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THE present work is intended to give a general survey of the most important results as yet attained by the modern investigation of prehistoric antiquities. It was originally printed in Danish by the Letterstedt Association in the "Nordisk Tidskrift för Vetenskap Konst och Industri" (Stockholm 1878, Parts 1-3). It was then published in German as a separate book under the title: "Die Vorgeschichte des Nordens nach gleichzeitigen Denkmälern” (Hamburg 1878), with an introduction by the translator Fräulein J. Mestorf, curator of the Museum of Antiquities in Kiel—who has done so much for the study of Northern Antiquities -and a preface by myself.
After frequent appeals I was just on the point of re-publishing the work in Danish in a more accessible form for general readers, than the above-mentioned periodical presents, when I had the good fortune to discover the meaning of the sacred signs used by the ancient inhabitants of the North and of the representa
tions on the gold bracteates and on the two very remarkable Golden Horns from the district of Mögeltönder in North-Slesvig. This enabled me to take a broad and unexpected view of the ancient religious life of the Northmen, as well as of the other kindred Germanic races, especially during the early period of the Iron-Age, just before the great national migrations in the fifth century after the birth of Christ.
In reference to this I have rewritten that part of my work which deals with this subject. Along with this I have woven in the most important of the archæological observations made in the last three years (1878-80). These, among other results, have shown more and more a striking external and internal agreement in the main between the gradual stages of development of the Stone and Bronze Ages in various parts of the world. They bear new witness to the remarkably universal currents of culture during the Iron-Age also; and justify us in connecting the first beginnings of the Iron-Age in the most southern parts of the North with the pre-Roman Iron-culture, thus fixing its date somewhat earlier than it had previously been the custom to assume.
In a more detailed work, for which this may serve as the forerunner, it is my intention as soon as possible to deal more closely with those numerous coincident facts observed in many lands, on which I have based my new and, as I hope, successful explanations men
tioned above. At any rate it can no longer be doubted that the prehistoric contemporary records themselves, which have hitherto served chiefly as evidence of external conditions of culture, are also of foremost importance for a trustworthy and full comprehension of the creeds of individual peoples, and especially of that hope of a life hereafter, which inspired our forefathers not least of all throughout the whole of antiquity, and which at last prepared and aided the transition from heathenism to Christianity.
COPENHAGEN, ROSENBORG, 14th December 1880.
J. J. A. WORSAAE.