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THE EARLIER BRONZE-AGE IN THE NORTH.
IN most of the lands the Bronze-culture had as yet subdued in the course of its long and toilsome wandering from Asia, its introduction and existence had been facilitated either by metal in the mountains or gold in the rivers or at all events by access to bronze and gold at no great distance. But in the remote Scandinavian North it now entered regions where the necessary metals could be obtained only with great difficulty. The old Danish lands conceal, as we know, neither copper tin nor gold in their bosom. The rich copper-mines in the mountains of Norway and Sweden lay like hidden treasures not merely throughout the whole Bronze-Age but for many centuries afterwards. But the Bronze-culture must have obtained a firm footing both in northern Europe and on the British Isles, before a steady traffic to supply the want of tin could have been opened between the south-west of England and the Northern lands. But neither from England nor still less from the more distant mines of Ireland, where copper was first discovered at a later date, could copper or bronze at that time have been brought direct to the North. Even at the time of Christ's birth it is related of the Britons themselves that they had not much iron, but
"used imported copper." To the east of Scandinavia, it is true, there was rich store both of copper and gold in the mines of the Ural Mountains between Asia and Europe, and these mines were known in early times. But during the earliest Bronze-Age, if not later, vast tracts of pathless uninhabited desert still intervened to prevent any intercourse with those regions, and it was only at a later date that steady communications became possible.2
For a long time therefore during the Bronze-Age, until new trade connexions could be established, the North was reduced to procure its bronze and gold by the same routes that the Bronze-culture had first followed, namely along the old tracks of the Jutland amber-trade through western Germany. These metals, owing to the distance they were carried, must have been very costly in the far North. Furs and cattle alone would not suffice as a medium of barter with the nearest neighbours to the south, tribes somewhat similarly situated and commanding the carrying trade. There can scarcely therefore be any doubt that it was with amber, which was rising in value in the South, that the inhabitants of the North purchased their bronze and gold. The remarkable scarcity of amber ornaments in the Bronze-Age finds of the North, when compared with the numerous large amber-troves found in graves and bogs from the preceding Stone-Age, is significant
1 Cæs. B. G. v. 15.
2 The author formerly was disposed to accept the view that some of the Bronze-Age metal (found in Mecklenburg) came from the Ural Mountains-v. Slesvigs Oldtidsminder p. 44. All Danish archæologists are now agreed in tracing the Bronze-Age of the North to the Danube. countries.
of the great increase in the exportation of amber. In our own days the American Indians have instead of money used shells of a particular kind, and more especially oblong beads cut out of them and pierced, their worth being estimated proportionally to the difficulty of manufacture. In the same way amber in the North, and particularly the long and narrow beads frequently found here, being difficult to pierce, served, it would seem, as a medium of exchange or money, varying greatly in worth according to the size and workmanship.
But neither the profitable amber-trade nor even a fresh influx of population well provided with bronze and gold suffices to explain the surprising wealth of metal which continued throughout the Bronze-Age to prevail in the old Danish lands, so poor in metal naturally. It is easier to understand this, if we supposewhat indeed remains to be proved-that the raising of crops more extensively and on improved methods in the fertile coast-lands of the Baltic, with the prosperity that ensued in consequence, had also its share in providing means to obtain the foreign metals. Bronze and gold articles turn up everywhere in the southern parts of the North not merely in thousands upon thousands of graves but also under large stones afield and in marshes, or what were then lakes. So numerous are these various objects, often of unusual value and deposited with such evident intention, that we may reasonably wonder how the people after depositing such wealth could still afford to purchase weapons utensils and ornaments enough for daily use. Quite exceptionally, and only towards the very end of the Bronze-Age,
do they appear to have contented themselves with depositing in the graves miniature swords daggers celts and lance-heads as a kind of votive offering.
In taking a more comprehensive view of the wealth of the North in bronze objects, especially in comparison with most other lands of Europe, we ought not to overlook the fact that the Bronze-Age, though it reached the North so late, that it was on the eve of disappearing in the far South on the Mediterranean, undoubtedly continued for long in rare and undisturbed seclusion on the distant Baltic. Recent research has in all essentials demonstrated that at this time the oldest current of culture northwards through western Germany was afterwards joined by another, closely allied to it and flowing in more eastern channels. This latter aided further to diffuse and establish the Bronzeculture in the lands both south and north of the Baltic. Owing chiefly to the want of sufficient information respecting finds, to guide us, it has not yet been possible in every detail, and more particularly according to the style of the bronze objects, to divide these currents between an earlier and a later period. More than in the previous Stone-Age are the burial customs and antiquities intermingled in consequence of more gradual transitions from one period to another. Examples adduced from the later history of Scandinavia will serve to illustrate the tenacity with which the inhabitants of the North, especially in outlying districts, adhered to antiquated forms and ornaments elsewhere long obsolete. At no point in the pre-history of the North, not even after the lands were opened cleared and 3 Vide figs. 198-201 in Fräulein Mestorf's Alterthümer aus Schlesw.Holst.
settled, can we in short speak of sharp gradations in the slow and steady progress of culture from south to north.
None the less there are already very good grounds for beginning to distinguish between the main features of the Northern Bronze-Age in earlier and later times. We have seen from numerous graves here that the Age of Stone preceded that of Bronze: many mounds invariably contain skeletons with Stone-Age objects buried at the basement in peculiar graves; while in the sides and summit we find burnt bodies-more rarely skeletons-with objects of bronze. Similarly in the case of the Bronze-Age mounds: just as many throughout large tracts in the southern and western parts of the North have been found to cover skeletons with bronze objects of a peculiar fashion in larger and older graves below; while burnt bodies have been buried above in smaller and more recent graves along with bronze objects evidently of a somewhat different kind. The reverse has never been observed. Nor are the contents of such mounds, when various, ever confused, but always laid in regular definite positions. We have therefore full reason for concluding that the period of the Bronze-Age in which the bodies were still at least generally buried, as in the Stone-Age, namely unburnt, must have been the oldest and nearest to the Stone-Age. And this was also the case in more southern lands, especially in north Germany and England.
In its progress from the south-east through the interior of Europe the Bronze-Age, fertilising wherever it penetrated, had followed an entirely new route. But, as in the advance of the Stone-Age previously along the coast from the west, the peninsula of Jutland must again have been the first to feel its effects most