« PreviousContinue »
as in other quarters of the globe. But whether they were the common graves of families and tribes or not, it is at all events obvious that such large stone chambers filled with bones necessarily presuppose a numerous population long established in the locality. They belong therefore most probably to the last period of the Later Stone-Age. Accordingly they appear most frequently in the easternmost regions of the North, which were longest occupied by the Stone-Age culture. Like the fashion. of the graves, the objects deposited in them must also suggest the thought that newer ideas had then begun to penetrate the people. The other stone graves often though in various degrees contain an outfit of tools weapons and ornaments required for use in the other world. Whereas in the bone-filled giant-chambers only now and then have a few comparatively fading traces of such articles been met with, and these could in no respect have been sufficient or even intended for the use in the next world of each individual among the many dead deposited in the graves.
Similarly from the probable influence of newer ideas we must assuredly explain the circumstance that in some of the largest and evidently most recent giantchambers we find objects of stone and pottery deliberately broken in two or damaged. With this exception the objects of stone in the Stone-Age graves have been usually laid there in new and unused condition or at all events after being fresh hewn and in part repolished.
The same development, which gradually went on in Denmark itself during the Later Stone-Age, and which we thus recognise in the giant-chambers, is also apparent, when we consider the antiquities found both in the
stone graves and outside. The forms of axes and chisels in particular, which reminds us of the west European group, are found everywhere in the localities occupied by the people of the Earlier Stone-Age and, as might be expected, most frequently in Jutland, which was again the first to be colonised from the west. But they were not used generally in any great numbers, and, as the new shapes gradually gained ground, vanished more and more in the direction of Scania. To the latest settlements further north they were brought only quite exceptionally. Towards the close of the Stone-Age the new types, specially peculiar to the north European group, of axes chisels hammers saws curved knives daggers spears arrows earthenware and amber ornaments-some of them showing remarkable progress in beauty of form-overspread the North, and not merely preponderated in numbers, but were for a great part quite different in size diversity and richness from those of the parent lands in the West.
How it was that the Stone-Age culture was able to reach such a pitch in the North, and especially in the old Danish lands, cannot be explained solely by the longer duration of the Stone-Age here or by the fertility of Denmark and its richness in excellent material for flint-work. The West of Europe also possesses much the same conditions for progressive development. The real cause lies deeper, and must rather be sought in a strong awakening stir among the people. And this too sprang from unusually active communications with other regions more to the south, where the higher culture of the Bronze-Age must gradually through its extreme branches have begun to exercise no slight influence.
For the purposes of barter and trade at this time amber offered a most suitable medium. Even to this day, though in less quantities than of old, it is gathered on the coasts of the North Sea and Baltic, particularly in Jutland and Scania. Occasionally the larger pieces also are found in excavations at a distance from the coasts. That ornaments of amber were in great demand and generally disseminated is shown by the fact that they were deliberately deposited in considerable quantities in almost all the larger at least of the stone graves in the North. Large hoards are also continually turning up in bogs, especially in Jutland. Here, as well as in Fÿen and Scania, some of these bog-finds contain amber ornaments and pieces of the new material by the hundred,-remarkable contemporaneous testimony to the existence of a lively trade in amber. The amber ornaments exhumed from the great giantchambers in West Götland far from the sea were naturally brought from the coasts, and specially from Scania. The Danish islands doubtless received their supply from Jutland. As the amber from the coasts of Jutland spread over the interior of the peninsula itself, it speedily found its way to the regions southward, and thence along the rivers Elbe and Rhine deep into the heart of Germany and France, where the stone graves in every direction, though not so extensively as in the North, contain ornaments of amber, which are with good reason traced to the lands of the North. Jutland in fact by its convenient position on the oldest trade-routes in central Europe probably formed the first starting-point for the amber-trade between the Baltic and southern Europe; and the more so, as it
would seem that the more distant amber-producing coasts of East Prussia cannot possibly be considered as populated during the actual Age of Stone, nor can a steady trade have proceeded to more southern or western regions from a country so little known. The wider the circulation of the amber-trade from the North towards the close of the Stone-Age, and the nearer the superior Bronze-Age culture drew to the boundaries of north Germany, the more must foreign objects, e.g. better-woven garments finely-shaped weapons and tools of metal, not to speak of bronze and gold ornaments &c., have become known or purchased by the Stone-Age people in more northern lands. Still more remarkably was this the case after the Bronze-culture had begun to penetrate from north Germany into the southernmost districts of Denmark, while contemporaneously the Stone-Age continued to predominate in the rest of the North. This being so, it was impossible that the people of the Later Stone-Age down to its very close could themselves escape the influence of the new culture, and specially of the more highly-developed sense of the beautiful by which it was accompanied.
But until the costly foreign metal had spread more generally, people must have been obliged, as many of their axes daggers pots &c. clearly show, to confine themselves meanwhile to imitations, as far as was practicable, in the native stone bone and clay and reproductions of some of the better and finer forms of metal objects. Not that all such imitations originated solely within the actual boundaries of the Scandinavian lands. Many of them must have been developed in more southern regions, earlier exposed to contact with
the Bronze-culture; and thence the new forms spread northwards. A richer ornamentation now began to appear, especially on earthenware, the incised lines being often, as in other countries, filled with a white. chalk-like substance. Representations of animals are occasionally seen on objects of bone. Upon the inner flat surface of a granite top-stone of a large stonechamber in Seeland we may still see carved or scratched figures representing cross-divided wheels, here, as well as in the Stone-Age in the rest of Europe Asia and America, undoubtedly connected with some religious idea. The same explanation may also apply to the representations of footprints and the cup-shaped depressions which not unfrequently form distinctive marks on large stones from the Stone- and BronzeAges in almost all lands.
From investigations of sacred tokens in the later periods of heathenism we may conclude that the round cup-shaped depressions and circles correspond most nearly to the circular symbols of Fertility and Source of all Things which meet us almost everywhere in the marks of the chief deities, and specially in those of the goddess of love,—namely here in Scandinavia in Frey's and also in the centre of Odin's sign. In many lands at all events and in some localities even down to our own days the stones marked with such cruciform incisions have been the object of popular superstition, and it has been a custom to lay offerings in the cupshaped hollows.
In short, if the Later Stone-Age people had not already occupied a more advanced standpoint as regards religion, they would hardly have shown such reverence