10th to 13th century inhumation burials from the lower reaches of the River Daugava, the Livs area, bear canines are the most common, followed by unspeciﬁed carnivores (Zariņa 2006, p. 269ff; Špirğis 2008, p. 205; in more detail, Kurisoo In prep). According to a recent study in Estonia (Jonuks and Rannamäe 2018), the three species that were used most extensively for pendants during the 10th to 13th centuries were domestic pig/wild boar (25%), dog/wolf (18%), and bear (12%), whereas other animals are represented only with single examples. Bear canines for pendants appear in every type of site, but hillforts are better represented than settlements. In inhumation burials, pendants made of dog canines dominate, followed by the bear and other animal canines (ibid). In several cases from inhumation cemeteries of the lower reaches of the River Daugava, bear canines were attached to female breast chains, thus being clearly on display. In Finland and Estonia, traces of bronze oxide or the presence of bronze rings prove that the pendants were hung on a bronze chain or attached similarly to a bronze decoration. Due to its strength and power, the bear is often, mostly in Scandinavian and Western European tradition, associated with aggressiveness and male power, e.g. in the concept of berserkr (Price 2002, pp. 366–378, Tolley 2006a, Wamers 2009, Hedeager 2011, pp. 91–95). Also, unpierced bear claws found from cremation graves are interpreted as indications of fur, used for wrapping the deceased, who are often identiﬁed as warriors (Wamers 2009). Distribution of bear canine pendants at eastern Baltic hillforts seems to support such an interpretation. At the same time, bear canines from burial contexts are associated exclusively with females, suggesting the need for alternative interpretations. Other parts of the bear – canines, claws, penis bones, etc. occur often among magical and curing objects in the Modern Age folk religion and folk medicine practices (Jennbert 2011, Stark 2015, p. 137; Kirkinen 2017, Hukantaival In press). Thus, the symbolic position of the bear can be followed diachronically in large areas of the Northern Hemisphere from the Mesolithic until the recent past in various contexts, indicating different meanings and symbols that were probably intertwined and used simultaneously, even by the same community (see also e.g. Zachrisson and Iregren 1974, Asplund 2005, Kivisalo 2008, Tolley 2006b, Helskog 2012, Kirkinen 2017). Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 Real and ﬁctional zooarchaeology: a case study of bronze tooth pendants When discussing the bear, references are usually given to the pre-Christian Late Iron Age, thus leading to the use of a label ‘pagan emblem’ for the bear (e.g. Purhonen 1998). Still, the usage of bear canines and claws continued in the Eastern Baltics throughout the Christian medieval period. Two pendants made of bear claw bones and another two made of canines originate from the medieval towns and castles in Estonia (Jonuks and Rannamäe 2018). More numerously, bear canines and claws, fastened with bronze mounting and proudly exhibited, were worn widely in female breast ornaments in Latvia and Lithuania until the 16th century (Urbanavičius 1979, Svetikas 2003, Zemῑtis 2004, Griciuvienė and Vasiliauskas 2005, p. 213). Such an occurrence of bear symbolism in Christian contexts questions the concept of a ‘pagan emblem’ as such, and calls for alternative interpretations without focusing exclusively on the confrontation of Christian and Pagan religions. The obvious preference for using the bear in archaeology interpretations is apparent, and it is, therefore, not discussed any further in this paper. The bronze replicas of tooth pendants are the clearest illustration of that preference. Even though sometimes other animal species (like an eagle or any other predator) or features (claws) are mentioned, these are never seriously discussed, and the discussion soon drifts towards the bear, getting inspiration from ethnographic and folkloristic bear-tradition. Such an ahistorical approach, where archaeology is interpreted based on analogies of contemporary north-Asian hunting societies or recent folklore, has led to interpretations of sophisticated connections between humans and bears, and especially between women and bears, often peppered with the interpretations of fertility and magical protection. WHAT IF THE BEAR IS NOT PART OF THIS GAME? The term ‘bear-tooth pendants’ is so commonly used and taken for granted that the term has provoked little criticism. However, 5 Fig. 3. Comparison of organic and bronze tooth pendants: (1) dog canine (VI A 11,429: 1307); combination of (2) a straight bronze tooth pendant (VI 124: 2460) and (3) an organic bear’s canine (VI RDM I 2238); (4) a curved bronze tooth pendant (VI 124: 739); and (5) a pig’s tusk (AI 5310: XI: 940). Numbers 1–4 are stored in the National History Museum of Latvia in Riga and number 5 in the University of Tallinn, Estonia, and are published by permission. the bronze pendants differ signiﬁcantly from natural bear canines. The most remarkable difference is that bronze pendants are all rather slim, while the most distinctive element of a natural bear tooth is its large root (Fig. 3:3). It also seems that bronze specimens emphasise the crown of the canine, while it only comprises ca 1/4 of an organic bear tooth. Besides that, the distinctively curved pendants do not resemble natural bear canines at all. An iconic ﬁnd to demonstrate the connection between bronze tooth pendants and bear canines is a female breast chain set including two bear canines from Eura, southwest Finland (Kivikoski 1965, ﬁg. 1:2). Both canines lack the crown and, on one example, it could even be suggested that the crown has been cut off. The root of both canines has been carved slimmer and two piercings are found on each tooth. The root of one pendant is tightly swathed with a large bronze wire, with both ends fastened into the piercings. The other root is missing the swathing, but, based on the two piercings and green bronze Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 6 Tõnno Jonuks oxide all over the root, it can be suggested that originally it had been covered with bronze as well. Kivikoski (1965) has presented this ﬁnd to prove the suggestion that bronze pendants represent bear teeth, and grooves on the bronze pendants represent swathed bronze wire. However, both canines are modiﬁed and carved and, thus, one can speculate whether the purpose of these objects was to represent the bear at all. Besides that, this set is the only example where organic teeth have a bronze wire tightly swathed around the root and, thus, bearing a direct resemblance with bronze tooth pendants. Considering how unique such combinations are, it is possible that the bronze pendants did not represent organic teeth at all, but rather vice versa – organic canines on this example from Eura with bronze swathing could have represented bronze tooth pendants. Another two organic bear canines with bronze wire swathed around the root come from Latvia. In one of them (Fig. 4), from Daugmale hillfort, the purpose of the wire seems to be to hold together two almost Fig. 4. A bear canine pendant from Daugmale hillfort, Latvia, with bronze wire swathed around the root. Apparently, an additional piercing was attempted, resulting in the splitting of the canine, and bronze wire was necessary for securing the object. The object is stored in the National History Museum of Latvia in Riga and is published with permission (VI A 9964: 2910). split parts of the tooth. Another example of swathed bronze wire comes from Salaspils Laukskola cemetery, grave 94 (Zariņa 2006, ﬁg. 152), which features a wide groove carved in the middle of the bear canine for swathing. Based on these examples it seems that swathing organic canine with bronze wire may have served different functions, among others also fastening split pendants. As mentioned above, the bronze pendants do not have many morphological similarities with organic bear canines. Nevertheless, such a morphological difference alone should not be taken as a reason to discount the interpretation of the pendants representing bear canines. As replicas are the products of a prehistoric craftsman, we must also consider that the result may have been different than the original canine due to artistic reasons or skills. Some important elements, like the crown of the tooth, may have been (over-) emphasised for symbolical or ideological reasons, thus producing a different result than the natural prototype. If the audience accepted the identiﬁcation of bronze teeth as depicting the bear (or any other animal), such a morphological shape was sufﬁcient, and no further accuracy with the natural prototype was necessary. Therefore, the possibility should be considered that the original purpose of these pendants was to depict the canine of a bear as one of the most impressive animals in the particular ecosystem. A similar interweaving of the natural prototype and artistic result can be followed in several other occasions when animals are depicted by humans. Probably the best known analogy is the Great Beast from the Scandinavian Viking Age art. Having been extremely stylised, it does not carry any clear characteristics of any particular animal, although it has been interpreted mostly as a lion, or more rarely as a wolf (e.g. Fuglesang 1980, p. 94, Jennbert 2011, p. 211). As the identiﬁcation of a particular animal species behind art is complicated also in several other examples, artwork should not be taken as an accurate copy of the organic Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 Real and ﬁctional zooarchaeology: a case study of bronze tooth pendants world. Instead, the purpose of the master and the artistic style of this particular period and region behind the object should be considered. Nevertheless, despite such interpretations, we frequently see that art objects, if not copying real objects precisely, carry some characteristic elements to help the audience to identify them. As a relevant example to the current topic, there is a bronze pendant from Latvia accurately copying the organic astragalus of a beaver (Luik 2010a, p. 49). Bronze replicas of an eagle claw from Maidla stone grave, Estonia (AM A 1134: 1157), and a bear claw from Rauši cemetery, Latvia (Špirğis 2008, p. 206, Fig. 105:2) are exact copies of their organic prototypes. Similarly, other prehistoric ﬁgures represent some characteristic features, like the crest-like feature on some examples of the Great Beast. All of the studied bronze tooth pendants are very similar in their form, being either straight or curved. All pendants are relatively slim and carry horizontal grooves around the root. Such common features, spread in a broad area, seem to exclude mistakes, misunderstanding, or a single attempt of some artist, and suggest that all those elements were important for the result. Thus, the craftsmen were conﬁdent about the result and most apparently were familiar with the (organic) prototype or at least with its depiction. This means that the very distinctive dissimilarities between bronze pendants and organic bear canines raise doubts that the bear was the prototype for bronze objects, as none of the signiﬁcant characteristics of bear canines are represented in any of the bronze pendants. The eagle or animal claws that have been brought up as possible prototypes (Kivikoski 1965, Asplund 2005) do not seem to ﬁt either, as claws are more distinctively curved than any of the bronze pendants. In addition, claws have a distinctive bone instead of the root. The few known examples of bronze claws, such as the ones from Maidla, Estonia and Rauši, Latvia, are signiﬁcantly different from the bronze tooth pendants discussed here, which strengthens 7 the position that organic teeth rather than claws served as a model. ALTERNATIVE INTERPRETATIONS: REAL ANIMALS OR IMAGINED BEASTS? It is clear that pendants made of bear canines occupy an important position among tooth pendants, thus giving credit to the interpretation of bronze pendants as bear canines. However, the morphological similarities of bronze pendants could be drawn even more clearly to species of canids, either a dog’s or wolf’s canines (Fig. 3:1). As both species are very similar, their distinction is often complicated in the case of natural canines, and even more so in artistic objects. Especially the straighter version of the pendants resembles the dog/wolf, as the proportions are more similar, as is the curving angle of the pendants. Considering the size of bronze pendants – 5–7 cm – it can be speculated that the natural prototype for the artiﬁcial tooth pendants was more likely to have been the wolf. The distinctively curved bronze pendants may have been inspired by boar tusks (Fig. 3:5) – another species used numerously for pendants during the Late Iron Age, although these occur only in single occasions in inhumations (Jonuks and Rannamäe 2018). Thus, two different species behind bronze pendants could be considered. The triangular cross-section of organic pig tusks is not represented in bronze ones; also, the horizontal grooves on the bronze objects are difﬁcult to associate. Still, the overall image of curved pendants bears a general similarity to tusks. The symbolic value of pigs’ tusks, representing also wild boar as a valued trophy and favoured opponent during the hunt, is similar to the symbols associated with the bear. Wild boar has also been associated with several mythological and cultic features and and boar tusks are considered to be symbols of these myths or rituals (see Kajkowski 2012). It is often complicated to distinguish Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 8 Tõnno Jonuks if tusks originate from a domestic or a wild animal, but, based on Estonian ﬁnds, it seems that most of the tusks are from domestic pigs and not wild boars (Jonuks and Rannamäe 2018). Moreover, the presence of the wild boar in Late Iron Age Finland is unclear. It is suggested that the wild boar may have been extinct in Finland since the end of the Atlantic climate optimum, or was present only in low numbers (Ukkonen 1993, p. 259). Possibly the symbolic meaning of tusks of domestic pigs was comparable or even equal to the ‘real’ wild beast. To conclude the quest for the organic prototypes for bronze tooth pendants, we can refer to two different animal species, canids and pigs, while morphological similarities with the bear are weaker. However, there is also another option. What if artiﬁcial bronze tooth pendants were exactly what they are – fangs of an entirely man-made creature? As a result of the previous overview, it could be concluded that bronze tooth pendants do not copy any natural tooth in detail. Maybe these metal teeth were supposed to depict powerful and fearsome fangs of some mythological being, like a dragon, a snake, etc., whose teeth were not available in nature? This would explain why none of the natural animals represents an exact prototype for the bronze ones. Also, the golden shine of a metal alloy could represent the supernatural power and strength of the animal. True, as we are missing the organic fangs of a dragon for comparison, it is difﬁcult to prove this connection. As dragons in the Nordic world were in their exterior and etymology considered more or less the same as oversized snakes, it is interesting to note that particularly the distinctively curved bronze pendants resemble a viper’s fangs. Bronze pendants are many times larger and, according to such interpretation, could indicate the enormous size of the mythological creature. The subject of dragons and supernatural snakes is a much debated issue in Scandinavian religion and mythology. Nominally, the world-snake Jörmunganðr and the dragon Fáfnir from the Nibelungen saga, but also the dragon in Beowulf, are often referred to. On the material side, the dragon has been discussed based on dragon/ snake ﬁgures on rune-stones, rock-carvings, or ornaments (e.g. Hedeager 2011, Jennbert 2011, Brunning 2015, Symons 2015, references therein). Moreover, the image of the dragon is also widely used in medieval art across Northern Europe, particularly on weapons (e.g. Creutz 2003), decorative panels (e.g. Rybina 1992, p. 167), and personal objects (Leimus et al. 2013), and appears also in obvious Christian contexts (Gräslund 2006, p. 125). Objects representing dragons are less discussed, although they appear in central places around the Baltic Sea (Gräslund 2003, Kalmring 2015). A detailed, but so far not discussed, image of a dragon originates from the 11th to 12th century Ikškile hillfort at the lower reaches of the River Daugava, Latvia (Fig. 5). The image clearly represents a dragon with a crocodile-like snout, round nostrils, and overwhelming canines. It has served as a mount for a shaft with the diameter of 1.5 cm, and it still has a nail preserved, together with some yet not analysed organic material. Another piercing for the nail is through the cheek of the animal, which suggests that the bronze mounting was supposed to sit deep on the shaft. As indicated by the small diameter of the socket, it had decorated some light object. The dragon also occurs in the narrative sources of this region. Chronologically the example closest to bronze tooth pendants comes from the chronicle of Adam from Bremen from the 1070s–1080s. His statement concerns a large island in the Baltic, called Aestland, saying that the people there are like their neighbours, ‘Utterly ignorant of the God of the Christians’, whereas he goes on to specify that they adore dragons and other winged creatures (dracones adorant cum volucribus) and also sacriﬁce to them live men whom they buy from the merchants. These men are carefully inspected all over to see that they are without a bodily defect on Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 Real and ﬁctional zooarchaeology: a case study of bronze tooth pendants Fig. 5. A dragon-headed handle from Ikškile hillfort, lower reaches of the River Daugava, Latvia. The object is stored in the National History Museum of Latvia in Riga and is published by permission (VI 129: 271). account of which, they say, the dragons would reject them. (Adam of Bremen 2002, Book IV chapter 17). In Early Medieval Nordic literature the dragon often occurs in the context of describing non-Christians (Jonuks 2005). Thus, it seems most likely that, instead of describing the actual religion and (crypto)zoology of Eastern Baltic during the 11th century, the chronicler reﬂects the views of a Christian world towards the pagan, strange, and hostile East (see also Tamm & Jonuks in press). As the original mythology of Finland and the Eastern Baltic is not preserved from the Late Iron Age, it is difﬁcult to speculate if and how the supernatural snake or dragon was represented. However, in Kalevala mythology, witch Louhi turns herself to a winged dragon with iron claws. Still, this only suggests that the concept of dragon could have been known, but the context of 9 the mythological dragon Louhi (or Louhikäärme) is rather opposite to archaeological objects. While archaeological examples express the noble culture and bronze teeth (or claws) are on display, the Kalevala Louhi is clearly a creature antithetical to human culture. Accordingly, it is a stretch to see the Viking and Late Iron Age dragons to be (directly) connected with the Kalevala mythology. Moreover, there are several centuries separating the Iron Age and the recording of the Kalevala tradition from local peasant culture in the early 19th century. Thus, the bronze pendants represent not only a different time period, but also a different social system and world-view. The dragon has often been interpreted to be a speciﬁc animal; thus, it represents some evil form, partly inﬂuenced by the Norse mythology, and partly by Christian theology. Archaeological material, however, presents a different view. Oversized snakes and dragons are often associated with power and status in the Viking Age and in the medieval worldview (see Pluskowski 2013, Brunning 2015, for more details). Also, archaeological ﬁnds of dragon-headed handles seem to be associated predominantly with the nobility and power centres, where these have been proudly on display, thus telling a different story than later mythology or Christian theology. The association with power and high position in society can be extended also to other dangerous and supernatural creatures, such as eagles, hawks, and predatory animals, but most likely also to the sophisticated ornament, which often hides a snake or a dragon in it. Handles in the shape of birds of prey with hooked beaks and ears from different sites all around the Baltic Sea (Balodis 1939, p. 14; Kivikoski 1973, taf 139: 1224, Luik 2010b) can also be added to these. The ears behind eyes identify them not as ordinary eagles, but as grifﬁns, creatures that are most often depicted with an eagle’s face, but with ears . It seems as if no particular snake, animal, or bird species was important, but rather that the idea of Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 10 Tõnno Jonuks fearsome but noble birds of prey, dangerous predators, and mysterious dragons formed the same mental concept to symbolise wealth, position, power, and authority. This is a wider cultural framework in which the bronze tooth pendants ﬁt. Could it be that the unnatural animal heads were not part of handles, but rather some sort of staffs or position markers, which did not even have any practical function? It is interesting to note that dragonheaded staffs were also used in the mid11th–13th centuries to symbolise power in the greater Khurasan region in Persia (Kuehn, S. 2011, pp. 45, 116). The recently found Birka dragon has been interpreted to be a part of a decoration needle (Kalmring 2015, p. 61). Considering the diameter of only 1.5 cm of the shaft of the Ikškile dragon, it seems far too small for a handle (even of a whip). Similarly, the antler eagle or grifﬁn head from Lõhavere hillfort, possibly decorated with tin and gold or shiny stones in its eyes, has been interpreted as a handle of a whip (Luik 2010b). Due to a very small shaft hole, it seems difﬁcult to attach it to a handle and, thus, a purely decorative and symbolic function seems more likely. The dragon head of Ikškile could also be regarded as some decoration to mark the position of its owner, and the dragon from Birka as not just the tip of a decoration pin, but a position marker. Such decorations could well function as symbols of the common noble worldview in the Late Iron Age, forming a mental background where golden teeth, which do not copy any known animal exactly, appeared in wealthy female burials. This interpretation could be taken somewhat further: the purpose of the bronze teeth (as huge fangs are the most distinctive element of a dragon) was not to represent just some unearthly being, but certain moral and ideological values, shared by a common group. When examining the mythology where dragons exist, they are exclusively associated with wealth, prosperity, and richness. The dragon is not guarding treasures only in myths. Its appearance in medieval dreams was also interpreted as a sign of wealth and prosperity (Chardonnens 2015, p. 146). Probably the connection between wealth, social position, and noble moral values was the reason why the artiﬁcial golden canines, as the local interpretation of broad symbols, appeared in wealthy female graves in Finland and Livonia. CONCLUSIVE DISCUSSION When interpreting archaeozoological material, archaeologists with modern education and highly competent in biology tend to ascribe identiﬁcations emanating from their own world-view. This is the background from which reasonable and rational interpretations originate and, therefore, it is assumed that past people approached nature in a similar way. In addition, archaeologists also tend to look for and identify animal species that they value in the modern world. This has resulted in the over-emphasising of the bear in archaeological records, as it seems reasonable to assume that people in the past approached and valued the bear similarly to us. However, the way in which a man in the Late Iron Age (or any other period in the past) systematised nature and the environment could have been signiﬁcantly different. Rational zooarchaeology is justiﬁed for studying osseous material, but interpreting art objects forces us to understand past people’s worldview and moral values. Ignoring these can result in rational interpretations, which seem to be in accordance with our modern thinking, but may in fact be erroneous from the perspective of past culture. As discussed above, the traditional interpretation of bronze tooth pendants as representations of the bear hardly ﬁnds any proof. Apart from relatively speculative interpretations of those objects as artistic depictions of bear canines, further morphological similarities between bronze pendants and organic bear canines are missing. Some resemblances Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 Real and ﬁctional zooarchaeology: a case study of bronze tooth pendants can be found with canids or pigs. However, it could also be claimed that there is no exact prototype in nature. Perhaps the artiﬁcial nature of those pendants is the most essential aspect of these. The mythological origin of bronze tooth pendants is further suggested by the Ikškile dragon, representing a pair of front canines, in a way canines never appear in nature (see Fig. 5). The occurrence of bronze tooth pendants only in female graves has given credit to interpretations that stress fertility and female qualities connected with the bear (Asplund 2005, Kivisalo 2008). When examining tooth pendants in inhumations in general, they are all more numerously represented in female graves. Moreover, all sorts of pendants occur more often in female contexts (Zeiten 1997, Samdal 2000, Jensen 2010, Kurisoo 2012), which means that the occurrence of bronze tooth pendants in these contexts is only to be expected. It does not exclude interpretations related to the magical protection of females and infants, or the interpretation of some certain animal having a special meaning to humans, but demonstrates that a selection of certain pendants should not be interpreted separately from other ﬁnds. If considering other animal pendants and metal decorations, which are also represented commonly in female burials, the clear connection between the bear and the woman seems to lose its ground and its supportive argument. Still, one can only agree with Kivisalo (2008), who stresses that bronze tooth pendants have been found mostly in south-western Finland, followed by the lower reaches of the River Daugava, western Latvia. From the rest of the Northern Baltic area only single pendants are known. Despite other similarities in female decorations in Livonia, northern Estonia, and south-western Finland, the only two bronze tooth pendants from Estonia are most remarkable. The two core areas of south-western Finland and eastern Latvia are even more intriguing as pendants were used in different positions: at the 11 waist in Finnish inhumation contexts but attached to the decorative breast chain in Livonia. Considering the broader tradition of exhibiting pendants, it seems to refer to a fashion, but not to the deep semantics of fertility, protection, and other favourite phenomena used in archaeological interpretations. How does the different fashion associate with the usage of such similar pendants in otherwise distant regions? The lower reaches of the River Daugava represented one of the most important trade centres in the Eastern Baltic, linking together a suitable (over-wintering) harbour, connections along the eastern and southern coasts of the Baltic Sea to Germany, further to the north, to Finland, and along the River Daugava also to the mainland of the Baltics and central Russia. Such a long tradition of successful and wealthy long-range trading is probably the reason why merchants and crusaders from Germany ‘discovered’ this part of land, particularly in the 12th century. Thus, it may not be accidental that the two bronze tooth pendants from Estonia originate from the north-western part of the country – the location where the Gulf of Finland was crossed. It can be speculated that bronze tooth pendants symbolise links between two communities, the nobility of which had close contacts (see in more detail Pihlman 2005). South-western Finland probably became essential as controlling the trade further to the north and north-east, possibly particularly the fur trade, etc. Such a background indicates that bronze tooth pendants did not symbolise any common belief shared by the Finns and Livonians (and ignored by their neighbours), but denoted links between ruling families who shared common trading interests and represented centres controlling larger territories. The origin of pendants could be a most interesting question. Considering the large amount of pendants in south-western Finland, it seems reasonable to suppose that pendants were produced there and distributed thence. In-depth metallographic 12 Tõnno Jonuks Downloaded by [UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE LIBRARIES] at 07:03 25 October 2017 analyses, technological and contextual stylistic studies could offer new directions to be considered in the future. If the same provenance is really the case, further interpretations concerning gift-giving, kin relations, or establishing and declaring relations between distant communities could be used for elaborating further interpretations. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This article has been supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (IUT 22-5), and by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies). I am grateful to PhD Eve Rannamäe (University of Tartu) for her help in identifying animal species, PhD Sonja Hukantaival (University of Turku), and PhD students Tuuli Kurisoo (University of Kiel) and Kristiina Johanson (University of Tartu) for valuable discussion and comments to the draft of this paper. Two anonymous reviewers added useful comments to the text. Tiina Mällo and Piret Baumann revised the language of the article. FUNDING This work was supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Center of Excellence in Estonian Studies);Estonian Ministry of Education and Research [IUT 22-5]; DISCLOSURE STATEMENT No potential conﬂict of interest was reported by the author. ABBREVIATIONS AI, Archaeology collection at Tallinn University; VI, Archaeology collection at the Latvian National History Museum. ORCID Tõnno Jonuks 5128 http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8980- REFERENCES Adam of Bremen, 2002. History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen. Transl. F.J. 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