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Sepulchral Pottery, British Isles (Bronze Age). 1-3, Drinking cups or beakers. 4-9, Food vessels. 10-12, Cinerary urns.
With the discovery of iron as the ideal metal for cutting | Celts, who took a considerable time to emerge from their native implements and weapons, we enter into the millennium before barbarism. It is, at any rate, fairly certain that for some Iron age.
the Christian era; for roughly speaking, the develop- hundreds of years previous to this Celtic invasion, Ireland was an
ment of the civilization associated with the gradual enormously rich country, supplying not only herself, but also substitution of iron for bronze began about 1000 B.C. Again we Britain and part of the Atlantic seaboard with gold. The fact look towards the south-east of Europe for the earliest evidence became eventually an ingrained tradition in the history of the of this great advance; from that quarter it gradually spread country, subsisting in Irish literature for centuries after the over the whole continent, reaching the more northern parts Christian era. Such natural wealth must have produced in these about five hundred years later. In Egypt, the home of a mar- early times a marked effect on the relations and culture of these vellous civilization at a very early time, the conditions were Iberian Irish, and one might reasonably expect a much higher different, and there is reason to suppose that iron was known level of luxury and wealth than is indicated by the remains there long before it was in use on the northern side of the Medi- commonly found. With the opportunities provided by communi. terranean. Our knowledge of the dates at which iron was first cation with the continent, and the interchange of goods, with all known in parts of Asia is still very limited, and further discoverics the chances of benefiting by ideas current among other races, must be awaited.
it is astonishing that Ireland did not play a more prominent part The archaeology of Ireland presents features in many respects in Europe, more than a thousand years before the Christian era. different from those of the rest of the British Islands in the Stone While gold as a metal was known in Europe, even before Ireland.
and Bronze Ages. Such affinities in style as are copper, it is a curious fact that silver was almost unknown, and
traceable connect it rather with Scotland than with hardly ever used. One of the most interesting sites for any part of the south, a fact doubtless due to proximity as well the metal, at about the same period of which we have Medio as in part to race connexions. A special feature is the astonishing just been speaking in Ireland, was the Mediterranean quantity of gold that was produced in Ireland during the early coast of Spain. Here in the neighbourhood of Almeria Bronze Age. The frequent discovery of gold ornaments of this have been found remains of a large and apparently prosperous time has enriched to a surprising degree the museum of the population ranging from the Stone Age to the end of the Bronze Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, while many private and public Age, with houses and tombs, besides the fortifications rendered collections both in Ireland and elsewhere contain a considerable necessary, in the later period, by their possession of the rare and number of similar relics. If these represented the total wealth precious metal, silver. Rare it certainly was, for the quantity of gold of the Bronze Age the amount would probably exceed found was exceedingly small, tiny slender rings for the fingers that of any ancient period in any country, except perhaps the or the ears, and rivets to hold the axe-blade in its handle; but republic of Colombia in South America. But the known remains nothing to compare with the lavish richness of the American can only be a small proportion of the original wealth. Vast mines. The interesting race who occupied these dwellings and quantities must have been discovered from medieval times finally were laid to rest in the adjoining graves were evidently onwards, nearly all of which would be melted down, owing to connected more or less closely with the peoples inhabiting the the ignorance of the finders or to the uncertainty of ownership. eastern coasts of the Mediterranean. Further, it may be taken as certain that there still remains in the Recent discoveries in the central Mediterranean area not only earth a great mass of the metal which may or may not be dis- furnish new and trustworthy (though none the less surprising) covered at some future time. If it were by any means possible dates in ancient history, but may also bridge the distance to estimate what these united categories would amount to, the between the Levant and the Pillars of Hercules. The results result would scarcely be credited. It is well known that gold has achieved by Arthur Evans and other distinguished explorers in been, and still is, found in Ireland; but it is hard to believe that Crete (9.v.) opened a new chapter in the history of European there were no richer deposits than are now known. It is at any civilization, and may fitly be compared with the excavation of rate certain that the rivers were worked as late as the opening Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns by Schliemann some thirty years centuries of our era. In the Bronze Age the most characteristic before. The progress of archaeology in the interval can be well ornaments were penannular objects of all sizes from a small tested by a comparison of the discussions to which the two series finger ring up to an armlet, generally known as “ring money of discoveries gave rise. The mistaken attributions and unfor. from the difficulty of assigning a definite use to the whole series; tunate animosities in connexion with earlier excavations are and the flat, crescent-shaped, diadem-like objects called "lunulae," almost forgotten, while the brilliant discoveries in the island of which are perhaps even more definitely characteristic of Ireland. King Minos have not only themselves been made on scientific Such objects of gold, if ornamented at all, are, like some of the principles, but are illumined by the splendid revelation of the fat axe-heads, engraved with simple geometrical patterns, civilizations of the Mycenaean and the pre-Mycenaean era. lozenge-shaped chequers and the like, a type of decoration in A great change indeed took place in the methods of classical itself easily determined as being of the Bronze Age, but bearing study during the last decade of the 19th century, a change at the same time an interesting and very curious analogy to which affected the entire character of future classical remains of the same period from the Iberian Peninsula, more research. It was formerly the common habit among especially from Portugal. If any overland culture-relations students and professors of archaeology to confine their attention existed between the two countries, it would be only reasonable and their interests entirely to classical texts and even to classical to expect the occurrence of the objects in question in the inter- sites, rejecting as outside the scope of their studies anything vening districts. But so far nothing of the kind has been that was not manifestly beautiful as art. Whatever was primi. discovered. Moreover, had it been an isolated instance of tive in its aspect, or wanting in the familiar characteristics that resemblance it might be negligible, but an equally odd similarity had for centuries been associated with Greek art, was either is found in the fact that the Irish were in the habit of grinding rejected entirely or at any rate relegated to a second place, as the faces of their flint arrow-heads, an apparently useless refine having but a poor claim to be classed with objects of the finer ment, while the Portuguese of the early Bronze Age did the same periods. The result was necessarily misleading. The unin. Again, the dolmens of Ireland bear a distinct resemblance to structed majority very naturally regarded the art of Pheidian those of Spain and Portugal, while the French dolmens, with times as a thing of supernatural growth, which had been be. few exceptions in the north, have a different character. These stowed by divine favour upon a chosen spot on the earth, without curious points are in favour of the tradition that the original | a human parentage, and almost without leaving any descendants
. inhabitants of Ireland were of Iberian origin, and further, that the evolutionary methods of other branches of science, however, they did not come overland but by sea, and there are indeed were by degrees brought to bear upon the sacred precincts of signs of extensive navigation in the Bronze Age of northern pure Greek art. It was found that the crude products of the Europe. It was perhaps in the middle of our Bronze Age, say second millennium B.C., the formloss images evolved by the about 1000 B.C., that this Iberian race was supplanted by the luncultured dwellers in the Mediterranean area more than a