Prehistory of Western Europe

Western Europe, the western part of Europe with France, the British Isles (geographically also defined as Northwest Europe) and the Benelux countries (geographically also included in Central Europe).

According to countryaah, the oldest evidence of human culture from the Paleolithic Age in Western Europe are rubble tools and debris from high-lying terrace gravel of the Garonne. In the Vallonet cave on the French Mediterranean coast, stone tools were found along with animal remains from the early Ice Age. Also from southern France (Arago cave near Tautavel) come human remains that prove the presence of Homo erectus (or an archaic form of Homo sapiens) in Western Europe 450,000 years ago. The skull remains of Atapuerca in northern Spain (Homo antecessor) are probably more than 300,000 years older. For the British Isles, the roughly 400,000–250,000 year old bones from Boxgrove (West Sussex) and are valid Swanscombe (Kent) as the oldest evidence of Homo erectus or related human forms. Extensive excavations have taken place on the island of Jersey, where camp sites around 200,000 years old had been discovered in the La Cotte cave. During the long cold phases of the Ice Age, Western Europe was a refuge for Ice Age wildlife. Here the hunt for herd animals (reindeer, wild horse) gave people a relatively secure economic basis throughout the Paleolithic. Especially from the Middle Paleolithic (Moustérien), for which the Neanderthals is characteristic as a human type, the number of archaeological sites increases. Ice Age art, rock art). Numerous stratigraphic findings – v. a. from caves in France – made possible a temporal and cultural classification of the Upper Paleolithic, which is also largely valid for Central Europe.

As a result of the improvement in the climate from around 10,000 BC. The hunter and gatherer cultures of the Mesolithic period, which were adapted to various biotopes , developed in France from microlithic groups of forms of the Tardenoisia or Sauveterrien and on the British Isles, which at that time were still connected to the European mainland. is characterized by find complexes of the Star Carr type.

The Neolithic Age (Neolithic) began on the Mediterranean coast with the adoption of eastern Mediterranean cultural elements – agriculture and cattle breeding, production of ornate clay vessels (imprint or cardial ceramics), millstones – as early as the 6th millennium BC. Started. The Mesolithic stone processing techniques were retained, so that population continuity can be assumed. Domestic animals (initially sheep, pigs and cattle) spread along the coastal route (Liguria) and at sea (Corsica). While most of the early Neolithic settlement remains are attested from caves, a village settlement with round huts was discovered near Orange (Courthézon). The Cardialkeramik ( Impressokeramik) is represented in the coastal zone from Liguria to Catalonia. In the area north of the Cevennes, agriculture did not begin until the 4th millennium BC. Chr. Entrance. In contrast, in central and northern France, as well as in Belgium and the Netherlands, the most important Neolithic stimuli can be traced back to the ribbon ceramic culture, which began around 5500 BC. From the Upper and Lower Rhine to the Paris basin.

The middle Neolithic (from about 4000 BC) was shaped in France by the Chassey culture; In connection with the Cortaillod culture, which is close to it, the area between the Western Alps and the Pyrenees became a single cultural zone for a millennium. The region between the Meuse and the Rhine was more closely linked to Central Europe. On the Atlantic coast, the early Neolithic cultural development was already in the 4th / 3rd centuries. Millennium BC Chr. Determined by the erection of megalithic buildings (Carnac). Megalithic structures are also widespread in the British Isles, where the Windmill-Hill clay pots are considered the oldest evidence of ceramic manufacture; on the Orkney Islands in Scotland not only large grave monuments but entire settlements (e.g. Skara Brae) with corridor systems made of large stone slabs were built. In the late Neolithic or during the Copper Age (from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC), the Seine-Oise-Marne culture, with a focus on the Paris basin, formed the connection to the northern Alpine foothills (Horgen culture), while at the same time the bell-cup culture from Spain France and the British Isles spread to Central Europe.

The beginning of the Bronze Age is marked in France by the appearance of the Rhône culture, in the south of the British Isles by the Wessex culture. The Middle Bronze Age formed a stabilization phase in Western Europe, probably favored by long-distance trade, which began around 1200 BC. Was interrupted by the urn field culture. The older Iron Age (750-450 BC) is represented by the Hallstatt culture, with the exception of the Mediterranean coastal area, in which Iberian and Greek influences predominated. With the establishment of the Greek colonies on the Mediterranean coast around 600 BC. BC (Massalia, today Marseille; Ampurias) the early history of Western Europe began.

Prehistory of Western Europe