Museum of Archaeology

Bronze Age Handling Box

Original and Replica Objects

National Museum of Ireland

What is Archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of human history and prehistory through the investigation and analysis of human and material remains, artefacts and monuments.

What is an Artefact?

Artefact is the term used to describe any portable object that was made and used by people in the past. Artefacts are used by archaeologists as the primary source of evidence to investigate and understand the material culture of past societies. Archaeologists must work with the knowledge that evidence is often missing due to the loss and destruction of fragile artefacts.

What is a Replica Object?

The term ‘replica object’ is used to describe replicas of original artefacts. The Bronze Handling Box contains high quality, hand-crafted replica objects of artefacts which are on display in the Museum of Archaeology. These tell the story of the Bronze Age in Ireland.

How do artefacts find their way into the Museum’s Collections?

Artefacts can be discovered either in the course of a licensed excavation by an archaeologist or accidentally by a member of the public. All excavations, including metal detecting, carried out for the purpose of seeking archaeological objects, must be carried out under license issued by the National Museum of Ireland and the National Monuments Service.

What do I do if I discover an artefact?

The National Monuments Act (Amendment) 1987 (further amended in 1994 and 2004) places a legal obligation upon a person who discovers an archaeological object to report such discoveries to the National Museum of Ireland within four days. The National Museum of Ireland is legally obliged to care for these artefacts or to delegate care of the artefact to a designated museum. Rewards may be paid to finders in respect of discoveries. Objects can also be purchased by or gifted to the National Museum of Ireland.

What happens when an artefact becomes part of the National Museum of Ireland’s Collections?

All artefacts are documented by the Registration Department and accessioned into the National Museum of Ireland’s Collection. The Conservation Department cares for, preserves and investigates the National Museum of Ireland’s collections in a variety of ways:

  • Preventive Conservation involves the preservation of objects by eliminating agents from the area where they are kept that are likely to cause them damage.
  • Remedial Conservation includes the treatment of objects which can involve cleaning of items, strengthening fragile objects or revealing surface decoration.
  • Investigative Conservation involves using scientific investigation of the artefacts to gain an insight into their manufacture and history.

Where can I see the original artefacts?

At the Museum of Archaeology you can discover the original artefacts which inspired the replica objects found in the Bronze Age Handling Box. You can also see one of Europe’s best collections of Bronze Age gold artefacts and many other wonderful artefacts during your visit.

The Bronze Age Handling Box Resource Project was developed by: