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The Bronze and Iron Age

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    Posted: 18 Mar 2011 at 20:10
I recently read 'I, Claudius' by Robert Graves and in the middle of the sequel 'Claudius the God'. It has sparked in me a newfound curiosity for the ancient world. I was hoping that some erudite fellow could direct me to some well written and accessible narrative histories covering the early bronze age, along with something that provides a good overview of all of the major mythologies and cultures of the ancient world (including but not excluded to the Roman and Hellenic traditions) I am also interested in the Nordic, Briton, Gaelic (For shame!) and Teutonic traditions...

Any direction would be greatly appreciated. I'm looked to self educate here...


Edited by Parnell - 18 Mar 2011 at 20:12
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Mar 2011 at 21:35
My dear Parnell, if I were euridite on this subject I would be pleased to offer you some "fodder", but, alas, I am not in any position to make any worthwile response.
 
Perhaps, if this thread continues, then I might well offer some response.
 
I have, right in front of me a strange book, entitled "THE PHOENICIAN ORIGIN of BRITONS Scots& Anglo-Saxons" by L. A. Waddell!
 
Have any of you ever heard of it?
 
Regards,
 
Ron
 
Regards,
 
Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Mar 2011 at 22:47
Hi Ron,

I'm afraid I haven't - I'm shamefully ignorant of the ancient world. I can only ever recall reading one book that was set before the middle ages (Rubicon by Tom Holland) I have read some historical novels though, such as the two Robert Harris books about Cicero. The reason that I am looking for books on the early bronze age... perhaps the Greek golden age... is because I constantly meet allusions to this period and don't really know what they mean. I'm mightily curious though, and wikipedia can only tell you so much...

Where's Aster when you need him!?? He'd have a list an English mile long informing me of the historiography and whatnot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Mar 2011 at 22:48
No shortcuts...get thee to the classic narratives that served as the sources for Graves...who by the way was the producer of the fiction I loved in my youth. His Claudian novels (in first editions) have a place of honor on my bookshelf.
 
As for overviews why not pick up the Cambridge Ancient History volumes (the Third Edition tomes) and pore throught them as guides for further reading...by the way have you read the Graves translation of Suetonius?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Mar 2011 at 22:58
Hi Dr. G,

Funny you should mention the classics! I went on a little book buying spree there today, picking up the following:

PLINY - The letters of the younger pliny

PLUTARCH - Fall of the Roman Republic

MARCUS AURELIUS - Meditations (A passage in The World According to Garp, a novel by John Irving, always stuck in my mind where he refers to this philosopher Emperor and his book of musings)

SAINT AUGUSTINE - Confessions (A little later than what I was talking about, but I was on a roll)

SUETONIUS - The Twelve Caesars (An important source for Grave's novels... And this particular one is a translation by Graves himself.)

CICERO - Selected Works (Covers most of the basics)

I also ordered a book online by a: E.S. GRUEN - The Last Generation of the Roman Republic. (Based on online recommendations after a quick google and amazon search)

Herodutus has been weighing down my bookshelf for many years as it is.

As you can see, my eye's are certainly larger than my metephorical belly.

What I really need is a couple of narrative histories that can offer me the all important context... Not an encyclopedia mind, I'd like a little bit of opinion, perhaps even controversy. And my book buying spree merely satisfied my hunger for Roman history, but not for the more ancient Greek civilisation, or the earlier manifestations of the Meditteranean and Aegean Sea Peoples... Not to mention the barbarians up north Wink

Now that I think about it, I remember studying in close detail the ancient democracy of Athens (In the second year of university I took a popular course; History of Political thought) - I even remember reading the first half of Plato's Republic as a bright and curious first year university student (Around the half way point I discovered that excessive alcohol consumption provided immediately better entertainment than some old Greek guy... Oh how I repent!)


Edited by Parnell - 18 Mar 2011 at 23:02
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 07:33
Originally posted by opuslola opuslola wrote:

 
I have, right in front of me a strange book, entitled "THE PHOENICIAN ORIGIN of BRITONS Scots& Anglo-Saxons" by L. A. Waddell!
 


That sounds rather scary I would say... Sleepy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 07:47
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

The reason that I am looking for books on the early bronze age... perhaps the Greek golden age...


Ok, if you want the absolute edge of scholars in history then you should definitely go for Cambridge Ancient History books (Vol I - 6 covers Bronze age to Greek golden age). They might be academically oriented with many details but the writers are pure quality. If you're seeking for easy reading, then forget about finding such depth.

You can have a preview of what you will get on google books. I think those series will cover most of your needs Smile


edit: Just saw that DrG had already mentioned them. Clap


Edited by Flipper - 19 Mar 2011 at 07:54
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 07:55
Does works from the 13.th century count as "ancient"? I think the first longer narrative texts from Scandinavia and the Nordic are from that or the previous century. Especially from Iceland(its culture if not location strongly related to Norway in particular). Multi-volume works, Saxo Grammaticus:"Gestae Danorum", and books written by the icelander Snorri. Both write about the past(from their point of view) as well as the present, but of course it may seem exotic especially for people from other areas of the world. On the other hand the "scenery" is probably all the parts of world those people knew about, from Greenland, Russia, to North Africa and of course Konstantinople and the "Holy land".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 08:01
The works I mentioned are mainly of a "historical" nature, and written in "christian" epoch.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 08:30
By the way, isn't Bronze and Iron age dated different in northern Europe? If I remember well, the bronze age lasted until 100 BC?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 08:47
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:

By the way, isn't Bronze and Iron age dated different in northern Europe? If I remember well, the bronze age lasted until 100 BC?
In Denmark to 500 BC, but it depends on precise location.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 09:05
OK! Basically, nordic bronze age is not to be underestimated. There're some great samples of bronze craftsmanship during that period. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 15:18
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:

Originally posted by opuslola opuslola wrote:

 
I have, right in front of me a strange book, entitled "THE PHOENICIAN ORIGIN of BRITONS Scots& Anglo-Saxons" by L. A. Waddell!
 


That sounds rather scary I would say... Sleepy
 
Reminds one of various theories about the Persian origin of ... well, whatever race you'd like it to be, really.
 
Everybody knows the Britons are the descendants of Brutus.
 
Seriously, thinking of something that might easily be overlooked, there's E.J.Bickerman's Chronology of the Ancient World, which apart from being an interesting description of the calculation of various ancient calendars, equating their timelines, is a handy source of stuff like the list of the Cimmerian Bosporus, all the archons of Athens, all the Roman consuls and indeed et all Smile
 
Not exactly a page turner however.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2011 at 21:53
As gcle-2003 wrote above; "E. J. Bickerman's Chronology of the Ancient World", is something that all of us who love history should at least take a hard look!
 
And, as well the works of his predecessors.  Such as Petavius and Scaliger, Newton and later, Velikovsky!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 08:44
Originally posted by opuslola opuslola wrote:

As gcle-2003 wrote above; "E. J. Bickerman's Chronology of the Ancient World", is something that all of us who love history should at least take a hard look!
 
And, as well the works of his predecessors.  Such as Petavius and Scaliger, Newton and later, Velikovsky!


Basically, I read some good reviews about it after glce-2003 mentioned it. I couldn't find a "look inside" preview of it though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 11:52
I perhaps should mention, given opuslola's remarks, that Bickermann is a collection of factual data for reference, not some innovative hypothesis, numerological or otherwise..
But if you want to relate the Julian calendar as used in Smyrna with the one used at Alexandria, I don't know where else you could go. Smile


Edited by gcle2003 - 20 Mar 2011 at 11:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 12:24
A question I relate to this thread (I hope it is not seen as completely irrelevant) is about what people knew in the past about the rest of the planet. The "past" here may be the "iron and bronze age", but I will generally say the world before the "great discoveries" from the 15.th century onwards. On the one hand people then knew only some part of the planet, surrounded by Unknown territory. No wonder, since the vast majority probably in general had to walk, if they wanted to go anywhere on land. On the other hand we should not go to the opposite extreme, saying people in general knew little beyond their local village and immediate neighbourhood. Thousands of years ago there were probably contacts between many of the ancient civilisations, like Messopotamia and that of the ancient Indus Valley, whith some "trade stations" in between - like Bahrain ("Dilmun"?). Phoenicians and Greeks colonised places all over the Medditeranean and Black Sea, probaly over 3000 years ago. and in "post - classical"("Hellenistic") times the "Greek(known) world" stretched from the Atlantic coasts of the "Iberian" and Morocco to India (at least known by some), but even before some people in the Persian Empire must have known a great part of that region. Places as far west as Persia and even Messopotamia were known from the early Han-dynasty in China, and som of the peoples of Central Asia, highly mobile as they were, must have known great parts of the Interior of the Eurasian land mass. An example of faraway contacts is that the earliest coins found in greater quantity in Scandinavia as far as I know were from the Arabic or Persian regions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 13:49
Well fantasus...In times of Jason (~ 14th century BC), Kolchys (Georgia) was the end of the world. At least that is what we hear from the story. However, some Minoans seems to have reached Germany at that time and created a huge harbour.

500 years later and as you mentioned Phoenicians and Greeks probably spreaded information about geography all over the Mediterranean. However, I believe the first serious attempt to make a serious geographical/demographical "map" must have been made by the Persians. Since, the Persian empire spread a lot and they were constantly planning campaigns, they must have been doing a systematic research on the lands they posses or want to reach & posses.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 13:55
One of the great empty gaps in my own knowledge is about what was going on around this time in India: I wouldn't mind recommendations for some kind of informative text on the India of the first millenium BCE.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 14:16
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:

Well fantasus...In times of Jason (~ 14th century BC), Kolchys (Georgia) was the end of the world. At least that is what we hear from the story. However, some Minoans seems to have reached Germany at that time and created a huge harbour.

500 years later and as you mentioned Phoenicians and Greeks probably spreaded information about geography all over the Mediterranean. However, I believe the first serious attempt to make a serious geographical/demographical "map" must have been made by the Persians. Since, the Persian empire spread a lot and they were constantly planning campaigns, they must have been doing a systematic research on the lands they posses or want to reach & posses.

 I think the Phoenicians, originally from modern Lebanon, founded Cadiz (Gades) at a very early time. The Egyptians  3-4000 years ago made expeditions to "Punt" and "Ophir" - two places in Africa still not located. Then there ios "Shaba/Sheba" from the old testament, where it seems the Mesoppotamia (Ur) and Egypt were known almost from the beginning (or from the time were Abraham, should have lived). But we can compare how far people could get basically with the same means as in prehistoric times if we take a look at much more recent voyages by foot. The old Amerindian Empires(Atztec/Inca) were made without any other means to move people over land. Then we have the marches of the Greeks eastwards, fromXenophon to Alexander and later. Again most soldier - the infantry -walked most of the way, like later roman legionaires. The same for the great invasions from the west into Russia, from the swedish in 1712, Napoleon Bonapartes 1812 and so forth. Of course people on horseback would have an advantage, as probably those in boats. There are then the numerous invasions and migrations by various "barbarians", from the "Galatians" around 300 BC, the Cimbrians nad all the Goths and Vandals, etcetera. When such relative large groups could travel through much of Europe it seems likely small groups or individuals could have get even longer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 18:09
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

One of the great empty gaps in my own knowledge is about what was going on around this time in India: I wouldn't mind recommendations for some kind of informative text on the India of the first millenium BCE.
 
The Indian subcontinent's history during the time in question is normally called the Vedic Age and treats the transformation of its society under the pressure of Indo-European migrations. Here's a recap:
 
Harappan Period (Indus Valley): 3000-1300 BC
The "Aryan Migrations": 1300-1000 BC
Vedic Age: 1000-300 BC
Age of "Empire": 300 BC-AD 450
 
It is within the context of the latter that you find dynamic exceptions that would shape the Mauryan Empire and the Gupta Age and essentially forge a mirror empire in the subcontinent akin to that of Rome in the Mediterranean.
 
From the sketch above one could be easily tempted to conclude that the phenomena associated with explications with respect to Western Society have their counterparts in the subcontinent and that such can hardly be considered as some type of different exotica.
 
There is an interesting web site that attempts a chronological consensus:
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 18:24
Thanks. I already knew somethng about the mythology, but not much about the reality.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 19:25
Nice summary by DrG. When we speak about "Aryan Migrations" and the bronze age, we should mention the short-lived kindom of the Mitanni in Mesopotamia. It seems the Kings had names you would later find in India.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2011 at 22:02
excuse me, but I sometimes post on ANE forums, etc., and I have most strongly been told that the use of Bronze, Iron, as ages, when these metals became both common and then replaced, are passe'!
 
That is no modern archaeologist used these naming conventions that really denote the metals!  I am led to believe that 14C dating and new discoveries, have merged these "metal dates" into a mess/morass!
 
Regards,
 
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Edited by opuslola - 20 Mar 2011 at 22:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2011 at 02:40
Modern archaeologists? Do you mean the nuts usually seen parading through the History Channel? Usage of Paleolithic, mesolithic, and neolithic are hardly passe and in terms of culture the shorthand remain valid with respect to the introducton of metallurgy. It is a periodization model in prehistory and rather specific with respect to individual societies and the process of contact and interchange. In terms of human migration and population movements no one is going to find usage of Bronze Age culture an anachronism within the specified parameters. What C14 might have to do with it totally escapes me since "calibration" is as arbitrary as any overlapping dating premised on other markers.
 
Within historiography terminology is very clear and those that desire to fiddle with such have other agendas in mind. No better example can be found than the verbiage that deformed late 20th century archaeology where the "label" became more important than the subject under research. Thus you have the equivalent of one group of zanies going gaga over Chalcolithic while another demands the Copper Age (and some even go for the Stone-Copper Age) and really make the question of culture irrelevant! What all forget is that historians are not discussing metallurgy but cultural parameters. Here is an interesting on-line essay over the nit-picking and archaeologists--
 
 
--and if on reading such you naturally understand why historians are loath to discuss history in terms of stages. If one is discussing artefacts or artistic enterprise and are unfamiliar with the parameters set by historiography go to it, but when labels become more important than the subject at hand you've left the world of scholarship for the realm of polemics.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2011 at 07:44
I agree with DrGonzaga above. I don't remember reading a book published the last 5 years, referring to those periods with a different name. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2011 at 19:45

No, they still use the metal designations, but it does no longer represent a specific age where the use of this metal was formost!  Maybe I am just a little too far ahead of some of you?Cool

Regards,
 
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Edited by opuslola - 21 Mar 2011 at 20:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2011 at 20:16
Originally posted by opuslola opuslola wrote:

No, they still use the metal designations, but it does no longer represent a specific age where the use of this metal was formost!  Maybe I am just a little too far ahead of some of you?Cool

Don't be silly.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2011 at 20:48
I am not trying to be silly, but you might well be?
 
Perhaps you  have been so attracted to this particular site for so long, that you have lost contact with modern research, and opinion?
 
Such as;
 
 
 
 
So, just picture an "Olive Branch" here?
 
 
Peace,


Edited by opuslola - 21 Mar 2011 at 20:56
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2011 at 22:05
During what we call bronze age some people didn't have yet bronze (and lived in neolithic age still) while others passed already to iron. The Bronze Age falls between the Stone and Iron ages, and is a reference to the principal material for making weapons and ornaments. As I mentioned before, bronze age in Scandinavia is a different period than bronze age in Mesopotamia.

Let this speak my words: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/81017/Bronze-Age

In any case, I don't get it how your link above make a point? In 2010 publications you will still find the terms as described.
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