Dating prehistoric objects
Paintings, sculptures, engravings and later pottery reveal not only a quest for beauty but also complex social systems and spiritual concepts.Their lifestyles depended on hunting and foraging for food or later on pastoral agriculture.The first iron objects appear from around 1000 BC, and the Iron Age is said to begin around 800 BC (again, this is more a convenient academic label, rather than an abrupt historical ).The Bronze Age chronologies are notoriously complex, but here is a table summarising the main developments by period: From around 1500 BC, the evidence for the contexts in which we find metal objects changes from burials to ‘hoard’ deposits.Most of the archaeological evidence for the earlier part of the period (c.2500 to 1500 BC) comes from funerary evidence and monuments and there is little evidence for permanent settlements of any size or scale.This may suggest that communities and populations were still relatively small-scale by comparison with later periods.In Britain, the Bronze Age is a period used by archaeologist to refer to the centuries from 2500 to 800 BC.At the start of the period (from 2500 to 2200 BC) only gold and copper were being used, but from 2200 BC bronze was created by mixing (alloying) tin and copper.
The sources of copper then changed as new mines (especially in Wales) were exploited and Continental metal was brought into Britain.
Communities also made use of ceramics throughout the period, expressing identities through particular styles.
These were often deemed important enough to deposit with the dead, particularly during the period between 2500 to 1500 BC (e.g. Although the survival of organics from this period is rare, there are sufficient examples to know that communities were highly skilled at working these materials as well.
Although the simplicity of Thomsen’s scheme has been questioned in the intervening years, and other important divisions have been recognised, it remains relevant, and the Bronze Age has a distinct character of its own.
The date and character of the Bronze Age do, however, differ across Europe, with communications and mobility between regions and countries also changing through time.