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Thread: Bell Beakers, Gimbutas and R1b

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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    I only have scattered details that I have pulled from here and there, some of them admittedly from older sources, but my impression is that very early Iberian Beaker is not the fully developed, kurgan-type ensemble that most of us think of when we think of Beaker. It lacks the full burial package, including the tumulus and all of the grave goods, the Beaker pots are in a simple style without the eastern types, and the skeletons are physically different, more gracile and Mediterranean. These are the chief reasons for the idea of the Rückstrom to explain the changes Beaker underwent in Iberia.

    So, my feeling is that early Beaker was not the full on kurgan model and lacked R1b. Its main contribution was a basic pottery style that was embellished and supplemented in the Carpathian Basin, where Yamnaya spin-off subcultures mixed with it and contributed its R1b and distinctive kurgan cultural traits, including horseback riding, which proved essential to its ultimate east-to-west mobility. I think a sign of this is that Vučedol R1b (c. 2800 BC) from Szécsényi-Nagy's recent dissertation.

    I could be wrong, of course, but it will be interesting to see some very early Iberian Bell Beaker y-dna.
    I think some complex model with backflow etc cannot be ruled out. Certainly from what I have read I dont think I could make a call as to whether the pot and the appearance of individualised graves date to the same time. There is some evidence that perhaps is reasonably reliable for a settlement site or two that place beaker pot in the 2800-2700BC range but I dont think the same can be said about the burials. I dont think until the reservoir effect is looked at that we can rule out that the radiocarbon dates on human bone are coming in a century or too older than reality. I think this is of the utmost importance because the sudden move from collective to individualised burial is far stronger evidence of a male intrusion than the pottery is.

    My complete guess is that there may have been a phase of contacts between the west Alpine area and Iberia via the Rhone and southern France which marked the establishment of the network but that was then followed by a migration of central European males to Iberia in later generations. The clearest evidence for that such a network existed is the early beaker phase c. 2600BC when beaker linked Iberia to southern France and into the south-west Alpine area. However, I wonder if this was just the developed stage of the network and would speculate that such a link could have existed in a less visible way since 2800-2750BC. The main evidence of this would be that the model which the beaker pot was based on looks to have come from central Europe - something that at least suggests wives could have been being traded between the two areas.

    The clincher would be if it was shown that Iberian copper was penetrating into west Alpine Europe in the period 2800-2600BC before the beaker culture per se spread along the south of France and into the west Alpine area because that would be the clearest motive for establishing such a network. As for a male intrusion from central Europe into Iberia I think the key is revisiting the individualised graves and their dating checking for reservoir effects. That is far more clearcut than pots.

    Pots are normally a female craft. It has also been suggested that Sion indicates that the early beaker phase also saw the introduction of fancy textiles but again that is a female craft. I would also suspect buttons and awls are female associated.

    That really just leaves the archery aspect which appears in the beaker phase at Sion. However its very hard to interpret that because archery was common across Europe and from memory Alpine groups like Remedello had a lot of archery equipment - and of course the Ice Man. Even when the stelae were showing the Remedello daggers, we know from the graves of that culture that they were also big into archery. So, there is no simple way of implying origin from the elevation of bows and arrows to higher status. It is odd that they rose in status because they were the least exclusive sort of weapon and on the surface it seems they would normally have been not even involved the use of copper.


    I think the best idea is to forget the pots and possibly female crafts which could have been linked to a two-way network involving mostly female movement. Look at the dating of the individualised graves again.
    Last edited by alan; 08-16-2015 at 12:49 PM.

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    One thing just struck me there. Could the rise in status of archery in the beaker phase owe something to the rise of the Palmela point which used the prestigious copper rather than the old hat flint? They probably spread from Iberia but are well known in southern France and I believe also Atlantic France and Italian Liguria and elsewhere. Perhaps the use of copper for the points on arrows and javelins could have given archery a prestige that it didnt previously have and that this prestige continued as a cultural thing even in areas where the beaker people made their arrows with flint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alan View Post
    Its not far from how I see it. Obviously 4000 years ago is wrong - more like a 4800 plus years ago. I wouldnt say that the beakers were not war like but I do think they spread themselves very thin indeed so werent in a position to exist without some sort of agreement with the locals. I do also agree that the beaker element may have locally remained aloof for a couple of centuries although they married local women a lot. it struck me a few years back that the choice of archery as the weapon of prestige - which seems a little unusual for a mundane weapon known since hunter-gatherer times - makes complete sense as a form of defense for small niche groups. Its a great leveler of a weapon. A dozen guys with Robin Hood levels of archery skills could stop a much bigger raiding band of lumbering oafs waving stone axes LOL.

    Eventually though it seems to me that the beaker culture did meld with locals and I tend to think we see that at the end of the beaker period/start of the Early Bronze Age.
    Bow with arrows are, with spear, the weapons of horse-rider nomads of all times.

    In Europe, the horse warrior pack developed towards spear as only weapon (see early Middle Age, with germanic cavalry) and, later, towards sword and shield (the so-called medieval knight).

    In Asia, instead, bow and arrows still were associated with spears in the Middle Age.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Romilius View Post
    Bow with arrows are, with spear, the weapons of horse-rider nomads of all times.

    In Europe, the horse warrior pack developed towards spear as only weapon (see early Middle Age, with germanic cavalry) and, later, towards sword and shield (the so-called medieval knight).

    In Asia, instead, bow and arrows still were associated with spears in the Middle Age.
    Problem is they are also the common weapon of Neolithic farmers and pre-beaker pre-steppe intrusion groups like Remedello. Also I am pretty sure horse archery is a much later thing and associated with a very different type of bow - think they are recurve bows but I can remember the exact term. The beaker bow probably was not of this type when you consider the pictures of them at Sion. They were probably the very long lived long bow.

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    Since this thread is about Bell Beakers, Gimbutas, and R1b, I am going to bet on Gimbutas being mostly right in her assessment of the origin of Bell Beaker, i.e., that the fully developed, kurgan Beaker package sprang from the Vučedol complex after Vučedol itself had been kurganized by Yamnaya. It is also possible Vučedol had already been kurganized before the arrival of Yamnaya via one of Gimbutas' earlier kurgan waves.

    This is what I am betting is basically right. It is from Gimbutas' book, The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of Europe. (I know Piquerobi and I have both posted this before, but it is worth repeating to show what I think is pretty much correct.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Marija Gimbutas
    The Bell Beaker complex, an offshoot of the Vucedol bloc (more precisely of the Zok-Mako group in Hungary) continued Kurgan characteristics. The Bell Beaker of the second half of the 3rd millennium BC were vagabondic horse riders and archers in much the same way as their uncles and cousins, the Corded people of northern Europe and Catacomb-grave people of the North Pontic region. Their spread over central and western Europe to the British Isles and Spain as well as the Mediterranean islands terminates the period of expansion and destruction . . . (p. 104)

    In western Hungary and northwestern Yugoslavia, the Vucedol complex was followed by the Samogyvar-Vinkovci complex, the predecessor of the Bell Beaker people. Furthermore, the exodus of the horse-riding Bell Beaker people in the middle of the 3rd millennium, or soon thereafter, from the territories of the Vucedol complex, may not be unconnected with the constant threat from the east. They carried to the west Kurgan traditions in armament, social structure, and religion. The fact of paramount importance of Bell Beaker mobility is the presence of the horse. Seven Bell Beaker sites at Budapest in Hungary have shown that the horse was the foremost species of the domestic fauna (pp. 258-259).
    Last edited by rms2; 08-16-2015 at 10:43 PM. Reason: Typo

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    I'm not sure that one should say that Vucedol was kurganized by Yamnaya. That makes it sound more like cultural, rather than demic diffusion. Vucedol is a hybrid culture, between Baden and Kostolac. This whole area, all the way back to the Kuban steppe, was a fairly homogenous horizon. Distinctions between these cultures in the horizon appear more rooted in the differences in the MN pops with which they mixed.
    Last edited by Chad Rohlfsen; 08-16-2015 at 02:30 PM.

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    I considered getting a copy of Gimbutas a week or two ago out of curiosity but her works are pricey. I read her stuff back in the late 80s but I really only know her from references in later books since then. I understand Mallory actually studied under her. Around the same sort of time in the late 80s I read her books The Balts and The Slavs which seemed very interesting at the time although I cannot now remember them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    Since this thread is about Bell Beakers, Gimbutas, and R1b, I am going to bet on Gimbutas being mostly right in her assessment of the origin of Bell Beaker, i.e., that the fully developed, kurgan Beaker package sprung from the Vučedol complex after Vučedol itself had been kurganized by Yamnaya. It is also possible Vučedol had already been kurganized before the arrival of Yamnaya via one of Gimbutas' earlier kurgan waves.

    This is what I am betting is basically right. It is from Gimbutas' book, The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of Europe. (I know Piquerobi and I have both posted this before, but it is worth repeating to show what I think is pretty much correct.)
    I re-read some of the stuff about beaker in southern France with particular interest in the early phase but it still remains hard to intepret and hard to exactly understand how the beaker people and the locals interacted and just what the beaker there was all about. In some ways it has distinctive aspects in pottery, lithics etc but in other ways it blends in with the locals with almost no pure beaker sites, much of the ordinary pottery and houses being similar to the locals. Like most places its a somewhat baffling mix. Burial wise even the early beaker period of southern France has one or two classic beaker single burials but many are too jumbled up in older collective tombs they reused. What I did notice in one paper on southern France from 2012 is that they are quoting the start of the beaker there at 2500BC, not 2600BC as I had seen previously. That drags southern France in line with the sort of reliable dates from central and northern Europe. I understand too that some of the earlier dates quoted for Italy are dubious as of course are the early Csepel ones. Having re-read this to understand southern France as a geographical and chronological link between Iberia and the rest of Europe I must say I am even more confused and do not know what to make of it.

    It tends to tilt me again more towards wondering if the R1b associations with beaker are something of the developed beaker period not originally linked to the very earliest phases of beaker pottery users. I think its pretty fair to expect that there has to be some sort of east to west input into Iberia before we can expect R1b to be there. I would, as per other recent posts I have made, feel it is the dating of the individual/individualised beaker burial tradition that is the key eastern derived feature in beaker. As far as I am concerned they need to separate off the dating of the use of beaker pottery from the dating of the single burial tradition and of course check for reservoir effects caused by fish in the diet. I am really beginning to wonder if beaker pottery prototypes entered Iberia several centuries before the single burial tradition but as far as I can see there is no reliable way of determining this. What is curious to me is that the geographically intermediate southern France has a pretty messed up beaker burial record but does have a couple of classic beaker burials in what is the local early beaker phase. However this is dated to c. 2500BC. I find it very hard to imagine how the individual burial tradition could have entered Iberia c. 2800-2700BC when there is no evidence of it (or beakers) in southern France until 2500BC.

    What might be confusing matters could simply be that the beaker pot, even if based on a central European prototype, pre-dates the individualised burial tradition (which IMO is the key change indicative of migration - not the pot) and they are different things that only come together centuries later. I strongly suspect reservoir effect is artificially aging the beaker individualised burials with early dates in Iberia and it could transpire that we are jumping through hoops to square the circle for no reason at all. That doesnt mean the pot is older but a pot is just a pot.

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    aha - found this fairly recent work on the web http://www.academia.edu/5952632/Curr...n_Bell_Beakers
    p44 studies a group of sites in central Iberia and notes beaker and non-beaker people in the same burial sites with separate traditions - the beaker appearing from c. 2500BC or so. It also notes that the change from collective burial to individual only takes place c. 2300BC.

    I will dig about to see if I can find similar studies of burial tradition chronology elsewhere in Iberia.
    Last edited by alan; 08-16-2015 at 08:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alan View Post
    I considered getting a copy of Gimbutas a week or two ago out of curiosity but her works are pricey. I read her stuff back in the late 80s but I really only know her from references in later books since then. I understand Mallory actually studied under her. Around the same sort of time in the late 80s I read her books The Balts and The Slavs which seemed very interesting at the time although I cannot now remember them.
    The Balts can be found online pdf format free of charge, I think I got them from here:
    https://archive.org/details/TheBalts

    Chapter 10 of Civilization of Goddess. Nice work by Gimbutas, but the site is annoying Turkish propagand and this site owner has put his "invaluable comments in blue" to text that should be safely ignored:
    http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turk...ToEuropeEn.htm

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