View Full Version : Furholt 2014: Corded Ware: Upending a ‘Totality’

Jean M
07-18-2014, 01:28 AM
I don't have this paper, but it looks very interesting. I've had a feeling that Corded Ware is very complex.

Martin Furholt, Upending a ‘Totality’: Re-evaluating Corded Ware Variability in Late Neolithic Europe, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Online: 28 January 2014

'Corded Ware’ in central and eastern Europe is an archaeological phenomenon that has generated multiple ideas and myths about the origins of the Indo-European language, large scale migrations from the eastern Steppes and radical ideological turnovers after 3000 bc. These ideas have been fostered in large part by the over-emphasis placed by successive generations of archaeologists on its extraordinarily large geographical extent and on the seemingly uniform pattern of Corded Ware material culture. The traditional model is characterised by the presence of an early phase, the so-called A-horizon, showing pan-European unity in material culture, and a successive phase characterised by increasing regional variability. However, over the last 15 years, a number of new studies, especially those focusing on the rigorous radiocarbon dating of Corded Ware contexts, bring into question several of the fundamental aspects of this old model. New results strongly suggest that the different components of the Corded Ware A-horizon emerged in several different regions, and that the previously claimed cultural uniformity is instead due to the co-occurrence of some special elements, while regional variability stands out as being much more prominent than hitherto assumed throughout all Corded Ware phases. Here, a new interpretation built on the diversity and regional variability of material culture and burial practices is proposed, one that challenges the view of Corded Ware as an expression of a social totality. This new model argues that several interlinked networks facilitated the flow of new practices and symbols into very diverse regional settings. Rather than viewing the Corded Ware phenomenon as representing a singular identity, ideology, or tradition, it may be more appropriate to regard it as a set of symbols and practices that were selectively incorporated into, and transformed by, local societies; it is this which produced the diversity attested for in the archaeological record.