Hallstatt and La Tène are the names given to the first and second phases of the pre-Roman Iron Age. They are derived from the sites where objects characteristic of the respective cultures were first identified, neither Hallstatt nor La Tène having any claim to be considered as the cradles of the cultures named after them. The former lies in Upper Austria. La Tène (‘the shallows’) is situated in Switzerland at the eastern end of the lake of Neuchatel.
The upper limit for the chronology of the Hallstatt Period is a vexed point. If by Hallstatt we mean a period when iron was in general use, it can hardly have said to have begun before the ninth century B.C. ; if we regard it as denoting the time when Villanovan and other contemporary influences first made themselves felt in Central Europe, it can hardly have begun later than c. 1000 B.C. Reinecke would even put it back as far as c. 1200 B.C. The lower limit is somewhat easier to define. Generally speaking it came to an end c. 550-500 B.C. ; but in some districts it persisted until c. 400, while in north-east Germany and other remote areas, the La Tène culture cannot be said to have succeeded it until c. 150 B.C., or even later.
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