Christian Jürgensen Thomsen  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Christian Jürgensen Thomsen (December 29, 1788 – May 21, 1865) was a Danish antiquarian who developed early archaeological techniques and methods.

In 1816 he was appointed head of 'antiquarian' collections which later developed into the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. While organizing and classifying the antiquities for exhibition, he decided to present them chronologically according to the three-age system. Other scholars had previously proposed that prehistory had advanced from an age of stone tools, to ages of tools made from bronze and iron, but these proposals were presented as systems of evolution, which did not allow dating of artifacts. Thomsen refined the three-age system as a chronological system by seeing which artifacts occurred with which other artifacts in closed finds. In this way, he was the first to establish an evidence-based division of prehistory into discrete periods. This achievement led to his being credited as the originator of the three-age system of European antiquity.

Thomsen also wrote one of the first systematic treatises on gold bracteates of the Migration period. Thomsen's study of artifacts within the Copenhagen museum were based on associations between stylistic change, decoration and context; he recognised the importance of examining objects from "closed finds", allowing him to determine the associations of common artifacts for various periods (stone - bronze - iron). His results were published in the Ledetraad til Nordisk Oldkyndighed (Guideline to Scandinavian Antiquity) in 1836. An English translation was produced in 1848.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Christian Jürgensen Thomsen" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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