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In this direction, to judge from the scant remains of the Stone-Age, especially to the east in Hungary, no very widely diffused or powerful population was to be found in earlier times; while the rich metal-producing mountains with other natural advantages were highly favourable to the settlement and development of the Bronze-culture.
These currents, at first divided, must in later times. have approached and touched one another in their course from Greece over Hungary and from south Italy across north Italy Switzerland and south-western Germany. Accordingly the southern types of bronze articles, though in decreasing numbers, may be recognised in central Europe. Conversely the central-European types appear in the north of Italy and France, and, far more extensively than the earlier Italian types, over the entire British Isles.
Hitherto central Europe, covered with mountain chains, especially to the south and north, had been but thinly colonised. In such a region the Bronze-culture had evidently freer scope to evolve all its peculiarities. In more southern and western lands the form of its development was different. There it had to struggle with an earlier and comparatively no mean Stone-Age culture: it was confronted by a numerous population, which was strong enough to maintain a prolonged defence against the unexpected and in many respects menacing innovation, and which cannot have been ousted without a trace.
This accounts for the rise of a very distinctly stamped Bronze-Age in Hungary, where the latest immigrants must have settled down. Its ornaments were of gold,
its utensils of cast-bronze and also of pure copper, where tin was difficult to obtain.
But beyond this and farther to the west of central Europe the Age of Bronze among other races, especially on the Danube in modern Austria and south Germany, by degrees began to show greater independence and richness of development. In connexion with the local forms peculiar to central Europe large and widely scattered cast-finds furnish indisputable evidence that the objects of bronze found there were for the most part produced in the countries themselves, as one might expect in districts so rich in metals,—and were not as a rule imported from foreign manufactories, e.g. from Greece and Italy, where, it is true, a very considerable industrial activity and skill was evidently developed in the Bronze-Age.
In spite of the apparent differences in many details between the remains of the Bronze-Age in Hungary and south Germany it is significant of the whole central-European group, in comparison with the southern group in Greece and south Italy, that the bronze swords are unusually long and, more particularly, provided with peculiar richly decorated hilts, which are also of cast-bronze. To judge by the frequent appearance of these swords and other arms, the people of the BronzeAge cannot have confined themselves exclusively to peaceful pursuits, such as agriculture cattle-breeding mining and metal-work, which supplied their daily bread. They must also have been well-equipped and trained warriors.
No wonder then that the plains shut in by the woody mountain ranges of central Europe should for
ages have secured them an independent existence and development, and that they subsequently spread their culture and even their dominion in various directions, southwards over Switzerland and perhaps over north Italy, westwards along the Rhone and Rhine to a part of France long ago occupied by the Stone-Age people, and so at last gradually even to the remoter British Isles and Scandinavian North.
A comparison of the finds in central and north Europe, so far as they are yet known, both as regards articles of antiquity and large monuments, tends clearly to demonstrate that the earliest or at all events the most powerful movements northwards cannot have issued from Hungary in a direct line over the Carpathians still less did they follow a more eastern route. Only at a later date—and then to no great extent-did the Bronze-culture make itself felt to the east in Poland and south Russia. The north-eastern parts of Germany, which would have to be traversed by such a movement, do not appear to have been wholly cleared or thickly peopled at that time.
The first northward movement of importance evidently had its source in south-western Germany, in the districts between the Danube Elbe and Rhine. Thence, chiefly along these rivers and the routes already opened and more generally known from the northern amber-trade, it slowly advanced developing its characteristic traits on the way, till it reached the Stone-Age peoples settled in the far North, whose sway here had hitherto been unchallenged.
The direct cause of this movement is certainly to be sought in a steady advance of new races, or at all
events in a steady growth of over-population to the south. Not that the advance was necessarily simultaneous and undertaken by hordes of peoples in full force. Just as likely is it in many places at least that the way it gradually followed had been prepared by peaceful intercourse. But vast forests were still to be opened up or felled, much land would have to be tilled, ere entire races of immigrants with their women children cattle &c. could spread from south to north like an overwhelming deluge, and everywhere find sufficient maintenance. Even if a great wave of peoples swept into Europe from Asia during the Age of Bronze, the tide must already have spent its force in crossing the then thinly populated east of central Europe. On its way to the west and north-west of Europe, where the Stone-Age peoples were firmly settled, it would, as in southern Europe, have many obstacles to encounter. Naturally therefore it would not spread in the same manner as in the middle of Europe.
Meantime the graves in the south-west and northwest of Europe give striking illustrations of intercourse and minglings between the Stone- and Bronze-Age peoples. Not a few of the large stone graves, otherwise peculiar to the Age of Stone, contain for instance a variety of bronze articles, especially ornaments, with skeletons of bodies, some of them interred in the old way in a bent posture and others burnt. Nay, it would even seem that the Bronze-peoples, after invading the old dominions of the Stone-Age to the north-west, began in evident imitation of the old colossal graves in the country to erect more and larger sepulchres cists and mounds than are found in central Europe. More
over the old Stone-Age fashion of burying the corpse unburnt continued in the Bronze-Age too for a long time beside or even in preference to the new fashion of cremation.
Thus after a steady advance from south-western Germany the Bronze-Age with its culture and peoples had traversed Hannover and Mecklenburg, and at last penetrated the northern frontiers of the Scandinavian North. Long before this it had reached a very considerable pitch of development. This is proved by the finds from the oldest graves of the Bronze-period. In the far North, even more than in the adjacent north of Germany, was this civilisation, so entirely foreign in origin, destined, like the earlier civilisation of the Stone-Age, to find in its closing period one of its last sanctuaries in Europe. Here during the growth of the Iron-Age in more southern lands it was enabled in peace to spread and multiply with a fulness and richness of development hardly surpassed elsewhere except perhaps in Greece alone.