The smelting of copper and tin ore to create bronze has for a long time indicated the beginning of what archaeologists call the Bronze Age – the second of the so-called three-Age system, following the Stone Age, preceding the Iron Age. There is now much debate about the character of the shift from stone to bronze, but what is generally accepted is that this shift, however it happened when and where in Europe, was not simply a matter of our ancestors ditching tools fashioned from stone in favour of bronze tools. Amongst other objects, Bronze Age people made some truly exquisite artefacts using gold, objects that were so obviously not made for the usual functional purposes.
Just finished at the Musée d’Archéologie Nationale, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on the outskirts of Paris, was an interesting exhibition on the Bronze Age Age of France. As France’s national archaeology museum and established in the 1860s by Napoleon III, there are some stunning objects in their collections. The museum’s permanent exhibitions are quite traditional albeit thorough, starting at the beginning and working their way through to the archaeology of the Medieval period. De Bronze & D’Or was a modest, temporary exhibition that explored daily life during the Bronze Age in France (2,400 – 700 BC) through some of the more striking artefacts in the museums collection.
On show in over 20 cases was an interesting collection of Bronze Age artefacts, from a few small and finely crafted arrow points from Brittany to striking and enigmatic artefacts made from gold, such as the gold Avanton cone found near Poitiers. I thought I would share just a few photographs of some of the objects and cases that caught my attention.
- Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia by Michael Frachetti (also available on Amazon.com)
- The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony (also available on Amazon.com)
- Bronze Age Connections: Cultural Contact in Prehistoric Europe by Peter Clark (also available on Amazon.com)