This flint Type II dagger is from Denmark. It dates to the Late Neolithic, ca. 4000-4250 BP.
The artefact in this model is actually a combination of two flint daggers which a collector has cleverly matched and combined. The two pieces are of nearly identical width and thickness, but they differ in flaking technology. The distal piece shows broad percussion-flaking scars and non-invasive pressure flaking. It is possible that both percussion flaking and pressure flaking were used to resharpen the dagger. On the proximal piece, the remnant part of the blade was resharpened by invasive pressure flaking with a slightly oblique orientation. The handle was produced by percussion flaking followed by pressure flaking. The raised centreline on both faces of the handle show use-wear polish.
A ‘dagger’ in European terminology is a pointed knife with cutting edges on both margins (by this definition, many of the bifaces from North America would be considered daggers). The earliest European bifacial flint daggers are stemmed, lanceolate, and side-notched examples from northern and central Italy, many made from southern Alpine flint. These early daggers are small, with most measuring between ca. 5-10 cm long. They emerged in the Late Neolithic by about 5600 BP, and are also found in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Small bifacial daggers continued to be manufactured well into the Copper Age in Italy, with larger, expertly-made ‘prestige’ daggers interred with the famous burials at Remedello cemetery, ca. 5000 BP. A small hafted bifacial stone dagger was carried by Ötzi, who died while crossing the Alps in ca. 5230 BP. Bifacial stone daggers overlap chronologically with daggers made on indirect percussion blades, a technology that originated in northwestern Greece and spread to production centres in Syria, Sardinia, Bulgaria, France, and Portugal.
The beaches of southern Scandinavia are covered in large nodules of fine-grained flint. Between ca. 3500-4350 years ago, flintknappers began making elaborate bifacial daggers from this rich resource, particularly in the main production centres in Jutland (Denmark) and Skåne (Sweden). Bifacial daggers were eventually produced in many parts of Europe where high-quality flint was available, but the largest and most complex forms were made by flintknappers in southern Scandinavia. These daggers occurred during the Late Neolithic transition between the Single Grave period and the Bell Beaker (Early Bronze Age) period, sometimes referred to as the Dolktid, or Dagger Period.
The earliest flint daggers in southern Scandinavia were elongated and leaf shaped, or ‘lanceolate’, and later daggers were made with a distinctive ‘fishtail’-shaped handle. Lanceolate daggers had a longer usage period and were far more common than the later fishtail daggers. One estimate is that about 10,000 lanceolate daggers are in known collections from southern Scandinavia, compared to about 1000 fishtail daggers. The lanceolate daggers are divided into three main types (Types I, II, and III, ca. 3950-4350 BP), with various subtypes, based on their workmanship and shape. Two main types of fishtail daggers are identified (Types IV and V, ca. 3600-3950 BP), also subdivided into variants. One type of dagger with a straight-sided handle (Type VI) continued into the Bronze Age, ca. 3500 BP. All of these dagger types show considerable skill in their manufacture, but some—particularly Type IV C-E daggers—are among the most complex stone tools ever produced. The Hindsgavl Dagger—a Type IV-D dagger—is considered a National Treasure of Denmark. It is on permanent display at the Danish National Museum, Copenhagen and, in 2009, an image of the Hindsgavl Dagger was printed on the 100 Kroner banknote. Lanceolate daggers were sometimes deposited in large caches, and burials throughout the Late Neolithic period often incorporated one or more flint daggers.
The blanks for Type II daggers were made by expert bifacial percussion flaking. Once the biface was thinned and reduced to the right size, the handle was manufactured. Since the handle was designed to be thicker than the blade, reduction at this end was done differently than the blade end. At the handle end, the biface was narrowed by percussion flaking in such a way that the handle grew narrow at about the same rate as it grew thin. The knappers were particularly concerned with producing a thick lenticular or roughly diamond-shaped cross section to the handle, and this was probably achieved by indirect percussion (punch flaking) in the handle-narrowing process. The indirect percussion technique can be carefully controlled so that the flakes end at the biface centreline, and this strategy can be used to transform a flat lenticular cross section into a roughly rectangular one. The edges and faces of the blade of Type II lanceolate daggers merge gracefully into the handle area in contrast to the more abrupt transition seen in Types III-V. However, the handle area on Type III daggers is markedly thicker relative to the blade, unlike the morphology of Type I daggers, which is relatively uniform from blade to handle. As such, Type III daggers form a morphological midpoint between Type I and Type III daggers. Type II daggers were frequently resharpened and the blade element often became equivalent in width to the handle prior to discard.