Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bell Beaker Buddha? (The Samborzec Sage)

Beakerblog is back in the saddle.  I'll start with an interesting icebreaker, Buddha Burials.

This Beaker from the Samborzec cemetery in the Malopolska region of Poland might have been buried "Indian-style" (American usage); various leg formats come to mind such as "Lotus Position", etc.  If so, after being dead for a few days the arms and legs might have extended out of position in the casket or wooden enclosure.  While the pose of this man may not be very convincing, in several other frog-like burials, the pose is more strict.

This odd "frog-like" pose, as Makarowicz called it, is thought to derive from the supine burials in the pre-Yamnaya phase of the Volgan and Pontic Steppes, although it isn't totally clear to me if the frog pose and the supine / legs-drawn-to-one-side pose is being distinguished from each other by the archaeologists.  The frog pose is found a number of times in the Corded Ware Culture and subsequent Central and East European Bronze Age cultures and it is only found with males.

Male Archer looking East.  Samborzec, stanowisko 1, grave 3 (Makarowicz)
I think it is possible that these men were 'posed' without ties during the rigor mortis phase of death, in which the stiff limbs were positioned more tightly contracted.  After this lactic phase subsided the limbs started to relax a bit within the box.

After some searching, I finally found the graphic I had been looking for which came from a paper by Włodarczak.  It's the Corded Ware male from Kietrz, Poland (C) whose legs were tightly contracted, very intentionally, much like the so-called 'proto-Shiva' seal below.  Also, notice the Ketegyhaza individual (B) has his legs crossed at the ankles.

Piotr Włodarczak, 2006 from "Unique burial..." [below]

It should be pointed out that the Samborzec Sage has also the most elaborate of all Polish Bell Beaker graves, so the unusual position of his body is especially significant [see Włodarczak]. 

Several of the Samborzec Sage's kinfolk were genetically sequenced in the Olalde paper, and the Alpine-headed Samborzec Beakers are an interesting group anyway, so I'll get to those a bit later.  For whatever reason, grave 3 wasn't tested or didn't sequence.

The green or blue man.  A character of virility and wildness. (Cernunnos and 'Shiva'(?))
Below is a Maros Culture pit, sitting grave.  I'm curious as to the position of the palms since this grave may have been directly infilled.  The important points to remember is that these positions deviate from the norm, they make a statement about the deceased who is a high-status male that is in some way distinguished from other high status males.

A Maros influence sitting burial 3. kép: Csanytelek-Palé 27. sír [Link]
3: Csanytelek-Palé,
If we were to assume, I think correctly, that some of these cultures (such as the Corded Ware) had a religion closely related to later attested Indo-European religions, then one interpretation of the status and pose of these men could be viewed as something like 'Devaraja' or sacred kings.  To use the 'Devaraja' as a more familiar example, the iconographic pose of a 'god-king' mimics that of Shiva (king of gods).

Looking back to Iron Age Europe, you have below (again) Cernunnos depicted sitting 'Indian-style', as is often the case, and also the Germanic god of sacral kingship, Freyr or Ingwaez, who is by the way is the only Germanic deity ever depicted in this cross-legged pose.  Like Cernunnos, Saturnos of Rome is depicted in a relaxed cross-leg manner and Chronos, like the presumed proto-Shiva of the Indus Valley seal is depicted with three faces, to see the past, the present and the future.  (Chronos = Father Time)

Cernunnos and Freyr

At the Roquepertuse Celtic 'head cult' religious center commemorating are likely enemy 'heads of state', so to speak.  There are several of the centers with crossed leg figures surrounded by heads.  The Roquepertuse figures wear armor and there is an indication of sheathed swords.  At this site there was also the telling occurrence of a bicephalic Janus-like head, and bicephalic and tricephalic heads are found at others as well.

See also "Headhunting and the Body in Iron Age Europe" by Ian Armit
A Celtic Warrior from the Acropolis Roquepertuse (Robert Valette)

Pretty far out on the ice, but the pose of the Samborzec Beaker conveyed a certain meaning to people of that time. Not out of the realm of possibility it is an indication that he was some sort of chief, dare I say 'priest-king' without vomiting.


'frog-like manner'  from "the bell beaker transition in Europe..."

UNIQUE BURIAL OF THE BELL BEAKER CULTURE FROM THE CEMETERY IN SAMBORZEC (SOUTHERN POLAND) Piotr Włodarczak from Proceedings of the 10th Meeting “Archéologie et Gobelets” (Florence – Siena – Villanuova sul Clisi, May 12-15, 2006)

PRZEMYSLAW MAKAROWICZ, Przegl^d Archeologiczny. Vol. 51, 2003, pp. 123-158
PL ISSN 0079-7138

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Britain o' Beakers.

Here's a podcast from the Guardian UK's "The Bell-Beaker folk - Science Weekly podcast ".

Hannah Devlin interviews Durham University archaeologist Ben Roberts on the findings of the largest ancient genome project of ancient Europe, "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwest Europe"

Frame from "Tatort Eulau - Das Rätsel der 13 Skelette" (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen - ZDF TV) 

Trying to get back in the saddle this week but currently hamstrung with other commitments.  Hopefully a few more posts before week's end.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Yamnaya Kurgan Origins East of the Tisza River, Hungary

Filling in the background of the general region of  "Identifying Kurgan Graves in Eastern Hungary" from 2012.

There's several key points to take away from this paper.  For one, people moved here from the East.

Secondly, it would seem that the Yamnaya presence in Hungary was entirely peripheral, not a core area in terms of space and density.  Surprisingly, mentioned here and elsewhere, it's estimated that several tens of thousands of kurgans were once present in this area.  It may have been the most dense Yamnaya concentration.  This is discussed by David Anthony in "Horse, Wheel and Language" under the heading "The Yamnaya Migration up The Danube Valley".

A Hungarian Kurgan [via Magyarvarak]
There, he had also suggested an either dependent or predatory nature of Yamnaya groups based on the proximity of cemeteries to foreign population centers.

Since the Yamnaya component may be more direct in the Csepel Beakers, it'll be interesting to see how this shakes out when the analysis comes available.  The highest Steppe ancestry in a Bell Beaker is one of the individuals at Szigetszentmiklós on Csepel Island.  More on this later...

The study site is was of the Tisza, and directly East of Csepel Island.

"Identifying kurgan graves in Eastern Hungary: A burial mound in the light of strontium and oxygen isotope analysis" (2012)
Claudia Gerling, Volker Heyd, Alistair Pike, Eszter Banffy, Janos Dani, Kitti Kohler, Gabriella Kulcsar, Elke Kaiser, Wolfram Schier.  Excellence Cluster 264 TOPOI, based at the Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität in Berlin [Link]

Isotopic analyses of human tooth enamel are increasingly applied to provide answers to archaeological questions.  87Sr/86Sr and 18O analyses are used to investigate small- and
large-scale mobility and migration of prehistoric human individuals. Within a pilot study looking into the kurgan graves in the Eastern Carpathian Basin, we analysed the tooth enamel of8 humans from the Early Bronze Age burial mound of Sárrétudvari-O˝ rhalom, Hungary. According to the archaeological record, the kurgan is linked to the Northern Pontic Yamnayaregional groups. Certain foreign burial traditions suggest that the connection is close, or even that the individuals buriedin the mound had migrated from the East into the Great Hungarian Plain. Strontium and oxygen isotope analyses reveal an earlier period of ‘local’ burials, spanning the period3300–2900 BC, followed by burials that postdate 2900 BCthat exhibit ‘nonlocal’ isotopic signatures. The combination of the isotope values and the grave goods associated with the nonlocalburials point to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains as the nearest location representing a possible childhood originof this nonlocal group.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Anthropological Background of Danubian Budakalász, Szigetszentmiklós, and Surrounds

There is a new archaeogenetic study of Mesolithic Danubian Basin located around Romania.  Significant are the affinity to WHG of Iberia, the greater presence of WHG in the Neolithic, and again Mesolithic R1b Y-lineages, which taken with the Iron Gates and other peninsular sites may be relevant later.

This post, which was written earlier today, is a little further upstream on another part of the Danube around Budapest and the surrounds.  For my own knowledge, I'm reading the anthropological background of this area, which is critical for understanding the personal genetics of specific individuals from  "The Beaker Phenomenon: The genomic transformation of Nortwestern Europe"

So before looking at those specific individuals, here's a little about the anthropology of the Budapest-Csepel area and Lake Balaton to the Southwest.  One of the sites investigated by Olalde et al, 2017 were Beaker individuals from Szigetszentmiklós, Budakalász and Békásmegyer.  Here's a background on the area from "The Copper Age cemetery of Budakalász" edited by Bondar and Raczky, 2009 and cited by Kitti Kohler.

"The anthropology of the Baden culture was first discussed by Nemeskéri in the 1950s, based on the skeletal remains from the Alsónémedi cemetery. His study provided the foundations for the culture’s anthropological characterisation for a very long time.  Nemeskéri distinguished three main groups according to the traditional typology: (a) a meso-hypsicranic group with Mediterranean variants and some Negroid and brachymorph elements arriving from the southwest, (b) a meso-dolicho-hypsicranic, Mediterranean + proto-European (Cro-Magnoid) groups arriving from the north-west, from the Linear Pottery and Corded Ware distribution, and (c) a brachy-hypsicranic, Alpine-Dinaric group reflecting eastern and western ethnic impacts.  The two child burials uncovered at Budapest–Békásmegyer were analysed at roughly the same time.  Together with these finds and the human remains from Budapest–Andor Street, Palotabozsok, Szentes–Nagyhegy and the already analysed burials from Budakalász, Nemeskéri again attempted a characterisation of the culture’s population.  The mean sizes and mean indices of the forty-seven skulls available for study suggested that in addition to the three components distinguished at Alsónémedi (the meso-dolichohypsicranic Mediterranean and the brachy-hypsicranic Alpine element, as well as the meso-hypsicranic element reflecting a local population mix between the two), a fourth, dolicho-hypsicranic group could be identified at Budakalász. Nemeskéri linked this latter to the Atlanto-Mediterranean type. In his view, the culture’s population was dominated by gracile and classical Mediterranean types, which could in part be derived from the local Neolithic Tisza population and in part from new immigrants from the south-east.  Regarding the brachycephalic component, he derived the so-called eastern Alpine type with planoccipital nape profile from the east and the so-called western Alpine type with curvoccipital nape profile from the west.  Nemeskéri published one other study on the anthropology of the Baden population, in which he emphasized that in addition to the dominance of dolichomorphic elements, the proportion of brachymorphic elements was quite significant compared to the preceding Bodrogkeresztúr period.  In his view, the striking presence of brachycephalic components (estimated at 30 to 35 per cent) reflected a change in the anthropological spectrum during the Late Copper Age."

There's more there concerning later studies
Kohler again from the same paper:

"The welcome increase in the Late Copper Age anthropological material enabled a new Penrose distance analysis using three Boleráz/Baden series based on samples from the Budapest area, the Balatonregion, and various other areas. The results of this analysis confirmed earlier findings, according to which the Baden groups differed markedly from other Neolithic and Copper Age series in the Carpathian Basin and exhibited a significant relationship with the early populations of Anatolia, Greece and the eastern Balkans."
"The proportion of brachycranial individuals was relatively high in the Budakalász cemetery (17 per cent)and even higher at Alsónémedi (25 percent)...This suggests a significantchange in the Baden culture’s anthropological composition or the arrival of a new population to the Carpathian Basin."
"Nemeskéri identified four individuals with a planoccipital nape profile at Alsónémedi, but his attribution has been seriously challenged.73 The appearance of this type in the Carpathian Basin is generally dated to a later period and associated with the the appearance of the Beaker population in the Early Bronze Age"

From "Life and Death: Mortuary Rituals of the Baden Culture at Lake Balaton (Transdanubia)" by Tunde Horvath and Kitti Kohler:
"Considering the entirety of the Baden culture, the population is defined by the dolichocran Mediterranean element, more closely by the dominancy of the gracile-Mediterranean type component. At the same time, the proportion of the Nordoids and Cro-magnoids, which were determinative beside the Mediterranean types in the earlier era, is negligible. This change in the anthropological features in the Late Copper Age, with the increased presence of the brachycran individuals (so-called Alpine type) may denote the arrival of a new population into the Carpathian Basin. While in the preceding Bodrogkeresztúr culture (Middle Copper Age) the proportion of this component was below 5% (Zoffmann 1992), in the Late Copper Age it approaches 20% (in the Budakalász cemetery it is 17%, at Alsónémedi [Kom. Pest] it is 25%), demonstrable – in a much smaller proportion – in the series of the Lake Balaton region (Nemeskéri 1951a; 1951b; 1956; Zoffmann 1992; 2004b; 2006; Köhler 2008)"
"...This modification of types and type-variants also marks the arrival of a new ethnical component in the Carpathian Basin (Zoffmann 2006)."

Köhler, Kitti.  Anthrop. Közl. 52; 55 76. (2011)  [Link]

"Köhler, K.: Anthropological examination of the Bell Beaker cemetery at Szigetszentmiklós-Felső-Ürge-hegyi dűlő. The archaeological remains of the Early Bronze Age Bell Beaker culture, known from all around West-Europe, are present in Hungary along the Danube down to the Csepel Island. In this paper we present the results of the physical anthropological analysis of the cemetery found at Szigetszentmiklós, excavated by Róbert Patay, between 2006 and 2007. During
the examination 100 inhumation and 74 cremations were analysed. Based on the results of the metrical and morphological examination we may establish that we can for the first time demonstrate the presence of the brachycranial, so called (“Glockenbecher”) Taurid type in the Bell Beaker populations from the Carpathian Basin. Previously, the presence of this anthropological component in this region could be demonstrated only indirectly, through its appearance among human remains of somewhat later Bronze Age cultures.
Keywords: Early Bronze Age; Bell Beaker cemetery; Demographical, metrical, morphological and pathological analysis."

To summarize, the 'Alpine' headed Beakers are intrusive from the East or West.  Baden and it's groups, or part of it from the Southeast.  Corded WareLBK-esque influence from the Northeast.
Other Neolithics were already there, Yamnaya in the Western Plain at a different time.
Pecking away piece by piece.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Beakers of "Another Island"

A quick study of the nearly 50 kilometer-long Csepel Island (shay-pell) has helped me understand its significance in the Beaker Universe.  Conversely, the island and the adjacent banks say a lot about Bell Beakers.

Whether a natural fortress or a canalizing feature, it is the most significant terrain in the region and of the Danube.  The county of Pest lie on either side of its northern convergence and form a choke point with opportunities for fording [Endrodi, 2011]; this location having been a reoccurring strategic objective of invading and occupying militaries since time immemorial.  [See The battle of Budapest]

Although the graphic doesn't show it, the large purple area (Budapest) is bounded by another split in the Danube above the metro area that forms another large island.  So the fording zone limits east-west movement while north-south navigation can be controlled in a very large area.

Csepel Island (pronounced "Shaypell") commons
Control of Csepel Island area has historically amounted to operational and economic control on the region.  Leaving north on the river and around the bend, boatsmen will find themselves near the sources of the Beaker highways:  Rhine, Rhone and Danube. Leaving to the south, they'll pass through Serbia, the Iron Gates, through Romania and to the Black Sea.

I'll continue with some profiles, and while there is a lot of material, I'm having trouble finding a few things so I may jump around a bit with posts in between posts.  All this continuing from "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genetic Transformation of Northwest Europe" by Olalde et al, 2107

The cemeteries in from this paper are Budakalász, Békásmegyer, and Szigetszentmiklós on the northern and opposite banks although there are other significant sites further down.