A common identity across the Channel : The culture of La Manche 3500 years ago
- A common identity across the Channel : The culture of La Manche 3500 years ago
- by Rebecca Peake, INRAP, Amiens, France
- 19/09/2013 de 19:00 à 20:30 (Europe/Paris / UTC200)
- The Discovery Centre, Market Square, Dover, Kent CT16 1PB
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Archaeological evidence dating from as early as the Neolithic period has underlined similarities in the material culture across the Transmanche area, which covers the North and West of France, Central and Southern England, South Wales, the West of Belgium and the Netherlands up to the Rhine Delta. With the intensification of cultural links from the beginning of the Bronze Age, a common identity developed across the Channel illustrated in pottery styles, metal production, architecture, settlements patterns and funerary practices. The Culture of La Manche was built on the economic networks that developed with the demand for copper and tin for the production of bronze. Not only were raw materials traded across this vast area but also prestigious manufactured objects such as swords, axes, amber and jet beads and gold jewellery, evidence of an emerging elite who controlled the movement of goods in the Transmanche area. This flux of objects and people was largely facilitated by the use of boats sailing along the coasts and across the Channel. Evidence of Bronze Age boats has been regularly brought to light around the coast of Britain, including of course in Dover harbour as well as objects from the cargo of sunken ships such as the Langdon Bay hoard.
At the end of the Bronze Age, the economic networks that were in place for the last 2,000 years break down. This collapse seems to be in part due to a major climate change, which becomes colder and wetter, but mainly the result of the development of iron working, iron ore being more readily available that copper and tin. Despite this major economic and cultural upheaval, a common identity was maintained in the Transmanche area until the early medieval period and even up until today with the accomplishment of the BOAT 1550 BC European project.