2.2.2 The Bronze Age: a golden age of Europe

A second example of sites and monuments being used to evoke a European 'origin myth' comes from representations of the Bronze Age. Both Rowlands (1987) and Kristiansen (1996) have argued that the Bronze Age has been constructed as the period when a distinctive European society emerged. The idea of a distinctly European society stems from the work of Childe, who proposed that 'in prehistoric times barbarian societies in Europe behaved in a distinctly European way' (Childe 1928, 9). This distinct way of life revolved around the production of bronze, a process that required international trade to gather raw materials and spawned an independent group of craft workers. This evocation of the Bronze Age suggested a distinctive Europe that was capitalist and individualist (Jones and Graves-Brown 1996). Jones and Graves-Brown suggested that it was this view of the Bronze Age that underlay the selection of that period as the 'first Golden Age of Europe' in a Council of Europe initiative focused on the Bronze Age:

'There is every justification for describing the Bronze Age as the "Golden Age" of Europe. There was a network of trade routes connecting even the remotest areas with major cultural centres and with one another. This can be observed in technical achievements as well as in art, music and even literature'. (Trotzig 1993, 3)

Jones and Graves-Brown supposed that the Bronze Age was chosen to represent Europe rather than the 'Celtic' Iron Age because it was neutral, untainted by the nationalistic chauvinism often associated with the latter (Jones and Graves-Brown 1996).


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