From stone to metal
The journey from stone to metal working was long and went through many phases until metal working finally prevailed. Bronze production and processing started in the advanced civilisations of the Middle East. In order to improve the properties of objects which initially had been made from copper alone, tin (about 10%) was added to the soft copper, thus creating bronze. This alloy went to dominate Central Europe around 2200 BC, thus marking the start of the Bronze Age. The use of bronze led to a higher distinction between social groups during this period than in the Neolithic.
Life and Subsistence
Archaeological excavations of a settlement near Telgte (Münsterland) revealed a longhouse together with its smaller buildings, a burial ground and even the neighbouring agricultural field, dating to the middle Bronze Age (c.1550-1200 B.C.).
Evidence of animal stalls and a fire pit within the dwelling prove that both animals and humans lived together under one roof albeit in separate areas of the house. The fields were divided in two lots, suggesting a ‘two-field’ economy.
Plants grown during the Bronze Age, such as oats, beans, and millet, are also being grown at the museum today.
Typical for the period, boardwalks through areas of swampy land were created. They are a sign of increasing traffic and trade during the Bronze Age as they allowed for easier travel. Wooden idols found near these boardwalks may have marked territorial borders.
Reconstruction Sketch of Byre Dwelling
Bronze Age, about 1500 B.C.
The dwelling is divided into a living area for humans and a barn area for animals. The building includes a fire pit, sleeping areas, ladders and animal stalls. The walls are made from willow lattices which are daubed with a mix of clay, straw chaff and cow manure.