Nordic Bronze Age Beginnings

Professor Helle Vandkilde, Aarhus University, Denmark
The breakthrough of the Nordic Bronze Age (NBA) took place c.1600 BCE in NBA IB,
which was also the period when Southern Scandinavia emerged as a cultural koiné in
clear outline within Bronze Age Europe. This paper seeks to uncover some of the
underlying incentives and historical pathways. Indigenous ore sources were largely
ignored, arguably because of a strong cultural tradition for looking south for new materials
and inspiration: Desire for bronze and gold objects and the associated metallurgy based
on foreign metal were keys to this steady European linkage as well drivers in local change,
no doubt, but do not stand isolated. Rich warrior assemblages take centre stage as they
hold extraordinary weaponry decorated with, or accompanied by, cosmological symbols.
Weapon forms and decoration pinpoint the Carpathian Basin, and secondly the Eurasian
steppes, as crucial for the appearance of the NBA as a cultural force in its own right
around 1600 BCE. The paper tentatively concludes that in this socio-cultural process of
change new warrior ideals were sustained by the transmission of reformed ideas of the
constitution of cosmos.