This is 19 cm long Bronze Age lance head from an old S/W-German Collection. A very fine example of prehistoric weaponry. When we consider the beauty of Bronze Age weapons, we must not forget the terror brought by specialized warriors on Bronze Age communities.
The concept of dividing prehistorical ages into systems based on different materials was introduced by the Danish archaeologist Christian Juergensen Thomsen (1788–1865). Thomsen was able to use the Danish national collection of antiquities and the records of their finds as well as reports from contemporaneous excavations to provide a solid empirical basis for the system. He showed that artifacts could be classified into types and that these types varied over time in ways that correlated with the predominance of stone, bronze or iron implements and weapons.
This kind of epochalism has much criticized. For example Graham Connah asserts: “So many archaeological writers have used this model for so long that for many readers it has taken on a reality of its own. In spite of the theoretical agonizing of the last half-century, epochalism is still alive and well … Even in parts of the world where the model is still in common use, it needs to be accepted that, for example, there never was actually such a thing as ‘the Bronze Age.”
Anyhow we have still to ask for the impact of metals on society, social systems, social agency and ideologies. Many researchers argue that that there is a qualitative difference between Neolithic and Bronze Age social formations in prehistoric Europe, which fundamentally changed both their worldviews and their political economies.
During the Bronze Age we see the development of permanent higher-level institutions in charge of trade and alliance formation. There was a rapid development of inter-regional economic dependency and new levels of division of labor compared to the preceding times.
One aspect of this transformation was the the formation of a complete new set of weapons (swords, lances, protective body amour) and for the first time the formation of more permanent warrior groups and retinues, which among other things is evidenced by systematic use wear on swords and lances, and trauma on skeletons. These new weapons were much more deadly and efficient than anything preceding them, and the warriors also demanded regular training to master effective swordsmanship. In short the swords introduced a new institution of warrior elites with retinues that could be mobilized and hired as mercenaries when needed. This new panoply of weapons was to be in continued use until historical times , and it became an institution that could be mobilized by chiefly leaders, but which could also overthrow them….