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Perfected Designs 1000 Years Ago? The Mastermyr Chest and the Timelessness of Everyday Tools

Saturday, March 11, 2017 18:57
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The Mastermyr Chest.

In archaeology, the most enduring and ubiquitous artifacts are often everyday items such as pots and simple tools. These items also tend to be used for the longest period of time. Even though the culture that first invented the tools might fade, the tools themselves may continue to be used for centuries or even millennia. A non-physical example of this would be the division of time into 60 minute hours and 60 second minutes. This was first done in ancient Sumer. Sumerian civilization ended 4000 years ago, but that custom of dividing time still lives on today. Another more concrete example of this would be the Mastermyr chest. The Mastermyr chest was found on the island of Gotland and contains a variety of tools, some of which are still used today in more or less the same form, though not always with the same function. It also contains tools that are very similar to Roman tools from the 3rd century AD, showing how Scandinavia was connected to Rome through trade.

Discovering the Mastermyr Chest

The chest was left in the mire of a lake around 1000 AD. The lake was drained between 1902 and 1910 and farmland was planted over it. In October 1936, the chest was found by a farmer named Hugo Kraft when his plow hit something hard. The chest is 89 cm (35.04 inches) long, 26 cm (10.24 inches) wide, and 24 cm (9.45 inches) high. It is locked with a chain and a padlock – which is described as surprisingly modern in appearance. Inside the chest, there is an assortment of tools, hammer heads, tongs, adzes, drawknives, keys, and locks. The locks and keys bear a resemblance to those of Roman design. – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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