THE BRONZE AGE IN SWEDEN.
is further made probable by the fact that the barrows of the period so often lie thick together."
While writing was unknown during the Bronze age, a sort of picture-writing existed which is preserved in the rock-carvings found quite often in different parts of the country. There can hardly be a question of the age of these works, for the representations of swords and other known objects correspond closely with the objects themselves that remain; and the absence of Runic or other inscriptions in connection with them forbids the presumption of their belonging to a later age than that of bronze. The pictures do not indicate much artistic power in the carvers, but they furnish useful clews to the kind of life the people led and the trend of their thoughts. Thus, besides illustrating the use of horses and oxen, they tell us of the appearance and size of the boats (Fig. 7), of which no actual specimens that can be certainly assigned to the Bronze age have yet been found. These vessels seem to have been usually, but not always, alike at the two ends. "We often see the high and narrow stem terminating in an animal's head; sometimes the stern also is similarly decorated. As no indisputable traces of masts and sails have been found on the rock-carvings, the boats of the Bronze age would seem to have been exclusively designed for rowing. The same is also the case . . . with the remarkable boat found in the bog at Nydam, in Denmark, which belongs to an early part of the Iron age. We often find sea-fights described on the rock-carvings. We have also proofs of peaceful intercourse by sea with other peoples in the many things imported from foreign lands which occur in the finds from the Bronze age. Chief among imported goods we must reckon all the bronze used in Sweden at this time regarded as raw material. Probably also most of the gold used there during the Bronze age was brought from other countries. Besides these, we ought also to set down as imports certain bronze works which are undoubtedly of foreign origin, because they are very rare in Scandinavia but common in other countries."
The dead were buried unburned in the earlier and burned in the later part of the Bronze age. The unburned bodies were usually laid in cists composed of flat stones placed edgewise, and covered with similar stones. Coffins made of oak trunks split and hollowed out are not uncommon. The stone cists, which contain several skeletons, and are often very large, appear to be the oldest; others are smaller, and contain a single extended skeleton. Sometimes the bones do not lie immediately in the small stone cists, but in an earthenware vessel, which may be closely surrounded by the stones of the cist, or may be without a cist. Sometimes, again, graves of the Bronze age are made up entirely of collections of burned bones lying buried in the ground and only covered by a flat
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