New Findings at Royal Burials of Aegae Reveal Realities of the Past

New Findings at Royal Burials of Aegae Reveal Realities of the Past

The royal tombs of Aegae, which lie silently amid the Pieria mountains and the wide Aliakmon River in Greece, have attracted the palpable excitement of the archaeologists, from time to time revealing something hidden within the dense layers of the past. Aegae, now known as Vergina, was once the capital of Macedonia, it’s heartland’s royal center so to speak. The area became an important subject of Greek archaeology after a cluster of tombs were unearthed, later identified to be Alexander the Great ’s father Philip II and his queen’s burial site.

Now recent findings have made interesting revelations about Aegae’s building complex, discovered close to the queen’s burial cluster. According to the Archaeology News Network , the Imathia Ephorate of Antiquities has been researching for the last three years as part of the building complex’s maintenance study and their recent findings have revealed that the building under excavation is in fact the place where the royal family was worshipped.

A poem inscribed on a vessel was discovered in destruction layer at ancient Aegae dating back to the middle of the second century BC. ( Imathia Ephorate of Antiquities )

“Very Special” Discoveries at Aegae

Professor Manolis Andronikos excavated a site near Vergina in 1977 which turned out to be the burial site of Alexander the Great ’s family. The 60,000 cubic meter (2,118,880 ft³) earthen hills, which is known as the “Great Tumulus”, was removed by November 1977, and the façade of the tomb was revealed to the world. Archaeologists concluded that the foundation stones adjacent to a cist grave, marked as Tomb I, were that of a shrine, which was deemed to be evidence that people were worshipping the tomb occupant.

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Ionian moulding from the wall decoration of the temple shaped space. (Imathia Ephorate of Antiquities )

The more recent findings seem to tell a similar story. “The inscriptions on the tiles allow us to associate the building we are excavating with the worship of members of the royal family,” explained Dr. Angeliki Kottaridi, Head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Imathia in Archaeology News Network . “This is a building of the 4th century BC with major modifications in the era of Philip V, the late 3rd-early 2nd century BC. These floors come from this phase, as do the plasters, the roof and the figurines; elements that point us to a sanctuary,” concluded Kottaridi.

Another “very interesting and very special” discovery made during research was the inscription of a poem on the vase within a destruction layer dating back to the middle of the 2 nd century BC. These findings were presented by Dr. Kottaridi during the 33rd Archaeological Conference on Thrace and Macedonia’s excavations under the title “New Finds in the City of Aegae” in April 2021.

Tile fragments from Aegae were discovered that indicated the close relationship of the site to the royal family. ( Imathia Ephorate of Antiquities )

Hidden Past of the Aegae Complex

The basic structure of the large complex of buildings from ancient Aegae was built by the end of 400 BC, but it was extensively renovated in the reign of Philip V. However, by the middle of 200 BC, after Metellus’ army had conquered Macedonia, the large complex at Aegae was destroyed along with walls, palace and sanctuaries. Day after the destruction, some spaces towards the east wing and few parts of the complex’ west wing were rebuilt. Meanwhile, a 1,000 square meter (10,764 sq ft) large colonnade and an auxiliary building were added to the complex in the southeast during the reign of Augustus.

“Its form, dimensions and elaborate construction, the rich materials and decorative elements, but also the obsession with the use of space, show that it is a public building,” noted Dr. Kottaridi when discussing their findings. “Monolithic altars, marble support for a table, parts of a marble frieze with impressive plant ornaments and figurines of deities found in situ despite the savage looting, form the impression that it was a sanctuary complex; an impression that seems to have been confirmed most strikingly just when we started investigating the layer of tiles from its fallen roof that covered the area.”

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Section of a marble frieze with plant decoration (4th c. BC). (Imathia Ephorate of Antiquities )

These recent excavations at Aegae also revealed the presence of the symbol of the Macedonian shield, which was used on the coins of Macedonian kings of the Hellenistic period, as well as roof tiles with the name AMYNTOY printed on them. These details indicated the close relationship of the site to the royal family . While studying the name inscribed on the tiles, ΠΕΛΛΗΣ, the researchers have concluded that it refers to Amyntas II, father of Philip II .

“The cult of Alexander and his generation in the years of the successors was a source for legitimizing their power and, likely, the large building complex unearthed at the ancestral royal seat and gravesite of the Temenides was one of its centers, which yielded another extremely valuable and unexpected finding in 2020,” Dr. Kottaridi highlighted. Thanks to the unearthing of these royal burials at ancient Aegae, and surprising new discoveries such as this one, there is now renewed hope of new revelations and heightened understanding of the ancestral family of Alexander the Great .


Researchers Find Remains of Satanic Viking Rituals in Icelandic Cave

A group of archaeologists have found a unique Viking age site, 300 meters (984 feet) beyond the entrance of Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, that appears to have been used for Viking rituals. The most amazing cave find was a boat-shaped structure made of rocks. Rare artifacts like beads from the Arabian Peninsula, remains of orpiment (a deep colored, orange-yellow arsenic sulfide) were also found inside this ancient cave. A group of archaeologists and researchers from the USA, Iceland and Norway undertook excavations and field studies in the Icelandic cave of Viking rituals, and recently published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science .

Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, named after the Viking fire giant Surtr, was the site of satanic Viking rituals according to the latest research paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (John Charles Dollman / Public domain )


Nefertiti as Queen

Nefertiti may have been the daughter of Ay, a top adviser who would go on to become pharaoh after King Tut’s death in 1323 B.C. An alternate theory suggests she was a princess from the Mittani kingdom in northern Syria. She was her husband’s Great Royal Wife (favored consort) when he ascended the throne in Thebes as Amenhotep IV. In the fifth year of his reign, he displaced Egypt’s chief god Amon in favor of Aten, moved the capitol north to Amarna and changed his name to Akhenaten, with Nefertiti taking on the additional name “Neferneferuaten”—her full name meaning �utiful are the beauties of Aten, a Beautiful Woman has come.”

Did you know? The beauty of the iconic Nefertiti bust may only be skin deep. CT scans in 2009 revealed that underneath the surface of smooth painted stucco is the sculptor Thudmose&aposs more realistic limestone carving of a woman with wrinkled cheeks and a bump on her nose.

Akhenaten’s transformation of religion brought with it radical changes in artistic conventions. Departing from the idealized images of earlier pharaohs, Akhenaten is sometimes depicted with feminine hips and exaggerated features. Early images of Nefertiti show a stereotypical young woman, but in later ones she is a near mirror image of Akhenaten. Her final depictions reveal a regal but realistic figure.

On the walls of tombs and temples built during Akhenaten’s reign Nefertiti is depicted alongside her husband with a frequency seen for no other Egyptian queen. In many cases she is shown in positions of power and authority—leading worship of Aten, driving a chariot or smiting an enemy.

After Nefertiti had given birth to six daughters, her husband began taking other wives, including his own sister, with whom he fathered the future King Tut (Tutankhamen). Nefertiti’s third daughter Ankhesenpaaten would eventually become her half-brother Tutankhamen’s queen.


A Conundrum of Man’s Earliest Origins

The tools that were discovered included some very crude and primitive implements, but also tools that were much more sophisticated, with double edges and detailed flaking construction. These tools were diverse and included quite elaborate projectile points, many of which were made from non-local materials. This was a clear proof that Hueyatlaco was used by various groups of people for a long period of time. Either way, these findings were quickly pushing back the previously believed timeline of human habitation in South America, which caused conflicts in the scientific world.

Very early on in the excavations, attempts were made to discredit the work done at Hueyatlaco, and some turned out to be blatant attacks on the work. Someone seemingly had a problem with the idea that South America was inhabited so much earlier than was commonly believed. In 1967, Jose Lorenzo, a member of the Mexican Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, came forth with a controversial claim that the artifacts discovered were deliberately planted at the site, in a way that made it difficult to know whether they were actually discovered. This gossip was seemingly unmerited and looked a lot like an attempt to disrupt the crew from making further claims at the site.

What is more, the suspicious activities did not stop here. Irwin-Williams did make a startling discovery of mammothbone fragments that were carved with intricate images, depicting various megafauna animals such as serpents and saber-toothed cats. Similar carved images have been discovered all over the world, and are associated with early man. However, these carved bones disappeared under puzzling circumstances, as if someone didn’t want them to reach the public eye. Photographs of the carvings survive.

Virginia Steen-Mcintyre working on the Hueyatlaco site in the mid-1960s. ( The Pleistocene Coalition )


Unearthing Secrets of Human Sacrifice

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh , the demigod and his comrade Enkidu rip out the heart of the Bull of Heaven as a gift to the sun god Shamash. This bloody act is far from the only time sacrifice makes an appearance in the world’s most ancient stories, and in some tales such rituals claim human lives, or almost. In Greek myth, King Agamemnon decides to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to Artemis as payment for letting the Greek fleet sail to Troy. In the book of Genesis, Abraham nearly sacrifices his son Isaac to God , with an angel staying Abraham’s hand only at the last minute.

But human sacrifice is not merely the stuff of legends: Archaeologists have found evidence of it at sites across the globe. Sacrificial pits that dot the site of Yinxu, the last capital of China’s Shang dynasty, offer one notable example. The earliest Chinese dynasty to leave an archaeological record, the Shang era spanned from about 1600 BC to 1000 BC. More than 13,000 people were sacrificed at Yinxu over a roughly 200-year period, scientists estimate, with each sacrificial ritual claiming 50 human victims on average.

Recent research is deepening archaeological knowledge about the practice of sacrifice through history. This work, which often uses techniques from fields outside traditional archaeology, is offering new insights about the victims — where they were from, what roles they played in society, how they lived before they were killed and why they were chosen to begin with.

These findings, in turn, could help answer more fundamental questions about the functions that sacrifices served and the nature of the societies that performed them.

New Methods for Probing Sacrifices

Sacrifices undoubtedly played dramatic roles in human affairs in ancient history, but these bloody rituals have proved challenging to study , says archaeologist Glenn Schwartz of Johns Hopkins University.

“Archaeology is all about analyzing the physical remains of human activity, and if you’re talking about religious issues such as beliefs in the cosmos and the supernatural, how do you infer those from physical objects?” he says. “It’s a lot easier for archaeologists to study, say, the economic or political issues of past societies than it is to study what they may have believed about the world and why they did what they did in religious contexts.”

Now, “many new techniques are making it easier and easier to study sacrifice in a sophisticated way, especially in the field of bioarchaeology, the study of human remains, and zooarchaeology, the study of animal remains,” Schwartz says.

In a 2017 analysis of the carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotopes in human bones found in the royal cemetery of Yinxu, for example, bioarchaeologist Christina Cheung at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and her colleagues found that those sacrificed probably came from outside Yinxu.

The tomb of Lady Fu Hao at Yinxu. It contained 6 dog skeletons, 16 human slave skeletons, and numerous grave goods. ( Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The discovery in Yinxu supported records in “oracle bone” inscriptions — the earliest known writing in China, which typically involved diviners carving questions on turtle shells or ox bones. These inscriptions had suggested that many sacrificial victims were foreigners whom the leaders of Yinxu captured in wars, and the isotopic analysis added physical evidence to back up that scenario. It also revealed that the captives were likely kept at Yinxu for years before they were sacrificed Cheung and her colleagues suggested that these captives were enslaved as laborers, since it would not otherwise make sense to support them for so long.

“Archaeology has become more and more interdisciplinary, borrowing more and more techniques from other sciences that have allowed us to look into the past with entirely new levels of detail and accuracy,” Cheung says.

Lives Designed for Death

Scientists are also uncovering new details about the lifestyles of sacrificial victims. In 2013 , archaeologist Andrew Wilson at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom and his colleagues investigated three roughly 500-year-old mummified bodies discovered near the frozen summit of the volcano Llullaillaco in Argentina. With ages of between 4 and 13, these were separately entombed victims of the Inca child sacrifice practice known a s capacocha .

Chemical analyses of the child mummies’ scalp hair revealed that they were given escalating levels of coca leaves and corn beer in the year before their deaths the oldest, dubbed “the Llullaillaco Maiden,” was even found with coca leaves between her clenched teeth. These findings, along with prior work suggesting that they ate more meat and corn in their final year , revealed that the Inca may have given capacocha victims exalted ways of life before their fates.

This frozen mummy was found entombed near the top of the Llullaillaco volcano in northwest Argentina. Known as the Llullaillaco Maiden, the 13-year-old was ritually killed in an Inca rite hundreds of years ago. An X-ray image reveals a wad of coca leaves (colored green) clenched between her teeth. (Credit: Redit: A.S. Wilson et al./PNAS 2013 (Photos Johan Reinhard Ct Scans: Dept. of Forensic Medicine/Univ. of Copenhagen)

Other sacrificial victims endured humbler lifestyles and more dismal ends. Among the Maya — if one assumes that physical ailments suggested lower rank while good health implied elite status —anatomical details such as the number of cavities in teeth suggest that victims typically did not rank among the upper class.

New findings are also overturning some previous interpretations of sacrifices. One example concerns the Royal Cemetery of Ur in what is now Iraq, which dates to sometime around 2500 BC and was excavated in the 1920s. The site contains tombs of ruling-class people, some of them buried with treasures and as many as 74 other people. The latter apparently died to accompany the elites into the afterlife, presumably to serve them, Schwartz says.

One of the site’s excavators, the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley , had suggested that the human sacrifices there voluntarily gave up their lives to serve their superiors in the afterlife, and he proposed that cups found near their skeletons contained poison they took to join their lord or lady. But research in the past decade using computed tomography (CT) scans of the skeletons at Ur has shown that at least some of these people were killed by a blow to a head and were not, perhaps, willing victims.

Recent analyses of the bones of sacrificial victims at Ur also revealed that their bodies were heated and exposed to mercury vapor after death. This was probably done to keep them from decomposing so they could be kept on display in a public setting. The bodies of some were adorned with copper helmets and gold jewelry, and they may have been arranged in a tableau, suggesting that they were dressed in elaborate costumes and posed as participants in a feast, Schwartz says.

All in all, such findings help reveal not only how the victims died but perhaps why they were slain.

“When it comes to the general question of why there was this peculiar, macabre phenomenon where people at Ur were killing up to 70 other people to accompany high-ranking elites to the afterlife, we now know that it was not a voluntary submission of death on the part of the victims, and that it was all part of a show for a large number of people to see,” Schwartz says. “It was an object lesson to everyone — ‘This is the kind of thing that is supposed to happen, and we should all accept that reality.’”

The grisly spectacle the killings provided may have served political purposes. “One pattern we’re seeing across cultures is that the biggest, bloodiest sacrifices are often seen at the establishment of new governments, and scale down once governments become more stable,” Cheung says. “These findings are giving us insight on how cultures maintain social cohesion.”

Sacrifice, or Just Violent Death?

A key challenge in the archaeology of sacrifice is determining what is actually a sacrifice. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, for example, where ritual killing of humans was ubiquitous among the Maya, Inca, Aztecs and others, it can be tempting to identify any evidence of violent death as sacrifice, but researchers may at times consider other explanations, such as mass executions or reprisal killings, Schwartz notes.

One ambiguous scenario where scientists could draw multiple interpretations is the site at Umm el-Marra, in what is now northern Syria, which Schwartz has studied extensively. In a tomb there, Schwartz and his colleagues found a shaft, dug through bedrock, that was layered with animal bodies. At the bottom were 13 people killed by blows to their heads.

A Maya vessel showing a scene of sacrifice. (Credit: Dallas Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons)

“You can have evidence that a human or animal died a violent death, as in our Shaft 1, but how do you know death was perpetrated as a sacrifice in a religious context?” Schwartz says. “What you can do is look for repeated patterns that something special was going on. The problem at Umm el-Marra is that it’s the only tomb I know of like it. If we find other tombs where we see similar patterns of behavior, we’d have a better idea if sacrifices were happening at Umm el-Marra.”

“Or you can find a feature like our Tomb 1, with two richly adorned women placed above two men with few objects. This might imply the burial of high-ranking women together with sacrificed men of lower rank, but the pattern is unique and therefore difficult to interpret.”

A More Humanistic Approach

There are many aspects of sacrifice that remain unexplored, and many of them could yield insights about the humanity of the victims. Discarding preconceived notions about gender roles in past societies, for example, could help reveal details that past research overlooked or ignored.

In Mesoamerica and the Andes, Schwartz notes, it is common to find evidence of sacrificed captive warriors. If a female is found among such victims, one might assume that she wasn’t a captive warrior, “but there could, in fact, have been female warriors — we have to entertain such possibilities, and not jump to conclusions,” he says. “For instance, we can look at the bodies of victims to see if they had repeated exposure to wounds as evidence of military activity, regardless of gender.”

In fact, some sacrifice victims may have been considered neither male nor female — there may have been other genders that were recognized by their societies. “DNA studies might identify individuals whose skeletal remains are male or female, but who were buried with objects that are associated with a different gender,” Schwartz says.

Future breakthroughs in the archaeology of sacrifice may come from both new technologies and fresh outlooks, in other words.

“There has been a conscious effort in archaeology to adopt the point of view from more humanistic fields of anthropology — to stop seeing the past as a series of isolated, almost fantasy-like stories, and to try to relate to people on a human level,” Cheung says. “These bones were once living human beings, in many ways much like us.”

This article originally appeared in Knowable Magazine , an independent journalistic endeavor from Annual Reviews. Sign up for the newsletter .


An unexpected discovery

Hussein began working at Saqqara in 2016, searching for tombs dating to around 600 B.C. and hidden deep underground. The deep shafts had been largely ignored by earlier Egyptologists, who often focused on burials from older periods in Egyptian history. His team’s work is profiled in a new, four-part National Geographic series, Kingdom of the Mummies, which premiers in the U.S. Tuesday May 12. While probing an area last examined in the late 1800s, Hussein and his team discovered a shaft carved into the bedrock that was filled with sand and debris.

After removing 42 tons of fill, the archaeologists arrived at the bottom of the 40-foot shaft and found a roomy, high-ceilinged chamber. It, too, was choked with sand and boulders that had to be removed. Among the rubble were thousands of broken pieces of pottery, each of which had to be carefully documented and conserved. The painstaking excavation took months.

When at last the chamber was empty, the team was surprised to discover that it wasn’t a tomb. The room had a raised, table-like area and shallow channels cut into the bedrock along the base of one wall. In one corner, a barrel-sized bowl was filled with charcoal, ash, and dark sand. An older tunnel—part of a network of passages that honeycomb the rock beneath Saqqara—moved cool air through the space.

The clues suggested to Hussein that the chamber had been a mummification workshop, complete with an industrial-strength incense burner, drainage channels to funnel blood, and a natural ventilation system.

“If you’re doing evisceration down there, you need air moving in to get rid of insects,” Hussein says. “You want constant movement of air when you’re dealing with cadavers.”

Over the past year, pottery experts were able to piece together the ceramic sherds, reconstructing hundreds of small bowls and jars, each one inscribed with a label.

“Every single cup or bowl has the name of the substance it held, and the days of the embalming procedure it was used,” Hussein says. “Instructions are written directly on the objects.” (Related: Archaeologists uncover an embalming recipe some 5,600 years old.)


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Sophie Jackson, director of research for MOLA, which was involved in studying the chamber, said: 'This is one of the most significant archaeological finds ever seen in England.

'It is the British equivalent of Tutankhamun's tomb as everything in it is just as it was left 1,400 years ago.

'It was found on an unpromising site, which is just really a grass verge, but this is an aristocratic burial site and the artefacts provide a great insight into religious life at the time.'

Despite its unglamorous location, inside the chamber are 40 artefacts thought to have belonged to the ancient Essex prince Saexa. Pictured: Conservator Claire Reed, inspecting a decorated blue glass beaker which was discovered in the burial chamber

The chamber discovered the Essex town of Prittlewell contains nothing of the prince thought to be buried there except some enamel fragments from his teeth. Pictured: Remains of the only surviving example of painted Anglo-Saxon woodwork in Britain

The Anglo-Saxons were Pagans, but the Christian items found in the chamber suggest the religion was still important in England 1,400 years ago. Pictured: A gold belt buckle discovered in the burial chamber

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE BURIAL SITE?

The Essex site is the earliest Anglo-Saxon royal burial chamber found in England.

First thought to hold Anglo-Saxon King Saebert, it is now believed it could be the resting place of his brother, Prince Saexa.

Just like Tutankhamun's tomb, the chamber was found completely intact, as it would have looked when the prince was buried 1,400 years ago.

Gold crosses covering the body's eyes and on the coins in its hands show this was a Christian burial, but Anglo-Saxons at this early date were famously Pagans.

For the first time, this suggests Christianity was important in southern England before the arrival of Augustine from Italy, who came to convert us.

The chamber would have taken up to 25 men almost five days to build, using the wood from 13 oak trees.

So much effort indicates a royal was buried inside, with 40 artefacts to take with him to the afterlife.

Radiocarbon dating of a horn drinking cup and minted coins show the prince was probably buried between 580 and 605AD.

The chamber discovered the Essex town of Prittlewell contains nothing of the prince thought to be buried there except some enamel fragments from his teeth, which show he was older than six.

But two gold foil crosses, thought to have been placed over his eyes, a gold belt buckle and shoe buckles suggest he was a man or teenager around five feet eight inches tall.

The burial site was found by archaeologists in 2003 before the road it lies on was widened.

Experts have spent 15 year excavating the chamber - which MOLA says took 113 working days to build and involved a huge investment in skilled labour and materials - to recreate what it may have looked like inside.

Its age is now known for the first time, based on radiocarbon dating of a drinking horn in the chamber and coins buried with the body which bear the name of the mint in France they come from and were only produced after 580AD.

The date of the chamber, now known to be between 580AD and 605AD, rules out that it contained King Saebert, as previously thought.

Experts now believe his brother, Prince Saexa, was the one given such a grand send-off.

Experts are fascinated by this time in English history as Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were emerging, with separate royal families in different parts of the country. Pictured: Conservator Claire Reed, inspecting decorated blue and green glass beakers discovered in the chamber

The name Essex comes from the East Saxon families which ruled over this part of England. Researchers behind the find have hailed it as the 'British equivalent of Tutankhamun's tomb' - despite little similarities in appearance. Pictured: Gold coins discovered in the burial chamber

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE ANGLO-SAXONS IN ESSEX?

The modern county of Essex was a kingdom in the Dark Ages that included London and Middlesex.

The name Essex means 'Land of the East Saxons', who settled the region after migrating from North-West Germany and sailing up the River Thames.

The first king was a man named Aescwin, who lived in the mid Sixth Century. He claimed that the Saxon god, Saxnot, was his ancestor.

The kings are thought to have lived at Cripplegate in London and their Royal monastery was at St Paul's Cathedral.

The kings often shared their kingdom between brothers and the most famous King of Essex was King Saexa.

He ruled from 600 to 616 AD, during which time he converted to Christianity and helped St Mellitus set up St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

He died in 617 AD and some researchers believe he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Others argue that he was probably buried in the Royal grave excavated at Prittlewell.

The most recent findings suggest that, rather than the burial site of King Saebert, the grave in fact belonged to his brother, Prince Saexa.

The date of the chamber, now known to be between 580AD and 605AD, rules out that it contained King Saebert, as previously thought.

Experts now believe his brother, Prince Saexa, was the one given such a grand send-off.

Royal families emerged in Anglo-Saxon times in Kent, Essex and across south-east England.

Saebert and Seaxa's mother was from the Kentish royal family, but their maternal aunt, Bertha, was a French princess who married into their royal family and brought her Christian beliefs with her.

That may explain the gold crosses on the prince's eyes and the coins in the chamber, which are clearly Christian, while the very idea of a burial chamber is Pagan.

It also contains the remnants of a stringed musical instrument called a lyre and a 1,400-year-old painted wooden box with decorations thought to show a ladder and fish scales. Gold braiding suggests the body had a cloth over his head.

The sword, shield and spears in the chamber, the body's pristine golden buckle and an eastern Mediterranean flagon from a Christian pilgrimage site are the evidence that the man buried inside was a member of the royal family, who received expensive gifts from overseas.

But he may still have been young, with Mrs Jackson adding: 'This man may have died before he could really prove himself, as we would have expected more bling in the site.' Some of the artefacts will be displayed at an exhibition at Central Museum in Southend which opens to the public on May 11.

The burial site was found by archaeologists in 2003 before the road it lies on was widened, but its age is now known for the first time. Pictured: Archaeologists excavating the burial chamber

That is based on radiocarbon dating of a drinking horn in the chamber and coins buried with the body which bear the name of the mint in France they come from and were only produced after 580AD. Pictured: Location of the royal burial site discovered beneath a roadside verge

The date of the chamber, now known to be between 580AD and 605AD, rules out that it contained King Saebert, as previously thought. This map shows the site of the burial mound, found during widening work on a section of road between a pub and an Aldi supermarket


Museum of the Royal Tombs at aegae Vergina

Huge Discounts, Free Upgrades and More. Don't Wait, Reserve Today! Our Expert Agents Offer Years Of Experience & Can Help You Plan the Ideal Cruise The Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) is located 75 km east of Thessaloniki, Greece, centered around the royal tombs built by the ancient Kingdom of Macedon at Aigai.The underground museum containing the burial cluster of Philip II of Macedon began construction in 1993 and was inaugurated in 1997. Exhibits are presented in four interconnected areas, including the Palace, the royal. The Museum of the Royal Tombs' cafe The Museum will remain closed on Thursday 12 November The Museums' opening hours during Easter holidays The Royal Necropolis' and the Palace's redevelopment and valorization, and the central museum building of the multi-focal museum of Aigai financed by the Operational Programme Central Macedonia of NSRF 2014 -2020 Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) is open: Wed - Mon 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Buy tickets in advance on Tripadvisor. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund

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The Museum of the Royal Tombs in Vergina It is an impressive underground construction on the exterior it has the form of a clay tomb where the most important portable findings and the exquisite frescoes that had been found inside the royal graves, are exhibited to the public By November 1977 CE, 60,000 cubic metres of soil had been carefully removed from the 100-metre-high and 12-metre-wide earthen hill known as the Great Tumulus in order to reveal the tomb's façade. 50 of the 51 tombs already discovered in what was once the heartland of ancient Macedon had been robbed in antiquity, but on that day and following a century of barren digs, the lost city of ancient Aegae was convincingly identified

The funding of the projects comes from national and European resources. The cluster of the royal tombs is protected by a tumulus-shaped shelter, the present Museum of the Royal Tombs at Aigai. All the items found in the cluster, the architectural buildings, wall paintings of the tombs are displayed in a secure and controlled environment Vergina's Royal Tombs Given the frequency of tomb-raiding in antiquity, the pristine condition of Tomb II, as revealed by Andronikos and now on display in the Aigai museum, is all the more impressive. Andronikos, as one of the first information panels in the museum commemorates, quickly felt certain he had unearthed the royal tomb of Philip II

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  1. The Royal Tomb Museum of Vergina is built within a (reconstruction of the) tumulus (mount) where the tombs originally were found in. Beautiful treasures found in the tombs are on display. It is one of the most important historical places to visit in Macedonia. The museum of Vergina and the Royal Tombs are within this Tumulus
  2. Tomb of Philip II at Aegae Further information: Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) In 1977, Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos started excavating the Great Tumulus at Aegae [5] and found that two of the four tombs in the tumulus were undisturbed since antiquity
  3. Download this stock image: Royal Tomb of Philip II, Museum of the Royal Tombs at Aegai, Ancient Aigai, Vergina, Central Macedonia,Greece,Europe - 2C1R79D from Alamy's library of millions of high resolution stock photos, illustrations and vectors
  4. See the tombs of Macedonian kings, including Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, at Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built around an ancient burial ground inside a large earth mound, the museum is uniquely constructed to protect the tombs while exhibiting artifacts and showing the burial ground as it was before the excavations
  5. Archaeological Museum of Vergina (Royal Tombs) A wonderful destination in the heart of Macedonia. The museum is located in Vergina, 75km west of Thessaloniki and 12km away from Veria, the nearest city. The museum has a dark, imposing atmosphere that surprises most visitors

Royal Tombs of Aigai, Macedonia, Greece. (Andrei Nekrassov / Adobe Stock) The royal necropolis is one of the most important archaeological remains at Aigai. More than 500 tumuli, dating to between the 11 th and 2 nd centuries BC, have been identified, while three royal burial clusters have been excavated by archaeologists over the decades The archaeological museum of Vergina was built to house all the artifacts found at the site and is one of the most important museums in Greece. Aigai has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status as an exceptional testimony to a significant development in European civilization, at the transition from classical city-state to the imperial structure of the Hellenistic and Roman periods . The chest is decorated with the royal Vergina Sun or Star symbol, which has been associated with the Argead dynasty The murals of the tombs of Philip and of Persephone comprise the most important specimens of ancient Greek wall painting preserved today. Unfortunately the tomb was looted probably during the invasion of the Gauls, who plundered the royal necropolis of Aigai in the 3rd century BC The roof and facade of the vaulted tomb in Aegae (Vergina) emerging from the soil in 1977 CE. From Unearthing the Family of Alexander the Great.Grant (2019) p51. Used with permission from Pen & Sword Books

Aegae Museum / Macedonian Royal Tomb of Philips The site was discovered in 1976, and excavated during the 1977/8 season in a campaign led by Manolis Andronikos, which unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great which unlike so many other tombs had not been disturbed or looted Museum of Royal Tombs Aigai, Vergina Greece. This museum is built over the tomb site. I found it all dark as I walked into the complex. Probably they wish to protect these relics from harsh light to prevent further damage I concluded. But what an amazing display of wealth from 330BC! It is gold, gold, gold everywhere! So much gold Vergina Royal Tombs Half Day Private Tour from Thessaloniki - Group Price! (From US$147.03) In the footsteps of Alexander the Great - Macedonian kingdom - 8 hrs (From US$306.52) See all Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) experiences on Tripadviso The gold chest or larnax containing male bones from the main chamber of the royal tomb known as Tomb II in Vergina. The chest is decorated with the royal Vergina Sun or Star symbol, which has been associated with the Argead dynasty. Late 4th Century BCE. Vergina, Macedon. Archaeological Museum of Vergina

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Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina. 2. April um 14:56 ·. Το θέατρο που βρίσκεται δίπλα στο αρχαίο γυμνάσιο, δηλαδή την σχολή όπου δίδαξε ο Αριστοτέλης τον Αλέξανδρο και τους νεαρούς Μακεδόνες, όπως αποκαταστάθηκε το 2015 από την ΕΦΑ Ημαθίας The geometric and proto-geometric styles that flourished inAthensand centralGreecein the 9th and 8th centuries BC did not penetrate so far north. The cemetery reached its height in 5th and 4th centuries BC whenMacedoniaenjoyed a long succession of royal rulers. Land of the livin Royal Tombs . Royal Tomb. Vergina (Greek: Βεργίνα) Aegae continued to flourish into the 3rd century BC until it was destroyed in the 1st century BC. The two most important graves were not sacked and contained the main treasures of the museum. Tomb II of Philip II,.

Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina. 9,243 likes · 1 talking about this · 4,431 were here. The museum that houses the tomb of Philip II, father.. Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina. 9,252 likes · 75 talking about this · 4,426 were here. The museum that houses the tomb of Philip II, father.. Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina): Amazing Look at History - See 1,172 traveler reviews, 477 candid photos, and great deals for Vergina, Greece, at Tripadvisor Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina): HISTORY AT ITS BEST - See 1,172 traveller reviews, 477 candid photos, and great deals for Vergina, Greece, at Tripadvisor

A multifunctional and constantly evolving museum of a 146.000m2 size with various distinct units scattered around the area. It integrates and connects the new central building not only with the whole archaeological site of Aigai, namely the Palace and the tomb cluster of Temenids, but also with the world-famous Museum of the Royal Tombs Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina): Warning - the site closes at 2.30 - See 1,172 traveler reviews, 477 candid photos, and great deals for Vergina, Greece, at Tripadvisor When I felt sufficiently refortified, I continued on to my final stop for the day: the Vergina museum, home of the Macedonian royal tombs. Discovered in the late 1970's by the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos, the Macedonian royal tombs provide the most vivid window into Alexander's world of any surviving source, literary or archaeological From Manolis Andronikos, Vergina: The Royal Tombs. Athens: Ekdotike Athenon S.A, 1988. Figure 155, p. 194. 11 Golden larnax containing the cremated bones of a male from Chamber II of Tomb II. Note the addition of 'feet' as well as more elaborate decorative motifs compared to the larnax from Chamber I

Q16963755. Aegae: ancient capital of Macedonia, site of the royal cemetery. Theater. Aegae was the old capital of Macedonia and always remained an important place, even after king Archelaus had replaced it at the end of the fifth century as his residence by Pella. However, the town still boasted a palace and a theater The Golden Larnax, housed at the Archaeological Museum of Vergina, contains the remains of Macedonian King Philip II. Dr. Andronikos believed that a smaller casket might have held the remains of Olympias, the first of Philip's seven wives and the mother of Alexander the Great Far away from the typical tourists track around Athens and the islands, Aigai and the museum of the Royal Tombs is the most visited site in northern Greece, a monument of outstanding value world wide, it is in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996 The museum, which was inaugurated in 1993, was built in a way to protect the tombs, exhibit the artifacts and show the tumulus as it was before the excavations. Inside the museum there are four tombs and one small temple, the heroon built as the temple for the great tomb of Philip II of Macedon Vergina Tourism Vergina Hotels Vergina Bed and Breakfast Vergina Vacation Rentals Vergina Vacation Package

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In the Museum of the Royal Tombs at Aegae or Vergina. Exponents in the Macedonian Museum famous for hosing the Tomb of. Greece Macedonia Flags 03. Greek and Blue Colored Macedonian Vergina Sun Flag Waving on Flagpoles. Sun of Vergina, the ancient Greek symbol. Star with sixteen rays May 27, 2017 - The location | Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina, Macedoni Greec Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina. 9,251 likes · 68 talking about this · 4,426 were here. The museum that houses the tomb of Philip II, father.. Vergina Royal Tombs Half Day Private Tour from Thessaloniki - Group Price! (From US$ 148.81) In the footsteps of Alexander the Great - Macedonian kingdom - 8 hrs (From US$ 310.22) See all Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) experiences on Tripadviso

Vergina one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century in Greece. The site of the Royal Tombs under a modern roof hosts the main excavation, as well as an exhibition of the major finds from the burials The Royal Tombs of Vergina is an outstanding archaeological site and also a gateway into Greece's rich historic past. Here, you will discover the resplendent life and death of the elite ancient Macedonians that have been unearthed. The most important tomb belongs to King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great Kungagravarna i Vergina: enastående - se 1 172 omdömen, 477 bilder och fantastiska erbjudanden på Vergina, Grekland på Tripadvisor 18.Ara.2019 - Aigai through time | Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergina

Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) - Wikipedi

  1. Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) - Tripadvisor Vergina Touris
  2. This article reviews the evidence for built tombs in Macedonia prior to the construction of the royal tombs at Vergina. It considers earlier cist tombs with slab roofs, and evidence for architectural embellishment: it proceeds to discuss the evolution of the vaulted form, with architectural facades
  3. May 27, 2017 - The location | Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergina, Macedonia Greec
  4. The sites and museums that will soon be covered by free WiFi are Ancient Olympia, the Acropolis of Lindos in Rhodes, the Archaeological site of Sounio, the the Royal Tombs at Aegae (Vergina) and new Museum of Vergina, the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Ancient Dodoni, the Archaeological Site of Ancient Nemea, Mystras, the Museum of Palamidi, and the New Archaeological Museum of Chania

. Royal Macedonian Burial Mound in Vergina (Benjamin / flickr) Between. The golden larnax, containing the cremated remains of Philip II wife, Thracian princess Meda, from Tomb II at Vergina Museum of the Royal Tombs at Aigai. Exponents in the Macedonian Museum famous for hosing the Tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great Search and compare hotels near Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) with Skyscanner hotels. Plus millions of rooms from hotels, resorts, apartments and hostels all around the world. Hotels near Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) - Find hotel deal 1,244 Posts - See Instagram photos and videos taken at 'Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina'

The ancient city Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergin

  1. Vergina Royal Tombs Half Day Private Tour from Thessaloniki - Group Price! (From US$149.84) In the footsteps of Alexander the Great - Macedonian kingdom - 8 hrs (From US$312.37) See all Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) experiences on Tripadviso
  2. Book your tickets online for Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina), Vergina: See 1,172 reviews, articles, and 477 photos of Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) on Tripadvisor
  3. Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina. Mi piace: 9251 · 5 persone ne parlano · 4426 persone sono state qui. The museum that houses the tomb of..
  4. Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina): MUST TO SEE. - See 1,172 traveller reviews, 477 candid photos, and great deals for Vergina, Greece, at Tripadvisor
  5. Vergina (Greek: Βεργίνα) is a small town in northern Greece, located in the regional unit of Imathia, Central Macedonia.Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Veroia, of which it is a municipal unit.. The town is better known for its remains of Aigai, the first capital of Macedon.It was here in 336 BC that Philip II was assassinated in the theatre and.

Search and compare hotels near Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) with Skyscanner hotels. Plus millions of rooms from hotels, resorts, apartments and hostels all around the world In 1977 and 1978 two male skeletons were excavated in the Royal Tombs II and I of Vergina, Greece, respectively. Tomb I also contained another adult (likely a female) and a newborn skeleton. The current view is that Philip II was buried in Tomb II. However, the male skeleton of Tomb II bears no lesions to his legs that would indicate lameness

Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina) - Tripadviso

Philip's Royal Tomb was discovered in 1977 in Vergina, Greece. Vergina/Aigai has become a significant place in the debate about who were the ancient Macedonians and also which land and people we can actually call Macedonian today. Vergina - The tomb of Philip I Atrakcija Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina), Vergina: Pronađite komentare i fotografije putnika, uporedite cene atrakcija i rezervištite karte na Tripadvisoru - Vergina, Grčka

Discount hotels near Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina), Vergina. SAVE UP TO 75% OFF hotels near Museums and Art Galleries in Vergina. Rates from USD £16. Book online for instant Confirmation and 24/7 Live Support Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai - Vergina. 9 252 J'aime · 4 426 personnes étaient ici. The museum that houses the tomb of Philip II, father of.. Vergina Tourism Vergina Hotel The traveller who is lucky enough to visit the archaeological site of Vergina will be thrilled by the splendour of the Macedonians dynasty. The royal tombs, the cemetery of burial mounds with the abundant offerings from the Iron Age, the Palace, the Theatre, the Temple of Eucleia, the Acropolis and the city wall, are the living history of the Macedonian kingdom

The Museum of the Royal Tombs in Vergina Discover Veri

Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina): Spectacular tomb - See 1,172 traveller reviews, 477 candid photos, and great deals for Vergina, Greece, at Tripadvisor After their deaths, in the 270s BC invading Gallic Celts ransacked the old Aegae cemetery. When the danger had passed, the still-unlooted royal tombs were buried under a great earthen mound to protect them from further looting by an unnamed monarch. A model of the shrine and tombs under the Great Tumulus at Vergina Kungagravarna i Vergina: Besökte Kungagravarna och speciellt Filippos grav! - se 1 172 omdömen, 477 bilder och fantastiska erbjudanden på Vergina, Grekland på Tripadvisor. Vergina Turism Hotell i Vergina

Αιγές (Βεργίνα) Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergin

The authorities remain reticent for modern science to challenge the current tomb labelling in the Archaeological Museum of Vergina. Politics prevail, and the mystery endures, but not for long. Unearthing the Family of Alexander the Great, the Remarkable Discovery of the Royal Tombs of Macedon by David Grant was released in October 2019 and is available from Amazon and all major online book retailers May 27, 2017 - The Eucleia sanctuary | Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai -Vergina Macedonia Greec Andronikos based his identification of Vergina with Aegae on 1) the royal tombs 2) the palace 3) the theater and 4) the royal votive offerings.' In addition, another Macedonian tomb with a gilded marble throne was discovered in 1987, which An-dronikos ascribed to Eurydice, mother of Philip II.'1 The latest, most comprehensive study of the bones from Tomb II at Vergina, ancient Aegae. Now subject of a full length book, Unearthing the Family of Alexander the Great, the Remarkable Discovery of the Royal Tombs of Macedon by David Grant, 2019. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 2015


DNA study reveals Ireland's age of 'god-kings'

It's one of the earliest examples of such a hierarchy among human societies.

A key piece of evidence comes from an adult male buried at the 5,000-year-old Newgrange monument his DNA revealed that his parents were first-degree relatives, possibly brother and sister.

He was one member of an extended "clan" that was buried at impressive stone monuments across Ireland.

The Irish elites were established during Neolithic times, when people first started farming. The researchers extracted DNA from 44 ancient individuals from across Ireland and sequenced their genomes (the full complement of genetic material contained in the nuclei of cells).

Evidence of incestuous unions like that found at Newgrange are rare in human history they are taboo for inter-linked biological and cultural reasons. Where they do occur, it is often within royal dynasties that have been granted divine status.

Brother-sister marriages are found among the pharaohs of ancient Egypt and the "god-kings" of South America's Inca Empire. Tutankhamun's parents, for example, are thought by some to have been full siblings. Among these cultures, rulers drew on aspects of religion to legitimise their power and wielded it through the construction of extravagant monuments.

Commenting on the genetic patterns seen in the man from Newgrange, Lara Cassidy, assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, said: "Iɽ never seen anything like it.

"We all inherit two copies of the genome, one from our mother and one from our father well, this individual's copies were extremely similar, a tell-tale sign of close inbreeding. In fact, our analyses allowed us to confirm that his parents were first-degree relatives."

The Newgrange monument in County Meath is a kidney-shaped mound covering an area of more than one acre. It's part of a tradition of elaborate monuments built with large stones, or megaliths, in Atlantic Europe during the Neolithic.

Older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza, the site is famous for its annual solar alignment where the winter solstice sunrise illuminates the inner chamber in a blast of light. The man's remains were laid in a richly decorated recess in the inner chamber.

"The prestige of the burial makes this very likely a socially sanctioned union and speaks of a hierarchy so extreme that the only partners worthy of the elite were family members, said Prof Dan Bradley, also from Trinity College.

Dr Cassidy, who is first author of the new study published in Nature, told BBC News: "It's an extreme of what elites do - marrying within your kin group allows you to keep power within your ɼlan',

"But elites also break lots of rules, to separate themselves from the rest of the population. it's a bit chicken and egg: by breaking these rules you probably make yourself seem even more divine."

Remarkably, a local myth resonates with both the DNA results and the Newgrange solar phenomenon. The story was first recorded in the 11th Century AD - four millennia after the construction of Newgrange - and tells of a builder-king who restarted the daily solar cycle by sleeping with his sister.

The Middle Irish place name for the neighbouring Dowth passage tomb, Fertae Chuile, is based on this lore and can be translated as "Hill of Sin".

Dr Tom Booth, senior research scientist at London's Francis Crick Institute, who was not involved with the study, called the study "impressive", further describing it as "the most detailed picture yet of the genetics of people who inhabited Britain and Ireland during the Neolithic period".

He added: "Given how remote these societies are from our own, I am wary of talking about dynasties or monarchs as we understand them today, and people anticipating a Neolithic Game of Thrones may have to have a cold shower.

"But certainly the evidence is quite convincing that certain megalithic tombs in Ireland were reserved for people who were biologically more closely related to one another, including potentially prestigious groups of families who married amongst themselves."

The team unearthed a web of distant familial connections between the man from Newgrange and other individuals from passage tomb sites across the country, including the "mega-cemeteries" of Carrowmore and Carrowkeel in County Sligo.

"It seems what we have here is a powerful extended kin-group, who had access to elite burial sites in many regions of the island for at least half a millennium," explained Dr Cassidy.

Tom Booth said: "In Britain, recent discoveries that some tombs were built over the remains of timber houses has been used to suggest that these sites were linked to particular families, but solid evidence for who ended up in these tombs and why has always been elusive."

The ancient genomic survey also uncovered the earliest diagnosed case of Down's syndrome - in a male infant buried 5,500 years ago in the Poulnabrone portal tomb, County Clare.

"He was interred within a sacred place he was breastfed before his death," explained Dr Cassidy. "It's an interesting glimpse at what the social values of this society might be.

"People with disability can sometimes be invisible within the archaeological record. I think it's really nice that we can now shed a light on this with ancient genomes."

Ireland's Neolithic inhabitants traced their origins to an expansion of people out of Anatolia (modern Turkey) around 6,000-7,000 years ago. This migration transformed Europe's way of life from one focused on hunting to one based on agriculture. Genetically, Ireland's first farmers were most closely related to people living at broadly the same time in Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal).

Over generations, the farmers traversed the Mediterranean from Anatolia to Iberia, weaving their way up the French coast before making their way to Ireland by sea.

On reaching the shores of this North Atlantic landmass, the new migrants quickly displaced the local Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, who were genetically similar to pre-farming peoples across Europe. However, their DNA shows they developed a distinctive character after being isolated for centuries.

Their genetic code shows little sign of interaction with similar populations in Britain, suggesting the Irish Sea posed a formidable barrier to contact in the centuries before farming.

DNA predicts that Ireland's hunter-gatherers had a striking combination of dark skin and blue eyes. By contrast, the Anatolian farmers probably had paler skin with brown eyes.

The small population of hunters may have been overwhelmed when the farmers arrived with bigger numbers. But they didn't completely vanish.

Two individuals from a wedge tomb at Parknabinnia, County Clare, showed high levels of Mesolithic ancestry. Clearly, Neolithic farmers sometimes integrated the hunters into their communities.

On whether the results could apply to other geographic regions, Tom Booth explained: "The evidence we have from earlier periods of the Neolithic in Britain and Ireland suggests that there was a looser link between tombs and families.

"People who belonged to particular paternal lineages were more often buried in megalithic tombs in these periods, but lower occurrences of close biological relatives suggest that familial links don't give us the whole story. Social developments leading to strong associations between families and megalithic tombs may have been specific to later Neolithic societies in Ireland."


Bronze Age “Ritual” connections of the Bell Beaker culture with the Corded Ware/Single Grave culture, which were related to the Yamnaya culture and Proto-Indo-European Languages/Religions

I see religion as a “theme” of supernatural thinking/beliefs as a honeycomb or connected tree of branching ideas (similar to language or stone tool technology: “a cultural product”), several connected cells all influencing the others, and while they are all different cells that are all part of the whole religion phenomenon. I do not see them as old or new but a cultural product that evolved again and again from several different factors, but the majority was by transfer from cultural diffusion to others, 1. by people movements, and 2. idea transfer not directly connected to people moving to live but through trade and cultural interactions both positive and negative. To me, religion as a phenomenon (IE: several religions or religious ideas not grouped in a fully religious context but still influenced religiously/spiritually) it is several deviations and subsections all loosely connected in many loose ways.

“The Bronze Age (3300–1200 BCE or 5,320-3,220 years ago) marks the emergence of the first complex state societies, and by the Middle Bronze Age (mid-3rd millennium BC) the first empires. By the end of the Bronze Age, complex state societies were mostly limited to the Fertile Crescent and to China, while Bronze Age tribal chiefdoms with less complex forms of administration were found throughout Bronze Age Europe and Central Asia, in the northern Indian subcontinent, and in parts of Mesoamerica and the Andes (although these latter societies were not in the Bronze Age cultural stage).” ref

“Beaker culture was taken up by a group of people living in Central Europe whose ancestors had previously migrated from the Eurasian Steppe.” ref

“The Bell Beaker culture (or, in 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 BCE or 4,820 years ago, it lasted in Britain until as late as 1800 BCE or 3,820 years ago but in continental Europe only until 2300 BCE or 4,320 years ago, when it was succeeded by the Unetice culture. The culture was widely dispersed throughout Western Europe, from various regions in Iberia and spots facing northern Africa to the Danubian plains, the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and also the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The Bell Beaker culture was partly preceded by and contemporaneous with the Corded Ware culture, and in north-central Europe preceded by the Funnelbeaker culture. In its early phase, the Bell Beaker culture can be seen as the western contemporary of the Corded Ware culture of Central Europe. From about 2400 BCE or 4.420 years ago the Beaker folk culture-expanded eastwards, into the Corded Ware horizon. In parts of Central and Eastern Europe, as far east as Poland, a sequence occurs from Corded Ware to Bell Beaker. This period marks a period of cultural contact in Atlantic and Western Europe following a prolonged period of relative isolation during the Neolithic. In its mature phase, the Bell Beaker culture is understood as not only a collection of characteristic artifact types, but a complex cultural phenomenon involving metalwork in copper and gold, archery, specific types of ornamentation, and (presumably) shared ideological, cultural, and religious ideas. A wide range of regional diversity persists within the widespread late Beaker culture, particularly in local burial styles (including incidences of cremation rather than burial), housing styles, economic profile, and local ceramic wares (Begleitkeramik).” ref

“Corded Ware pottery of Central Europe and Single Grave culture, which consisted of burial under tumuli, burial mounds, or kurgans, in a crouched position with various ritual artifacts. They were related to the Yamnaya culture and the dispersal of Proto-Indo-European languages.” ref

“The Corded Ware culture (outdated called Battle Axe culture) comprises a broad archaeological horizon of Europe between c. 3100 – 2350 BCE or 5,120 to 4,370 years ago. Corded Ware culture encompassed a vast area, from the contact zone between the Yamnaya culture and the Corded ware culture in south Central Europe, to the Rhine on the west and the Volga in the east, occupying parts of Northern Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe. The Corded Ware people of Central Europe carried mostly Western Steppe Herder (WSH) ancestry and were 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 be ancestral to the Proto-Germanic and Proto-Balto-Slavic Indo-European languages in Europe. The eastern 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 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 male grave offering, a stone boat-shaped battle axe.” ref

When did the Celts arrive in Ireland?

“The question has plagued linguists and archaeologists alike for a century. By the 5th century CE., the beginning of Irish historical records, all of Ireland was Celtic speaking but when had it become so? Theories have ranged widely, from as early as 5000 to as late as 100 BCE or 7,020-2,120 years ago. This article will summarize the present theories, and suggest a resolution. But before these various theories can be examined, the meaning of the term “Celt” must be clarified. “Celtic” was initially a linguistic con­cept, used solely to refer to the Celtic languages. The earliest recorded versions of Celtic are Gallic and Brythonic, spoken in Gaul and Britain respectively at the time of the Roman conquest, and Goidelic, the language of Ireland by the 5th century CE. The Medieval and Modern Celtic languages are Welsh, Cornish, and Breton, all derived from the early Brythonic spoken in Britain, and Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx, which are all derived from Old Irish Goidelic. Gallic appears to have become extinct during the Roman occupa­tion of Gaul—at all events, there is no trace of it by the 5th century CE. when the Western Roman Empire collapsed.” ref

“Celtic is a branch of the great Indo-European language family, as are the Teutonic, Romance, and Balto-Slavonic languages of Europe, classical Greek and Latin, and many others. Indo-European languages, in fact, are found across a huge swath of the Old World, from northwestern Europe to the Indian sub-continent. Many of these languages, of course, are known from many centuries of written sources, and from place-names of considerable antiquity, as well as from their modern versions where these survive. Linguistic analysis has sorted this multiplicity of languages into closer groups and into more distant and disparate relationships, and named the whole huge ‘family’ Indo-European, from its distribution. From the earliest forms of the languages, which are linguistically closer to each other than their later descendants, it has proved possible to reconstruct the ‘skeleton,’ as it were, of the original language from which all were derived: this reconstruction is known as Proto-Indo-European, or *IE (the * indicating a language not known from any written sources, but reconstructed from its surviving descendants).” ref

“Celtic is divided into two main groups. Gallic and Brythonic (and probably the very poorly-known and long-extinct Pictish, so Professor Jackson argues) are P-Celtic, while Goidelic is Q-Celtic. This linguistic terminology identifies the shift from the original kw in *IE to qu in Goidelic and to p in Gallic and Brythonic. Old Irish is the only original Q-Celtic language known, Scots Gaelic and Manx resulting from historical Irish settlement in Scotland and the Isle of Man. Thus our problem in searching for the origins of a Celtic language in Ireland is compounded: Irish is the only native language recorded there, and there is no linguistic clue as to its origin, other than the general one that it is Celtic, and that Celtic is Indo-European. Moreover, Q-Celtic is usually considered to be linguistically more archaic and conservative than P-Celtic.” ref

“Here we introduce the archaeological problem. As in all parts of the world, one concern of archaeologists in Europe has been the attempted correlation of identifi­able archaeological cultures and traditions with the languages, language groups, and language families identified by linguistics. In turn, linguistics has turned to archaeol­ogy (when and where no documents exist] for assistance. In our specific case, the problem for both archaeologists and linguists is this: since the *IE language is generally agreed to have originated in central and/or eastern Europe during the 4th/3rd millennia BCE., how and when did Q-Celtic find its way to Ireland? Did it once exist on the continent as well, but survived only in Ireland? Or did it develop in Ireland from some earlier introduced Indo-European language? In either case, the time limit is wide: as we have noted already, theories range from 5000 to 100 BCE. for this event—and we must remember that this linguistic ‘event’ may well have been a protracted process.” ref

“Our earliest references to the Celts come from Greek sources of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. These identify ‘Keltoi’ in central Europe, France, and at least parts of Spain. A growing number of such references in the succeeding centuries testify ever more clearly to Celtic-speaking peoples over much of Europe immediately north of the classical world. And the Roman conquests of Gaul and Britain, in the 1st centuries BCE. and CE. respectively, have left us substantial information of Celtic language, customs, and society in those areas. Archaeologically, this linguistic informa­tion correlates closely with the iron-using Hallstatt (ca. 700-500 BCE.) and the suc­ceeding La Tène cultures. Distinctive metal types such as the long iron sword (some­times copied in bronze), horse-bits, harness parts, and wagon fittings have been used by archaeologists to identify Hallstatt Iron Age culture in central Europe and parts of western Europe.” ref

“The succeeding La Tène culture, named after the find-spot of a large votive deposit on Lake Neuchatel, is renowned for its art style, manifested mainly in fine bronze drinking vessels, personal ornaments, weapons, and helmets, La Tene artists pro­duced their own abstractions based on Hallstatt, Greek and Oriental motifs— acanthus leaves, running scrolls, palmettes and peltas. This was a totally new amalga­mation of the art styles of three cultures and resulted in a distinctive, non­representational style. Hallstatt material is found not only in central and Western Europe but also in Britain and Ireland, while La Tène material is even better represented in these areas. Their presence has been presumed to note expansion from the Continent into Britain and Ireland. Could either of these archaeological groups represent Q-Celtic speakers introducing their language to Ireland and imposing it there?” ref

Hallstatt Iron Age

“The archaeological evidence for a Hallstatt invasion of Ireland is, to say the least, sparse. The foreign artifacts consist of approximately twenty-four bronze swords, one iron sword, seven winged scabbard chapes, seven bucket-shaped cauldrons, fifteen to twenty riveted vessels of bronze and one of iron, a fragment of a gold cup, a band and some ribbons of gold, two “flesh hooks” and two shields. This is a rather paltry assemblage on which to base the claim of an invasion. Current archaeological literature dealing with the Hallstatt invasions has begun to question the wisdom of hypothesizing an expansion throughout Europe based solely on metal artifacts. In addition, it is interesting to note that the bronze swords, which are the major portion of the Hallstatt material in Ireland, are insular copies of Continental prototypes.” ref

“It has been postulated that the earliest appearances of the Hallstatt swords in the British Isles were attributable to trade, to traveling sword-smiths, or to princely gifts or exchanges and that thereafter the imported varieties were quickly copied by local sword-smiths, sometimes with their own modifications so as to develop eventually into purely insular varieties. An alternative explanation for the presence of the Hallstatt material is that it might be due to raiding activities since the largest portion consists of warrior-type equipment with a coastal-riverine distribution. Such distributions are argued as constituting a classic raiding pattern. Whether it be trading or raiding adventurers who account for the presence of Hallstatt material, it is now becoming increasingly apparent that a massive Hallstatt invasion of Ireland in the 7th century BCE. and the subsequent hypothesized language change are very difficult to substantiate.” ref

“The evidence for a La Tène invasion of Ireland, although in number of artifacts more formidable, is still questionable. Etienne Rynne has identified and discussed fifty or so objects which he attributed to the La Tène invasion in the 2nd/1st centuries B.C. In addition, there are swords, spear butts, and horse-bits which he omitted from his paper. Together this material constitutes a considerable corpus of La Tène decorated artifacts in Ireland, and undoubtedly suggests the influence of the continental La Tène culture. The ques­tion arises as to precisely what form this influence took was it, as Rynne proposes, a two-prong invasion of La Tène Celts from Gaul and Britain, or does it represent, as others have suggested, raiding, or trad­ing, or just the adoption of a new art style by the indigenous people? I am inclined to accept the latter version.” ref

“In short, the appearance of a new art style, or even of a whole new metal industry, need not constitute the arrival, en masse, of a new population group. To ascertain the arrival of new population groups into any country it is necessary to substantiate the introduction of a number of indicative material objects and charac­teristics which constitute the known cul­ture of the “invading people.” Yet in Ireland, the characteristics of the conti­nental La Tène Celts are noticeably lacking: a few fibulae, swords, decorated torques, stones, and horse-bits are already well known, but the large flat cemeteries of the Marne, the wheel-turned or stamped pottery and the “princely tombs” are not evident.” ref

“The art of the Turoe stone has often been cited for its continental parallels, but Professor Duignan’s study indicates that its curvilinear ornament “represents an advanced stage of insular La Tène art” (my emphasis). Barry Raftery has described the Irish La Tène material as undoubtedly insular rather than continental in origin, and goes on to say that the limited burial and settlement evidence available “gives more than a hint of broad cultural stability in the last millennium BCE.” This does not necessarily signify that there were no La Tène Celts present in Ireland. However, it could be interpreted to mean either that a comparatively small number of La Tène people made their way to Ireland or that the new art motifs were introduced through trading. Neither interpretation seems likely to have been responsible for a total language change. There is also a critical linguistic objec­tion to this postulated La Tene introduction of Q-Celtic to Ireland, however: all our information on both continental and British La Tène cultures of the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE. indicates that they were P-Celtic in language.” ref

“The view that Q-Celtic was a late intro­duction into Ireland thus can be seriously questioned. What alternative hypotheses have been proposed? A number of Indo-European scholars conclude that an archaic form of Celtic was in existence by circa 2000 BCE or around 4,020 years ago. Linguists are not alone in propos­ing such an early date for the emergence of a Celtic language, Several Celtic specialists have postulated that the Celts emerge as a separate people about 2000 BCE., Goidelic being the earlier form of Celtic, and Gallic (along with Brythonic) a later development. If this theory is tenable then the archaeological evidence should attest to a major population incursion into Ireland at about that time.” ref

“In the later third millennium BCE., the appearance of foreign pottery in consid­erable quantity strongly suggests the arrival of continental migrants in Britain. These people have been given the make­shift label, the Beaker Folk, due to their distinctive beaker-shaped pottery. Their presence is well attested in Britain, but what of Ireland? Few actual Beaker vessels have been found in Ireland. However, in the last twenty years the “Irish Bowl,” of which there are several hundred known examples, has been recognized as a locally derivative form of Beaker pottery. Thus a Beaker invasion of Ireland can be argued. But from where did this invasion take place?” ref

“The exact location of the Beaker Folk’s homeland is yet to be pinpointed, but the controversies of archaeologists need not concern us here as on two points there is general agreement: that the British and Irish beakers mainly derive from the Low Countries, and that the beaker series of the Low Countries includes a strong component derived from central and east­ern European “corded beakers.” These “corded beakers” are part of a cultural complex (Battle-axe/Corded ware/Single grave) that is widely held both by archaeol­ogists and linguists to correspond to that of the speakers of “proto-Indo-European.” ref

“A further aspect of the Beaker-Battle-axe group is their technology. It has been con­clusively established by the recent work of Butler and van der Weals that tin-bronze and copper metallurgy were practiced among the Beaker Folk in the Low Countries. Hence, the Beaker Folk immediate conti­nental origin has been located as well as several diagnostic features of their culture. Furthermore, it has been established that there is a definite correlation between the accepted culture of the Indo-European speakers and that of the Beaker Folk in the Low Countries. Can their presence in Ireland be proven?” ref

“The end of the Irish Neolithic is heralded not only by a technological change—the appearance of copper and tin-bronze metallurgy—but also by the arrival of the Beaker culture. Dr. Case has shown that the Beaker Folk were the first metallurgists in Ireland. In spite of the growing number of Beaker finds recorded in Ireland, the classic Beaker burial (i.e. single grave inhumation) with “true” beaker pottery is rare. The only representative group in Ireland which appears to have practiced this burial rite with any frequency was the makers of the Irish Bowl (mentioned above). Although this classic Beaker burial rite occurs infrequently, nonethe­less, intrusive cultural elements can be discerned from the presence of the Irish Bowl and from the inclusion of “true Beaker” pottery within Late Neolithic Passage-graves. In short, it is possible to conclude that the joint appearance of various types of Beaker pottery and of innovations such as single inhumations and metalworking may be accepted as evidence of the move­ment of Beaker communities from the Low Countries to Britain and thence to Ireland.” ref

“The effect that the firm establishment of the Beaker Folk in Ireland had on the country must be discussed. Beaker migrations extended over a long period of time, starting perhaps with a phase of movements between Britain and Ireland, with exchanges of gifts and ideas. Next, settlers arrived in Ireland, with new metal technologies and new pottery types: the `eastern’ group has affinities with British Beaker assemblages, while the ‘western’ group may have come from northwestern France and buried their dead in `Wedge-graves’. The final phase corresponds to the beginning of the Early Bronze Age, and is mainly a con­tinuation of the second phase, with Beaker or Beaker-derived cultures persisting. It is perhaps during this phase that derivative forms of Beaker pottery came into existence, such as the Irish Bowl, Food Vessels, and Collared Urns.” ref

“It is apparent that the Beaker migra­tions to Ireland were not rapid and all-pervasive. Instead, they spanned hundreds of years and were characterized not only by the introduction of metallurgy and new pottery types but also by cultural inter­change and assimilation between “foreign” and “native” populations. The final question which must be raised in regard to the Beaker settlement of Ireland is important—is there continuity of tradition throughout the Bronze Age? It has been noted that many of the features which characterize the Early Bronze Age, such as pottery types, burial, and ritual monuments, and all of the major metal­lurgical products of this period, can be traced down to about 1400 BCE or 3,420 years ago., but then disappear from the archaeological record.” ref

“From the Middle and Late Bronze Age we have pitifully few settlements, pottery manufacture becomes more and more infre­quent, and we become increasingly reliant upon metal types for our knowledge of the period. New metal types do indeed occur but, as noted above, are not the safest basis for promoting the notion of large-scale population movements. In other words, there is no good archaeological rea­son to propose that any major language change occurred in Ireland through this time. Several archaeologists, perplexed by this, have sought the answer in a change of climate, for which there is evidence. This is a possible solution. Again, historical analogy shows that it is not necessary to conjure up new migrations each time there is some innovation or an apparent break in the archaeological record. The Early Chris­tian period in Ireland witnessed such major cultural changes as the beginning of written records, the emergence of a new art style, and the foundation of many monastic sites. These changes are quite dramatic, but cannot be attributed to invasion. They reflect the external influence and internal social development.” ref

“Thus it can be argued both linguistically and archaeologically that the Beaker Folk appear to have brought an early form of Q-Celtic to Ireland. At this point a question arises which cannot at present be satisfactorily answered under what circumstances will an indigenous popula­tion adopt the language of an incoming group? Tao few studies have dealt with this important aspect of culture change for us to reach any valid conclusions. How­ever, the two most probable causes I have been able to discern are: 1) a massive influx of people and a subsequent take­over of the controls of power (i.e. an invasion) and 2) the indigenous population being “forced” to learn the language of a new dominant group in order to protect their economic, social and legal rights.” ref

“A massive influx and take-over of Ireland by the Beaker Folk? What little evidence is known of their presence in Ireland tends to indicate that their settlement was of a peaceful nature and in no way suggests any hostile intentions. Studies of the Beaker Folk’s migration and settlements suggest considerable cultural interchange, borrow­ing, and sharing. The evidence from Ballynagilly, Co, Tyrone, indicates that the Beaker Folk established their settlements in close proximity to the indigenous Neo­lithic population. What seems a likely cause of language change in this instance would be the second alterna­tive cited above.” ref

“Although there existed peaceful inter­change between the immigrants and the natives, the Beaker Folk were “socially preeminent.” They appear to have brought metallurgy to Ireland and therefore most likely controlled its production and dis­tribution. This would certainly make them economically “superior.” If economically powerful, the Beaker Folk perhaps also held the upper hand in matters of legal priority and social interaction. It would therefore be advantageous to the native population to adopt the Beaker Folk’s language in order to sustain their social and economic position. I am not envision­ing a rapid transition to this language, but instead, one that extended over a long period of time, eventually stabilizing in the unique Goidelic language.” ref

How Stone Age farming women tamed nomadic warriors to give rise to the Corded Ware culture

“Yamnaya Culture from the Caspian steppes migrated to Europe in 3,000 BCE or 5,020 years ago. Research shows men married the local Stone Age women shortly after Warriors went from meat-eating nomads to living in farming communities. They also brought new words and ideas, which formed a Proto-Germanic language and created the Corded Ware Culture where people lived on animals and crops. Ancient Yamnaya warriors, known for raiding and pillaging, were tamed by Stone Age farming women when they migrated from Ukraine to Europe. A team of experts have found that the men shifted from a meat-eating and semi-nomadic lifestyle to living in farming communities once they married the local Neolithic women. It was also revealed that a Proto-Germanic language and the Corded Ware Culture were formed during the transition.” ref

“The mechanism behind the emerging culture known as the Corded Ware Culture – the result of the encounter between the Yamnaya and the Neolithic people. By combining the results from genetics, strontium isotopes on mobility and diet, and historical linguistics on language change, helps to demonstrate how the integration process unfolded on the ground after the Yamnaya migrations from the steppe. Researchers argue that Yamnaya migrants were predominantly males, who married women who came from neighboring Stone Age farming societies. The Stone Age Neolithic societies were mostly comprised of farming communities and had a unique collective burial ritual. The Yamnaya people originated on the Caspian steppes where they lived as pastoralists and herders, and they were somewhat nomadic using wagons as mobile homes. From burial pits, archaeologists have found extensive use of thick plant mats and felt covers – and the deceased were mostly buried alone.” ref

“The Stone Age Neolithic societies were mostly comprised of farming communities and had a unique collective burial ritual. Unlike the Stone Age women, the steppe people ate mostly meat, dairy products, and fish – making them taller and healthier with little caries in their teeth.(pictured is pottery from the Corded Ware Culture). Unlike the Stone Age women, the steppe people consumed mostly meat, dairy products, and fish – making them much taller than most and healthier with little caries in their teeth. And what separates the two groups, even more, is that there has yet to be any evidence of agriculture found among the Yamnaya people. Barrows were aligned in groups forming lines in the landscape to mark seasonal routes and after death, diseased people were put into individual graves under small family barrows. Their burial ritual thus embodied a new perception of the individual and of small monogamous family groups as the foundation of society. There was a decline in agrarian Stone Age societies once the Yamnaya people started migrating to the new continent, which allowed for more people to settle in the communities. As the Corded Ware Culture developed it adopted words related to farming from the indigenous Neolithic people, which they were admixing with. Therefore, it was possible to conclude that the Neolithic people were not speaking an Indo-European language, as did the Yamnaya migrants.” ref

YAMNAYA WARRIORS VS STONE AGE WOMEN

“The Yamnaya people originated on the Caspian steppes where they lived as pastoralists and herders, and they were somewhat nomadic using wagons as mobile homes. From burial pits, archaeologists have found extensive use of thick plant mats and felt covers. Unlike the Stone Age women, the steppe people consumed mostly meat, dairy products, and fish – making them much taller than most and healthier with little caries in their teeth. And what separates the two groups, even more, is that there has yet to be any evidence of agriculture found among the Yamnaya people. Barrows/Kurgans were aligned in groups forming lines in the landscape to mark seasonal routes and after death, diseased people were put into individual graves under small family barrows. Their burial ritual thus embodied a new perception of the individual and of small monogamous family groups as the foundation of society.” ref

“However, researchers have suggested in the past that the decline was probably the result of a widespread plague from Siberia to the Baltic. ‘The disease dynamic here may have been comparable to the European colonization process in America after Christopher Columbus’, said Kristiansen. ‘Perhaps Yamnaya brought the plague to Europe and caused a massive collapse in the population’. In Kristiansen’s last work, he and his colleagues argue for a dominance of males during the early phase after the migrations, and correspond to the old Indo-European mythology of later times. The evidence has suggested that there was a war-band of youths known as ‘Black Youth’ who were employed in pioneer migrations as a dynamic force. Evidence from strontium isotopic analyses showed that a majority of the women in Corded Ware burials in south Germany were non-locals who had married in from Neolithic societies, since they had a Neolithic diet in their childhood.” ref

And these results now form part of the new synthesis.

‘Existing archaeological evidence of a strong 90% male dominance in the early phase of the Corded Ware/Single Grave Culture settlement in Jutland, Denmark, and elsewhere can now be explained by the old Indo-European tradition of war bands of young males who did not have any inheritance to look forward to.’ ‘Therefore they were probably more willing to make a career as migrating war bands.’ The Neolithic women also had the skill of pottery production and created imitate pottery containers from the wood brought by the Yamnaya migrants. This new type of pottery culture was deemed Corded Ware, because of the cord impressions around the neck of the pots. The pots were specifically made to drink beer from and the new migrants also learned how to grow barley from the in-married Neolithic women in order to produce beer. Ancient DNA analyses: ‘In a big Bronze Age study, researchers were astonished to see how strong and fast the genetic changeover was from the Neolithic to the Corded Ware.’ ‘There was a heavy reduction of Neolithic DNA in temperate Europe, and a dramatic increase of the new Yamnaya genomic component that was only marginally present in Europe prior to 3000 BCE.” ref

WHO WERE THE PASTORALISTS?

“In addition to the original European hunter-gatherers and Near Eastern farmers, a third major population – steppe pastoralists – shaped Europe. These nomads appear to have ‘invaded’ central Europe in a previously unknown wave during the early Bronze Age, about 4,500 years ago. They introduced two very significant new technologies to Western Europe: domestic horses and the wheel. They originated from the Yamnaya Culture from the Russian/Ukrainian grasslands north of the Black Sea, genome testing revealed. The pastoralists were responsible for up to 75 percent of the genomic DNA seen in central European cultures 4,500 years ago, known as the Corded Ware Culture. This must-have represented a major wave of people, along with all their cultural and technological baggage. It’s thought that the Yamnaya were the first to introduce Indo-European language to Europe. This is because of the size of the genetic input, which suggests that it brought at least major parts, if not the whole thing.” ref

“Moreover, the apparent abruptness with which this change occurred indicates that it was a large-scale migration event, rather than a slow periodic inflow of people’. The Yamnaya brought the Indo-European languages into Bronze Age Europe, but as herders, they did not have words for crops or cultivation, unlike the Neolithic farmers. As the Corded Ware Culture developed it adopted words related to farming from the indigenous Neolithic people, which they were admixing with. Guus Kroonen, a historical linguist, was able to demonstrate that these new words did not belong to the original Indo-European languages. Therefore it was possible to conclude that the Neolithic people were not speaking an Indo-European language, as did the Yamnaya migrants. Thus, the process of genetic and cultural admixture was accompanied by a process of language admixture, creating the foundations for later Germanic languages, termed Proto-Germanic.” ref

Re-integrating Archaeology: A Contribution to aDNA Studies and the Migration Discourse on the 3rd Millennium BC in Europe

Abstract and Figures

“Since aDNA research suggested a marked gene influx from Eastern into Central Europe in the 3rd millennium BCE, outdated, simplistic narratives of massive migrations of closed populations have re-appeared in archaeological discussions. A more sophisticated model of migration from the steppes was proposed recently argued that a polythetic classification of the archaeological material in Central Europe in the 3rd millennium reveals the presence of a new complex of single grave burial rituals which transcends the traditional culture labels. Genetic steppe ancestry is mainly connected to this new kind of burials, rather than to Corded Ware or Bell Beaker materials. Here it is argued that a polythetic view on the archaeological record suggests more complicated histories of migration, population mixtures, and interaction than assumed by earlier models, and ways to better integrate detailed studies of archaeological materials with a deeper exploration of anthropological models of mobility and social group composition and the molecular biological data are explored.” ref

“The last few years have seen a resurgence of migration as an explanatory model for cultural change in prehistory, sparked by recent aDNA research, which showed several marked changes in the European gene-pool, among others in the 3rd millennium BCE. However, the aDNA data have not so far been connected to the archaeological record in a manner that would reflect the conceptual discussions and the state of the art of the 21st century. Instead, old models derived from the early 20th century which, although utterly deconstructed on a theoretical level, are still popular in much of archaeological daily practice, were picked, and thus revitalized to make sense of the data. These old models treat archaeological units of classification as representing distinct and closed groups of people and biological populations. In line with the traditional concepts, called ‘archaeological cultures’ are seen as distinct, brick-like entities of material culture, classified in a monothetic way, that is, defined by traits that are supposed to be present in all individuals of a unit. The alternative of a polythetic, in which the different traits can be unevenly and incoherently distributed among different units. A unit would thus be defined by a frequent but variable co-occurrence of a set of traits present in its individuals, not excluding their occurrence in other units. Polythetic classification is a much more realistic method because, when it comes to social phenomena, real monothetic units almost never exist. For example, a pottery style with a certain regional distribution might be –and in reality, mostly is –connected to more than one tradition in tool production, house building, or burial ritual.” ref

“However, while criticism was acknowledged, the mainstream of prehistoric archaeologists working in Europe, with only a few notable exceptions, still largely stick to units of classification that are conceptualized as monothetic blocks, even though they are –in most cases –only pseudo-monothetic in nature. Most colleagues will argue that monothetic units are just easier to handle, while a polythetic classification creates fuzzy units. However, we run into serious problems when we lose sight of the flawed nature of this practice, as it has happened in the recent boom of aDNA work. Here, ‘the Yamnaya’ and ‘the Corded Ware’ are repeatedly referred to as distinct groups of people, assuming a monothetic structure regarding the burial rituals, pottery styles, subsistence strategies, and social identities, and biological proximity. This has led to a stark misconceptualisation of the migration processes inferred from the new aDNA data. The polythetic classification better represents the fact that group membership is multi-dimensional and might have, in itself, a polythetic structure, that people might relate to a whole set of different social collectives, or communities of practice. For example, the realm of burial rituals might be connected to a different social collective than the realm of other activities, including the practice of pottery manufacture.” ref

“These collectives, or communities of practice, do not have to be congruent, a fact that is obscured when using a monothetic classification model. What is more, even when one uses a polythetic classification to account for the multi-dimensionality of social identities, or social group affiliations, the anthropological record suggests that people have the possibility to change their group affiliations, create new or join already existing social groups. Such a fluidity of social groups can show a wide range from more to less open and inter-mixed settings but it is a widespread phenomenon in state-less societies, and archaeological and scientific data have pointed to several Neolithic local communities being composed of individuals with diverse social backgrounds (that is, areas of origin, mobility patterns, diets). This is a cautionary tale for the association of archaeological units –be they polythetically of monothetically classified –with specific, clearly circum-scribed groups of people. Nevertheless, the heuristic advantages of a polythetic perspective on the archaeological material of the 3rd millennium BCE. I will argue that this will provide a more differentiated picture which is better suited to capture the dynamics of social processes connected to human mobility and social group composition. This perspective results in the definition of a new complex of burial rituals emerging in the 3rd millennium BCE, which is connected to different styles of material culture and shows the strongest affinity to individuals with genetic steppe ancestry. This is seen as a contribution to the ongoing debate about migration narratives, which has evolved around the aDNA data.” ref

A POLYTHETIC CLASSIFICATION OF 3RD MILLENNIUMEUROPEAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MATERIALST

“Rectify several misconceptions lying at the basis of the aDNA based migration narrative, a polythetic approach to the connection between material culture styles (mainly pottery, weapons, and tools), and burial forms dramatically changes the picture. The prevailing monothetic culture classification suggests that the two main units, the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker ‘Cultures’, have their own distinct burial rituals. Textbook characterizations suggest that ‘the Corded Ware burial ritual’ is basically single burials under burial mounds with west–east orientation of crouched burials and a gender-based differentiation (males: right side, head to the west, females: left side, head to the east). Male graves are associated with weapons (battle-axes and axes). By contrast, Bell Beaker burials are –so the text-book narrative continues –single burials in crouched positions with a gender differentiation, but oriented north–south, (females: right side, males: left side). Male graves are associated with weapons (daggers, arrowheads, and wrist guards). Told like this, it seems as if those two ‘cultures’ really are characterized by diametrically opposed, different burial forms. This view, however, overlooks a large bundle of shared characteristics: single burials, strict orientation rules, and gender differentiation, the central role of weapons in male graves, and drinking vessels (beakers) in general. Only in the details do the two ‘groups’ diverge, namely the choice of orientation and the choice on which side to rest the dead according to their gender. Even more importantly, the textbook characterization is a stark simplification of the actual empirical data, which are much more variable.” ref

“The burial customs described for the Bell Beakers only hold true in Central Europe, the Netherlands, and the British Isles (excluding Ireland). Even here orientation rules vary (eg, no standardized orientation in the north of the British Isles and the Netherlands, burial mounds are not present in all regions). On the Iberian Peninsula, in Italy, the largest parts of France, and Ireland, Bell Beaker materials are mostly found in other kinds of grave types (eg, megalithic graves, in collective graves, and cave burials). In Denmark, Bell Beakers are mainly found in settlements, while in the Hungarian Csepel Group, cremation burials are frequent. Burials connected to Corded Ware materials are also much more variable then the textbook version suggests. In some regions the pattern described is prevalent (Jutland, most of Germany, Austria, Bohemia, parts of southern Poland). However, in other regions we find regular deviations from the textbook pattern. Gender differentiation is missing (parts of central and southern Germany, the Baltic states), reversed (southern Sweden), orientation is variable (the Netherlands), or north–south orientation prevails (southern Poland, Moravia, the Russian Fatyanovo group). In some regions Corded Ware materials are found often, or even dominantly, in megalithic graves (Danish Isles, north-east Germany). Even in those regions, in which the textbook division between Corded Ware and Bell Beaker associated burial rituals apply overall, it is possible to point to considerable overlaps and ‘mixture’.” ref

“This is a situation much better characterized by applying a polythetic classification. In many regions burials connected with Corded Ware look very similar to the textbook Bell Beaker burials, with a dominant north–south instead of west–east orientation, or with a reversed gender-specific body placement. In addition, many Early Bronze Age ‘cultures’ directly following Corded Ware and Bell Beakers, such as the Únětice, Mierzanowice, or Nitra in Central Europe, the Nordic ‘Late Neolithic’ and Early Bronze Age in southern Scandinavia, or Wessex have also very similar burial rituals. All the burials connected to these different ‘archaeological cultures’ are basically variations over a common theme: highlighting the gendered individual the association of weapons with males the burial in a flexed position on their side in or under kurgan-like burial mounds and distinct rules of orientation and body placement. Drinking vessels are also a prominent grave good, be they Corded Beakers, Bell Beakers, or Bronze Age cups. There is regional variation as to how the rules are specifically executed and, in some regions, some of the elements are lacking (eg, the gendered deposition, strict orientation rules, the burial mound), while others are added (eg, stone cists), but these are regional specifics that are not restricted to burials connected with materials of one specific archaeological culture. Thus, from a polythetic perspective when looking at burial rituals and styles of material culture, it is much a more stringent practice to identify the burials just discussed –the single burials of the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods (2900–1400BCE) in Central Europe, southern Scandinavia, the Nether-lands, and the British Isles –as one overall unit of burial forms, which is much more distinct from previous, neighboring, and following burial forms than there are differences between these graves, or between the graves connected to different archaeological cultures.” ref

THE SGBR COMPLEX

“Instead of seeing the 3rd millennium BCE in Europe through the lens of monothetic, distinct archaeological cultures, each with their own specific set of burial ritual, the polythetic perspective reveals a wider complex of new elements of burial ritual transcending the borders of these entities. This is a complex of burials that high lights individual interments, gender differentiation, male warriors, and mostly strict rules of the orientation of the dead, as opposed to the mainly collective burials of the preceding periods and neighboring regions. I would like to name it the ‘Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Single Grave Burial Ritual Complex’(SGBR). SGBR appears in Central Europe and southern Scandinavia around 2900BC, arrives on the British Isles a few hundred years later, and prevails until cremation burials takeover, somewhen after 1400BCE. In defining such a complex, it seems important to try to avoid a renewed reification. Explicitly, SGBR denotes a set of principles connected with burials, which are both variable and connected to different types of material culture and, most probably, different economic systems and social groups. In the beginning, burials subsumed under SGBR are connected to Corded Ware materials, but a few centuries later, other styles of material culture (Bell Beakers and the different Early Bronze Age materials) become more popular. Furthermore, Corded Ware pots and weapons, Bell Beakers and associated equipment, as well as Early Bronze Age things are found in other contexts than SGBR graves, namely in megalithic monuments, caves, or in settlements –often also in regions where there are no, or only very few, SGBR graves.” ref

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SGBRIN THE MIGRATION DEBATE

The identification of this distinct complex of burial forms is of special significance because it is these graves that are most strongly associated with the bio-molecular finding of steppe ancestry, much more so than Corded Ware or Bell Beaker material objects. The latter are, in some regions and periods, regularly and predominantly connected to SGBR but, in others, they are found in burials of different traditions, or predominantly in settlements. As Olalde et al.(2018) have shown, steppe ancestry is predominantly connected to SGBR with Bell Beaker materials in Central Europe, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland, while in Spain, Portugal, and Italy SGBRis uncommon and most individuals show no or very little steppe ancestry. Some individual burials deviate from this pattern (eg, Petit Chasseur in Switzerland)but the trend is clear. In addition, several of the few incidences of steppe ancestry in Spain and France are connected to at least some elements of SGBR. In the case of burials connected to Corded Ware we find a similar pattern. Most obviously, there is a clear difference between regions in which Corded Warematerials are found in SGBR graves and those in which they are found in settlements.” ref

“Interestingly there is a real inversion between those two types of regions with Corded Ware materials. In the first group, that is central and southern Germany, Lower Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, south-ern Poland, the Netherlands, north-west Germany, and Jutland, as well as parts of the Baltic states, there are thousands of SGBR graves, while settlements with Corded Ware materials are found very rarely. By contrast, in those regions whereCorded Ware materials are frequently found in settlements, there are no, or very few, SGBR graves, as in Switzerland, the Baltic states coastal areas, Belarus, Finland, southern Norway, or coastal Netherlands. Corded Ware materials found in settlements are almost always from situations where they are successively integrated into previously existing settlement structures and styles of material culture (eg, in coastal Netherlands, western Switzerland, the Baltic states, and Belarus), or where they at least build upon exist-ing traditions (eg, eastern Switzerland and Finland). Additionally, there are regions where Corded Warematerials are found in non-SGBR –megalithic –graves and very rarely in settlements, as in north-east Germany and on the Danish Isles. The Fatyanovo Group on the Russian plain seems to be an exception showing an abundance of both SGBR graves and settlements. What is subsumed under ‘Corded Ware’, then, are obviously very different social phenomena.” ref

“On the most general level, it makes sense to differentiate between ‘Type 1’Corded Ware (Corded Ware in SGBR graves) and ‘Type 2’Corded Ware (Corded Ware in settlements, without SGBR). In Type 1Corded Ware graves, we consistently find individuals with steppe ancestry, in Type 2 Corded Ware contexts there are almost no connected burials from which to draw. Clearly, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but the situation regarding Corded Ware is consistent with the Bell Beaker pattern: genetic steppe ancestry is strongly connected to SGBR burials. When it comes to the northern European megalithic graves, these are mostly connected to pre-CordedWare archaeological units. Most burials show a pre-steppe-impact genetic profile, a few recently published individuals from the later part of the 3rdmillennium also show steppe impact. Yet, overall steppe ancestry is most strongly connected to SGBR type burials. As SGBR shows parallels with the burials connected to steppe-based complexes like Sredni Stog, Usatovo, and Yamnaya, ie, the single burial under a kurgan and some form of rules for orientation of the dead, the connection in the biological ancestry is paralleled by connections in burial ritual.” ref

CONCLUSION: MODELS OF MIGRATION, FORMS OF MOBILITY?

This polythetic view of the 3rd millennium indicates that the narrative of Steppe-derived migration creating ‘Corded Ware Culture ‘and later ‘Bell Beaker Societies’ is misleading. What the archaeological record in Central Europe after 2900BCshows, first and foremost, is the creation of a new complex of burial rituals (SGBR) that is connected to many different styles of material culture. Most visibly expressed in the reliance on monothetically perceived units, like Yamnaya, CordedWare, Bell Beakers, and in likewise monothetical descriptors, such as ‘migration’ and pastoralism. This should be refined by integrating a more nuanced view on the archaeological materials, using a poly-thetic classification. Since the establishment of the simplified migration narrative, the image of a one-directional, single-event mass migration, has caught on in most works dealing with the new aDNA data. However, we should be able to pursue more complex models. First, the idea of neatly separated groups of migrants and groups of locals, who may or may not interact, is a false premise. As discussed above, social groups in the Neolithic are probably more fluid and group membership is more flexible than the simplified model implies. Thus, the suggestion of mixing between those labeled as ‘natives’ and ‘locals’ should not be seen as especially remarkable, or exceptional. Rather, it should remind us that what we often casually refer to as ‘migration’ is likely a summary term for a multiplicity of individual local and regional histories of movement, mixture, and secession, probably over many generations. To talk about ‘natives’ and ‘locals’ refers to emic self-characterizations which are neither to be equated with people’s genetic ancestry –which is not necessarily known, as it can be many generations old at any given point in time –nor with the material culture they produce and use –which is determined by socialization, and subject to the flexibility and social fluidity described above.” ref

“Secondly, this view is consistent with the archaeological evidence of the 3rd millenniumBCwhichshows a high degree of regional chronological variability and a polythetic setting between different kinds of materials (eg, burial rituals, pottery, tools, weapons). While many archaeologists tend to brush over both this variability and the non-congruent set-ting of different kinds of materials, and focus on regularities and similarities between, for instance, different Corded Ware regional groups, the evidence suggests that there is not one uniform migration phenomenon, but many different variants, which yield different archaeological outcomes. Thus, the definition of two types of archaeological units connected to Corded Ware should not be taken to suggest that there are exactly two distinct ways in which people migrated into Central Europe. Rather, it seems clear that the historical processes behind the formation of communities represented by Type 1 and Type 2 Corded Ware are likely to be much more varied and complicated than these types would suggest. But this still very simplified classification seems as a useful intervention in the ongoing debate of how to better understand the results of the aDNA studies by better integrating these data with the archaeological data and anthropological knowledge.” ref

Bell Beaker Phenomenon and neighboring influenced territories

“The social processes that we are able to reconstruct for the 3rd Millennium Europe were, however, not isolated from the civilization development in other parts of the Old World. From the point of view of the first civilization centers the European Continent has to be seen as a periphery. Better understood by comparing the different civilization aspects within the proto-historical early state formations of Near East and North East Africa and within the Mediterranean and Continental European communities.” ref

European spread of cultural uniformity

“While the Maritime Beakers are clearly south-western element, a symbolic system of the burial rites is based on the eastern Corded Ware and even earlier Yamnaya tradition. Maritime Beakers were thus only one investment into the creation of new phenomenon together with a tradition based on an already existing symbolic system of individual burials under round barrows, emphasizing gender and social position of individuals and sometimes their craftsmanship, solar cult, and drinking Beakers. For the casting of such new phenomenon perhaps the Lower Rhine area was important, as it was the westernmost region with the occurrence of Corded Ware (SGC). There it was the AOC and AOO Beakers that, together with the Maritime variety, created a new Bell Beaker style. This establishing process was a result of cultural interaction between the Iberian Peninsula and lower Rhine region.” ref

“Thus if the question is: from where and when did the Bell Beaker (Maritime) style originate, than we have to state that it was in first half of the third millennium BCE between Estramadura and Morocco, but if the question is: where was the Bell Beaker Phenomenon created?, it needs to be said that it was before the mid-third millennium as a result of communication between the Maritime style in Portugal and the western late Corded Ware groups. The Western Mediterranean, as well as, North Western Europe in the mid-third millennium joined the Beaker World that had previously been represented by the Corded Ware Cultures of the Central and North Eastern Europe. This process can be described as spreading of spontaneously accepted cultural uniformity. But we still have not mentioned what was the main driving force behind such spread of material culture and social values. It was apparently the new ideology spreading along with the prestigious significant technology of copper metalurgy. In quest for the motivation that led the local populations to leave or partially shift away from the local cultural traditions and to adopt the new cultural elements we can consider more different interpretations. Personally, I believe that the spread of new style in material culture does not necessarily needs to be related to population shifts. Communication between regions and communities was possibly organized in the form of marriages or migration of individuals, as it is described, for example, the model of contacts across the “Chalcolithic frontier”. Brodie combines the desire of the population from the non-chalcolithic area of North Western Europe, creating economic and social ties with the communities of the regions possessing knowledge of copper production technology. But this is probably only part of the problem. An important accelerator of this cultural exchange was apparently a new ideology, or more precisely, the new cult.” ref

The origins of money: Calculation of similarity indexes demonstrates the earliest development of commodity money in prehistoric Central Europe

Abstract

“The origins of money and the formulation of coherent weight and measurement systems are amongst the most significant prehistoric developments of the human intellect. We present a method for detecting perceptible standardization of weights and apply this to 5028 Early Bronze Age rings, ribs, and ax blades from Central Europe. We calculate the degree of uniformity on the basis of psychophysics, and quantify this using similarity indexes. The analysis shows that 70.3% of all rings could not be perceptibly distinguished from a ring weighing 195.5 grams, indicating their suitability as commodity money. Perceptive weight equivalence is demonstrated between rings, and a selection of ribs and ax blades. The co-occurrence of these objects evidences their interchangeability. We further suggest that producing copies of rings led to the recognition of weight similarities and the independent emergence of a system of weighing in Central Europe at the end of the Early Bronze Age.” ref

“Money is a type of commodity that acts as a means of exchange and is standardized to some degree, visually or in terms of their weight. Archaeology can provide a unique perspective on the development of money and systems of weighing over space and time, but the discipline has difficulties with the identification of objects that functioned either as commodity money or as (balance) weights. Typical statistical approaches are inadequate for dealing with the approximation that characterizes prehistoric weighing. What is needed for archaeology to contribute to the history of metrology and the origins of money are methods for identifying standardization on the basis of perceived similarity. A principal challenge at this point is to take the statistical tools employed to express accuracy, and adjust them in accordance to the findings from psychophysics, so that the ordinal and qualitative measurements of weight estimation by hand and sight are taken on board. In short, prehistoric weight units quite literally need to make sense.” ref

Bronze Age commodities

“Commodities are archaeologically defined as socially recognized, alienable objects that appear in large numbers and emphasize similarity. Candidates of prehistoric commodity money from the Central European Early Bronze Age are the so-called Ösenringe (hereafter rings), Spangenbarren (hereafter ribs), and possibly ax blades. Rings and ribs appear in the southern parts of Central Europe: the Danubian region of southern Germany, Lower Austria, and parts of the Czech Republic. Ax blades are typically, but not exclusively, found in central and north-eastern Germany, roughly corresponding to the cultural area of the Únětice. In between is an area of overlap where rings, ribs, and ax blades are regularly found together, primarily the Czech Republic (Moravia and Bohemia), though some mixed hoards also appear in north-eastern Germany and Poland. A third geographical region where these objects are encountered is Southern Scandinavia, though in lesser numbers.” ref

It is generally thought that different economies operated in the three regions where rings, ribs, and ax blades occur. In the southern region commodification was strongest and the economy is often interpreted as resembling to some degree a market economy, in which rings and ribs represented wealth. The Únětice region is better characterized as prestige-good exchange, though some commodification is visible. Scandinavia is different altogether. Here the context of rings suggests gift-exchange, and they mostly appear deposited as single finds in wetlands. A clear contrast between gift and market economies seems hard to sustain, however, and may be little more than a modern distinction. Found in bulk, sometimes in hoards containing multiple hundreds, many of the rings, ribs and axe blades are considered to have no other practical function besides their tentative use as ingots, or rough-outs for further production. Moulds, made of clay, stone, or cast directly in sand, made serial production possible, which led to some degree of unintentional standardization. However, there are indications that for some types of objects a deliberate effort was made to achieve a specific weight interval, meaning that weight mattered. In the case of rings, a standardization between roughly 170 and 220 grams has been hypothesized on the basis of histograms. Unclear is how prehistoric people would have recognized this standard.” ref

Psychophysics of weight discrimination

“The practice of weighing may have been far more imprecise than is generally assumed. Historically there are three basic ways to measure weight: 1) Through lifting two objects and comparing them, or estimation on sight. 2) Through practicality, i.e. the maximum weight that could be conveniently carried by a human or animal. 3) By means of a weighing apparatus. Each of these have their own level of impreciseness. In the case of the Central European Early Bronze Age, there is no evidence of a weighing apparatus such as balances. Weighing was a qualitative measurement based on comparative sensory perception with hands and eyes. But humans are known to be “rather ‘noisy’ measurement instruments”. Prehistoric standardization thus would have been imprecise, and worked based on approximation both in shape and weight. They must have had relatively low precision in terms of modern scientific tolerances and this should be taken into consideration when looking for standardization.” ref

“We assume that in the absence of measuring equipment counting must have been the preferred method of quantification, but the counted objects had to be perceptibly similar. Therefore, weight mattered. Weight is crucial for the determination of the value of goods in most economic transactions. Lacking balances, the only way to observe a reasonable degree of uniformity is through sensory perception. We consider objects uniform when they are perceptibly indiscriminate from each other. Psychophysics offers a methodology through which we can test the perceptible similarity of objects based on weight. This sub-field of cognitive psychology is concerned with the relationships between physical properties of stimuli and perceptual responses to these stimuli. The measure used to express people’s sensory acuity is the Weber fraction, and denotes the difference in stimulus strength that is just noticeable. As a general rule, the Weber fraction for weight discrimination is 0.1. This means that the difference between, for example, a weight of 100 grams and 105 grams is not noticeable, but between 100 and 111 grams is, since the threshold is at 110 grams (Methods).” ref

“Using the measurement of weight, we employ a methodology based on psychophysics to quantify and operationalize our assumption that weighing in prehistory was a purely sensorial practice, done by hand. The perceptive equivalence is expressed though the calculation of a similarity index (SI), which gives the percentage of objects from a dataset that are perceptibly indistinguishable from a tested object (Methods). We collected the weights of 6317 objects, of which 5028 were used in the analysis as they were complete and dated to the Early Bronze Age: 2639 rings, 1780 ribs, and 609 ax blades. Ax blades can be divided into Early Bronze I (hereafter: EBA I: 2150–1900 BCE) and Early Bronze Age II (hereafter EBA II: 1900–1700 BCE) on typological grounds. Rings and ribs mostly overlap, though ribs are generally considered a slightly later development. We selected hoards originally containing at least five or more rings and ribs, or at least five ax blades. This selection procedure helps identify standardized commodities rather than particular types of rings and ax blades. We chose to draw the limit at five because we observed that rings and ribs are found in several instances in bundles of five.” ref

Results: Rings and ribs

“The analysis of the full dataset of rings and ribs revealed the existence of a peak at 193 grams, with a similarity index of 58.6%. What this means is that when compared to a ring of 193 grams, nearly 60% of all other rings in the database are perceptibly similar in weight. When the dataset was broken into its two main components of rings and ribs, the following picture emerged. The rings, totaling 2639 objects, presented one peak with a similarity index of 70.3% at 195.5 grams. The 1780 ribs had two peaks. One that corresponded largely with that of the rings, and stood at 186 grams and a similarity index of 44.3%, and a smaller one at 82 grams, having a similarity index of 13.1%. The separation between the two peaks was estimated using clustering at 135 grams. This value was used to further separate the ribs into a group of heavier and one of lighter objects, which were then analyzed separately. The heavier ribs (n = 1106) revealed the existence of a comparable peak at 185.5 grams, where the similarity index rose to 71.5%. The lighter ribs showed a peak at 81 grams, though the similarity index only reached a maximum of 37.8%.” ref

Combination of rings, ribs, and ax blades.

“In order to test whether EBA I ax blades were perceptibly similar in weight to rings and ribs, the datasets of rings, heavy ribs, and EBA I ax blades were combined and tested together. Given that there are only 208 EBA I ax blades and 3745 rings and heavy ribs, we took a random sample of the same number from the latter. These were placed together with the ax blades, giving a dataset of 372 objects after the exclusion of outliers. This dataset was then subjected to the similarity calculation. When plotted graphically the results revealed that, although in absolute numbers ax blades were heavier, in terms of weight perception a majority of objects were grouped together in one peak. The top of this peak corresponded to a similarity index of 60.8% at 199 grams.” ref

“Our findings show that of a total of 2639 rings coming from 113 different hoards, 70.3% (1855 rings) weighed between 176 to 217 grams, making them perceptibly identical to a ring of 195.5 grams. This is interesting as research in psychophysics reports a decrease in accuracy with weights below 200 grams. Rings might have been produced at the lower limit of where differences between them were still easily recognizable. A large similarity was not only calculated for the rings of 195.5 grams, but also for the majority of the dataset: 1724 rings had a similarity index of over 50%. Even the average similarity index of all rings from the dataset was close to 50% and many individual hoards showed a similarity index of 100%. When excluding outliers, the similarity of the rings rose to 76.5%, while randomly generated data over the same weight interval remained below a similarity index of 49%.” ref

“Part of the ribs revealed a comparable situation with the rings. Of the 1106 heavy ribs, coming from 13 hoards, 71.5% were perceptibly identical to a rib weighing 185.5 grams, and weighed between 167 and 204 grams. Just like with the rings, a majority of these ribs (n = 741), showed a similarity index of over 50%. Randomly generated data over the same weight interval revealed a maximum similarity that was 20% lower than that calculated for the heavy ribs, when excluding outliers. The hoards themselves showed a high degree of internal homogeneity in terms of weight, as all of them had an average similarity index of over 60%. Ribs, therefore, just like rings, show a strong pattern of perceived standardization. Though our analysis shows that the targeted weight was 10 grams smaller than that of the rings, this weight interval could not have been perceived when comparing these objects and thus this standardization overlaps with the rings in what we suggest calling a perceptive category. This refers to a recognizable range of sensorial parameters which humans could reliably identify.” ref

“The 674 ribs that were lighter than 135 grams came from 24 hoards and did not reveal a high enough peak to argue for standardization. Even when analyzed separately, the group had a maximum similarity index of 37.8%. The large variety in weights is evident also at the level of the hoards themselves. The ribs for the hoard of Temelín for instance, even when only compared to the other ribs from the same hoard, only reached a maximum similarity index of 38%, which is far lower than the numbers obtained for the hoards with heavy ribs. Of the 208 ax blades dated to the EBA I, coming from 11 hoards, 44.2% weighed between 185 and 227 grams and would have been perceived as similar to an ax blade of 206 grams. While the similarity index is considerably lower than the results of rings and ribs, it is still higher than what one would expect in the case of random data. Furthermore, the dataset resulted in one peak only, with most weights falling within the same perceptive category of rings and heavy ribs. This conclusion was reinforced by the inability of the analysis to distinguish between EBA I ax blades, rings, and heavy ribs when combined into one dataset. However, in the case of ax blades this weight standard only applied to some hoards, such as Sennwald-Salez, while hoards like Dermsdorf or Soběnice displayed a greater weight range, and others still, like Hindelwangen, followed a different pattern altogether.” ref

The 401 ax blades from the EBA II showed even less homogeneity. The one larger peak found in the data, at 293 grams, with a maximum similarity index of 44.9%, seems to be the outcome of one hoard, in particular, Gröbers-Bennewitz, and to a lesser degree the smaller hoard of Niederosterwitz. Taken together, they accounted for nearly half of the EBA II ax blades. When analyzed separately, the two hoards showed a remarkable similarity index of 80%. However, this standard cannot be related to the one found in the case of rings and ribs, since the two showed a difference of nearly 100 grams and would thus have been clearly discernible. Noteworthy too is that both hoards contain poorly made and even unfinished ax blades. The rest of the EBA II hoards did not fit the above pattern. Hoards like Soběchleby and Pilszcz revealed a large differentiation in terms of weight, and included ax blades that started from under 200 grams and went to over 400 grams. Other hoards, like those of Bresinchen and Carsdorf contained ax blades that overall came close to 200 grams, making them comparable to those from the EBA I. These two hoards contributed together to the smaller peak observed when analyzing all the EBA II ax blades. Both of these hoards also contained rings, suggesting a chronological and functional overlap.” ref

“There are two main directions for money definitions. They follow either a commodity theory (money as a means of exchange) or credit theory (money as a means of account). Essentially, the discussion between them revolves around the question of whether the idea or the material expression came first, and is thus a matter of directional causality. Recently, this distinction has been challenged through findings that material practices scaffold mental processes, and cognition thus has a material dimension. Most authors emphasize that the exchange of commodity money is based on perceived alikeness. Commodity money displays rough similarities in terms of shape and weight, because of standardization, without necessarily following a strict metrological system.” ref

“Though archaeologists have no insight in the transactions that took place, there can be no doubt that at least the rings and ribs conform to the definition of commodity money. Our analysis revealed perceptible similarity in weight between rings, ribs, and a selection of ax blades from the Early Bronze Age of Central Europe. We take this to be evidence of intentional standardization that follows from lifting objects and estimating their weight by hand, attesting for their use as commodity money. Standardization occurred around a weight of 195.5 grams, though this is not an absolute benchmark. It is unlikely that this exact weight was aimed for. Rather, the similarity in weight is the result of a rule of thumb corresponding to the material realities of casting metal in moulds and commodification. Moreover, in the absence of balances, the shape of objects was needed to express weight through a simple ‘same form same weight equation’. Employing psychophysics and the Weber fraction for weight of 0.1 we calculated that everything in the range from 176 to 217 grams would be perceived as equal in weight to 195.5 grams. Within this perceptive category we observe that ribs and ax blades form the opposite ends, with the rings at 195.5 in the middle. This argument is statistically supported by the observation that rings, ribs, and ax blades cannot be distinguished when combined in one dataset.” ref

“The co-occurrence of these objects in hoards, sometimes even tied together such as in the find from Wegliny, points at their interchangeability. Their overlap in weight suggests that a conversion between rings and ribs, and ax blades was aimed for in specific cases. For the EBA I, one ring or rib corresponded to one ax blade, while during the EBA II, three rings or ribs were needed to make two ax blades. Since geographically ax blades were found at the outer edges of the area where rings and ribs circulated, we interpret them as local economic articulations of commodification through which the gap between commodity and prestige good economies was vaulted. The choice of ax blades as commodity money seems a logical development from the observation that axes had long been valued, and are perhaps the single most important metal tool of prehistoric farmers. Not all EBA rings, ribs, and ax blades were used as commodity money. What our model shows is that many conform to a standardized weight. Some were made for a different purpose which did not impose weight limitations that we can identify with this model, however. Ax blades from the Middle Bronze Age and Late Bronze Age showed no standardization.” ref

“At the end of the Early Bronze Age rings and ribs disappear and trade starts to take place in both scrap metal and (parts of) casting cakes. For such a system to operate two developments need to have been completed. The practical development of a set of scales, and the cognitive development of a system of weighing through which to operate a balance. The earliest evidence of balance weights and balances in Western Europe dates to the Middle Bronze Age, and were likely used for gold given their sizes and weights. Around the same time there is a noticeable increase in the amount of bronzes being traded from the south to the north of Europe. Weights are material-symbolic facts. You first need to experience differences in weight and engage with these material realities before you can articulate them conceptually. Rather than seeing rings and ribs as the material representation of a conceptual system of weight, we argue that they helped to articulate such a conceptual system. The material medium—bronze—helped to move this conceptual innovation along because it afforded an unprecedented sameness between objects. Moulds were the very first blue-prints through which copies could be easily produced. Since human cognition is a dynamic system that includes mind, body, and material forms, thinking through these objects helped scaffold the cognitive framework that is needed for the development of a weight unit throughout the EBA.” ref

“From experience, people came to expect that rings weigh about the same (around 195 grams), resulting in a cognitive stereotype of these rings and their weight. A cognitive stereotype is part of our cognitive toolbox and from this weight could be divorced from the actual physical rings, and thought of separately. Thanks to the particular affordances of bronze, equality in weight became a matter of concern and, following, a cognitive tool to think with, resulting in an abstract notion of weight. This is what allowed for a theoretical unit of weight to come into existence, which was needed to operate scales. Rings, ribs, and ax blades produced in a serial fashion and having perceptible similar weight are the material roots of a cognitive system of weighing. We suggest that producing perceptibly identical copies of rings, ribs, and ax blades, and their use as commodity money led to an increased recognition of weight similarities and the independent emergence of a system of weighing in Central Europe.” ref

“The European Bronze Age is characterized by bronze artifacts and the use of bronze implements. The regional Bronze Age succeeds the Neolithic. It starts with the Aegean Bronze Age in 3200 BCE (succeeded by the Beaker culture), and spans the entire 2nd millennium BCE (Unetice culture, Tumulus culture, Terramare culture, Urnfield culture, and Lusatian culture) in Northern Europe, lasting until c. 600 BCE or 2,620 years ago.” ref

Bronze Age Balkans

“A study in the journal Antiquity reported the discovery of a tin bronze foil from the Pločnik (archaeological site) dated to c. 4650 BCE as well as 14 other artifacts from Serbia and Bulgaria dated to before 4000 BCE showed that early tin bronze was more common than previously thought, and developed independently in Europe 1500 years before the first tin bronze alloys in the Near East. The production of complex tin bronzes lasted for c. 500 years in the Balkans. The authors reported that evidence for the production of such complex bronzes disappears at the end of the 5th millennium coinciding with the “collapse of large cultural complexes in north-eastern Bulgaria and Thrace in the late fifth millennium BCE”. Tin bronzes using cassiterite tin would be reintroduced to the area again some 1500 years later.” ref

Bronze Age Aegean

“The Aegean Bronze Age begins around 3200 BCE when civilizations first established a far-ranging trade network. This network imported tin and charcoal to Cyprus, where copper was mined and alloyed with the tin to produce bronze. Bronze objects were then exported far and wide and supported the trade. Isotopic analysis of the tin in some Mediterranean bronze objects indicates it came from as far away as Great Britain. Knowledge of navigation was well developed at this time and reached a peak of skill not exceeded until a method was discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) to determine longitude around CE 1750, with the notable exception of the Polynesian sailors. The eruption of Thera, which according to archaeological data occurred approximately 1500 BCE, resulted in the decline of the Minoan. This turn of events gave the opportunity to the Mycenaeans to spread their influence throughout the Aegean. Around c. 1450 BCE, they were in control of Crete itself and colonized several other Aegean islands, reaching as far as Rhodes. Thus the Mycenaeans became the dominant power of the region, marking the beginning of the Mycenaean ‘Koine’ era (from Greek: Κοινή, common), a highly uniform culture that spread in mainland Greece and the Aegean. The Mycenaean Greeks introduced several innovations in the fields of engineering, architecture, and military infrastructure, while trade over vast areas of the Mediterranean was essential for the Mycenaean economy. Their syllabic script, the Linear B, offers the first written records of the Greek language and their religion already included several deities that can be also found in the Olympic Pantheon. Mycenaean Greece was dominated by a warrior elite society and consisted of a network of palace states that developed rigid hierarchical, political, social, and economic systems. At the head of this societies was the king, known as wanax.” ref

Bronze Age Italy

“The Italian Bronze Age is conditionally divided into four periods: The Early Bronze Age (2300–1700 BCE), the Middle Bronze Age (1700–1350 BCE), the Recent Bronze Age (1350–1150 BCE), the Final Bronze Age (1150–950 BCE). During the second millennium BCE, the Nuragic civilization flourished in the island of Sardinia. It was a rather homogeneous culture, more than 7000 imposing stone tower-buildings known as Nuraghe were built by this culture all over the island, along with other types of monuments such as the megaron temples, the monumental Giants’ graves, and the holy well temples. Sanctuaries and larger settlements were also built starting from the late second millennium BCE to host these religious structures along with other structures such ritual pools, fountains and tanks, large stone roundhouses with circular benches used for the meeting of the leaders of the chiefdoms, and large public areas. Bronze tools and weapons were widespread and their quality increased thanks to the contacts between the Nuragic people and Eastern Mediterranean peoples such as the Cypriots, the lost waxing technique was introduced to create several hundred bronze statuettes and other tools. The Nuragic civilization survived throughout the early Iron Age when the sanctuaries were still in use, stone statues were crafted and some Nuraghi were reused as temples.” ref

Bronze Age Caucasus

“The Maykop culture was the major early Bronze Age culture in the North Caucasus. Some scholars date arsenical bronze artifacts in the region as far back as the mid-4th millennium BCE.” ref

“The Maykop culture, c. 3700–3000 BCE, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the western Caucasus region. It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley. According to genetic studies on ancient DNA published in 2018, the Maikop population came from the south, probably from western Georgia and Abkhazia, and was descended from the Eneolithic farmers who first colonized the north side of the Caucasus. Maykop is, therefore, the “ideal archaeological candidate for the founders of the Northwest Caucasian language family“. Maykop inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments. The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts unusual for the time. In the south, the Maykop culture bordered the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into the Armenian Plateau and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia. The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.” ref

Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBCE. After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s, some links were noted with the Maykop culture. The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 BCE. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture. The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region. The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets. It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BCE. Nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles from the Kuban River to Nalchik, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads. Researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the artifacts found. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian, and Celtic animal styles. Attributed to the Maykop culture are petroglyphs which have yet to be deciphered.” ref

“The Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle. Archaeologists have discovered a unique form of bronze cheek-piece, which consists of a bronze rod with a twisted loop in the middle that threads through the nodes and connects to the bridle, halter strap, and headband. Notches and bumps on the edges of the cheek-pieces were, apparently, to attach nose and under-lip straps. Some of the earliest wagon wheels in the world are found in Maykop culture area. The two solid wooden wheels from the kurgan of Novokorsunskaya in the Kuban region have been dated to the second half of the fourth millennium. The construction of artificial terrace complexes in the mountains is evidence of their sedentary living, high population density, and high levels of agricultural and technical skills. The terraces were built around the fourth millennium BC. and all subsequent cultures used them for agricultural purposes. The vast majority of pottery found on the terraces are from the Maykop period, the rest from the Scythian and Alan period. The Maykop terraces are among the most ancient in the world, but they are little studied. The longevity of the terraces (more than 5000 years) allows us to consider their builders unsurpassed engineers and craftsmen.” ref

Bronze Age Eastern Europe

“The Yamnaya culture[10] was a late copper age/early Bronze Age culture dating to the 36th–23rd centuries BCE. The culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers and a few hill-forts. The Catacomb culture, covering several related archaeological cultures, was first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and showed a profuse use of the polished battle ax, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamnaya culture and succeeded by the western Corded Ware culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded by the Srubna culture from c. the 17th century BC.” ref

Bronze Age Central Europe

“In Central Europe, the early Bronze Age Unetice culture (1800–1600 BCE) includes numerous smaller groups like the Straubingen, Adlerberg, and Hatvan cultures. Some very rich burials, such as the one located at Leubingen (today part of Sömmerda) with grave gifts crafted from gold, point to an increase of social stratification already present in the Unetice culture. All in all, cemeteries of this period are rare and of small size. The Unetice culture is followed by the middle Bronze Age (1600–1200 BCE) Tumulus culture, which is characterized by inhumation burials in tumuli (barrows). In the eastern Hungarian Körös tributaries, the early Bronze Age first saw the introduction of the Makó culture, followed by the Otomani and Gyulavarsánd cultures. The late Bronze Age Urnfield culture (1300–700 BCE) is characterized by cremation burials. It includes the Lusatian culture in eastern Germany and Poland (1300–500 BCE) that continues into the Iron Age. The Central European Bronze Age is followed by the Iron Age Hallstatt culture (700–450 BCE).” ref

Bronze Age Northern Europe

“In northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, Bronze Age cultures manufactured many distinctive and artistic artifacts. This includes lur horns, horned ceremonial helmets, sun discs, gold jewelry, and some unexplained finds like the bronze “gong” from Balkåkra in Sweden. Some linguists believe that an early Indo-European language was introduced to the area probably around 2000 BC, which eventually became Proto-Germanic, the last common ancestor of the Germanic languages. This would fit with the apparently unbroken evolution of the Nordic Bronze Age into the most probably ethnolinguistically Germanic Pre-Roman Iron Age. The age is divided into the periods I-VI, according to Oscar Montelius. Period Montelius V, already belongs to the Iron Age in other regions.” ref

“In Great Britain, the Bronze Age is considered to have been the period from around 2100 to 700 BCE. Immigration brought new people to the islands from the continent. Recent tooth enamel isotope research on bodies found in early Bronze Age graves around Stonehenge indicate that at least some of the immigrants came from the area of modern Switzerland. The Beaker people displayed different behaviors from the earlier Neolithic people and cultural change was significant. The rich Wessex culture developed in southern Britain at this time. Additionally, the climate was deteriorating where once the weather was warm and dry it became much wetter as the Bronze Age continued, forcing the population away from easily defended sites in the hills and into the fertile valleys. Large livestock ranches developed in the lowlands which appear to have contributed to economic growth and inspired increasing forest clearances. The Deverel-Rimbury culture began to emerge in the second half of the ‘Middle Bronze Age’ (c. 1400–1100 BCE) to exploit these conditions. Cornwall was a major source of tin for much of western Europe and copper was extracted from sites such as the Great Orme mine in northern Wales. Social groups appear to have been tribal but with growing complexity and hierarchies becoming apparent. Also, the burial of dead (which until this period had usually been communal) became more individual. For example, whereas in the Neolithic a large chambered cairn or long barrow was used to house the dead, the ‘Early Bronze Age’ saw people buried in individual barrows (also commonly known and marked on modern British Ordnance Survey maps as Tumuli), or sometimes in cists covered with cairns. The greatest quantities of bronze objects found in England were discovered in East Cambridgeshire, where the most important finds were done in Isleham (more than 6500 pieces).” ref

Bronze Age Atlantic Europe

“The Atlantic Bronze Age is a cultural complex of the Bronze Age period of approximately 1300–700 BCE that includes different cultures in Portugal, Andalusia, Galicia, France, Britain, and Ireland and is marked by economic and cultural exchange that led to the high degree of cultural similarity exhibited by coastal communities, including the frequent use of stones as chevaux-de-frise, the establishment of cliff castles, or the domestic architecture sometimes characterized by the roundhouses. Commercial contacts extended from Sweden and Denmark to the Mediterranean. The period was defined by a number of distinct regional centers of metal production, unified by a regular maritime exchange of some of their products. The major centers were southern England and Ireland, north-western France, and western Iberia. The Bronze Age in Ireland commenced in the centuries around 2000 BC when copper was alloyed with tin and used to manufacture Ballybeg type flat axes and associated metalwork. The preceding period is known as the Copper Age and is characterized by the production of flat axes, daggers, halberds, and awls in copper. The period is divided into three phases: Early Bronze Age 2000–1500 BCE Middle Bronze Age 1500–1200 BCE and Late Bronze Age 1200–500 BCE. Ireland is also known for a relatively large number of Early Bronze Age Burials.” ref


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