The Prehistory Gallery houses objects covering a vast expanse of time: from when the earliest humans living in and around the South Downs made simple stone tools, to the beginning of the Roman occupation. This time can be divided into different ages: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
By around 2,500 BC (4,500 years ago), people in South East England had begun to form settled communities. At around the same time, it was discovered that tin could be added to smelted copper to make bronze, a much stronger metal. This period is therefore known as the Bronze Age.
Bronze was used to forge weapons, arrowheads and personal ornaments such as armlets, neck rings (torcs) and finger rings (left).
In the Bronze Age is was common to bury the dead under mounds. You can visit Bronze Age burial mounds, also known as barrows, at Landport Bottom, Lewes.
- In Britain, the early Bronze Age is the time of the Amesbury Archer.
- In mainland Greece, the late Bronze Age is also the “Age of Heroes”, the source of the epic stories later found in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
- People had begun to smelt copper in the late Neolithic (new stone) period. The transition between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age is known as the Chalcolithic (copper-stone) period. It is the time of Ötzi the Iceman.
Find out more: The Magic of Bronze