Nordic Bronze Age

Nordic Bronze Age
Map of the Nordic Bronze Age culture, c. 1200 BC
Viking ship
History of
Scandinavia

The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age) is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia.[1] Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of written sources. It is followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

Contents

General characteristics

Even though Scandinavians joined the European Bronze Age cultures fairly late through trade, Scandinavian sites present rich and well-preserved objects made of wool, wood and imported Central European bronze and gold.

Many rock carvings depict ships, and the large stone burial monuments known as stone ships suggest that shipping played an important role. Thousands of rock carvings depict ships, most probably representing sewn plank built canoes for warfare, fishing and trade. These may have a history as far back as the neolithic period and continue in to the Pre-Roman Iron Age, as shown by the Hjortspring boat.[2]

There are many mounds and rock carving sites from the period. Numerous artifacts of bronze and gold are found. No written language existed in the Nordic countries during the Bronze Age. The rock carvings have been dated through comparison with depicted artifacts, for example bronze axes and swords. (There are also numerous Nordic Stone Age rock carvings in the north of Scandinavia, mostly portraying elk.)

Sub-periodization

Oscar Montelius, who coined the term used for the period, divided it into six distinct sub-periods in his piece Om tidsbestämning inom bronsåldern med särskilt avseende på Skandinavien ("On Bronze Age dating with particular focus on Scandinavia") published in 1885 which is still in wide use. His absolute chronology has held up well against radiocarbon dating, with the exception that the period's start is closer to 1700 BC than 1800 BC, as Montelius suggested. For Central Europe a different system developed by Paul Reinecke is commonly used, as each area has its own artefact types and archaeological periods.

A broader subdivision is the "Early Bronze Age" between 1700 BC and 1100 BC and the "Late Bronze Age" 1100 BC to 550 BC. These divisions and periods are then followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

Climate

The Nordic Bronze Age was characterized by a warm climate that began with a climate change around 2700 BC (comparable to that of present-day central Germany and northern France). The warm climate permitted a relatively dense population and good farming, for example grapes were grown in Scandinavia at this time. However a small change in climate between 850 BC and 760 BC and a more radical one around 650 BC brought in a deteriorating, wetter and colder climate (sometimes believed to have given rise to the legend of the Fimbulwinter).

Religion

Not much is known about the Nordic Bronze Age religion, since written sources are lacking. However numerous archaeological finds draw a vague picture of what the religion might have been, but only some possible sects of it and only certain possible tribes. Some of the best clues to the religion of this period come from the rock carvings scattered through Northern Europe.

Bronze Age religion

A pair of twin gods are believed to have been worshipped, and is reflected in a duality in all things sacred: where sacrificial artifacts have been buried they are often found in pairs. A female or mother goddess is believed to have been widely worshipped (see Nerthus). Sacrifices (animals, weapons, jewelry and men) have been connected to water and small lakes or ponds have often been used as holy places for sacrifice and many artifacts have been found in such locations. Hieros gamos rites may have been common. Ritual instruments such as bronze lurs have been found sacrificed and are believed to have been used in ceremonies.

Bronze Age rock carvings may contain some of the earliest depictions of well known gods from later Norse mythology. A common figure in these rock carvings is that of a male figure carrying what appears to be an axe or hammer. Most likely, this may have been an early representation of Thor. Other male figures are shown holding a spear. Whether this is a representation of Odin or Týr is not known, as both gods are associated with this weapon. It is possible the figure may have been a representation of Tyr, as one example of a Bronze Age rock carving appears to show a figure missing a hand. A figure holding a bow may be an early representation of Ullr.

Remnants of the Bronze Age religion and mythology are believed to exist in Germanic mythology and Norse mythology; e.g., Skinfaxi and Hrímfaxi and Nerthus.

Gallery

Nordic Bronze Age

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Estonia". European Cultural Paths. 1997-1999. http://www.bronzeage.net/page10.html. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  2. ^ Ling 2008. Elevated Rock Art. GOTARC Serie B. Gothenburg Archaeological Thesis 49. Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Gothenburg, Goumlteborg, 2008. ISBN 978-91-85245-34-8.
  3. ^ . The carvings have been painted in recent times. It is unknown whether they were painted originally. Composite image. Nordic Bronze Age.

Bibliography

  • Dabrowski, J. (1989) Nordische Kreis un Kulturen Polnischer Gebiete. Die Bronzezeit im Ostseegebiet. Ein Rapport der Kgl. Schwedischen Akademie der Literatur Geschichte und Alter unt Altertumsforschung über das Julita-Symposium 1986. Ed Ambrosiani, B. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien. Konferenser 22. Stockholm.
  • Davidson, H. R. Ellis and Gelling, Peter: The Chariot of the Sun and other Rites and Symbols of the Northern European Bronze Age.
  • K. Demakopoulou (ed.), Gods and Heroes of the European Bronze Age, published on the occasion of the exhibition "Gods and Heroes of the Bronze Age. Europe at the Time of Ulysses", from December 19, 1998, to April 5, 1999, at the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, London (1999), ISBN 0-500-01915-0.
  • Demougeot, E. La formation de l'Europe et les invasions barbares, Paris: Editions Montaigne, 1969-1974.
  • Kaliff, Anders. 2001. Gothic Connections. Contacts between eastern Scandinavia and the southern Baltic coast 1000 BC – 500 AD.
  • Montelius, Oscar, 1885. Om tidsbestämning inom bronsåldern med särskilt avseende på Skandinavien.
  • Musset, L. Les invasions: les vagues germanique, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1965.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nordic Stone Age — History of Scandinavia Stone Age Bronze Age Pre Roman Iron Age Roman Iron Age Germanic Iron Age Barbarian Invasions Viking Age Christianization Kalmar Union …   Wikipedia

  • Bronze Age sword — Bronze Age swords appear from around the 17th century BC, evolving out of the dagger. Early examples with typical leaf shaped blades are found in Mesopotamia, around the Mediterranean, particularly in Crete, and around the Black… …   Wikipedia

  • Bronze Age — For other uses, see Bronze Age (disambiguation). Diffusion of metallurgy in western Europe. The darkest areas are the oldest. Bronze Age …   Wikipedia

  • Bronze Age Europe — The Bronze Age in Europe succeeds the Neolithic in the late 3rd millennium BC (late Beaker culture), and spans the entire 2nd millennium BC (Unetice culture, Urnfield culture, Tumulus culture, Terramare culture, Lusatian culture) in Northern… …   Wikipedia

  • Bronze Age collapse — The fall of Troy, an event recounted in Greek mythology at the end of the Bronze Age, as represented by the 17th century painter Kerstiaen De Keuninck. Bronze Age …   Wikipedia

  • Age du Bronze danois — Âge du Bronze danois Extension de la culture de l âge du bronze vers 1200 av. J. Chr. L’Âge du Bronze danois (daté par Montelius entre 1800 et 500) commence tardivement, la Scandinavie ne possédant pas les matières premières qui devaient êtres… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Âge du Bronze danois — Extension de la culture de l âge du bronze vers 1200 av. J. Chr. L’Âge du Bronze danois (daté par Montelius entre 1800 et 500) commence tardivement, la Scandinavie ne possédant pas les matières premières qui devaient êtres importées des îles… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nordic — may refer to: The Nordic countries, the northwestern European countries of Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden), as well as Iceland and Finland; or a native of one of the Nordic countries Scandinavian, a cultural, historical and ethno linguistic …   Wikipedia

  • Bronze and Iron Age Poland — The Bronze and Iron Age cultures in Poland are known mainly from archeological research. Early Bronze Age cultures in Poland begin around 2400/2300 BC [ U źródeł Polski , p. 55, Sławomir Kadrow] . In the region the Iron Age commences ca. 750/700… …   Wikipedia

  • Âge du bronze danois — Extension de la culture de l âge du bronze vers 1200 av. J. Chr. L’âge du bronze danois (daté par Montelius entre 1800 et 500) commence tardivement, la Scandinavie ne possédant pas les matières premières qui devaient être importées des îles… …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.