Around 17,000 BCE, Europe witnesses the appearance of a new culture, known as Magdalenian, possibly rooted in the old Aurignacian one. This culture soon supersedes the Solutrean area and also the Gravetian of Central Europe. However, in Mediterranean Iberia, Italy and Eastern Europe, epi-Gravettian cultures continue evolving locally.
With the Magdalenian culture, Paleolithic development in Europe reaches its peak and this is reflected in the advanced art, owing to the previous traditions of painting in the West and sculpture in Central Europe.
The populations evolving at the onset of the Bölling oscillation (approximately 12,000 BP) and which have continued to the end of the Preboreal have been generally attributed to the Epipaleolithic. Consequently, this historical period could be associated with the interval between 13,000 and about 9,500-9,000 BP.
These communities continued the lifestyles of the Upper Paleolithic. Due to numerous factors, including changes in the climate, the small groups of hunters-fishermen-gatherers innovated tool and weapon types — producing, for instance, microlites (trapeze) — while also keeping the traditional tool types.
The area of Porţile de Fier (Iron Gates) is settled by a population attributed to the Late Epigravettian or Mediterranean Tardigravettian. The first stage of this period has been made known to us by the discoveries in the Climente II cave (Mehedinţi County), and the second stage, by discoveries in the shelter under the rocks at Cuina Turcului, Dubova, both of which are located in the same limestone massif — Ciucaru Mare.
The two dwelling levels at Cuina Turcului have produced a large quantity of tools and weapons made of flint in particular, and less so of obsidian, bone and horn, as well as body ornaments (shells and drilled teeth, bone pendants, etc.) The ornaments are often decorated with incised geometrical patterns. The most remarkable is a drilled horse phalange, wholly ornamented and probably representing a female figure.
Besides the mammal (beaver, boar, mountain goat, etc.), bird and fish remnants, fragments of human skeletons were also found. The Climente II cave has produced a human skeleton, set in a crouching position, and covered by a thick layer of red ochre, which is attributed to the Tardigravettian dwelling and which predates Level I at Cuina Turcului.
The discoveries in the Clisura area display striking similarities to the industries of the Italian Peninsula — the expression of the migrant human bearers of the Late Epigravettian in the mentioned area.
Around 10,500 BCE, the Würm Glacial age ends. Slowly, through the following millennia, temperatures and sea levels rise, changing the environment of prehistoric people. Nevertheless, Magdalenian culture persists until circa 8000 BCE, when it quickly evolves into two microlithist cultures: Azilian, in Spain and southern France, and Sauveterrian, in northern France and Central Europe.
Though there are some differences, both cultures share several traits: the creation of very small stone tools called microliths and the scarcity of figurative art, which seems to have vanished almost completely, being replaced by abstract decoration of tools.
In the late phase of this Epipaleolithic period, the Sauveterrean culture evolves into the so-called Tardenoisian and influences strongly its southern neighbour, clearly replacing it in Mediterranean Spain and Portugal.
The recession of the glaciers allows human colonization in Northern Europe for the first time. The Maglemosian culture, derived from the Sauveterre-Tardenois culture but with a strong personality, colonizes Denmark and the nearby regions, including parts of Britain.
Ahrenburg culture belongs to a Late Paleolithic and early Mesolithic (or Epipaleolithic) cultural complex that started with the glacial recession and the subsequent disintegration of Late Palaeolithic cultures between 15,000 and 10,000 calBC. The extinction of mammoth and other megafauna provided for an incentive to exploit other forms of subsistence that included maritime resources.
Northward migrations coincided with the warm Bølling and Allerød events, but much of northern Eurasia remained inhabited during the Younger Dryas. During the holocene climatic optimum, the increased biomass led to a marked intensification in foraging by all groups, the development of inter-group contacts, and ultimately, the initiation of agriculture.
The different technolithic complexes are chronologically associated with the climatic chronozones. The re-colonisation of Northern Germany is connected to the onset of the late Glacial Interstadial between Weichsel and the Dryas I glaciation, at the beginning of the Meiendorf Interstadial around 12.700 calBC. Palynological results demonstrate a close connection between the prominent temperature rise at the beginning of the Interstadial and the expansion of the hunter-gatherers into the northern Lowlands.
The existence of a primary “pioneer phase” in the re-colonisation is contradicted by proof of e.g. an early Central European Magdalenian in Poland. Today it is commonly accepted that the Hamburgian, featured by “Shouldered Point” lithics, is a techno-complex closely related to the Creswellian, a British Upper Palaeolithic culture named after the type site of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, which dates from c. 13.000 to 11,500 BP and was replaced by the Ahrensburg culture, and rooted in the Magdalenian.
The Magdalenian (French: Magdalénien), refers to one of the later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in western Europe, towards the end of the last ice age, dating from around 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. It is named after the type site of La Madeleine, a rock shelter located in the Vézère valley, commune of Tursac, in the Dordogne department of France.
Originally termed “L’âge du renne” (the Age of the Reindeer) by Édouard Lartet and Henry Christy, the first systematic excavators of the type site, in their publication of 1875, the Magdalenian is synonymous in many people’s minds with reindeer hunters, although Magdalenian sites also contain extensive evidence for the hunting of red deer, horse and other large mammals present in Europe towards the end of the last ice age. The culture was geographically widespread, and later Magdalenian sites have been found from Portugal in the west to Poland in the east.
There is extensive debate about the precise nature of the earliest Magdalenian assemblages, and it remains questionable whether the Badegoulian culture is in fact the earliest phase of the Magdalenian. Similarly finds from the forest of Beauregard near Paris have often been suggested as belonging to the earliest Magdalenian. The earliest Magdalenian sites are all found in France. The Epigravettian is another similar culture appearing during the same period in Italy and Eastern Europe (Moldavia, Romania).
The Late Glacial Maximum (ca. 13,000-10,000 years ago), or Tardiglacial (“Late Glacial”), is defined primarily by climates in the northern hemisphere warming substantially, causing a process of accelerated deglaciation following the Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 25,000-13,000 years ago).
It is at this time that human populations, previously forced into refuge areas as a result of Last Glacial Maximum climatic conditions, gradually begin to repopulate the northern hemisphere’s Eurasian landmass and eventually populate North America via Beringia for the first time.
Climate amelioration begins to occur rapidly throughout Western Europe and the North European Plain ca. 16,000-15,000 years ago. The environmental landscape becomes increasing boreal except in the far north, where conditions remain arctic. Sites of human occupation reappear in northern France, Belgium, northwest Germany, and southern Britain between 15,500 to 14,000 years ago. Many of these sites are classified as Magdalenian though other industries containing distinctive curved back and tanged points appear as well. As the Fennoscandian ice sheet continued to shrink, plants and people began to repopulate the freshly deglaciated areas of southern Scandinavia.
The European distribution of Y-chromosome Haplogroup I and various associated subclades has also been explained as resulting from male post-glacial re-colonization of Europe from refuge in the Balkans, Iberia, and Eastern Europe. Males possessing Haplogroup Q are postulated as representing a significant portion of the population that crossed Beringia and populated North America for the first time.
Human site occupation density was most prevalent in the Crimea region and increased as early as ca. 16,000 years before the present. However reoccupation of northern territories of the East European Plain did not occur until 13,000 years before the present. Prior to this settlement of the central portion of the East European Plain was significantly reduced during a period of maximum cold ca. 21,000-17,000 years before the present.
Overall, there is little archaeological evidence to suggest major shifting settlement pattern during this time on the East European plain. This is unlike what was occurring in Western Europe, where Magdalenian industry producers were rapidly repopulating much of Europe. Evidence of this can be found as far east at Kunda sites (ca. 10,000 years ago) located throughout Baltic country territory where tanged point and other tool making traditions reminiscent of the northwestern European Magdalenian persist.
Generally, lithic technology is dominated by blade production and typical Upper Paleolithic tool forms such as burins and backed blades (the most persistent). Kostenki archaeological sites of multiple occupation layers persist from the Last Glacial Maximum and into the Late Glacial Maximum on the eastern edge of the Central Russian Upland, along the Don River. Epigravettian archaeological sites, similar to Eastern Gravettian sites, are common in the southwest, central, and southern regions of the East European Plain ca. 17,000-10,000 years BP, and are also present in the Crimea and Northern Caucasus.
In Western Europe, between ca. 22 k.a. and 20 k.a cal BP, human groups responded to LGM environmental conditions by developing a suite of new technologies characterized by a variety of diagnostic projectile points produced by bifacial retouch, which define the Solutrean technocomplex.
In the regions of southeastern Europe, hunter-gatherers of the LGM produce a different lithic technology, the early Epigravettian (20,000-8000 BP), which evolved into the Mesolithic, characterized by shouldered and backed projectile points produced by unifacial retouch most probably being derived from the preceding Gravettian technocomplex. Bifacial leaf-shaped points are rare and have been recovered from only a few sites in northern Italy.
Epigravettian was followed by the Sauveterrian and Castelnovian in the 7th millennium BC. Epigravettian cultures developed contemporaneously in various parts of Europe, notably the Creswellian in Britain.
Reconstructions of their ecological niches indicate that they overlap broadly, but that the Solutrean was able to exploit colder and more humid areas, corresponding to areas with permanent permafrost during the LGM. In contrast, the Epigravettian in Italia and the Balkans seems to have been better adapted to areas characterized by discontinuous permafrost and seasonal freezing. Neither technocomplex was adapted to the more southerly dry and relatively warmer Mediterranean environments during the LGM.
The later phases of the Magdalenian are also synonymous with the human re-settlement of north-western Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum during the Late Glacial Maximum. Research in Switzerland, southern Germany and Belgium has provided AMS radiocarbon dating to support this. However being hunter gatherers Magdalenians did not simply re-settle permanently in north-west Europe as they often followed herds and moved depending on seasons.
By the end of the Magdalenian, the lithic technology shows a pronounced trend towards increased microlithisation. The bone harpoons and points have the most distinctive chronological markers within the typological sequence. As well as flint tools, the Magdalenians are best known for their elaborate worked bone, antler and ivory which served both functional and aesthetic purposes including perforated batons. Examples of Magdalenian portable art include batons, figurines and intricately engraved projectile points, as well as items of personal adornment including sea shells, perforated carnivore teeth (presumably necklaces) and fossils.
The sea shells and fossils found in Magdalenian sites can be sourced to relatively precise areas of origin, and so have been used to support hypothesis of Magdalenian hunter-gatherer seasonal ranges, and perhaps trade routes. Cave sites such as the world famous Lascaux contain the best known examples of Magdalenian cave art. The site of Altamira in Spain, with its extensive and varied forms of Magdalenian mobillary art has been suggested to be an agglomeration site where multiple small groups of Magdalenian hunter-gatherers congregated.
In northern Spain and south west France it was superseded by the Azilian culture. In northern Europe we see a slightly different picture, with different variants of the Tjongerian techno-complex following it. It has been suggested that key Late Glacial sites in south-western Britain can also be attributed to the Magdalenian, including the famous site of Kent’s Cavern, although this remains open to debate.
The Hamburg culture or Hamburgian (13,500-11,100 BC) was a Late Upper Paleolithic culture of reindeer hunters in northwestern Europe during the last part of the Weichsel Glaciation beginning during the Bölling Interstatial. Sites are found close to the ice caps of the time.
The Hamburg Culture has been identified at many places, for example, the settlement at Meiendorf and Ahrensburg north of Hamburg, Germany. It is characterized by shouldered points and zinken tools, which were used as chisels when working with horns. In later periods tanged Havelte-type points appear, sometimes described as most of all a northwestern phenomenon. Notwithstanding the spread over a large geographical area in which a homogeneous development is not to be expected, the definition of the Hamburgian as a technological complex of its own has not recently been questioned.
The culture spread from northern France to southern Scandinavia in the north and to Poland in the east. In the early 1980s, the first find from the culture in Scandinavia was excavated at Jels in Sønderjylland. Recently, new finds have been discovered at, for example, Finja in northern Skåne. The latest findings (2005) have shown that these people traveled far north along the Norwegian coast dryshod during the summer, since the sea level was 50m lower than today.
In northern Germany, camps with layers of detritus have been found. In the layers, there is a great deal of horn and bone, and it appears that the reindeer was an important prey.
The distribution of the finds in the settlements show that the settlements were small and only inhabited by a small group of people. At a few settlements, archaeologists have discovered circles of stones, interpreted as weights for a teepee covering.
Within the Hamburgian techno-complex, a younger dating is found for the Havelte phase, sometimes interpreted as a northwestern phenomenon, perhaps oriented towards the former coastline. The Hamburgian culture existed during the warm Bølling period, the brief Dryas II glaciation (lasting 300 years) and in the early warmer Allerød period.
However, the distribution of the Hamburgian east of the Oder River has been confirmed and Hamburgian culture can also be distinguished in Lithuania. Finds in Jutland indicates the expansion of early Hamburgian hunters and gatherers reached further north than previously expected. The Hamburgian sites with shouldered point lithics reach as far north as the Pomeranian ice margin. The younger Havelte phase has been proven for the area beyond the Pomeranian ice margin and on the Danish Isles after circa 12.300 calBC.
The “Backed Point” lithics of Federmesser culture are usually dated in the Allerød Interstadial. Early Federmesser finds follows shortly or are contemporary to Havelte. The culture lasted approximately 1200 years from 11.900 to 10.700 calBC., and is located in Northern Germany and Poland to south Lithuania.
The Federmesser culture or Federmesser group is a toolmaking tradition of the late Upper Palaeolithic era, of the Northern European Plain from Poland (where the culture is called Tarnowian and Witowian) to northern France, dating to between c. 12000 and 10800 BC (uncalibrated). It is closely related to the Tjongerian culture, as both have been suggested as being part of the more generalized Azilian culture, a name given by archaeologists to an industry of the Epipaleolithic in northern Spain and southern France.
It used small backed flint blades, from which its name derives (Federmesser is German for “feather knife”), and shares characteristics with the Creswellian culture in Britain.
The Creswellian culture has parallels with the Federmesser and Hamburgian cultures of today northwestern continental Europe and the Magdelanian culture of southern Europe.
Swiderian culture, also published in English literature as Sviderian and Swederian, is the name of Final Palaeolithic cultural complexes in Poland and the surrounding areas. The type-site is Świdry Wielkie, in Otwock. The Swiderian is recognized as a distinctive culture that developed on the sand dunes left behind by the retreating glaciers.
Rimantiene (1996) considered the relationship between Swiderian and Solutrean, a relatively advanced flint tool-making style of the Upper Palaeolithic, from around 22,000 to 17,000 BP, “outstanding, though also indirect”, in contrast with the Bromme-Ahrensburg complex (Lyngby culture), for which she introduced the term “Baltic Magdalenian” for generalizing all other North European Late Paleolithic culture groups that have a common origin in Aurignacian.
“Solutrean” is named after the type-site of Crôt du Charnier at Solutré in the Mâcon district, Saône-et-Loire, eastern France, and appeared around 21,000 BP. The Solutré site was discovered in 1866 by the French geologist and paleontologist Henry Testot-Ferry (second son of Napoleon’s famous cavalryman, General Claude Testot-Ferry, Baron of the Empire). It is now preserved as the Parc archéologique et botanique de Solutré.
The industry was named by Gabriel de Mortillet to describe the second stage of his system of cave chronology, following the Mousterian, and he considered it synchronous with the third division of the Quaternary period. The era’s finds include tools, ornamental beads, and bone pins as well as prehistoric art.
The Solutrean may be seen as a transitory stage between the flint implements of the Mousterian and the bone implements of the Magdalenian epochs. Faunal finds include horse, reindeer, mammoth, cave lion, rhinoceros, bear and aurochs. Solutrean finds have been also made in the caves of Les Eyzies and Laugerie Haute, and in the Lower Beds of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, England. The industry first appeared in what is now Spain, and disappears from the archaeological record around 17,000 BP.
The Solutrean hypothesis builds on similarities between the Solutrean industry and the later Clovis culture / Clovis points of North America, and suggests that people with Solutrean tool-technology crossed the Ice Age Atlantic by moving along the pack ice edge, using survival skills similar to those of modern Eskimo people. The migrants arrived in northeastern North America and served as the donor culture for what eventually developed into Clovis tool-making technology. Archaeologists Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley suggest that the Clovis point derived from the points of the Solutrean culture of southern France (19,000 BP) through the Cactus Hill points of Virginia (16,000 BP) to the Clovis point. This would mean that people would have had to move from the Bay of Biscay across the edge of the Atlantic ice sheet to North America. Supporters of this hypothesis believe it would have been feasible using traditional Eskimo techniques still in use today, while others argue that the conditions at the time would have made such a journey unlikely.
The idea of a Clovis-Solutrean link remains controversial and does not enjoy wide acceptance. The hypothesis is challenged by large gaps in time between the Clovis and Solutrean eras, a lack of evidence of Solutrean seafaring, lack of specific Solutrean features in Clovis technology, and other issues.
Three periods of the Swiderian culture can be distinguished. The crude flint blades of Early Swiderian are found in the area of Nowy Mlyn in the Holy Cross Mountains region. The Developed Swiderian appeared with their migrations to the north and is characterized by tanged blades: this stage separates the northwestern European cultural province, embracing Belgium, Holland, northwest Germany, Denmark and Norway, and the Middle East European cultural province, embracing Silesia, Brandenburgia, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Central Russia, Ukraine and the Crimea. Late Swiderian is characterized by blades with a blunted back.
The Swiderian culture plays a central role in the Palaeolithic-Mesolithic transition. It has been generally accepted that most of the Swiderian population emigrated at the very end of the Pleistocene (10,000 BP uncalibrated; 9500 BC calibrated) to the northeast following the retreating tundra, after the Younger Dryas. Recent radiocarbon dates prove that some groups of the Svidero-Ahrensburgian Complex persisted into the Preboreal.
Unlike western Europe, the Mesolithic groups now inhabiting the Polish Plain were newcomers. This has been attested by a 300-year-long gap between the youngest Palaeolithic and the oldest Mesolithic occupation.
The oldest Mesolithic site is Chwalim, located in western Poland; it outdates the Mesolithic sites situated to the east in central and northeastern Poland by about 150 years. Thus, the Mesolithic population progressed from the west after a 300-year-long settlement break, and moved gradually towards the east. The lack of good flint raw materials in the Polish early Mesolithic has been interpreted thus that the new arriving people were not acquainted yet with the best local sources of flint, proving their external origin.
The Ukrainian archaeologist L. Zalizniak (1989, p. 83-84) believes Kunda culture of Central Russia and the Baltic zone, and other so-called post-Swiderian cultures, derive from the Swiderian culture. Sorokin (2004) rejects the “contact” hypothesis of the formation of Kunda culture and holds it originated from the seasonal migrations of Swiderian people at the turn of Pleistocene and Holocene when human subsistence was based on hunting reindeer.
Many of the earliest Mesolithic sites in Finland are post-Swiderian; these include the Ristola site in Lahti and the Saarenoja 2 site in Joutseno with lithics in imported flint, as well as the Sujala site in Utsjoki in the province of Lapland. The raw materials of the lithic assemblage at Sujala originate in the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway.
Concerning this region, the commonly held view today is that the earliest settlement of the North Norwegian coast originated in the Fosna culture of the western and southwestern coast of Norway and ultimately in the final Palaeolithic Ahrensburg culture of northwestern Europe.
The combination of a coastal raw material and a lithic technique typical to Late Palaeolithic and very early Mesolithic industries of northern Europe, originally suggested that Sujala was contemporaneous to Phase 1 of the Norwegian Finnmark Mesolithic (Komsa proper), dating to between 9 000 and 10 000 BP.
Proposed parallels with the blade technology among the earliest Mesolithic finds in southern Norway would have placed the find closer or even before 10 000 BP. However, a preliminary connection to early North Norwegian settlements is contradicted by the shape of the tanged points and by the blade reduction technology from Sujala.
The bifacially shaped tang and ventral retouch on the tip of the arrowpoints and the pressure technique used in blade manufacture are rare or absent in Ahrensburgian contexts, but very characteristic of the so-called Post-Swiderian cultures of northwestern Russia. There, counterparts of the Sujala cores can also be found.
The Sujala assemblage is currently considered unquestionably post-Swiderian and is dated by radiocarbon to 9265-8930 BP, the true age being approximately 8300-8200 CalBC. Such an Early Mesolithic influence from Russia or the Baltic might imply an adjustment to previous thoughts on the colonization of the Barents Sea coast.
Fish-hooks were discovered in Allerød layers and emphasize the importance of fishing in the Late Palaeolithic. A certain survival of late Upper Palaeolithic traditions similar to contemporary Azilian (France, Spain) becomes apparent, such as the amber elk from Weitsche that can be considered as a link to the Mesolithic, amber animal sculptures.
The Neman culture (7th – 3rd millennium BC) is the name of two archaeological cultures that existed in Mesolithic and continued into middle Neolithic. It was a continuation of the Swiderian culture and was replaced by the Corded Ware culture. It was located in the upper basin of the Neman River: northern Poland, southern Lithuania, western Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast. In the north, the Neman culture bordered the Kunda culture during Mesolithic and Narva culture during Neolithic.
During the Atlantic period, the climate warmed and broad-leaved tree forests covered much of the territory. The migrating reindeer, mainstay of the Paleolithic hunters, retreated to the North and were followed by forest animals.
The people adapted to the changed environment. They were still nomadic, but traveled shorter distances and stayed in the same place for longer periods. The archaeologists found small camps used just once and larger camps to which hunters returned repeatedly.
These camps were usually located near lakes or rivers. The people used to hunt with arrows and spears and fish with harpoons. The flint tools of Mesolithic Neman culture were influenced both by microliths from southeastern Europe and macroliths from northern Europe (Maglemosian culture).
Therefore the culture was initially called Microlithic-Macrolithic culture to avoid confusion with the already established Neolithic Neman culture. Despite variety of influences, the culture was rather stable for 2500–3000 years indicating no significant migrations. Therefore the artifacts are rather unvaried stock of arrowheads, trapezoid blades, oval axes.
The Neolithic began with appearance of pottery in mid 5th millennium BC. The Semi-Neolithic Neman culture was a successor of the Mesolithic Neman culture. Most of flint tools are very similar between both cultures. A new widespread development was knives with sharpened and flared point.
Pottery of the Neman culture had pointed bottoms and was made of clay mixed with organic matter or crushed quartzite. Some latter examples have flat bottoms. The vessels were a bit narrower and curvier than of the Narva culture. They were decorated with a thin layer of white clay and rows of small imprints around the rim.
The rest of the vessel had diagonal stripes forming a pattern of a fishnet or more rows of small imprints. Some pottery found in settlements of Neman culture was made by Narva culture. Such phenomenon is explained by trade of flint, which Narva culture in the north did not have.
Towards the end of the Neman culture, the pottery became more varied and exhibits influence of the Rzucewo culture: imprints made by a cord or resembling a fir. Eventually the culture was overtaken by the Corded Ware culture and Globular Amphora culture.
The Azilian culture dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 12,000 years ago (uncalibrated) and followed the Magdalenian culture. Archaeologists think the Azilian represents the tail end of the Magdalenian as the warming climate brought about changes in human behaviour in the area. The effects of melting ice sheets would have diminished the food supply and probably impoverished the previously well-fed Magdalenian manufacturers. As a result, Azilian tools and art were cruder and less expansive than their Ice Age predecessors – or simply different.
Diagnostic artifacts from the culture include Azilian points (microliths with rounded retouched backs), crude flat bone harpoons and pebbles with abstract decoration. The latter were first found in the River Arize at the type-site for the culture, Le Mas-d’Azil in the French Pyrenees. 145 are known from the Swiss site of Birsmatten-Eremitage. Compared with the late Magdelanian, the number of microliths increases.
The Azilian co-existed with similar early Mesolithic European cultures such as the Tjongerian and the Ahrensburg culture of Northern Europe, the Swiderian of North-Eastern Europe, and the Creswellian in Britain.
In its late phase, it experienced strong influences from neighbouring Tardenoisian, reflected in the presence of many geometrical microliths persisted until the arrival of the Neolithic, that in some western areas was only adopted very late, almost in the Chalcolithic era.
Bromme culture sites are found in the entire southern and southeastern Baltic, and are dated to the second half of Allerød and the early cold Dryas III period. The “classical” Brommian complex is typified by simple and fast, but uneconomical, flint processing using unipolair cores. A new development noticed in Lithuania introduced both massive and smaller “Tanged Points”.
In Bromme culture this technology is proposed to be an innovation derived from tanged Havelte groups. As such, derivation of Bromme culture and even migration of its representatives from the territories of Denmark and northern Germany have been proposed, although other sources hold early Bromme not to be very well defined in (late Allerød) Northern Germany, where it groups with Federmesser.
Ahrensburg culture is normally associated with the Younger Dryas glacialization and the Pre-boreal period. The traditional view of the Ahrensburg culture being a direct inheritor of the Bromme culture in the late Dryas period is contradicted by new information that the Ahrensburgian techno-complex probably already started before the Younger Dryas, strengthening proposals to a direct derivation from the Havelte stage of the Hamburg culture.
Some recent finds, such as the Hintersee 24 site in southern Landkreis Vorpommern-Greifswald, would contribute to the argument of an early Ahrensburgian in northern Germany. Alternatively, flint artefacts of Bromme tanged-point groups is considered to prelude the techno-complex of the Ahrensburg culture and would point to the provenience of Ahrensburg from Bromme culture. As such, the Grensk culture in Bromme territory at the source of the Dnieper River was proposed to be the direct originator of Ahrensburgian culture.
However, the exact typological chronology of this culture is still unclear. Though associated with the Bromme complex, Grensk culture has its roots more defined in the local Mammoth Hunters’ culture.
Another possibility derives from the observation that on a regional scale, the Hamburgian culture is succeeded geographically as well as chronologically by the Federmesser culture, or Arch-Backed Piece Complex. The existence of a genuine Federmesser occupation in southern Scandinavia is highly controversial, and there is wide, though not unanimous, agreement that some Federmesser types constitute an integral part of the early Brommean artefact inventory. Still, Federmesser types are also often found in close association with Hamburgian assemblages (e.g. at Slotseng and Sølbjerg) and tentative, dating from northern Germany shows some degree of contemporaneity between the late Hamburgian Havelte sites and the Federmesser ones. Therefore in southern Scandinavia the Federmesser may represent a brief transitory phase between the Hamburgian and the Brommean.
This corresponds with the notion that “tanged point cultures” such as “Brommian” or “Bromme-Lyngby” appear to be based on the Magdalenian, during the Allerød and were closely associated with reindeer hunting.
Stellmoor was a seasonal settlement inhabited primarily during October, and bones from 650 reindeer have been found there. The hunting tool was bow and arrow. From Stellmoor there are also well-preserved arrow shafts of pine intended for the culture’s characteristic skaftunge arrowheads of flintstone. A number of intact reindeer skeletons, with arrowheads in the chest, has been found, and they were probably sacrifices to higher powers. At the settlements, archaeologists have found circles of stone, which probably were the foundations of hide teepees.
The earliest reliable traces of habitation in the northern territories of Norway and western Sweden date to the transition period from the Younger Dryas to the Preboreal. More favourable living conditions, and past experience gained through seasonal rounds, prompted increased maritime resource exploitation in the northern territories.
The Hensbacka group on the west coast of Sweden exemplifies the cultural fragmentation process that took place within the Continental Ahrensburgian. Instead of new immigrations at the beginning of the Mesolithic, the discovery of deposited bones and new dating indicate that there was no (significant) break in settlement continuity. New knowledge provides aspects for a further autochthonous development, with a rapid climatic change stimulating a swift cultural change.
The Ahrensburg culture or Ahrensburgian (11th to 10th millennia BCE) was a late Upper Paleolithic nomadic hunter culture (or technocomplex) in north-central Europe during the Younger Dryas, the last spell of cold at the end of the Weichsel glaciation resulting in deforestation and the formation of a tundra with bushy arctic white birch and rowan.
The culture is named after a tunnel valley near the village of Ahrensburg, 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Hamburg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, where Ahrensburg find layers were excavated in Meiendorf, Stellmoor and Borneck.
While these as well as the majority of other find sites date to the Young Dryas, the Ahrensburgian find layer in Alt Duvenstedt has been dated to the very late Allerød, thus possibly representing an early stage of Ahrensburgian which might have corresponded to the Bromme culture in the north. Artefacts with tanged points are found associated with both the Bromme and the Ahrensburg cultures.
The most important prey was the wild reindeer. The earliest definite finds of arrow and bow date to this culture, though these weapons might have been invented earlier. The Ahrensburgian was preceded by the Hamburg and Federmesser cultures and superseded by mesolithic cultures (Maglemosian).
Ahrensburgian finds were made in southern and western Scandinavia, the North German plain and western Poland. The Ahrensburgian area also included vast stretches of land now at the bottom of the North and Baltic Sea, since during the Younger Dryas the coastline took a much more northern course than today.
The Bromme culture is a late Upper Paleolithic culture dated to c. 11 600 to 10 800 cal BC, which corresponds to the second half of the Allerød Oscillation.
At this time, reindeer was the most important prey, but the Bromme people also hunted moose, wolverine and beaver. The landscape was a combination of taiga and tundra.
The culture is named after a settlement at Bromme on western Zealand, and it is known from several settlements in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. In Sweden, it is known from the country’s earliest known settlement at Segebro, near Malmö.
It is characterized by sturdy lithic flakes that were used for all tools, primarily awls (sticklar), scrapers and skaftunge arrow heads. No stone axes have been found.
The Bromme culture and the Ahrensburg culture are so similar that it has been proposed that they should be classed as one and the same, under the label Lyngby culture, with the Bromme culture being recognized as an older northern branch of the same culture as the Ahrensburg culture.
The oldest traces of settlements in the territory of the Wieliszew Commune dating back to 8000 years BC have been discovered at numerous archaeological sites in the territory of the village of Komornica (e.g. flint tools). This so-called Komornica culture, which is one of the oldest cultures discovered on the European continent, prevailed in parts of Poland, Germany, Denmark, and southern Sweden.
The Sauveterrian is the name for an archaeological culture of the European Epipaleolithic which flourished around 8500–6500 years BC. The name is derived from the type site of Sauveterre-la-Lémance in the French département of Lot-et-Garonne.
It extended through large parts of western and central Europe. Characteristic artefacts include geometric microliths and backed points on micro-blades. Woodworking tools are notably missing from Sauveterrian assemblages. There is evidence for ritual burial.
It eventually evolved into the Tardenoisian culture, an archaeological culture of the Epipaleolithic period from northern France and Belgium, of similar characteristics. Similar cultures are known further east in central Europe, Italy, parts of Britain, and west across Spain. Characteristic artefacts include trapezoid, chisel-ended arrowheads and small flint blades made by the pressure-technique.
The Fosna/Hensbacka cultures (ca. 8300 BC – 7300 BC), or (12000 cal.BP – 10500 cal.BP) were two very similar Late Palaeolithic/early Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavia, and are often subsumed under the name Fosna-Hensbacka culture.
This complex includes the Komsa culture, a Mesolithic culture of hunter-gatherers that existed from around 10000 BC in Northern Norway, that, notwithstanding different types of tools, is also considered to be a part of the Fosna culture group.
The culture is named after the Komsa Mountain in the community of Alta, Finnmark, where the remains of the culture were first discovered. The term was first used by Norwegian archaeologist Anders Nummedal (1867-1944) after the discoveries he made in the Komsa Mountains during 1925. The distinction between a “Komsa” type of stone-tool culture north of the Arctic Circle and a “Fosna” type from Trøndelag to Oslo Fjord was rendered obsolete in the 1970s. Nowadays both phenomena are ascribed to different types of tools of the same culture.
Recent archeological finds from Finnish Lapland were originally thought to represent an inland aspect of the Komsa culture equally old to the earliest finds from the Norwegian coast. However, this material is now considered to be affiliated with the contemporary Post-Swiderian culture of North Central Russia and the eastern Baltic and thus represents a separate early incursion into northernmost Scandinavia.
The commonly held view today is that the earliest settlement of the North Norwegian coast originated on the western and southwestern coast of Norway and ultimately in the final Palaeolithic Ahrensburg culture of northwestern Europe.
The Komsa are thought to have followed the Norwegian coastline when receding glaciation at the end of the last ice age (between 11,000 and 8000 BC) opened up new areas for settlement. Some elements may have moved into modern-day Finnmark from the northeast, possibly coming from ice-free coasts of the Kola Peninsula, though evidence to this formerly widely held view is still poor.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the Komsa culture was almost exclusively sea-oriented, living mainly off seal hunting and being able boatbuilders and fishermen. In comparison to the southern Norway’s contemporary Fosna variety of this same culture, stone tools and other implements appear relatively crude. This has been explained with a paucity of flintstone in the region.
The main difference is that the Fosna/Komsa culture was distributed along the coast of Northern Norway, whereas the Hensbacka culture had a more eastern distribution along the coast of western Sweden; primarily in central Bohuslän to the north of Göteborg.
Recent investigations indicate that this particular area, i.e. central Bohuslän, may well have had the largest seasonal population in northern Europe during the Late Palaeolithic/early Mesolithic transition. This was due to environmental circumstances brought about by the relationship between the Vänern basin in the east, and topographical features in the North Sea basin to the west.
The Hensbacka culture evolved into the later Sandarna culture which is found along the coast of western Sweden.
Kunda Culture, with its roots in Swiderian culture is a mesolithic hunter-gatherer communities of the Baltic forest zone extending eastwards through Latvia into northern Russia dating to the period 8000–5000 BC by calibrated radiocarbon dating. It is named after the Estonian town of Kunda, about 110 kilometres (70 mi) east of Tallinn along the Gulf of Finland, near where the first extensively studied settlement was discovered on Lammasmäe Hill and in the surrounding peat bog.
Most Kunda settlements are located near the edge of the forests beside rivers, lakes, or marshes. Elk were extensively hunted, perhaps helped by trained domestic hunting-dogs. On the coast seal hunting is represented. Pike and other fish were taken from the rivers. There is a rich bone and antler industry, especially in relation to fishing gear. Tools were decorated with simple geometric designs, lacking the complexity of the contemporary Maglemosian Culture communities to the southwest.
The Kunda Culture is succeeded by the Narva culture who use pottery and show some traces of food production. The oldest known Kunda culture settlement in Estonia is Pulli settlement.
The Kunda culture appears to have undergone a transition from the Palaeolithic Swiderian culture located previously over much of the same range. One such transition settlement, Pasieniai 1C in Lithuania, features stone tools of both Late Swiderian and early Kunda. One shape manufactured in both cultures is the retouched tanged point. The final Swiderian is dated 7800-7600 BC by calibrated radiocarbon dating, which is in the Preboreal period, at the end of which time with no gap the early Kunda begins. Evidently the descendants of the Swiderians were the first to settle Estonia when it became habitable. Other post-Swiderian groups extended as far east as the Ural mountains.
Narva culture or eastern Baltic (ca. 5300 to 1750 BC) was a European Neolithic archaeological culture found in present-day Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast (former East Prussia), and adjacent portions of Poland and Russia. A successor of the Mesolithic Kunda culture, Narva culture continued up to the start of the Bronze Age. The technology was that of hunter-gatherers. The culture was named after the Narva River in Estonia.
The people of the Narva culture had little access to flint; therefore, they were forced to trade and conserve their flint resources. For example, there were very few flint arrowheads and flint was often reused. The Narva culture relied on local materials (bone, horn, schist). As evidence of trade, researchers found pieces of pink flint from Valdai Hills and plenty of typical Narva pottery in the territory of the Neman culture while no objects from the Neman culture were found in Narva.
Heavy use of bones and horns is one of the main characteristics of the Narva culture. The bone tools, continued from the predecessor Kunda culture, provide the best evidence of continuity of the Narva culture throughout the Neolithic period. The people were buried on their backs with few grave goods.
The Narva culture also used and traded amber; a few hundred items were found in Juodkrantė. One of the most famous artifacts is a ceremonial cane carved of horn as a head of female elk found in Šventoji.
The people were primarily fishers, hunters, and gatherers. They slowly began adopting husbandry in middle Neolithic. They were not nomadic and lived in same settlements for long periods as evidenced by abundant pottery, middens, and structures built in lakes and rivers to help fishing.
The pottery shared similarities with Comb Ceramic culture, but had specific characteristics. One of the most persistent features was mixing clay with other organic matter, most often crushed snail shells.
The pottery was made of 6-to-9 cm (2.4-to-3.5 in) wide clay strips with minimal decorations around the rim. The vessels were wide and large; the height and the width were often the same. The bottoms were pointed or rounded, and only the latest examples have narrow flat bottoms. From mid-Neolithic Narva pottery was influenced and eventually disappeared into the Corded Ware culture.
For a long time archaeologists believed that the first inhabitants of the region were Finno-Ugric, who were pushed north by people of the Corded Ware culture. In 1931, Latvian archeologist Eduards Šturms was the first to note that artifacts found near Zebrus Lake in Latvia were different and possibly belonged to a separate archaeological culture. In early 1950s settlements on the Narva River were excavated. Lembit Jaanits and Nina Gurina grouped the findings with similar artifacts from eastern Baltic region and described the Narva culture.
At first it was believed that Narva culture ended with appearance of the Corded Ware culture. However, newer research extended it up to the Bronze Age. As Narva culture spanned several millenniums and encompassed a large territory, archaeologists attempted to subdivide the culture into regions or periods. For example, in Lithuania two regions are distinguished: southern (under influence of the Neman culture) and western (with major settlements found in Šventoji).
There is an academic debate what ethnicity represented the Narva culture: Finno-Ugrians or Europids, preceding arrival of the Indo-Europeans. It is also unclear how the Narva culture fits with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans (Corded Ware and Globular Amphora cultures) and formation of the Baltic tribes.
The Mesolithic (Greek: mesos “middle”, lithos “stone”) is an archaeological concept used to refer to specific groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic. The term developed as a catch-all to refer to material that did not fit into the other categories of prehistory. The term “Epipaleolithic” is often used for areas outside northern Europe but was also the preferred synonym used by French archaeologists until the 1960s.
The term is used to refer to different time spans in different parts of Eurasia. It was first used to refer to post-Pleistocene but pre-agricultural material in northwest Europe about 10,000 to 5000 BCE but is also applied to material from the Levant (about 20,000 to 9500 BCE).
Mesolithic 1 (Kebara culture; 20–18,000 BCE to 12,150 BCE) followed the Aurignacian or Levantine Upper Paleolithic throughout the Levant. By the end of the Aurignacian, gradual changes took place in stone industries. Small stone tools called microliths and retouched bladelets can be found for the first time. The microliths of this culture period differ greatly from the Aurignacian artifacts. This period is more properly called Epipaleolithic.
By 20,000 to 18,000 BCE the climate and environment had changed, starting a period of transition. The Levant became more arid and the forest vegetation retreated, to be replaced by steppe. The cool and dry period ended at the beginning of Mesolithic 1. The hunter-gatherers of the Aurignacian would have had to modify their way of living and their pattern of settlement to adapt to the changing conditions. The crystallization of these new patterns resulted in Mesolithic 1. New types of settlements and new stone industries developed.
The inhabitants of a small Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant left little more than their chipped stone tools behind. The industry was of small tools made of bladelets struck off single-platform cores. Besides bladelets, burins and end-scrapers were found. A few bone tools and some ground stone have also been found. These so-called Mesolithic sites of Asia are far less numerous than those of the Neolithic and the archeological remains are very poor.
The second period, Mesolithic 2, is also called the Natufian culture. The change from Mesolithic 1 to Natufian culture can be dated more closely. The latest date from a Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant is 12,150 BCE. The earliest date from a Natufian site is 11,140 BCE.
This period is characterized by the early rise of agriculture that would later emerge into the Neolithic period. Radiocarbon dating places the Natufian culture between 12,500 and 9500 BCE, just before the end of the Pleistocene. This period is characterised by the beginning of agriculture. The earliest known battle occurred during the Mesolithic period at a site in Egypt known as Cemetery 117.
Natufian culture is commonly split into two subperiods: Early Natufian (12,500–10,800 BCE) (Christopher Delage gives a. 13000 – 11500 BP uncalibrated, equivalent to ca. 13,700 to 11,500 BCE) and Late Natufian (10,800–9500 BCE). The Late Natufian most likely occurred in tandem with the Younger Dryas.
The Mesolithic began with the Holocene warm period around 11,660 BP and ended with the introduction of farming, the date of which varied in each geographical region. Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last glacial period ended have a much more apparent Mesolithic era, lasting millennia. In northern Europe, for example, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands created by the warmer climate. Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviors that are preserved in the material record, such as the Maglemosian and Azilian cultures. Such conditions also delayed the coming of the Neolithic until as late as 5000-4000 BC in northern Europe.
As the “Neolithic package” (including farming, herding, polished stone axes, timber longhouses and pottery) spread into Europe, the Mesolithic way of life was marginalized and eventually disappeared. Mesolithic adaptations such as sedentism, population size and use of plant foods are cited as evidence of the transition to agriculture.
In North-Eastern Europe, Siberia, and certain southern European and North African sites, a “ceramic Mesolithic” can be distinguished between 7000-3850 BCE. Russian archaeologists prefer to describe such pottery-making cultures as Neolithic, even though farming is absent. This pottery-making Mesolithic culture can be found peripheral to the sedentary Neolithic cultures. It created a distinctive type of pottery, with point or knob base and flared rims, manufactured by methods not used by the Neolithic farmers. Though each area of Mesolithic ceramic developed an individual style, common features suggest a single point of origin.
The earliest manifestation of this type of pottery may be in the region around Lake Baikal in Siberia. It appears in the Elshan or Yelshanka or Samara culture on the Volga in Russia c. 7000 BCE, and from there spread via the Dnieper-Donets culture to the Narva culture of the Eastern Baltic. Spreading westward along the coastline it is found in the Ertebølle culture of Denmark and Ellerbek of Northern Germany, and the related Swifterbant culture of the Low Countries.
In one sample from the Blätterhöhle in Hagen, it seems that the descendants of Mesolithic people maintained a foraging lifestyle for more than 2000 years after the arrival of farming societies in the area. In north-Eastern Europe, the hunting and fishing lifestyle continued into the Medieval period in regions less suited to agriculture.
The Tardenoisian culture lasted from about 6500 BC until the Neolithic, and is the source of the first Nordic culture, the Maglemosian (ca. 9000 BC–6000 BC), the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in Northern Europe.
Specialist opinions fix the beginning of the Mesolithic era at the end of the Preboreal, its development throughout the Boreal, and its end as late as the beginnings of the Atlantic. Chronologically then, it can be set between 9,500-9,000 and 7,500 BP. Two cultures are documented on the territory of Romania in this time period: the Tardenoisian and the Schela Cladova types.
The Tardenoisian spread in several of the country’s regions (Moldavia, Muntenia, Dobrogea), including the mountainous area of Transylvania in the southeast (Cremenea-Sita Buzăului, Costanta-Lădăuţi) and northwest (Ciumeşti-Păşune). In the settlement of Ciumeşti (Satu Mare County), besides the typically Central and East European Tardenoisian microlitice tools made of flint and obsidian, some artefacts were found in the form of circular segments and two triangular ones, in addition to trapezes. The fauna remnants indicate the presence of wild boar and deer.
Some specialists do not exclude the possibility of identifying the Late Tardenoisian communities of the north-western Pontic or central European types (of which the settlement at Ciumeşti is one) as being in the process of neolithization, albeit incomplete, that is, displaying an incipient productive economy, whose foundations were laid by animal domestication and plant cultures.
The Schela Cladovei culture is known through the nine open air settlements in the proximity of the Danube. The lithic utensils come in numerous atypical forms and are fashioned of quartzite and siliceous sandstone while an additional small number are made of flint. The horn tools (agriculture artefacts with one or two handle attachment holes) apparently indicate the debut of plant cultivation. Some of the larger river rocks flattened by water or some of the thicker slabs might have served for grinding. The examination of the fauna indicates an economy based mainly on hunting. The targeted game were deer, roebucks, European bisons, wild boars, hares, wild donkeys, foxes, etc. Furthermore, it would seem that the representatives of this culture domesticated the dog.
Anthropological data are quite consistent. The physical type was evaluated as Oriental Cro-Magnon. The skeletons of the deceased were laid in rectangular holes, some dug in the floor of the dwelling itself. Part of them was laid in a crouching position, part was laid on their back, together with some of their personal belongings. Child mortality was high, while the average life expectancy for adults was 36.2 years. The discovery of some skeletons with arrowhead marks speaks of violent death. Research so far has proved that this culture does not have its roots in the Mediterranean type Tardigravettian, but rather originated by some new migration into the Porţile de Fier region. In addition, it would seem that on the arrival of the first bearers of the Neolithic civilisation (Precriş culture), the Schela Cladovei culture had already come to an end.
Maglemosian (ca. 9000 BC–6000 BC) is the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in Northern Europe. The actual name came from an archeological site in Denmark, named Maglemose near Høng on western Zealand, where the first settlement was found in 1900. During the following century a long series of similar settlements were excavated from England to Poland and from Skåne in Sweden to northern France.
The Maglemosian people lived in forest and wetland environments using fishing and hunting tools made from wood, bone, and flint microliths. It appears that they had domesticated the dog. Some may have lived settled lives but most were nomadic.
Huts made of bark have been preserved, and the tools were made of flintstone, bone, and horn. A characteristic of the culture are the sharply edged microliths of flintstone which were used for spear heads and arrow heads. A notable feature is the Leister or Fish Spear.
Sea levels in northern Europe did not reach current levels until almost 6000 BC by which time they had inundated some territories inhabited by Maglemosian people.
The Maglemosian culture in Scandinavia is succeeded by the Kongemose culture (ca. 6000 BC–5200 BC), a mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia.
The Kongemose culture was the origin of the Ertebølle culture (ca 5300 BC – 3950 BC), the name of a hunter-gatherer and fisher, pottery-making culture dating to the end of the Mesolithic period, and was bordered on the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures in the north.
The Nøstvet culture (ca 6200 BC-3200 BC) and the Lihult culture are two very similar Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavian prehistory derived from the earlier Fosna-Hensbacka cultures. They are so varied and vaguely defined that they are rather a tradition than an archaeological culture.
The Nøstvet culture appeared around the Oslofjord and along the Norwegian coast up to Trøndelag, whereas the Lihult culture is found in Sweden. Sometimes the Sandarna culture appears as the name of an intermediary form between the Swedish Hensbacka and Lihult cultures. This name comes from a settlement near Gothenburg (approximately 7000 BC–5000 BC).
The Nøstvet people lived on open settlements. They used honed axes and microliths of various rocks, such as quartz, quartzite and flint. They lived primarily of hunting various animals such as seafowl and marine mammals, in addition to fishing and gathering. The size of the settlements grows during time, which reflects an increase in population and a more sedentary lifestyle.
In southern Scandinavia, its neighbours were first the Kongemose culture (roughly 6000 BC–5200 BC) and later on the Ertebølle culture (about 5200 BC–4000 BC).
During the period 4000 BC–3200 BC, the Nøstvet and Lihult cultures are succeeded by the Funnelbeaker (ca 4300 BC–ca 2800 BC) and the Pitted Ware cultures (ca 3200 BC– ca 2300 BC), and disappear from the archaeological record.
The Kongemose culture is named after a location in western Zealand and its typical form is known from Denmark and Skåne. The Ertebølle culture was concentrated in Southern Scandinavia, but genetically linked to strongly related cultures in Northern Germany and the Northern Netherlands.
The Ertebølle culture was concentrated in Southern Scandinavia, but genetically linked to strongly related cultures in Northern Germany and the Northern Netherlands. It is named after the type site, a location in the small village of Ertebølle on Limfjorden in Danish Jutland.
In the 1890s, the National Museum of Denmark excavated heaps of oyster shells there, mixed with mussels, snails, bones and bone, antler and flint artifacts, which were evaluated as kitchen middens (Danish køkkenmødding), or refuse dumps. Accordingly the culture is less commonly named the Kitchen Midden. As it is approximately identical to the Ellerbek culture of Schleswig-Holstein, the combined name, Ertebølle-Ellerbek is often used. The Ellerbek culture (German Ellerbek Kultur) is named after a type site in Ellerbek, a community on the edge of Kiel, Germany.
The Ertebølle culture was roughly contemporaneous with the Linear Pottery culture, food-producers whose northernmost border was located just to the south. The Ertebølle did not practice agriculture but it did utilize domestic grain in some capacity, which it must have obtained from the south.
In the 1960s and 1970s another closely related culture was found in the (now dry) Noordoostpolder in the Netherlands, near the village Swifterbant and the former island of Urk.
During the formative stages contact with nearby Linear Pottery culture settlements in Limburg has been detected. Like the Ertebølle culture, they lived near open water, in this case creeks, riverdunes and bogs along post-glacial banks of the Overijsselse Vecht.
Recent excavations show a local continuity going back to (at least) 5600 BC, when burial practices resembled the contemporary gravefields in Denmark and South Sweden “in all details”, suggesting only part of a diverse ancestral “Ertebølle”-like heritage was locally continued into the later (Middle Neolithic) Swifterbant tradition (4200 – 3400 BC).
The Ertebølle culture replaced the earlier Kongemose culture of Denmark. It was limited to the north by the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures. It is divided into an early phase ca 5300 BC-ca 4500 BC, and a later phase ca 4500 BC-3950 BC. Shortly after 4100 BC the Ertebølle began to expand along the Baltic coast at least as far as Rügen. Shortly thereafter it was replaced by the Funnelbeaker culture.
In recent years archaeologists have found the acronym EBK most convenient, parallel to LBK for German Linearbandkeramik (Linear Pottery culture) and TRB for German Trichterbecher, Danish Tragtbæger (Funnelbeaker culture) and Dutch trechterbekercultuur. Ostensibly for Ertebølle Kultur, EBK could be either German or Danish and has the added advantage that Ellerbek also begins with E.
Named the Swifterbant culture (5300 – 3400 BC) they show a transition from hunter-gatherer to both animal husbandry, primarily cows and pigs, and cultivation of barley and emmer wheat.
The oldest finds related to this culture, dated to circa 5600 BC, cannot be distinguished from the Ertebølle culture, normally associated with Northern Germany and Southern Scandinavia. The culture is ancestral to the Western group of the agricultural Funnelbeaker culture (4000–2700 BC), which extended through Northern Netherlands and Northern Germany to the Elbe.
The earliest dated sites are season settlements. A transition from hunter-gatherer culture to cattle farming, primarily cows and pigs, occurred around 4800–4500 BC. Pottery has been attested from this period. In the region indications to the existence of pottery are present from before the arrival of the Linear Pottery culture in the neighbourhood.
The material culture reflects a local evolution from Mesolithic communities, with a pottery in a Nordic (Ertebølle) style and trade relationships with southern late Rössen culture communities, as testified by the presence of true Breitkeile pottery sherds.
The Rössen culture, being an offshoot of Linear Pottery, is older than the finds in Swifterbant, and contemporary to older stages of this culture as found in Hoge Vaart (Almere) and Hardinxveld. Contact between Swifterbant and Rössen expressed itself by some hybrid early Swifterbant pots in Anvers (Doel) and hybrid Rössen pottery Hamburg-Boberg. In general, Swifterbant pottery does not show the same variety as Rössen pottery and Swifterbant pottery with Rössen influences are rare. Possibly the idea of cooking could be derived from agricultural neighbours. However, the technical style for making pottery are too different to consider such external influences.
Wetland settlement, unlike previous opinions, was a deliberate choice by prehistoric communities, as this offered attractive ecological conditions and a high natural productivity or agricultural potential. The economy covered a broad spectrum of resources to gather food, ruled by a strategy to diversify rather than increasing volume. As such, the wetlands offered, next to hunting and fishing, optimized conditions to explore both cattle and small scale cultivation of different crops, each having conditions for growing of their own.
The agrarian transformation of the prehistoric community was an exclusively indigenous process, that ultimatey realized itself only at the end of the Neolithic. This view has been supported by the actual discovery of an agricultural field in Swifterbant dated 4300–4000 BC.
Animal sacrifices found in the bogs of Drenthe are attributed to Swifterbant and suggest a religious role for both wild and domesticated bovines.
Neolithic (Old) Europe
Neolithic Europe refers to a prehistoric period in which Neolithic technology was present in Europe. This corresponds roughly to a time between 7000 BC (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) and c. 1700 BC (the beginning of the Bronze Age in northwest Europe). The Neolithic overlaps the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe as cultural changes moved from the southeast to northwest at about 1 km/year.
The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place, its end marked by the introduction of bronze implements: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4,000 years (i.e. 7000 BC–3000 BC) while in Northwest Europe it is just under 3,000 years (c. 4500 BC–1700 BC).
Regardless of specific chronology, many European Neolithic groups share basic characteristics, such as living in small-scale, family-based communities, subsisting on domesticated plants and animals supplemented with the collection of wild plant foods and with hunting, and producing hand-made pottery, that is, pottery made without the potter’s wheel.
There are also many differences, with some Neolithic communities in southeastern Europe living in heavily fortified settlements of 3,000-4,000 people (e.g., Sesklo in Greece) whereas Neolithic groups in England were small (possibly 50-100 people) and highly mobile cattle-herders.
The details of the origin, chronology, social organization, subsistence practices and ideology of the peoples of Neolithic Europe are obtained from archaeology, and not historical records, since these people left none.
Since the 1970s, population genetics has provided independent data on the population history of Neolithic Europe, including migration events and genetic relationships with peoples in South Asia. A further independent tool, linguistics, has contributed hypothetical reconstructions of early European languages and family trees with estimates of dating of splits, in particular theories on the relationship between speakers of Indo-European languages and Neolithic peoples.
Some archaeologists believe that the expansion of Neolithic peoples from southwest Asia into Europe, marking the eclipse of Mesolithic culture, coincided with the introduction of Indo-European speakers, whereas other archaeologists and many linguists believe the Indo-European languages were introduced from the Pontic-Caspian steppe during the succeeding Bronze Age. A few see Indo-European languages starting in Paleolithic times.
Archeologists believe that food-producing societies first emerged in the Levantine region of southwest Asia at the close of the mini-Ice Age around 12,000 BC, and developed into a number of regionally distinctive cultures by the eighth millennium BC. Remains of food-producing societies in the Aegean have been carbon-dated to around 6500 BC at Knossos, Franchthi Cave, and a number of mainland sites in Thessaly. Neolithic groups appear soon afterwards in the Balkans and south-central Europe. The Neolithic cultures of southeastern Europe (the Balkans, Italy, and the Aegean) show some continuity with groups in southwest Asia and Anatolia (e.g., Çatalhöyük).
Current evidence suggests that Neolithic material culture was introduced to Europe via western Anatolia, and that similarities in cultures of North Africa and the Pontic steppes are due to diffusion out of Europe. All Neolithic sites in Europe contain ceramics, and contain the plants and animals domesticated in Southwest Asia: einkorn, emmer, barley, lentils, pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle.
Genetic data suggest that no independent domestication of animals took place in Neolithic Europe, and that all domesticated animals were originally domesticated in Southwest Asia. The only domesticate not from Southwest Asia was broomcorn millet, domesticated in East Asia. The earliest evidence of cheese-making dates to 5500 BC in Kujawy, Poland.
Archaeologists seem to agree that the culture of the early Neolithic is relatively homogeneous, compared both to the late Mesolithic and the later Neolithic. The diffusion across Europe, from the Aegean to Britain, took about 2,500 years (6500 BC – 4000 BC). The Baltic region was penetrated a bit later, around 3500 BC, and there was also a delay in settling the Pannonian plain.
In general, colonization shows a “saltatory” pattern, as the Neolithic advanced from one patch of fertile alluvial soil to another, bypassing mountainous areas. Analysis of radiocarbon dates show clearly that Mesolithic and Neolithic populations lived side by side for as much as a millennium in many parts of Europe, especially in the Iberian peninsula and along the Atlantic coast.
With some exceptions, population levels rose rapidly at the beginning of the Neolithic until they reached the carrying capacity. This was followed by a population crash of “enormous magnitude” after 5000 BC, with levels remaining low during the next 1,500 years. Populations began to rise after 3500 BC, with further dips and rises occurring between 3000 and 2500 BC but varying in date between regions.
The Balkan region was the first area of Europe to experience the arrival of farming cultures in the Neolithic era. The practices of growing grain and raising livestock arrived in the Balkans from the Fertile Crescent by way of Anatolia and spread west and north into Pannonia and Central Europe.
The Neolithic began with the slow migration of communities from the south of the Balkan Peninsula (the Protosesklo culture from the Thesalo-Macedonean area), who brought with them momentous economic progress. Consequently, the process of neolithisation, which is essentially a shift to plant growing and animal breeding, was not an innovation of the local Mesolithic population but rather the result of the penetration of this territory by communities carrying the Neolithic civilization.
The normal divisions of the Neolithic are: Early Neolithic, Developed Neolithic and Chalcolithic (Copper Age). The Neolithic epoch on the territory of Romania, as certified by calibrated 14C dates, began around 6600 BC, and ended around 3800-3700 BC, and no later than 3500 BC.
The Early Neolithic (c. 6600 – 5500 BC) consists of two cultural layers: genetically linked and with similar physiognomies. The first (layer Gura Baciului – Cârcea/Precriş) is the exclusive result of the migration of a Neolithic population from the South Balkan area, while the second (the Starčevo-Criş culture) reflects the process of adjusting to local conditions by a South Balkan community, possibly a synthesis with the local Tardenoisian groups.
Layer Gura Baciului – Cârcea, also called the Precriş culture, is a spin-off of a Protosesklo culture group that advanced north and reached the North Danubian region where it founded the first culture of painted pottery in Romania. The small number of sites attributable to this early cultural time has not allowed the route followed by the group, to penetrate the Inter-Carpathian area, to be firmly established, yet in all likelihood, it was the Oltului Valley.
Based on the stratigraphy in the site of Gura Baciului (Cluj County) and Ocna Sibiului (Sibiu County) the development of the culture is divided into three major stages. The settlements are situated on high terraces strung along secondary valleys. The dwellings are most often underground, but there are also ground level houses, usually standing on river stone platforms. Pottery (bowls, cups) is refined, with white painted dots or geometrical patterns on red or brown-red background.
Concomitant with pottery, plant cultures and animal breeding, the new culture introduces implements of polished stone and the first clay statuettes. The dead are buried on the grounds of the settlements sometimes directly under the dwellings. Gura Baciului is the first site on the territory of Romania attesting incineration as a funerary practice.
Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic plastic art reveals a bipolar system of beliefs: the Great Mother, representing the female principle, and the Bull, representing the male principle. The presence among the findings at Gura Baciului of some anthropomorphic stone heads, similar to the famous stone heads of Lepenski Vir, signify possible contact between the locals, the Mesolithic cultures, and the newcomers. Furthermore, the adoption of these alien deities, even if exclusively a plastic substantiation,speaks of a remarkable process of assimilation, characteristic of the layer above mentioned.
At Ocna Sibiului, at Precriş, level II, a small conical stone statuette was found, with a shape representing a couple embracing, and a plinth of the same material associated with the figure. On the statue and the plinth several symbols can be distinguished interpreted by the discoverer as ideograms.
Archaeologists have identified several early culture-complexes, including the Cucuteni culture (4500 to 3500 BC), Starcevo culture (6500 to 4000 BC), Vinča culture (5000 to 3000 BC), Linear pottery culture (5500 to 4500 BC), and Ezero culture (3300—2700 BC). The Eneolithic Varna culture in Bulgaria(4600-4200 BC radiocarbon dating) produced the world’s earliest known gold treasure, communicated with the Mediterranean and had sophisticated beliefs about afterlife.
The Starčevo-Criş culture, representing the generalisation of the early Neolithic in the Intra-Carpathian territory, has been regarded by some as the prolongation of the Gura Baciului-Cârcea/Precriş culture, disregarding that it is probably the result of a new south Balkan migration (the Presesklo culture) arriving in Transylvania via Banat. The Starčevo – Criş culture has a long evolution in four stages.
Dwellings were set up on meadows, terraces, hills and even in caves, wherever the environment was friendly. The dwellings were embedded in the early phases and were huts at ground level, in the later phases. Asymmetrical receptacles, bowls, spherical cups, all of which were made of clay, furnish the interiors of this culture.
The lithic utensil inventory includes flint and obsidian microlites, as well as large polished stone axes of the Walzenbiele type. It is now, too, that the first small copper items occur sporadically. The pintaderas decorated with geometrical patterns as well as the Spondylus and Tridacna shells testify to possible connections with Eastern Mediterranean regions. Burials were performed both inside and among the dwellings. Anthropological analyses have revealed a major Mediterranean component suggesting a southern origin of this population.
The Developed Neolithic (c. 5500 – 4000 BC) covers the interval between the last phase of the Starčevo – Criş culture and the beginnings of the Petreşti culture, the period including what has long been known as middle and late Neolithic. The Developed Neolithic is marked by the migration of some new groups of populations, whose point of departure was the south of the Balkan Peninsula, as part of the group of cultures with polished black pottery.
These same groups created the Vinča culture (more commonly divided into four main phases: A, B, C and D), whose beginning is synchronous with the final phase of the Sesklo culture (Greece) occupying Banat and most of Transylvania. In about the same period, the north-east of Transylvania was penetrated by several groups, bearing the linear and musical note pottery culture.
The Linear Pottery culture, a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic in Central Europe, is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing ca. 5500–4500 BC.
It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), is also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture, and falls within the Danubian I culture, coined by the Australian archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe to describe the first agrarian society in central and eastern Europe. It covers the Linear Pottery culture (Linearbandkeramik, LBK), stroked pottery and Rössen cultures (4,600–4,300 BC).
The Rössen culture is important as it marks the transition from a broad and widely distributed tradition going back to Central Europe’s earliest Neolithic LBK towards the more diversified Middle and Late Neolithic situation characterised by the appearance of complexes like Michelsberg and Funnel Beaker Culture.
The beginning of the Linear Pottery culture dates to around 5500 BC. It appears to have spread westwards along the valley of the river Danube and interacted with the cultures of Atlantic Europe when they reached the Paris Basin.
Danubian I peoples cleared forests and cultivated fertile loess soils from the Balkans to the Low Countries and the Paris Basin. They made LBK pottery and kept domesticated cows, pigs, dogs, sheep and goats.
A second wave of the culture, which used painted pottery with Asiatic influences, superseded the first phase starting around 4500 BC. This was followed by a third wave which used stroke-ornamented ware.
Middle and late phases are also defined. In the middle phase, the Early Linear Pottery Culture intruded upon the Bug-Dniester culture and began to manufacture Musical note pottery. In the late phase, the Stroked Pottery Culture moved down the Vistula and Elbe.
The Stroke-ornamented ware (culture) or (German) Stichbandkeramik (abbr. STK or STbK), Stroked Pottery culture, Danubian Ib culture, or Middle Danubian culture, is the successor of the Linear Pottery culture. The STK flourishes during approximately 4600-4400 BC. Centered on Silesia in Poland, eastern Germany and the northern Czech Republic, it overlaps with the Lengyel horizon to the south, and the Rössen culture to the west.
A number of cultures ultimately replaced the Linear Pottery culture over its range, but there is no one-to-one correspondence between its variants and the replacing cultures. The culture map instead is complex. Some of the successor cultures are the Hinkelstein, Großgartach, Rössen, Lengyel, Cucuteni-Trypillian, and Boian-Maritza.
The Vinča culture in Romania comes in many forms depending on the local background against which it developed (the Starčevo-Criş culture and the linear pottery) and the degree of southern influence.
The Vinča communities that advanced on the middle course of the Mureş River, under the influence of the Starčevo-Criş traditions and the elements of the linear pottery, created a new cultural synthesis called the Turdaş culture. The occurrence of signs incised on the bottom of several vessels, particularly on those at Turdaş (Hunedoara County), have often been regarded as the potter’s mark. More recently they have been considered by some researchers as early attempts at recording dates graphically.
That things might stand this way is demonstrated, apparently, by the baked clay tablets covered with incised pictographic patterns at Tărtăria (Alba County), discovered, according to Nicolae Vlassa, in a ritual hole in the ground, next to clay and alabaster idols and a fragment of an anchor, all of which have triggered hot debate over the stratigraphy and chronology of the settlement.
The preservation by some Starčevo-Criş communities of painted pottery, in addition to the Vinča elements, engendered in the area of the eastern arch of the Western Carpathians the Cluj-Cheile–Turzii-Lumea Nouă-Iclod cultural complex. This complex represents the substratum for the emergence of the Petreşti culture. Long term research at Iclod has demonstrated that this station possessed a complex fortification system built during the Iclod, Phase I, still in use for some time in the Iclod II phase, eventually abandoned when the settlement expanded.
It is in the same spot that research has been carried in two inhumation necropoles, where the dead were laid on their backs hands across their chests or abdomens or along their bodies; the bodies were oriented east-west, their heads facing east. The inventory consists of vessels (cylindrical, painted bowls, and S profile pots), ochre, stone utensils, ornaments and animal offerings.
The synthesis of the above mentioned elements gave birth to numerous related regional elements, so that when referring to the Transylvania territory, specialists do not speak of a Vinča culture per se, but rather that of the Banat culture, the Bucovăţ group, the Pişcolt group, the Turdaş culture, the Cluj-Cheile–Turzii-Lumea Nouă-Iclod complex, the Iclod group.
A general characteristic of these groups is the black polished pottery (cups, bowls, lids, etc.). The decorations are variously incised and impressed (bands filled in with stripes, in particular) in addition to displaying fine grooves. The statuettes feature oblong heads (possibly indicating a mask), cross-like bodies, and are often decorated with spiral winding patterns.
In Banat, with the end of the Vinča A2 stage there emerges the Banat culture with several distinctive regional peculiarities (groups Bucovăţ and Parţa). The Parţa settlement, thoroughly researched, demonstrates that the culture reached a high level of civilization, attested to by the one storey buildings and by a complex spiritual life, partly decoded by the components of the great sanctuary studied here.
The charred seeds found in the Liubcova settlement indicate that several cereals were grown. Wheat prevailed, particularly the Triticum dicoccum species, as well as the Triticum monococcum and Triticum aestivus species in proportion of approx. 10%.
The first occurrence on the territory of Romania of the Hordeum vulgare barley is seen. Also present are such leguminous plants as lentil and vetch. Of paramount interest is that wheat was harvested, as discovered in a settlement south of the Carpathians (the Gumelniţa culture), and was possibly used in other areas, too. The wheat was harvested by pulling out, then was sheaved and tied with a switch, vine shoots or ivy. Once carried to the settlement, the grain was threshed.
Sesklo is a village near the city of Volos, in Thessaly (central Greece), in the regional unit of Magnesia. It is part of the municipal unit Aisonia. Nearby, a Neolithic settlement was discovered at the end of the 19th century and the first excavations were made by Greek archaeologist, Christos Tsountas.
The Starčevo culture, sometimes included within a larger grouping known as the Starčevo–Kőrös–Criş culture, is an archaeological culture of Southeastern Europe, dating to the Neolithic period between c. 5500 and 4500 BCE (according to other source, between 6200 and 5200 BCE).
Starčevo, the type site, is located on the north bank of the Danube in Serbia (Vojvodina province), opposite Belgrade. It represents the earliest settled farming society in the area, although hunting and gathering still provided a significant portion of the inhabitants’ diet.
The pottery is usually coarse but finer fluted and painted vessels later emerged. A type of bone spatula, perhaps for scooping flour, is a distinctive artifact. The Kőrös is a similar culture in Hungary named after the River Kőrös with a closely related culture which also used footed vessels but fewer painted ones. Both have given their names to the wider culture of the region in that period. Parallel and closely related cultures also include the Karanovo culture in Bulgaria, Criş in Romania and the pre-Sesklo in Greece.
The Starčevo culture covered sizable area that included most of present-day Serbia and Montenegro, as well as parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, and the Republic of Macedonia. The westernmost locality of this culture can be found in Croatia, in the vicinity of Ždralovi, a part of the town of Bjelovar.
This was the final stage of the culture. Findings from Ždralovi belong to a regional subtype of the final variant in the long process of development of that Neolithic culture. It is designated as Ždralovi facies of the Starčevo culture or the Starčevo – Final stages. In 1990, Starčevo was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, protected by Republic of Serbia.
There are different opinions about the ethno-linguistic origin of the people of Starčevo culture. According to one opinion, Neolithic cultures of the Balkans were of non-Indo-European origin and Indo-European peoples (originating from eastern Europe) did not settle in this area before the Eneolithic period. According to other opinions, Neolithic cultures of the Balkans were also Indo-European and originated from Anatolia, which some researchers identified with a place of origin of Indo-European peoples. These differing theories are termed the Kurgan hypothesis and the Anatolian hypothesis (see also; Proto-Indo-European Urheimat hypotheses).
This settlement gives its name to the first Neolithic culture of Europe, which inhabited Thessaly and parts of Macedonia (Greece). The oldest fragments researched at Sesklo place the civilization’s development as far back as 6850 BC with a +/- 660 year margin of error. The first settlements, which predate the 6th millennium BCE, are known as proto-Sesklo (main group) and pre-Sesklo (secondary groups with differentiated characteristics) and they show an advanced agriculture and a very early use of pottery that rivals in age those of the Near East.
The peoples of Sesklo built their villages on hillsides near fertile valleys, where they grew wheat and barley, also keeping herds of mainly sheep and goats, though they also had cows, pigs and dogs. Their houses were small, with one or two rooms, built of wood or mudbrick in the early period. Later the construction technique becomes more homogeneous and all homes are built of adobe with stone foundations. In the 6th millennium BCE, the first houses with two levels are found and there is also a clear intentional urbanism.
The lower levels of proto-Sesklo lack pottery, but the Sesklo people soon developed very fine glazed earthenware (cups and bowls) that they decorated with geometric paintings in red or brown colours. In the Sesklo period new types of ware are incorporated. At the end of the period the decoration evolves to flame motifs. Pottery of this ‘classic’ Sesklo style was also used in Western Macedonia as at Servia.
When investigating whether these settlers could be migrants from Asia Minor, there are many similarities between the rare Asia Minor pottery and Greek Early Neolithic pottery, but these similarities seem to exist between all early pottery from Near Eastern regions. The repertoire of shapes is not very different, but the Asia Minor vessels seem to be deeper than their Thessalian counterparts. Shallow, slightly open bowls are characteristic of the Sesklo culture and absent in Anatolian settlements. The ring base was almost unknown in Anatolia, whereas flat and plano-convex bases were common there. Altogether the appearance of the vessels is different. The appearance of the earliest figurines is additionally completely different.
The very rare pottery from levels XII and XI at Çatal Hüyük closely resembles in shape the very coarse ware of Early Neolithic I from Sesklo, but the paste is quite different, having a partly vegetable temper. This pottery is contemporaneous with the better made ware and not a predecessor of the Thessalian material. On the whole, the artefactual data argues in favour of a largely independent indigenous development of the Greek Neolithic settlements.
The data available also indicates that the domestication of cattle has taken place at Argissa as early as 6300 BC during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. The non-pottery bearing levels at Sesklo contained bone fragments of domesticated cattle too. The earliest occurrence reported in the Near East is at Çatal Hüyük, in stratum VI, dating around 5750 BC, though it may have been present in stratum XII too – somewhere around 6100 BC. This indicates that the domestication of cattle was indigenous on the Greek mainland.
One significant characteristic of this culture is the abundance of statuettes of women, often pregnant, probably connected to the widely hypothesized prehistoric fertility cult. Whichever the case, these abundant sculptures are present in all the Balcanic and most of the Danubian Neolithic complex form many millennia, though they can’t be considered exclusive of this area.
The culture of Sesklo is crucial in the expansion of the Neolithic into Europe. Dating and research points to the influence of this culture to other Balcanic (Karanovo I-II and Starčevo-Körös) which seem to originate here, and will be these which will stimulate the birth of the important Danubian Neolithic current. Also, it is thought that the differentiated settlements of pre-Sesklo can be, at least partly, responsible for the origin of the Mediterranean Neolithic (Cardium pottery). So it can be said that, with some geographically isolated exceptions, European Neolithic seem to originate here: in the Thessalia of Sesklo.
The “invasion theory” states that the Sesklo culture lasted more than one full millennium up until 5000 BC when it was violently conquered by people of the Dimini culture. The Dimini culture in this theory is considered different from that found at Sesklo. However, Professor Ioannis Lyritzis provides a different story pertaining to the final fate of the “Seskloans”. He, along with R. Galloway, compared ceramic materials from both Sesklo and Dimini utilizing thermoluminescence dating methods. He discovered that the inhabitants of the settlement in Dimini appeared around 4800 BC, four centuries before the fall of the Sesklo civilization (ca. 4400 BC). Lyritzis concluded that the “Seskloans” and “Diminians” coexisted for a period of time.
The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, short TRB or TBK from (German) Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur (ca 4300 BC–ca 2800 BC) was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe. It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.
Preceded by Lengyel-influenced STK groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleraz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north, the TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern eastalbingian Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group between Zuiderzee and lower Elbe, an eastern group centered around the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale. Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged.
In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, the culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing the culture of what Marija Gimbutas termed Old Europe, the peoples of which were later to be governed by the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples (see Yamna culture) intruding from the east. The political relation between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into Corded Ware culture.
Heterodoxically, Dutch publications mention mixed burials and propose a quick and smooth internal change to Corded Ware within two generations occurring about 2900 BC in Dutch and Danish TRB territory, probably precluded by economic, cultural and religious changes in East Germany, and call the migrationist view of steppe intrusions introducing Indo-European languages obsolete (at least in this part of the world). It is more likely that Indo-European languages were adopted by local populations because they represented a new way of life, bringing with them horses and cattle and the status they represented.
The Globular Amphora Culture (GAC), German Kugelamphoren-Kultur (KAK), ca. 3400–2800 BC, is an archaeological culture preceding the central area occupied by the Corded Ware culture. Somewhat to the south and west, it was bordered by the Baden culture. To the northeast was the Narva culture. It occupied much of the same area as the earlier Funnelbeaker culture. The name was coined by Gustaf Kossinna because of the characteristic pottery, globular-shaped pots with two to four handles. The Globular Amphora culture is thought to be of Indo-European origin and was succeeded by the Corded Ware culture.
The inclusion of animals in the grave of Globular Amphora Culture is seen as an intrusive cultural element by Marija Gimbutas. The practice of suttee, hypotised by Gimbutas is also seen as a highly intrusive cultural element. The supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis point to these distinctive burial practices and state this may represent one of the earliest migrations of Indo-Europeans into Central Europe. In this context and given its area of occupation, this culture has been claimed as the underlying culture of a Germanic-Baltic-Slavic continuum.
In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.
In the 19th century the Corded Ware culture was favoured by some authors as the Urheimat (original homeland) of the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language, a theory that has been discarded by modern science in favor of the Kurgan hypothesis or the Renfrew NDT. Still it is generally held that “Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic may possibly be traced back to the Corded Ware horizon of north, central, and eastern Europe”.
However, this is not to suppose that all of these proto-languages actually arose during the period of the Corded Ware horizon, across its whole territory, or exclusively within its confines. The Proto-Germanic language is often assumed to have been spoken in southern Scandinavia or northern Germany towards the end of the Nordic Bronze Age or at the beginning of the Pre-Roman Iron Age (mid-first millennium BC), and the Proto-Balto-Slavic language and Proto-Celtic language may date only slightly earlier, to the Early Iron Age (early first millennium BC).
In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, the TBK culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing the culture of what Marija Gimbutas termed Old Europe, the peoples of which were later to be governed by the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples (see Yamna culture) intruding from the east. The political relation between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into Corded Ware culture.
The Pitted Ware culture (ca 3200 BC– ca 2300 BC) was a hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia, mainly along the coasts of Svealand, Götaland, Åland, north-eastern Denmark and southern Norway. Despite its Mesolithic economy, it is by convention classed as Neolithic, since it falls within the period in which farming reached Scandinavia. It was first contemporary and overlapping with the agricultural Funnelbeaker culture, and later with the agricultural Corded Ware culture.
One notable feature of the Pitted Ware Culture is the sheer quantity of shards of pottery on its sites. The culture has been named after the typical ornamentation of its pottery: horizontal rows of pits pressed into the body of the pot before firing.
Though some vessels are flat-bottomed, others are round-based or pointed-based, which would facilitate stable positioning in the soil or on the hearth. In shape and decoration, this ceramic reflects influences from the Comb Ceramic culture (also known as Pit-Comb Ware) of Finland and other parts of north-eastern Europe, established in the sixth and fifth millennia BC.
Small animal figurines were modelled out of clay, as well as bone. These are also similar to the art of the Comb Ware culture. A large number of clay figurines have been found at Jettböle on the island of Åland, including some which combine seal and human features.
As the language left no records, its linguistic affiliations are uncertain. It has been suggested that its people spoke a language related to the Uralic languages and provided the unique linguistic features discussed in the Germanic substrate hypothesis.
A theory among archaeologists was that the Pitted Ware culture evolved from the Funnelbeaker culture by a process of abandonment of farming for hunting and fishing. However the two populations are genetically distinct. Samples of skeletal remains from Pitted Ware and Funnelbeaker sites in Sweden yielded mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The nineteen Pitted Ware samples from Gotland were dominated by mtDNA haplogroups U4, U5 and U5a, though it should be noted that, because of the low resolution of the tests performed, some haplotypes reported as U4 may actually belong to haplogroup H. By contrast the three Funnelbeaker samples from Gökhem contained no haplogroup U. This is consistent with findings elsewhere in northern Europe of a distinct difference in mtDNA between hunter-gatherers and farmers.
It has been suggested that the Funnelbeaker culture was the origin of the gene allowing adults of Northern European descent to digest lactose. It was claimed that in the area formerly inhabited by this culture, prevalence of the gene is virtually universal.
A paper published in 2007 by Burger et al. indicated that the genetic variant that causes lactase persistence in most Europeans (-13,910*T) was rare or absent in early farmers from central Europe. A study published by Yuval Itan and colleagues in 2010 clearly shows this. A study published in 2009, also by Itan et al., suggests that the Linear Pottery culture (also known as Linearbandkeramik or LBK), which preceded the TRB culture by some 1,500 years, was the culture in which this trait started to co-evolve with the culture of dairying.
Ancient DNA extracted from three individuals ascribed to a TRB horizon in Gökhem, Sweden, were found to possess mtDNA haplogroups H, J, and T.
A very low level (5%) of an allele (-13910*T) strongly associated with the ability to consume unprocessed milk at adulthood was found among Pitted Ware Culture individuals in Gotland, Sweden. This frequency is dramatically different from the extant Swedish population (74%).