Bronze Age Europe

The European Bronze Age is characterized by bronze artifacts and the use of bronze implements. The regional Bronze Age succeeds the Neolithic. It starts with the Aegean Bronze Age in 3200 BC[1] (succeeded by the Beaker culture), and spans the entire 2nd millennium BC (Unetice culture, Tumulus culture, Terramare culture, Urnfield culture and Lusatian culture) in Northern Europe, lasting until c. 600 BC.

Diffusion métallurgie

Diffusion of metallurgy in Europe.

Beaker culture diffusion

Generalized distribution of the Beaker culture in the Early Bronze Age.

Europe middle bronze age

A simplified map of archaeological cultures of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1500-1400 BC).

Europe late bronze age

Europe in the Late Bronze Age.

History

MaskOfAgamemnon
Gold 'Mask of Agamemnon', Greece, 1550 BC.

Aegean

The Aegean Bronze Age begins around 3200 BC[1] when civilizations first established a far-ranging trade network. This network imported tin and charcoal to Cyprus, where copper was mined and alloyed with the tin to produce bronze. Bronze objects were then exported far and wide and supported the trade. Isotopic analysis of the tin in some Mediterranean bronze objects indicates it came from as far away as Great Britain.

Knowledge of navigation was well developed at this time and reached a peak of skill not exceeded until a method was discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) to determine longitude around AD 1750, with the notable exception of the Polynesian sailors.

The Minoan civilization based on Knossos, Crete, appears to have coordinated and defended its Bronze Age trade. One crucial lack in this period was that modern methods of accounting were not available. The eruption of Thera, which according to archaeological data occurred in c. 1500 BC, resulted in the decline of the Minoan.[2] This turn of events gave the opportunity to the Mycenaeans to spread their influence throughout the Aegean. Around c. 1450 BC, they were in control of Crete itself and colonized several other Aegean islands, reaching as far as Rhodes.[3] Thus the Mycenaeans became the dominant power of the region, marking the beginning of the Mycenaean 'Koine' era (from Greek: Κοινή, common), a highly uniform culture that spread in mainland Greece and the Aegean.[4] The Mycenaean Greeks introduced several innovations in the fields of engineering, architecture and military infrastructure, while trade over vast areas of the Mediterranean was essential for the Mycenaean economy. Their syllabic script, the Linear B, offers the first written records of the Greek language and their religion already included several deities that can be also found in the Olympic Pantheon. Mycenaean Greece was dominated by a warrior elite society and consisted of a network of palace states that developed rigid hierarchical, political, social and economic systems. At the head of this societies was the king, known as wanax.[5]

Italy

The Italian Bronze Age is conditionally divided into four periods: The Early Bronze Age (2300–1700 B.C), The Middle Bronze Age (1700–1350 B.C), The Recent Bronze Age (1350–1150 B.C), The Final Bronze Age (1150–950 B.C).[6]

During the second millennium BC, the Nuragic civilization flourished in the island of Sardinia. It was a rather homogeneous culture, more than 7000 imposing stone tower-buildings known as Nuraghe were built by this culture all over the island, along with other types of monuments such as the megaron temples, the monumental Giants' graves and the holy well temples. Sanctuaries and larger settlements were also built starting from the late second millennium BC to host these religious structures along with other structures such ritual pools, fountains and tanks, large stone roundhouses with circular benches used for the meeting of the leaders of the chiefdoms and large public areas. Bronze tools and weapons were widespread and their quality increased thanks to the contacts between the Nuragic people and Eastern Mediterranean peoples such as the Cypriots, the lost waxing technique was introduced to create several hundred bronze statuettes and other tools. The Nuragic civilization survived throughout the early iron age when the sanctuaries were still in use, stone statues were crafted and some Nuraghi were reused as temples.

Caucasus

DO-6663-To bronzesværd

Bronze Age swords from Denmark

Nebra Scheibe

The Nebra sky disk (c. 1600 BC) (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany)

Cône d'Avanton, musée des Antiquités Nationales, 2010-03-26

Avanton gold cone, western France.

Zakros bull's head rhyton archnmus Heraklion

Minoan bull's head Rhyton, Crete, 1500 BC

Nuragic figurine, Sardinia

MoldCape 2012

Mold cape, Britain, c.1900-1700 BC

The Maykop culture was the major early Bronze Age culture in the North Caucasus. Some scholars date arsenical bronze artifacts in the region as far back as the mid-4th millennium BC.[7]

Eastern Europe

The Yamnaya culture[8] was a late copper age/early Bronze Age culture dating to the 36th–23rd centuries BC. The culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers and a few hill-forts.

The Catacomb culture, covering several related archaeological cultures, was first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and showed a profuse use of the polished battle ax, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamnaya culture and succeeded by the western Corded Ware culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded by the Srubna culture from c. the 17th century BC.

Central Europe

Important sites include:

In Central Europe, the early Bronze Age Unetice culture (1800–1600 BC) includes numerous smaller groups like the Straubingen, Adlerberg and Hatvan cultures. Some very rich burials, such as the one located at Leubingen (today part of Sömmerda) with grave gifts crafted from gold, point to an increase of social stratification already present in the Unetice culture. All in all, cemeteries of this period are rare and of small size. The Unetice culture is followed by the middle Bronze Age (1600–1200 BC) Tumulus culture, which is characterized by inhumation burials in tumuli (barrows). In the eastern Hungarian Körös tributaries, the early Bronze Age first saw the introduction of the Makó culture, followed by the Otomani and Gyulavarsánd cultures.

The late Bronze Age Urnfield culture (1300–700 BC) is characterized by cremation burials. It includes the Lusatian culture in eastern Germany and Poland (1300-500 BC) that continues into the Iron Age. The Central European Bronze Age is followed by the Iron Age Hallstatt culture (700-450 BC).

Northern Europe

In northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Bronze Age cultures manufactured many distinctive and artistic artifacts. This includes lur horns, horned ceremonial helmets, sun discs, gold jewelry and some unexplained finds like the bronze "gong" from Balkåkra in Sweden. Some linguists believe that an early Indo-European language was introduced to the area probably around 2000 BC, which eventually became Proto-Germanic, the last common ancestor of the Germanic languages. This would fit with the apparently unbroken evolution of the Nordic Bronze Age into the most probably ethnolinguistically Germanic Pre-Roman Iron Age.

The age is divided into the periods I-VI, according to Oscar Montelius. Period Montelius V, already belongs to the Iron Age in other regions.

Britain

In Great Britain, the Bronze Age is considered to have been the period from around 2100 to 700 BC. Immigration brought new people to the islands from the continent. Recent tooth enamel isotope research on bodies found in early Bronze Age graves around Stonehenge indicate that at least some of the immigrants came from the area of modern Switzerland. The Beaker people displayed different behaviors from the earlier Neolithic people and cultural change was significant. Integration is thought to have been peaceful as many of the early henge sites were seemingly adopted by the newcomers. The rich Wessex culture developed in southern Britain at this time. Additionally, the climate was deteriorating; where once the weather was warm and dry it became much wetter as the Bronze Age continued, forcing the population away from easily defended sites in the hills and into the fertile valleys. Large livestock ranches developed in the lowlands which appear to have contributed to economic growth and inspired increasing forest clearances. The Deverel-Rimbury culture began to emerge in the second half of the 'Middle Bronze Age' (c. 1400–1100 BC) to exploit these conditions. Cornwall was a major source of tin for much of western Europe and copper was extracted from sites such as the Great Orme mine in northern Wales. Social groups appear to have been tribal but with growing complexity and hierarchies becoming apparent.

Also, the burial of dead (which until this period had usually been communal) became more individual. For example, whereas in the Neolithic a large chambered cairn or long barrow was used to house the dead, the 'Early Bronze Age' saw people buried in individual barrows (also commonly known and marked on modern British Ordnance Survey maps as Tumuli), or sometimes in cists covered with cairns.

The greatest quantities of bronze objects found in England were discovered in East Cambridgeshire, where the most important finds were done in Isleham (more than 6500 pieces).[9]

Atlantic Europe

The Atlantic Bronze Age is a cultural complex of the Bronze Age period of approximately 1300–700 BC that includes different cultures in Portugal, Andalusia, Galicia, France, Britain, and Ireland and is marked by economic and cultural exchange that led to the high degree of cultural similarity exhibited by coastal communities, including the frequent use of stones as chevaux-de-frise, the establishment of cliff castles, or the domestic architecture sometimes characterized by the round houses. Commercial contacts extended from Sweden and Denmark to the Mediterranean. The period was defined by a number of distinct regional centres of metal production, unified by a regular maritime exchange of some of their products. The major centres were southern England and Ireland, north-western France, and western Iberia.

The Bronze Age in Ireland commenced in the centuries around 2000 BC when copper was alloyed with tin and used to manufacture Ballybeg type flat axes and associated metalwork. The preceding period is known as the Copper Age and is characterised by the production of flat axes, daggers, halberds and awls in copper. The period is divided into three phases: Early Bronze Age 2000-1500 BC; Middle Bronze Age 1500-1200 BC and Late Bronze Age 1200-c. 500 BC. Ireland is also known for a relatively large number of Early Bronze Age Burials.[10][11]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Ancient Greece". British Museum. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
  2. ^ Chadwick, John (1976). The Mycenaean World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-521-29037-6..
  3. ^ Tartaron, Thomas F. (2013). Maritime Networks in the Mycenaean World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 28. ISBN 9781107067134..
  4. ^ Schofield, Louise (2006). The Mycenaeans. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 75. ISBN 9780892368679..
  5. ^ Castleden, Rodney (2005). The Mycenaeans. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 2, 228–235. ISBN 0-415-36336-5.
  6. ^ Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1000: An Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World, Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1000: An Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World (2003). Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1000: An Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World (PDF). Charles Scribner & Sons. ISBN 978-0684806686.
  7. ^ Douglas Q. Adams (January 1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. pp. 372–374. ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5.
  8. ^ Also known as Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture
  9. ^ Hall, David (1994). Fenland survey : an essay in landscape and persistence / David Hall and John Coles. London; English Heritage. ISBN 1-85074-477-7., p. 81-88
  10. ^ Waddell, J. 1998. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland. Galway.
  11. ^ Eogan, G. 1983. The Hoards of the Irish Later Bronze Age. Dublin
10th century BC

The 10th century BC started the first day of 1000 BC and ended the last day of 901 BC. This period followed the Late Bronze Age collapse in the Near East, and the century saw the Early Iron Age take hold there. The Greek Dark Ages which had come about in 1200 BC continued. The Neo-Assyrian Empire is established towards the end of the 10th century BC. In the Iron Age in India, the Vedic period is ongoing. In China, the Zhou dynasty is in power. Bronze Age Europe continued with Urnfield culture. Japan was inhabited by an evolving hunter-gatherer society during the Jōmon period.

1st millennium BC

The 1st millennium BC is the period of time between from the year 1000 BC to 1 BC (10th to 1st centuries BC; in astronomy: JD 1356182.5 – 1721425.5).

It encompasses the Iron Age in the Old World and sees the transition from the Ancient Near East to classical antiquity.

World population roughly doubled over the course of the millennium,

from about 100 million to about 200–250 million.

Andiron

An andiron or firedog, fire-dog or fire dog is a bracket support, normally found in pairs, on which logs are laid for burning in an open fireplace, so that air may circulate under the firewood, allowing better burning and less smoke. They generally consist of a tall vertical element at the front, with at least two legs. This stops the logs from rolling out into the room, and may be highly decorative. The other element is one or more low horizontal pieces stretching back and serving to hold the logs off the bottom of the fireplace.Iron was the natural material for andirons, but from the Renaissance onwards the front vertical element was increasingly given decorative treatment, and was in a different metal, such as brass, bronze or silver, which allowed casting, hugely increasing the range of decorative possibilities. Andirons, with firebacks, were one of the first types of object to be commonly made in cast iron, which in England began in the 1540s. Until the 19th century cast iron was too brittle for many uses, but andirons carried little loads and this was not a problem. From the 18th century fireplaces increasingly had built-in metal grates to hold the firewood, or the coal now increasingly used, up off the floor and in place, thus largely removing the need for andirons. However they were often still kept, for decorative reasons, and sometimes as a place to rest pokers, tongs and other fire implements.

They are sometimes called a dog or dog-iron. In older periods andirons were used as a rest for a roasting spit; and sometimes included a cup-shaped top to hold porridge. Sometimes, smaller pairs were placed between the main andirons for smaller fires. These are called "creepers".

Bronze Age in Romania

The Bronze Age is a period in the Prehistoric Romanian timeline and is sub-divided into Early Bronze Age (c. 3500–2200 BCE), Middle Bronze Age (c.2200–1600/1500 BCE), and Late Bronze Age (c. 1600/1500–1100 BCE).

Chamber tomb

A chamber tomb is a tomb for burial used in many different cultures. In the case of individual burials, the chamber is thought to signify a higher status for the interree than a simple grave. Built from rock or sometimes wood, the chambers could also serve as places for storage of the dead from one family or social group and were often used over long periods for multiple burials.

Most chamber tombs were constructed from large stones or megaliths and covered by cairns, barrows or earth. Some chamber tombs are rock-cut monuments or wooden-chambered tombs covered with earth barrows. Grave goods are a common characteristic of chamber tomb burials.

In Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe, stone-built examples of these burials are known by the generic term of megalithic tombs. Chamber tombs are often distinguished by the layout of their chambers and entrances or the shape and material of the structure that covered them, either an earth barrow or stone cairn. A wide variety of local types has been identified, and some designs appear to have influenced others.

Filitosa

Filitosa is a megalithic site in southern Corsica, France. The period of occupation spans from the end of the Neolithic era and the beginning of the Bronze Age, until around the Roman times in Corsica.

Golden hat

Golden hats (or Gold hats) (German: Goldhüte, singular: Goldhut) are a very specific and rare type of archaeological artifact from Bronze Age Europe. So far, four such objects ("cone-shaped gold hats of the Schifferstadt type") are known. The objects are made of thin sheet gold and were attached externally to long conical and brimmed headdresses which were probably made of some organic material and served to stabilise the external gold leaf. The following Golden Hats are known as of 2012:

Golden Hat of Schifferstadt, found in 1835 at Schifferstadt near Speyer, c. 1400–1300 BC.

Avanton Gold Cone, incomplete, found at Avanton near Poitiers in 1844, c. 1000–900 BC.

Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, found near Ezelsdorf near Nuremberg in 1953, c. 1000–900 BC; the tallest known specimen at c. 90 cm.

Berlin Gold Hat, found probably in Swabia or Switzerland, c. 1000–800 BC; acquired by the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Berlin, in 1996.

Grave field

A grave field is a prehistoric cemetery, typically of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe.

Grave fields are distinguished from necropoleis by the former's lack of above-ground structures, buildings, or grave markers.

Hillfort

A hillfort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage. They are typically European and of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Some were used in the post-Roman period. The fortification usually follows the contours of a hill, consisting of one or more lines of earthworks, with stockades or defensive walls, and external ditches. Hillforts developed in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age, roughly the start of the first millennium BC, and were used in many Celtic areas of central and western Europe until the Roman conquest.

Megalithic art

Megalithic art refers to the use of large stones as an artistic medium. Although some modern artists and sculptors make use of large stones in their work, the term is more generally used to describe art carved onto megaliths in prehistoric Europe.

Megalithic art is found in many places in Western Europe although the main concentrations are in Malta, Ireland, Brittany and Iberia. Megalithic art started in the Neolithic and continued into the Bronze Age. Although many monument types received this form of art the majority is carved on Neolithic passage graves. Megalithic art tends to be highly abstract and contains relatively few representations of recognisable real objects. Megalithic art is often similar to prehistoric rock art and contains many similar motifs such as the 'cup and ring mark', although the two forms of rock carving also have large stylistic differences. The meaning of megalithic art is the subject of much debate.

Weathering and vandalism have affected many examples of the art and little of it remains to day.

Nordwestblock

The Nordwestblock ("Northwest Block") is a hypothetical Northwestern European cultural region that several scholars propose as a prehistoric culture in the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and northwestern Germany, in an area approximately bounded by the Somme, Oise, Meuse and Elbe Rivers, possibly extending to the eastern part of what is now England, during the Bronze and Iron Ages from the 3rd to the 1st millennia BCE, up to the onset of historical sources, in the 1st century BCE.

The theory was first proposed by two authors working independently: Hans Kuhn and Maurits Gysseling, whose proposal included research indicating that another language may have existed somewhere in between Germanic and Celtic in the Belgian region.The term Nordwestblock itself was coined by Hans Kuhn, who considered the inhabitants of the area neither Germanic nor Celtic and so attributed it to the people a distinct ethnicity or culture up to the Iron Age.

Old European hydronymy

Old European (German: Alteuropäisch) is the term used by Hans Krahe (1964) for the language of the oldest reconstructed stratum of European hydronymy (river names) in Central and Western Europe.

Palstave

A palstave is a type of early bronze axe. It was common in the middle Bronze Age in northern, western and south-western Europe. In the technical sense, although precise definitions differ, an axe is generally deemed to be a palstave if it is hafted by means of a forked wooden handle kept in place with high, cast flanges and stop bar. The axe should be much thicker on the blade side of the stop bar than the hafting side (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, 115). In these respects, it is very close, but distinct from, earlier 'flanged axes'. Palstaves were cast in bivalve moulds made of clay, stone or bronze.

The archaeologist John Evans (1881, 72) popularized the term 'palstave' in English following Danish archaeologists who borrowed the term from Icelandic: paalstab. Confusingly, a paalstab is not an axe, but a digging tool. However, the term had become so common with Scandinavian and German archaeologists that Evans thought it best to follow suit.

Pliers

Pliers are a hand tool used to hold objects firmly, possibly developed from tongs used to handle hot metal in Bronze Age Europe. They are also useful for bending and compressing a wide range of materials. Generally, pliers consist of a pair of metal first-class levers joined at a fulcrum positioned closer to one end of the levers, creating short jaws on one side of the fulcrum, and longer handles on the other side. This arrangement creates a mechanical advantage, allowing the force of the hand's grip to be amplified and focused on an object with precision. The jaws can also be used to manipulate objects too small or unwieldy to be manipulated with the fingers.

Pincers are a similar tool with a different type of head used for cutting and pulling, rather than squeezing. Tools designed for safely handling hot objects are usually called tongs. Special tools for making crimp connections in electrical and electronic applications are often called "crimping pliers"; each type of connection uses its own dedicated tool.

There are many kinds of pliers made for various general and specific purposes.

Pre-Celtic

The pre-Celtic period in the prehistory of Central and Western Europe occurred before the expansion of the Celts or their culture in Iron Age Europe and Anatolia (9th to 6th centuries BC), but after the emergence of the Proto-Celtic language and cultures. The area involved is that of the maximum extent of the Celtic languages in about the mid 1st century BC. The extent to which Celtic language, culture and genetics coincided and interacted during this period remains very uncertain and controversial.

Prehistoric religion

Prehistoric religions are the religious beliefs and practices of prehistoric peoples. The term may cover Paleolithic religion, Mesolithic religion, Neolithic religion and Bronze Age religions.

Shaft tomb

A shaft tomb or shaft grave is a type of deep rectangular burial structure, similar in shape to the much shallower cist grave, containing a floor of pebbles, walls of rubble masonry, and a roof constructed of wooden planks.

Stone row

A stone row (or stone alignment), is a linear arrangement of upright, parallel megalithic standing stones set at intervals along a common axis or series of axes, usually dating from the later Neolithic or Bronze Age. Rows may be individual or grouped, and three or more stones aligned can constitute a stone row.

Sun cross

A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross is a solar symbol consisting of an equilateral cross inside a circle.

The design is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods of European prehistory. The symbol's ubiquity and apparent importance in prehistoric religion have given rise to its interpretation as a solar symbol, whence the modern English term "sun cross" (a calque of German: Sonnenkreuz).

The same symbol is in use as a modern astronomical symbol representing the Earth rather than the Sun.

The symbol can be depicted using Unicode as U+1F728 🜨 ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR VERDIGRIS. The characters U+2295 ⊕ CIRCLED PLUS and U+2A01 ⨁ N-ARY CIRCLED PLUS OPERATOR are similar in appearance but represent mathematical operators.

Bronze Age
Bronze Age
(North Caucasus
and Transcaucasia)
Prehistory
Classical antiquity
Middle Ages
Early modern
Modern
See also

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