Early bronze age

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Overview prehistory
Holocene (➚ early history )
Iron age
  late bronze age  
  middle bronze age
  early bronze age
Bronze age
    Copper Age  
Pleistocene     Upper Paleolithic  
    Middle Paleolithic
    Early Paleolithic
  Old Stone Age
Stone age
Central European Bronze Age
late bronze age
Ha B2 / 3 0950–800 0BC Chr.
Ha B1 1050-950 0BC Chr.
Ha A2 1100-1050 BC Chr.
Ha A1 1200-1100 BC Chr.
Bz D 1300-1200 BC Chr.
middle bronze age
Bz C2 1400-1300 BC Chr.
Bz C1 1500-1400 BC Chr.
Bz B 1600-1500 BC Chr.
early bronze age
Bz A2 2000–1600 BC Chr.
Bz A1 2200-2000 BC Chr.

The early Bronze Age or Early Bronze Age (technical abbreviation "FBZ") spread geographically with considerable temporal differences. In some regions of the Mediterranean, e.g. B. Palestine , Anatolia and Greece , the early Bronze Age begins in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC. BC , for example in Troy I shortly after 3000 BC In contrast, the Bronze Age does not begin in southern Central Europe , on the Iberian Peninsula and in Italy until between 2300 and 2200 BC. Chr.

During this period Central Europe achieved a new technology, the alloy of copper and tin to form bronze . However, this should not be viewed as a revolutionary event that would have meant a sudden break with previous life circumstances. Rather, it was a continuous development. Only in the course of the Bz A2 level (2000 BC – 1600 BC) did tin bronze generally become the standard alloy in Central Europe. A large part of the early Bronze Age metal objects still consisted of copper, partly also of alloys of copper and tin with other alloying elements such as antimony or arsenic . These admixtures were mainly due to the ore processed in each case.

The beginning of the Early Bronze Age is therefore not an abrupt turning point, but rather is characterized by a series of innovations. Through the abandonment of the self-sufficient economy in areas that were now dependent on metal imports, as they themselves did not have the appropriate mineral resources, through an increasingly complex trade network that was developing in connection with this import, and increasing craft specialization. These innovations did not take place immediately and at the same time in the different regions, but in a longer process.

Characteristic is therefore the coexistence of small-scale, regional cultures and groups together with supra-regional phenomena, such as the bell beaker culture , whereby with the beginning of the Early Bronze Age an assimilation process began, which meant the merging of the latter (bell beaker culture, ceramic cord cultures) with the various indigenous cultures.

In Central Europe one differentiates between the different groups mainly by the grave inventories, which also show very different external relations. Cultural similarities and connections seem to have developed particularly in the major river systems ( Danube , Rhine , Weser , Elbe , Oder ).


The early Bronze Age includes sections A1 (older FBZ) and A2 (younger FBZ) of the chronology system designed by Paul Reinecke . This structure was further modified by the development of a needle chronology by Walter Ruckdeschel (A1a - A2c). This relative chronological breakdown is based primarily on archaeological finds from southern Germany, but can also claim to be valid for neighboring regions between western Hungary and Alsace or western Switzerland. At the same time, the Bronze Age finds from northern Germany and Scandinavia were subdivided by Oscar Montelius , who divided the Nordic Bronze Age into six periods I-VI. In professional circles, periods I and II are also referred to as the "Older Bronze Age". The terms “early Bronze Age” or “Early Bronze Age” are, however, rather unusual in northern European research.

Comparative chronology table for the Bronze Age in Central, Western and Northern Europe

The table above shows the chronological breakdown schemes developed by various researchers for the Bronze Age in Central, Western and Northern Europe. The fact that different chronological structuring approaches exist side by side is mainly due to the fact that they are partly based on different excerpts (either regionally or according to different archaeological types of finds, e.g. graves, hoards, settlements) of the archaeological source material, the development of which mostly not completely in sync. It is therefore very difficult to provide a more detailed chronological breakdown of the early Bronze Age , which is equally valid in different regions and for different types of finds.

The radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology limit the Early Bronze Age in Central Europe absolutely chronological v to about 2300 / 2200-1600. A.


Regarding the source situation, it should be noted that up until the 1970s and 1980s, graves were mainly used to research the Early Bronze Age. There were also numerous hoard finds . It was not until the 1980s that a systematic recording and research of settlements of this time developed.

Within the level Bz A1 determined by grave finds, different groups with local significance are distinguished:

Level Bz A2 is mainly defined by hoard finds. Since the key finds of this level are made of metal and also selected in their predominant tradition, the level structure can only be transferred to the rather metal-poor settlements to a limited extent.

Funeral rite

The members of the Early Bronze Age cultures buried their dead, following Neolithic customs, mainly in flat graves in the so-called stool position, in which the legs of the deceased were drawn towards the body. In research in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this characteristic body position led to the designation "stool grave cultures" and the "stool grave bronze age", which are hardly used today because stool burials have also taken place in other times Has. Cremations are also comparatively rare.

In the graves of the deceased, abundant ceramics and, to a lesser extent, bronze jewelry, equipment and armament were added to the graves. The transition to the Middle Bronze Age following the Early Bronze Age is shaped in large parts of Central Europe by the striking change in the shape of the grave. Already in the course of the more recent Early Bronze Age (level Bz A2), in some regions, people started to bury the dead under burial mounds , as was the case in some end-Neolithic cultures. With the transition to the Middle Bronze Age, the old shallow grave cemeteries are almost everywhere abandoned, and burial under burial mounds becomes common practice. The dead are then no longer placed in a crouching position, but in the grave in a stretched-out supine position.

Hoard finds

In addition to the graves, hoard finds play an important role as a source of cultural history in the Bronze Age . Certainly the custom has an older tradition, but it is very remarkable for the Bronze Age because of the large number of such hoards. In the early Bronze Age, the concentration of hoards in the area immediately north of the Alps, in Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, in central Germany, in northern Germany and in the western Baltic region is particularly noticeable. In contrast, the number of after-school care centers in the Rhine region, Westphalia, western Lower Saxony and the Netherlands was relatively small during this period. After the end of the Early Bronze Age, the number of hoards in most regions of Central Europe decreased significantly, which only changed again with the beginning of the Late Bronze Age .


In addition to early Bronze Age bank settlements in south-west German and Swiss lakes, selective research in southern Germany provides good information about the construction of houses and the layout of settlements. The two-aisled post structures there were 4-8 m wide and up to 20-25 m long.

Guide finds

The most important finds of the early Bronze Age are metal objects and ceramic vessels. There is a wide range of different types, depending on the time, region and / or culture.

  • Ceramics
  • Jewellery:
    • Tin jewelry
    • Neck, arm, finger and hair rings
    • Needles (e.g. rudder head or loop needles)
  • Weapons:
  • Tools

Geographical breakdown

Central Europe

Essential impulses for the development of the early Bronze Age in southern Central Europe came from the European southeast. These influences gave rise to the Aunjetitz culture in central Germany, Silesia, Bohemia, Moravia, in the parts of Lower Austria north of the Danube and in southwestern Slovakia . The famous Nebra Sky Disc also comes from the area of ​​the Aunjetitz culture , perhaps the best-known Early Bronze Age object from Central Europe, which, according to the objects buried together with the Sky Disc , probably only got into the ground in the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age .

One of the most important finds from the Early Bronze Age: Nebra Sky Disc

Important cultural groups of the Early Bronze Age are the Straubinger Group in the Bavarian Alpine Foreland and the Singen Group on Lake Constance and the Upper Rhine . Further downstream, from the northern Upper Rhine area, lies the distribution area of ​​the Adlerberg Group , which, like the Neckar Group, has so far only been occupied by relatively few find complexes on the middle course of the Neckar.

In the eastern parts of Central Europe, especially along the Danube, there were other archaeological groups for which the Swiss archaeologist Emil Vogt coined the typo-technological term of the sheet metal circle (Vogtscher sheet metal circle) and to which the Straubing culture and the Singen group also belong. This term is based on the addition of sheet bronze jewelry in the graves, in contrast to the mostly solid cast bronze objects of the Aunjetitz culture. Other important members of the Blechkreis are the Unterwölblinger Group (Lower Austria), the Nitra Group (Slovakia), the Kisapostag culture (western Hungary) and the Nagyrév culture (central Hungary).

Northern Europe

In the areas north of the Elbe ( northern German lowlands and large parts of Scandinavia), Neolithic cultural phenomena often continued to exist during the early Bronze Age . The same applies to north-west Germany and the Netherlands, where the Metal Age began with the burial customs in the Sögel-Wohlde district , which chronologically already stands at the transition to the Middle Bronze Age , and where the so-called "Nordic Circle" or developed an independent Bronze Age culture with the Nordic Bronze Age.

Western Europe

In some regions of Western Europe, too, Neolithic traditions continued to shape culture well into the Bronze Age. This is especially true for the Netherlands , Belgium and large parts of France . There a way of life can still be grasped well into the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, which can best be compared with the end Neolithic cup cultures , a derivative of this development series can be seen in the appearance of the so-called " Hilversum culture " (abbreviated HVS). This cultural group can be seen as a further development of the giant cup groups that appeared in the Netherlands at the end of the Neolithic . There, the ceramics decorated with winding cords in level Bz A1 extend into the early phase of the Middle Bronze Age .

Another important cultural center in the far west of the Early Bronze Age in Europe, in Great Britain , is the Wessex culture of southern England, which can be associated with the last phase of use of Stonehenge .

See also


  • Christel Bernard: The nitro group in southwest Slovakia. An archaeological and paleometallurgical analysis of selected burial grounds. COD, Saarbrücken 2005, ISBN 3-9807096-9-8 (also: Saarbrücken, University, dissertation, 2005; online ).
  • Hans Jürgen Eggers : Introduction to the prehistory. Newly published by Christoph Krauskopf. 6th edition. Scrîpvaz, Schöneiche near Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-931278-54-0 .
  • Stephanie Hoffmann: The origin and development of the Middle Bronze Age in the western low mountain range. Bonn 2004, (Bonn, University, dissertation, 2004; online ).
  • Ernst Probst : Germany in the Bronze Age. Farmers, bronze casters and lords of the castle between the North Sea and the Alps. Bertelsmann, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-570-02237-4 .

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