||In 2015 Earle et al. published a paper on metal trade and its correlation to the proliferation of the elite in Europe during the Bronze Age. Earle et al. pose that deposits of metal, in the form of hoards and burials, correlate with bottlenecks in these supra-regional trading networks (Earle et al. 2015, 639). Social stratification would emerge when one was able to control the trading route of bronze or the commodities exchanged for bronze (Earle et al. 2015, 634).
The research question of this thesis is therefore: What is the contribution of the model of Earle et al. (2015) to the investigation on how metal exchange, modelled through metal finds, informs on elite proliferation during the Bronze Age.
This thesis scrutinizes the model of Earle et al. by analysing metal finds and their distribution across various case studies spread over Europe during the Early- and Middle Bronze Age. The research focuses on testing whether the distribution of metal finds follows the characteristics of Earle et al. (2015) theory. This study combines finds from several catalogues and articles to provide an unprecedented overview of the archaeological record of more than 25.000 finds found between almost 900 sites spread over Brittany (France), Carpathian Basin (Hungary), Thisted Amt (Denmark), the coast of Holland, and West-Frisia (The Netherlands).
The investigation within this thesis showed that only one out of the six bottlenecks proposed by Earle et al. were fit for further investigation. The research into this bottleneck revealed that metal deposits were not preferentially associated with this bottleneck and that it contained a circular argument. The investigation also found a plethora of fallacies within the model of Earle et al. (2015).
The conclusion of this thesis is therefore that the model of Earle et al. does not contribute much to the investigation on how metal exchange, modelled through metal finds, informs on elite proliferation during the Bronze Age. The main reason for this is the inability of the model to be checked, or used to predict, observations within the archaeological record. The model of Earle et al. does not contribute any analytical tools to research metal deposits and their perceived association with the proliferation of the elite in the Bronze Age.