Saturday, September 15, 2007

As to the Stone Age and my holiday

My history books does not really talk about stone age but rather a 'western neolithic zone' (there are six of zones in Europe evidently) encompassing the western edge from southern Spain to the British Isles, Scandinavia and Iceland. They are characterized by vast constructions from dolmens, menhirs to huge chambered tombs, stone avenues and stone circles. Not small round stones.

Then there seems to have been a Chalcolithic Age to describe the long transitional phase when Stone and Bronze Ages coincided. The onset of the Bronze Age began in the Middle East 3000 BC and in Europe perhaps a 1000 years later. Some great civilization during that period. But somehow the Bronze Age and its cultures suffered a breakdown - trade disrupted, cities abandoned, cultivation decreased, invasions.

Iron working begun in Asia Minor and spread to Egypt (c.1200 BC), the Aegean (c.1000) and the Danube basin (c. 750BC). Evidently the Iron Age is normally divided into two periods. The first was c.750-400 BC and a second 400-50 BC, named after two important sites (Hallstatt and La Tène respectively). At that point some written sources and traditions (names of places etc.) begin to appear.

My history book then turns its attention to the Greeks and the Romans and the Mediterranean and the Middle East areas. During that period tribes in the north certainly traded and learned the ways of dealing with metal and other useful things. So when the Romans ruled the Mediterranean and European central lands iron tools and weapons were of course also known in the north.

The Vikings seem to have been a wild sort. The 'Norman' appeared in Europe from around 700 and raided the British Isles repeatedly, e.g. ransacking Lindisfarne (a Celtic Christian monastry a bit north of where I live) in 793. This they did by seasonal raids with boats. Later they set themselves up permanently in big camps where they stayed over winter and in some cases these camps led to settlement. The Danish Vikings looted the French coast and northern France and western England. The Norwegians were dominant on the west coast where we live and the outer islands. The Swedes operated on the Baltic and eastwards in the Russian lands. The Viking domination and ravage was quite extensive really and stretched from the Black Sea in the east to Iceland in the west and France in the south. Even Sicily was for a time under Norman rule.

I don't think that the Vikings had much use of round stones really and the Vikings have nothing at all to do with the Stone Age. They rather belong to the early Middle Ages if you want to put them in a European perspective.

My summer holiday begins today and for me holidays is about traveling, pictures and reading. I have been looking around in my bookshelves to see what engages me and what is there to read (many of the books I have I have not read!). It looks like it could be reading about Europe: the history and/or its present politics. As to traveling Eve and I will see friends in southeastern England and will probably try to see some gardens and other historically interesting things - cathedrals and the like. As to pictures I hope to be back.

But we will also be at home and work with the garden (Eve), boat models (me) etc.



LS said...

Welcome on the blog!!!

Ha, so I was right! I wonder if Historiska Museet in Stockholm know about this plaque in Chicago and how incorrect it is. I am suffering from the 'lots of unread books' too, but it is a lot better than having only books that have been read and be bored. All those opportunities for interesting reading that area waiting us inside closed books... I love it.

LS said...

Also, I have heard that York in England comes from Jorevik north of GOthenburg, where once there was a big viking village. That means that New York is based on an old viking name! Brunswick too, of course - Brunnsviken.

O.K. said...

Välkommen Olle.

EH said...

Kul att se dig på vår blog Olle, välkommen.