The Chronology Of The Bronze Age In Europe

Actual dates in years can only be ascertained by means of historical documents, and therefore no chronology of the ages of Stone, Bronze, and Iron is possible except where contact can be established between the prehistoric (or non-historic) races living in those stages of culture n Northern and Cenrral Europe, and the more advanced civilisations on the shores of the Mediterranean and :n Asia. Long before direct contact took place between the northern barbarians and the Egyptians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and other great nations of antiquity, through invasions or immigrations, a more indirect contact must have existed for centuries, owing to the trade in such things as amber, gold, bronze, and tin. Dates have been lixcd approximately by the finding of imported objects in different countries, and by studying their geographical distribution. Other almost untouched fields of investigation which would help to solve many of the problems of prehistoric chronology, are the migration of symbols and patterns and comparative ornament.

The attempts that have been made to fix the duration of the Ages of Stone and Bronze in actual years are at the. best mere guesses, but it may be worth while stating the conclusions arrived at by some of the leading European archaeologists, so as to give a rough idea of the time at which bronze was in use for the manufacture of implements and weapons in different countries.

Egypt during the greater part of its existence as a civilised nation was in the Bronze Age. The copper mines of the Sinaitic peninsula wrere worked as early as the Fourth Dynasty, as is proved by the rock inscriptions of Sneferu (b.c. 3998-3969) at Wadv Mag-hera.1 Bronze was certainly used by the ancient Egyptians in the fourteenth century b.c., and in the tomb of Queen Aah Hotep, although bronze weapons were found, iron was conspicuous by its absence, indicating that the latter metal had not come into general use in the fifteenth century b.c.

The Mycenaewi civilisation in the .¿Rgear. was of the Bronze Age, and Prof. Flinders Petrie places its flourishing period at about 1400 b.c.2 Bronze continued in use in Greece until the time of the Dorian invasion, b.c. 800.

In dealing with the local centres of the bronze industry, Prof. Boyd Dawkins' recognises three distinct local centres in Europe.

(1) The Uralian, or Eastern—Russia.

(2) The Danubian, or Northern and Central—Scandinavia, Hungary.

(3) The Mediterranean, or Southern — Greece, Italy, France, Switzer'and.

Dr. Oscar Montelius4 gives the following tentative dates for the duration of the Bronze Age in these areas:—

1 Petrie's Hist, of Egypt, vol. i., p. Article on "The Age of

Bronze in Egypt," in L'Anthropologic for January, 1890, translated hi the Smithsonian Report for 1890, p. ^09.

4 Maierianx puur Vhistoire prirritive de I'komme, pp. 108-113.

The Caucasus.—The Massagete were, according to Herodotus, still using bronze in the sixth century b.c.

Greece.--Bronze Age civilisation of Mycenae, 1400 to 1000 b.c.

Italy.—Terramare of Bronze Age, twelfth century b.c. Iron introduced in ninth or eighth century b.c.

Scandinavia and Germany.—Bronze Age begun in fifteenth century b.c., and ended in fifth century b.c.

Worsaae1 places the beginning of the Bronze Age in Scandinavia five centuries later than Montelius, i.e. IOOO B.C.

l)r. Naue2 dates the Bronze Age in LTpper Bavaria, from 1400 B.C. to 900 B.C.

As regards Great Britain, there is no reason for supposing that the Brythonie Celts of the Early Iron Age arrived in this country much before B.C. 300, which date would terminate the Bronze Age, at all events ro southern England. The date of the beginning of the Bronze Age ii Britain can only be surmised. If, as we hope to be able to prove, much of the art of that period here can be traced to a Mycenaean origin there is no reason w hy the Bronze Age in Britain should not have commenced shortly after the spiralmotive patterns were transferred from ancient Egypt to the JEgean, say, about 1400 B.C., and thence to Hungary, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe. It is not impossible, nay, it is even probable, that the Bronze Age may have lasted a thousand years in Britain, beginning B.C. 1300, and end; lg B.C. 300.

1 The Industrial Arts »f Denmark, p. 41.

s Dr. Arthur Evans' review of Dr. Julius Xaue's Die Bronzezeit in Ohayem in the Academy for April 27th, 1S95.

CHAPTER II

0 0

Post a comment