Book Review: Bronze Age America

Bronze Age America, by Barry Fell

Often, as is the case with this book, my prolific reading habits draw attention from friends and acquaintances and they wish for me to read a book and record my thoughts on it. As a reader with a noted interest in areas of archeology, numismatics, and linguistics [1], it is easy to see why someone at church this past Sabbath loaned me this particular book, which at 300 pages, many of which are filled with detailed explanations of ancient Norse, Celtic, and Basque writing systems found in the appropriate contexts in North American archeology, is an easy book to read and a thought-provoking one as well. The author, whose previous work America B.C., I was familiar with, manages to write a book that showcases his abilities as a generalist in linguistic studies, which allows him to see connections that many others have not largely because their knowledge is too specialized. As a result, the combination of patterns in both archeology as well as linguistics leads the author to discuss the Norse origins of an ancient Berber script related to the Sea Peoples, as well as the presence of alphabets and ogams and hieroglyphs for the Old Norse, Celtic, and Basque languages all over North America, as well as the sharing of words and expressions among those languages in North Africa as well as North America, and the religious and cultural explanation of various megaliths and other archeological formations throughout North America.

In terms of its contents, this book is organized so that its most interesting material from a historical perspective is at the beginning and end, while there is a great deal of important and useful archeological evidence that focuses on the heathen myths of the Norse that take up a large portion of the middle section. Although there are many transcriptions shown and a wide variety of locations, and a lot of photographs, the content of the book itself begins with a notable king, Woden-Lithi, by name, who ruled over the area of Oslo and was presumably some sort of very early Bronze-age Norwegian king who spent five months or so in the area of Peterborough, Ontario, in the area where my maternal grandmother was born, leaving some Norwegian colonists and enough material to keep their calendars up before returning home again in the autumn. While more than the first third of the book focuses on him and on the finds in the Peterborough area, and a third of the book after that focuses on artifacts, particularly artwork, relating to Norse and Celtic religion that can be found in North America, the last part of the book shows the author defending the validity of his work, the importance of understanding business transactions and burial and petroglyphs as a way of understanding the past.

For a reader like myself, books like this have a variety of worthwhile responses in terms of food for thought. Although, unlike some people [2], I am not a student of the stones of the early Celtic world, at the same time, I find it ironic that many go to Europe and North Africa in search of what can be found in North America in terms of ancient mesoliths and phallic symbols and the like. This book, in providing places that can be visited to see these artifacts, does good service in making obscure parts of North America a lot more attractive to visit for those fond of prehistory. The book also demonstrates the language ties between the Norse, Celtic, Basque, Berber, and American Indian languages, particularly among the Algonquin, showing burials that demonstrate intermarriage, cultural cooperation, and a certain blending of culture. In the larger picture, these sorts of finds demonstrate the ancient ties between Europe and North America, the longstanding travel and colonization of North America by European peoples, and the fact that people tend to return over and over again to the same regions for the same purposes. To see the handiwork of distant relatives in lands that are close to my own personal history makes the past more strange, if less alien, reminding us that we have not come so far as we have thought, or rather, have come over and over again to the same places in search of a better life and opportunity, with the chance to meet and get to know others like ourselves in strange and unfamiliar lands, bringing with us the culture of home wherever we go.

[1] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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8 Responses to Book Review: Bronze Age America

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