Talk:Nordic Bronze Age

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Added image created by User:OlofE.

Nordic Bronze Age culture not necessarily the sole proto-germanic homeland[edit]

The Elp culture (1800BC to 800BC) located south of this Nordic Bronze Age, more or less North Eastern Netherlands and North Western Germany north of the Rhine, shows an equal archeological continuity, some features even having been preserved to recent times, thus having survived the influence of Hallstatt and La Tene from 800 BC onwards. Recent excavations demonstrated that tribes traditionally viewed upon as Germanic (for instance Batavians) could not be distinguished from their Celtic neighbours. Negative evidence of a strong Celtic elite in the Northern regions points to a thin Celtic superstratum on top of pre-celtic (ie. derived from Elp culture) substratum, as have been theorized by some experts. Archeological evidence pointing to a subsequent emigration from Scandinavia is ambiguous. Neither has this been supported by genetic investigations, the Scandinavians, although being strongly related to other Germanics, having some unique genes features of their own and limited to this region.

It is not evident nor liguistically compulsory to assume the early Indo European language split up inmediately after their initial expansions. What if some kind of continuum persisted in some wider areas, having mutually intelligible dialects rather than having split up in separate languages or genetic groups from the start? Much of the language processes could have travelled by diffusion, similar to the High German consonant shift, over a long period of time. I think the Nordic Bronze age does not supply sufficient evidence to claim more than being ancestral to North Germanic, and I think it would require some more reliable sourcing to support such a statement. Rokus01 15:42, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Nowhere in the article does it say the NBA "is the proto-germanic homeland". It states, correctly, that the NBA was to "evolve into the Proto-Germanic culture of the Pre-Roman Iron Age." If we're going to look at a "proto-Germanic homeland", the proper article will be Pre-Roman Iron Age. The impact of the Elp culture etc. on this Iron Age culture should be discussed there, not here. Yes, there will have been diffusion, but the direction is very clear: migratory direction was from Helsingborg to Amsterdam, not from Amsterdam to Helsingborg. Skane, Jutland, Lower Saxony and the Netherlands equally participate in the proto-Germanic areal/continuum, but the Netherlands are clearly a contact area, while Jutland clearly has central character (and Sweden/Norway have the character of "barbarian backwaters" or "mater gentium", nobody from warmer climes feel particularly into migrating there in waves: there are natural migration targets (hospitable/attractive), and natural migration origins (wilderness, backland)). Your musings on the language of the Batavians are pure speculation, but it stands to reason that it would have a more marginal, "Gaulicized" character than the language of the Suiones. dab (𒁳) 13:06, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

as an afterthought, if you are interested in the Elp culture, why do you pester the NBA articles instead of writing us a brilliant and well-referenced Elp culture article? dab (𒁳) 13:20, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

(Pre-)Proto-Germanic Language[edit]

I noticed this in the present article:

"The language that the bearers of this culture probably spoke is referred to as (pre-)Proto-Germanic."

Doesn't this deserve some kind of reference? Or perhaps the removal of the parens around pre-? I realize I'm in the company of recipients of superior education in this matter, but in Voyles' Early Germanic Grammar (1992), he sets the beginning of the Early (Proto-)Germanic Era at ca. 400 B.C.(E.), which would be after the Nordic Bronze Age by ca. 100 years. Now, I'm not arguing in favour of Voyles here (for what my opinion is worth, I think this date is late not only on linguistic grounds, but also for being out of allignment with the material culture), but can someone provide us with some kind of reference pushing the upper boundary for PGmc. into the NBA period? I have found several lose associations, but no clear statement by an historical linguist. Help, anyone? Varoon Arya 17:33, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

I guess it depends on the dating of Grimm's law, and what role this law has in defining Proto-Germanic. The Times Atlas of World History calls the NBA the "Proto-Germanic civilization of the Bronze Age" so it should be mainstream opinion.--Berig 17:38, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. I just found this in Lehmann's Grammar of Proto-Germanic:
"(...) a grammar of Proto-Germanic must be a description of the language from approximately 2500 B.C. to the beginning of the common era (...)." [1]
I, too, was under the assumption that the first sound shift described by Grimm's Law (which, as far as I can tell, is universally accepted as the real marker of transition between a 'North-Western Pre-Proto-Germanic Proto-Indo-European' and PGmc. proper) must have begun sometime before or during the early stages of NBA. But reading Voyles made me wonder whether that had been nothing more than an assumption.
Anyways, would a reference tag with the quote from Lehmann be appropriate after the above-mentioned passage? Varoon Arya 18:05, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
I suggest putting the quote from Lehman in a note from the passage.--Berig 19:08, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Done. Hope that is what you had in mind. And thanks for your help. =) Varoon Arya 19:33, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
You're welcome :).--Berig 19:35, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
And thank you for adding this relevant piece of information.--Berig 19:47, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Given the high similarity of Germanic dialects (Runic, Gothic, words and names quoted by ancient authors) in the early and middle 1st millennium AD, and the closeness of attested Germanic linguistic material of the period to reconstructed Proto-Germanic (which reflects Grimm's and Verner's laws to their full extent), scholars generally assume that the divergence cannot have begun very much earlier and that the latest stage of PG was still spoken in the 1st millennium BC. A common estimate is 500 BC, putting the start of the divergence right into the Pre-Roman Iron Age; in any case, at or after the end of the Nordic Bronze Age. To place PG into the 2nd millennium BC implies the unlikely assumption that Germanic stayed virtually the same for 1000 or even 2000 years. Also, early loanwords such as *Walhaz "Celt" and *hanapaz "hemp", with their shifted vowels, point to a mid-1st millennium date for PG. Even some words shared with Celtic are either generally accepted as loans, such as *leþran "leather", or are at least suspect of being borrowed rather than true cognates, such as *aiþaz "oath", while they do display the effects of the consonant shift. The Celtic sound laws in question, however, are assumed to have taken place in the 1st millennium BC, too. Moreover, it is historically likely that Celtic was, at the time, a donor of loanwords to Germanic (such as *īsarnan "iron", another clearly Celtic loanword which is also unlikely to be older than the Iron Age), as the Hallstatt and subsequent La Tène culture in Central Europe must have been Celtic-speaking. All this, taken together, makes a 2nd millennium date for Proto-Germanic difficult to support. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:45, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Jastorf expansion[edit]

Maybe I was not clear enough about it, but I insist on reliable recent sources that confirm the statement about an expansion of Jastorf south, for instance to Hessen or the Rhineland. This being only "likely" is POV or popular view. I already notified Britannica "does not account for the period in between 450/300 and Roman observation, and I am very much against applying fantasy to fill this gap." (don't let me repeat). The only sourced reference in Wikipedia to this claim so far (article Jastorf) is "Nordisk familjebok, a Swedish encyclopedia published between 1904–1926". This is ridiculous! Please be serious and don't engage to an edit war on this without first supplying decent sourcing. This whole thing is a myth you are creating. Rokus01 22:25, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

You fault other editors for relying on flawed, antiquated sources, but you haven't provided any modern, scholarly sources to support your edits. Briangotts (Talk) (Contrib) 18:20, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Of course not, for the simple reason that no modern, scholarly sources exist to support the claim that archeological Jastorf findings extended so far west and south. Actually, Jastorf has been heavily influenced by celtic Hallstatt and I think mistake number one is to take the whole Hallstatt onslaught for granted. I found a reference in Lucien Musset's The Germanic Invasions claiming a Germanic (! not proto-germanic!) culture of Late Bronze Age Scandinavia origin (read: Jastorf) expanded and reached the lower Rhine by 500 BC, whereafter this movement was "slowed down" by the celtic La Tene expansion. I do not know about any reliable source claiming Jastorf remains were found in the Rhine delta, or anywhere upstream. I consider this claim that Jastorf is the one and only (West Germanic) heir to the Northern Bronze Age Germanics unresolved: The Northern Bronze Age was not confined to Scandinavia, so why assume beforehand that ALL Iron Age Germanics came originally from Scandinavia? I can not abstract this from the Britannica or any serious recent investigation I could find on internet. Old books do not include recent investigations and archeological digs and I disagree to the tendency here to forget all caution in accepting preliminary proposals based on obsolete or insufficient information. Rokus01 23:00, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

it is correct that the burden to provide evidence that something did not happen lies not with you. Yes, at Jastorf culture we say that this culture evolved out of the NBA by contact with the Hallstatt culture. What is your point? Yes, it is possible that "Germanic" (or proto-Germanic, this is immaterial) expansion reached the lower Rhine (thus logically including the Rhine delta) by 500 BC. The NBA was indeed confined to Scandinavia, by definition. I don't see what you are objecting to, and it really seems you insist on misreading things. Where in the article is there any claim of "ALL Iron Age Germanics came originally from Scandinavia" or a "one and only (West Germanic) heir to the Northern Bronze Age Germanics"? You seem to be ranting against a position that nobody is even holding. dab (𒁳) 13:19, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

The Lower Rhine and the Delta start at IJssel, leaving most of the downstream Rhineland Delta and all upstream Rhineland out of the picture and unaccounted for until the 1st century BC, and still Germanic was firmly rooted there by then: I think except more or less 7 ancient "celtic" names all Dutch placenames have a Germanic origin. My point: I just tell you that this theory of the Dutch intrusive Hallstatt element being Jastorf or Germanic, or even to have involved substantial immigration or a firm foreign superstratum, does not count on much support or actuality at the Dutch field, not even with beautiful maps from old picturebooks. The general view here is that our Hallstatt was Celtic all the way. Don't get me wrong, it is not because I would dislike alternatives, it is because I think to recognize this situation is essential for understanding the origins of a group of languages that were never very closely related nor culturally homogeneous. So logically, if Jastorf and Wessenstedt fail to produce the complete geographic picture (or experience heavy problems doing so), the origin would necessarily involve a wider and more ancient scope. The Northern Bronze Age would supply such a scope. However, this area of "Northern" cultural and economic interaction was not confined to Nordic areas or Scandinavia: it included substantial parts of Northern Europe east of the Rhine and south to middle Germany. The Delta and Belgium down to Lorraine would have been on the fringe - and everything happening on this other side of the Rhine is nowadays facing even worse disagreements (the Stonehenge Archer having produced a new generation of proto-celtic migrationists already mocking the ferocious former migrationists coming from the steppes riding on horseback), so maybe we have to be grateful to the Romans for drawing their division and should just follow their example. History is not made in a day or two, and prehistory even less.Rokus01 19:31, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Climate in the Nordic bronze age[edit]

Quote: "The Nordic Bronze Age was characterized by a warm climate that began with a climate change circa 2700 BC (comparable to that of present-day Mediterranean). The warm climate permitted a relatively dense population and good farming, for example grapes were grown in Scandinavia at this time. However a small change in climate between 850 BC and 760 BC and a more radical one circa 650 BC brought in a deteriorating, wetter and colder climate..." What is the evidence for a warm climate that began 2700 BC? And what is the evidence of it being comparable to the Mediterranean? There are indeed evidence of a warmer climate (up to 3°C warmer than 1961-90), although this climate persisted for a long time following the end of the ice age, and gradually became cooler (lots of evidence in bogs about which plants grew nearby). Furthermore, it never was comparable to that of the Mediterranean - it did not have to be to allow dense population and good farming (indeed, southern Britain and the Benelux countries have the densest population of Europe). Comparable to central Germany or north-central France is more likely, and this would allow grapes to grow (like in the Rhine valley).Orcaborealis (talk) 23:35, 21 December 2008 (UTC)


"Succeeding the Corded Ware culture, it is generally considered to be the direct predecessor and origin of the Proto-Germanic culture of the Pre-Roman Iron Age."

I am a Swedish archaeologist. The quoted sentence is to my knowledge completely wrong. The Nordic Bronze Age is separated from the Corded Ware culture by 550 years, the Late Neolithic. And no professional scholar calls the culture of the Pre-Roman Iron Age "Proto-Germanic". Would anyone object if I corrected this throughout? I of course expect such an objector to support his position with reference to good sources. Martin Rundkvist (talk) 16:52, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Most archaeologists may be cautious and wary of identifying the Pre-Roman Iron Age with any particular language group (and rightly so, in general, where there is a lack of direct evidence), but linguists interested in Indo-European origins and archaeology usually view the association between the Pre-Roman Iron Age and Proto-Germanic or at least Common Germanic (i. e., early Germanic after it had started to diverge into a continuum of closely related dialects) as the most likely identification by far, or would at least consider the Pre-Roman Iron Age close to the time and place of Proto-Germanic, as far as I'm aware. Moreover, it is viewed as plausible and acceptable for a majority that the Nordic Bronze Age is associated with speakers of Indo-European dialects, likely including a predecessor of Proto-Germanic. Of course, this is all rather tentative and based on circumstantial evidence (such as that gained by Adalbert Kuhn's method of "linguistic paleontology"), like any such hypothesis. (It may be noted, however, that considerations akin to "Urheimat" discussions in historical linguistics are found in biology as well.) I would look in J. P. Mallory's books, especially the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, for reference that these are indeed mainstream views, but I do not currently have his books ready at hand. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:41, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Alternative image for a tumulus?[edit]

Would an image replacement of the burial mound be relevant?

Personally, I think the latter photo is a more eyecatching and striking photo of a Nordic (typical) burial mound, but I also acknowledge that I am biased as it is my own creation. Moreover, I am not terribly knowledgeable about the subject itself. --Slaunger (talk) 10:44, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Images and info[edit]

Just for inspiration. I have now included more images in the article to give a more varied picture of the Nordic Bronze Age. There are more artifacts I would like to include however, for example the mysterious object from Bålkraka in Scania (see image). I would also like to include a sketch of the internal structure of the Bronze Age mounds. There are several images available in the commons category. And the intricate belt-buckles worn by the women, but I couldn't find any images. There is also material for a whole section on the rock carvings, with more information. They (and other finds) supports that dogs were a popular animal, used for hunting and as a pet. Horses are also shown. And then the architecture of this period. They lived in very large houses, much larger than in the Iron Age. But I miss good images for this.

More online info on the Nordic Bronze Age as seen from a Danish perspective, can be found here: [2] at the National Museum of Denmark.

RhinoMind (talk) 23:47, 27 August 2015 (UTC)