Station: [218] The Bronze Age

The more frequent occurrence of Bronze Age objects, primarily in graves and deposits, encouraged 19th century prehistorians to coin a new term; the Bronze Age.  It is used to describe the period between 2,300 and 750 BC. The Iron Age followed the Bronze Age.

Within a very short period, bronze objects took over all aspects of everyday life: eating and drinking, jewellery and tool production, and weapons. These were deposited in hoards and also had a religious significance.

However, not everyone was able to possess this greatly desired metal. There was limited access to ore deposits and the skills needed to work the metal were restricted to specialised workers. The result was long distance trade and different levels of ownership. For the first time, there were rich and poor people, is how social elites emerged, as the ones who controlled trade presumably also held the reins of power.

As a mark of their power, these powerful elites built forts on hilltops and on the lower ground for use as trading places and to defend the long distance trade routes. This part of the exhibition contains models of three Saxon forts: Goldkuppe near Seußlitz, Burgberg near Löbsal and the Schanze near Göhrisch. All three are located at the ‘Rauhe Furt’, a loop in the River Elbe to the North of Meißen. There, the mountain terrain flattens off, making it possible to cross the River Elbe safely. These forts were erected facing each other on the mountain tops on either side of the river.

Fortifications consisting of walls and ditches with inner structures are familiar to us from the early and later Bronze Age, and the early Iron Age. These days, they are often still visible as striking landmarks. The ramparts were generally constructed from timber and earth. Settlement finds occur rarely within these enclaves, but traces of bronze metalworking have been found. This craft may have been practised in workshops within these forts.