Republication from phys.org/

British-developed bronze flat-axe from Selchausdal, northwest Zealand (NM B5310, photo: Nørgaard). The 20-cm-long axe has a geometric decoration covering the surface. Low-impurity copper is alloyed with 10% Sn. Scandinavia holds the largest proportion of British type axes outside the British Isles 2000-1700 BC. Credit: Heide W. Nørgaard (2019)

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The geographic origins of the metals in Scandinavian mixed-metal artifacts reveal a crucial dependency on British and continental European trading sources during the beginnings of the Nordic Bronze Age, according to a study published July 24, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Heide W. Nørgaard from Aarhus University, Denmark, and colleagues.

2000-1700BC marks the earliest Nordic Bronze Age, when the use and availability of —specifically tin and , which when alloyed together creates —increased drastically in Scandinavia. The authors performed isotope and trace-element analyses on 210 Bronze Age artifact samples, predominantly axeheads, originally collected in Denmark and representing almost 50% of all known existing Danish metal objects from this period.

The results of these analyses reveal the trading networks established to import raw metals as well as crafted weapons into Scandinavia via two major maritime trade routes: one leading down across the Baltic Sea towards the Únĕtice (a Bronze Age civilization in what is now eastern Germany and Bohemia), and another leading to the British Isles.

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