Iron Age Lifeways

Fibula with amber beads and bronze pendants, Vinica. Charms such as this fibula found at Vinica were thought to have an independent spirit that could influence events in the wearer's favor, PM 40-77-40/10927
Necklace of gold-plated bronze, glass, and amber beads [modern reconstruction], Stična. Beads such as these bear witness to the far-flung trade people were engaged in around sites such as Stična. PM 40-77-40/13210

Large-scale agriculture, specialized crafts, and long distance trade structured life during the Iron Age.  Towns and hamlets were grouped around large fortified settlements, which housed 200 to as many as 600 residents.  These “hill forts” were the economic, political, and ideological focus of life for Iron Age chiefly societies.  Tumuli (burial mounds) were scattered in fields and villages surrounding the forts, further connecting people with their landscape. 

The vast tapestry of Iron Age Eurasia was increasingly bound by long distance trade.  Commodities like Alpine copper, Black Sea gold, Baltic amber, Mediterranean glass, and horses from the eastern steppes traveled to central Europe.  With new goods came new technologies, styles, and ideas; Greek influences were particularly strong among the elite of the Late Iron Age.  Slovenian grave goods reflect both transformative trade relationships and intimate daily concerns.

Geometric and anthropomorphic elaboration was common on decorative personal items.  Artisans depicted dangerous predators, domestic livestock, and birds and beasts of the hunt, along with another highly prized animal, horses.  The specifics of beliefs expressed through this iconography are unknowable, yet associations are evoked in both material and design.