Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Trade routes connected the Eastern Mediterrean and the Nordic countries

Posted by Fredsvenn on March 17, 2015

In the 7th millennium BC, when the reindeer and their hunters had moved for northern Scandinavia, forests had been established in the land. A culture called the Maglemosian culture lived in Denmark and southern Sweden, and north of them, in Norway and most of southern Sweden, the Fosna-Hensbacka culture, who lived mostly along the shores of the thriving forests.

Utilizing fire, boats and stone tools enabled these Stone Age inhabitants to survive life in northern Europe. The northern hunter/gatherers followed the herds and the salmon runs, moving south during the winters, moving north again during the summers.

These early peoples followed cultural traditions similar to those practised throughout other regions in the far north – areas including modern Finland, Russia, and across the Bering Strait into the northernmost strip of North America (containing portions of today’s Alaska and Canada).

During the 6th millennium BC, southern Scandinavia was clad in lush forests of temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. In these forests roamed animals such as aurochs, wisent, moose and red deer.

Now, the Kongemose culture lived off these animals. Like their predecessors, they also hunted seals and fished in the rich waters. North of the Kongemose people, lived other hunter-gatherers in most of southern Norway and Sweden, called the Nøstvet and Lihult cultures, descendants of the Fosna and Hensbacka cultures. These cultures still hunted, in the end of the 6th millennium BC when the Kongemose culture was replaced by the Ertebølle culture in the south.

During the 5th millennium BC, the Ertebølle culture took up pottery from the Linear Pottery culture in the south, whose members had long cultivated the land and kept animals.

About 4000 BC South Scandinavia up to River Dalälven in Sweden became part of the Funnelbeaker culture. It is not known what language these early Scandinavians spoke. It might have been similar to Basque, due to the distribution of the monuments by early megalith builders. The Pitted Ware culture then developed along Sweden’s east coast as a return to a hunting economy in the mid-4th millennium BC.

Towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC, they were overrun by new groups who many scholars think spoke Proto-Indo-European, the Battle-Axe culture. This new people advanced up to Uppland and the Oslofjord, and they probably provided the language that was the ancestor of the modern Scandinavian languages.

This new culture was individualistic and patriarchal with the battle axe as a status symbol, and were cattle herders. However, soon a new invention would arrive, that would usher in a time of cultural advance in Scandinavia, the Bronze Age.

During the Nordic Bronze Age (c. 1700–500 BC), the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian prehistory, an advanced civilization manufacturing bronze weapons and bronze and gold jewellery appears in Denmark, parts of Sweden and parts of Norway.

It has been assumed that this civilization was founded in amber trade, which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times, through contacts with Central European and Mediterranean cultures.

The Amber Road was an ancient trade route for the transfer of amber from coastal areas of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Prehistoric trade routes between Northern and Southern Europe were defined by the amber trade.

As an important raw material, sometimes dubbed “the gold of the north”, amber was transported from the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts overland by way of the Vistula and Dnieper rivers to Italy, Greece, the Black Sea, Syria and Egypt thousands of years ago, and long after.

In Scandinavia the amber road probably gave rise to the thriving Nordic Bronze Age culture, bringing influences from the Mediterranean Sea to the northernmost countries of Europe. From at least the sixteenth century BC amber was moved from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean area.

The breast ornament of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen (ca. 1333-1324 BC) contains large Baltic amber beads Heinrich Schliemann found Baltic amber beads at Mycenae, as shown by spectroscopic investigation. The quantity of amber in the Royal Tomb of Qatna, Syria, is unparalleled for known second millennium BC sites in the Levant and the Ancient Near East.

Amber was sent from the North Sea to the temple of Apollo at Delphi as an offering. From the Black Sea, trade could continue to Asia along the Silk Road, another ancient trade route. In Roman times, a main route ran south from the Baltic coast through the land of the Boii (modern Czech Republic and Slovakia) to the head of the Adriatic Sea (modern Gulf of Venice).

The Old Prussian towns of Kaup and Truso on the Baltic were the starting points of the route to the south. Sometimes the Kaliningrad Oblast is called the “the amber area”.

The period 2300-500 BC was the most intensive petroglyph carving period, consisting of carvings of an agricultural nature and depicting warfare, ships, domesticated animals, etc. There has also been found petroglyphs with themes of sexual nature in Bohuslän; these are dated from 800-500 BC.

Nordic Bronze Age


Amber Road

two cobalt-blue glass beads

 These two cobalt-blue glass beads, found in 3,400-year-old graves in Denmark, came from ancient Egypt, probably via extensive European trade routes, according to new research.

Bronze Age bigwigs in what’s now Denmark wore brightly colored glass beads made in the workshops of Egyptian pharaohs and Mesopotamian rulers, a new investigation finds. Trade routes connected Egypt and Mesopotamia with Denmark by 3,400 years ago and remained active until at least 3,100 years ago.

Ancient Egyptian blue glass beads reached Scandinavia


A new study suggests that a ninth century ring from a Viking site in Sweden came directly from the Islamic civilization. The ring includes an inset of colored glass engraved with ancient Arabic script.

More than a century after its discovery in a ninth century woman’s grave, an engraved ring has revealed evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic world.

Scandinavians traded for fancy glass objects from Egypt and Mesopotamia as early as 3,400 years ago. Thus, seagoing Scandinavians could have acquired glass items from Islamic traders in the same part of the world more than 2,000 years later rather than waiting for such desirable pieces to move north through trade networks.

Ring brings ancient Viking, Islamic civilizations closer together

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