A Study in Urnfield Interpretations in Middle Europe


The Urnfield cultures of the European Late Bronze Age appear most often as abrupt interruptions in the archaelogical record of the various regions they occupy. They are characterised by large cemeteries in which deposit of enurned cremations in flat (ditch) graves is the standard rite, though inhumation and the use of barrows or other alternative grave forms are not unknown among them. The often rich grave offerings consist of fine pottery, and bronzes, of types which show no direct derivation from the inhuming, Tumulus cultures (H├╝gelgraberkulturen) of the foregoing Middle Bronze Age in the regions concerned. In distribution, the Urnfield groups tend to concentrate on areas suited to agriculture, though contrast with a predominantly upland distribution of Tumulus culture has in the past perhaps been overstressed. Finally, though associated settlement has in general been far less studied than the cemeteries, it is to the Urnfield cultures that introduction of hill-forts is ascribed; it would seem, however, that these defences were built during advanced rather than initial phases of Urnfield history

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