The Bronze Age of Scandinavia was made possible by trade with Great Britain.


The Scandinavian Bronze Age was initiated by strong trade agreements with Britain and mainland Europe, which supplied much of the region’s raw material.

Ore and other raw materials were transported to Scandinavia 4,000 years ago, allowing the beginning of the Nordic Bronze Age.

A study has shown that around 2,000-1,700 BC the use and availability of metal – especially tin and copper – has increased dramatically in Scandinavia.

These two metals can be forged into bronze, which would have been used in tools, weapons and utensils.

Researchers at the University of Aarhus in Denmark carried out isotope and trace element analyses on 210 Bronze Age artefact samples, mostly axe heads, originally collected in Denmark.

This corresponds to almost half of all known Danish metal objects from this period.

The results show that the trade networks for the import of raw metals and handmade weapons to Scandinavia were established via two important maritime trade routes.

One went down the Baltic Sea to Úntice (a Bronze Age civilization in present-day East Germany and Bohemia), the other directly to the British Isles.

The authors also discovered the dominance of Slovak copper and suggest that Úntice traders acted as intermediaries to deliver this coveted metal to Scandinavia.

4,000 years ago, Great Britain and Central Europe supplied copper and tin to Denmark, which had no metal sources of its own. Instead, finished metal objects were imported and recast to suit local tastes,” the authors said.

In this creative process at the beginning of the rich Nordic Bronze Age, the original sources were mixed. This conclusion is supported by robust archaeological and geochemical data.

The results provide new insights into the earliest Bronze Age period in Scandinavia in contrast to the previous Neolithic period (before 2000 BC) and the later “breakthrough period” of the Nordic Bronze Age, characterized by highly developed bronze works (1600-1500 BC).

The Bronze Age in Great Britain began around 2,000 BC and lasted almost 1,500 years.

It was a time when sophisticated bronze tools, pots and weapons were brought from continental Europe to Europe. Skulls uncovered from this period differ considerably from Stone Age skulls, suggesting that this period of migration brought new ideas and new blood from overseas.

This time was followed by the Iron Age, which began around 650 BC and ended around 43 AD.

The study was published in the magazine PLOS ONE.


About Author

Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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