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13-05-2015, 13:46


Races of Men, like Individuals—Gradual change of Neolithic Age to that of Bronze—The Aryan family—First Aryans Neolithic—Origin of Bronze—How Great discoveries are made—Gold the first metal—Copper Abundant—No Copper Age—The discovery of Tin—Explanation of an Alloy—Bronze, wherever found, the same Composition—What is meant by the Bronze Age—Knowledge in other Directions—Gradual Growth of Culture—Three Centers of Bronze Production—Habitations during the Bronze Age—The Bronze Ax—Implements of Bronze—Personal ornaments—Ornaments not always made of Bronze—Advance in Arts of living—Advance in Agriculture—Warlike Weapons—How they worked Bronze—Advance in Government—Trade in the Bronze Age—Religion of the Bronze Age—Symbolical figures—Temples of the Bronze Age—Stonehenge.

IS with races of men as with individuals, the progressive growth of youth soon reaches its limit and maturity of power. While it brings greater strength, it has not the buoyancy of early years, so the manner of life becomes fixed, and onward progress stops. They can then only hope to hold on the even tenor of their way, happy if increasing years do not bring again their childhood state. The Neolithic people entered Europe early in the youth of the race which spread their civilization over the globe, but the race to which they belonged appear to have reached their zenith of development long ages ago, since which time, whatever higher culture they have reached has been a gift to them by other people. Their energies became exhausted, and for a long series of years Europe was filled by the camps, lake villages and fortified places of Neolithic times.

As to the absolute length of time during which they inhabited Europe, we have no data to determine. Relatively, their sojourn, however long, was but a short time compared to the duration of the old Stone Age. It presents no such evidence of lapse of ages as can be observed in the older deposits, yet we may be sure that it was for no inconsiderable period.

The Paleolithic Age was apparently terminated in Europe by the cold of the last glacial epoch. No such natural course put an end to the Neolithic Age, but as the strong have an advantage over the weak, the young over the old, so does a race young, undeveloped, or in the early maturity of its powers, have an advantage over the older and more fixed civilization with which it comes in contact. To understand the causes which introduced into Europe the Bronze Age, we must refer to the Aryan race and to Asia.

We have in the preceding chapter briefly mentioned the Aryan race. They have so much to do with the higher culture of the Metallic Ages, that it seems not out of place to refer once more to their origin. The evidence goes to show that the ancient Aryans inhabited some portion of South-western Asia. As a race or family, they appear to have been one of the latest developed. Yet a record of their progress is a record of civilization.

Unless we reflect, we are liable to be misled by the expression, recent development. The Hindoos, one of the latest members of this family, were in India several thousand years before Christ.2 But however far back we trace them, we find them in possession of metals. Aside from this, we know that before the different Aryan tribes had commenced their migration (with the exception, however, of the Celts), while they formed but one mass of people, they worked some of the metals.3 They could have acquired this knowledge only after the passage of many years, when they were ignorant of it. This bespeaks a profound antiquity for the Aryan family.

As we have seen, Europe, while yet inhabited by Neolithic people, was invaded by a branch of the Aryans. We do not know the date of this invasion, yet it must have been an early date, since the Celts separated from the Aryans before the use of metals. The Aryans have ever been noted as an aggressive people, and under different names have, in modern times, carried victorious arms in all quarters of the globe. This is equally characteristic of the primitive Aryans. Though it is not apparent that they possessed any higher culture than the people who already inhabited Europe, yet they everywhere triumphed over them and possessed themselves of the fairest portion of the Neolithic domain, driving the primitive inhabitants to those mountainous regions where their descendants are found to-day.

It is not probable that the Aryan invaders waged exterminating war against the Neolithic tribes. The evidence shows that there was considerable mingling of the two races. It has been suggested, however, that the Neolithic people who were not driven away were reduced to slavery.4 However that may be, the remains of the two people are found side by side in chambered tombs and sepulchral caverns, showing that they dwelt together in the same area. As before remarked, the Aryan invaders are identified as the Celts. That it was relatively late in the Neolithic Age when they made their appearance, is shown by the fact that they had only reached the English Channel when a knowledge of bronze caught up with them.

We must now endeavor to learn the origin of bronze. The impulsive energies of this newer race found vent not only in conquest over the neighboring tribes, but it is extremely probable that they are the ones who first compelled nature to yield up her metallic stores to be of service to man. If the knowledge of fire was the starting point of human advancement, surely the knowledge of metals, their useful properties, and how to extract them from their ores, may lay claim to being the starting point of our present enlightenment. We have but to glance around us to see how many of our daily comforts are dependent on the use of metals. Should we, by any mischance, become deprived of the use of iron, or of the useful alloys, bronze and brass, our civilization would be in great danger of reverting to Savagism. Man, destitute of metals, can do but little to improve his surroundings; but grant him these, and victory over his environment is secured.

We can not retrace the exact steps of this beautiful discovery; we are not sure to what family it is to be ascribed. Perhaps not to any one alone. Nature may have taken her children by the hand, and kindly guided their feeble steps in the line of experiments leading up to this knowledge, and, finally, one family, more fortunate than the others, succeeded in the attempt. All great discoveries have been approached in different directions, by different people. No sooner is it made than this fact appears, and people widely separated by time and place are found to be on the verge of the same great truth. It was probably so at the discovery of metallurgy.

The Turanian tribes, who had so long inhabited Europe, were suddenly confronted by the victorious hosts of the Celts, the vanguard of the Aryans, the precursors of a higher culture. The movements of these primitive people could not fail to have a great effect on the human mind. It would become alert, keen, and active. Such was the state of ancient society when a knowledge of bronze was introduced—a discovery which consigned stone, hitherto the substance most commonly made use of to advance human interests, to a subordinate position, and opened up for man the exhaustless mineral stores of nature.

It is suggested by some that gold was the first metallic substance employed. Its glittering particles would attract the attention of primitive man, and little articles of ornament were early manufactured from it. To be sure, the supply was very limited; but what there was would serve the useful purpose of imparting to men some idea of metallic substances. Portions of it falling in the fire might have suggested the idea of smelting and of molding—might, at least, have lead to experiments in that line. The supply of gold existing in a native state is so small, that no use could have been made of it except for ornaments.

Iron, we know, is the most abundant mineral. But it is very rare in a native state, and its ores have nothing distinguishing about them, and so it is not strange that another metal received the attention of primitive man. That metal was probably copper. It is often found in a pure state in nature. In the Michigan mines of our own country, masses of pure copper many tons in weight have been discovered.5 No such rich deposits are found in the Old World; but considerable quantities of native copper were obtained, and it was by no means a rare metal. Copper possesses several qualities that would attract attention. It is quite malleable; that is, it can be easily hammered into shape. We can imagine the surprise of the old stone-workers at finding a stone that, instead of breaking or splitting, could be hammered into shape. By accident, or otherwise it would be learned, in time, that it could be melted. This would lead to the idea of molding.

If the above process were followed out, there would be a real Copper Age preceding that of Bronze: no trace of such an age has yet been detected in Europe. "But there is, however, every reason for believing, that, in some parts of the world, the use of native copper must have continued for a lengthened period before it was discovered that the addition of a small portion of tin not only rendered it more fusible, but added to its elasticity and hardness."6 The absence of a Copper Age in Europe would imply that the art of manufacturing bronze was discovered in some other locality.

Copper by itself is so soft that it would not be of much use to man, except the experience they would gain of melting and molding. In our own country the aboriginal inhabitants were well acquainted with copper, and even knew how to mold it. Yet, except as just pointed out, it is not probable that it exerted any marked influence on their development.7 In the old world supplies of native copper are limited, and recourse must be had to the ores of copper. Now these ores, such as copper- pyrites, are nearly always of a bright color, and as such would attract the attention of primitive man. They might suspect that these bright colored ores contained copper from finding similarly colored ores in connection with native copper, in fact passing from one form to the other. But it requires no little skill to reduce the ores of copper; and, when obtained, for reasons just pointed out, it would not be of great utility. But primitive man was thus cautiously and experimentally feeling his way to a knowledge of metallurgy.

All the evidence obtainable goes to show that tin was known as early as copper, or at least soon after. Its ores though not striking on account of their color, are on account of their great weight. It is comparatively easy to reduce it from its ores. It is quite widely distributed over the earth. It often occurs in the gravels of rivers, where, as we have already mentioned, primitive men must have, at a very early date, sought for gold. Owing to their weight, the gravel of tin-stone would remain behind with the gold when it was washed. "In process of time its real nature might have been revealed by accident; and, before the eye of the astonished beholder, the dull stone, flung into the fire, became transfigured into the glittering metal."8

When two metals come together in a molten state, they often form, not a mixture of the two, part copper and part tin, for example, but a new compound, different from either, called an alloy. Copper is, so to speak, a sociable metal, and readily unites with many different metals—amongst others with tin, when it forms bronze, the article that marks a new state in the history of primitive culture. It seems to us strange that an alloy, a combination of two different metals, should have been the first used by man, and not a simple metal like iron. Such, however, is the fact of the case; and we have tried to point out the probable steps which led up to the invention of bronze. We can scarcely comprehend the difficulties which attended the labors of the primitive metal-workers. There were no books containing the wisdom of many, from which the investigator could draw his stores of knowledge. and the only way that knowledge could be disseminated was by word of mouth.

Now, when one man makes an important step in a discovery, hundreds of earnest workers, some, perhaps, in distant places, are quickly made aware of the fact, and extend its scope, or point out its imperfections, and thus hasten on the desired end. Then, each individual, or community, must, of necessity, have commenced at the beginning, and the discoveries made would hardly be perpetuated in the memory of others. There were so many obstacles to be overcome before a knowledge of bronze could be acquired, in the then existing state of human knowledge, that it must ever remain a source of wonder to us, at the present day, that it was invented at all.

We may picture to ourselves the ancient copper-worker, after numerous experiments, guided by some good genius, finally hitting on some process by which, from his mass of ore, he extracted a nearly pure piece of copper. Having learned how to reduce these ores, there are many ways in which it might have been found that a mixture of the two metals would form a new compound of greatly increased value.

It must have taken a long course of experiments to determine what proportions of each metal to use to make the best bronze. It is interesting to know that these early workers had learned the proportions of each to use, not varying a great deal from the results of modern research—that is, from ten to twelve per cent of tin. Bronze relics, no matter where obtained, whether in the Old or the New World, do not widely depart from this standard, and such instances as do would probably denote that the supply of tin became short. This uniformity of composition would imply that the art of making bronze was discovered in one place, from which it gradually spread over the globe.

This fact is a key to the culture of the Bronze Age. Widely separated communities, destitute of a knowledge of metals, would instinctively make use of stone. In this case uniformity of type would not imply community of knowledge. But a knowledge of metals is altogether different. It is wonder enough that one community should have hit on the invention of bronze. The chance would be against its independent discovery in widely separated areas. They would be more apt to chance on the production of some other metal. Thus; tribes in the interior of Africa are said to have passed direct from the Stone to the Iron Age, a knowledge of bronze not having been carried to them.

We are thus able to form a true conception of the Bronze Age. It did not prevail over the world at the same time. Indeed, as we shall subsequently see, there is every reason to suppose it spread very slowly, and that it still lingered in Central and Northern Europe long after its use had been abandoned for that of iron in the South. Neither, when it was first introduced, did it put a stop to the use of stone. It was necessarily costly, and on its first appearance in a country, brought hither by trade, could only be afforded by rich and powerful chiefs and warriors. As time advanced, and they learned to make it cheaper, and each country took up its separate manufacture, it would gradually supersede stone. But bronze was never cheap enough to drive out the use of stone altogether. This only occurred when the art of working iron was discovered.

We shall learn that the knowledge of bronze, while a very important and distinguishing phase of culture of the Bronze Age, was not its only characteristic. It was distinguished by the arrival and spread of the Aryan races, by a great extension of commerce, by more refinements in the comforts of life, by the increasing strength of government, which in after ages flowered out in the mighty nations of antiquity, and rendered historic, civilization possible.

Some facts stand out with great prominence. The origin of this culture is lost in the very night of time. We may be sure that it goes back to a profound antiquity, and that it extended over a long series of years.

It is evident there was no great and sudden change from the culture of the Stone Age to that of Bronze. It was as if the darkness of night had given place to the roseate light of dawn, to be shortly followed by the full day of historic times. It was probably introduced by trade. The articles introduced in this way would consist of simple implements, weapons, and ornaments. Following after the trade would be found the smelter with his tools, and, where the conditions were favorable, local manufactories would be set up. But this home industry would not prevent importation of more pretentious articles from abroad. This would account for the rich collections of shields, swords, and golden cups found in Denmark that betray an Etruscan origin.

Investigations of recent scholars show that the bronze of the early Bronze Age came from Asia Minor. Subsequently there were three great centers of bronze production, each having certain styles. These were the Russian on the east, the Scandinavian on the north, and the Mediterranean on the south. If this view be correct, bronze must have been in use in the South of Europe long before it was in the North. This view of the introduction of bronze is, we think, that of the best scholars in Europe. Others, however, think bronze was brought in by the invasion of the Aryan tribes. Mr. Keary says: "The men of the Bronze Age were a new race, sallying out of the east to dispossess the older inhabitants, and if, in some places, the Bronze men and the Stone men seem to have gone on for a time side by side, the general characteristic of the change is that of a sudden break."9 We have shown that it was carried to England by an invasion, and it was, perhaps, so introduced into Denmark, but in other countries of Europe by trade.10

Let us now see what change in the home life, in the culture of the people, would be brought about by the use of bronze. We must reflect that we are not to deal with some new race, but with the same race that inhabited Europe at the close of Neolithic times. The people who had triumphed over nature with their implements of stone were now put in possession of weapons and implements of greatly increased efficiency. The results could not fail to advance their culture. We would not expect any great change in the houses. They would, however, be much better built. The metallic tools were certainly a long ways ahead of the best stone implements. With the aid of metallic axes, knives, saws, gouges, and chisels, their cabins could be increased in size and appearance. They still built settlements over the lakes, but the Bronze Age settlements were more substantially built, and placed farther out from shore. Fortified places were still numerous; the remains of thousands of them of this age have been found in Ireland. But the forests were cleared, wild animals disappeared, society became more settled, and we may be sure that an increasing number of little hamlets were scattered over the country.

Caves were resorted to during this epoch only in times of danger. One at Heathbury Burn, in England, contained portions of the skeletons of two individuals, surrounded by many articles of bronze and a mould for casting bronze axes. It is not difficult to read the story. In some time of sudden danger workers in bronze fled hither with their stores, but owing to some cause were unable to escape the death from which they were fleeing, and their bodies, with their mineral stores, were lost to sight until the modern explorer made them a subject of scientific speculations.11


The most important implement was the ax. Our civilization has originated from many small things. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the ax in advancing civilization. The stone axes, easily blunted and broken, could have made but little impression on the vast forests of pine, oak, and beech, covering the greater part of Britain and the continent in the Neolithic Age. Clearings necessary for pasture and agriculture must unquestionably, then, have been produced principally by the aid of fire. Under the edge of the bronze ax clearings would be rapidly produced, pasture and arable land would begin to spread over the surface of the country; with the disappearance of the forests the wild animals would become scarce, hunting would cease to be so important, agriculture would improve, and a higher culture inevitably follow. "When first the sound of the woodman's ax was heard in the forests of the north, the victory of man over his natural environments was secured, and the forest and morass became his forever."12

The bronze ax was used for a great variety of purposes, not only as an ax, but as chisel, hoe, etc. As might be expected, the oldest axes were simply modeled after the stone ones. The preceding cut represents these simple forms.

They were inserted into the handle much the same as they did the stone axes. It never occurred to these ancient workers to cast the axes with a hole in them for the handle.


The above cut represents the second form of the ax. The trouble with the first was that much usage would inevitably split the handle. To remedy this, a stop or ridge was raised across the celt, and the metal and the wood were made to fit into one another. The small figure illustrates this method of hafting. It would be quite natural to bend the sides of this second form around, and thus would arise a third form in which the handle was let into a socket, of which we also give a cut. As a general thing, bronze axes were plain, but they were sometimes ornamented with ridges, dots, and lines.

In addition to axes, they of course had many other implements of bronze. Chisels were made much the same as at present, except that the handle fitted into a socket. A few hammers have been discovered in the Swiss lake villages. Bronze knives of different styles and sizes were quite numerous. The workmanship on them is generally skillful. They were, as a rule, fitted into a handle of bone, horn, or wood, and the blade was nearly always carved. In some cases the knives also ended in a socket into which the handle fitted.13


In matters of personal ornament, the men and women of the Bronze Age were as willing to make use of artificial helps as their descendants to-day, and no doubt fashion was quite as arbitrary in her rule then as now. Among some savage nations the dressing of the hair—especially of the men—is carried to a very elaborate pitch.14 In this respect, some of the dandies of the Bronze Age certainly excelled. They evidently built up on their heads a great pyramid of hair; in some cases large enough to allow of the use of hair-pins two feet long. Of course such a structure as this was intended to last a life-time. So careful were they of this head-dress that they used a crescent-shaped pillow of earthenware, so that it might not be disturbed when they slept. Dr. Keller, who first described these crescent- shaped articles, thought they were religious emblems of the moon. He may be right, as the matter is not yet decided, but some think they were the pillows in question. At first thought this would seem absurd, but when we learn of the habits of the natives of Abyssinia and other savage races, we cease to wonder.


In speaking of the ornaments of the Bronze Age, a caution is necessary, because ornaments of bronze may belong to any age. Bracelets and rings have been quite numerous. The bracelets vary much in shape, are decidedly artistic in workmanship, and often set off with carved designs. Some of this shape are composed of a single ring of varying width, the ends of which almost meet and terminate by a semicircular clasp; others are a combination of straight or twisted wires ingeniously joined to one another. "Some of these ornaments remain even up to the present day in a perfect state of preservation. In an urn from one of the lake settlements six specimens were discovered, the designs of which appeared quite as clearly as if they had only just been engraved."15

We are called on to notice one important point in reference to these bracelets and rings. That is, they are so small they could scarcely be worn nowadays; a fact leading us to infer that the people must have been of small size. It has also been noticed that the handles of the swords are smaller than would be convenient for soldiers now. Some ornaments of bronze were worn as pendants. For this purpose they were provided with a circular hole, and were probably worn suspended around the neck.

Ornaments were not always of bronze. Necklaces were sometimes made of amber, and gold beads were quite common. We give a cut of both. They are from burial mounds of this age in England. We remember the ornamentations on implements in the Paleolithic Age was by engraving animal forms. In the Neolithic Age they seem to have cared very little for ornamenting. During the Bronze Age the ornamentation was of a simple but pleasing and uniform style. It consisted of simple geometrical patterns, combination of circles, dots, and straight lines. In this next figure we have given the principal designs found in France.


In the arts of living an increase in culture is noticeable. We have seen that in Neolithic times they were acquainted with the use of the distaff. In the Bronze Age they manufactured woolen cloth. We have but few specimens of this cloth, because it is under only very exceptional circumstances that woolen fabrics can be preserved for any great length of time. From examinations of burial mounds of this period, it would appear that the better class of people were clad in linen and woolen. Probably the use of the skins of animals for dress purposes was mostly discontinued during this age. Woolen cloaks of this period have been found in Denmark, though probably dating from near the close.


In agriculture we detect only such advances as improved implements would suggest. They used the sickle in gathering in the harvest. We find no implements which we are sure were used for agricultural purposes. Yet they must have had some means of preparing the ground for the cereals. The day of wild animals was gone. In the lake settlements of this age the domestic animals outnumbered the wild species.16

During this age the horse was used for riding and driving, and oxen were used for plowing.

The proof of this fact is certain sketches found in Denmark. But the use of bronze in that country continued after iron had been introduced in the south of Europe. Pottery was more carefully made—though the wheel for turning it was not yet introduced. The shapes were varied and elegant; sometimes, instead of having a flat base, they came to a point below—in which case they had to be placed in a support before they could stand upright. Nearly all the pottery bears the ornamentation peculiar to the Bronze Age—that is, straight lines, dots, etc.


In agriculture we detect only such advances as improved implements would suggest. They used the sickle in gathering in the harvest. We find no implements which we are sure were used for agricultural purposes. Yet they must have had some means of preparing the ground for the cereals. The day of wild animals was gone. In the lake settlements of this age the domestic animals outnumbered the wild species.16

During this age the horse was used for riding and driving, and oxen were used for plowing.

The proof of this fact is certain sketches found in Denmark. But the use of bronze in that country continued after iron had been introduced in the south of Europe. Pottery was more carefully made—though the wheel for turning it was not yet introduced. The shapes were varied and elegant; sometimes, instead of having a flat base, they came to a point below—in which case they had to be placed in a support before they could stand upright. Nearly all the pottery bears the ornamentation peculiar to the Bronze Age—that is, straight lines, dots, etc.


During this age, the inhabitants were as much given to war and conquest as any rudely civilized people: we, therefore, meet with remains of their weapons. The principal ones were swords, daggers, spear-heads, and arrows. The swords are always more or less leaf-like in shape, double-edged, sharp-pointed, and intended more for stabbing and thrusting, rather than cutting. No hand guards were used.

Sometimes the handles were fastened to the swords by means of rivets; and, at other times, the handle was plaited with wood or bone. They are of different lengths, intermediate between the sword and the dagger. It is doubtful whether they made use of shields.

Bronze shields are, indeed, found; but, from the ornaments and other circumstances they are generally considered to belong to the Iron Age: for we shall subsequently learn that the introduction of iron did not prevent the continued use of bronze. The bow was well known; and this must have necessitated the use of arrows. Some bronze arrows have been found; but a flint arrow is nearly as serviceable as bronze, and much cheaper, so we may be sure they were more common. They also employed spears and javelins, and the bronze heads of these weapons are found in various places. The invading Celt found many camps and fortified places already in existence, and continued them in use after the original occupant had been driven away.

As we have spent some time in learning the different objects manufactured out of bronze, it may be of interest to learn somewhat of their methods of working bronze. We have already stated how the amateur worker in bronze would follow on after the trader—and so the objects of bronze would be made in all the countries of Europe. Molds have been found in various places. This is a mold for casting the axes having a socket in which to put the handle. It was found in the cave at Heathbury Burn, already mentioned. None of the bronze objects were forged out, as a smith forges out objects of iron—they were cast. In the absence of steel, it would be almost impossible to cut bronze; hence it was necessary to make the casting as nearly perfect as possible. Sometimes the molds were cut out of stone, as in the figure just given. The molds themselves were, in this case, difficult to make; besides, they could scarcely be made so perfect as not to leave a little ridge, where the two halves of the mold came together, which, as just explained, owing to the absence of steel, it would be very difficult to remove. In process of time they discovered an easier way of making the molds, that employed at the present day—that is, by the use of sand. The ridge would still remain, and is to be plainly seen on specimens of ancient bronze.


To overcome the difficulty just mentioned, they invented a third method of casting, which displays great ingenuity. A model of the object desired was made of wood or wax, and inclosed in prepared earth mixed with some inflammable material, in order that, when subjected to heat, it might become porous. The whole was then heated until the wax or wood disappeared. The mold was then ready for use. The great advantage of this method was that there were no projecting lines of junction to disfigure the complete implement. This seems to have been the most common method employed. This explains the fact, that we seldom find any two bronze objects exactly similar to one another. Any impression left on the wax model would be faithfully reproduced. Marks of the spatula, with which the wax was worked, are frequently found; and, in one case, the impression of the human finger was observed.17

A people as highly cultured as those of the Bronze Age must have had some system of government, and one that was a sensible advance over the government of the Neolithic people. In the Neolithic Age it was, doubtless, tribe against tribe. Confederacies, the union of several tribes for common purpose of defense, must have been more common at this age.18 The first Aryan tribes to arrive in Europe, as we have seen, were the Celts. In time, they had to withstand the pressure of invasion themselves. The Belgae, and other Germanic tribes, were also on the move. But war at this period would partake more of the nature of people against people, than of tribe against tribe. The civil and the military departments of government must have taken more definite shape, and we are not without evidence of fairly organized and disciplined forces. As early as two thousand eight hundred years before Christ, the sea-coast people of Europe, while yet in the Bronze Age, allied their forces for the conquest of Egypt.19

We have referred to the influence of trade in shaping civilization. It is commerce that to-day is carrying civilization to remote corners of the globe. Long before the dawn of history, it was an active agent in advancing culture. It is important to note the great expanse of commerce, both inland and marine, which prevailed during the Bronze Age. An important article of trade was, of course, bronze. The people who first learned the secret of its manufacture would speedily find a demand for their wares from surrounding tribes, and we have already pointed out how this trade would quickly give rise to local manufactures. But, to produce bronze, we know tin is just as necessary as copper—and all the countries of Europe are not provided with these metals; so more or less trade would inevitably take place. In various ways the stores of the bronze merchant might be lost, and only revealed in after years by accident. One of these deposits, found in France, is evidently the store of a merchant or trader from Etruria to the tribes of the north and west, and so gives us a quite vivid idea of the trade of that early time. It consisted of over four hundred articles of bronze, "comprising knives, sickles, lance-heads, horse-bits, rings, buttons, pendants, and bracelets."20

As an article of adornment, amber was highly prized, not only by the people of Europe during the Bronze Age, but also by the people of the preceding Neolithic Age. This caused a trade to spring up which certainly did its share in enlightening the people. The main supply must have been obtained from the shores of the Baltic. That the trade was of importance is evidenced by the fact that amber has been found scattered over Europe in the tombs of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

We have given a passing glance at the religion of each age we have examined. It must be confessed that great uncertainty hangs over the results. From a close examination of their industries, we can gather considerable as to the home life and general enlightenment of prehistoric times. A knowledge of religious belief is gathered mainly from a study of their burial customs. This is a very important part of our investigation, because a religious belief is one of the exponents of the culture of a people.

We have seen that in the Neolithic Age the dead were buried surrounded by implements, weapons, and ornaments for use in the future life. The descendants of these people throughout Europe, even in the Bronze Age, would still continue this custom. The implements buried with the body were more often of stone than bronze. We must constantly bear in mind that bronze was costly. This will explain its absence in many cases. It is interesting to note in this connection that these are "cases in which it is evident that flint implements were deposited in graves rather in deference to ancient customs than because they were still in every-day use."21 We also notice that during this age, often the objects placed in the graves were, from their shape, obviously not intended for daily use. This would clearly indicate that the popular mind became impressed with the fact that these votive offerings, however freely given, could be of no assistance to the departed, but they still continued the custom because it was sanctioned by usage of past years.

But the dead were not always buried during the Bronze Age, nor, indeed, as a general rule. The invading race doubtless brought with them a new religion. Many of the ornamentations on their swords, vases, and other articles, are supposed by some writers to be religious symbols. From the frequent occurrence of the circle, and combinations of circles, it has been suggested that they worshiped the sun. And the occurrence of customs observable even at a late day, in various portions of Europe, as pointed out by Prof. Nelson, show that the worship of the fire-god, or the sun, was once widely extended in Europe.22 On this point we are further told: "That even as late as the time of Canute the Great,23 there is a statute forbidding the adorement of the sun and the moon."24 So it is not strange that in the new faith a different method of burial would be followed. That was by cremation. "The dead were burned, were purified by being passed through the fire along with their possessions."25 The ashes was then gathered together and placed in urns and burial mounds and barrows. The votive offerings of flint and bronze articles in daily use were also thrown in the fire, and their burnt remains placed with the other ashes in the burial urn. The cut is that of a bell-shaped barrow of the Bronze Age.


We have just seen what inferences have been drawn from the use of the circle as an ornament. This is not the only sign that has been thought to have some symbolical meaning. The cross was also used as an ornament, and possessed probably some religious significance. A third figure which has caused some discussion was the triangle. "It is, on the whole, very probable that all these signs, which are not connected with any known object, bear some relation to certain religious or superstitious ideas entertained by the men of the Bronze epoch, and, as a consequence of this, that their hearts must have been inspired with some degree of religious feeling."26


We have mentioned the use of stone circles in Neolithic times. During the Bronze Age they built the circle very large, sometimes twelve hundred feet in diameter, and they were sometimes made of earth. These circles are regarded by some27 as being simply burial places, and many of them have been proved to be such. But others regard them as temples, meaning thereby not a building, in our sense of the word, but a place of sanctity, and probably where some form of worship was held. Even if we allow that they were originally tombs in every case, it does not follow that they have not also been temples, for the religious sentiment has, in all ages, and in all places, tended to center in tombs, which ultimately have become places of worship. Many of our Christian Churches have originated in this manner, and it is a most obvious transition from the tomb to the temple. The worship of the spirits of the dead at the one would naturally grow into the worship of the Great Unknown in the other.28

The preceding cut is a restoration of one of the largest of these temples. Here we see a circle twelve hundred feet in diameter, of upright stones, guarded by both a ditch and embankment. From the two openings in the embankment formerly extended two long winding avenues of stone. Between them rises Silbury Hill, the largest artificial mound in Great Britain, being one hundred and thirty feet high. The area of the large inclosure was about twenty-eight and a half acres. This was a temple of no inconsiderable size. It was, of course in ruins when the earliest account of it was written, and we can only speculate as to the lapse of time since it was venerated as a place of worship.

Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, is a better known ruin, though not on as large a scale as at Avebury. The cut gives us a restoration of it. The outer circle of standing stones is one hundred feet in diameter, and when entire consisted of one hundred stones. These are of sandstone, and were obtained in the vicinity. A course of stone was laid along the top. We notice within a smaller circle of stone. The material of these stones is such that we know they must have come from a distance. Mr. James tells us that they are erratic—that is, bowlders brought from the North of Scotland by the glaciers—and that others of the same kind are still to be seen lying around the country.29 But the more common opinion is that they were brought there by the people from a distance, perhaps Cornwall or the Channel Islands. If this be true, it is evidence of a strong religious feeling, and a peculiar value must have been attached to the material, since for any ordinary monument the stones in the neighborhood would have sufficed. Still nearer the center were five groups of three great stones each, and immediately within these a horseshoe of smaller stones. Finally, near the head of the horseshoe, a great slab of sandstone is supposed to have served for an altar. The date of the two structures just described has been a matter of some dispute.


It is worthy of notice that in the immediate neighborhood of both of them are found a great number of barrows of the Bronze Age. Over three hundred were erected in the neighborhood of the latter. In the opinion of many this fixes their date in the Bronze Age. Stonehenge, in its ruined state, has formed the subject of no little speculation. Modern explorers, in connecting it with the Bronze Age, have not dispelled from it the enchantment of mystery. We must ever wonder as to the nature of the rites there observed. Our questionings meet with but feeble response; for though we have learned somewhat of past times, it is comparatively but little. Ruined columns, crumbling burial mounds, and remains of stone and bronze will always be surrounded with more or less mystery—a striking illustration that science is able to dispel but little of the darkness which unnumbered years have thrown around the culture of the past.



  1. The manuscript of this chapter was submitted to Prof. B. B.
    Wright, of Overlain, for criticism.

  2. On the formation of caves consult Geikie's "Prehistoric
    Europe," p. 71; also Evans's "Ancient Stone Implements," p.

  3. Evans's "Ancient Stone Implements," p. 445.

  4. Pronounced Bret'-chá, a rock composed of fragments of
    older rock, united by a cement.

  5. Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 92.

  6. Pengelly, quoted by Geikie, "Prehistoric Europe," p. 93.

  7. Evans's "Ancient Stone Implements," p. 462.

  8. Evans's "Ancient Stone Implement," p. 463.

  9. Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 102.

  10. Mr. Dawkins ("Early Man in Britain," p. 203) does not
    consider M. Dupont justified in dividing the remains found in the
    caverns of Belgium into two epochs. He considers them to be the
    remains of the same people, some tribes being, perhaps, farther
    advanced than others. Mr. Dawkins is, of course, high authority,
    but we think his argument could also be applied to prove there
    was no real difference between the men of the River Drift and the
    so-called Cave-men. This, in fact, is the opinion of many,
    including Mr. Evans, who is exceptionally well qualified to judge
    of these remains. We think, however, in view of the evidence
    adduced by Mr. Pengelly, Mr. Geikie, Mr. Dawkins, and others, few
    will venture to doubt that there is a wide difference between the
    men of the River Drift and those of the Caves.

  11. "Prehistoric Times," p. 330.

  12. "Early Man in Britain," p. 198.

  13. French writers make four divisions of these caves, according
    to the degree of finish, which the specimens show. Mr. Dawkins
    does not think the difference in the implements sufficient to
    justify this view. With the possible exception of Le Moustier, as
    stated above, we think his view correct, which is also the
    opinion of Mr. Evans. ("Ancient Stone Implements," p. 439.)

  14. Rau's "Early Man in Europe," p. 88.

  15. Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 205.

  16. Ibid., p.

  17. It is, however, thought that the station was used as a
    camping-ground by very different people, at widely different

  18. Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 434.

  19. "Prehistoric Times," p. 335.

  20. Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 12.

  21. Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 338. J. C. Southall, in his
    valuable work, "Recent Origin of Man," p. 195, et seq.,
    argues that pottery was known at this time, and cites instances
    where it is stated to have been found. This is the opinion of
    Figuier also. ("Primitive Man," p. 54.) But Mr. Dawkins points
    out that these pieces of pottery are clearly of a Neolithic
    style, and does not think it proven that they are of Paleolithic
    age. Mr. Geikie also denies that there is any proof that they
    were acquainted with the potter's art. ("Prehistoric Europe," p.
    18.) So the highest place in the scale of civilization we can
    assign these people to is that of Upper Savageism.

  22. Rau's "Early Man in Europe," p. 79;

  23. Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 22.

  24. Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 90.

  25. Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 210.

  26. "Prehistoric Times," p. 341.

  27. Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 105.

  28. Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 111.

  29. Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 105.

  30. Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 102.

  31. Rau's "Early Man in Europe," p. 73.

  32. "Prehistoric Europe," p. 18.

  33. Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 237.

  34. Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 117.

  35. Ibid., p. 118.

  36. Ibid., pp. 94 and 95.

  37. This, as Sir John Lubbock points out, depends on our meaning
    of the word "religion." ("Prehistoric Times," p. 589.)

  38. "The principal instance are Cro-Magnon, Frontal, and Furforz,
    in Belgium; Aurignac, Bruniquel, and Mentone, in France."
    "Cave-Hunting," chap. vii.

  39. "Contributions to N. A. Ethnology," vol. i, p. 102; "U.S.
    Geographical Survey West of the 100th Meridian," vol. vii, p. 12;
    Abbott's "Primitive Industry," p. 517.

  40. "Primitive Industry," 518.

  41. Quoted by Lubbock,"Prehistoric Times," p. 507.

  42. Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 242.

  43. Prof. Grant Allen, Popular Science Monthly, November,
    1882, p. 99.