The Neolithic period, during which the transition from a hunting culture to a settled farming culture took place and the pre-lndo-European peoples were steadily thrust back by the advancing Germanic tribes, lasted in Scandinavia until about 1800 B.C. The Nordic culture, which later spread into Central Europe, is known to us only through its pottery, of various types and in various styles. The two main groups, Megalithic ware and Single Grave or Corded ware, are founded in many local variations. In the Megalithic ware two broad trends can be distinguished a Danish and a Swedish style. In Denmark four phases can be identified in the decoration of pottery:
The Dolmen period: ribs and scratched vertical lines.
The early Passage Grave period’, a framework of horizontal and vertical lines formed by deep incisions.
The late Passage Grave period: the same type of framework decoration but more delicately executed and occasionally with overall patterns.
The Stone Cist period’, a rapid decline in the standard of decoration.
To the Neolithic period belong also the realistic (earlier) or schematic (later) rock carvings of the Arctic culture, found mainly in Norway, which are ascribed to the pre-lndo-European population (the Arcto-Baltic culture). These carvings, mostly of the animals which were the hunters’ prey but more rarely of human figures, were no doubt of magical significance, designed to bring luck in the chase.
The GERMANIC ART of Scandinavia covers a period of some 3000 years (1800
B.C. to a.d 1200), with a sharp division between the Bronze Age and the early historical period of the first Christian centuries.
The Bronze Age, which dates in Scandinavia between 1800 and 600 B.C. offered fresh scope for technical and artistic development through the introduction of the new material, bronze (9 parts copper, 1 part tin). Weapons, implements and ornaments were now cast in stone and clay moulds, and in the Middle Bronze Age the cire perdue method came into use. The decoration was either cast in the mould or applied by the use of punches, engraving or hammering. As in the earlier period, pottery was made without the potter’s wheel. The Nordic culture of the Bronze Age was undoubtedly developed by Germanic peoples, whose work in bronze was of a high technical and artistic standard. Four stylistic phases can be distinguished:
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