« PreviousContinue »
entirely unlike the fashions of western southern and eastern Europe, or even those of the parent-lands in central Europe. That a bronze industry in north Europe, in regions so remote, could attain such a pitch of excellence on its own lines of development, as evidently to surpass other more favoured lands, is in itself sufficient to show with a probability bordering on certainty that the Stone-Age people, to be capable of such progress, must have been strongly mingled with new peoples, who had long known how to procure and manufacture both bronze and gold. Moreover as the largest mounds, evidently erected originally for the most powerful chieftain families, contain from the very oldest times vast numbers of swords daggers lanceheads and other arms, and as even what were certainly the graves of females with remarkable frequency contain daggers, we shall not be far wrong in assuming that the new immigrants in the Bronze-Age belonged chiefly, as in more southern regions, to warlike wellequipped races, which with their superior arms and higher refinement in general-though not without a long stubborn struggle-made themselves masters in the southern parts of the North. As regards the earlier people, who still formed the bulk of the population and long continued to use stone, it was the task of these new races gradually to pave the way for that revolution in earthly and spiritual spheres which accompanied the higher culture and accumulation of large estates in the hands of single powerful chieftains. Not however till the Later Bronze-Age were they in a condition to destroy the last remains of the primitive state of things maintained with such stubbornness in remoter regions of the North.
THE LATER BRONZE-AGE IN THE NORTH.
THE more the Bronze-Age culture and people expanded over the former domains of the Stone-Age people, the wider grew the gap in the old communications with the countries of the West, which till now had been of such importance for the first colonisation and early development of culture in the North. The new influences struck out a road of their own along the Rhine and other rivers of France from north Italy and the south-westernmost parts of Europe. Communications with central Europe now followed a more easterly direction. Owing to this the Bronze-culture in France Belgium and the British Isles assumed a somewhat different form from that in the North. Slight as was the distance between Britain and Denmark, there are but faint traces of any direct intercourse between the West and North at this period. Differences in the main preponderate. There are however some signs of internal similarity in the forms of bronze objects, showing plainly that they originated in some common or nearly related starting-points in south and central Europe. But already in early times the two main culture-streams flowing west and north had branched off far to the south.
The western countries, unlike the North, have preserved more the character of older and to some extent south-Italian forms. In no sense did the independent development of the Bronze-culture reach such a height in these countries as in the Baltic regions. The most obvious reason for this must lie in the fact that the West derived no special advantage from the further development attained by the Bronze-culture in its wanderings from central Europe northwards. In short the sources of the older west-European Bronze-culture, namely in Italy and the adjacent parts of south and central Europe, were comparatively soon dried up by the early introduction of Iron.
Meanwhile in the Scandinavian North the BronzeAge even after its decline in the mother-lands of western Central Europe could still in part by more easterly routes draw strength and nourishment from intercourse with regions, where a Bronze-culture, though under somewhat different forms, still continued to hold more undisturbed sway. In distant Scandinavia the Age of Bronze on the whole must evidently have lasted longer than in England, and many centuries longer than in France, especially the south-eastern parts of France nearest to Switzerland and Italy.
The Iron-Age was founded in Italy and Greece at least a thousand years B.C. Under its influence the Iron-culture in the south of France as well as in the south of central Europe must have been in full swing, while the Bronze-Age (from about 500 B.C. till near the birth of Christ) under remarkably kindred conditions was still absolute in the Baltic countries.
Even in the early Bronze-Age it is vain to seek for
bronzes stamped with the special characteristics of the Mediterranean countries. Still less therefore may we inquire whether a new fertilising current of Bronzeculture entered the high North during the Later BronzeAge by more direct communications with Greece and Italy.
From these latter countries the Bronze-Age had long been entirely expelled. It was succeeded first by a pre-classic and then the classic Iron-culture, which spread steadily in various directions.
On the other hand there are some signs that the Graeco-Italian Bronze-culture before its final decay and even the pre-classic Iron-culture at its commencement may have stood in connexion with and influenced the last of the Bronze-Age in central Europe, which in consequence necessarily developed a somewhat peculiar style of its own in forms and ornaments.
Thence this style travelled northwards in company with the last remains of the Bronze-culture; and long after the fall of the Bronze-Age in the motherlands of central Europe it became the foundation of that peculiar taste which marked the close of the BronzeAge on the Baltic.
Future investigations however must finally decide whether the likeness between the later bronzes of central Europe and north Italy in their most salient features may not also have been due to a countermovement, that is from central Europe across the north of Italy, where races from the north have recently been supposed to have settled.
Owing to the great difficulty of smelting iron it was. more expensive than copper or bronze in olden times,