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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Amber's Swedish History - Chapter 2

The Bronze Age
1800 to 500 BC

Umm, where was I? Oh yes, dead people in holes. Well, by now they were burying them in dolmens, which were basically a stone box covered with huge piles of dirt dumped on top to make a dome shape. I think they learned this from cats, who have always buried things that shouldn’t be laying around on top of the ground.

Bronze is made out of copper and tin. The Swedes didn’t know how to make either one of those yet, so bronze was brought in from the outside, probably by German tourists and Swedish sailors who used to float around the Mediterranean. They brought a lot of fancy bronze axes, but they were only used as presents and status symbols. People continued to kill each other with weapons made out of stone and wood for a long time.


These axes were found in Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. The writing above the edge of the blade on the right is done in Runes, which were considered magical in those days, because magicians could look at them and tell what people had said. I don’t read Runic so I can’t tell you what the marks mean . . . probably nothing important.

The climate was still mild and men ran around in loincloths. Some of them wore fancy helmets with horns sticking out of the side like you see in Viking movies, but it would be another thousand years before Vikings were invented. The helmets were never used in battle.

This is one of the helmets men used to wear when they wanted to look important.

Some fancy bronze shields were dug up in Vastergöland thirty years ago. A lot of foreign trade was going on, and the Swedes liked to talk with other Europeans about the world, and gods, and stuff like that.

Gotland Island on the right. Stockholm – upper right corner.

The Iron Age
1500 BC to 1060 AD

It started to get cold again around 600 BC. Archeologists used to think the Swedes left town when it happened, and called this the time of ‘no finds’. It’s true that some Swedes moved out, but most of them just started wearing pants and earmuffs. Sweden was named Scandinavia by a Greek named Herodotus who said it was a place where winter lasted for eight months and it was still cold in the summer. A Roman called Pliny called it, “That terrible land far up north,” in his book, Naturalis Historia. He died in Pompeii when Vesuvius blew up.

By this time the Swedes had learned how to build shelters for themselves and their pet cows. All this was going on when Buddha was sitting under a bo tree in India. It was warmer there so he didn’t need to wear pants.


Another Roman, a senator called, Tacitus, wrote that the Swedes indulged in joyous festivities to celebrate mother earth, and that she came to them on a carriage pulled by cows. He was obviously tripping. The Romans had a lot of time write and drink wine because slaves were doing all the work.

Next Wednesday – Vikings, Christians & Kings

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