CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

D3: The Bronze Age in North Central Europe: Scales of Transformation


The Bronze Age in Northern Central Europa displays different phases of extraordinary transformations. On the one hand the transition to the Middle Bronze Age and on the other the beginning of the Urnfield period. From a European perspective, 1600 and 1200 BCE are commonly understood as two tipping points of drastic societal change, collapses and crises: the end of the first Bronze Age settlement between Elbe and Warta around 1500 BC and a subsequent lack of human impact in these areas for around 150 years. And 200 years later, the start of cremation burials and the large urn mark the beginning of the late Bronze Age around 1300 BC. The introduction of the cremation not only proves a change in the burial ritual, but also proves radical social changes. In contrast to the few older Bronze Age graves, every individual was then buried. But the transformation processes are not the same in all regions.

Material Culture versus Human ImpactFig. 1: Material Culture versus Human Impact - Quantitative data from  Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania  in Bronze Age (Kneisel et al. 2019).

Especially in the north, the transitional phases seem to change little in the settlement. The beginning of the period II, around 1500 BC, with large barrows and rich grave goods, on the contrary, shows a blossoming of the Bronze Age. The transition to the Late Bronze Age Period IV is accompanied by changes in the burial practice, but settlements are still being built in the same regions, and graves and burials continued at the same places. Therefore, these transregional different reactions to the two Bronze Age transformation phases are to be investigated in a transect from North to Central Europe. Important is the incorporation of paleoecological and geological data, which can give us information about settlement density and the human impact. Additional geophysical surveying allows us to search for further sites in the vicinity of the burial mounds and settlements. The first phase of the project based on two paleoecologically researched lakes, whose laminated pollen profiles provided us with detailed information about the landscape development and changes. Lake Belau is situated just north of a dense concentration of rich grave mounds in the vicinity of Bornhöved. The comparison between the chronological sequence of the settlement and the erection of the burial mounds and secondary burials with information on the human influence on the environment allowed us to grasp the Bronze Age transformation processes in northern Germany on a micro-, meso- and macro scale The second point of the transect, which extends from northern Germany to Poland, is the area around Lake Woserin in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, whose settlement environment is part of the current investigations in Dobbin. The third part of the transect is planned in the vicinity of a lake in Kuyavia Poland.


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