Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Warrior graves reconsidered: metal, power and identity in Copper Age Italy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrea Dolfini



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The article proposes a new interpretation of Chalcolithic and early Bronze Age warrior graves grounded in the ‘Rinaldone’ burial tradition of central Italy, 4th and 3rd millennia BC. In European archaeology, warrior graves are frequently thought to signal the rise of sociopolitical inequality rooted in metal wealth. The work questions the empirical and conceptual foundations of this reading, arguing that, in early Europe, copper was not as rare and valuable as it is often presumed to be; that metalworking did not demand uniquely complex skills; and that metal-rich burials cannot be interpreted in light of modernising ideas of identity. It is argued instead that the key to decoding prehistoric warrior graves lies in context-specific notions of gender, age, and the life course. In particular, life and death circumstances including violence (both inflicted and suffered) would determine why certain individuals were laid to rest with lavish weapon assemblages.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dolfini A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: World Archaeology

Year: 2022

Volume: 53

Issue: 5

Pages: 809-833

Online publication date: 08/02/2022

Acceptance date: 21/04/2021

Date deposited: 11/05/2021

ISSN (print): 0043-8243

ISSN (electronic): 1470-1375

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2021.2013307


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric