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Bell Beaker Culture

Indo-European Bell Beaker Culture map

This culture existed from 2800 BC to 2300 BC in Europe and until as late as 1800 BC in Britain. Later on it was succeeded by the Unetice Culture. Bell Beaker Culture was widely scattered throughout Western Europe, from various regions in Iberia and spots facing Northern Africa to the Danubian plains, the islands of Britain and Ireland, also the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The Bell Beaker Culture follows the Corded Ware Culture and for north-central Europe the Funnelbeaker culture.

In its mature phase, the Bell Beaker Culture is understood as not only a collection of characteristic artefact types, but a complex cultural phenomenon involving metalwork in copper and gold, archery, specific types of ornamentation, and 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.


💀 In Eastern Denmark and Scania one-person graves occur primarily in flat grave cemeteries. This is a continuation of the burial custom characterising the Scanian Battle-Axe Culture, often to continue into the early Late Neolithic. Also in Northern Jutland, the body of the deceased was normally arranged lying on its back in an extended position, but a typical Bell Beaker contracted position occurs occasionally. Typical to Northern Jutland, however, cremations have been reported, also outside the Beaker core area, once within the context of an almost full Bell Beaker equipment. 💀


🏞️ Noteworthy was the adoption of European-style woven wool clothes kept together by pins and buttons in contrast to the earlier usage of clothing made of leather and plant fibres.

Two-aisled timber houses in Late Neolithic Denmark correspond to similar houses in Southern Scandinavia and at least parts of central Scandinavia and lowland Northern Germany. In Denmark, this mode of building houses is clearly rooted in a Middle Neolithic tradition. In general, Late Neolithic house building styles were shared over large areas of Northern and central Europe. Towards the transition to LN II some farm houses became extraordinarily large. 🏞️


Bell Beaker Culture used words like: MATIR, UN, SUL, MILIS, VER, BRATAR, ASNA, KRU


DNA

R1b was detected in two male skeletons from a German Bell Beaker site dated to 2600 – 2500 BC at Kromsdorf, one of which tested positive for M269 but negative for its U106 subclade, while for the other skeleton the M269 test was unclear. In a 2015 study published in Nature, the remains of a later Bell Beaker male skeleton from Quedlinburg, Germany dated to 2296 – 2206 BC were analyzed. The individual was found to be carrying haplogroup R1b1a2a1a2. The study found that the Bell Beakers and people of the Unetice culture had less ancestry from the Yamnaya Culture than from the earlier Corded Ware Culture. The authors of the study took this to be a sign of a resurgence of the indigenous inhabitants of Western Europe in the aftermath of the Yamnaya expansion.

Another 2015 study published in Nature found the people of the Beaker culture to be closely genetically related to the Corded Ware Culture, the Unetice Culture and the Nordic Bronze Age. In yet another 2015 study published in Nature, the remains of eight individuals ascribed to the Beaker Culture were analyzed. Two individuals were determined to belong to Haplogroup R1, while the remaining six were determined to belong to haplogroup R1b1a2 and various subclades of it.

Ireland, Scotland, Wales and northwestern England are dominated by R1b-L21, which is also found in north Western France, the north coast of Spain, and Western Norway. This lineage is often associated with the historic Celts, as most of the regions where it is predominant have had a significant Celtic language presence into the modern period and associate with a Celtic cultural identity in the present day. It was also present among Celtic Britons in Eastern England prior to the Anglo-Saxon and Viking invasions, as well as Roman soldiers in York who were of native descent.

A study published in Nature in February 2018 confirmed that Bell Beaker males carried almost exclusively R1b, but the very first ones (in Iberia) had no Steppe autosomes or R at all.

A study from 2021 showed that R1b-L151 was a quite common Y-DNA haplogroup among the 2900 BC Corded Ware Culture males in Bohemia (Czechia in Central Europe) and those are the earliest examples of the R1b-L151 haplogroup later found among the Western Bell Beaker males[1]. But the Bell Beakers in Bohemia differ from the Bell Beakers of the British Isles, which means that they had to separate in one common place and that is the Rhine area near modern day Netherlands.


Britain

They entered the British Isles from Netherlands and then spread to Ireland. This resulted in a population shift and replacement of nearly 90% of Neolithic Farmer DNA on the Isles. Dords were used as an instrument in Ireland.


Modern Cultural References

1. Early Man is a 2018 British stop-motion animated historical sports comedy film directed by Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, written by Mark Burton and James Higginson, and starring the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall. The film follows a tribe of primitive Stone Age valley dwellers, who have to defend their land from bronze-using invaders in a football match.


Atlantic Bronze Age

Roundhouses were the standard form of housing built in Britain from the Bronze Age throughout the Iron Age, and in some areas well into the Sub Roman period. The people built walls made of either stone or of wooden posts joined by wattle-and-daub panels, and topped with a conical thatched roof.

Lusitanian was spoken in the area between the Douro and Tagus rivers of Western Iberia (a region straddling the present border of Portugal and Spain). It is known from only five inscriptions and various place names. It is an Indo-European language and some scholars have proposed that it may be a para-Celtic language, which evolved alongside Celtic or formed a dialect continuum or sprachbund with Tartessian and Gallaecian. It is also possible that the Q-Celtic languages alone, including Goidelic, originated in Western Iberia (a theory that was first put forward by Edward Lhuyd in 1707) or shared a common linguistic ancestor with Lusitanian. Secondary evidence for this hypothesis has been found in research by biological scientists, who have identified (firstly) deep-rooted similarities in human DNA found precisely in both the former Lusitania and Ireland and (secondly) the so-called "Lusitanian distribution" of animals and plants unique to Western Iberia and Ireland. Both of these phenomena are now generally believed to have resulted from human emigration from Iberia to Ireland, during the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic eras.


1250 BC - Must Farm near Peteborough in UK (reconstruction by Vicki Herring)

1250 BC - Must Farm near Peteborough in UK (reconstruction by Vicki Herring)


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