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Thread: Absolute chronology of the Beaker phenomenon North of the Tagus estuary

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    Absolute chronology of the Beaker phenomenon North of the Tagus estuary

    João Luís Cardoso: http://tp.revistas.csic.es/index.php...ewFile/665/687
    Abstract:
    The complexity of the Beaker phenomenon in the Tagus estuary does not fit well with the model of three successive groups (International, Palmela and Incised Groups). The above seems to result from the nature of the settlements rather than from its chronology, as all three groups are present during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. Therefore while artefacts of the International Group predominate in the fortified sites, the Incised Group appears almost exclusively in open sites. The Palmela Group seems of minor importance, at least in the north region of the Tagus River estuary. The remarkable antiquity of Beaker pottery found in the FM hut at Leceia (which dates from the 2nd quarter of the 3rd millennium BC, re-confirmed by AMS dating) has parallels both in the North and South of Portugal, as well as in Spain. Thus we conclude that in the Lower Estremadura (one of the most important regions in Europe for the discussion of the origin and diffusion of Beaker “phenomenon”), the Beaker social formation with its own distinct cultural characteristics, coexisted with local Chalcolithic cultures, although never merged with them.
    The point the most important of this study is that Portuguese Bell Beaker is the oldest in Europe but is also an intrusive culture in the local Chalcolithic.
    Last edited by Bernard; 07-17-2014 at 10:05 AM.

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    I don't feel that the paper really proves that Bell Beaker was intrusive, but simply that Bell Beaker pottery co-existed with earlier pottery. The BB pottery style was I believe an amalgamation of influences from the steppe, Cucuteni and the Carpathian Basin, which arrived in Portugal I imagine with one or two pottery-making women who came as wives to men settled there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean M View Post
    I don't feel that the paper really proves that Bell Beaker was intrusive, but simply that Bell Beaker pottery co-existed with earlier pottery. The BB pottery style was I believe an amalgamation of influences from the steppe, Cucuteni and the Carpathian Basin, which arrived in Portugal I imagine with one or two pottery-making women who came as wives to men settled there.
    Jean, I don't agree with your feeling. For example, in his conclusions Cardoso writes:
    The comparison of chronometric and archaeological results described above suggests that the first Beaker productions in the region of Lower Estremadura (between about 2700 and 2600 BC) coexisted, with lower interaction, with Chalcolithic populations that lived in some fortified sites, as shown by the chronology of the FM hut at Leceia.
    On a more global approximation to the socio-cultural reality during the 2nd half of the 3rd millennium BC in Lower Estremadura, we may consider that if Beaker society was segmented with two clearly-differentiated components, it may have corresponded nevertheless to a cultural entity as a whole with its own characteristics, at least in the region under appreciation. In fact, based on the archaeological record identified at Leceia since the end of the Early Chalcolithic it is possible to admit that that two communities with different cultural roots coexisted with a lower level of interaction (and conflict) during the course of the Chalcolithic in Lower Estremadura.
    On Leceia site, in the second quarter of the 3d millenium BC, first Bell Beakers lived in the FM hut outside the fortified site, while local Chalcolithics lived inside the fortified site.
    Last edited by Bernard; 07-17-2014 at 12:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernard View Post
    Jean, I don't agree with your feeling. For example, in his conclusions Cardoso writes:

    On Leceia site, in the second quarter of the 3d millenium BC, first Bell Beakers lived in the FM hut outside the fortified site, while local Chalcolithics lived inside the fortified site.
    Yes I read the paper Bernard. But what exactly does that prove? Is a hut outside the initial settlement proof of total strangers who had nothing whatsoever to do with the people in the fortified site? Scarcely. The huts are proof of an expanding population nestling close to the initial settlement. These were people who felt safe close to that walled settlement, even if they couldn't fit inside it. At several of the Copper Age fortified sites, population increases led to an enlargement of the fortified area. For all I know, they may yet find evidence of another wall at Leceia, just as at Zambujal and Los Millares.

    At Zambujal there is a clear continuity from the earliest copper-workers to the beginnings of Bell Beaker. That includes using the same source of clay for both the earliest pottery of Zambujal and the Maritime Bell Beaker type. If the population was continuous, though with reinforcements arriving periodically from the same source as the original copper prospectors (Carpathian Basin), there would be no reason to expect a total, immediate cessation of the older pottery styles as soon as the first Bell Beaker appeared. The pre-existing potters would probably go on working in the style with which they were familiar. In any case pre-existing pottery could continue in use for decades until it got broken. Why throw away servicable tableware?
    Last edited by Jean M; 07-17-2014 at 03:21 PM.

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    Aren't these the same Bell Beakers who were formerly carbon-dated 2900 BC, making them older than the more or less contemporary ones in the Rhine delta area? I've always had a problem with that explanation for the supposed west-to-east dispersion of DF27, or Z196 or whoever. Now I'm hearing 2600-2700 BC, which isn't even earlier... and a couple of women potters, which isn't a migration or about Y-DNA.

    The difference (between ~ 2900 and ~2650) is about the same as the difference between the French and Indian War and now. Where I live, that makes a whole lot of difference. Though I realize people and events moved somewhat more slowly in the Chalcolithic era.

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    Quote Originally Posted by razyn View Post
    Aren't these the same Bell Beakers who were formerly carbon-dated 2900 BC.
    That's the upper end of the date range for BB in Portugal generally. The earliest date cited by Muller and Van Willigan 2001 was 4290 +/- 120 BP from charred acorn at Cova d'en Pau. Using the handy online calibrator http://www.calpal-online.de/ , that gives us 2917 ± 194 cal BC.

    If we ignore that as a dubious outlier, the next dates start with 4230 +/- 60 BP = 2801 ± 92 cal BC from Porto Torrio. Next comes Leicia with 4220 +/- 50 BP = 2799 ± 86 cal BC. Cardoso 2014 gives a different calibration for that date i.e. 2920-2630 BC (mean 2775 BC), supported by two further dates of 4140 ± 40 BP (2745 ± 92 cal BC on the online calculator) and 4100 ± 40 BP (2714 ± 112 cal BC ditto) for bones from Bell Beaker contexts at Leceia.

    There are other dates in a similar range or just slightly lower for other sites in Portugal, southern France and Tuscany.
    Last edited by Jean M; 07-17-2014 at 07:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by razyn View Post
    and a couple of women potters, which isn't a migration or about Y-DNA.
    The pottery is not the whole story of the BB culture. Let's take a step back from it and view the bigger picture. The first people to bring copper working to Portugal about 3100 BC were related to the (later) makers of Bell Beaker. We deduce this from the fact that the fortified settlements created by the first copper-workers carried on being used by people with the same technology and culture except that they were making pottery in a bell shape. Things are even clearer at Sion and Aosta in the Alps. The necropoli there carried on in use from the Copper Age pre-BB through to Bell Beaker. The Bell Beaker makers revered the ancestors who arrived prior to Bell Beaker. In a way it doesn't matter two hoots when these people in Portugal decided that they rather liked tableware in a bell shape.

    The pottery has been crucial in identifying the culture once it started to spread as a complete package e.g. copper working + BB pottery arrives in Ireland c. 2400 BC.

    BB arrived in Poland at about 2400 BC too. The package that arrived in Poland was not direct from Portugal. It had been filtered through the eastern BB zone.
    Last edited by Jean M; 07-17-2014 at 06:22 PM.

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    First up I am glad they said 2nd quarter of the 3rd millenium BC. Its become too common for people to think 3000BC or just after is the proven start date for beaker. Second quarter is about as early as I would think can safely be concluded so that is 2750-2500BC. Note too that this is not a timespan that is unknown in other areas. Its age in Iberia is sometimes exaggerated to 3000BC or the like. There are early dates from other areas that fall into the 2nd quarter of the 3rd millenium. I still strongly doubt the western terminus of the continent is a likely place for a pottery like beaker with strong parallels in form and/or fabric in central and eastern Europe to evolve. It just intuitively does not seem likely to me. I think more likely is an origin in the cultural melting pot areas around the Alps and southern France. I also am aware of how hard it is to date beaker remains directly in an area where collective burial in megaliths was practiced. It far easier to tie in cultural objects and bones in single graves where there is no ambiguity.

    My own feeling is that multiple influences may have met in the western Alps and Liguria where ideas from the Balkans, the Alps, the corded ware world and the west may have met. I think the all over ornamented/corded beakers with their odd coastal and more eastern distribution has something to do with the origin of bell beaker in Iberia and is intrusive in some may yet to be fully understood. They dont have the same sort of distribution as the herringbone maritime types. I have already read papers that show they were rare in burials. I do need to read this paper though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernard View Post
    João Luís Cardoso: http://tp.revistas.csic.es/index.php...ewFile/665/687
    Abstract:

    The point the most important of this study is that Portuguese Bell Beaker is the oldest in Europe but is also an intrusive culture in the local Chalcolithic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alan View Post
    It just intuitively does not seem likely to me.
    Intuitively, looking at a piece of Wedgwood pottery, it seems wildly unlikely that it was made in Staffordshire. It is so obviously based on Roman designs. This influence stands out a mile. Golly! How could this beauty emerge from England's dark satanic mills?
    Last edited by Jean M; 07-17-2014 at 08:44 PM.

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    I must admit when it comes to distinguising a century or two of a difference I think radiocarbon dating does not deserve the confidence some have in it with reservoir effects, old wood effect and all sorts of things which can make dates seem older than they are. Also a date really needs to be looked at in terms of how safe the context ties it to the beaker and all sorts of other considerations. I think a 1 to 2 centuries difference is shaky on the basis of a few sites and only a large scale comparison of dates can pick out convincing geographical patterns in chronology.

    Even then, some areas could systematically be coming in older than the real dates due to environmental considerations. Regarding the early radiocarbon dates from SW Iberia I have concerns about the Tagus area in terms of the artificial aging of radiocarbon dating firstly for good old fashioned fresh water and marine reservoir effect and more specifically the hard water effect. Southern Portugal is an unusually hard water area for Iberia which mainly is a soft water area other than southern Portugal and at the east Spanish Med. coast. Look at the map of Iberia.

    http://www.electrostoreonline.com/El...reas/Info.aspx

    The area of early beaker dates in the Tagus estuary falls into a hard water area. I am not entirely convinced that beaker chronology is well established other than a very general pattern that the south tends to be slightly older than the north. If beaker models turn on a few early dates then I would want to read everything about the context, material and possible distorting effects of ever radiocarbon date.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jean M View Post
    That's the upper end of the date range for BB in Portugal generally. The earliest date cited by Muller and Van Willigan 2001 was 4290 +/- 120 BP from charred acorn at Cova d'en Pau. Using the handy online calibrator http://www.calpal-online.de/ , that gives us 2917 ± 194 cal BC.

    If we ignore that as a dubious outsider, the next dates start with 4230 +/- 60 BP = 2801 ± 92 cal BC from Porto Torrio. Next comes Leicia with 4220 +/- 50 BP = 2799 ± 86 cal BC. Cardoso 2014 gives a different calibration for that date i.e. 2920-2630 BC (mean 2775 BC), supported by two further dates of 4140 ± 40 BP (2745 ± 92 cal BC on the online calculator) and 4100 ± 40 BP (2714 ± 112 cal BC ditto) for bones from Bell Beaker contexts at Leceia.

    There are other dates in a similar range or just slightly lower for other sites in Portugal, southern France and Tuscany.

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