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Article by Philipp Stockhammer Re-Dates Bronze Age

Oct 21, 2015

PD Dr. Philipp W. Stockhammer, Prof. Johannes Krause (Jena) and their research group published a paper about their latest findings, which proof a re-writing of the Early Bronze Age chronology. The time span of the Early Bronze Age in Central Europe has to be shortened from conventionally around 750 years to 450 years – from 2150 to 1700 BC. The paper “Rewriting the Central European Early Bronze Age Chronology” was published by the renowned journal PLOS ONE in October 2015.

The paper addresses an almost century old debate on the chronology of the Early Bronze Age in Central Europe that was usually dated from 2300 to 1550 BC. Since more than 100 years, archaeologists have divided the Early Bronze Age into two chronological phases (Bronze A1 and A2), that followed the Neolithic Age as stages of technical progress. At that time, bronze as a new alloy of copper and tin was established and developed from an alloy containing very little tin to more complex bronze cast from both metals. Based on an evolutionary view, scholars assumed a gradual development from simple hammered bronzes (A1) to complex cast bronzes (A2). The transition to more complex casting techniques was dated around 2000 BC. Stockhammer, Krause and their team now propose a significantly different dating range, based on 140 newly radiocarbon dated human remains from Final Neolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age cemeteries south of Augsburg (Bavaria) and a re-dating of ten graves from the cemetery of Singen. They date the beginning of the Early Bronze Age to around 2150 BC and its end to around 1700 BC. Moreover, instead of a transition between Bronze A1 and A2, they propose a complete overlap between the two phases over a period of 200 years, from 1900-1700 BC. The two phases do not represent a chronological sequence, but regionally different social phenomena connected to the willingness of local actors to appropriate the new bronze technology.

The paper “Rewriting the Central European Early Bronze Age chronology: Evidence from large-scale radiocarbon dating” was released in the international open access journal PLOS ONE in October 2015. It is the outcome of a research collaboration headed by PD Dr. Philipp Stockhammer, Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University, and Prof. Johannes Krause, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena. The results are based on the research conducted by the Cluster’s research group MC8.2 “Innovation Management” in cooperation with the WIN project “Times of Upheaval: Changes of Society and Landscape at the Beginning of the Bronze Age” headed by Stockhammer and Krause at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences.

PD Dr. Philipp W. Stockhammer is member of research project MC8 "Appropriating Innovations" and heads project MC8.2 "Innovation Management – Bronze Age Entanglements between Asia and Europe". He is Research Fellow at the Institute for Prehistory and Early History and Near Eastern Archaeology in Heidelberg and Junior Fellow at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies.

Prof. Johannes Krause is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena. He focusses on the analysis of old to very old DNA using the DNA sequencing. Krause is a collegiate of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and was awarded the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize.

Further Links

Paper at PLOS ONE
News Heidelberg University (German)
News Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (German)
Film about Philipp Stockhammer
Article in German newspaper "Die Welt"


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