The regions of the lower Rhine were only a remote province. Whatever contact existed with the south produced no noteworthy benefits. Compared with Hallstatt pottery, ceramics from this area are colorless, and though decorated with geometrics the urns are painted with graphite.

The urn and accompanying vessels were covered by a tumulus. The graves contained only very few metal objects. No social stratification of the population is indicated. Without apparent cultural identity of its own, the peasant culture merged easily with the La Tene.

Central Germany serves as intermediary between the regions still further north and the more advanced southern cultural areas of the late Urnfield and Hallstatt cultures. The rivers flowing northwards facilitated the traffic of goods across the central Highlands. Their relative wealth in ores assured the continuing cultural contact. While north-western Germany seems to have been completely isolated between 1000 B.C. and 100-200 A.D., the north-eastern regions appear to have maintained links with the Etruscans in northern Italy until c. 400 B.C., when the import of southern wares was halted.

This cessation of trade can be attributed to the disruption caused by the eastward migrations of the Celts. From c. 800 B.C. on, northern Germany had developed house urns and face urns, some even with metal earrings, perhaps inspired by the Villanova culture of northern Italy, or perhaps developed independently. During the Iron Age Lower Saxony around Hanover continued to use the bronzes of phases V and VI.

Even for the La Tene there is no evidence of fibulae, razors, iron belt hooks, nor are there any advances in the manufacture of ceramics. Cremation graves. are unequipped. However, heaps of bones in graves begin to replace urn burials, although urnfields show continued occupation till 200 B.C. and cremation graves continue into the period contemporary with Imperial Rome.

Some 30 km south of Luneburg two sites- Wessenstedt (800-600 B.C.) and Jastorf (600-300 B.C.)-have been identified, after which the earliest Germanic cultures were named. Located between the Oder in the east and the Weser to the west, the Jastorf group reached south to encounter the northern fringes of the Hallstatt provinces. To the east it was in contact with the derivatives of the Lusatian culture.

These contacts were not only peaceful and commercial, but also expansionist and therefore warlike. In future centuries these descendants of the Northern Bronze Age populations reinforced by migrations from Scandinavia and resident north-western Celts, were to push westward across the Rhine without encountering too much resistance. The Celts inhabiting the former Hallstatt lands, on the other hand, were to put up much stiffer resistance.

Evidence from the eastern Hallstatt regions shows that during the late Hallstatt two 'chains' of fortifications, many of them on elevated sites, had come into being in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Hungary and western Slovakia. Rather than assuming a coordinated defensive system, the sites were probably local cultural and political centers, since the social organization most likely did not exceed that of extended families and clans, of tribes at best.

However, here too the Hallstatt came to a close by c. 400 B.C., brought about by that same Celtic expansion.


from: The Prehistory of Germanic Europe by Herbert Schutz; ISBN 0300028636 Ch. 4- Hallstatt: The Far-flung Connections of the Early Iron Age