Get the Look: Late Bronze Age Warrior

Get the Look: Late Bronze Age Warrior

In this blog, we're assembling the equipment of a late Bronze Age warrior. We've based the items used on the late Bronze Age in Central Europe (region of Austria and Switzerland). However, this warrior is largely representative of the late Bronze Age from Northern and Eastern Europe, as well as the early Iron Age.

Reconstructing characters from the Bronze Age comes with challenges. There are few replicas of items from this period that are accessible within an acceptable budget. Therefore, it's even more challenging to reconstruct a character from the Bronze Age as lifelike as possible.

Waves of Migration

Europe has always been a popular destination for peoples seeking new hunting grounds or new land for their livestock to graze. Three major waves of migration to Europe can be broadly distinguished. DNA research indicates that these migration waves were always accompanied by violence and genocide against the indigenous population. This is likely the nature of humans (Homo sapiens).

Out of Africa Exodus - Archaeological findings reveal that Homo sapiens, modern humans, began the trek from Africa to Europe approximately 45,000 years ago, living as hunter-gatherers. The first European inhabitants followed migrating herds of antelopes, aurochs, and other large game and led a nomadic lifestyle for 30,000 years.

Arrival of Anatolian Farmers - Between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago, peoples from Anatolia, the region of Turkey, gradually replaced the hunter-gatherers. This second wave of migration led to the establishment of farming communities that cultivated the land and raised livestock. With the ability to store grain and other crops, these agrarians could better feed their population. In times of need, sheep, goats, or pigs were slaughtered.

Invasion of the Yamnaya Culture (Pit Grave Culture) - About 5,000 years ago, the farmer Stone Age ended when the nomadic Yamnaya tribes left the steppes of Russia and Ukraine and moved westward. Armed with bronze weapons, they most likely brought a language with them, of which almost all Europeans now speak a variant, Proto-Indo-European.

Cultural Overlap in the Bronze Age

During the Bronze Age in Europe, from approximately 3300 to 1200 BCE, advanced societies with complex structures, metallurgical knowledge, and extensive trade networks emerged. At the same time, Europe was heavily influenced by the migration waves of the Yamnaya culture, which migrated from Eastern Ukraine and the Russian steppes to Europe. They likely spoke Proto-Indo-European, a language that formed the basis for most languages spoken in Europe today. They possessed bronze weapons and had perfected the wheel, enabling them to easily cover long distances with ox-drawn carts.

The steppe peoples quickly spread across Europe, not shying away from violence. From the cultural identity and customs of the original prehistoric population and the dominant Yamnaya-related tribes, new cultures emerged, such as the Bell Beaker culture, El Argar culture, Wessex culture, the Armorican tumulus culture, and Corded Ware culture. These cultures were often related to each other but had unique characteristics that differed from neighboring cultures, such as burying the dead in tumuli or producing unique pottery. They spoke an early form of Indo-European.

The various European peoples had contact with each other. Population groups migrated and traded with each other, as evidenced by archaeological finds. Amber from the Baltic regions and tin from Great Britain, an essential component for bronze production, were traded. Through this exchange, knowledge of agriculture, architecture, religion, and art was shared, and ideas, technologies, and goods were widely disseminated. Despite the differences between Bronze Age cultures, artifacts such as weapons, jewelry, and pottery in Europe show striking similarities. This indicates a cultural continuity and widespread influences that connected the regions.

The Yamnaya culture lasted from 3500-2000 BCE. Other important Bronze Age cultures include the Corded Ware culture (3000-2350 BCE), the Únětice culture from Central Europe (2300-1600 BCE), and the Urnfield culture in Central Europe (1300-950 BCE).

Corded Ware Culture (3000-2350 BCE)

The Corded Ware culture developed in Northern Europe, parallel to the Yamnaya-related cultures. This culture likely also originated from the steppe and shared a common ancestor with the Yamnaya culture.

The Corded Ware culture spanned modern Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland, northwestern Romania, northern Ukraine, the European part of Russia, and parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. It is therefore not surprising that it was not a homogeneous culture, and there were regional variations in material culture, settlements, and social structures. Nevertheless, there were also common elements, such as burial rituals, pottery with characteristic "cord" decorations, and unique stone axes, which were buried with men.

Around 2800 BCE, the Bell Beaker culture also emerged, occurring in various smaller regions of Europe, named after the shape of their ceramics. This was succeeded in central Europe by the Únětice culture.

Únětice Culture (2300-1600 BCE)

The Únětice culture (named after the Czech village of Únětice) occurred in Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, and Germany. Additionally, finds have been made in Austria and Ukraine indicating a more permanent settlement of this culture. There were many genetic similarities with the Yamnaya culture, Corded Ware culture, and Bell Beaker culture.

The Únětice culture was likely of great influence, and extensive trade was conducted. Pottery and bronze objects from this culture have been found in Ireland, Scandinavia, the Italian Peninsula, and the Balkans. Due to the large-scale trade, linguistic exchange and influence also took place.

Urnfield Culture (1300-950 BCE)

From the Únětice culture emerged the Tumulus culture (1600-1200 BCE), named after the custom of burying the dead in burial mounds. This was gradually succeeded by the Urnfield culture, where it was customary to cremate the dead, preserve their ashes in urns, and then bury them in urnfields. By 1000 BCE, the Urnfield tradition had spread through central and Northwestern Europe, parts of Italy, and southern France, reaching as far as the Pyrenees.

The late Bronze Age was a period of much skirmishing. Settlements were fortified with ditches and palisades, often as hill forts. For a long time, scientists believed that the late Bronze Age was characterized by relatively little warfare. However, archaeological evidence, such as that from the Battle of Tollense in Northern Germany around 1250 BCE, contradicts this. An estimated 4,000 individuals from all corners of Germany are believed to have fought in this battle, painting a different picture.

Some linguists suspected that this was the period when pre-Celtic or proto-Celtic languages originated. The greater quantities of bronze objects and fortified settlements led some to believe that this was related to Celtic expansion.

The Urnfield culture consisted of various regional trends and periods, the most significant for this article being the Hallstatt A and B periods. These were succeeded by the Hallstatt C and D periods, which we now recognize as the early Celtic culture.


We have inspired this composition on the Hallstatt B period. The warrior has bronze weapons and jewelry, which only wealthy individuals could afford. We have named the warrior Esugenos, a (reconstructed) proto-Celtic name.

Esugenos, of course, knew nothing of the Urnfield culture or that Hallstatt would become an important center of power. He was well aware of his habitat, knew where international trade connections were, and may have even been aware of the emerging Italic societies south of the Alps. He did not distinguish between his own culture and other cultures. Instead, he distinguished between his tribe and other tribes. He realized that other tribes spoke the same language or a similar language and may have been able to speak different variants of the proto-Celtic language. From his language later evolved Gaulish. He named himself after his tribe, whose name has long been forgotten.

Status and prestige were very important in Esugenos' world. His achievements were not so much individually centered but aimed at furthering his family and tribe. War was common, but in most cases, war involved raiding parties coming to steal cattle from the tribe, or Esugenos himself raiding cattle from neighboring tribes. In his younger years, Esugenos was undoubtedly also part of a raiding party, which aimed to enrich the tribe and make a name for itself from the cult of a god or sacred animal.

Great wars and battles also occurred, although sporadically. War was more of a sport than a conquest war as modern people know it. In Esugenos' world, tribes formed alliances, resulting in trade and exchange. Politics undoubtedly played a significant role.

Prehistoric Shoes

The footwear Esugenos wears is possibly the oldest type of footwear ever to exist. This footwear was used until the 16th century AD! Remains of these shoes have been found all over Europe.


Few clothing fragments have been found from the late Bronze Age because textiles quickly deteriorate. Therefore, some artistic freedom has been taken regarding clothing. Looking at Mediterranean cultures, the tunic was widely used. Later, until the Middle Ages, tunics continued to be worn. Therefore, we assume that Esugenos also wore tunics. Of course, the primary purpose of clothing was not to portray status but to stay warm. Therefore, Esugenos wears an undertunic.


The cultures of the late Bronze Age were highly advanced. In the later Hallstatt periods, people were buried with precious grave goods. In the mountains of Hallstatt, near Salzburg, salt had been mined since the Stone Age. Salt was indispensable for food preservation. As a result, the population of Hallstatt was very wealthy. Therefore, Esugenos wears a blue tunic. Blue was a dye that was expensive to produce.


We assume that Esugenos did not wear pants, as this was also not the case among neighboring peoples. If Esugenos were to wear pants, we would expect it to be a style similar to the Thorsberg trousers.


Esugenos likely wore a cloak. A similar cloak would have been suitable for the summer or autumn. In the winter, Esugenos would have worn heavier clothing to endure the harsh winters in the Alpine region.


In this setup, we have given Esugenos a textile belt. However, leather belts were also commonly used.


In the graves from the Hallstatt period, bronze jewelry has been found, providing insight into the types of jewelry that were worn. Traditionally, it was believed that women were buried with jewelry, and men with weapons. However, it has since been discovered that this is not entirely accurate. Therefore, we estimate that jewelry was worn by both genders.


Many spearheads from the late Bronze Age have been recovered, ranging from very large, almost impractical examples to more practical, smaller spearheads. In this setup, Esugenos carries a practical spear with shoulders and a leather wrapping around the shaft.


Many swords from the Bronze Age have been unearthed. Swords must have been one of the most valuable possessions. If Esugenos were an ordinary middle-class individual, he would have only carried a shield and spear, and his clothing would have featured more brown and yellow tones. But Esugenos was very wealthy and thus had a sword.

Stored in blog: Blog & lookbook

  • author: Patrick
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