Axelike iron bar

Early Middle Ages
the second half of the ninth century
ul. Kanoniczna 13
Length: 270-410mm
Width: 40-70mm
Before maintenance: 0.35-1.75kg
After maintenance: 0.27-1.5kg
High phosphorus iron

Bars, also known as ‘płacidła’ [proto-currency], are narrow elongated iron bars with a blade on one end and a small hole on the other. A majority of them were forged off a single piece of metal. In such a form they were easy way to transport and store the material. They were used by smiths working far away from iron ore deposits and smelting centres. The bars were very valuable. They could be used as a currency in many transactions.

The bar on display is part of a treasure discovered in the cellar of a Krakow townhouse in 1979 [nineteen seventy nine]. The treasure trove contained more then four thousand bars with the total weight over three and a half tons. In the early Middle Ages the treasure was worth several kilograms of gold.

An iron bar originating from the 2nd half of the 9th century. It was formed by forging and welding. It is approx. 30 centimetres long. It is seven centimetres wide at the widest point and four at the narrowest.
The bar is long and narrow. Its surface is rough and its sides are nicked. It is narrower and thicker at one end and thinner and wider at the other. The thicker side features a hole. The wider end is flattened. The bar’s form is reminiscent of an axe. Which is why archaeologists call it ‘axelike’.
Bars were extremely valuable. They were used to pay for other goods. This is why they were called ‘płacidła’ (proto-currency). Blacksmiths used them to forge tools.
The bar is part of a treasure discovered in 1979 in the cellar of a townhouse at 13, Kanonicza Street in Krakow. The treasure trove contained more than four thousand ingots with the total weight over three and a half tonnes. This was an equivalent of several kilograms of gold or a herd of three hundred cattle. In the treasure, they were combined in bunches of several pieces. They were tied with a cord threaded through the holes.
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