ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
a theory of history which is still largely valid.
All of the foregoing directly applies to an interpretation of prehistory which has had great impact on twentieth century esotericism, being, for instance, the ultimate origin of an important New Age movement, Wicca. It and various aspects of Feminist ideology are rooted in a particular interpretation of history which was first propounded during the 1920s by the Cambridge scholar, Marcus Childe, and is now being demolished by revisionists such as Hutton. Since nearly all of these archaeologists and scholars are British, the school tends to focus on the British Isles and what were believed to be ancient connections with the Aegean.
Gordon Childe, a professionally-trained archaeologist, introduced a “modified diffusionist” theory in The Dawn of European Civilization (1925). According to Childe, there was an expansion of civilization from the Aegean to Western Europe via Iberia around 1600 B.C.E. Childe was impressed by the discovery of Mycenean shaft tombs in which swords, gold, and amber beads were found. The latter must have been imported from the Baltic, therefore indicative of overland trade between the Baltic and the Aegean. Faience beads found in certain sites in southern England (the Wessex Culture) suggested contact with the Aegean at about the same time. In 1932, Childe asserted that Baltic Neolithic culture began around 2700 B.C.E., and that there was a migration from the Aegean area of “Danubian Peasants” through Central Europe about that time. The finds on Crete dated back to the fourth millennium B.C.E., as did those in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Thus, he reasoned, civilization originated in the Near East and was diffused by trade, mining expeditions, and exploration throughout Western Eurasia.
According to Childe, around 2500 B. C. E, colonists arrived in Iberia and founded trading stations. They introduced metallurgy (copper and bronze) and built the first tombs with corbelled dry stone vaults. Since these are also found in Brittany, the British Isles, and Denmark, Childe was convinced that colonists from Iberia who had been civilized by migrants from the Aegean had extended themselves along the Atlantic coast of Europe, from Iberia to Scandinavia and throughout the British Isles.
This diffusionist interpretation of Neolithic and Bronze Age culture prevailed until the late 1960s. It will be remembered that according to this theory, much elaborated upon by scholars such as Geoffrey Bibby, a high civilization evolved in the Aegean around 3000 B.C.E. This much has been familiar ground since the discovery of the remarkable, labyrinthine palaces of Knossos on Crete during the closing years of the nineteenth century.
On the basis of Agean/Cretan studies, it seemed that there was a maritime culture in this area which flourished until the invasion of the Greeks around 1400, at which point Knossos was destroyed. A Helladic civilization followed, the Mycenaean, celebrated in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. This much has been well established by archaeological research since the time of Schliemann, who discovered what he identified as Troy, thus proving both the