The Spearhead, chapter II: The development of the socketed spearhead 2200-1600 B.C:

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The first socketed spearheads appeared somewhere between 2300-2000 B.C. in a large area from the Levant, via Caucasus to the forest-steppe region west of the Ural. It is difficult to find reliable excamples of pre-2000 B.C. (Early Bronze Age) specimens in the Near East. Burial 1101 at Megiddo is one, dated to the end of the EBA. There are also two quite developed specimens from Ugarit (Chambre E-F, EBA III). The Trialeti culture of Transcaucasus is considered to be a zone of early innovation towards socketed spearheads. It is not entirely clear how numerous they were in the first part of the Trialeti sequence (phase I and II, 2500-2000 B.C.). At present socketed spearheads seem to be both earlier and more common in the Ural area, the forest-steppe culture of Fatyanovo and Balano and the Poltavka cuture. From these, probably, the spearheads of the Abashevo (2500-1850 B.C.) and Sintashta culture (2100-1800 B.C) were developed, also before 2000 B.C.

Map showing the distribution of socketed spearhead before 2000 B.C. Green designates areas in the forest-steppe zone, yellow in the steppe zone.

Bolshoi Bodyrevsky burial from Poltavka (or late Pit-Grave) horizon, with early socketed spearhead and two iron objects (Koryakova & Epimakhov 2007)

Spearheads from the Fatyanovo and Balanovo cultures.

Method of production of early socketed spearheads (from El Morr 2011).

Early Bronze Age spearhead from Megiddo burial 1101.


Early Bronze Age spearheads from Ugarit, Chambre E-F (Schaeffer 1962)

Early Bronze Age spearheads from Ugarit, «poche aux
bronze» (Schaeffer 1962)


Spearheads from the North Caucasian culture (from Chernykh 1992).

Spearhead from Sintashta burial 30 (Kohl 2007)


Left: Diagram showing the likely method of production of the more developed spearheads with split-sockets (from El Morr 2011).


Surprisingly, while the spearhead with split-socket is still a novelty west of the Ural, and in the Near East, spearheads with a full cast socket appear in the Minusisk basin in the Altai foothills to the far east. This is seen in the Moseikha burial within the Okunevo culture. This is an important clue to the origin of the more famous full-socketed spearheads of the subsequent Seima-Turbino horizon in this area.



Left: Spearhead from Moiseikha, Okunevo culture in the Minusinsk basin, full cast socket, before 2000 B.C. (from Chernykh 1992)

2000-1750 B.C. in the Near East

The spearhead with split socket now gains popularity in the Near East and seems to replace the earlier tanged variants in many regions. This is best seen in the Levant, particulary at Byblos and Ugarit. At Byblos production exploded around 2000 B.C., and c. 480 weapons were deposited mainly between 2000 and 1750 B.C. Socketed spearheads with split socket are among the principal categories at both Byblos and Ugarit. The spearhead with split-socket, without a base collar, was to remain the main type of spearhead in the Levant until the Iron Age. The use of a base collar is attested on at least three MBA spearheads from Ugarit - but the majority does not have such collars.



Left:Socketed spearheads with base collars from Ugarit, Middle Bronze Age (right, Schaeffer 1939).

Socketed spearheads from Middle and Late Bronze Age Ugarit (Schaeffer 1962)

Left: Spearheads with split sockets from the Trialeti culture (phase III) of Transcaucasus, c. 2000-1750 B.C. Notice number 1 and 2 with base collars from gold and silver.


The Seima-Turbino and the spread of spearheads with cast sockets 2000 - 1700 B.C.

(To be continued...)

The spearheads of the early Myceneans 1750-

(To be continued...)



The Bronze Age Spearhead Series includes five items from this stage.

No. 5 Byblos/Ugarit

(Near East, split socket)




(Transcaucasus, split socket)




(Uralian steppe, split socket)



(Seima-Turbino culture, cast socket)



(Mycenae S-G IV, Greece, c. 1650 B.C.)



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El Morr, Z. 2011: LA METALLURGIE DU LEVANT AU BRONZE MOYEN A TRAVERS LES ARMES. PhD, Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3.

Schaeffer C.F.A. 1962: Les fondements préhistoriques d’Ugarit» in Ugaritica, IV, Paul Geuthner, Paris