Das Zeitalter der Ideologien: Migration, Interaktion & Expansion im prähistorischen Europa des 4. und 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.

Translated title of the contribution: The Age of the Ideologies: Migration, Interaction & Expansion in prehistoric Europe of the 4th and 3rd millennium BC

Volker M Heyd

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A long-term process of promoting individualisation, gender differentiation, warrior ideals and internationalisation unfolds from the mid-fourth and throughout the third millennium BC that changes for ever the social and economic foundations for the inhabitants on the European Continent. In the archaeological records we observe it first and foremost in the emergence of so-called cultural phenomena, hence super-regional and integrative, ideologically driven expansionist systems, that incorporate with huge distribution areas region after region of the Central and northern parts, and then the west and the edges of the European continent. Their representatives are peoples and populations forming and using the emblematic, widely unified pottery we call Globular Amphoras (north and northeast of the Carpathian bow and in Central Europe; c. 3300-2700 BC), Corded Wares (from the Volga to the Rhine river, from the Alps to Norway and Finland; from c. 2800 BC) and Bell Beakers (from Central-eastern Europe to Portugal, from Scotland to northern Africa; from c. 27/2600 BC). However already the precedent Cernavodă III-/Boleráz (c. 37/3600 to 3300 BC) and the Baden sequence (contemporary to Globular Amphoras; c. 3300-2700 BC) in southeast Europe and the Carpathian basin, with outliers in Central Europe, also need to be seen in the same context.

We can only approach the reasons why prehistoric peoples and populations from regions across Europe, which were no more than marginally in touch before, join in for the same pottery, new drinking habits, similar burials customs, same ostentatious display of weapons and other paraphernalia, and thus common symbols and values. Certainly factors like mobility and migration; advanced social and economic strategies involving mobility, such as exogamy and transhumance; generally higher levels of communication; rising connectivity of existing networks; and enhanced exchange play a significant role in these unification processes. Here, I will particularly argue for the importance of the Pontic steppes and a 2000 Years lasting interaction between the regions north and west of it, and of infiltrating Suvorovo-Novodanilovka (mid-fifth to early fourth), Nizhnimikhailovka-Kvityana (2nd half of the fourth) and Yamnaya (1st half of third millennium BC) peoples and populations with their more sedentary contemporaries in southeast Europe, northeast of the Carpathian bow and in the Carpathian basin.

A crucial part of this interaction – besides others, and likely in combination with adaptations to a changing climate and environment – is the forwarding of innovations in the sphere of economy and subsistence. We see this archaeologically in a further importance of animal husbandry, with much larger herds, specialised breeding and new forms of herding management in particular for cattle. This cattle-isation obviously sets in motion a substantial rise in general mobility patterns, connectivity and of communication networks. More than this; such a profoundly transformed human-animal relationship, beyond Andrew Sherratt’s ’Secondary Products Revolution’, must have had an impact on the whole settlement and social organisation, on what peoples predominantly eat, how they life, and how they look like. In consequence this is fundamentally affecting the basics of societies and must have thus challenged the whole system of ideas, imaginations, morale, symbols, terms and even language – a new world-view. In turn, it creates the wider framework for the emergence and expansion of the super-regional ideologies that puzzle us in the archaeological records since decades.
Translated title of the contributionThe Age of the Ideologies: Migration, Interaction & Expansion in prehistoric Europe of the 4th and 3rd millennium BC
Original languageGerman
Title of host publicationTransitional Landscapes? The 3rd Millennium BC in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the International Workshop "Socio-Environmental Dynamics over the Last 12.000 Years: the Creation of Landscapes III (15th-18th April 2013)" in Kiel.
EditorsMartin Furholt, Ralf Grossmann, Marzena Szmyt
Place of PublicationBonn
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)9783774940611
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Publication series

NameUniversitatsforschungen zur Prahistorischen Archaologie


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