Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

  • Archives

Old Europe I

Aegean Farmers


Körös culture/Criș culture

Starčevo culture

Linear Pottery culture


Late LBK

A shoe-last celt

Sopot culture

Lengyel culture

Tzonevo culture

Bug–Dniester culture

Cucuteni–Trypillian culture

Aegean Farmers

The collapse of the agricultural Pre Pottery Neolithic (PPN) aggregation center in the Levant during the 6200 event correlates with the cooling period and aridity. It is suggested that the Neolithic acculturation process of the Carpathian Basin took place between approximately 6450–5450 BC. It was a period of various transformations in Neolithic society.

The initial agriculture in the Peloponnese and most of the Balkans predate the climate event, but the Neolithic package seems to have crossed the Danube and entered the southern most region of the Pannonian Plain after the major climate fluctuations, and remained there for centuries.

Recent DNA studies indicate that agriculture was brought to Western Europe by the Aegean populations, that are known as ‘the Aegean Neolithic farmers’. These Neolithic groups arrived to northern France and Germany already around 5,000 years BC. About 1,000 years later, they arrived in Britain.

When they left the Aegean, these populations quickly split into two groups with somewhat different cultures. One group went north along the Danube, while the other took a southerly route along the Mediterranean and reached Iberia. This latter group then arrived in Britain.

Prior to that, these territories were populated by the hunter-gathererer cultures known as the ‘western hunter-gatherers’, similar to the Cheddar Man. Most of the ancestry of the British population after 4,000 years BC (74% on average) is attributable to the Aegean Neolithic farmers. This indicates a substantial shift in ancestry with the transition to farming.

Chalcolithic (copper) age in Europe started from about 3500 BC. This was also a period of Megalithic culture.


Practically all the Balkan Peninsula is colonized in the 6th millennium from there, attested by one of the earliest farming sites of Europe, discovered in Vashtëmi, southeastern Albania and dating back to 6,500 BC.

The excavation project of the prehistoric settlement of Vashtëmi was completed in 2013, and the results thereof confirmed that it was one of the earliest farming sites in Europe, dating back to 6,600 BC, long before the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution would have reached the region.

Vashtëmi was situated near the Devoll river feeding the Maliq Lake, a region that became the cradle of the most prominent Neolithic culture of present-day Albania: the Maliq culture. It initially included the settlements of Vashtëmi, Dunavec, Maliq and Podgorie.

Their artifacts, pottery and spiritual culture spread through the valleys, and by the end of the Lower Neolithic it covered a sizeable area including the territory of the modern Eastern Albania. The human settlements of the western parts of the present-day country were rather connected to the archaeological cultures of the Adriatic Sea and the Danube valley.

During the Middle Neolithic, 5th-4th millennia BC achievement of a cultural unity was underway, which was represented by the prevailing black and grey polished pottery, four-footed ceramic ritual objects and Mother Earth figurines across the contemporary sites of Dunavec–Maliq, Cakran, Kolsh and Xarrë.

This unity became even more evident during the Late Neolithic, due to the more intensive relationships between the settlements that helped the widespread adaptation of the new technological inventions and processing methods (hoe, mill stone, primitive spinning wheel), ceramics painted with two or three colors (typically red and black), featuring elaborated designs and patterns.

With the Chalcolithic, in the second half of 3rd millennium BC the first tools made of copper emerged and helped the contemporary man be more efficient in agricultural and industrial activities. The ceramic pottery continued the Neolithic tradition from both typological and technological aspect, yet it adapted some of the methods and patterns of the other cultures on the Balkan Peninsula.

At the same time the man of the epoch was witnessing the great Indo-European migrations of the Proto-Indo-Europeans leaving their homeland in the Eastern European steppes and spreading towards Asia and Europe.

Based on the archaeological findings and facts the leading Albanian archaeologist Muzafer Korkuti stated that although these nomadic migrants brought along their culture into the eastern part of the Balkans, yet they were blended with the local indigenous population which by the end of the Copper Age ended up in the formation of an ethnocultural basis of the later Illyrians.

Körös culture/Criș culture

This Bug–Dniester culture was influenced by the neighboring Neolithic Körös culture/Criș culture (5800 to 5300 BC), a Neolithic archaeological culture in Central Europe that was named after the river Körös in eastern Hungary. The same river has the name Criș in Romania, hence the name Criş culture. The 2 variants of the river name are used for the same archaeological culture in the 2 regions.

Only two archaeological cultures with a reliably complete ‘Neolithic package’ are known in the Northern Black Sea area. Firstly, the settlements of the Cris culture, investigated at the extreme west of the region at the interfluve of the Prut and Dnister (Dniester) River.

Secondly, the settlements of Linear Band Pottery culture in an area between the Prut and the South Buh (Bug) River. The most easterly Linear Band Pottery site is Vita Poshtova 2. It is situated north of the Northern Black Sea area, close to Kyiv, only 10 kilometres from the valley of the Dnipro River.

The population of both the Cris culture and Linear Band Pottery culture were classic early farmers from the Carpathians-Danube region. Consequently, the northwest part of the Black Sea area is the easternmost area of these cultures.

The Criş farmers arrived in the upper valleys of the Seret and Prut about 5800–5700 BC. Criş pottery forms were copied by the Bug–Dniester people. Wild grasses were abandoned in favor of einkorn, emmer and spelt.

Cattle-breeding was adopted. Some of the earliest known evidence for domesticated plants and animals during the Neolithic found in the Ponto-Caspian Steppe are the pig and cattle bones and barley and emmer at Bug-Dniester sites.

The Körös culture/Criș culture is related to the neighboring Starčevo culture and is included within a larger grouping known as the Starčevo–Körös–Criş culture. In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of six individuals ascribed to the Körös culture was analyzed. Of the two samples of Y-DNA extracted, one belonged to I2a2, and one belonged to G. Of the six samples of mtDNA extracted, five were subclades of K1, and one was a sample of H.

Starčevo culture

The Starčevo culture, sometimes included within a larger grouping known as the Starčevo–Körös–Criş culture, is an archaeological culture of Southeastern Europe, dating to the Neolithic period between c. 6200 and 4500 BCE. Parallel and closely related cultures also include the Karanovo culture in Bulgaria, Criş in Romania and the pre-Sesklo in Greece.

The village of 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 Körös is a similar culture in Hungary named after the River Körös 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.

The Starčevo culture covered sizable area that included most of present-day Serbia and Montenegro, as well as parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia and Romania. 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).

In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of five males ascribed to the Starčevo culture was analyzed. With regards to Y-DNA extracted, three belonged to subclades of G2a2, and two belonged to H2. mtDNA extracted were subclades of T, K, N, W and X.

Linear Pottery culture

The Linear Pottery culture is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing c. 5500–4500 BC. It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), and is also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture, and falls within the Danubian I culture of V. Gordon Childe.

The earliest theory of Linear Pottery culture origin is that it came from the Starčevo-Körös culture of Serbia and Hungary.[13] Supporting this view is the fact that the LBK appeared earliest about 5600–5400 BC on the middle Danube in the Starčevo range. Presumably, the expansion northwards of early Starčevo-Körös produced a local variant reaching the upper Tisza that may have well been created by contact with native epi-Paleolithic people. This small group began a new tradition of pottery, substituting engravings for the paintings of the Balkanic cultures.

A site at Brunn am Gebirge just south of Vienna seems to document the transition to LBK. The site was densely settled in a long house pattern around 5550–5200. The lower layers feature Starčevo-type plain pottery, with large number of stone tools made of material from near Lake Balaton, Hungary. Over the time frame, LBK pottery and animal husbandry increased, while the use of stone tools decreased.

A second theory proposes an autochthonous development out of the local Mesolithic cultures. Although the Starčevo-Körös entered southern Hungary about 6000 BC and the LBK spread very rapidly, there appears to be a hiatus of up to 500 years in which a barrier seems to have been in effect.

Moreover, the cultivated species of the near and middle eastern Neolithic do not do well over the Linear Pottery culture range. And finally, the Mesolithics in the region prior to the LBK used some domestic species, such as wheat and flax. The La Hoguette culture on the northwest of the LBK range developed their own food production from native plants and animals.

A third theory attributes the start of Linear Pottery to an influence from the Mesolithic cultures of the east European plain.[21] The pottery was used in intensive food gathering.

The rate at which it spread was no faster than the spread of the Neolithic in general. Accordingly, Dolukhanov and others postulate that an impulse from the steppe to the southeast of the barrier stimulated the Mesolithics north of it to innovate their own pottery. This view only accounts for the pottery; presumably, the Mesolithics combined it de novo with local food production, which began to spread very rapidly throughout a range that was already producing some food.


The initial LBK population theory hypothesized that the culture was spread by farmers moving up the Danube practicing slash-and-burn methods. The presence of the Mediterranean sea shell, Spondylus gaederopus, and the similarity of the pottery to gourds, which did not grow in the north, seemed to be evidence of the immigration,[22] as does the genetic evidence cited below. The lands into which they moved were believed untenanted or too sparsely populated by hunter-gatherers to be a significant factor.


The barrier causing the hiatus mentioned above does not have an immediate geographical cause. The Körös culture ended in the middle of the Hungarian plain, and although the climate to the north is colder, the gradient is not so sharp as to form a barrier there.

Since Starčevo-Körös pottery was earlier than the LBK and was located in a contiguous food-producing region, the early investigators looked for precedents there.

Much of the Starčevo-Körös pottery features decorative patterns composed of convolute bands of paint: spirals, converging bands, vertical bands, and so on. The LBK appears to imitate and often improve these convolutions with incised lines; hence the term, linear, to distinguish painted band ware from incised band ware.


The term “Linear Band Ware” derives from the pottery’s decorative technique. The “Band Ware” or Bandkeramik part of it began as an innovation of the German archaeologist, Friedrich Klopfleisch (1831–1898). The earliest generally accepted name in English was the Danubian of V. Gordon Childe. Most names in English are attempts to translate Linearbandkeramik.

The densest evidence for the culture is on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. It represents a major event in the initial spread of agriculture in Europe. The pottery after which it was named consists of simple cups, bowls, vases, and jugs, without handles, but in a later phase with lugs or pierced lugs, bases, and necks.

Important sites include Nitra in Slovakia; Bylany in the Czech Republic; Langweiler and Zwenkau in Germany; Brunn am Gebirge in Austria; Elsloo, Sittard, Köln-Lindenthal, Aldenhoven, Flomborn, and Rixheim on the Rhine; Lautereck and Hienheim on the upper Danube; and Rössen and Sonderhausen on the middle Elbe. In 2019, two large Rondel complexes were discovered east of the Vistula River near Toruń in Poland.

Two variants of the early Linear Pottery culture are recognized: The Early or Western Linear Pottery Culture developed on the middle Danube, including western Hungary, and was carried down the Rhine, Elbe, Oder, and Vistula. The Eastern Linear Pottery Culture flourished in eastern Hungary.

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.

A number of cultures ultimately replaced the Linear Pottery culture over its range, but without a 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 cultures.

The LBK did not begin with this range and only reached it toward the end of its time. It began in regions of densest occupation on the middle Danube (Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary) and spread over about 1,500 km along the rivers in 360 years. The rate of expansion was therefore about 4 km per year,[5] which can hardly be called an invasion or a wave by the standard of current events, but over archaeological time seems especially rapid.

The LBK was concentrated somewhat inland from the coastal areas; i.e., it is not evidenced in Denmark or the northern coastal strips of Germany and Poland, or the coast of the Black Sea in Romania. The northern coastal regions remained occupied by Mesolithic cultures exploiting the then fabulously rich Atlantic salmon runs. There are lighter concentrations of LBK in the Netherlands, such as at Elsloo, Netherlands, with the sites of Darion, Remicourt, Fexhe, or Waremme-Longchamps and at the mouths of the Oder and Vistula. Evidently, the Neolithics and Mesolithics were not excluding each other.

The LBK at maximum extent ranged from about the line of the Seine–Oise (Paris Basin) eastward to the line of the Dnieper,[6] and southward to the line of the upper Danube down to the big bend. An extension ran through the Southern Bug valley, leaped to the valley of the Dniester, and swerved southward from the middle Dniester to the lower Danube in eastern Romania, east of the Carpathians.

The early or earliest Western Linear Pottery culture began conventionally at 5500 BC, possibly as early as 5700 BC, in western Hungary, southern Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.[13] It is sometimes called the Central European Linear Pottery (CELP) to distinguish it from the ALP phase of the Eastern Linear Pottery culture. The Hungarians tend to use DVK, Dunántúl Vonaldiszes Kerámia, translated as “Transdanubian Linear Pottery”. A number of local styles and phases of ware are defined.[14]

The end of the early phase can be dated to its arrival in the Netherlands at about 5200 BC. The population there was already food-producing to some extent. The early phase went on there, but meanwhile the Music Note Pottery (Notenkopfkeramik) phase of the Middle Linear Band Pottery culture appeared in Austria at about 5200 and moved eastward into Romania and the Ukraine. The late phase, or Stroked Pottery culture (Stichbandkeramik or SBK, 5000–4500 BC) evolved in central Europe and went eastward.

The Eastern Linear Pottery culture developed in eastern Hungary and Transylvania roughly contemporaneously with, perhaps a few hundred years after, the Transdanubian.[13] The great plain there (Hungarian Alföld) had been occupied by the Starčevo-Körös-Criş culture of “gracile Mediterraneans” from the Balkans as early as 6100 BC.[15] Hertelendi and others give a reevaluated date range of 5860–5330 for the Early Neolithic, 5950–5400 for the Körös.[16] The Körös Culture went as far north as the edge of the upper Tisza and stopped. North of it the Alföld plain and the Bükk Mountains were intensively occupied by Mesolithics thriving on the flint tool trade.

At around 5330 BC, the classical Alföld culture of the LBK appeared to the north of the Körös culture and flourished until about 4940.[17] This time also is the Middle Neolithic. The Alföld culture has been abbreviated ALV from its Hungarian name, Alföldi Vonaldíszes Kerámia, or ALP for Alföld Linear Pottery culture, the earliest variant of the Eastern Linear Pottery culture.

In one view, the AVK came “directly out of” the Körös.[9] The brief, short-ranged Szatmár group on the northern edge of the Körös culture seems transitional.[9] Some place it with the Körös, some with the AVK. The latter’s pottery is decorated with white painted bands with incised edges. Körös pottery was painted.

As is presented above, however, no major population movements occurred across the border. The Körös went on into a late phase in its accustomed place, 5770–5230.[17] The late Körös is also called the Proto-Vinča, which was succeeded by the Vinča-Tordo, 5390–4960. There is no necessity to view the Körös and the AVK as closely connected. The AVK economy is somewhat different: it used cattle and swine, both of which occur wild in the region, instead of the sheep of the Balkans and Mediterranean. The percentage of wild animal bones is greater. Barley, millet and lentils were added.

Around 5100 or so, towards the end of the Middle Neolithic, the classical AVK descended into a complex of pronounced local groups called the Szakálhát-Esztár-Bükk,[9][17] which flourished about 5260–4880:

In 2005, scientists successfully sequenced mtDNA coding region 15997–16409 derived from twenty-four 7,500- to 7,000-year-old human remains associated with the LBK culture. Of those remains, 22 were from locations in Germany near the Harz Mountains and the upper Rhine Valley, while one was from Austria and one from Hungary.

The scientists did not reveal the detailed hypervariable segment I (HVSI) sequences for all the samples, but identified that seven of the samples belonged to H or V branch of the mtDNA phylogenetic tree, six belonged to the N1a branch, five belonged to the T branch, four belonged to the K(U8) branch, one belonged to the J branch, and one belonged to the U3 branch. All branches are extant in the current European population, although the K branch was present in roughly twice the percentages as would be found in Europe today (15% vs. 8% now.).

Comparison of the N1a HVSI sequences with sequences of living individuals found three of them to correspond with those of individuals currently living in Europe. Two of the sequences corresponded to ancestral nodes predicted to exist or to have existed on the European branch of the phylogenetic tree. One of the sequences is related to European populations, but with no apparent descendants amongst the modern population.

The N1a evidence supports the notion that the descendants of LBK culture have lived in Europe for more than 7,000 years and have become an integral part of the current European population. The lack of mtDNA haplogroup U5 supports the notion that U5 at this time is uniquely associated with mesolithic European cultures.

A 2010 study of ancient DNA suggested the LBK population had affinities to modern-day populations from the Near East and Anatolia, such as an overall prevalence of G2. The study also found some unique features, such as the prevalence of the now-rare Y-haplogroup H2 and mitochondrial haplogroup frequencies.

In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of a large number of individuals ascribed to the Linear Pottery Culture was analyzed. Of the samples of Y-DNA extracted, most belonged to G2a and subclades of it. I2 and subclades of it was also common. Other samples of Y-DNA extracted included T1a, CT, and C1a2. The samples of mtDNA extracted were various subclades of T, H, N, U, K, J, X, HV, and V.

Although no significant population transfers were associated with the start of the LBK, population diffusion along the wetlands of the mature civilisation (about 5200 BC) had levelled the high percentage of the rare gene sequence mentioned above by the late LBK. The population was much greater by then, a phenomenon termed the Neolithic demographic transition (NDT). According to Bocquet-Appel[30] beginning from a stable population of “small connected groups exchanging migrants” among the “hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists” the LBK experienced an increase in birth rate caused by a “reduction in the length of the birth interval”. The author hypothesizes a decrease in the weaning period made possible by division of labor. At the end of the LBK, the NDT was over and the population growth disappeared due to an increase in the mortality rate, caused, the author speculates, by new pathogens passed along by increased social contact.

The new population was sedentary up to the capacity of the land, and then the excess population moved to less-inhabited land. An in-depth GIS study by Ebersbach and Schade of an 18-km² region in the wetlands region of Wetterau, Hesse, traces the land use in detail and discovers the limiting factor.[31] In the study region, 82% of the land is suitable for agriculture, 11% for grazing (even though wetland), and 7% steep slopes. The investigators found that the LBK occupied this land for about 400 years. They began with 14 settlements, 53 houses, and 318 people, using the wetlands for cattle pasture. Settlement gradually spread over the wetlands, reaching a maximum of 47 settlements, 122 houses, and 732 people in the late period. At that time, all the available grazing land was in use.

Toward the end, the population suddenly dropped to initial levels, though much of the arable land was still available. The investigators concluded cattle were the main economic interest and available grazing land was the limiting factor in settlement. The Neolithic of the Middle East featured urban concentrations of people subsisting mainly on grain. Beef and dairy products, however, were the mainstay of LBK diet. When the grazing lands were all in use, they moved elsewhere in search of them. As the relatively brief window of the LBK falls roughly in the centre of the Atlantic climate period, a maximum of temperature and rainfall, a conclusion that the spread of wetlands at that time encouraged the growth and spreading of the LBK is to some degree justified.


The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (short BMAC: c. 2400–1900 BC), also known as the Oxus civilization, is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia, in its urban phase or Integration Era.

It is located in present-day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centred on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River) in Bactria, and at Murghab river delta in Margiana.

Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Marguš, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.

There are numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period, in this region, at Jeitun (or Djeitun), mud brick houses were first occupied during Early Food Producing Era, also known as Jeitun Neolithic from c. 7200 to 4600 BC.

The inhabitants were farmers who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley, with origins in southwest Asia. Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag.

At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period hallmarks characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those southwest of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran.

Regionalization Era begins in Anau IA with a pre-Chalcolithic phase also in Kopet Dag piedmont region from 4600 to 4000 BC, then Chalcolithic period developes from 4000 to 2800 BC in Namazga I-III, Ilgynly Depe, and Altyn Depe.

During this Copper Age, the population of the region grew. There are signs that people migrated to the region from central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but thinks that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers. By contrast a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late neolithic and early chalcolithic eras there.

Major Chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition, there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji, and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east– in the ancient delta of the river Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis.

About 3500 BC, the cultural unity of the area split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements. This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups.

It seems that around 3000 BC, people from Geoksiur migrated into the Murghab delta (where small, scattered settlements appeared) and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana.

In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand River in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.

In the Early Bronze Age, at the end of Late Regionalization Era (2800 to 2400 BC), the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown.

The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age also known as Integration Era, corresponding to Namazga-Depe level V (c. 2400-2000 BC). Namazga Depe reaching c. 52 hectares and holding maybe 17–20,000 inhabitants, and Altyn Depe with its maximum size of c. 25 hectares and 7-10,000 inhabitants, were the two big cities in Kopet Dag piedmont.

It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name. Gonur Depe is the largest of all settlements in this period and is located at the delta of Murghab River in southern Turkmenistan (Margiana region) with an area of around 55 hectares.

An almost elliptical fortified complex, known as Gonur North includes the so-called “Monumental Palace”, other minor buildings, temples and ritual places, together with the “Royal Necropolis”, and water reservoirs, all dating from around 2400 to 1900 BC.

In Bactria, Northern Afghanistan, the site Dashly 3 is regarded to be also from Middle Bronze Age period to Late Bronze Age (2300-1700 BCE), the old Dashly 3 complex, sometimes identified as a palace, is a fortified rectangular 88 m x 84 m compound. The square building had massive double outer walls and in the middle of each wall was a protruding salient composed of a T-shaped corridor flanked by two L-shaped corridors.

The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilisation.

The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-e Sukhteh in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BC was found at Altyn-Depe.

Fertility goddesses, named “Bactrian princesses”, made from limestone, chlorite and clay reflect agrarian Bronze Age society, while the extensive corpus of metal objects point to a sophisticated tradition of metalworking.

Wearing large stylised dresses, as well as headdresses that merge with the hair, “Bactrian princesses” embody the ranking goddess, character of the central Asian mythology that plays a regulatory role, pacifying the untamed forces.

Sarianidi regards Gonur as the “capital” of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. The palace of north Gonur measures 150 metres by 140 metres, the temple at Togolok 140 metres by 100 metres, the fort at Kelleli 3 125 metres by 125 metres, and the house of a local ruler at Adji Kui 25 metres by 25 metres.

Each of these formidable structures has been extensively excavated. While they all have impressive fortification walls, gates, and buttresses, it is not always clear why one structure is identified as a temple and another as a palace.

The BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qila, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples.

The people of the BMAC culture were very proficient at working in a variety of metals including bronze, copper, silver, and gold. This is attested through the many metal artefacts found throughout the sites. Extensive irrigation systems have been discovered at the Geoksiur Oasis.

The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the “Anau seal”) with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilisation.

It bears five markings which are similar to Chinese “small seal” characters. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, originally thought to be from the Western Han dynasty but now thought to date to 700 BC.

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus Valley Civilisation, on the Iranian Plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and a Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe.

The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.

There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BC. In the delta of the Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channelled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo culture. This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC, known as the Tazabagyab culture.

About 1900 BC, the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects. Also pottery of the Tazabagyab-Andronovo culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside.

Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Tazabagyab-Andronovo coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls.

In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Tazabagyab-Andronovo traditions.

In southern Bactrian sites like Sappali Tepe too, increasing links with the Andronovo culture are seen. During the period 1700 – 1500 BCE, metal artifacts from Sappali Tepe derive from the Tazabagyab-Andronovo culture.

The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians (Aryans), a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southwestern Iran.

Bactria–Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”

A significant section of the archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent.

It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism.

The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.

According to recent studies BMAC was not a primary contributor to later South-Asian genetics.

There is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit.

Indo-Aryan speakers probably formed the vanguard of the movement into south-central Asia and many of the BMAC loanwords which entered Iranian may have been mediated through Indo-Aryan.

The borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilisation.

The male specimens of BMAC skeletons from the Bronze Age sites of Bustan, Dzharkutan, Gonur Tepe, and Sapalli Tepe have shown to belong to haplogroup E1b1a (1/18), E1b1b (1/18), G (2/18), J* (2/18), J1 (1/18), J2 (4/18), L (2/18), R* (1/18), R1b (1/18), R2 (2/18), and T (1/18).

A follow-up study by Narasimhan (2019) suggested the primary BMAC population largely derived from preceding local Copper Age peoples who were in turn related to prehistoric farmers from the Iranian plateau and to a lesser extent early Anatolian farmers and hunter-gatherers from Western Siberia, and they did not contribute substantially to later populations further south in the Indus Valley.

Late LBK

Central Europe continued to be occupied by peoples descended from LBK communities, such as the Rössen culture in central and southern Germany, the Stroke-Ornamented Pottery culture of eastern Germany and Bohemia, and the Lengyel culture of Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary.

These groups followed the same way of life as LBK farmers through most of the 5th millennium BC. An important development of this period is the exchange with Mesolithic foragers of southern Scandinavia, represented mainly by stone axes.

The Mesolithic Ertebølle culture (5400–3950 BC) in the western Baltic area, including southern Scandinavia and northern Germany between the Elbe and the Oder rivers, are roughly contemporary with LBK communities to the south. It comprises an older aceramic phase (ca. 5400–4600 BC) and a younger phase with pottery, T-shaped antler axes, and imported axes.

T-shaped antler axes had a wide Neolithic distribution, appearing first in southern regions, like agriculture and cattle. Flint technology was based on blades used to produce arrowheads with a transverse edge, end scrapers with a convex edge, and tanged scrapers with a concave edge.

Contacts with other Mesolithic groups of the Atlantic façade and Comb-Ceramic groups in the eastern Baltic are evidenced by their similar pottery, featuring shallow, oval bowls (presumably used as lamps), and pointed-bottom vessels including small beakers and medium and large pots used for drinking, cooking, and perhaps storage.

This pottery is only rarely found in groups to the south. Settlements appear in coastal and riverine zones apt for fishing, and comprise large central sites occupied more or less continuously, as well as small, seasonal sites. Burials can be found far from the coast and on high elevations, and consist mostly of inhumations, usually in the extended supine position, with men given knives, daggers and axes, and women ornaments.

Megalithic tombs appears among post-Neolithic societies along the western Mediterranean in Western Europe, but principally expands along the extensive Atlantic façade, reaching from western and northern Iberia, France, Sardinia, mainland Italy, and the British Isles to the Shetland Islands, the Northern European Lowlands and Scandinavia.

Tens of thousands of large stone burial monuments were built, using large boulders to form chambers and passages covered with mounds of earth or cairns of stones, as a response to different influences. The first grave chambers start in north-western France, from pre-megalithic monumental sequence and transitional structures ca. 4700 BC.

The Blique/Epi-Rössen tradition of non-megalithic long barrows of the Passy type were erected in the Paris Basin, the eastern concept of trapezoidal-rectangular long barrows reached the northwest coast of Franc, and stone cists and early passage graves, similar to Epicardial and Cerny grave traditions further to the south, are found in these and other mounds.

The culture appears in Corsica and Sardinia as simple dolmens ca. 4200 BC, while on the British Isles it emerges ca. 4000 BC, and in north-central Europe and southern Scandinavia they start ca. 3650 BC within the Funnel Beaker culture, starting on the western coasts of Oland and Gotland. The allées couvertes and gallery graves both developed in inland settings from Brittany over to the Paris Basin and to central Germany ca. 3600 BC. The distribution emphasises the maritime linkage of these societies and a diffusion of the passage grave tradition along the seaway, accompanied by economic and social changes in Europe.

Most tombs were collective burials, opened repeatedly to bury bones of newer generations, pushing bones of earlier generations aside to make space. They clearly represent ceremonial monuments, where the deceased members of the same community or clan were buried together.

The high mobility of Neolithic society probably facilitated the diffusion and convergence of the new architectural developments and underlying ideology, but there is also evidence of demic diffusion.

Samples from Late Mesolithic/Neolithic sites show continuity of I-M170 lineages and previous ancestry; so e.g. in a sample from central Norway of haplogroup I2a1a2-M423 ca. 3940 BC, in subsequent samples of the Nordic Neolithic, and in samples from the Zedmar culture (ca. 4500–3000 BC) related to Mesolithic Ertebølle showing typical hunter-gatherer mtDNA U5b1.

In Neolithic individuals from southern France and Britain there is a greater affinity to the Iberian Early Neolithic farmers than to Central European ones. This is confirmed by haplotype matching consistent with the same ancestral populations bringing the Neolithic to Britain and Ireland. Anatolian Neolithic related ancestry arrived in Britain ca. 3975–3722 BC, marginally earlier in the west and rapidly dispersing to other regions.

The Middle Neolithic resurgence of hunter-gatherer-related ancestry in central Europe and Iberia was driven more by males than by females, evidenced by the expansion of hunter-gatherer-associated Y-chromosome haplogroups I2-M438, R1-M173, or C1-F3393 in seven out of nine male individuals in Iberian Neolithic and Copper Age, and nine out of ten individuals in Middle–Late Neolithic central Europe, including the Globular Amphorae culture. Similarly, there is continuity of Mesolithic I2a2-M436 lineages in the British Isles, with fifteen out of nineteen samples reported in Great Britain (ca. 8750–2500 BC) corresponding to this subclade,

Individuals buried in megaliths from the British Isles (ca. 3800–3100 BC) and Ansarve in Scandinavia (ca. 3500–3200 BC) show an ancestry similar to other contemporaneous farmer groups, with a majority of their ancestry related to Early Neolithic farmers and a partial admixture component related to European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

The genetic connection found between western European Neolithic groups from the British Isles to Scandinavia is driven by Anatolian Neolithic related ancestry, rather than hunter-gatherer-related ancestry, and seems not to include Central European farmers, which suggests a migration along the Atlantic coast.

Kinship of buried individuals is reflected in Y-DNA haplogroups, with only I-M170 lineages reported: at least four I2a1b1a1a1-L1195 out of nine in Scotland, one of them of subclade I2a1b1a1a1b-L1193; at least five out of eight I2a1a2a-L161.1 in Scotland and Sweden, with three I2a1a2a1a1-Y3749/FGC7126 (formed ca. 4900 BC, TMRCA ca. 3400 BC) reported in Ansarve. Both subclades may also be related to the Neolithic expansion of Atlantic farmers through the Mediterranean route.

Individuals from megalithic burials in the north (with over-representation of males) do not show systematic differences with geographically proximate non-Megalithic burials. Society complexity during the Neolithic is contradicted with the identification of a highly inbred elite individual in Ireland. This strongly suggest that the elaboration and expansion of megalithic monuments was associated (at least in some regions) with dynastic hierarchies.





Introduction of pottery signifies massive cultural change. Beyond the introduction of a new technology, pottery provides additional possibilities for food storage and preparation (e.g. fish / vegetable soups, extracting animal lipids, brewing, pickling). Appearance of  larger, heavy vessels implies conversion to a more sedentary lifestyle. Such major cultural shift may have autochtonous origins, but more likely is external contact including immigration of specialists that master the sets of skills required to successfully produce ceramic, and prepare new kinds of food (beverages) in it.

This turns the focus towards the Neolithic that in Russian archeologic tradition is defined by the presence of pottery rather than agricultural / pastoralist activities –  a fascinating issue anyway, since the European Russian Neolithic is commonly (e.g. Gronenborn 2008) assumed to have supplied the earliest European pottery, slightly predating EEF (Sesklo, Argissa) [Of course, ceramic figurines were already present in Dolni Vestonice and various other UP sites, but they were about people, not pots (containers)]. Equally fascinating is that more-or-less contemporarily not just one, but three, maybe even four fairly different ceramic cultures appeared in European Russia.


Trypillia ceramic imports appear at the Neolithic Dnieper sites at the end of the 5th millennium BC. In the forest-steppe region, they occur on a number of sites belonging to the Kyiv–Cherkassy variant of the Dnieper–Donets community, and later imports reach into the forest zone, into the territory of the Pit–Comb Ware culture. Prestige objects begin to appear at this time on the north Pontic region, too, marking the beginning of the prestige exchange.









IV.2.6. Varna

It was probably the arrival of Suvorovo migrants what triggered the idea of lavish grave furniture and the display of wealth, prestige, power, and social position in the graves of Copper Age sedentary farming communities of south-eastern Europe. The Varna I cemetery is the clearest representative of the expansion of the new mentality to the Balkans, and has been recently dated more exactly to ca. 4590–4340 BC (Krauß et al. 2017).

Characteristic ceramics are based on features known from the late Chalcolithic ceramic complexes in Durankulak (tell and necropolis), Devnia, the Varna lake settlements and necropolis. Fine ceramic is thin-walled, with a light grey turning into black, burnished, smoothed surface, with pots having upper cylindrical and rounded parts or being bi-conical forms with vertical handles. The composite S-profile and strongly outward curved mouth rim were one of the most typical elements of the complex, together with ring-like bottoms, and the most emblematic ornamentation was the “Ezerovo” type, in which the motif’s background was engraved and encrusted, with the ornament itself remaining embossed, as well as the flutted decoration (Petrova 2016).

While the richness displayed by the Varna cemetery and its accumulation of wealth are unique in south-eastern Europe, similar accumulations of material wealth are encountered in isolated finds all over the Balkans and the Carpathian Basin, reaching Greece and Anatolia.  Metallurgy requires material and skills which are not readily available, which means that elites kept control of them by limiting people’s ability to access and produce metals themselves. In fact, except for the distinct material culture, the rich Varna burials and the Novodanilovka burials are essentially equivalent (Heyd and Walker 2004).

Graves and hoards demonstrate thus sharp inequality over wide parts of south-east Europe in the 5th and 4th millennium BC, showing thus social stratification, also displayed in the form of house sizes and pottery inventories (in quantity and quality) within settlements. There is thus a pattern of robust social institutions and enhanced complexity, of lineages and powerful chieftains, of networks and bonds persistent in time and space, reflected in Varna, in mega-villages of middle and late Trypillia, and in many other sites in south-eastern Europe (Heyd and Walker 2004).




iv.2. Indo-Anatolians

Three samples dated after ca. 4700 BC have been analysed from the Khvalynsk cemetery, described as hosting typically southern and northern individuals. One high-status burial, buried supine with raised knees and an assemblage of 293 copper artefacts (this grave alone accounting for ca. 80% of copper objects in the Khvalynsk cemetery) represents thus a high-status individual, member of an elite group of patrilineally-related families that was probably successful during the Indo-Anatolian expansion, reported as of haplogroup R1b1-L754[8] and mtDNA H2a1, unique in the region (Mathieson et al. 2015).

The individual of haplogroup R1a1-M459 (xR1a1a-M198), mtDNA U5a1i, also buried on his back with raised knees, probably represents a commoner, remnant of a local population, showing more EHG-like ancestry. An old male of Q1a-F903 lineage (probably Q1a2-M25, see above §ii.5. Caucasus hunter-gatherers), mtDNA U4, and higher CHG/ANE component related to steppe eneolithic samples, who died from blows to his skull, suggests that the origin of this extra ancestral component found in Khvalynsk (and much elevated later in sampled Yamna) individuals comes from the admixture of Samara hunter-gatherer-like elites from the Don–Volga–Ural region with northern Caucasian or northern Caspian steppe populations, or both, during their expansion.

Two individuals from Progress in the Northern Caucasus Piedmont (dated ca. 4600 BC and 4150 BC), of haplogroup R1b1a2-V1636+, and one from Vonyuchka (ca. 4300 BC) show elevated ANE ancestry[9], which confirms the presence of this component in regions of the northern Caucasus with early pit grave burials—related to the Don–Caspian steppes—and support its expansion in the Don–Volga–Ural region linked to steppe elites, likely through exogamy of expanding Khvalynsk settlers (Suppl. Graph. 4). Both Eneolithic Samara and north Caucasus steppe populations analysed to date show no gene flow from Anatolian farmers, unlike contemporary samples from the north Pontic region and later samples from the Yamna culture (Wang et al. 2019).

The finding of R1a1b-YP1272+ as a Maikop outlier in the same kurgan in the late 4th millennium (see below §v.2. Early Caucasians), and of R1b1a2-V1636+ among Yamna individuals of the Caucasus in the early 3rd millennium BC (see below vi.1. Disintegrating Indo-Europeans) further supports the possible relevance of these lineages in the Indo-Anatolian expansions associated with Khvalynsk, or else their widespread presence among Pontic–Caspian steppe populations before the Khvalynsk expansion.

Based on continuity of ancestral components in later samples from Afanasevo, the early Khvalynsk community eventually stabilised (probably after ca. 4500 BC) in its admixture, remaining close to the analysed samples from the north Caucasian steppes, deriving more than 60% of ancestry from EHG, and the remainder from a CHG-related basal ancestry (Wang et al. 2019), in what can be taken a model of the so-called “Steppe ancestry” in later samples. This homogenisation of the Don–Volga–Ural, Kuban, and north Pontic areas suggests continued exogamy of Khvalynsk clans dominated by elite males with other related groups from the steppe.

Other analysed elite Khvalynsk individuals (ca. 4250–4000 BC), from the riverine Ekaterinovka settlement, whose material culture is interpreted as chronologically intermediate between late Samara and early Ivanovska–Khvalynsk materials (Korolev, Kochkina, and Stashenkov 2019), have been reported by Khokhlov (2018) as within the R1b1a1b-M269+ tree (formed ca. 11300 BC, TMRCA ca. 4400 BC), which confirms the continuous presence of R1b1a1-P297 subclades in the region. The estimated split and successful spread of R1b1a1b1-L23 (formed ca. 4300 BC, TMRCA ca. 4200 BC), subclade of R1b1a1b-M269, further supports its association with patrilineally-related clans that expanded with early Khvalynsk around the mid–5th millennium BC.

The finding of a rare R1b1a1b-M269 subclade R1b1a1b2-PF7562 (formed ca. 4400 BC, TMRCA ca. 3400 BC) in the Balkans, Central Europe, Anatolia, and the Caucasus (Myres et al. 2011; Herrera et al. 2012) may support their association with the early spread of Indo-Anatolian speakers, although their late TMRCA points to a recent expansion linked to the spread of Yamna migrants (see below §vi.1. Disintegrating Indo-Europeans).

The earlier, Epipalaeolithic–Early Mesolithic origin of haplogroups R1b1a2-V1636, R1a1b-YP1272, and R1b1a1b-M269 compared to their late estimated successful expansion around the mid–5th millennium BC supports their emergence among local populations of diverse haplogroups around this time of population movements in the region. Since R1b1a1-P297 lineages were probably the latest to successfully spread into the Volga–Ural area, the presence of other lineages among Khvalynsk males suggests the resurgence of indigenous haplogroups, probably prevalent among certain local Pontic–Caspian groups before the expansion of the North-Eastern Technocomplex and hunter-gatherer pottery.

Steppe ancestry has been found in one female child from the Varna I cemetery (ca. 4711–4450 BC), from the earliest burials of the first phase, richly furnished; in a young male from Smyadovo (ca. 4550–4450 BC), of a Balkan Copper Age culture (Mathieson et al. 2018), of hg. R-M207[10]; and in a Greece Neolithic sample, probably also from the middle to late 5th millennium BC (Wang et al. 2018). All these samples prove the expansion of Suvorovo settlers to the south into the southern Danube regions and beyond, up to northern Greece (Suppl. Graph. 5). However, the presence of few individuals with Steppe ancestry among two dozen Copper Age Balkan samples from the region (ca. 5000–4000 BC) further supports the nature of the Suvorovo expansion as a rapid infiltration of few steppe chieftains among local east Balkan populations.

The presence of R1b1-L754 samples in the north Pontic region and in the Balkans during the 5th millennium does not prove they belong to the known lineages associated with Khvalynsk, and the presence of confirmed R1b1b-V88 subclades in both regions (Mathieson et al. 2018) frustrates their interpretation as belonging to any specific subclade. On the other hand, the presence of I2a1b1a2a2-Y5606 in Neolithic samples from the north Pontic area, and of I2a1b1a2a2a-L699 lineages expanding with Yamna (see §vii.5. Palaeo-Balkan peoples), suggests that some of these lineages were also integrated in the Khvalynsk society, and may appear associated with Suvorovo–Novodanilovka settlers. Other Pontic–Caspian steppe lineages, like R1a1-M459 or Q1a-F903, could have also accompanied these early Indo-European elites, before the further Y-chromosome bottlenecks seen in Repin and early Yamna.


IV.3.3. Cucuteni–Trypillia

The Cucuteni–Trypillia agrarian culture sites show complicated rules and networks of social organisation at different levels, which may be reconstructed as follows (Müller et al. 2015):

  • the household level shows open communication between neighbours and the whole settlement, linking together neighbouring households but not separating them from others (peaceful neighbourhood principle);
  • specialisation between households at an economic level in respect to their integration in processing primary (e.g. cereal) and secondary (e.g. weaving) products, with smaller houses showing more primary activity, and larger houses showing fewer activities of primary subsistence production;
  • household clusters of ca. 5 houses link households spatially (house-ring principle), potentially based on generational contracts / lineages;
  • the economic and political linkage of households to quarters, represented by mega-structures as the focal point and by supra-household economic specialisations (mega-structure principle);
  • the overall settlement, which needs a political institution to direct the spatial planning of the site and combined economic activities (mega-site principle).

During the 5th millennium, a strong, long-lasting, east–west orientated exchange network can be observed in the north Pontic area between the Cucuteni–Trypillian culture in the forest-steppe and north Pontic groups of the coastal steppe, including the site at Deriïvka (Reingruber and Rassamakin 2016). These close interactions were also maintained between the north Pontic and Khvalynsk populations, and it seems to have been driven by an interest in metal objects. In fact, the Khvalynsk centre of metalworking was formed under western influences, among which the Early Trypillian centre dominated (Kotova 2008)

The exchange systems in the north Pontic area during the Eneolithic included intercommunal exchange within likely related ethnolinguistic groups (such as the Sredni Stog internal exchange of natural resources, like flint materials);  exchange with the nearest neighbours (such as prestigious exchange between Sredni Stog and the Trypillian, Kyiv–Cherkassy, Donets and Middle Don cultures, as well as northern Caucasus and Crimea); and long distance exchange, made far from friendly villages, probably created under the Khvalynsk–Novodanilovka network (Kotova 2008).

The revolution of herding, travel, and raiding—and thus the change in the steppe—had come with horseback riding, appearing ca. 4800 BC in early Khvalynsk, and spreading south- and eastward with Suvorovo–Novodanilovka elites. They came from the eastern steppe, and they were probably involved in raiding and trading with the north and west Pontic areas during the Trypillian B1 period, before and during the collapse of Old Europe (Anthony 2007).

At the end of this period, the system of interrelationships disappears: there are no late Sredni Stog pottery in Cucuteni–Trypillia; the pottery changes; there is no evidence for the production and distribution of flint artefacts of the old type; and new types of arrow- and spearheads with distinctive notched bases substitute the old projectile points in the region (Rassamakin 1999).








The Neolithic Societies Decline in Western Eurasia

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 2, 2019


  • Discovery of the most ancient case of plague in humans, 4,900 years ago in Sweden
    • Basal lineages of Y. pestis emerged and spread during the Neolithic decline
    • Plague infections in distinct Eurasian populations during Neolithic and Bronze Age
    • A plague pandemic likely emerged in large settlements and spread over trade routes

Between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, many Neolithic societies declined throughout western Eurasia due to a combination of factors that are still largely debated. Here, we report the discovery and genome reconstruction of Yersinia pestis, the etiological agent of plague.

The history of this strain has been investigated by combining phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses of the bacterial genome, detailed archaeological information, and genomic analyses from infected individuals and hundreds of ancient human samples across Eurasia.

These analyses revealed that multiple and independent lineages of Y. pestis branched and expanded across Eurasia during the Neolithic decline, spreading most likely through early trade networks rather than massive human migrations. This prehistoric plague pandemic likely contributed to the decay of Neolithic populations in Europe.

A new discovery has pushed the timeline of the plague in Europe back even earlier than we had previously thought. A new strain of the Yersinia pestis bacterium has been identified in 4,900-year-old bones in a Neolithic burial site in Sweden.

It’s the oldest strain ever identified, and the most basal we’ve seen – that is, the closest strain to the genetic origin of the bacterium. Y. pestis has been an absolute blight on humanity throughout history, repeatedly wiping out vast swathes of the population.

The early European farmers had migrated from the Middle East starting around 9,000 years ago, and they congregated in settlements of up to 20,000 people. These people – called the Trypillia Culture – developed technology, such as pottery, the wheel and metallurgy, and they kept livestock.

The Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, also known as the Tripolye culture, is a Neolithic–Eneolithic archaeological culture (c. 5500 to 2750 BC) of Eastern Europe. It extended from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dniester and Dnieper regions centred on modern-day Moldova and covering substantial parts of western Ukraine and northeastern Romania.

It encompassed an area of 350,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi), with a diameter of 500 km (300 mi; roughly from Kyiv in the northeast to Brașov in the southwest). The majority of Cucuteni–Trypillia settlements consisted of high-density, small settlements (spaced 3 to 4 kilometres apart), concentrated mainly in the Siret, Prut and Dniester river valleys.

During the Middle Trypillia phase (c. 4000 to 3500 BC), populations belonging to the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture built the largest settlements in Neolithic Europe, some of which contained as many as 3,000 structures and were possibly inhabited by 20,000 to 46,000 people.

One of the most notable aspects of this culture was the periodic destruction of settlements, with each single-habitation site having a lifetime of roughly 60 to 80 years. Archaeologists and researchers have uncovered thousands of burned structures, statues, tools, vessels, and even cremated remains of humans and animals.

The purpose of burning these settlements is a subject of debate among scholars; some of the settlements were reconstructed several times on top of earlier habitational levels, preserving the shape and the orientation of the older buildings. One particular location; the Poduri site in Romania, revealed thirteen habitation levels that were constructed on top of each other over many years.

Researcher V. Khvoika set forth a theory that these were the “homes of the dead,” perhaps tombs of sorts. However, later theories suggest regular dwellings and structures were simply burned to make room for new structures.

The most widely accepted theory today is a combination of these, indicating that over time structures were burned, with tools, vessels, and animals included as a sacrifice to the ancestral spirits.

The old structures and fields were left to the deceased ancestors, and those remaining would move on to a new area. Some scholars have theorized that each structure was viewed as an almost “living” entity, with its own life cycle of death and rebirth.

However, around 5,400 years ago, the settlements just disappeared. They stopped being built, and there was a drastic change in the genome starting about 4,500 years ago, suggesting a new influx of people from the steppe, which eventually replaced the Trypillia Culture.

The strain of Y. pestis they found in Sweden diverged from the other strains around 5,700 years ago – before the influx of steppe populations. If plague evolved in the mega-settlements, then when people started dying from it, the settlements would have been abandoned and destroyed.

Those huge Trypillian settlements, with no proper sanitation, and with humans living in close quarters with animals, could have been amazing breeding grounds for pathogens. The plague could have evolved right there in those European settlements.

Plague would also have started migrating along all the trade routes made possible by wheeled transport, which had rapidly expanded throughout Europe in this period. And those trade routes are how the plague could have ended up in Sweden 4,900 years ago.

But at this point, these hypotheses are far from definitive, particularly because Y. pestis has not yet been identified in any Trypillian remains or settlement sites. That’s the next step in the research. The smoking gun has not been found, but if plague can be found in those settlements, that would be strong support for this theory.

Spread of Y. pestis, earlier than previously thought, may have caused Neolithic decline. At least it still seems that the plague and its demographic consequences were a good reason for the expansion of Indo-Europeans and Uralians into Europe, as we thought…

When R1b crossed the Caucasus in the Late Neolithic, it split into two main groups. The western one (L51) would settle the eastern and northern of the Black Sea. The eastern one (Z2103) migrated to the Don-Volga region, where horses were domesticated circa 4600 BCE.

R1b probably mixed with indigenous R1a people and founded the Repin culture (3700-3300 BCE) a bit before the Yamna culture came into existence in the western Pontic Steppe. R1b would then have migrated with horses along the Great Eurasian Steppe until the Altai mountains in East-Central Asia, where they established the Afanasevo culture (c. 3600-2400 BCE).

Afanasevo people might be the precursors of the Tocharian branch of Indo-European languages. In 2014, Clément Hollard of Strasbourg University tested three Y-DNA samples from the Afanasevo culture and all three turned out to belong to haplogroup R1b, including two to R1b-M269.

The R1b people who stayed in the Volga-Ural region were probably the initiators of the Poltavka culture (2700-2100 BCE), then became integrated into the R1a-dominant Sintashta-Petrovka culture (2100-1750 BCE) linked to the Indo-Aryan conquest of Central and South Asia (=> see R1a for more details).

Nowadays in Russia R1b is found at higher frequencies among ethnic minorities of the Volga-Ural region (Udmurts, Komi, Mordvins, Tatars) than among Slavic Russians.

R1b is also present in many Central Asian populations, the highest percentages being observed among the Uyghurs (20%) of Xinjiang in north-west China, the Yaghnobi people of Tajikistan (32%), and the Bashkirs (47%, or 62.5% in the Abzelilovsky district) of Bashkortostan in Russia (border of Kazakhstan).

R1b-M73, found primarily in North Asia (Altai, Mongolia), Central Asia and the North Caucasus is thought to have spread during the Neolithic from the Middle East to Central and North Asia, and therefore can be considered to be pre-Indo-European.

The Indo-Europeans’s bronze weapons and the extra mobility provided by horses would have given them a tremendous advantage over the autochthonous inhabitants of Europe, namely the native haplogroup C1a2, F and I (descendants of Cro-Magnon) and the early Neolithic herders and farmers (G2a, H2, E1b1b and T1a).

This allowed R1a and R1b to replace most of the native male lineage,although female lineages seem to have been less affected. A comparison with the Indo-Iranian invasion of South Asia shows that 40% of the male linages of northern India are R1a, but less than 10% of the female lineages could be of Indo-European origin.

The impact of the Indo-Europeans was more severe in Europe because European society 4,000 years ago was less developed in terms of agriculture, technology (no bronze weapons) and population density than that of the Indus Valley civilization. This is particularly true of the native Western European cultures where farming arrived much later than in the Balkans or Central Europe.

Greece, the Balkans and the Carpathians were the most advanced of European societies at the time and were the least affected in terms of haplogroup replacement. neolithic lineages survived better in regions that were more difficult to reach or less hospitable to horse breeders, like the Alps, the Dinaric Alps, the Apennines and Sardinia.

The first forays of Steppe people into the Balkans happened between 4200 BCE and 3900 BCE, when cattle herders equipped with horse-drawn wagons crossed the Dniester and Danube and apparently destroyed the towns of the Gumelnița, Varna and Karanovo VI cultures in Eastern Romania and Bulgaria.

A climatic change resulting in colder winters during this exact period probably pushed steppe herders to seek milder pastures for their stock, while failed crops would have led to famine and internal disturbance within the Danubian and Balkanic communities.

The ensuing Cernavodă culture (Copper Age, 4000-3200 BCE), Coțofeni/Usatovo culture (Copper to Bronze Age, 3500-2500 BCE), Ezero culture (Bronze Age, 3300-2700 BCE), in modern Romania, seems to have had a mixed population of steppe immigrants and people from the old tell settlements.

These Steppe immigrants were likely a mixture of both R1a and R1b lineages, with a probably higher percentage of R1a than later Yamna-era invasions.

The Steppe invaders would have forced many Danubian farmers to migrate to the Cucuteni-Trypillian towns in the eastern Carpathians, causing a population boom and a north-eastward expansion until the Dnieper valley, bringing Y-haplogroups G2a, I2a1 (probably the dominant lineage of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture), E1b1b, J2a and T1a in what is now central Ukraine.

This precocious Indo-European advance westward was fairly limited, due to the absence of Bronze weapons and organised army at the time, and was indeed only possible thanks to climatic catastrophes which reduced the defences of the towns of Old Europe. The Carphatian, Danubian, and Balkanic cultures were too densely populated and technologically advanced to allow for a massive migration.

In comparison the forest-steppe R1a people successfully penetrated into the heart of Europe with little hindrance, due to the absence of developed agrarian societies around Poland and the Baltic.

The Corded Ware culture (3200-1800 BCE) was a natural northern and western expansion of the Yamna culture, reaching as far west as Germany and as far north as Sweden and Norway.

DNA analysis from the Corded Ware confirmed the presence of R1a and R1b in Poland c. 2700 BCE and R1a central Germany around 2600 BCE. The Corded Ware tribes expanded from the northern fringe of the Yamna culture where R1a lineages were prevalent over R1b ones.

The expansion of R1b people into Old Europe was slower, but proved inevitable. In 2800 BCE, by the time the Corded Ware had already reached Scandinavia, the Bronze Age R1b cultures had barely moved into the Pannonian Steppe. They established major settlements in the Great Hungarian Plain, the most similar habitat to their ancestral Pontic Steppes.

Around 2500 BCE, the western branch of Indo-European R1b were poised for their next major expansion into modern Germany and Western Europe. By that time, the R1b immigrants had blended to a great extent with the indigenous Mesolithic and Neolithic populations of the Danubian basin, where they had now lived for 1,700 years.

The strongly partriarchal Indo-European elite remained almost exclusively R1b on the paternal side, but absorbed a high proportion of non-Indo-European maternal lineages. Hybridised, the new Proto-Indo-European R1b people would have lost most of their remaining Proto-Europoid or Mongolid features inherited from their Caspian origins (which were still clearly visible in numerous individuals from the Yamna period).

Their light hair, eye and skin pigmentation, once interbred with the darker inhabitants of Old Europe, became more like that of modern Southern Europeans.

The R1a people of the Corded Ware culture would come across far less populous societies in Northern Europe, mostly descended from the lighter Mesolithic population, and therefore retained more of their original pigmentation (although facial traits evolved considerably in Scandinavia, where the I1 inhabitants were strongly dolicocephalic and long-faced, as opposed to the brachycephalic and broad-faced Steppe people).

The Dnieper–Donets culture (ca. 5th—4th millennium BC) was a Mesolithic culture in the area north of the Black Sea/Sea of Azov between the Dnieper and Donets River, and bordering the European Neolithic area.

There are parallels with the contemporaneous Samara culture. The Dnieper–Donets culture was succeeded by the Yamnaya culture. It was a hunter-gatherer culture that made the transition to early agriculture. The economic evidence from the earliest stages is almost exclusively from hunting and fishing.

Inhumation was in grave pits, with the deceased being covered in ochre. Burial was sometimes individual, but larger groupings are more common, with burials being carried out sequentially in the same grave.

There are parallels with the contemporaneous Samara culture, and a larger horizon from the lower half of Dnieper to the mid-to-lower Volga has been drawn, particularly by the advocates of the Kurgan hypothesis as expounded by Marija Gimbutas.

Dmitry Telegin (ru) assigns them to a broad cultural region that spanned the Vistula in Poland southeast to the Dnieper. Mallory includes this area within the limits of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

The precise role of this culture and its language to the derivation of the Pontic-Caspian cultures such as Sredny Stog and Yamnaya culture, is open to debate, though the display of recurrent traits points either to long-standing mutual contacts or underlying genetic relations.

The physical remains recovered from graves have been described as typically Europoid. They are predominantly characterized as late Cro-Magnons with more massive and robust features than the gracile Mediterranean peoples of the Balkan Neolithic.

The early use of typical point base pottery interrelates with other Mesolithic cultures that are peripheral to the expanse of the Neolithic farmer cultures. The special shape of this pottery has been related to transport by logboat in wetland areas.

Especially related are Swifterbant in the Netherlands, Ellerbek and Ertebølle in Northern Germany and Scandinavia, “Ceramic Mesolithic” pottery of Belgium and Northern France (including non-Linear pottery such as La Hoguette, Bliquy, Villeneuve-Saint-Germain), the Roucadour culture in Southwest France and the river and lake areas of Northern Poland and Russia.

Besides a western extension to the middle Dniester down to the mouth of the Danube, it occupied the western third of the area of the later Yamnaya culture.

The Sredny Stog culture is a pre-Kurgan archaeological culture from the 5th millennium BC. It is named after the Russian term for the Dnieper river islet of today’s Seredny Stih, Ukraine, where it was first located. It was situated across the Dnieper river on both its shores, with sporadic settlements to the west and east.

One of the best known sites associated with this culture is Dereivka, located on the right bank of the Omelnik, a tributary of the Dnieper, and is the most impressive site within the Sredny Stog culture complex, being about 2,000 square meters in area.

Thee Sredny Stog culture seems to have had contact with the agricultural Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the west and was a contemporary of the Khvalynsk culture.

However, they are distinguished from the other cultures found in the Balkans by the way they lived more mobile lives. This was seen in the their temporary settlements, particularly their dwellings, which were simple rectilinear structures.

In its three largest cemeteries, Alexandria (39 individuals), Igren (17) and Dereivka (14), evidence of inhumation in flat graves (ground level pits) has been found.

This parallels the practise of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, and is in contrast with the later Yamna culture, which practiced tumuli burials, according to the Kurgan hypothesis. In Sredny Stog culture, the deceased were laid to rest on their backs with the legs flexed.

The expert Dmytro Telegin has divided the chronology of Sredny Stog into two distinct phases. Phase II (ca. 4000–3500 BC) used corded ware pottery which may have originated there, and stone battle-axes of the type later associated with expanding Indo-European cultures to the West.

Most notably, it has perhaps the earliest evidence of horse domestication (in phase II), with finds suggestive of cheek-pieces (psalia). Evidence revealed that around 6,000ya, the culture has domesticated the wild Przewalski’s horse.

However, there is no conclusive proof that that horses were used for riding since they were mainly employed for gathering food.

In the context of the modified Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, this pre-kurgan archaeological culture could represent the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

The culture ended at around 3500 BC, when the Yamna culture expanded westward replacing Sredny Stog, and coming into direct contact with the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the western Ukraine.

The Yamnaya culture (3300–2600 BC) also known as the Yamnaya Horizon, Yamna culture, Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe).

Its name derives from its characteristic burial tradition: Ямная (romanization: yamnaya), a Russian adjective that means ‘related to pits (yama)’, and these people used to bury their dead in tumuli (kurgans) containing simple pit chambers.

The people of the Yamnaya culture were likely the result of a genetic admixture between the descendants of Eastern European hunter-gatherers and people related to hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus.

Their material culture was very similar to the Afanasevo culture (c. 3300 to 2500 BC), the earliest known archaeological culture of south Siberia, occupying the Minusinsk Basin and the Altai Mountains during the eneolithic era.

The Yamna culture are also closely connected to Final Neolithic cultures, which later spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people and the Bell Beaker culture, as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubnaya cultures. Back migration from Corded Ware also contributed to Sintashta and Andronovo.

In these groups, several aspects of the Yamnaya culture are present. Genetic studies have also indicated that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.

The Yamnaya culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the urheimat (original homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

The Corded Ware culture (CWC) comprises a broad archaeological horizon of Europe between c. 2900 BCE – circa 2350 BCE, thus from the late Neolithic, through the Copper Age, and ending in the early Bronze Age.

Corded Ware culture encompassed a vast area, from the Rhine on the west to the Volga in the east, occupying parts of Northern Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

According to Haak et al. (2017), the Corded Ware people were genetically closely related to the people of the Yamna culture (or Yamnaya), “documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery,” the Eurasiatic steppes.

The Corded Ware culture may have disseminated the Proto-Germanic and Proto-Balto-Slavic Indo-European languages. The Corded Ware Culture also shows genetic affinity with the later Sintashta culture, where the Proto-Indo-Iranian language may have originated.

The term Corded Ware culture was first introduced by the German archaeologist Friedrich Klopfleisch in 1883. He named it after cord-like impressions or ornamentation characteristic of its pottery.

The term Single Grave culture comes from its burial custom, which consisted of inhumation under tumuli in a crouched position with various artifacts. Battle Axe culture, or Boat Axe culture, is named from its characteristic grave offering to males, a stone boat-shaped battle axe.

According to Gimbutas, the Corded Ware culture was preceded by the Globular Amphora culture (3400–2800 BCE), which she regarded to be an Indo-European culture. The Globular Amphora culture stretched from central Europe to the Baltic sea, and emerged from the Funnelbeaker culture.

However, in other regions Corded Ware appears to herald a new culture and physical type. On most of the immense, continental expanse that it covered, the culture was clearly intrusive, and therefore represents one of the most impressive and revolutionary cultural changes attested by archaeology.

Recent palaeogenomic data show that samples of the Corded Ware population from ca. 2400 BCE were genetically at least 75% similar to the Yamna population of the steppes, suggesting massive migrations from the steppes as a source for the Corded Ware culture.

In the western regions the transition to Corded Ware has been proposed to be a quick, smooth and internal change that occurred at the preceding Funnelbeaker culture, having its origin in the direction of eastern Germany. Whereas in the area of the present Baltic states and north-east of Poland, it is seen as an intrusive successor to the southwestern portion of the Narva culture.

The same study estimated a 40–54% ancestral contribution of the Yamna in the DNA of modern Central & Northern Europeans, and a 20–32% contribution in modern Southern Europeans, excluding Sardinians (7.1% or less), and to a lesser extent Sicilians (11.6% or less). Haak et al. also note that their results “suggest” that haplogroups R1b and R1a “spread into Europe from the East after 3,000 BCE.”

Autosomal DNA tests also indicate that westward migration from the steppes introduced a component of ancestry referred to as Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) admixture into western Europe.

ANE is the name given in genetic literature to a component that represents descent from the people of the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or a population closely related to them. It is visible in tests of the Yamna people as well as modern-day Europeans, but not of Western or Central Europeans predating the Corded Ware culture.

Goldberg et al. (2016) found that Neolithic farming migration into Europe “was driven by mass migration of both males and females in roughly equal numbers, perhaps whole families”, while Bronze Age Pontic steppe “migration and cultural shift were instead driven by male migration, potentially connected to new technology and conquest.”

On the other hand, Kristiansen et al. says “We have been able to reconstruct the social processes of cultural integration and hybridisation that followed from (probable) Neolithic women marrying into Yamnaya settlements dominated by males of first-generation migrants.”

A 2015 study by Allentoft et al. in Nature found the people of the Corded Ware culture to be closely genetically related to the Beaker culture, the Unetice culture and the Nordic Bronze Age. People of the Nordic Bronze Age and Corded Ware show the highest lactose tolerance among Bronze Age Europeans.

The degree to which cultural change generally represents immigration was a matter of debate, and such debate had figured strongly in discussions of Corded Ware.

The GAC preceded the Corded Ware culture in its central area. Marija Gimbutas assumed an Indo-European origin, though this is contradicted by newer genetic studies which clearly show a connection to the earlier wave of Neolithic farmers rather than to invaders from the southern Russian steppes.

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.

The contemporary Beaker culture overlapped with the western extremity of this culture, west of the Elbe, and may have contributed to the pan-European spread of that culture. Although a similar social organization and settlement pattern to the Beaker were adopted, the Corded Ware group lacked the new refinements made possible through trade and communication by sea and rivers.

The Bell Beaker culture or short Beaker culture, is an archaeological culture named after the inverted-bell beaker drinking vessel used at the very beginning of the European Bronze Age. Arising from around 2800 BC, and lasting in continental Europe until 2300 BC, succeeded by the Unetice culture, in Britain until as late as 1800 BC.

As the Beaker culture left no written records, all theories regarding the language or languages they spoke is highly conjectural. It has been suggested as a candidate for an early Indo-European culture; more specifically, an ancestral proto-Celtic.

Mallory has more recently suggested that the Beaker culture was possibly associated with a European branch of Indo-European dialects, termed “North-west Indo-European”, ancestral to not only Celtic but equally Italic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic.

The Pit–Comb Ware culture or Comb Ceramic culture was a northeast European characterised by its Pit–Comb Ware. It existed from around 4200 BCE to around 2000 BCE. The bearers of the Comb Ceramic culture are thought to have still mostly followed the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, with traces of early agriculture.

The distribution of the artifacts found includes Finnmark (Norway) in the north, the Kalix River (Sweden) and the Gulf of Bothnia (Finland) in the west and the Vistula River (Poland) in the south.

In the east the Comb Ceramic pottery of northern Eurasia extends beyond the Ural mountains to the Baraba steppe adjacent to the Altai-Sayan mountain range, merging with a continuum of similar ceramic styles.

It would include the Narva culture of Estonia and the Sperrings culture in Finland, among others. They are thought to have been essentially hunter-gatherers, though e.g. the Narva culture in Estonia shows some evidence of agriculture. Some of this region was absorbed by the later Corded Ware horizon.

Comb Ceramic was not limited in Europe, being widely distributed in the Baltic, Finland, the Volga upstream flow, south Siberia, Lake Baikal, Mongolian Plateau, the Liaodong Peninsula and the Korean Peninsula.

The oldest ones have been discovered from the remains of Liao civilization – Xinglongwa culture (6200 BC – 5400 BC). It appears that the Comb Ceramic Culture reflects influences from Siberia and distant China.

The Pit–Comb Ware culture is one of the few exceptions to the rule that pottery and farming coexist in Europe. In the Near East farming appeared before pottery, then when farming spread into Europe from the Near East, pottery-making came with it. However, in Asia, where the oldest pottery has been found, pottery was made long before farming.

According to Mallory and Adams, the dominant view before 1997 was that the spread of the Comb Ware people was correlated with the diffusion of the Uralic languages, and thus an early Uralic language would have been spoken throughout this culture.

However, another more recent view is that the Comb Ware people may have spoken a Paleo-European or Paleosiberian languages, as some toponyms and hydronyms also indicate a non-Uralic, non-Indo-European language at work in some areas.

Even then, linguists and archaeologists both have also been skeptical of assigning languages based on the borders of cultural complexes, and it’s possible that the Pit-Comb Ware Culture was made up of several languages, one of them being Proto-Uralic.

The oldest Comb Ceramic is found in the remains of Liao civilization – Xinglongwa culture (BC 6200 – 5400 BC), and recent genetic analysis of ancient human bones excavated from the remains of Liao civilization (Hongshan culture etc.) has revealed that most of them (60-100%) belonged to haplogroup N1 (Y-DNA), which is strongly correlated with Uralic peoples.

Overall, PCW to the south-east of the Baltic sea had the following autosomal components: 65% “ancient East-European hunter-gatherer” (first attested in the Kunda culture but with a 4-fold lower percentage); 20% “Yamna” (never before attested in the north); 15% “ancient West-European hunter-gatherer” (the main component of the Kunda culture).

Narva culture or eastern Baltic (c. 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, Belarus and Russia.

There is an academic debate what ethnicity the Narva culture represented: Finno-Ugrians or other Europids, preceding the 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 Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Caucasian Albania belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district of modern day Azerbaijan. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). Other sites belonging to the same culture are in the Armenian held Karabakh valley of the partially recognized state of the Republic of Artsakh.

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, closely associated with subsequent civilizations found on the Armenian Highlands. This is evident with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets, which closely resemble Armenian tonirs.

Soyuqbulaq (also, Soyuq Bulaq) is a village in the Agstafa Rayon of Azerbaijan. It forms part of the municipality of Köçvəlili. In 2006, a French–Azerbaijani team discovered nine kurgans at the cemetery of Soyuqbulaq.

They were dated to the beginning of the fourth millennium BC, which makes it the oldest kurgan cemetery in Transcaucasia. Similar kurgans have been found at Kavtiskhevi, Kaspi Municipality, in central Georgia.

Several other archaeological sites seem to belong to the same ancient cultural tradition as Soyuq Bulaq. They include Berikldeebi, Kavtiskhevi, Leilatepe, Boyuk Kesik, and Poylu, Agstafa, and are characterized by pottery assemblages “mainly or totally in the North Mesopotamian tradition”.

Recent DNA-research has led to renewed suggestions of a Caucasian homeland for a ‘proto-proto-Indo-European’. It also lends support to the Indo-Hittite hypothesis, according to which both proto-Anatolian and proto-Indo-European split-off from a common mother language “no later than the 4th millennium BCE.”

Haak et al. (2015) states that “the Armenian plateau hypothesis gains in plausibility” since the Yamnaya partly descended from a Near Eastern population, which resembles present-day Armenians. Yet, they also state that “the question of what languages were spoken by the ‘Eastern European hunter-gatherers’ and the southern, Armenian-like, ancestral population remains open.”

Spread of Y. pestis, earl

A shoe-last celt

A shoe-last celt is a long thin polished stone tool for felling trees and woodworking, characteristic of the early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik (LBK) and Hinkelstein cultures, also called Danubian I in the older literature. The tools are square in profile with a rounded top, which is why they are compared with shoe makers’ lasts. The preferred material is amphibolite; basalt is also used.


The term Danubian culture was the first agrarian society in central and eastern Europe. It covers the Linear Pottery culture (Linearbandkeramik, LBK), stroked pottery and Rössen cultures. 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 Europewhen they reached the Paris Basin.

Danubian I peoples cleared forests and cultivated fertile loesssoils from the Balkans to the Low Countries and the Paris Basin. They made LBK pottery and kept domesticated cows, pigs, dogs, sheep and goats. The diagnostic tool of the culture is the Shoe-last celt, a kind of long thin stone adze which was used to fell trees and sometimes as a weapon, evidenced by the skulls found at Talheim, Neckar in Germany and Schletz in Austria.
The Hinkelstein culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture situated in Rhine-Main and Rhenish Hesse, Germany. It is a Megalithic culture, part of the wider LBK horizon, dating to approximately the 50th to 49th century BC. Towards the end of the Linear Pottery Culture, around 5000 BC, the first perforated tools appear.

The culture’s name is due to a suggestion of Karl Koehl of Worms (1900). Hinkelstein is the term for menhir in the local Hessian dialect, after a menhir discovered in 1866 in Monsheim. Hinkel is a Hessian term for “chicken”; the Standard German name for menhirs, Hünenstein “giants’ stone”, having sometimes been jokingly mutated into Hühnerstein “chicken-stone”.


In regards to the typology of neolithic adzes, initially two types were distinguished:When width exceeds thickness they were named flat adzes (Flachhacke), when thickness exceeds width shoe-last adzes (Schuhleistenkeile), or high adzes. Within the latter group a distinction is sometimes made between intermediate Flomborn adzes and the higher Hinkelstein adzes.


Later, subdivisions were made on the basis of metric characteristics into two groups (Schietzel 1965), six groups and finally two groups again. All typologies were based on the width-height ratio, while Modderman added the absolute dimension. The wide variation, from small to large and from flat to high adzes, certainly reflects a functional differentiation, but the various types do not appear to be of chronological significance.

Ancient woodworking with shoe-last celts – Thuringia Prehistory Museum, Weimar, Germany

The polished stone axe or adze introduced a new way of life to Central Europe in mid-sixth millennium BC. It was a tool that was necessary for the clearing of the land to create fields and to build houses. These adzes were also used for the manufacture of agricultural tools, and any other wooden objects.

Shape and wear show that the celts were used as adzes to fell trees and to work wood. Some blades have traces of hafting as well. The finds from the wells of Kückhoven and Eythra in Germany demonstrate a high standard of carpentry. Shoe-last celts have also been used as weapons, as attested by smashed skulls from Schletz (Austria) and Talheim, Neckar (Germany). An older theory suggests their use as hoes, but there are no wear traces to support this.
Shoe-last adzes (considered diagnostic of the LBK culture) is associated with the earliest recognized farming communities of Thessaly known for their red slip burnished pottery. Their culture reached west Macedonia, from where the mountain passes lead to the valley of the Danube.


Haplogroup G-M201, evidencing PF3346 – G2a2b2a1a (ancestral to downstream G-L497), has been found with a ‘shoe-last adze’ in a burial at Szederkény dating to around 5200 cal BC. The Danube appears to have fed later migration toward Western Europe.

The site of Szederkény also evidences Ražište pottery which is considered a derivation from the earlier Sopot style pottery – dark monochrome and red slip burnished fine ware. Archaeology indicates another, likely earlier route, involving dark monochrome, and red slip burnished fine ware, that went from Thessaly / Macedonia via Corfu to Italy.

In later times haplogroup G2a appears in areas associated with the Starčevo, LBK and other cultures. G2a notably however arrived in Southeast Europe well before many of these cultures crystalized. However, a presence on common routes doesn’t necessarily mean it was a part of these cultures. Groups with different material cultures followed the same routes and settled the same regions at the same time – and are even evidenced to have shared the same settlements.

Sopot culture


The Sopot culture (dating from c 5000 BC) is a neolithic archaeological culture in eastern Slavonia in modern day Croatia. It was a continuation of the Starčevo culture and strongly influenced by the Vinča culture (Samatovci, Sopot, Otok, Privlaka, Vinkovci–Ervenica, Osijek, Bapska, Županja, Klokočevik).

It spread into northern Bosnia from its original area to the west to northwestern Croatia and to the north to Hungarian Transdanubia, where it helped Lengyel culture start.

Settlements were raised on the river banks (most noticeably on the banks of Bosut, around the area of the modern city of Vinkovci). Houses were square and made of wood using interlace technique, sometimes separated into multiple rooms.

Artefacts include many weapons made of bone, flint, obsidian and ironed volcanic rocks and some ceramic pottery of various sizes ( biconical pots with two handles, conic bowls, pots and s-shaped pots) decorated by carvings or light stabbings and painting.

Lengyel culture

The Lengyel culture (c 5000-3400 BC) is an archaeological culture of the European Neolithic, centered on the Middle Danube in Central Europe. The eponymous type site is at Lengyel in Tolna county, Hungary.


It was preceded by the Linear Pottery culture and succeeded by the Corded Ware culture. Subgroups of the Lengyel horizon include the Austrian/Moravian Painted Ware I and II, Aichbühl, Jordanów/Jordanov/Jordansmühl, Schussenried, Gatersleben, etc.


In its northern extent it overlapped with the somewhat later but otherwise approximately contemporaneous Funnelbeaker culture. Also closely related are the Stroke-ornamented ware and Rössen cultures, adjacent to the north and west, respectively.


It is a wide interaction sphere or cultural horizon rather than an archaeological culture in the narrow sense. Its distribution overlaps with the Tisza culture and with Stroke-Ornamented Pottery (STK) as far north as Osłonki, central Poland.
Lengyel pottery was found in western Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Austria, Poland, and in the Sopot culture of the northern parts of Former Yugoslavia. Influence in pottery styles is found even further afield, in parts of Germany and Switzerland.


Agriculture and stock raising (mainly cattle, but also pigs, and to a lesser extent, ovicaprids) was practiced, though many wild faunal remains have also been recovered. Settlements consisted of small houses as well as trapezoid longhouses.


These settlements were sometimes open, sometimes surrounded by a defensive ditch. Inhumation was in separate cemeteries, in the flexed position with apparently no preference for which side the deceased was laid out in.
Lengyel sites of the later period show signs of the use of copper in form of beads and hammered ribbons, marking the dawn of the Chalcholithic period in Central Europe. It was associated with the cover-term Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas, though may have been undergone “kurganization” by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and become integrated into the successor Globular Amphora culture.


In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of nine individuals ascribed to the Lengyel culture was analyzed. Of the nine samples of Y-DNA extracted, two belonged to H, one belonged to H1b1, one belonged to I, one belonged to I2, one belonged to G2a2a1, one belonged to J2a, one belonged to C, and one belonged to E1b1b1a1b1. mtDNA extracted were various subclades of U, N, T, H, J, W.


In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of six individuals ascribed to the Sopot culture was analyzed. Of the four samples of Y-DNA extracted, two belonged to G or various subclades of it, one belonged to I, and one belonged to F. mtDNA extracted were various subclades of U, H, T, K and HV.


For more on the Starčevo and LBK cultures, see our post ‘G-M201 aDNA at Szederkény-Kukorica-dűlő: a frame by frame investigation’.


Tzonevo culture

The Neolithic period of Bulgarian prehistory has been studied for a century. The investigation of the Black Sea coast, Longoza and Southern Dobrudzha has produced particularly interesting results. These regions had long remained unnoticed by scholars and their prehistory being studied during the past few decades.

At the beginning of the Holocene, the Eastern Balkan Peninsula was almost completely uninhabited. Mesolithic sites are few, the only one from Bulgaria being located at the ancient sand dunes near Pobiti kamuni, west of Varna. The earliest habitation in the Longoz is situated in the place of Balkuzu near the town of Dalgopol, Varna district.

This site, like the rest from the period (the Early Neolithic), is united at the Tzonevo culture. The special features of the Early Neolithic in the Longoz are typical only for this area but it is quite possible they will be characteristic of other Black Sea Neolithic settlements because closest analogies were found at the site Fikirtepe near Istanbul, Turkey.

The Tzonevo culture corresponds chronologically to the Karanovo II culture in Thracia and the Kriş III culture in Romania. The initial stage of the Tzonevo culture, which has to correspond to the Karanovo I culture and the earlier phases of the Kriş culture, is not found till now. It is very much possible that such settlements existed.

During investigation on the curve of the fluctuations of the Black Sea level during the designated period, we considered it to be vastly below present sea level. The deep and calm mouth of the Kamchiya River was closed, and the deposits covered eventual settlements along the river banks during the next transgression about some meters.

We can suppose (future deep analysis in this direction will corroborate or reject this hypothesis) that during the Neolithic the landscape “Longoza” presented a deep and jutting-out sea bay inland. The assertion that the Neolithisation of the Bulgarian Black Sea region is delayed vastly besides Thracia or Northeastern Bulgaria is appropriate but our investigation on the Black Sea level during the Early and the Middle Holocene is under way to change these conceptions.


Bug–Dniester culture

The Dnieper-Donets culture was contemporary with the Bug–Dniester culture (6300–5500 BC), the archaeological culture that developed in the chernozem region of Moldavia and Ukraine around the Dniester and Southern Bug rivers in the Neolithic.

Over approximately 1,000 years the Bug–Dniester culture metamorphosed through different cultural phases, but the population remained about the same. The people in this region relied predominantly on hunting aurochs, red deer, roe deer and boar, and fishing for roach, eels and pike.

What is most noteworthy about the Neolithic in this region is that it developed autochthonously from the Mesolithic there, through contact with the Chalcolithic cultures in the west and Neolithic hunter gatherer cultures in the East (Here Neolithic is defined as pottery-bearing, not agricultural).

They made pottery from about 6200 BC. This type of pottery made by hunter-gatherers had arrived in the middle Volga from the Lake Baikal region of Asia. One notable characteristic is that many pots had pointed bottoms, designed for cooking over a fire. They could be decorated in patterns of wavy lines.

Cucuteni–Trypillian culture

The Cucuteni–Trypillian culture , also known as the Tripolye culture, a Neolithic–Eneolithic archaeological culture of Eastern Europe, flourished in this area from roughly 5300 to 2600 BC, leaving behind thousands of archeological sites. Their settlements had up to 15,000 inhabitants, making them among the first large farming communities in the world.

It extended from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dniester and Dnieper regions, centred on modern-day Moldova and covering substantial parts of western Ukraine and northeastern Romania, encompassing an area of 350,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi), with a diameter of 500 km (300 mi; roughly from Kyiv in the northeast to Brașov in the southwest).

The majority of Cucuteni–Trypillia settlements consisted of high-density, small settlements (spaced 3 to 4 kilometres apart), concentrated mainly in the Siret, Prut and Dniester river valleys. During the Middle Trypillia phase (c. 4000 to 3500 BC), populations belonging to the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture built the largest settlements in Neolithic Europe, some of which contained as many as 3,000 structures and were possibly inhabited by 20,000 to 46,000 people.

One of the most notable aspects of this culture was the periodic destruction of settlements, with each single-habitation site having a lifetime of roughly 60 to 80 years. Some of the settlements were reconstructed several times on top of earlier habitational levels, preserving the shape and the orientation of the older buildings. One particular location; the Poduri site in Romania, revealed thirteen habitation levels that were constructed on top of each other over many years.

Nikitin (2011) analyzed mtDNA recovered from Cucuteni–Trypillia human osteological remains found in the Verteba Cave (on the bank of the Seret River, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine). It revealed that seven of the individuals whose remains where analysed belonged to: two to haplogroup HV(xH), two to haplogroup H, one to haplogroup R0(xHV), one to haplogroup J and one to haplogroup T4, the latter also being the oldest sample of the set.


The authors conclude that the population living around Verteba Cave was fairly heterogenous, but that the wide chronological age of the specimens might indicate that the heterogeneity might have been due to natural population flow during this timeframe. The authors also link the R0(xHV) and HV(xH) haplogroups with European Paleolithic populations, and consider the T4 and J haplogroups as hallmarks of Neolithic demic intrusions from the southeast (the north-pontic region) rather than from the west (i.e. the Linear Pottery culture).[56]


A 2017 ancient DNA study found evidence of genetic contact between the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture and steppe populations from the east from as early as 3600 BCE, well before the influx of steppe ancestry into Europe associated with the Yamnaya culture.[57]


A February 2018 study published in Nature included an analysis of three males from the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. With respect to Y-DNA, two carried haplogroup G2a2b2a, while one carried G2a. With respect to mtDNA, the males carried H5a, T2b, and HV.[58]


The purpose of burning these settlements is a subject of debate among scholars;

The roots of Cucuteni–Trypillia culture can be found in the Starčevo–Körös–Criș and Vinča cultures of the 6th to 5th millennia, with additional influence from the Bug–Dniester culture (6500–5000 BC). During the early period of its existence (in the 5th millennium BC), the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture was also influenced by the Linear Pottery culture from the north, and by the Boian–Giulesti culture from the south.

Through colonisation and acculturation from these other cultures, the formative Pre-Cucuteni/Trypillia A culture was established. Over the course of the fifth millennium, the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture expanded from its ‘homeland’ in the Prut–Siret region along the eastern foothills of the Carpathian Mountains into the basins and plains of the Dnieper and Southern Bug rivers of central Ukraine.

Settlements also developed in the southeastern stretches of the Carpathian Mountains, with the materials known locally as the Ariuşd culture. Most of the settlements were located close to rivers, with fewer settlements located on the plateaus.

Most early dwellings took the form of pit houses, though they were accompanied by an ever-increasing incidence of above-ground clay houses. The floors and hearths of these structures were made of clay, and the walls of clay-plastered wood or reeds. Roofing was made of thatched straw or reeds.

Pottery remains from this early period are very rarely discovered; the remains that have been found indicate that the ceramics were used after being fired in a kiln. The outer colour of the pottery is a smoky grey, with raised and sunken relief decorations.

Toward the end of this early Cucuteni–Trypillia period, the pottery begins to be painted before firing. The white-painting technique found on some of the pottery from this period was imported from the earlier and contemporary (5th millennium) Gumelniţa–Karanovo culture. Historians point to this transition to kiln-fired, white-painted pottery as the turning point for when the Pre-Cucuteni culture ended and Cucuteni Phase (or Cucuteni–Trypillia culture) began.

In the middle era the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture spread over a wide area from Eastern Transylvania in the west to the Dnieper River in the east. The population grew considerably during this time, resulting in settlements being established on plateaus, near major rivers and springs.

As the population in this area grew, more land was put under cultivation. Hunting supplemented the practice of animal husbandry of domestic livestock. During this period, the population immigrated into and settled along the banks of the upper and middle regions of the Right Bank (or western side) of the Dnieper River, in present-day Ukraine.

During the late period the Cucuteni–Trypillia territory expanded to include the Volyn region in northwest Ukraine, the Sluch and Horyn Rivers in northern Ukraine and along both banks of the Dnieper river near Kyiv.

Members of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture who lived along the coastal regions near the Black Sea came into contact with other cultures. Animal husbandry increased in importance, as hunting diminished; horses also became more important.

The community transformed into a patriarchal structure. Outlying communities were established on the Don and Volga rivers in present-day Russia. Dwellings were constructed differently from previous periods, and a new rope-like design replaced the older spiral-patterned designs on the pottery.

Different forms of ritual burial were developed where the deceased were interred in the ground with elaborate burial rituals. An increasingly larger number of Bronze Age artefacts originating from other lands were found as the end of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture drew near.

Tools made of flint, rock, clay, wood and bones continued to be used for cultivation and other chores. Much less common than other materials, copper axes and other tools have been discovered that were made from ore mined in Volyn, Ukraine, as well as some deposits along the Dnieper river. Pottery-making by this time had become sophisticated, however they still relied on techniques of making pottery by hand (the potter’s wheel was not used yet). Characteristics of the Cucuteni–Trypillia pottery included a monochromic spiral design, painted with black paint on a yellow and red base. Large pear-shaped pottery for the storage of grain, dining plates and other goods, was also prevalent. Additionally, ceramic statues of female “goddess” figures, as well as figurines of animals and models of houses dating to this period have also been discovered.

Some scholars[who?] have used the abundance of these clay female fetish statues to base the theory that this culture was matriarchal in nature. Indeed, it was partially the archaeological evidence from Cucuteni–Trypillia culture that inspired Marija Gimbutas, Joseph Campbell and some latter 20th century feminists to set forth the popular theory of an Old European culture of peaceful, egalitarian (counter to a widespread misconception, not matriarchal[24]), goddess-centred neolithic European societies that were wiped out by patriarchal, Sky Father-worshipping, warlike, Bronze-Age Proto-Indo-European tribes that swept out of the steppes north and east of the Black Sea.[citation needed]


Throughout the 2,750 years of its existence, the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture was fairly stable and static; however, there were changes that took place. This article addresses some of these changes that have to do with the economic aspects. These include the basic economic conditions of the culture, the development of trade, interaction with other cultures and the apparent use of barter tokens, an early form of money.


Members of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture shared common features with other Neolithic societies, including:


An almost nonexistent social stratification

Lack of a political elite

Rudimentary economy, most likely a subsistence or gift economy

Pastoralists and subsistence farmers

Earlier societies of hunter-gatherer tribes had no social stratification, and later societies of the Bronze Age had noticeable social stratification, which saw the creation of occupational specialization, the state and social classes of individuals who were of the elite ruling or religious classes, full-time warriors and wealthy merchants, contrasted with those individuals on the other end of the economic spectrum who were poor, enslaved and hungry. In between these two economic models (the hunter-gatherer tribes and Bronze Age civilisations) we find the later Neolithic and Eneolithic societies such as the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, where the first indications of social stratification began to be found. However, it would be a mistake to overemphasise the impact of social stratification in the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, since it was still (even in its later phases) very much an egalitarian society. And of course, social stratification was just one of the many aspects of what is regarded as a fully established civilised society, which began to appear in the Bronze Age.[21]


Like other Neolithic societies, the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture had almost no division of labor. Although this culture’s settlements sometimes grew to become the largest on Earth at the time (up to 15,000 people in the largest),[30] there is no evidence that has been discovered of labour specialisation. Every household probably had members of the extended family who would work in the fields to raise crops, go to the woods to hunt game and bring back firewood, work by the river to bring back clay or fish and all of the other duties that would be needed to survive. Contrary to popular belief, the Neolithic people experienced considerable abundance of food and other resources.[2]


Since every household was almost entirely self-sufficient, there was very little need for trade. However, there were certain mineral resources that, because of limitations due to distance and prevalence, did form the rudimentary foundation for a trade network that towards the end of the culture began to develop into a more complex system, as is attested to by an increasing number of artifacts from other cultures that have been dated to the latter period.[3]


Toward the end of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture’s existence (from roughly 3000 BC to 2750 BC), copper traded from other societies (notably, from the Balkans) began to appear throughout the region, and members of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture began to acquire skills necessary to use it to create various items. Along with the raw copper ore, finished copper tools, hunting weapons and other artefacts were also brought in from other cultures.[2] This marked the transition from the Neolithic to the Eneolithic, also known as the Chalcolithic or Copper Age. Bronze artifacts began to show up in archaeological sites toward the very end of the culture. The primitive trade network of this society, that had been slowly growing more complex, was supplanted by the more complex trade network of the Proto-Indo-European culture that eventually replaced the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture.[2]


There is a debate among scholars regarding how the end of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture took place.


According to some proponents of the Kurgan hypothesis of the origin of Proto-Indo-Europeans, and in particular the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, in her book “Notes on the chronology and expansion of the Pit-Grave Culture” (1961, later expanded by her and others), the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture was destroyed by force. Arguing from archaeological and linguistic evidence, Gimbutas concluded that the people of the Kurgan culture (a term grouping the Yamnaya culture and its predecessors) of the Pontic–Caspian steppe, being most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language, effectively destroyed the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture in a series of invasions undertaken during their expansion to the west. Based on this archaeological evidence Gimbutas saw distinct cultural differences between the patriarchal, warlike Kurgan culture and the more peaceful egalitarian Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, which she argued was a significant component of the “Old European cultures” which finally met extinction in a process visible in the progressing appearance of fortified settlements, hillforts and the graves of warrior-chieftains, as well as in the religious transformation from the matriarchy to patriarchy, in a correlated east–west movement.[25] In this, “the process of Indo-Europeanization was a cultural, not a physical, transformation and must be understood as a military victory in terms of successfully imposing a new administrative system, language, and religion upon the indigenous groups.[26] Accordingly, these proponents of the Kurgan hypothesis hold that this invasion took place during the third wave of Kurgan expansion between 3000–2800 BC, permanently ending the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture.


In his 1989 book In Search of the Indo-Europeans, Irish-American archaeologist J. P. Mallory, summarising the three existing theories concerning the end of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, mentions that archaeological findings in the region indicate Kurgan (i.e. Yamnaya culture) settlements in the eastern part of the Cucuteni–Trypillia area, co-existing for some time with those of the Cucuteni–Trypillia.[3] Artifacts from both cultures found within each of their respective archaeological settlement sites attest to an open trade in goods for a period,[3] though he points out that the archaeological evidence clearly points to what he termed “a dark age,” its population seeking refuge in every direction except east. He cites evidence of the refugees having used caves, islands and hilltops (abandoning in the process 600–700 settlements) to argue for the possibility of a gradual transformation rather than an armed onslaught bringing about cultural extinction.[3] The obvious issue with that theory is the limited common historical life-time between the Cucuteni–Trypillia (4800–3000 BC) and the Yamnaya culture (3300–2600 BC); given that the earliest archaeological findings of the Yamnaya culture are located in the Volga–Don basin, not in the Dniester and Dnieper area where the cultures came in touch, while the Yamnaya culture came to its full extension in the Pontic steppe at the earliest around 3000 BC, the time the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture ended, thus indicating an extremely short survival after coming in contact with the Yamnaya culture. Another contradicting indication is that the kurgans that replaced the traditional horizontal graves in the area now contain human remains of a fairly diversified skeletal type approximately ten centimetres taller on average than the previous population.[3]


In the 1990s and 2000s, another theory regarding the end of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture emerged based on climatic change that took place at the end of their culture’s existence that is known as the Blytt–Sernander Sub-Boreal phase. Beginning around 3200 BC, the earth’s climate became colder and drier than it had ever been since the end of the last Ice age, resulting in the worst drought in the history of Europe since the beginning of agriculture.[27] The Cucuteni–Trypillia culture relied primarily on farming, which would have collapsed under these climatic conditions in a scenario similar to the Dust Bowl of the American Midwest in the 1930s.[28] According to The American Geographical Union,


The transition to today’s arid climate was not gradual, but occurred in two specific episodes. The first, which was less severe, occurred between 6,700 and 5,500 years ago. The second, which was brutal, lasted from 4,000 to 3,600 years ago. Summer temperatures increased sharply, and precipitation decreased, according to carbon-14 dating. According to that theory, the neighboring Yamnaya culture people were pastoralists, and were able to maintain their survival much more effectively in drought conditions. This has led some scholars to come to the conclusion that the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture ended not violently, but as a matter of survival, converting their economy from agriculture to pastoralism, and becoming integrated into the Yamnaya culture.[21][27][28][29]


However, the Blytt–Sernander approach as a way to identify stages of technology in Europe with specific climate periods is an oversimplification not generally accepted. A conflict with that theoretical possibility is that during the warm Atlantic period, Denmark was occupied by Mesolithic cultures, rather than Neolithic, notwithstanding the climatic evidence.[citation needed] Moreover, the technology stages varied widely globally. To this must be added that the first period of the climate transformation ended 500 years before the end of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture and the second approximately 1400 years after.


Cucuteni and the neighbouring Gumelniţa–Karanovo cultures, a Neolithic culture of the 5th millennium BC, named after the Gumelniţa site on the left (Romanian) bank of the Danube, seem to be largely contemporary; the “Cucuteni A phase seems to be very long (4600–4050) and covers the entire evolution of Gumelniţa culture A1, A2, B2 phases (maybe 4650–4050).”

At its full extent the culture extended along the Black Sea coast to central Bulgaria and into Thrace. The aggregate “Kodjadermen-Gumelnita-Karanovo VI” evolved out of the earlier Neolithic Boian culture (4300–3500 BC), also known as the Giuleşti–Mariţa culture or Mariţa culture, and Karanovo V cultures. In the East it was supplanted by Cernavodă I in the early 4th millennium BC.

The Boian culture originated on the Wallachian Plain north of the Danube River in southeastern Romania and is primarily found along the lower course of the Danube in what is now Romania and Bulgaria, and thus may be considered a Danubian culture.

It emerged from two earlier Neolithic groups: the Dudeşti culture that originated in Anatolia (present-day Turkey); and the Musical note culture (also known as the Middle Linear Pottery culture or LBK) from the northern Subcarpathian region of southeastern Poland and western Ukraine.

The Cernavodă culture, ca. 4000–3200 BC, was a late Copper Age archaeological culture. It was along the lower Eastern Bug River and Danube and along the coast of the Black Sea and somewhat inland, generally in present-day Romania and Bulgaria. It is named after the Romanian town of Cernavodă.


It is a successor to and occupies much the same area as the earlier Karanovo culture, for which a destruction horizon seems to be evident. It is part of the “Balkan-Danubian complex” that stretches up the entire length of the river and into northern Germany via the Elbe and the Baden culture; its northeastern portion is thought to be ancestral to the Usatovo culture.


It is characterized by defensive hilltop settlements. The pottery shares traits with that found further east, in the Sredny Stog culture on the south-west Eurasian steppe; burials similarly bear a resemblance to those further east. Together with Sredny Stog culture its spread from east resulted in development of the Anatolian language complex.


The Pre-Europeans (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 4000 years (i.e., 7000 BC–3000 BC) while in Northwest Europe it is just under 3000 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 1500 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.

Archaeologists agree that the technologies associated with agriculture originated in the Levant/Near East and then spread into Europe. However, debate exists whether this resulted from an active migratory process from the Near East, or merely due to cultural contact between Europeans and Near Easterners. Currently, three models summarize the proposed pattern of spread:

1. Replacement model: posits that there was a significant migration of farmers from the Fertile Crescent into Europe. Given their technological advantages, they would have displaced or absorbed the less numerous hunter-gathering populace. Thus, modern Europeans are primarily descended from these Neolithic farmers.

2. Cultural diffusion: in contrast, this model supposes that agriculture reached Europe by way of a flow of ideas and trade between the Mesolithic European population and Anatolian farmers. There was no net increase in migration during this process, and therefore, modern Europeans are descended from the “original” Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers.

3. Pioneer model: recognises that models 1) and 2) above may represent false dichotomies. This model postulates that there was an initial, small scale migration of farmers from the Near East to certain regions of Europe. They might have enjoyed localized demographic expansions due to social advantages. The subsequent spread of farming technologies throughout the rest of Europe was then carried out by Mesolithic Europeans who acquired new skill through trade and cultural interaction.

Genetic studies have been utilised in the study of pre-historic population movements. On the whole, scientists agree that there is evidence for a migration during the Neolithic. However, they cannot agree on the extent of this movement. The conclusions of studies appear to be ‘operator dependent’. That is, results vary depending on what underlying mutation rates are assumed, and conclusions are drawn from how the authors ‘envisage’ their results fit with known archaeological and historic processes. Consequently, such studies must be interpreted with caution.

Perhaps the first scholar to posit a large-scale Neolithic migration, based on genetic evidence, was Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza. By applying principal component analysis to data from “classical genetic markers” (protein polymorphisms from ABO blood groups, HLA loci, immunoglobulins, etc.), Cavalli-Sforza discovered interesting clues about the genetic makeup of Europeans. Although being very genetically homogeneous, several patterns did exist. The most important one was a north-western to south-eastern cline with a Near Eastern focus. Accounting for 28% of the overall genetic diversity in the European samples in his study, he attributed the cline to the spread of agriculture from the Middle East c. 10,000 to 6,000 years ago.

Cavalli-Sforza’s explanation of demic diffusions stipulated that the clines were due to the population expansion of neolithic farmers into a scarcely populated, hunter-gathering Europe, with little initial admixture between agriculturalists and foragers. The predicted route for this spread would have been from Anatolia to central Europe via the Balkans. However, given that the time depths of such patterns are not known, “associating them with particular demographic events is usually speculative”. Apart from a demic Neolithic migration, the clines may also be compatible with other demographic scenarios (Barbujani and Bartorelle 2001), such as the initial Palaeolithic expansion, the Mesolithic (post-glacial) re-expansions., or later (historic) colonizations.

Studies using direct DNA evidence have produced varying results. A notable proponent of Cavalli-Sforza’s demic diffusion scenario is Chikhi. In his 1998 study, utilising polymorphic loci from seven hypervariable autosomal DNA loci, an autocorrelation analysis produced a clinal pattern closely matching that in Cavalli-Sforza’s study. He calculated that the separation times were no older than 10,000 years. “The simplest interpretation of these results is that the current nuclear gene pool largely reflects the westward and northward expansion of a Neolithic group”.

Although the above studies propounded a ‘significant’ Neolithic genetic contribution, they did not quantify the exact magnitude of the genetic contribution. Dupanloup performed an admixture analysis based on several autosomal loci, mtDNA and NRY haplogroup frequencies. The study was based on the assumption that Basques were modern representatives of Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers’ gene pool, and Near Eastern peoples were a proxy population for Neolithic farmers. Subsequently, they used admixture analysis to estimate the likely components of the contemporary European gene pool contributed by the two parental populations whose members hybridized at a certain moment in the past. The study suggested that the greatest Near Eastern admixture occurs in the Balkans (~80%) and Southern Italy (~60%), whilst it is least in peoples of the British Isles (estimating only a 20% contribution). The authors concluded that the Neolithic shift to agriculture entailed major population dispersal from the Near East.

Results derived from analysis of the non-recombining portion of the Y- chromosomes (NRY) produced, at least initially, similar gradients to the classic demic diffusion hypothesis. Two significant studies were Semino 2000 and Rosser 2000, which identified haplogroups J2 and E1b1b (formerly E3b) as the putative genetic signatures of migrating Neolithic farmers from Anatolia, and therefore represent the Y-chromosomal components of a Neolithic demic diffusion. This association was strengthened when King and Underhill (2002) found that there was a significant correlation between the distribution of Hg J2 and Neolithic painted pottery in European and Mediterranean sites. However, studies of the ancient Y-DNA from the earlier Neolithic cave burials of Cardium pottery culture men shows they were mainly haplogroup G2a. These ‘Neolithic lineages’ accounted for 22% of the total European Y chromosome gene pool, and were predominantly found in Mediterranean regions of Europe (Greece, Italy, southeastern Bulgaria, southeastern Iberia).

However later Y-DNA based studies, exploiting an increased understanding of the phylogenetic relationships, performing micro-regional haplogroup frequency analysis, reveal a more complicated demographic history. The studies suggest that “the large-scale clinal patterns of Hg E and Hg J reflect a mosaic of numerous small-scale, more regional population movements, replacements, and subsequent expansions overlying previous ranges”. Rather than a single, large-scale ‘wave of advance’ from the Near East, the apparent Hg J2 cline is produced by distinct populations movements emanating from different part of the Aegean and Near East, over a period stretching from the Neolithic to the Classical Period. Similarly, haplogroup E1b1b was also thought to have been introduced into the Balkans by Near Eastern agriculturalists. However, Cruciani et al. (2007) recently discovered that the large majority of haplogroup E1b1b lineages in Europe are represented by the sub-clade E1b1b1a2- V13, which is rare outside Europe. Cruciani, Battaglia and King all predict that V13 expanded from the Balkans. However, there has been no consensus as to exact timing of this expansion (King and Battalia favour a neolithic expansion, possibly coinciding with the adoption of farming by indigenous Balkaners, whilst Cruciani favours a Bronze Age expansion), nor as to where V13 actually arose (but point to somewhere in the southern Balkans or Anatolia) Overall, Y-chromosome data seems to support the “Pioneer model”, whereby heterogeneous groups of Neolithic farmers colonized selected areas of southern Europe via a primarily maritime route. Subsequent expansion of agriculture was facilitated by the adoption of its methods by indigenous Europeans, a process especially prominent in the Balkans.

The data from mtDNA is also interesting. European mtDNA haplogroup frequencies show little, if any, geographic patterning, a result attributed to different molecular properties of mtDNA, as well as different migratory practices between females and males (Semino 2000). The vast majority of mtDNA lineages (60–70%) have been dated to have either emerged in the Mesolithic or Palaeolithic, whereas only 20% of mitochondrial lineages are “Neolithic”. However, this conclusion has been questioned. Any undetected heterogeneity in the founder population would result in an overestimation in the age of the current population’s molecular age. If this is true, then Europe could have been populated far more recently, e.g. during the Neolithic, by a more diverse founding population (Barbujani et al. 1998, from Richards 2000). As Chikhi states: “We argue that many mitochondrial lineages whose origin has been traced back to the Palaeolithic period probably reached Europe at a later time”. However, Richards et al. (2000) maintain these findings even when founding population heterogeneity is considered. In one such study, Wolfgang Haak extracted ancient mtDNA from what they present as early European farmers from the Linear Pottery Culture in central Europe. The bodies contained a 25% frequency of mtDNA N1a, a haplogroup which they assumed to be linked to the Neolithic. Today the frequency of this haplogroup is a mere 0.2%. Haak presented this as supportive evidence for a Palaeolithic European ancestry.

Formerly there had been much debate about whether the westerly spread of agriculture from the Near East was driven by farmers actually migrating, or by the transfer of ideas and technologies to indigenous hunter-gatherers. However, in a very recent study in 2010, researchers have studied the genetic diversity of modern populations to throw light on the processes involved in these ancient events. The new study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, examines the diversity of the Y chromosome. Mark Jobling, who led the research, said: “We focused on the commonest Y-chromosome lineage in Europe, carried by about 110 million men, it follows a gradient from south-east to north-west, reaching almost 100% frequency in Ireland. We looked at how the lineage is distributed, how diverse it is in different parts of Europe, and how old it is.” The results suggested that the lineage R1b1b2 (R-M269), like E1b1b or J lineages, spread together with farming from the Near East. Prior archaeological and metrological studies had arrived at similar conclusions in support of the migrationist model.

Dr Patricia Balaresque, first author of the study, added: “In total, this means that more than 80% of European Y chromosomes descend from incoming farmers. In contrast, most maternal genetic lineages seem to descend from hunter-gatherers. To us, this suggests a reproductive advantage for farming males over indigenous hunter-gatherer males during the switch from hunting and gathering, to farming”.

However, recently a study has shown there to be serious flaws in the above proposed model, pointing out the overgeneralization inherit in the studies of Baleresque 2010. Furthermore, Busby et. al 2012 point out ” For this haplogroup to be so ubiquitous, the population carrying R-S127 would have displaced most of the populations present in western Europe after the Neolithic agricultural transition “. Clearly common sense dictates that this did not happen. Also they go on to show that within the european specific R-M269 sub-lineage, defined by SNP S127, there exists distinct sub-haplogroups and at this level there exists several ” geographically localized pockets, with individual R-M269 sub- haplogroups dominating “. There conclusions were that it is likely that R-S127 was already present in native european populations and grew into several geographically distinct sub-lineages across Europe before Neolithic expansion occurred.

A study of Neolithic skeletons in the Great Hungarian Plain found a high frequency of eastern Asian maternal (mtDNA) haplogroups.

There is no direct evidence of the languages spoken in the Neolithic. Some proponents of paleolinguistics attempt to extend the methods of historical linguistics to the Stone Age, but this has little academic support. Criticising scenarios which envision for the Neolithic only a small number of language families spread over huge areas of Europe (as in modern times), Donald Ringe has argued on general principles of language geography (as concerns “tribal”, pre-state societies), and the scant remains of (apparently indigenous) non-Indo-European languages attested in ancient inscriptions, that Neolithic Europe must have been a place of great linguistic diversity, with many language families with no recoverable linguistic links to each other, much like western North America prior to European colonisation.

Discussion of hypothetical languages spoken in the European Neolithic is divided into two topics, Indo-European languages and “Pre-Indo-European” languages.

Early Indo-European languages are usually assumed to have reached Europe in the Chalcolithic or early Bronze Age, e.g. with the Corded Ware or Beaker cultures (see also Kurgan hypothesis for related discussions). The Anatolian hypothesis postulates arrival of Indo-European languages with the early Neolithic. Old European hydronymy is taken by Hans Krahe to be the oldest reflection of the early presence of Indo-European in Europe.

Theories of “Pre-Indo-European” languages in Europe are built on scant evidence. The Basque language is the best candidate for a descendant of such a language, but since Basque is a language isolate, there is no comparative evidence to build upon. Theo Vennemann nevertheless postulates a “Vasconic” family, which he supposes had co-existed with an “Atlantic” or “Semitidic” (i.e. para-Semitic) group. Another candidate is a Tyrrhenian family which would have given rise to Etruscan and Raetic in the Iron Age, and possibly also Aegean languages such as Minoan or Pelasgian in the Bronze Age.

In the north, a similar scenario to Indo-European is thought to have occurred with Uralic languages expanding in from the east. In particular, while the Sami languages of the indigenous Sami people belong in the Uralic family, they show considerable substrate influence, thought to represent one or more extinct original languages. The Sami are estimated to have adopted a Uralic language less than 2500 years ago. Some traces of indigenous languages of the Baltic area have been suspected in the Finnic languages as well, but these are much more modest.

Old Europe is a term coined by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas to describe what she perceives as a relatively homogeneous and widespread pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in Europe, particularly in Malta and the Balkans.

In her major work, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: 6500–3500 B.C. (1982), she refers to these Neolithic cultures as Old Europe. Archaeologists and ethnographers working within her framework believe that the evidence points to migrations of the peoples who spoke Indo-European languages at the beginning of the Bronze age (the Kurgan hypothesis). For this reason, Gimbutas and her associates regard the terms Neolithic Europe, Old Europe, and Pre-Indo-European as synonymous.

Old Europe, or Neolithic Europe, refers to the time between the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe, roughly from 7000 BC (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) to ca. 1700 BC (the beginning of the Bronze Age in northwest Europe). The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4000 years (i.e., 7000–3000 BC); in North-West Europe it is just under 3000 years (ca. 4500–1700 BC).

Regardless of specific chronology, many European Neolithic groups share basic characteristics, such as living in small-scale, family-based communities, more egalitarian than the city-states and Chiefdoms of the Bronze Age, subsisting on domestic plants and animals supplemented with the collection of wild plant foods and hunting, and producing hand-made pottery, without the aid of 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 Britain were small (possibly 50–100 people) and highly mobile cattle-herders.

Marija Gimbutas investigated the Neolithic period in order to understand cultural developments in settled village culture in the southern Balkans, which she characterized as peaceful, matrilineal, and possessing a goddess-centered religion. In contrast, she characterizes the later Indo-European influences as warlike, nomadic, and patrilineal. Using evidence from pottery and sculpture, and combining the tools of archaeology, comparative mythology, linguistics, and, most controversially, folklore, Gimbutas invented a new interdisciplinary field, archaeomythology.

In historical times, some ethnonyms are believed to correspond to Pre-Indo-European peoples, assumed to be the descendants of the earlier Old European cultures: the Pelasgians, Minoans, Leleges, Iberians, Etruscans and Basques. Two of the three pre-Greek peoples of Sicily, the Sicans and the Elymians, may also have been pre-Indo-European. The term “Pre-Indo-European” is sometimes extended to refer to Asia Minor and Central Asia, in which case the Hurrians and Urartians are sometimes included.

How many Pre-Indo-European languages existed is not known, nor whether the ancient names of peoples believed, in ancient times or now, to have descended from the pre-ancient population, referred to speakers of distinct languages. Marija Gimbutas (1989), observing a unity of symbols marked especially on pots, but also on other objects, concluded that there may have been a single language spoken in Old Europe. She thought that decipherment would have to wait for the discovery of bilingual texts.

The idea of a Pre-Indo-European language in the region precedes Gimbutas. It went by other names, such as “Pelasgian”, “Mediterranean”, or “Aegean”. Apart from marks on artifacts, the main evidence concerning Pre-Indo-European language is in names: toponyms, ethnonyms, etc., and in roots in other languages believed to be derived from one or more prior languages, possibly unrelated. Reconstruction from the evidence is an accepted, though somewhat speculative, field of study. Suggestions of possible Old European languages include Urbian by Sorin Paliga, the Vasconic substratum hypothesis of Theo Vennemann (also see Sigmund Feist’s Germanic substrate hypothesis), and Tyrsenian languages of Helmut Rix.

The Nordwestblock (English: “Northwest Block”), is a hypothetical cultural region, that several 20th century scholars propose as a prehistoric culture, thought to be roughly bounded by the rivers Meuse, Elbe, Somme and Oise (the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, northern France and western Germany) and possibly the eastern part of England during the Bronze and Iron Ages (3rd to 1st millennia BC, up to the gradual onset of historical sources from the 1st century).

The theory was first proposed by two authors working independently, Hans Kuhn, and Maurits Gysseling, who was partly influenced by Belgian archeologist Siegfried De Laet. Gysseling’s proposal included research indicating that another language may have existed somewhere in between Germanic and Celtic in the Belgian (sic) region.

The term itself Nordwestblock was coined by Hans Kuhn, who considered the inhabitants of this area neither Germanic nor Celtic, thus attributing to the people a distinct ethnicity or culture. According to Kuhn and his followers, the region was Germanised from the beginning of the Common Era, at the latest.

Concerning the language spoken by the Iron Age Nordwestblock population, Kuhn speculated on linguistic affinity to the Venetic language, other hypotheses connect the Northwestblock with the Raetic (“Tyrsenian”) or generic Centum Indo-European (Illyrian, “Old European”).

Gysseling suspected an intermediate Belgian language between Germanic and Celtic, that might have been affiliated to Italic. According to Luc van Durme, a Belgian linguist, toponymic evidence to a former Celtic presence in the Low Countries is near to utterly absent.

Kuhn noted that since Proto-Indo-European (PIE) /b/ was very rare, and since this PIE /b/, via Grimm’s law, is the only source of regularly inherited /p/’s in words in Germanic languages, the many words with /p/’s which do occur must have some other language as source.

Similarly, in Celtic, PIE /p/ disappeared and in regularly inherited words only reappeared in p-Celtic languages as a result of the rule that PIE *kʷ became proto-Celtic *p. All this taken together means that any word in p- in a Germanic language which is not evidently borrowed from either Latin or a p-Celtic language must be a loan from another language, and these words Kuhn ascribes to the Nordwestblock language.

Linguist Peter Schrijver speculates on the reminiscent lexical and typological features of the region, from an unknown substrate whose linguistic influences may have influenced the historical development of the (Romance and Germanic) languages of the region. He assumes the pre-existence of pre-Indo-European languages linked to the archeological Linear Pottery culture and to a family of languages featuring complex verbs, of which the Northwest Caucasian languages might have been the sole survivors. Although assumed to have left traces within all other Indo-European languages as well, its influence would have been especially strong on Celtic languages originating north of the Alps and on the region including Belgium and the Rhineland.

It is uncertain when Germanic began to gain a foothold in the area. The Nordwestblock region north of the Rhine is traditionally conceived as belonging to the realms of the Northern Bronze Age, with the Harpstedt Iron Age generally assumed to represent the Germanic precedents west of the Jastorf culture.

The general development converged with the emergence of Germanic within other previously Northern Bronze Age regions to the east, maybe also involving a certain degree of Germanic cultural diffusion.

The local continuity of the Dutch areas was not substantially affected by pre-Roman (c.q. Celtic) immigration. From about the 1st century CE, this region saw the development of the “Weser-Rhine” group of West Germanic dialects which gave rise to Old Frankish from the 4th century.

The issue still remains unresolved and so far no conclusive evidence has been forwarded to support any alternative. Mallory considers the issue a salutary reminder that some anonymous linguistic groups that do not fully obey the current classification, may have survived to the dawn of historical records.

The archeological case for the Nordwestgroup hypothesis makes reference to a time depth of up to 3000 BCE. The following prehistoric cultures have been attributed to the region, compatible with but not necessarily proving the Nordwestblock hypothesis: The Bell Beaker culture (2700–2100 BCE) is thought to originate from the same geographic area, as early stages of this culture apparently derived from early Corded Ware culture elements, with the Netherlands/Rhineland region as probably the most widely accepted site of origin.

The Bell Beaker culture locally developed into the Bronze Age Barbed Wire Beaker culture (2100–1800 BCE). In the second millennium BCE, the region was at the boundary between the Atlantic and Nordic horizons, split up in a northern and a southern region, roughly divided by the course of the Rhine.

To the north emerged the Elp culture (1800-800 BCE), featuring an initial tumulus phase showing a close relationship to other Northern European tumulus groups (sharing pottery of low quality: Kummerkeramik), and a subsequent smooth local transformation to the Urnfield culture (1200–800) BCE.

The southern region became dominated by the Hilversum culture (1800–800 BCE), which apparently inherited the previous Barbed Wire Beaker cultural ties with Britain. From 800 BCE onwards, the area was influenced by the Celtic Hallstatt culture.

The current view in the Netherlands holds that subsequent Iron Age innovations did not involve substantial Celtic intrusions, but featured a local development from Bronze Age culture.

In the final centuries BC, areas formerly occupied by the Elp culture emerge as the probably Germanic Harpstedt culture west of the Germanic Jastorf culture while the southern parts become assimilated to the Celtic La Tène culture, consistent with Julius Caesar’s account of the Rhine forming the boundary between Celtic and Germanic tribes.

Later, the Roman retreat resulted in the disappearance of imported products like ceramics and coins, and a return to virtually unchanged local Iron Age production methods. To the north people continued to live in the same three-aisled farmhouse, while to the east completely new types of buildings arose. More to the south, in Belgium, archeological results of this period point to immigration from the north.

With the onset of historical records (Tacitus, 1st century), the area was generally called the border region between Celtic (Gaulish) and Germanic influence.

Tribes located in the area include the Batavians, Belgae, Chatti, Hermunduri, Cheruscii, Sicambri, Usipi, Tencteri and Usipetes. Caesar took the course of the Rhine to be the boundary between Gauls and Germans, but also mentioned that a large part of the Belgae had ancestry from east of the Rhine, and one part were even known collectively as “Germani” (the so-called “Germani cisrhenani”). The Belgae were therefore considered Gaulish (and the Usipetes Germanic, etc.) because of their position with respect to the Rhine, and not in the modern linguistic sense of the terms.

The Linear Pottery culture 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 of V. Gordon Childe.

The densest evidence for the culture is on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. It represents a major event in the initial spread of agriculture in Europe.

The pottery after which it was named consists of simple cups, bowls, vases and jugs, without handles, but in a later phase with lugs or pierced lugs, bases and necks. They were obviously designed as kitchen dishes, or for the immediate or local transport of food and liquids

Important sites include Nitra in Slovakia; Bylany in the Czech Republic; Langweiler and Zwenkau in Germany; Brunn am Gebirge in Austria; Elsloo, Sittard, Köln-Lindenthal, Aldenhoven, Flomborn and Rixheim on the Rhine; Lautereck and Hienheim on the upper Danube; Rössen and Sonderhausen on the middle Elbe.

Excavations at Oslonki in Poland (dating to 4300 B.C) (Late LBK) revealed a large fortified settlement covering an area of 4,000 sq m. Nearly thirty trapezoidal longhouses and over eighty graves make it one of the richest such settlements in archaeological finds from all of central Europe. The rectangular longhouses were between 7 and 45 meters long and between 5 and 7 meters wide. They were built of massive timber posts chinked with wattle and daub mortar.

Two variants of the early Linear Pottery culture are recognized:

  • The Early or Western Linear Pottery Culture developed on the middle Danube, including western Hungary, and was carried down the Rhine, Elbe, Oder and Vistula.
  • The Eastern Linear Pottery Culture flourished in eastern Hungary.

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.

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.

A good many C-14 dates have been acquired on the LBK, making possible statistical analyses, which have been performed on different sample groups. One such analysis by Stadler and Lennais sets 68.2% confidence limits at about 5430–5040 BC; that is, 68.2% of possible dates allowed by variation of the major factors that influence measurement, calculation and calibration fall within that range. The 95.4% confidence interval is 5600–4750 BC.

Data continues to be acquired and therefore any one analysis should be taken as a rough guideline only. Overall it is probably safe to say that the Linear Pottery culture spanned several hundred years of continental European prehistory in the late 6th and early 5th millennia BC, with local variations. Data from Belgium indicate a late survival of LBK there, as late as 4100 BC.

The earliest theory of Linear Pottery Culture origin is that it came from the Starčevo-Körös culture of Serbia and Hungary. Supporting this view is the fact that the LBK appeared earliest ca. 5600–5400 BC on the middle Danube in the Starčevo range. Presumably, the expansion northwards of early Starčevo-Körös produced a local variant reaching the upper Tisza that may have well been created by contact with native epi-Paleolithic people. This small group began a new tradition of pottery, substituting engravings for the paintings of the Balkanic cultures.

A site at Brunn am Gebirge just south of Vienna seems to document the transition to LBK. The site was densely settled in a long house pattern approximately 5550–5200. The lower layers feature Starčevo-type plain pottery, with large number of stone tools made of material from near Lake Balaton, Hungary. Over the time frame, LBK pottery and animal husbandry increased, while the use of stone tools decreased.

The Linear Pottery Culture is not the only food-producing player on the stage of prehistoric Europe. It has been necessary therefore to distinguish between it and the Neolithic, which was most easily done by dividing the Neolithic of Europe into chronological phases. These have varied a great deal. An approximation is as follows:

  • Early Neolithic. 6000–5500. The first appearance of food-producing cultures in the south of the future Linear Pottery Culture range: the Körös of southern Hungary and the Bug-Dniester culture in the Ukraine.
  • Middle Neolithic. 5500–5000. Early and Middle Linear Pottery Culture.
  • Late Neolithic. 5000–4500. Late Linear Pottery and legacy cultures.

The last phase is no longer the end of the Neolithic. A “Final Neolithic” has been added to the transition between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. All numbers depend to some extent on the geographic region.

The pottery styles of the LBK allow some division of its window in time. Conceptual schemes have varied somewhat. One is as follows:

  • Early. The Eastern and Western LBK cultures, originating on the middle Danube.
  • Middle. Musical Note pottery. The incised lines of the decoration are broken or terminated by punctures, or “strokes”, giving the appearance of musical notes. The culture expanded to its maximum extent. Regional variants appeared. One variant is the late Bug-Dniester culture.
  • Late. Stroked pottery. Lines of punctures are substituted for the incised lines.

In 2005, scientists successfully sequenced mtDNA coding region 15997–16409 derived from 24 7,500-7,000 year-old, human remains associated with the LBK Culture. Of those remains 22 were from locations in Germany near the Harz Mountains and the upper Rhine Valley while one was from Austria and one from Hungary. The scientists did not reveal the detailed hypervariable segment I (HVSI) sequences for all the samples but identified that 7 of the samples belonged to H or V branch of the mtDNA phylogenetic tree, 6 belonged to the N1a branch, 5 belonged to the T branch, 4 belonged to the K(U8) branch, one belonged to the J branch, and one belonged to the U3 branch. All branches are extant in the current European population.

Comparison of the N1a HVSI sequences with sequences of living individuals found three of them to correspond with those of individuals currently living in Europe. Two of the sequences corresponded to ancestral nodes predicted to exist or to have existed on the European branch of the phylogenetic tree. One of the sequences is related to European populations but with no apparent descendants amongst the modern population. The N1a evidence supports the notion that the descendants of LBK culture have lived in Europe for more than 7,000 years and have become an integral part of the current European population. The lack of mtDNA haplogroup U5 supports the notion that U5 at this time is uniquely associated with mesolithic European cultures.

A 2010 study of ancient DNA suggested that the LBK population had affinities to modern-day populations from the Near East and Anatolia. The study also found some unique features, such as the prevailance of the now-rare Y-haplogroup F* and mitochondrial haplogroup frequencies.

Aegean Neolithic farmers’




Lower Paleolithic


Control of fire

Stone tools

Middle Paleolithic

Middle Stone Age

Homo neanderthalensis

Homo sapiens

Recent African origin of modern humans

Upper Paleolithic

Late Stone Age

Behavioral modernity


Origin of the domestic dog









Heavy Neolithic

Shepherd Neolithic

Trihedral Neolithic

Pre-Pottery Neolithic

Neolithic Revolution


Pottery Neolithic


Fertile crescent

Levantine corridor

Heavy Neolithic

Shepherd Neolithic

Trihedral Neolithic

Qaraoun culture

Tahunian culture

Yarmukian Culture

Halaf culture

Ubaid culture

Uruk culture



Tell Aswad




animal husbandry




circular ditches



Neolithic religion

Boian culture

Cernavodă culture

Coțofeni culture

Cucuteni-Trypillian culture

Dudeşti culture

Gorneşti culture

Gumelniţa–Karanovo culture

Hamangia culture

Linear Pottery culture

Malta Temples

Petreşti culture

Sesklo culture

Tisza culture

Tiszapolgár culture

Usatovo culture

Varna culture

Vinča culture

Vučedol culture

Neolithic Transylvania

Neolithic Southeastern Europe

Southeastern European Bronze Age

Prehistoric Balkans

Proto-Indo-European language


Germanic substrate hypothesis

Vasconic languages

Vinca script











Neolittisk tid – Sørvest Asia

Fertile crescent

Levantine corridor


Heavy Neolithic

Shepherd Neolithic

Trihedral Neolithic

Pre-Pottery Neolithic

Neolithic Revolution


Pottery Neolithic



animal husbandry




Neolithic religion

Neolittiske kulturer – Sørvest Asia

Qaraoun culture

Tahunian culture

Yarmukian Culture

Halaf culture

Ubaid culture

Uruk culture



Tell Aswad



Neolittisk tid – Europa

Old European culture

Neolithic Southeastern Europe

Neolithic Transylvania

Southeastern European Bronze Age

Tidlig neolittiske kulturer i Europa

Franchthi Cave (20th to 3rd millennium) Greece. First European Neolithic site.

Sesklo culture (7th millennium) Greece.

Starcevo-Criş culture (Starčevo I, Körös, Criş, Central Balkans, 7th to 5th millennia)

Dudeşti culture (6th millennium)

Mellom-neolittiske kulturer i Europa

Vinča culture (6th to 3rd millennia)

Linear Ceramic culture (6th to 5th millennia)

Cardium Pottery Culture

Comb Ceramic culture (6th to 3rd millennia)

Precucuteni culture

Ertebølle culture (5th to 3rd millennia)

Cortaillod culture

Hembury culture

Windmill Hill culture

Pfyn culture

Corded Ware culture

Horgen culture

Eneolittiske kulturer i Europa

Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (5th millennium)

Lengyel culture (5th millennium)

A culture in Central Europe produced monumental arrangements of circular ditches between 4800 BC and 4600 BC.

Varna culture (5th millennium)

Funnelbeaker culture (4th millennium)

Gaudo Culture (3rd millennium, early Bronze Age, in Italian)

Beaker culture (3rd to 2nd millennia, early Bronze Age)


Skara Brae

Boian culture

Cernavodă culture




Decea Mureşului

Dudeşti culture

Gorneşti culture

Hamangia culture


Malta Temples



Pitted Ware



Tisza culture

Tiszapolgár culture

Usatovo culture

Windmill Hill



Proto-Indo-European language



Pre-Indo-European languages

Germanic substrate hypothesis

Vasconic languages












Gravetti kulturens utstrekning


Spredning av jordbruket til Europa:

A new paper in Science solidifies the case for migration as the cause for the diffusion of agriculture in Europe. Discontinuity between early Neolithic farmers and Mesolithic foragers in Central Europe had provided strong hints about this discontinuity, and these were confirmed by other ancient European DNA, e.g., from Treilles, or the Tyrolean Iceman. The case now appears irrefutable, that people not ideas were involved in the spread farming to the northern fringes of Europe.

– 18kyr (16kyr BC) – Maximum Extent of Last Ice Age

– 12kyr (10kyr BC) ice has retreated start of new colonisation of Europe from the 3 resistance pockets : I from Balkans, R1A from the north of Black Sea

– 10kyr (8kyr BC) – End of Last Ice Age. Regarding R1B I see 2 theories. 1) R1B spread from resistance pocket in Spain. 2) R1B appeared much later coming from north of Iran, Spain resistance pocket associated by Maciamo/Eupedia with smaller La Almagra Culture, much smaller E-M81 population which was not big enough to spread North.

– 8kyr (6kyr BC) same climate as today – arrival of neolithic J2 farmers from Middle east in the Balkans

– 7kyr (5kyr BC) Cucuteni Culture and Vinca Culture / Script

– 5500BC most of Europa was I haplogroup! R1A was only in the North of Black Sea while R1B was still in Asia. The neolithical farmers from Middle East E-V13 and J2 had at that time significant influence in Balkans but genetically, ethnically I was still predominant in the Balkans also. Magna Italy (Printed Cardium Pottery Culture) and Magna Dacia (Thessalian Neolithic Culture) have same I2 origin. J2 migrators were small in numbers compared to original I2 populations in the Balkans, J2 had technical and cultural influence but were absorbed by I2

– 4000-3500BC – most of Europe is still I, but R1a is entering Europe through Moldavia, coming round south by the Black Sea. R1a preparing to enter in the Balkans from Turkey.

– 2800-2500BC – R1a is pushing west in Central Europe while R1b is entering Europe thorugh the Balkans. Most Western Europe is covered by Megalithic Cultures with I populations.

– 2500-2000 – Conquest of Western Europe by R1b! Corded Ware Culture in North Germany, Poland, Ukrajna and Russia – R1a

  Det gamle Europa:

12500BC_s.JPG (59546 bytes)

6000BC_EuxineLake__s.JPG (34760 bytes)

File:Neolithic expansion.svg




File:Cardial map.png

j2 migration

Graphic: Expansion of crop cultivation and dairy farming during the Neolithic period

Flirting with civilization

File:Neolítico en Europa.png


Europe in ca. 4500-4000 BC


Europe in ca. 4000-3500 BC

Map of early Neolithic cultures in Europe - Eupedia

Map of Neolithic cultures in Europe from approximately 5,500 to 6,000 years ago

Map of late Neolithic cultures in Europe - Eupedia

Map of late Neolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Europe from approximately 5,000 to 4,500 years ago

Map of early Bronze Age cultures in Europe - Eupedia

Map of early to middle Bronze Age cultures in Europe from approximately 4,500 to 4,000 years ago

Map of middle Bronze Age cultures in Europe from approximately 4,000 to 3,500 years ago


File:Haplogroup I.png

Haplogroup I-M170

File:Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA).PNG

Haplogroup R1b

Haplogroup G





Haplogroup J-M172

Haplogroup J

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