Nordern Europe
Germanic People
Pomeranian culture
House Urns culture
Przeworsk culture
The Vandals
The Lugians
Oksywie culture
The Rugii
Wielbark culture
Chernyakhov culture
Haplogroup R1b
Haplogroup R1a
Haplogroup I
Germanic Language
Fosna and Hensbacka cultures
Komsa culture
Kunda culture
Post Swiderian
Nøstvet and Lihult cultures
Kongemose culture
Ertebølle culture
Swifterbant culture
Narva culture
Funnelbeaker culture
Pit–Comb Ware culture
Corded Ware culture
Usatovo culture
Pitted Ware culture
The Battle Axe culture
Single Grave culture
Bell Beaker culture
Nordic Bronze Age
Lusatian culture
Pre-Roman Iron Age
Roman Iron Age
Germanic Iron Age
Nordic Iron Age
Jastorf culture

Nordern Europe

The archaeology of Northern Europe studies the prehistory of Scandinavia and the adjacent North European Plain, roughly corresponding to the territories of modern Sweden, Norway, Denmark, northern Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.
The region entered the Mesolithic around the 7th millennium BCE. During the 6th millennium BCE, the climate of Scandinavia was generally warmer and more humid than today. The bearers of the Nøstvet and Lihult cultures and the Kongemose culture were mesolithic hunter-gatherers. The Kongemose culture was replaced by the Ertebølle culture, adapting to the climatic changes and gradually adopting the Neolithic Revolution, transitioning to the megalithic Funnelbeaker culture.
The transition to the Neolithic is characterized by the Funnelbeaker culture in the 4th millennium BCE. During the 4th millennium BCE, the Funnelbeaker culture expanded into Sweden up to Uppland. The Nøstvet and Lihult cultures were succeeded by the Pitted Ware culture
The Pezmog 4 archaeological site along the Vychegda River (Komi Republic) was discovered in 1994. Pottery of early comb ware type appears there already at the beginning of the 6th millennium BC. Pit–Comb Ware culture appeared in northern Europe as early 4200 BC, and continued until c. 2000 BC. Some scholars argue that it is associated with the area of the Uralic languages.
The Chalcolithic is marked by the arrival of the Corded Ware culture, possibly the first influence in the region of Indo-European expansion. Early Indo-European presence likely dates to the late 3rd millennium BCE, introducing the Nordic Bronze Age. The Nordic Bronze Age proper began roughly one millennium later, around 1500 BCE. 
The Battle Axe culture, also called Boat Axe culture, is a Chalcolithic culture which flourished in the coastal areas of the south of the Scandinavian Peninsula and southwest Finland, from around 2,800 BC to 2,300 BC.
The Battle Axe culture was an offshoot of the Corded Ware culture, and replaced the Funnelbeaker culture in southern Scandinavia, probably through a process of mass migration and population replacement.
It is thought to have been responsible for spreading Indo-European languages and other elements of Indo-European culture to the region. It co-existed for a time with the hunter-gatherer Pitted Ware culture, which it eventually absorbed.
A June 2015 study published in Nature found the people of the Nordic Bronze Age to be closely genetically related to the Corded Ware culture, the Beaker culture and the Unetice culture. People of the Nordic Bronze Age and Corded Ware show the highest lactose tolerance among Bronze Age Europeans.
The study suggested that the Sintashta culture, and its succeeding Andronovo culture, represented an eastward migration of Corded Ware peoples. Numerous cultural similarities between the Nordic Bronze, the Sintastha/Andronovo culture and peoples described in the Rigveda have been detected.
In the June 2015 study, the remains of nine individuals of the Northern Bronze Age and earlier Neolithic cultures in Denmark and Sweden from ca. 2850 BC to 500 BC, were analyzed. Among the Neolithic individuals, the three males were found to be carrying haplogroup I, R1a1a1 and R1b1a1a2a1a1. Among the individuals from the Nordic Bronze Age, two males carried I, while two carried R1b1a1a2.
The end of the Bronze Age is characterized by cultural contact with the Central European La Tène culture (Celts), contributing to the development of the Iron Age by the 4th century BCE, presumably the locus of Common Germanic culture.
Around the 5th century BC, the Nordic Bronze Age was succeeded by the Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Jastorf culture. The cultures of the Pre-Roman Iron Age are sometimes hypothesized to be the origin of the Germanic languages. Herwig Wolfram locates the initial stages of Grimm’s Law here.

Germanic People

Archaeologists divide the area of Roman-era Germania into several Iron Age “material cultures”. At the time of Caesar, all had been under the strong influence of the La Tène culture, an old culture in the south and west of Germania, which is strongly associated with Celtic-speaking Gauls, including those in Gaul itself.
These La Tène peoples, who included the Germani cisrhenani, are generally considered unlikely to have spoken Germanic languages as defined today, though some may have spoken unknown related languages or Celtic dialects. To the north of these zones however, in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, the archaeological cultures started to become more distinct from La Tène culture during the Iron Age.
Concerning Germanic speakers within these northern regions, the relatively well-defined Jastorf culture matches with the areas described by Tacitus, Pliny the elder and Strabo as Suevian homelands near the lower River Elbe, and stretching east on the Baltic coast to the Oder river.
The Suevian peoples are seen by scholars as early West Germanic speakers. There is no consensus about whether neighbouring cultures in Scandinavia, Poland, and northwestern Germany were also part of a Germanic (or proto-Germanic)-speaking community at first, but this group of cultures were related to each other, and in contact.
To the west of the Elbe for example, on what is now the German North Sea coast, was the so-called Harpstedt-Nienburger Group between the Jastorf culture and the La Tène influenced cultures of the Lower Rhine. To the east in what is now northern Poland was the Oksywie culture, later becoming the Wielbark culture with the arrival of Jastorf influences, probably representing the entry of East Germanic speakers.
Related also to these and the Jastorf culture, was the Przeworsk culture in southern Poland. It began as strongly La Tène-influenced local culture, and apparently became at least partly Germanic-speaking. The Jastorf culture came into direct contact with La Tène cultures on the upper Elbe and Oder rivers, believed to correspond to the Celtic-speaking groups such as the Boii and Volcae described in this area by Roman sources. In the south of their range, the Jastorf and Przeworsk material cultures spread together, in several directions.

Jastorf culture

The Proto-Germanic or Germanic cultures developed gradually and diversely, beginning with the extant Lusatian and Pomeranian peoples, influenced and augmented first by La Tène culture Celts, and then by Jastorf culture and its tribes, who settled northwestern Poland beginning in the 4th century BCE and later migrated southeast through and past the main stretch of Polish lands (mid-3rd century BCE and after).
The Jastorf culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south. The cultures of the Pre-Roman Iron Age are sometimes hypothesized to be the origin of the Germanic languages. Herwig Wolfram locates the initial stages of Grimm’s Law here.
The now-disappearing Celtic people had greatly reshaped central Europe and left a lasting legacy. Their advanced culture catalyzed economic and other progress within the contemporary as well as future populations, which had often had little or no ethnic Celtic component. The “La Tène” archeological period ended as the Common Era began.
The origins of the Germanic people’s powerful ascent, leading them to displace the Celts, are not easy to discern. For example, we do not know to what degree Pomeranian culture gave way to Przeworsk culture by internal evolution, external population influx, or just permeation by the new regional cultural trends.
The early Germanic Jastorf cultural sphere was in the beginning an impoverished continuation of the North German Urnfield culture and the Nordic circle cultures. It formed around 700–550 BCE in Northern Germany and Jutland under Hallstatt influence; in its early stages, its funeral customs strongly resembled those of the contemporary Pomeranian culture.
From the Jastorf culture, which rapidly expanded from c. 500 BCE onward, two groups arose and settled the western borderlands of Poland during 300–100 BCE: The Oder group in western Pomerania and the Gubin group further south. These groups, which were peripheral to Jastorf culture, very likely originated as Pomeranian culture populations influenced by the Jastorf cultural model.
Jastorf communities established large burial grounds, separate for men and women. The dead were cremated and the ashes placed in urns, which were covered by bowls turned upside down. Funeral gifts were modest and rather uniform, indicating a society that was neither affluent nor socially diversified.
The Oder and Gubin groups probably included the tribes later called Bastarnae and Scirii in Greek written sources, noted because of their military exploits around Greece and its colonies in the later part of the 3rd century BCE.
Their route followed the Warta and Noteć rivers, crossed Kujawy and Masovia, turned south along the Bug River, and continued on to what today is Moldavia, where they settled and developed the Poienesti-Lukasevka culture. This route is marked by archeological findings, especially the characteristic bronze crown-shaped necklaces.
All Germanic languages are thought to be descended from a hypothetical Proto-Germanic, united by subjection to the sound shifts of Grimm’s law and Verner’s law. These probably took place during the Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe from c. 500 BC.
Proto-Germanic itself was likely spoken after c. 500 BC, and Proto-Norse from the 2nd century AD and later is still quite close to reconstructed Proto-Germanic, but other common innovations separating Germanic from Proto-Indo-European suggest a common history of pre-Proto-Germanic speakers throughout the Nordic Bronze Age.
From the time of their earliest attestation, the Germanic varieties are divided into three groups: West, East, and North Germanic. Their exact relation is difficult to determine from the sparse evidence of runic inscriptions. The western group would have formed in the late Jastorf culture, the eastern group may be derived from the 1st-century variety of Gotland and the northern group in southern Sweden.
The southernmost extent of Germanic cultures beyond Jastorf has recently been accounted for at the final stages of the Pre-Roman Iron Age, with the paucity of Late-La Téne bracelet-types in Thuringia and northeastern Hesse proposed to suggest population movements between the central-Elbe/Saale region, Main-Franconia and the edge of the Alps and to have been triggered by the spread of the Przeworsk culture.
The demographic vacuum left in the south of Germany around the upper Danube and Rhine rivers, by the migrations of Celtic groups hitherto there into much richer lands in Gaul, Spain, Pannonia and Northern Italy from 400 BC probably also played a role.
Archaeologists divide the area of Roman-era Germania into several Iron Age “material cultures”. At the time of Caesar, all had been under the strong influence of the La Tène culture, an old culture in the south and west of Germania, which is strongly associated with Celtic-speaking Gauls, including those in Gaul itself.
These La Tène peoples, who included the Germani cisrhenani, are generally considered unlikely to have spoken Germanic languages as defined today, though some may have spoken unknown related languages or Celtic dialects. To the north of these zones however, in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, the archaeological cultures started to become more distinct from La Tène culture during the Iron Age.
Concerning Germanic speakers within these northern regions, the relatively well-defined Jastorf culture matches with the areas described by Tacitus, Pliny the elder and Strabo as Suevian homelands near the lower River Elbe, and stretching east on the Baltic coast to the Oder river. The Suevian peoples are seen by scholars as early West Germanic speakers.
There is no consensus about whether neighbouring cultures in Scandinavia, Poland, and northwestern Germany were also part of a Germanic (or proto-Germanic)-speaking community at first, but this group of cultures were related to each other, and in contact.
To the west of the Elbe for example, on what is now the German North Sea coast, was the so-called Harpstedt-Nienburger Group between the Jastorf culture and the La Tène influenced cultures of the Lower Rhine.
To the east in what is now northern Poland was the Oksywie culture, later becoming the Wielbark culture with the arrival of Jastorf influences, probably representing the entry of East Germanic speakers.
Related also to these and the Jastorf culture, was the Przeworsk culture in southern Poland. It began as strongly La Tène-influenced local culture, and apparently became at least partly Germanic-speaking.
The Jastorf culture came into direct contact with La Tène cultures on the upper Elbe and Oder rivers, believed to correspond to the Celtic-speaking groups such as the Boii and Volcae described in this area by Roman sources. In the south of their range, the Jastorf and Przeworsk material cultures spread together, in several directions.
It is not clear whether, to what degree, or for what duration some of these traveling Jastorf people settled on Polish lands. However, their migration, together with the accelerated La Tène culture influence, catalyzed the emergence of the Oksywie and Przeworsk cultures. Both new cultures were under strong Jastorf influence.
The increasingly common presence within the Przeworsk culture area of objects made by Jastorf people reflects the penetration of Jastorf culture into their population. Both the Oksywie and Przeworsk cultures fully utilized iron processing technologies; unlike their predecessor cultures, they show no regional differentiation.
Oksywie culture (250 BCE–30 CE) was named after a village (now within the city of Gdynia) where a burial site was found. It originally occupied the Vistula delta region and then the rest of eastern Pomerania, expanded west up to the Jastorf Oder group area, and in the 1st century BCE also included part of what had been that group’s territory.
Like other cultures of this period, it had basic La Tène cultural characteristics, plus those typical of the Baltic cultures. Oksywie culture ceramics and burial customs indicate strong ties with Przeworsk culture. Men’s ashes were placed in well-made black urns with a fine finish and a decorative band.
Unlike men’s graves in Jastorf culture, theirs were furnished with utensilsand weapons, including the typical one-edged sword, and were often covered with or marked by stones. Women’s ashes were buried in hollows with feminine personal items. A clay vessel with relief animal images found in Gołębiowo Wielkie in Gdańsk County (2nd half of the 1st century BCE) is among the finest in all of the Germanic cultural zone.
Przeworsk culture was named after a town in Lesser Poland, near which another burial ground was found. Like Oksywie culture, it originated c. 250 BCE, but it lasted much longer. In its course it went through many changes, formed tribal and political structures, fought wars (including with the Romans), until in the 5th century CE its highly developed society of farmers, artisans, warriors, and chiefs succumbed to the temptations of the lands of the now-fallen empire. (For many of them it happened possibly rather quickly, during the first half of that century).
Przeworsk culture initially became established in Lower Silesia, Greater Poland, central Poland, and western Masovia and Lesser Poland, gradually replacing (from west to east) Pomeranian culture and Cloche Grave culture.
It coexisted with these older cultures for a while (in some cases well into the younger pre-Roman period, 200–0 BCE) and assimilated some of their characteristics, such as Cloche Grave funerary practice and ceramics.
The Przeworsk people must have originated from the above two local cultures, because of the lack of any other archeologically viable possibility, but their different cremation rite and pottery style represent a striking cultural discontinuity from their predecessors.
In the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE (late La Tène period), the Przeworsk people followed the lead of the more advanced Celts, who had established population enclaves in southern and middle Poland. Przeworsk culture developed as a result of the local populations’ adoption of La Tène culture models.
The passage of the Bastarnae and Scirii and the associated unrest likely functioned as the outside catalyzing agent; Jastorf culture archeological material has been found in pre-Przeworsk artifact assemblages and in some of the early Przeworsk range.
The Przeworsk people mastered and implemented the various achievements of the Celts, most importantly developing large-scale production of iron, for which they used local bog ores. They sometimes formed mixed groups and cooperated within common settlements with the Celts, of which the Tyniec group in the Kraków region and another group in Kujawy are the best-known examples.
Arms, clothes, and ornaments were patterned after Celtic products. In the early stages of their culture, the Przeworsk people displayed no social distinctions; their graves were alike and flat, and ashes were usually buried together with funeral gifts and without urns.
Religious practices of pagan Germanic peoples included offering ceremonies performed in swamps, involving manmade objects, produce, farm animals, or even human sacrifices, as was the case at one site near Słowikowo in Słupca County and another in Otalążka, Grójec County. Dog burials within or around a homestead were another form of protective offering.
As the Celtic domination in this part of Europe was coming to an end and the borders of the Roman Empire had gotten much closer, the Przeworsk culture people were being subjected to the Greco-Roman world’s influence with a rapidly growing intensity.
Much circumstantial evidence points to the participation of Germanic people from Polish lands in the events of the first half of the 1st century BCE, which culminated in Gaul in 58 BCE, as related in Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
At the time the Suebi tribal confederation led by Ariovistus arrived in Gaul, a rapid decrease of settlement density can be observed in the areas of the upper and middle Oder River basin. In fact, the Gubin group of Jastorf culture then disappeared entirely, which may indicate that the group identified with one of the Suebi tribes.
Also vacated were the western areas of Przeworsk culture (Lower Silesia, Lubusz Land and western Greater Poland), the probable original territory of the tribes accompanying the Suebi. Burial sites and artifacts characteristic of Przeworsk culture have been found in Saxony, Thuringia, and Hesse, along the route of the Suebi offensive. The abovementioned regions of western Poland were not repopulated and economically redeveloped until the 2nd century CE.
As a result of the Roman efforts to subjugate all of Germania, the member tribes of the Suebi alliance were displaced, moved east, conquered the Celtic tribes who stood in their way, and settled: the Quadi in Moravia, the Marcomanni in Bohemia. The latter tribe, under Marbod, formed a quasi-state with a huge army and was able to conquer, among others, the Lugii tribal association.
What archeologists see as the Przeworsk culture by this period (early 1st century CE) is believed to consist primarily of the Lugii, described by Tacitus as a very large union of tribes. The Roman defeat at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (9 CE) stabilized the situation at the periphery of the Empire to some degree.
Through Marcomanni and Quadi intermediaries, the Lugii and other tribes on Polish lands increasingly became involved in trade and other contacts with the Danubian provinces of Rome. In 50 CE they invaded and pillaged the Quadi state created by Vannius, contributing to its fall.
The catalyst for the expedition was rumors of the enormous riches that Vannius had accumulated by plunder and by charging duties. In 93 CE the Lugii, asked Emperor Domitian for help in their war against the Suebi and received 100 mounted soldiers.
Operations of the ancient Amber Road, a trans-European, north–south amber trade route, continued and intensified during the Roman Empire. From the 1st century BCE the Amber Road connected the Baltic Sea shores and Aquileia, an important amber processing center.
This route was controlled first by the Celts, later by the Romans south of the Danube, and then by Germanic tribes north of that river. It was used for transporting a variety of traded merchandise (and slaves) besides amber.
As told in Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder, during the reign of Nero an equestrian of unknown name led an expedition to the Baltic shorelines and returned to Rome with huge quantity of amber, which was subsequently used for propagandist purposes during gladiator matches and other public games.
The infrastructure of the Amber Road was destroyed by Germanic and Sarmatian attacks in the second half of the 3rd century CE, although it was still intermittently used until the mid-6th century. The Przeworsk culture sites provide a rich assortment of objects traded along the Amber Road.
From the beginning of the Common Era until 140 CE, two local groups existed in northwest Poland. The Gustow group (named after Gustow on Rügen) lived in the area settled in the past by the Oder group.
To the south, by the middle section of the Oder River (the area previously inhabited by the Gubin group), lived the Lubusz group. These two groups were intermediary between the Elbe cultural circle to the west and the Przeworsk and Wielbark cultures to the east (Wielbark replaced Oksywie culture after 30 CE).
The Przeworsk people of the earlier Roman period lived in small, unprotected villages. Each village was home to a few dozen residents at most, living in several houses, each of which covered an area of 8–22 square meters and was usually set partially below ground level (semi-sunken). Because Przeworsk technology included wells, the settlements did not need to be located near bodies of water.
Thirteen 2nd-century-CE wells of various construction with timber-lined walls have been found at a settlement in Stanisławice, Bochnia County. Fields were used for crop cultivation for a while and then as pastures, as animal manure helped refertilize the depleted soil. Once iron plowshares were introduced, Przeworsk fields alternated between tillage and grazing.
Several or more settlements made up a micro-region within which the residents cooperated economically and buried their dead in a common cemetery. Each micro-region was separated from other micro-regions by forests and barren land.
A number of such micro-regions possibly made up a tribe, with tribes separated by empty space, which Tacitus called zones “of mutual fear.” However, tribes would at times form larger confederations, such as temporary alliances for waging wars or even early forms of states, especially if they were culturally closely related. A Przeworsk culture turn-of-the-millennium industrial complex for the extraction of salt from salt springs was discovered in Chabsko near Mogilno.
Examinations of Przeworsk burial grounds, of which even the largest was used continuously over periods of up to several centuries, have turned up no more than several hundred graves, showing that overall population density was low.
The dead were cremated and the ashes sometimes placed into urns with central engraved bulges. In the 1st century CE, this design was replaced with a horizontal ridge around the circumference of the urn, which produced a sharp profile.
In Siemiechów, a grave of a warrior who must have taken part in the Ariovistus expedition (70–50 BCE) was found; it contains Celtic weapons, a helmet manufactured in the Alpine region that was used as the warrior’s burial urn, and local ceramics.
Burial gifts were often, for unknown reasons, bent or broken and then burned with the body. The burials range from “poor” to “rich,” the latter supplied with costly Celtic and then Roman imports, reflecting the considerable social stratification that had developed by this time.
Wielbark culture, named after Wielbark in Malbork County where a large cemetery was found, replaced Oksywie culture in Pomerania rather suddenly across its entire territory. While Oksywie culture was closely related to Przeworsk culture, its successor Wielbark culture shows only minimal contacts with the Przeworsk areas, indicating clear tribal and geographical separation.
Wielbark culture lasted on Polish lands from 30–400 CE, although most of its people left Poland long before the latter date. Some of this culture’s burials are skeletal; the dead were inhumed in solid log coffins, while others were cremated; both such graves were identically equipped.
Cremated remains were either placed in urns or simply buried in hollows. Burial gifts did not include weapons or tools. They did include clay vessels, decorations, personal ornaments, and — if the deceased had been wealthy enough to own a horse — spurs.
These various items, and especially the 1st and 2nd century CE jewelry made of bronze, silver, and gold, are works of the highest quality, surpassing the comparable products of the Przeworsk culture.
This craftsmanship reached its apex with 2nd-century “Baroque” jewelry, beautiful by any standard, that was placed in the graves of women in (as the Wielbark culture expanded south) Poznań Szeląg and Kowalewko, Oborniki County, among other places.
The Kowalewko cemetery in Greater Poland is one of the largest Wielbark burial sites in Poland and is distinguished by a great number of beautiful relics, made locally or imported from the Empire. The total number of burials is estimated to exceed 500, most of which have been excavated.
Sixty percent of bodies were not cremated but were typically placed in wooden coffins made of boards or planks. The burial ground was in use from the mid-1st century CE to about 220, meaning that approximately 80 local residents of each generation were inhumed there. Remnants of settlements in the region have also been investigated.
At Rogowo near Chełmno, a Wielbark settlement, an industrial production site and a 2nd-to-3rd-century bi-ritual cemetery with very richly furnished graves have been discovered.
In the area of Ulkowy, Gdańsk County, a settlement consisting of sunken floors and post-construction dwellings has been found, as well as a burial ground in use from the mid-1st century to the second half of the 3rd century. Only part of the cemetery was excavated on the occasion of a motorway construction, but it yielded 110 inhumations (11 in hollowed-out log coffins) and 15 cremations (eight of them in urns) with a rich collection of decorative objects, mostly from the graves of women.
Those include fancy jewelry and accessories made of gold, silver, bronze, amber, glass, and enamel. Ceramics, utility items, and tools, including weaving equipment, were recovered from the settlement site. Other significant Wielbark settlements in the area were encountered in Swarożyn and Stanisławie, both in Tczew County.
Many Wielbark graves were flat, but kurgans are also characteristic and common. In the case of kurgans, the grave was covered with stones, which were surrounded by a circle of larger stones.
These were covered with earth and a solitary stone or stela often put on top. Such a kurgan could include one or several individual burials, have a diameter of up to a dozen or so meters, and be up to 1 meter high.
Some burial grounds feature large stone circles of massive boulders up to 1.7 meters high, separated by several meters of spaces, sometimes connected by smaller stones; the whole structure is 10–40 meters in diameter.
In the middle of the circles, one to four stelae were placed, and sometimes a single grave. The stone circles are believed to be the locations of meetings of Scandinavian (see below) tings (assemblies or courts).
The single graves inside the circles are probably those of human sacrifices meant to propitiate the gods and assure their support for the deliberations. A stone kurgan cemetery was found in Węsiory, Kartuzy County; another burial site with 10 large stone circles was discovered in Odry, Chojnice County, both dated 2nd century CE.
How did Wielbark culture arise, and why did it so immediately replace Oksywie culture? According to the legend quoted in The Origin and Deeds of the Goths by the 6th-century Gothic historian Jordanes, the ancestors of that Germanic tribe arrived from Scandinavia (under King Berig) in two boats and landed on the South Baltic shores, followed by a third boat carrying the ancestors of the Gepids.
Supposedly they conquered the native people of that region, and then, some years later (under King Filimer, the fifth one counting from Berig), continued their migration toward the Black Sea. This story, which was dismissed by past historians, is now seen as containing basic elements of the true sequence of events, and the Wielbark culture is indeed partly identified with the Germanic ancestors of the Goths.
The idea that a culturally different (although related) people arrived in the mouth of the Vistula, mixed with the Oksywie population, and came to dominate it due to their (cultural, at least) advancement is not at odds with the state of archeological findings and could explain the change of cultures in Pomerania around 30 CE.
Archeology nevertheless shows the evolution of Oksywie culture to be the fundamental source of Wielbark culture, as the two cultures extended over exactly the same territory and continuously used the same cemeteries.
The locally present Veneti and Rugians became influenced by the Goths or their Scandinavian predecessors. It is presently believed that the Scandinavian arrivals directly settled the areas where the great cult kurgan and stone burial grounds are found. They are referred to as the Odry-Węsiory-Grzybnica type, were established in the second half of the 1st century CE and occur in parts of Pomerania west of the Vistula, up to the Koszalin area.
The contemporary and rather closely related Wielbark culture in (previously settled by the Przeworsk culture) Greater Poland, represented by the Kowalewko cemetery, lacks however for the most part the kurgans and the stone structures. The Wielbark people came here from Pomerania.
In the course of the 1st and 2nd century CE the Wielbark culture expanded south, towards Greater Poland and Masovia, partially at the expense of the Przeworsk culture. Around the mid-1st century the Wielbark culture people forced out the Przeworsk population from northern Greater Poland and settled the area for about 150 years. The Przeworsk culture itself also expanded in the southern, eastern and south-western directions.
The Marcomannic Wars fought during 166–180 CE were caused by the pressure exerted by the northern Germanic peoples (settled around the area of today’s Poland) on the tribes located in the vicinity of Roman limes, the Empire’s defended border.
Expansion of the Proto-Gothic Wielbark culture displaced from northern Greater Poland and Masovia the Przeworsk culture people; they in turn, moving south and east, crossed during the third quarter of the 2nd century the Carpathian Mountains.
The ethnic composition of the Przeworsk population at this stage is not known, as the Lugii tribes no longer seem to be mentioned. Related to the Przeworsk culture was the Wietrzno-Solina type, a cultural unit with Celtic and then Dacian elements, situated within the more eastern part of the Beskids range (San River basin) during the 100–250 AD period. The Kotins tribe Celtic survivors with their Púchov culture disappeared now for good, as a result of their migration and involvement in the Marcomannic Wars.
There were also changes in northwest Poland, on the border of the Elbe cultural sphere region. The Lubusz group there was absorbed by the new Luboszyce culture (Luboszyce, Krosno Odrzańskie County), that occupied the middle Oder basin during the 140–430 CE period. Its birth was related to the arrival from the east of population groups strongly influenced by the Przeworsk and Wielbark cultures.
Gradually a new branch of Germanic people, the Burgundians, whose origins are traced back to Scandinavia and the Bornholm island in particular and whose ancestors then migrated to the northwest Przework culture area, developed and evolved under new favorable conditions here.
On the other hand, the Gustow group left western Pomerania, to be replaced after 70 years by the Dębczyn group (Dębczyn, Wschowa County), established by the arrivals from the Elbe cultures and lasting between 210 and 450 AD.
The economic development of what to the Romans were barbarian lands (also called “Barbaricum”, regions populated mostly by Germanic peoples, north and northeast of the Empire) benefited greatly from the skills of the prisoners taken during the protracted Marcomannic Wars, Roman legionaries and craftsmen, some of whom undoubtedly stayed beyond the limes and made their contribution there.
Contacts with the wealthy Danubian Roman provinces during the wars were also quite active and intensive. Because of all that, from the end of the 2nd century CE on, the Roman-originated and based technical expertise and inventions were becoming increasingly widespread within the Germanic societies.
For example, besides traditional houses supported by pillars, framework houses were being built, lathe machines were used for amber and other jewelry work. The barbarian societies were getting more wealthy and, especially during the last centuries of imperial Rome, more socially polarized.
An estimated 70,000 Roman coins from all periods were found in Poland, starting with the 2nd century BCE silver denarii. A treasure of these and other coins, some as early as the 1st century CE, was found in Połaniec, Staszów County, probably a booty captured c. 19 CE from King Marbod of the Marcomanni.
Greater waves of Roman money found their way to Poland throughout the 1st and 2nd centuries and then again during the 4th and 5th centuries, this time as bronze and golden solidi. The barbarians did not use them for commerce; they were being accumulated in dynastic treasuries of rulers and occasionally used for ceremonial gift exchange. The chiefs also kept large golden Roman medallions or their local imitations. The largest barbarian medallion, an equivalent of 48 solidii, is a part of the gold and silver treasure found in Zagórzyn near Kalisz.
The evolution of the power structure within the Germanic societies can be traced to some degree by examining the “princely” graves – burials of chiefs, and even hereditary princes, as the consolidation of power progressed.
Those appear from the beginning of the Common Era and are located away from ordinary cemeteries, singly or in small groups. The bodies were inhumed in wooden coffins and covered with kurgans, or interred in wooden or stone chambers.
Luxurious Roman-made gifts and fancy barbarian emulations (such as silver and gold clasps with springs, created with an unsurpassed attention to detail, dated 3rd century CE from Wrocław Zakrzów), but not weapons, were placed in the graves.
The 1st and 2nd century burials of this type, occurring all the way from Jutland to Lesser Poland, are referred to as princely graves Lubieszewo type, after Lubieszewo, Gryfice County in western Pomerania, where six such burials were found.
Two types of 3rd- and 4th-century princely graves are distinguished: The Zakrzów type, named after the location of three very rich stone chamber burials found in Wrocław Zakrzów occur in southern Poland, while in the northern and central parts of the country the Rostołty (Białystok County) type kurgans are rather common.
At some sites, believed to be dynastic necropolises, the princes were buried in generation long time increments. During the late Roman period the princely burials are fewer in number, but they get increasingly more elaborate.
The pottery as well as iron mining and processing industries kept developing in Poland throughout the Roman periods, until terminated in the 5th century or so by the Great Migration. Clay pots were still often formed manually and these were more crude, while the better ones were made with the potter’s wheel, used beginning in the early 3rd century. Some had inscriptions engraved, but their meaning, if any, is not known (Germanic people had occasionally used the runic alphabets).
Wide-open, vase type Przeworsk culture urn from the 2nd century CE found in Biała, Zgierz County is covered with representations from Celtic and Germanic mythology, such as deer, horse riders, crosses and swastikas. The 3rd and 4th century buckets were made of wood and reinforced with bronze braces and sheets.
Przeworsk culture’s large globular clay storage containers from the 3rd and 4th century were 60 cm to over one meter tall. The 4th and 5th century ceramic specimens from the late phase of this culture include pitchers, clay pails, beakers and bowls.
Characteristic of the Roman times iron industry were huge centers of metallurgy. One such concentration of ironworks, in Świętokrzyskie Mountains, which already produced iron on an industrial scale in the 1st century CE, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries became Barbaricum’s largest. It may have been responsible for the majority of the iron supplied for barbarian weapon production during the Marcomannic Wars.
The iron product was obtained in rather small, single-use smelting furnaces. One furnace’s iron output was from a few to 20 kg, which required 10 to 200 kg of ore and the same amount of charcoal. The satisfaction of so much need for charcoal caused significant deforestation of the areas surrounding the iron centers.
Not only turf, but also hematite ores were utilized, which involved building mines and shafts to provide access. The furnaces in Świętokrzyskie Mountains were grouped into large complexes, located in forested areas, away from human settlements.
There could have had been as many as 700,000 smelting furnaces built in that area; one big concentration of the Przeworsk culture’s spent furnaces (2nd–3rd centuries) was located in Nowa Słupia, Kielce County. The second largest iron production center functioned at that time in Masovia, west of Warsaw, with the total number of furnaces there, in which only turf ores were used, estimated at up to 200,000.
They were operated as very large complexes, with several thousand furnaces at a time located near populated areas, where intermediate products were processed further. Those two great concentrations of metallurgical industry produced iron largely for long distance trade; to fulfill local requirements and on smaller scale iron was obtained at a number of other locations. Graves of warrior-smiths buried with weapons and sets of tools were found, which suggests that they belonged to the societal upper ranks and were held in high esteem.
A set of iron carpenter’s tools from the 3rd-4th century, including a compass for marking circles, was found in Przywóz, Wieluń County, where there was a Przeworsk culture settlement and a 2nd/3rd century dynastic burial complex.
The graves of Przeworsk men typically include substantial collections of arms, so that their warrior’s battle equipment and its evolution are well known. Less wealthy warriors fought typically on foot, with spears (for close range combat) and javelins (for throwing), both with iron heads. The better off fighters used swords, first of the long Celtic kind, and then in the 1st and 2nd century CE of the short and broad, gladius Roman infantry type.
Swords were kept in scabbards, some of which, depending on status, were very ornate. The long and narrow swords, better suited for horseback combat, became popular again in the 3rd century, but only the more wealthy warriors had horses, not to mention iron helmets or ring armor.
Round wooden shields had iron umbos in the middle, usually with a thorn for piercing the enemy. There were no saddles, but the richest of horsemen used silver spurs and bronze bridles with chain reins. Numerous Przeworsk culture objects including spurs and a unique silver belt buckle were recovered at the Aleksandrowice, Kraków County settlement area; some relics there are dated possibly as late as the first half of the 6th century.
In the 2nd century CE the Proto-Gothic people of the Wielbark culture began their own great migration, moving east, south, and southeast. In the first half of the 3rd century they left most of Pomerania except for the lower Vistula region, where a small Wielbark population remained; Pomerania west of there became mostly settled by the Dębczyn group. Also evacuated at that time northern Greater Poland was retaken by the Przeworsk culture people.
The Wielbark people successively took over eastern Masovia, Lesser Poland, Podlasie, Polesie and Volhynia. They settled in Ukraine, where they encountered other peoples, which resulted in the early 3rd century CE in the rise of the Chernyakhov culture.
This last culture, which in the 4th century encompassed large areas of southeastern Europe, was of a mixed ethnic composition; in the more western part it was made-up of the Wielbark culture people, as well as other Germanic people and the Dacians. It was within the Chernyakhov culture that the Gothic tribes assumed their mature form.
The Przeworsk culture populations were for the most part also moving (to a lesser extent) south and east, which by the 4th century caused a lessening of the population density in northern and central Poland with a simultaneous settlement concentration increases in Lesser Poland and Silesia. The Przeworsk people there at this point in time are often identified with the Vandals Germanic tribe.
The 4th and 5th century Przeworsk societies had to cope with a deterioration of their traditional tribal social structure, caused by the accumulation of wealth and influence in the hands of the rich, the warriors, the tribal elders and rulers, who controlled the trade, imposed contributions and plundered. During these two centuries the number of the Przeworsk culture settlements and cemeteries generally decreases.
There are also clear signs of the environment being overly exploited, which provided another motivation for the population to gradually leave. Most burials were getting more poorly equipped, in comparison with the previous periods.
Late Przeworsk culture ceramic materials from Greater Poland show impoverishment and lack of differentiation of form, but on the other hand metal 5th century clasps, found at a variety of locations from eastern Lesser Poland, through eastern Greater Poland to Kujawy, demonstrate the usual for mature Germanic societies highest quality of workmanship.
On top of the Przeworsk culture’s internal crisis situation came external pressures, namely the massive migration of peoples. Around 370 CE, the Huns crossed the Volga River, defeating the Alans and then the Ostrogoths, causing in 375 the fall of their state located in the Black Sea shores region.
This unleashed a domino effect, as various Germanic peoples moved west and south to avoid the danger. The Visigoths and others retreated, forcing further migrations, while the weakness of the Roman Empire encouraged encroachments of its territory, the whole scenario resulting in the fall of its western part.
The paths of this Great Migration of Peoples led in part through the Polish lands, and the Germanic tribes living here joined the movement themselves, with the result of an almost complete, in the course of the 5th century, depopulation of Poland.
In the upper Vistula basin, where the Przeworsk culture settlements were still relatively dense in the first half of the 5th century, they are markedly absent during the second half of it. This is also the case in Silesia; the depopulation pattern began there earlier and the latest finds are dated around 400 CE.
All of it agrees well with the information given by Procopius of Caesarea, according to whom the Heruli returning to Scandinavia from the Carpathian Basin in 512, heading towards the Varni tribe area in Germany, crossed a large region devoid of human settlements – presumably Silesia and Lusatia.
Likewise there are no settlements found in Masovia and Podlasie beyond the early part of the 5th century. On the other hand, in central Poland and Greater Poland isolated remnants from the Roman era cultures continue to be located through the end of 5th and even into the earlier parts of the 6th century.
Still further north, in Pomerania, such findings are actually quite numerous, including many cult coin deposit sites (Roman and then Byzantine golden solidi). There, the Germanic groups lasted the longest (and kept up trade and other contacts with their brethren elsewhere).
The territory of the powerful confederation of the Hun tribes included about 400 CE the lands of southern Poland, where burial and treasure sites have been investigated. A woman’s grave in Jędrzychowice, Strzelin County contained fancy feminine ornaments and a nicely preserved bronze kettle, which gave a name (“Jędrzychowice”) to one of the two basic Hun kettle types, while a burial of a young warrior-aristocrat including his horse and precious harness, attire and weaponry elements (gold sheet covered ritual bow and sword sheath) was found in Jakuszowice, Kazimierza Wielka County. Still further east, in Świlcza near Rzeszów a hidden Hun treasure was located; this last find dates from the mid-5th century, when the Hun empire was about to crumble.

Pomeranian culture

The Pomeranian culture, also Pomeranian or Pomerelian Face Urn culture was an Iron Age culture with origins in parts of the area south of the Baltic Sea (which later became Pomerania, part of northern Germany/Poland), from the 7th century BC to the 3rd century BC, which eventually covered most of today’s Poland.
About 650 BC, it evolved from the Lusatian culture between the lower Vistula and Parseta rivers, and subsequently expanded southward. Between 200 and 150 BC, it was succeeded by the Oksywie culture in eastern Pomerania and the Przeworsk culture at the upper Vistula and Oder rivers.
The Pomeranian culture developed in Western Pomerania covering the entire range of the Oder (Odra) and Vistula river basins. It has been sometimes associated with the Bastarnae. The original homeland of the Bastarnae remains uncertain.
Babeş and Shchukin argue in favour of an origin in eastern Pomerania on the Baltic coast of northwestern Poland, on the grounds of correspondences in archaeological material e.g. a Pomeranian-style fibula found in a Poieneşti site in Moldavia.
The most characteristic feature was the use of burial urns with faces. The urns were often contained in stone cists. The face-urns have lids in the form of hats, often miniature ear-rings of real bronze are added. The faces are sometimes modelled very naturalistically, and no two urns show the same face. Incised drawings on the urns show hunting scenes, chariot races or riders. Brooches of Certoza-type and necklaces of multiple bronze rings are typical examples of metal work.
The economy was similar to that of the Lusatian culture. Rye was systematically cultivated for the first time, but still formed a minor component of the cereals. There were fewer hill forts than in the area of the Lusatian culture further west. Southern imports were sparse as well.
A related culture of the same age was the House Urn culture in central Germany. In the later Iron Age, the Pomeranian culture spread southward, into areas formerly belonging to the Lusatian, Wysoko- and Milograd cultures. In Masovia and Poland this mixture led to the development of the group with bell-shaped burials.

House Urns culture

The House Urns culture was an early Iron Age culture of the 7th century BC in central Germany, in the Region between Harz Mountains and the junction of river Saale to river Elbe. It was the western periphery of the bronze and Iron Age Lusatian culture.
Urns in the shape of house models were its characteristical sign. They were set in gravefields that had already been used for centuries, but sometimes in these gravefields they were deposited in stone cists that were an innovation. So it is considered that religious beliefs changed in that time, though the bias was not as great as in the Mediterranean region and in the area of the Hallstatt culture.
Archeologists see an obvious connection to the Pomeranian culture of the same age. The relation to the pre-Etruscan Villanovan culture, which had its summit about 1 ½ centuries before, is questioned.

Przeworsk culture

The Przeworsk culture (300 BC to 500 AD) is part of an Iron Age archaeological complex that takes its name from the village near the town Przeworsk where the first artifacts were found. Scholars view the Przeworsk culture as an amalgam of a series of localized cultures.
The Przeworsk culture is often associated with the Vandals, a Roman-era Germanic people who first appear in written records inhabiting present-day southern Poland, however the culture has also been linked to the early Slavs, and most likely was of mixed Slavic and Germanic nature.
It was located in what is now central and southern Poland – the upper Oder to the Vistula basin, later spreading to parts of eastern Slovakia and Subcarpathia ranging between the Oder and the middle and upper Vistula Rivers and extending south towards the middle Danube into the headwaters of the Dniester and Tisza Rivers.
It shows continuity with the preceding Pomeranian culture, albeit modified by significant influences from the La Tène (from about 450 BCE to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BCE) and Jastorf cultures (600-100 BC), an Iron Age material culture in what are now southern Scandinavia and north Germany that formed the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age.
To the east, the Przeworsk culture is connected with the Zarubintsy culture in what is now northern Ukraine and southern Belarus. Later in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, much of this area was subsequently absorbed by the Wielbark culture and Chernyakhov culture.
The main characteristic feature of the Przeworsk culture are burials. These were mostly cremations, with occasional inhumation. Warrior burials are notable, which often include horse-gear and spurs. Some burials are exceptionally rich, overshadowing the graves of Germanic groups further west, especially after 400 AD. Pottery and metalwork are often rich and show a great variety.
The culture’s decline in the late 5th century coincides with the invasion of the Huns. Other factors may have included the social crisis that occurred as a result of the collapse of the Roman world and the trade contacts it maintained with peoples beyond its borders. In the late 5th to 6th century, the Prague-Korchak culture appears in the Vistula basin.


The Vandals were a Roman-era Germanic people who first appear in written records inhabiting present-day southern Poland. Some later moved in large numbers, including most notably the group which successively established Vandal kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula, on western Mediterranean islands and in North Africa in the 5th century.
As the Vandals eventually came to live outside of Germania, they were not considered Germani by ancient Roman authors. Neither other East Germanic-speaking groups such as the Goths, nor Norsemen (early Scandinavians), were counted among the Germani by the Romans. Since the Vandals spoke a Germanic language and belonged to early Germanic culture, they are classified as a Germanic people by modern scholars.
Some medieval authors applied the ethnonym “Vandals” to Slavs: Veneti, Wends, Lusatians or Poles. It was once thought that the Slovenes were the descendants of the Vandals, but this is not the view of modern scholars.
The traditional view has been that the Vandals migrated from southern Scandinavia to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula rivers during the 2nd century BC and settled in Silesia from around 120 BC. They are associated with the Przeworsk culture and were possibly the same people as the Lugii
The name of the Vandals has been connected to that of Vendel, the name of a province in Uppland, Sweden, which is also eponymous of the Vendel Period of Swedish prehistory, corresponding to the late Germanic Iron Age leading up to the Viking Age.
The connection would be that Vendel is the original homeland of the Vandals prior to the Migration Period, and retains their tribal name as a toponym. Further possible homelands of the Vandals in Scandinavia are Vendsyssel in Denmark and Hallingdal in Norway.
The etymology of the name may be related to a Germanic verb *wand- “to wander” (English wend, German wandeln). The Germanic mythological figure of Aurvandil “shining wanderer; dawn wanderer, evening star”, or “Shining Vandal” is reported as one of the “Germanic Dioscuri”.
The tribal name Vandal reflects worship of Aurvandil or “the Dioscuri”, probably involving an origin myth that the Vandalic kings were descended from Aurvandil (comparable to the case of many other Germanic tribal names).
Since the Middle Ages, kings of Denmark were styled “King of Denmark, the Goths and the Wends”, the Wends being a group of West Slavs formerly living in Mecklenburg and eastern Holstein in modern Germany. The title “King of the Wends” is translated as vandalorum rex in Latin. The title was shortened to “King of Denmark” in 1972.
Starting in 1540, Swedish kings (following Denmark) were styled Suecorum, Gothorum et Vandalorum Rex (“King of the Swedes, Geats, and Wends”). Carl XVI Gustaf dropped the title in 1973 and now styles himself simply as “King of Sweden”.


The Lugii, a large tribal confederation mentioned by Roman authors living in ca. 100 BC–300 AD in Central Europe, north of the Sudetes mountains in the basin of upper Oder and Vistula rivers, covering most of modern south and middle Poland (regions of Silesia, Greater Poland, Mazovia and Little Poland).
Most archaeologists identify the Lugians with the Przeworsk culture, which is also associated with the Vandals, and it has been suggested that the Lugians and Vandals may have been closely related or even the same.
While this culture was strongly Celtic-influenced in early Roman times, the Lugii are also sometimes regarded as Germanic like the Vandals. They played an important role on the middle part of the Amber Road from Sambia at the Baltic Sea to the provinces of Roman Empire: Pannonia, Noricum and Raetia.

Oksywie culture

The Oksywie culture (German Oxhöft-Kultur) was an archaeological culture that existed in the area of modern-day Eastern Pomerania around the lower Vistula river from the 2nd century BC to the early 1st century AD. It is named after the village of Oksywie, now part of the city of Gdynia in northern Poland, where the first archaeological finds typical of this culture were discovered.
Archaeological research during the past recent decades near Pomerania in Poland suggests that the transition of the local component of the Pomeranian culture into the Oksywie culture occurred in the 2nd century BC. A connection with the Rugii has been suggested.
Like other cultures of this period, the Oksywie culture related to La Tène cultural characteristics, and possessed traits typically shown from the Baltic cultures. Oksywie culture’s ceramics and burial customs indicate strong ties with the Przeworsk culture.
Men only had their ashes placed in well made black urns with fine finish and a decorative band around. Their graves were supplied with practical items for the afterlife such as utensils and weapons.
Typically buried with the man, this culture would also place swords with one-sided edge, and the graves were often covered or marked by stones. Women’s ashes were buried in hollows and supplied with feminine items.

The Rugii

The Rugii, Rogi or Rugians were a Roman-era Germanic people. They were first clearly recorded by Tacitus, in his Germania who called them the Rugii, and located them on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. They are likely related to the Rutikleioi mentioned later by Ptolemy, and the Ulmerugi mentioned by Jordanes.
These were possibly the Holmrygir known from Old Norse, and the Rygir of Rogaland in Norway, with all of these names apparently sharing their etymological origins. Much later, they were considered one of the “Gothic” or “Scythian” peoples by Byzantine writers and were located in the Middle Danube region.
It has been speculated, based on their name, and the Gothic origin stories published by Jordanes, that they originally migrated from southwest Norway to Pomerania around 100 AD, and from there to the Danube River valley.
Like other Gothic peoples there they were allies of Attila until his death in 453, and settled in what is now Austria after the defeat of the Huns at Nedao in 453. The name of the Rugii continued to be used after the 6th century to refer to Slavic speaking peoples including even Russians.

Wielbark culture

The Wielbark culture (100-500 AD), or East Pomeranian-Mazovian, is an Iron Age archaeological complex which flourished in Magna Germania, (now Poland). It is closely associated with the Goths and other Germanic peoples, and played an important role in the Amber Road.
Displaying genetic and cultural links with southern Scandinavia, the Wielbark culture replaced the preceding Oksywie culture on the lower Vistula in the 1st century AD, and subsequently expanded southwards at the expense of the Przeworsk culture, which is associated with the Vandals. This expansion has been connected with the contemporary Marcomannic Wars.
Displaying genetic and cultural links with southern Scandinavia, the Wielbark culture replaced the preceding Oksywie culture on the lower Vistula in the 1st century AD, and subsequently expanded southwards at the expense of the Przeworsk culture, which is associated with the Vandals. This expansion has been connected with the contemporary Marcomannic Wars.
By the late 3rd century AD, the Wielbark culture had expanded into the area of the upper Dniester, where it contributed to the formation of the Chernyakhov culture, which eventually came to encompass a large area between the Danube and the Don River. In the 5th century AD, the Wielbark culture was replaced by the Sukow-Dziedzice group, which is associated with the Early Slavs.
The Wielbark culture was named after the village of Willenberg in Prussia, Germany, where a burial place with over 3,000 tombs, was discovered and partially recorded in 1873. Many of the cemetery stones were moved, and many graves were damaged by the early discoverers and particularly during WW II, when Soviets conquered the area and handed it to Communist Poland.
The Wielbark culture emerged in the 1st century AD around the same area as the Oksywie culture, around the present day towns of Gdańsk and Chełmno. Whether the Wielbark culture was an outgrowth of the Oksywie culture or represents a new population is disputed. The increasing density of Wielbark centuries after its establishment suggests that it experienced significant population growth during its existence.
During the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, the Wielbark culture expanded into the lakelands (Kashubian and Krajenskian lakes) and stretched southwards, into the region around Poznań. Here it ejected the Przeworsk culture, which is often associated with the Vandals.
Rather than being entirely replaced, archaeological evidence suggest that the Przeworks were to a certain extent absorded by the Wielbark. The aggressive southward expansion of the Wielbark culture has been connected with the beginning of the Marcomannic Wars.[4] By 200 AD, people are of the Wielbark culture appear to have been recruited as soldiers in the Roman Army.
In the first half of the 3rd century AD, the Wielbark culture expanded southwards along the Vistula and Bug towards the upper Dniester. Meanwhile Pomeranian settlements by the Baltic Sea were somewhat, but not entirely, abandoned. This expansion was swifter and on an even larger scale than previous ones, and represented a significant shift of Wielbark power towards the south.
Archaeological and linguistics evidence suggest that the expansion involved both men, women and children. The Gothic attack on Histria in 238 is probably connected with this expansion. North of the Black Sea, the Wielbark culture played a decisive role in the formation of the Chernyakhov culture n the late 3rd century AD, which by the 4th century AD would cover a huge area between the Danube and the Don River.
Though historically controversial, it is now universally accepted that the origins of the Chernyakhov culture lie primarily in the Wielbark culture, and that the former represents a culture dominated by the Goths and other Germanic peoples.
Isolated pockets of the Wielbark culture continued to exist in current northern Poland until the 5th century AD. From then it was replaced by the Sukow-Dziedzice group, which is associated with Early Slavs.
The Wielbark culture is distinguished from other parts of Germanic Europe by its monumental burials, which are evidence of increasing social stratification. No weapons or tools are found in Wielbark culture graves, unlike the Przeworsk culture for which it was typical to give the dead such gifts.
Instead, the artifacts found are mostly ornaments and costumes, although a few graves have shown spurs, these being the only warrior attributes found. The people of the Wielbark culture used both inhumation and cremation techniques for burying their dead. The Przeworsk culture on the other hand, practiced cremation. Whether one or the other was used varies from site to site and is believed to have depended on family traditions.
The Wielbark culture played an important role in the Amber Road. A complex series of wooden bridges and causeways built by the Wielbark culture were probably connected to this trade.
The Wielbark culture appears to have practiced mixed agriculture. Their lack of agricultural expertise made their fields less fertile, which caused to population to be quite mobile. Several settlements however remained stable for hundreds of years.
A characteristic of the Wielbark culture, which it had in common with southern Scandinavia, was the raising of stone covered mounds, stone circles, solitary stelae and variations of cobble cladding. These stone circles might have been places of communal meatings.
The Wielbark culture displays several characteristics similar to those of the Chernyakhov culture. This includes the creation of handmade bowl-shaped ceramics, the wearing by females of fibula brooches on each shoulder, the presence of Germanic longhouses, the practice of both cremation and inhumation, and the lack of weapons deposited in burials.
Another feature of the Wielbark culture was the use of bronze to make ornaments and accessories. Silver was used seldom and gold rarely. Iron appears to have been used extremely rarely. In 2000, in Czarnówko near Lębork, Pomerania, a cemetery of Oksywie and Wielbark cultures was found. These reached their height before the emigration of the population to the south began. A bronze kettle depicts males wearing the Suebian knot hairstyle.
It is believed that the Wielbark culture was formed under the influence of the Goths, Rugii and Gepids. Along with the neighboring Przeworsk culture, Peter Heather places it in the Germanic cultural horizon. In the past, the Wielbark culture was often connected with Early Slavs, but such theories have been dismissed by modern scholarship.
The Wielbark culture has traditionally been attributed to the migration of the Goths from Scandza (Scandinavia) to Gothiscandza as related in Jordanes’ account of their origin. While Gothic influence may well have played a part, the identical geographical extent and persistent use of Oksywie cemeteries suggest that the Weilbark Culture emerged from previous human settlements in the area, with new groups of Scandinavian immigrants making contributions to it as they arrived.
The cemeteries may give some indication in evidence as to which settlements could have been established directly by Goths. Barrow cemeteries on the Baltic Sea in today’s Poland, which have raised stone circles, and solitary stelae next to them, reflect Scandinavian burial customs with a concentration in Gotland and Götaland. Appearing in the later 1st century, this type is found between the Vistula and the Kashubian and Krajenskian lakelands reaching into the Koszalin region.
Odontological analysis revealed that the Central European populations from the Roman period and the Early Middle Ages were indistinguishable in terms of non-metrical dental traits, though this does not exclude the possibility of genetically different origins.
A genetic study published in PLOS One in 2014 examined and compared the mtDNA of the Wielbark culture and the Przeworsk culture, both belonging to the Roman Iron Age (RoIA) with that of populations from Poland in the Middle Ages. 24 samples of mtDNA from the Wielbark sites of Kowalewko (11) and Rogowo (13) were examined. Wielbark samples were found to be primarily carrying types of haplogroup H, while types of U and W were also frequent.
It was found that the mtDNA of the RoiA populations was largely similar to that of medieval populations, although they displayed closer genetic relations to populations of northern and central Europe, while medieval populations on the other hand displayed closer genetic relations to Slavs of eastern and southern Europe. The mtDNA of the RoIA samples were found to be more closely related to Poles than any other modern population, while similarities with Balts and other West Slavs were also detected.
A genetic study published in Scientific Reports in 2018 examined the mtDNA of 60 individuals buried at the Wielbark cemetery of Kowalewko in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The majority of the individuals carried types of haplogroup H and U. Notably, they displayed higher frequencies of U5b (a typically Western Hunter-Gatherer lineage) than preceding and succeeding populations in the area.
They were found to be most closely related to Iron Age populations of southern Scandinavia and the Bell Beaker culture. Strong genetic similarities with modern Scandinavians, such as Norwegians and Swedes, were detected.
The males and females of Kowalewko were found to be of significantly different origins, with males displaying the closest genetic links Iron Age populations of southern Scandinavia, while females displayed the closest links to the Walternienburg-Bernburg Culture and other Neolithic cultures of Central Europe.
Males of Kowalewko were much more closely related to European hunter-gatherers (EHG, WHG, SHG, PWC), the Yamnaya culture, the Corded Ware culture and the Unetice culture, than Kowalewko females were.
A genetic study published in Scientific Reports in 2019 examined the mtDNA of 27 individuals from a Wielbark cemetery in Masłomęcz, Poland. The remains were from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD. Based on archaeological evidence, these individuals were assumed to be Goths.
They were found to be mostly carriers of haplogroup H and U. The individuals displayed even closer genetic links to Iron Age populations of southern Scandinavia than those of Kowalewko did. Males and females at Masłomęcz were found to be more closely related to each other than those at Kowalewko were.
They also carried fewer samples of U5b, and displayed less strong genetic links to the Yamanya culture, Corded Ware culture, Bell Beaker culture and Unetice culture than earlier Wielbark samples from Kowalewko.
The results appeared to support the theory that the Goths originated in southern Scandinavia and expanded southwards through the Wielbark culture towards the Black Sea, where they mixed with local populations and established the Chernyakhov culture.

Chernyakhov culture

The Chernyakhov culture, or Sântana de Mureș culture, is an archaeological culture that flourished between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD in a wide area of Eastern Europe, specifically in what is now Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and parts of Belarus.
The culture is thought to be the result of a multiethnic cultural mix of the Sarmatian, Slavic, Gothic, and Geto-Dacian (including Romanised Daco-Romans) populations of the area. The Chernyakhov culture is very similar to the Wielbark culture, which was located closer to the Baltic Sea.
The Chernyakhov culture territorially replaced its predecessor, the Zarubintsy culture. Both cultures were discovered by the Czech-Ukrainian archaeologist, Vikentiy Khvoyka, who conducted numerous excavations around Kiev and its vicinity.
Among other archaeologists are Austrian Karel Hadáček from Eastern Galicia and Ivan Kovac from Transylvania. With the invasion of Huns, the culture declined and was replaced with the Penkovka culture (or the culture of the Antes).
The Chernyakhov culture encompassed regions of modern Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania.[6] It is named after the localities Sântana de Mureș, Mureș County, Transylvania in Romania and Cherniakhiv, Kaharlyk Raion, Kyiv Oblast in Ukraine. The dual name reflects past preferential use by different schools of history (Romanian and Soviet) to designate the culture.
The spelling “Chernyakhov” is the transliteration from the Russian language. Other spellings include Marosszentanna (Hungarian), Sîntana de Mureș (pre-1993 Romanian spelling), Cherniakhiv (Ukrainian), Czerniachów (Polish), and several others.
The ‘Culture-historical’ doctrine founded by German archaeologist Gustaf Kossinna, assumed that “sharply defined archaeological culture areas correspond unquestionably with the areas of particular peoples or tribes”.
Scholars today are more inclined to see material cultures as cultural-economic systems incorporating many different groups. “What created the boundaries of these cultural areas were not the political frontiers of a particular people, but the geographical limits within which the population groups interacted with sufficient intensity to make some or all of the remains of their physical culture – pottery, metal work, building styles, burial goods and so on- look very similar.
Kossinna’s Siedlungsarchäologie (‘settlement archaeology’) postulated that materially homogeneous archeological cultures could be matched with the ethnic groups defined by philologists. Essentially, scholars are tentative in ascribing an ‘ethnic’ identity to the material remains of past populations, although they recognise that certain objects may have been manipulated to represent some form of group identity, especially at times of inter-group conflict.
In the earlier half of the 20th century, scholars spent much energy debating the ethnic affinity of people in the Chernyakov zone. Soviet scholars, such as Boris Rybakov, saw it as the archaeological reflection of the proto-Slavs, but western, especially German, historians, and Polish archeologists attributed it to the Goths.
According to Kazimierz Godłowski (1979), the origins of Slavic culture should be connected with the areas of the upper Dnieper basin (the Kiev culture) while the Chernyakhov culture with the federation of the Goths. However, the remains of archaeologically visible material culture and their link with ethnic identity are not as clear as originally thought.
The Migration theory from Scandinavia to the Polish Baltic coast regions and further on to Ukraine was ideal propaganda material for German Nazi Ostsiedlung ideology and arguments for Lebensraum. Reference material used during that era was Ludwig Schmidt’s Geschichte der deutschen Stämme (History of the German Tribes).
Today, scholars recognize the Chernyakov zone as representing a cultural interaction of a diversity of peoples, but predominantly those who already existed in the region, whether it be the Sarmatians, or the Getae-Dacians (some authors believe that the Getae-Dacians played the leading role in the creation of the culture). Late Antiquity authors often confused the Getae with the Goths, most notably Jordanes, in his Getica.
Both inhumation and cremation were practiced. The dead were buried with grave goods – pottery, iron implements, bone combs, personal ornaments, although in later periods grave goods decrease. Of the inhumation burials, the dead were usually buried in a north–south axis (with head to north), although a minority are in east–west orientation.
Funerary gifts often include fibulae, belt buckles, bone combs, glass drinking vessels and other jewelry. Women’s burials in particular shared very close similarities with Wielbark forms – buried with two fibulae, one on each shoulder. Like in the Wielbark culture, Chernyakhov burials usually lack weapons as funerary gifts, except in a few cremation burials reminiscent of Przeworsk influences.
Although cremation burials are traditionally associated with Dacian, Germanic and Slavic peoples, and inhumation is suggestive of nomadic practice, careful analysis suggests that the mixed burials were of an earlier period, whilst toward the end there was a trend toward inhumation burials without grave goods. This could be the result of the influences of Christianity, but could just as easily be explained in terms of an evolution of non-Christian beliefs about the afterlife.
Pottery was predominantly of local production, being both wheel and hand-made. Wheel made pottery predominated, and was made of finer clay. It was reminiscent of earlier Sarmatian types, refined by Roman and La Tene influences. Hand made pottery showed a greater variety in form, and was sometimes decorated with incised linear motifs.
In addition, Roman amphorae are also found, suggesting trade contacts with the Roman world. There is also a small, but regular, presence of distinct hand–made pottery typical of that found in western Germanic groups, suggesting the presence of Germanic groups.
The Chernyakhov people were primarily a settled population involved in cultivation of cereals – especially wheat, barley and millet. Finds of ploughshares, sickles and scythes have been frequent. Cattle breeding was the primary mode of animal husbandry, and the breeding of horses appears to have been restricted to the open steppe. Metalworking skills were widespread throughout the culture, and local smiths produced much of the implements, although there is some evidence of production specialization.
The collapse of the culture is no longer explained in terms of population displacement, although there was an outmigration of Goths. Rather, more recent theories explain the collapse of the Chernyakhov culture in terms of a disruption of the hierarchical political structure that maintained it.
John Mathews suggests that, despite its cultural homogeneity, a sense of ethnic distinction was kept between the disparate peoples. Some of the autochthonous elements persist, and become even more widespread, after the demise of the Gothic elite – a phenomenon associated with the rise and expansion of the early Slavs.
Whilst acknowledging the mixed origins of the Chernyakiv culture, Peter Heather suggests that the culture is ultimately a reflection of the Goths’ domination of the Pontic area. He cites literary sources that attest that the Goths were the centre of political attention at this time.
In particular, the culture’s development corresponds well with Jordanes’ tale of Gothic migration from Gothiscandza to Oium, under the leadership of Filimer. Moreover, he highlights that crucial external influences that catalysed Chernyakhov cultural development derived from the Wielbark culture.
Originating in the mid-1st century, it spread from south of the Baltic Sea (from territory around later Pomerania) down the Vistula in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Wielbark elements are prominent in the Chernyakhov zone, such as typical ‘Germanic’ pottery, brooch types and female costume, and, in particular, weaponless bi-ritual burials.
Although cultures may spread without substantial population movements, Heather draws attention to a decrease in the number of settlements in the original Pomeranian Wielbark heartland as evidence of a significant population movement. Combined with Jordanes’ account,
Heather concludes that a movement of Goths (and other east Germanic groups such as Heruli and Gepids) “played a major role in the creation of the Cernjachove culture”. He clarifies that this movement was not a single, royal-led, migration, but was rather accomplished by a series of small, sometimes mutually antagonistic groups.
However, Guy Halsall challenges some of Heather’s conclusions. He sees no chronological development from the Wielbark to Chernyakhov culture, given that the latter stage of the Wielbark culture is synchronous with Chernyakhov, and the two regions have minimal territorial overlap. “Although it is often claimed that Cernjachov metalwork derives from Wielbark types, close examination reveals no more than a few types with general similarities to Wielbark types”.
Michael Kulikowski also challenges the Wielbark connection, highlighting that the greatest reason for Wielbark-Chernyakhov connection derives from a “negative characteristic” (i.e., the absence of weapons in burials), which is less convincing proof than a positive one.
He argues that the Chernyakhov culture could just as likely have been an indigenous development of local Pontic, Carpic or Dacian cultures, or a blended culture resulting from Przeworsk and steppe interactions.
Furthermore, he altogether denies the existence of Goths prior to the 3rd century. Kulikowski states that no Gothic people, nor even a noble kernel, migrated from Scandinavia or the Baltic. Rather, he suggests that the “Goths” formed in situ. Like the Alemanni or the Franks, the Goths were a “product of the Roman frontier”. Other influences, such as a minority of burials containing weapons, are seen from the Przeworsk and Zarubinec cultures. The latter has been connected with early Slavs.
In 2019, a genetic study of various cultures of the Eurasian Steppe, including the Chernyakhov culture, was published in Current Biology. Samples from three individuals thought to belong its Gothic component were analyzed. The individuals were found to be significantly unrelated to earlier samples from the region, such as those from Scythians and Sarmatians. These results appeared to confirm the theory that the Chernyakhov culture emerged as a result of Gothic migrations from the north.

Haplogroup R1b

The Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic R1b people had reached in what is now Germany by 2500 BCE. By 2300 BCE they had arrived in large numbers and founded the Unetice culture. Judging from the propagation of bronze working to Western Europe, those first Indo-Europeans reached France and the Low Countries by 2200 BCE, Britain by 2100 BCE and Ireland by 2000 BCE, and Iberia by 1800 BCE.
This first wave of R1b presumably carried R1b-L21 lineages in great number (perhaps because of a founder effect), as these are found everywhere in western, northern and Central Europe. confirmed the presence of R1b-L21 (DF13 and DF21 subclades) in Ireland around 2000 BCE.
Those genomes closely resembled those of the Unetice culture autosomally, but differed greatly from the earlier Neolithic Irish samples. This confirms that a direct migration of R1b-L21 from Central Europe was responsible for the introduction of the Bronze Age to Ireland.
The early split of L21 from the main Proto-Celtic branch around Germany would explain why the Q-Celtic languages (Goidelic and Hispano-Celtic) diverged so much from the P-Celtic branch (La Tène, Gaulish, Brythonic), which appears to have expanded from the later Urnfield and Hallstat cultures.
Some L21 lineages from the Netherlands and northern Germany later entered Scandinavia (from 1700 BCE) with the dominant subclade of the region, R1b-S21/U106, the principal Proto-Germanic branch of the Indo-European family tree.
This haplogroup is found at high concentrations in the Netherlands and north-west Germany. It is likely that R1b-S21 lineages expanded in this region through a founder effect during the Unetice period, then penetrated into Scandinavia around 1700 BCE (probably alongside R1a-L664), thus creating a new culture, that of the Nordic Bronze Age (1700-500 BCE).
R1b-S21 would then have blended for more than a millennium with preexisting Scandinavian populations, represented by haplogroups I1, I2-L801, R1a-Z284. When the Germanic Iron Age started c. 500 BCE, the Scandinavian population had developed a truly Germanic culture and language, but was divided in many tribes with varying levels of each haplogroup.
R1b-S21 became the dominant haplogroup among the West Germanic tribes, but remained in the minority against I1 and R1a in East Germanic and Nordic tribes, including those originating from Sweden such as the Goths, the Vandals and Lombards.
The presence of R1b-S21 in other parts of Europe can be attributed almost exclusively to the Germanic migrations that took place between the 3rd and the 10th century. The Frisians and Anglo-Saxons disseminated this haplogroup to England and the Scottish Lowlands, the Franks to Belgium and France, the Burgundians to eastern France, the Suebi to Galicia and northern Portugal, and the Lombards to Austria and Italy.
The Goths help propagate S21 around Eastern Europe, but apparently their Germanic lineages were progressively diluted by blending with Slavic and Balkanic populations, and their impact in Italy, France and Spain was very minor.
Later the Danish and Norwegian Vikings have also contributed to the diffusion of R1b-S21 (alongside I1, I2b1 and R1a) around much of Western Europe, but mainly in Iceland, in the British Isles, in Normandy, and in the southern Italy.
From the Late Middle Ages until the early 20th century, the Germans expanded across much of modern Poland, pushing as far as Latvia to the north-east and Romania to the south-east. During the same period the Austrians built an empire comprising what is now the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and parts of Romania, western Ukraine and southern Poland.
Many centuries of German and Austrian influence in central and Eastern Europe resulted in a small percentage of Germanic lineages being found among modern populations. In Romania 4% of the population still consider themselves German. The low percentage of R1b-S21 in Finland, Estonia and Latvia can be attributed to the Swedish or Danish rule from the late Middle Ages to the late 19th century.

Haplogroup R1a

The first major expansion of R1a took place with the westward propagation of the Corded Ware (or Battle Axe) culture (2800-1800 BCE) from the northern forest-steppe in the Yamna homeland. This was the first wave of R1a into Europe, the one that brought the Z283 subclade to Germany and the Netherlands, and Z284 to Scandinavia.
The Corded Ware R1a people would have mixed with the pre-Germanic I1 and I2 aborigines, which resulted in the first Indo-European culture in Germany and Scandinavia, although that culture could not be considered Proto-Germanic – it was simply Proto-Indo-European at that stage, or perhaps or Proto-Balto-Slavic.
Germanic languages probably did not appear before the Nordic Bronze Age (1800-500 BCE). Proto-Germanic language probably developed as a blend of two branches of Indo-European languages, namely the Proto-Balto-Slavic language of the Corded-Ware culture (R1a-Z283) and the later arrival of Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic people from the Unetice culture (R1b-L11).
This is supported by the fact that Germanic people are a R1a-R1b hybrid, that these two haplogroups came via separate routes at different times, and that Proto-Germanic language is closest to Proto-Italo-Celtic, but also shares similarities with Proto-Slavic.
The R1b branch of the Indo-Europeans is thought to have originated in the southern Yamna culture (northern shores of the Black Sea). It was the first one to migrate from the steppes to the west, invading the Danube delta around 4200 BCE, then making its way around the Balkans and the Hungarian plain in the 4th millennium BCE.
It is likely that a minority of R1a people accompanied this migration of R1b tribes. Those R1a men would have belonged to the L664 subclade, the first to split from the Yamna core. These early steppe invaders were not a homogeneous group, but a cluster of tribes.
It is possible that the R1a-L664 people were one or several separate tribes of their own, or that they mixed with some R1b tribes, notably R1b-U106, which would become the main Germanic lineage many centuries later.
The R1b-R1a contingent moved up the Danube to the Panonian plain around 2800 BCE, brought to an end the local Bell Beaker culture (circa 2200 BCE) and Corded Ware culture (c. 2400 BCE) in Central Europe, and set up the Unetice culture (2300-1600 BCE) around Bohemia and eastern Germany. Unetice can be seen as the source of future Germanic, Celtic and Italic cultures, and is associated mainly with the L11 subclade of R1b.
The late Unetice culture expanded to Scandinavia, founding the Nordic Bronze Age. R1a-L664 and R1b (L11 and U106) presumably reached Scandinavia at this time. The people of the Nordic Bronze Age probably spoke a Proto-Germanic language.
For over a thousand years while this culture existed, the Proto-Germanic R1b et R1a-L664 tribes would have acquired vocabulary from the pre-existing Corded Ware population that they assimilated, which was itself a blend of Proto-Balto-Slavic languages (linked to haplogroup R1a-Z284) and languages of non-Indo-European origin (linked to haplogroups G2a, I1 and I2).
The Nordic Bronze Age was a melting pot of these three populations, which intermingled both genetically and linguistically, little by little creating a new ethnicity and culture as time went by.
The first genuinely Germanic language has been estimated by linguists to have come into existence around (or after) 500 BCE, just as the Nordic Bronze Age came to an end, giving way to the Pre-Roman Iron Age.
The uniqueness of some of the Germanic vocabulary copared to other Indo-European languages suggests that borrowings from indigenous pre-Indo-European languages took place (Germanic substrate theory). The Celtic language itself is known to have borrowed words from Afro-Asiatic languages spoken by the descendants of Near-Eastern farmers who had settled in Central Europe.
The fact that present-day Scandinavia is composed of roughly 40% of I1, 20% of R1a and 40% of R1b reinforces the idea that the Germanic ethnicity and language had acquired a tri-hybrid character by the Iron Age.

Haplogroup I1

Haplogroup I1 is the most common type of haplogroup I in northern Europe. It is found mostly in Scandinavia and Finland, where it typically represent over 35% of the Y-DNA. Associated with the Norse ethnicity, I1 is found in all places invaded by ancient Germanic tribes and the Vikings.
After the core of ancient Germanic civilisation in Scandinavia, the highest frequencies of I1 are observed in other Germanic-speaking regions, such as Germany, Austria, the Low Countries, England and the Scottish Lowlands, which all have between 10% and 20% of I1 lineages.
Haplogroup I is the oldest major haplogroup in Europe and in all probability the only one that originated there (apart from very minor haplogroups like C1a2 and deep subclades of other haplogroups).
Haplogroup IJ would have arrived from the Middle East to Europe some 35,000 years ago, then developed into haplogroup I soon afterwards. It has now been confirmed that the first Homo sapiens to colonize Europe during the Aurignacian period (45,000 to 28,000 years ago), belonged to haplogroups CT, C1a, C1b, F and I.
It is estimated that the I1 branch bifurcated from the rest of haplogroup I some 27,000 years ago. I1 is defined by over 300 unique mutations, which indicates that this lineage experienced a serious population bottleneck. Most of the Late Glacial and Mesolithic remains tested to date belonged to haplogroup I* or I2.
It is not yet clear in which part of Europe I1 originated. It has been speculated that I1 evolved in isolation in Scandinavia during the late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, when hunter-gatherers from southern Europe recolonised the northern half of the continent from their Last Glacial Maximum refugia.
The oldest attested evidence of postglacial resettlement of Scandinavia dates from 11,000 BCE with the appearance of the Ahrensburg culture. However, five Y-DNA samples from Mesolithic Sweden, dating from c. 5800 to 5000 BCE and tested by Lazaridis et al. (2013) and Haak et al. (2015) all turned out to belong to haplogroup I2.
The earliest sign of haplogroup I1 emerged from the testing of Early Neolithic Y-DNA from western Hungary (Szécsényi-Nagy et al. (2014)). A single I1 sample was identified alongside a G2a2b sample, both from the early Linear Pottery (LBK) culture, which would later diffuse the new agricultural lifestyle to most of Poland, Germany and the Low Countries. This means that haplogroup I1 was present in central Europe at the time of the Neolithic expansion.
It is therefore possible that I1 lineages were among the Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers that were assimilated by the wave of East Mediterranean Neolithic farmers (represented chiefly by Y-haplogroup G2a). There is also evidence from the samples of the Early Neolithic Starčevo culture and Cardium Pottery culture that haplogroup I2a lived alongside G2a farmers both in south-eastern and south-western Europe.
The most likely hypothesis at present is that I1 and I2 lineages were dispersed around Europe during the Mesolithic, and that some branches prospered more than others thanks to an early adoption of agriculture upon contact with the Near Eastern farmers who were slowly making their way across the Balkans and the Mediterranean shores.
The small groups of farmers from the early LBK culture in Hungary surely included a majority of G2a men accompanied by other minor haplogroups assimilated along the way over the centuries, including I1 men.
Yet distinct families would have spread in different directions and met varying successes in their expansion. It would appear that a founder effect in the northern LBK population led to a sudden explosion of I1 lineages, perhaps in part thanks to their better knowledge of the Central European terrain and fauna (since hunting was typically practised side by side to agriculture to complement the farmers’ diet). I1 would later have spread to Scandinavia from northern Germany.
This data is consistent with a Neolithic dispersal of I1 from Hungary with the LBK culture and the subsequent Funnelbeaker culture (4000-2700 BCE) in northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. One Swedish sample from the late Mesolithic Pitted Ware culture (3200-2300 BCE) also turned out to belong to I2a1 and not I1.
Both the Funnelbeaker and Pitted Ware cultures represent a merger between the Neolithic (farming) and Mesolithic (hunter-gathering) lifestyles. Neolithic farmers from Germany penetrated late into Scandinavia and in small numbers.
There is archeological evidence that Neolithic farmers settled in southern Scandinavia and lived side by side with hunter-gatherers for several centuries during the Funnelbeaker culture. Skoglund et al. 2012 tested and compared the DNA of one Neolithic farmer and three hunter-gatherers from Sweden dating from 5,000 years ago.
It turned out that the farmer was much closer genetically to modern Mediterranean people, especially the Sardinians, who are considered to be the closest modern population to Neolithic European farmers. The hunter-gatherers’s DNA resembled that of modern Northeast Europeans, and perhaps even more that of the Balts, Finns and Samis than Scandinavians.
Scandinavian hunter-gatherers would have adopted the new Neolithic lifestyle little by little, using pottery and keeping domesticated animals (sheep, cattle, pigs and goats) to complement their traditional diet of fishing and game hunting. The cultivation of wheat, barley and legumes was fairly limited due to the cold climate.
The cold climate was actually a barrier to the expansion of farmers from the continent. This is why Scandinavians retained a greater percentage of Mesolithic ancestry than virtually all other Europeans, apart from the Samis, Finns, Balts and Russians.
No ancient Y-DNA from the Funnelbeaker culture in Scandinavia has been tested to date, but it is likely that I1 really started gathering momentum toward the end of the Funnelbeaker period.
It might also have been among the Funnelbeaker lineages that were most successfully assimilated by Proto-Indo-European invaders during the Corded Ware culture (aka Battle-Axe culture in Scandinavia). Most I1 individuals today share a common ancestor around the time of the transition between the Funnelbeaker and Corded Ware periods.
So how comes that modern Scandinavians belong essentially to three haplogroups (I1, R1a and R1b) that haven’t been found in Mesolithic Scandinavian samples? I1 would have been the first to penetrated into Scandinavia during the farming transition that lasted roughly from 4,200 to 2,300 BCE.
It could be that the replacement of Mesolithic paternal lineages (I* and I2) throughout Nordic countries, including Lapland and Finland, started with a few farmers and stock breeders that spread around Scandinavia and through a founder effect belonged almost exclusively to I1.
The alternate hypothesis is that I1 spread together with R1a-Z284 from Denmark to Sweden and Norway during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age with the Battle-Axe culture. So far the earliest evidence of I1 in Scandinavia dates from the Nordic Bronze Age, with a single sample from Sweden dating from circa 1400 BCE.
In the vast majority of farming societies men are the ones who inherit the land and the livestock. As wild game became scarcier, especially during cold winters, farmers would have had a definite advantage for food and survival prospects.
As surely happened in other parts of Europe, women from hunter-gathering families were married to wealthy farmers. After several millennia, with agricultural land and livestock always inherited by I1 lineages from father to son, I1 became the dominant lineage, even though their maternal lines had become hybridized over time.
Nowadays, according to the autosomal admixture tested performed by Lazaridis et al. (2014), Scandinavians have only a few percents more Mesolithic admxiture than Neolithic admixture. The Saami of Lapland were the last hunter-gatherers of Europe. But even they turned to stock breeding by domesticating the indigenous reindeer, better suited to the harsh local climate than cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.
Reindeer domestication appears to have originated with North Asian N1c1 tribes. And indeed modern Saami are primarily N1c1 people with only a minority of Scandinavian paternal lineages (I1, R1b, R1a).
The proportions between haplogroups I1, R1a and R1b among the Sami, and the age of the deep clades present in this population indicate that these haplogroups were incorporated into the Saami gene pool together relatively recently (probably in historical times, from or after the Viking age).
N1c1 lineages, however, may have not have arrived that early either. N1c1 is associated with the diffusion of the Uralic languages, which are thought to have spread to the eastern Baltic with the Comb Ceramic culture from 4200 BCE, around the same time as the Funnelbeaker culture.
According to a phylogenetic reconstruction of the Uralic languages, the Proto-Finnic and Proto-Samic split from each others only 2,500 years ago, and Samic dialects started diversifying less than 1,000 years ago.
In all likelihood all trace of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Lapland has been wiped out on the paternal (Y-chromosomal) side, like in most of Scandinavia. Before the arrival of N1c1 in Fennoscandia, the Nordic ancestors of the Saami would have belonged to Y-haplogroups I* and I2, and to mt-haplogroups U5b and V.
From 2800 BCE, a large-scale cultural and genetic upheaval hit Scandinavia with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans from Eastern Europe, who introduced the Copper Age and Early Bronze Age to the region practically without Neolithic transition.
The first Indo-Europeans to reach Scandinavia were the Corded Ware people from modern Russia, Belarus and Poland, who are thought to have belonged predominantly to haplogroup R1a, with a minority of R1b and I2a.
These people shared some similar maternal lineages as Scandinavian I1 inhabitants, including mtDNA haplogroups U2e, U4 and U5, but also brought many new lineages such as H2a1, H6, W and various subclades of I, J, K and T.
The second major Indo-European migration to Scandinavia was that of haplogroup R1b-U106, the branch that is thought to have introduced Proto-Germanic languages, as an offshoot of the Proto-Celto-Germanic speakers from Central Europe.
R1b probably entered Scandinavia from present-day Germany as a northward expansion of the late Unetice culture (2300-1600 BCE). The oldest known R1b sample in Scandinavia dates from the Nordic Bronze Age circa 1400 BCE (see Allentoft 2015 above).
According to the Germanic substrate hypothesis, first proposed by Sigmund Feist in 1932, Proto-Germanic was a hybrid language mixing Indo-European (R1b, and to a lower extent R1a) and pre-Indo-European (Mesolithic I2 and Neolithic G2a and I1) elements. This hybridisation would have taken place during the Bronze Age and given birth to the first Proto-Germanic civilization, the Nordic Bronze Age (1700-500 BCE).

Germanic Language

All Germanic languages derive from the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), which is generally estimated to have been spoken between 4500 and 2500 BCE. During the Pre-Germanic linguistic period (2500–500 BCE), the proto-language has almost certainly been influenced by linguistic substrates still noticeable in the Germanic phonology and lexicon.
The leading theory, suggested by archaeological and genetic evidence, postulates a diffusion of Indo-European languages from the Pontic–Caspian steppe towards Northern Europe during the third millennium BCE, via linguistic contacts and migrations from the Corded Ware culture towards modern-day Denmark, resulting in cultural mixing with the indigenous Funnelbeaker culture.
It is possible that Indo-European speakers first arrived in southern Scandinavia with the Corded Ware culture in the mid-3rd millennium BC, developing into the Nordic Bronze Age cultures by the early 2nd millennium BC. Proto-Germanic developed out of pre-Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe.
They share distinctive characteristics which set them apart from other Indo-European sub-families of languages, such as Grimm’s and Verner’s law, the conservation of the PIE ablaut system in the Germanic verb system (notably in strong verbs), or the merger of the vowels a and o qualities (ə, a, o > a; ā, ō > ō).
The Proto-Germanic language developed in southern Scandinavia (Denmark, south Sweden and southern Norway), the Urheimat (original home) of the Germanic tribes.
Between around 500 BCE and the beginning of the Common Era, archeological and linguistic evidence suggest that the Urheimat (‘original homeland’) of the Proto-Germanic language, the ancestral idiom of all attested Germanic dialects, was primarily situated in southern Scandinavia and along the sea-shores of the Baltic and the North Sea, corresponding to the extent of the Jastorf culture. 
The Jastorf culture was an Iron Age material culture in what are now southern Scandinavia and north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south.
One piece of evidence is the presence of early Germanic loanwords in the Finnic and Sámi languages (e.g. Finnic kuningas, from Proto-Germanic *kuningaz ‘king’), with the older loan layers possibly dating back to an earlier period of intense contacts between pre-Germanic and Finno-Permic (i.e. Finno-Samic) speakers. An archeological continuity can also be demonstrated between the Jastof culture and populations defined as Germanic by Roman sources.
Although Proto-Germanic is reconstructed dialect-free via the comparative method, it is almost certain that it never was a uniform proto-language. The late Jastorf culture occupied so much territory that is it unlikely that Germanic populations spoke a single dialect, and traces of early linguistic varieties have been highlighted by scholars.
According to the Germanic substrate hypothesis, it may be influenced by non-Indo-European cultures, such as the Funnelbeaker culture, but the sound change in the Germanic languages known as Grimm’s law points to a non-substratic development away from other branches of Indo-European.
Proto-Germanic itself was likely spoken after c. 500 BC, and Proto-Norse from the 2nd century AD and later is still quite close to reconstructed Proto-Germanic, but other common innovations separating Germanic from Proto-Indo-European suggest a common history of pre-Proto-Germanic speakers throughout the Nordic Bronze Age.
Sister dialects of Proto-Germanic itself certainly existed, as evidenced by the absence of Grimm’s law in some Germanic recorded proper names, and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic language was only one among several dialects spoken at that time by peoples identified as “Germanic” by Roman sources or archeological data.
Early Germanic expansion in the Pre-Roman Iron Age (5th to 1st centuries BC) placed Proto-Germanic speakers in contact with the Continental Celtic La Tène horizon. A number of Celtic loanwords in Proto-Germanic have been identified. By the 1st century AD, Germanic expansion reached the Danube and the Upper Rhine in the south and the Germanic peoples first entered the historical record.
At about the same time, extending east of the Vistula (Oksywie culture, Przeworsk culture), Germanic speakers came into contact with early Slavic cultures, as reflected in early Germanic loans in Proto-Slavic.
By the 3rd century, Late Proto-Germanic speakers had expanded over significant distance, from the Rhine to the Dniepr spanning about 1,200 km (700 mi). The period marks the breakup of Late Proto-Germanic and the beginning of the (historiographically-recorded) Germanic migrations.
The first coherent text recorded in a Germanic language is the Gothic Bible, written in the later 4th century in the language of the Thervingi Gothic Christians, who had escaped persecution by moving from Scythia to Moesia in 348.
The earliest available coherent texts (conveying complete sentences, including verbs) in Proto-Norse begin in c. 400 in runic inscriptions (such as the Tune Runestone). The delineation of Late Common Germanic from Proto-Norse at about that time is largely a matter of convention. Early West Germanic text is available from the 5th century, beginning with the Frankish Bergakker inscription.
Although it has been noted that they bear a more formal resemblance to North Italic alphabets (especially the Camunic alphabet; 1st mill. BCE) than to Latin letters, the origin of the Germanic runes remains controversial. It must be assumed that Proto-Germanic speakers living in Germania were members of pre-writing societies.
They are not attested before the beginning of the Common Era in southern Scandinavia, and the connection between the two alphabets is therefore uncertain. The only pre-Roman inscriptions that could be interpreted as Proto-Germanic, written in the Etruscan alphabet, has not been found in Germania but rather in the Venetic region.
The inscription harikastiteiva\\\ip, engraved on the Negau helmet in the 3rd–2nd centuries BCE, possibly by a Germanic-speaking warrior involved in combat in northern Italy, has been interpreted by some scholars as Harigasti Teiwǣ (*harja-gastiz ‘army-guest’ + *teiwaz ‘(war-)god’), which could be an invocation to a war-god or a mark of ownership engraved by its possessor.
The earliest attested runic inscriptions (Vimose comb, Øvre Stabu spearhead), initially concentrated in modern Denmark and written with the Elder Futhark system, are dated to the second half of the 2nd century CE. Their language, named Primitive Norse, Proto-Norse, or similar terms, and still very close to Proto-Germanic, has been interpreted as a northern variant of the Northwest Germanic dialects and the ancestor of the Old Norse language of the Viking Age (8th–11th c. CE).
Based upon its dialect-free character and shared features with West Germanic languages, some scholars have contended that it served as a kind of koiné language. The merging of unstressed Proto-Germanic vowels, attested in runic inscriptions from the 4th and 5th centuries CE, also suggests that Primitive Norse could not have been a direct predecessor of West Germanic dialects.
By the time Germanic speakers entered written history, their linguistic territory had stretched farther south, since a Germanic dialect continuum (where neighbouring language varieties diverged only slightly between each others, but remote dialects were not necessarily mutually intelligible due to accumulated differences over the distance) covered a region roughly located between the Rhine, the Vistula, the Danube, and southern Scandinavia during the first two centuries of the Common Era.
East Germanic speakers dwelled on the Baltic sea coasts and islands, while speakers of the Northwestern dialects occupied territories in present-day Denmark and bordering parts of Germany at the earliest date when they can be identified.
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, migrations of East Germanic gentes from the Baltic Sea coast southeastwards into the hinterland led to their separation from the dialect continuum. By the late 3rd century CE, linguistic divergences like the West Germanic loss of the final consonant -z had already occurred within the “residual” Northwest dialect continuum, which definitely ended after the 5th- and 6th-century migrations of Angles, Jutes and part of Saxon tribes towards modern-day England.
Although they have certainly influenced academic views on ancient Germanic languages up until the 20th century, the traditional groupings given by contemporary authors like Pliny and Tacitus are no longer regarded as reliable by modern linguists, who rather found their reasoning on the attested sound changes and shared mutations which occurred in geographically distant groups of dialects.
The Germanic languages are traditionally divided between East, North and West Germanic branches. The modern prevailing view is that North and West Germanic were also encompassed in a larger subgroup called Northwest Germanic.
Northwest Germanic: mainly characterized by the i-umlaut, and the shift of the long vowel *ē towards a long *ā in accented syllables; it remained a dialect continuum following the migration of East Germanic speakers in the 2nd–3rd century CE.
North Germanic or Primitive Norse: initially characterized by the monophthongization of the sound ai to ā (attested from ca. 400 BCE); a uniform northern dialect or koiné attested in runic inscriptions from the 2nd century CE onward, it remained practically unchanged until a transitional period that started in the late 5th century; and Old Norse, a language attested by runic inscriptions written in the Younger Fuþark from the beginning of the Viking Age (8th–9th centuries CE).
West Germanic: including Old Saxon (attested from the 5th c. CE), Old English (late 5th c.), Old Frisian (6th c.), Frankish (6th c.), Old High German (6th c.), and possibly Langobardic (6th c.), which is only scarcely attested; there are mainly characterized by the loss of the final consonant -z (attested from the late 3rd century), and by the j-consonant gemination (attested from ca. 400 BCE); early inscriptions from the West Germanic areas are found in dedications to matronea in the Rhineland dated to ca. 160−260 CE; West Germanic remained a “residual” dialect continuum until the Anglo-Saxon migrations in the 5th–6th centuries CE.
East Germanic, of which only Gothic is attested by both runic inscriptions (from the 3rd c. CE) and textual evidence (principally Wulfila’s Bible; ca. 350−380). It became extinct after the fall of the Visigothic Kingdom in the early 8th century. The inclusion of the Burgundian and Vandalic languages within the East Germanic group, while plausible, is still uncertain due to their scarce attestation. The latest attested East Germanic language, Crimean Gothic, has been partially recorded in the 16th century.
Further internal classifications are still debated among scholars, as it is unclear whether the internal features shared by several branches are due to early common innovations or to the later diffusion of local dialectal innovations.
Although Old English and Old Frisian shared distinctive characteristics such as the Anglo-Frisian nasal spirant law, attested by the 6th century in inscriptions on both sides of the North Sea, and the use of the fuþorc system with additional runes to convey innovative and shared sound changes, it is unclear whether those common features are really inherited or have rather emerged by connections over the North Sea.
By the 1st century CE, the writings of Pliny the Elder, and Tacitus reported a division of Germanic peoples into large groupings. Tacitus, in his Germania, specifically stated that one such division mentioned “in old songs” (carminibus antiquis) derived three such groups from three brothers, sons of Mannus, who was son of an earth-born god, Tuisto.
These terms are also sometimes used in older modern linguistic terminology, attempting to describe the divisions of later Germanic languages: Ingvaeones, nearest to the Ocean. Herminones in the interior. Istvaeones, the remainder.
On the other hand, he wrote in the same passage that some believe that there are other groups which are just as old as these three, including “the Marsi, Gambrivii, Suevi, Vandilii”. Of these, Tacitus only discussed the Suebi in detail, specifying that they were a very large grouping, with many tribes, with their own names. The largest, he said, was the Semnones near the Elbe, who “claim that they are the oldest and the noblest of the Suebi.”
Pliny the Elder, somewhat similarly, named five races of Germani in his Historia Naturalis, with the same basic three groups as Tacitus, plus two more eastern blocks of Germans, the Vandals, and further east the Bastarnae. He clarifies that the Istvaeones are near the Rhine, although he only gives one problematic example, the Cimbri. He also clarifies that the Suevi, though numerous, are actually in one of the three Mannus groups.
His list: The Vandili, include the Burgundiones, the Varini, the Carini, and the Gutones. The Varini are listed by Tacitus as being Suebic, and the Gutones are described by him as Germanic, leaving open the question of whether they are Suebian. The Ingævones include the Cimbri, the Teutoni, and the tribes of the Chauci. The Istævones, who “join up to the Rhine”, and including the Cimbri [sic, repeated, probably by error] The Hermiones, forming a fourth, dwell in the interior, and include the Suevi, the Hermunduri, the Chatti, the Cherusci, The Peucini, who are also the Basternæ, adjoining the Daci.
These accounts and others from the period emphasize that the Suebi formed an especially large and powerful group. Tacitus speaks also of a geographical “Suevia” with two halves either side of the Sudetes.
The larger group that the Suevi were part of according to Pliny, the Hermiones, is mentioned in one other source: Pomponius Mela in his slightly earlier Description of the World, places “the farthest people of Germania, the Hermiones” somewhere to the east of the Cimbri and the Teutones, apparently on the Baltic. He did not mention Suebians.
Strabo, who focused mainly on Germani between the Elbe and Rhine, and does not mention the sons of Mannus, also set apart the names of Germani who are not Suevian, in two other groups, similarly implying three main divisions: “smaller German tribes, as the Cherusci, Chatti, Gamabrivi, Chattuarii, and next the ocean the Sicambri, Chaubi, Bructeri, Cimbri, Cauci, Caulci, Campsiani”.
From the perspective of modern linguistic reconstructions, the classical ethnographers were not helpful in distinguishing two large groups that spoke types of Germanic very different from the Suebians and their neighbours, whose languages are the source of modern West Germanic.
The Germanic peoples of the far north, in Scandinavia, were treated as Suebians by Tacitus, though their Germanic dialects would evolve into Proto Norse, and later Old Norse, as spoken by the Vikings, and then the North Germanic language family of today.
The “Gothic peoples” who later formed large nations in the area that is today Ukraine, were not known to Tacitus, Pliny or Strabo, but their East Germanic languages are presumed to derive from languages spoken by Pliny’s Vandal group (corresponding in part to the group made up of Gothones, Lemovii and Rugii described by Tacitus, who lived near the Baltic sea), and possibly also the Bastarnae.
The “Gothic peoples” in the territory of present-day Ukraine and Romania were seen by Graeco-Roman writers as culturally “Scythian”, and not Germanic, and indeed some of them such as the Alans were clearly not Germanic-speaking either. Whether the Gothic-speaking groups among them had any consciousness of their connections to other Germanic-speaking peoples is a subject of dispute between scholars.

Fosna and Hensbacka cultures

The Fosna and Hensbacka cultures (8300-7300 BC), were two very similar Late Palaeolithic and early Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavia, and are often subsumed under the name Fosna–Hensbacka culture.
This complex includes the Komsa culture that, notwithstanding different types of tools, is also considered to be a part of the Fosna culture group. The main difference is that the Fosna/Komsa culture was distributed along the coast of Northern Norway, whereas the Hensbacka culture had a more eastern distribution along the coast of western Sweden; primarily in central Bohuslän to the north of Gothenburg.
The oldest settlements in Bohuslän on the Swedish west coast (the Hensbacka), derive from the Ahrensburgian culture group from Northern Germany. The Hensbacka culture evolved into the later Sandarna culture which is found along the coast of western Sweden.
Recent investigations indicate that this particular area, i.e. central Bohuslän, may well have had the largest seasonal population in northern Europe during the Late Palaeolithic/early Mesolithic transition. This was due to environmental circumstances brought about by the relationship between the Vänern basin in the east, and topographical features in the North Sea basin to the west.
The name Fosna takes its name from Fosna or Lille-Fosen, the former name of Kristiansund, and it is an umbrella term for the oldest settlements along the Norwegian coast, from Hordaland to Nordland. The oldest Fosna settlements in Eastern Norway are found at Høgnipen in Østfold. New finds (2008) on Pauler in Larvik seem to be even older.
The settlements were located close to the contemporary seashore but, due to constant land uplift after deglaciation, they are now 60–70 m above present-day sea level in western Norway, while Høgnipen is as high as 150 m above present-day sea level, the difference being due to the greater crustal rebound on the Baltic side of the Scandinavian peninsula.
Site locations indicate that fishing and seal hunting were important for the economy and it is assumed that hide covered wooden framed boats were used in that the majority of Hensbacka sites (c. 75%) are located on islands in the outer archipelago.
The Fosna/Hensbacka culture represent a pure hunter-gatherer culture. On settlements, archaeologists have only found stone tools and the remains of the production of the same. Characteristic tools include flake axes, lanceolates and tanged arrowheads.

Komsa culture

The Komsa culture (Komsakulturen) was a Mesolithic culture of hunter-gatherers that existed from around 10,000 BC in Northern Norway. The culture is named after Mount Komsa in the community of Alta, Finnmark, where the remains of the culture were first discovered. The term was first used by the Norwegian archaeologist Anders Nummedal (1867–1944) after the discoveries he made on Mount Komsa in 1925.
The distinction between a “Komsa” type of stone-tool culture north of the Arctic Circle and a “Fosna” type from Trøndelag to Oslofjord was rendered obsolete in the 1970s. Nowadays both phenomena are ascribed to different types of tools of the same culture.
Recent archaeological finds from Finnish Lapland were originally thought to represent an inland aspect of the Komsa culture equally old as the earliest finds from the Norwegian coast. However, this material is now considered to be affiliated with the contemporary Post-Swiderian culture of North Central Russia and the eastern Baltic and thus to represent a separate early incursion into northernmost Scandinavia.
The commonly held view today is that the earliest settlement of the North Norwegian coast originated on the western and southwestern coast of Norway and ultimately in the final Palaeolithic Ahrensburg culture of northwestern Europe.
The Komsa are thought to have followed the Norwegian coastline when receding glaciation at the end of the last ice age (between 11,000 and 8000 BC) opened up new areas for settlement.
It was formerly believed that some elements may have moved into modern-day Finnmark from the northeast, possibly coming from ice-free coasts of the Kola Peninsula.
However, recent research indicates that a number of the coastal sites in the Varangerfjord area previously attributed to the second phase of the “Komsa” continuum actually represent an early incursion from the southeast (northwestern Russia) and are related to the early Post-Swiderian influx discovered in northernmost Finnish Lapland.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the Komsa culture was almost exclusively sea-oriented, living mainly off seal hunting and being able boat-builders and fishermen. In comparison to the southern Norway’s contemporary Fosna variety of this same culture, stone tools and other implements appear relatively crude. This has been explained with a paucity of flintstone in the region.

Kunda culture

The Kunda culture, originating from the Swiderian culture, comprised mesolithic hunter-gatherer communities of the Baltic forest zone extending eastwards through Latvia into northern Russia, dating to the period 8500–5000 BC according to calibrated radiocarbon dating. The oldest known settlement of the Kunda culture in Estonia is Pulli.
It is named after the Estonian town of Kunda, about 110 kilometres (70 mi) east of Tallinn along the Gulf of Finland, near where the first extensively studied settlement was discovered on Lammasmäe Hill and in the surrounding peat bog.
The Kunda culture appears to have undergone a transition from the Palaeolithic Swiderian culture located previously over much of the same range. One such transition settlement, Pasieniai 1C in Lithuania, features stone tools of both Late Swiderian and early Kunda. One shape manufactured in both cultures is the retouched tanged point.
The final Swiderian is dated 7800–7600 BC, which is in the Preboreal period, at the end of which time with no gap the early Kunda begins. Evidently the descendants of the Swiderians were the first to settle Estonia when it became habitable. Other post-Swiderian groups extended as far east as the Ural mountains.
The Kunda culture was succeeded by the Narva culture, who used pottery and showed some traces of food production. Most Kunda settlements are located near the edge of the forests beside rivers, lakes, or marshes. Elk were extensively hunted, perhaps helped by trained domestic hunting-dogs. On the coast seal hunting is represented. Pike and other fish were taken from the rivers.
There is a rich bone and antler industry, especially in relation to fishing gear. Tools were decorated with simple geometric designs, lacking the complexity of the contemporary Maglemosian Culture communities to the southwest.
In a genetic study published in Current Biology in February 2017, it was determined that peoples of the Kunda culture and the succeeding Narva culture showed closer genetic affinity with Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHGs) than Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHGs).
In a genetic study published in Nature Communications in January 2018, the remains of a male and female ascribed to the Kunda culture was analyzed. The male was found to be carrying haplogroup I and U5b2c1, while the female carried U4a2.
They were found to have “a very close affinity” with WHGs, although with “a significant contribution” from Ancient North Eurasians (ANE). Their ANE ancestry was lower than that of Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers, indicating that ANE ancestry entered Scandinavia without traversing the Baltic.
A genetic study published in Nature in February 2018 included an analysis of a large number of individuals buried at the Zvejnieki burial ground, most of whom were affiliated with the Kunda culture and the succeeding Narva culture.
The mtDNA extracted belonged exclusively to haplotypes of U5, U4 and U2. With regards to Y-DNA, the vast majority of samples belonged to R1b1a1a haplotypes and I2a1 haplotypes. The results affirmed that the Kunda and Narva cultures were about 70% WHG and 30% EHG. The nearby contemporary Pit–Comb Ware culture was on the contrary found to be about 65% EHG.

Post Swiderian

Swiderian culture (10.000-8200 BC), also published in English literature as Sviderian and Swederian, is the name of an Upper Palaeolithic/Mesolithic cultural complex, centred on the area of modern Poland.
The type-site is Świdry Wielkie, in Otwock near the Swider River, a tributary to the Vistula River, in Masovia. The Swiderian is recognized as a distinctive culture that developed on the sand dunes left behind by the retreating glaciers.
Rimantiene (1996) considered the relationship between Swiderian and Solutrean “outstanding, though also indirect”, in contrast with the Bromme-Ahrensburg complex (Lyngby culture), for which she introduced the term “Baltic Magdalenian” for generalizing all other North European Late Paleolithic culture groups that have a common origin in Aurignacian.
The Ukrainian archaeologist L. Zalizniak (1989) believes Kunda culture of Central Russia and the Baltic zone, and other so-called post-Swiderian cultures, derive from the Swiderian culture. Sorokin (2004) rejects the “contact” hypothesis of the formation of Kunda culture and holds it originated from the seasonal migrations of Swiderian people at the turn of Pleistocene and Holocene when human subsistence was based on hunting reindeer.
Many of the earliest Mesolithic sites in Finland are post-Swiderian; these include the Ristola site in Lahti and the Saarenoja 2 site in Joutseno with lithics in imported flint, as well as the Sujala site in Utsjoki in the province of Lapland. The raw materials of the lithic assemblage at Sujala originate in the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway.
Concerning this region, the commonly held view today is that the earliest settlement of the North Norwegian coast originated in the Fosna culture of the western and southwestern coast of Norway and ultimately in the final Palaeolithic Ahrensburg culture of northwestern Europe.
The combination of a coastal raw material and a lithic technique typical to Late Palaeolithic and very early Mesolithic industries of northern Europe, originally suggested that Sujala was contemporaneous to Phase 1 of the Norwegian Finnmark Mesolithic (Komsa proper), dating to between 9 000 and 10 000 BP.
Proposed parallels with the blade technology among the earliest Mesolithic finds in southern Norway would have placed the find closer or even before 10 000 BP. However, a preliminary connection to early North Norwegian settlements is contradicted by the shape of the tanged points and by the blade reduction technology from Sujala.
The bifacially shaped tang and ventral retouch on the tip of the arrowpoints and the pressure technique used in blade manufacture are rare or absent in Ahrensburgian contexts, but very characteristic of the so-called Post-Swiderian cultures of northwestern Russia.
There, counterparts of the Sujala cores can also be found. The Sujala assemblage is currently considered unquestionably post-Swiderian and is dated by radiocarbon to 9265-8930 BP, the true age being approximately 8300-8200 BC. Such an Early Mesolithic influence from Russia or the Baltic might imply an adjustment to previous thoughts on the colonization of the Barents Sea coast.

Nøstvet and Lihult cultures

The Nøstvet culture (ca 6200 BC-3200 BC) and the Lihult culture are two very similar Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavian prehistory derived from the earlier Fosna-Hensbacka cultures. They are so varied and vaguely defined that they are rather a tradition than an archaeological culture.
The Nøstvet culture appeared around the Oslofjord and along the Norwegian coast up to Trøndelag, whereas the Lihult culture is found in western coastal Sweden. Sometimes the Sandarna culture appears as the name of an intermediary form between the Swedish Hensbacka and Lihult cultures. This name comes from a settlement near Gothenburg (approximately 7000 BC–5000 BC).
The Nøstvet people lived on open settlements. They used honed axes and microliths of various rocks, such as quartz, quartzite and flint. They lived primarily of hunting various animals such as seafowl and marine mammals, in addition to fishing and gathering. The size of the settlements grows over time, which reflects an increase in population and a more sedentary lifestyle.
In southern Scandinavia, its neighbours were first the Kongemose culture (roughly 6000 BC–5200 BC) and later on the Ertebølle culture (about 5200 BC–4000 BC). About 4000 BC, the Nøstvet and Lihult cultures are succeeded by the Funnelbeaker culture and disappear from the archaeological record.

Kongemose culture

The Kongemose culture (6000-5200 BC) was a mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia ca.  and the origin of the Ertebølle culture. It was preceded by the Maglemosian culture. In the north it bordered on the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures.
The Kongemose culture is named after a location in western Zealand and its typical form is known from Denmark and Skåne. The finds are characterised by long flintstone flakes, used for making characteristic rhombic arrowheads, scrapers, drills, awls, and toothed blades.
Tiny micro blades constituted the edges of bone daggers that were often decorated with geometric patterns. Stone axes were made of a variety of stones, and other tools were made of horn and bone. The main economy was based on hunting red deer, roe deer, and wild boar, supplemented by fishing at the coastal settlements. 

Ertebølle culture

The Ertebølle culture (ca 5300 BC – 3950 BC) is the name of a hunter-gatherer and fisher, pottery-making culture dating to the end of the Mesolithic period. The culture was concentrated in Southern Scandinavia, but genetically linked to strongly related cultures in Northern Germany and the Northern Netherlands.
It is named after the type site, a location in the small village of Ertebølle on Limfjorden in Danish Jutland. In the 1890s, the National Museum of Denmark excavated heaps of oyster shells there, mixed with mussels, snails, bones and bone, antler and flint artifacts, which were evaluated as kitchen middens (Danish køkkenmødding), or refuse dumps.
Accordingly, the culture is less commonly named the Kitchen Midden. As it is approximately identical to the Ellerbek culture of Schleswig-Holstein, the combined name, Ertebølle-Ellerbek is often used. The Ellerbek culture (German Ellerbek Kultur) is named after a type site in Ellerbek, a community on the edge of Kiel, Germany.
In the 1960s and 1970s another closely related culture was found in the (now dry) Noordoostpolder in the Netherlands, near the village Swifterbant and the former island of Urk. Named the Swifterbant culture (5300 – 3400 BC) they show a transition from hunter-gatherer to both animal husbandry, primarily cows and pigs, and cultivation of barley and emmer wheat.
During the formative stages contact with nearby Linear Pottery culture settlements in Limburg has been detected. Like the Ertebølle culture, they lived near open water, in this case creeks, riverdunes and bogs along post-glacial banks of the Overijsselse Vecht.
Recent excavations show a local continuity going back to (at least) 5600 BC, when burial practices resembled the contemporary gravefields in Denmark and South Sweden “in all details”, suggesting only part of a diverse ancestral “Ertebølle”-like heritage was locally continued into the later (Middle Neolithic) Swifterbant tradition (4200 – 3400 BC).
The Ertebølle culture was roughly contemporaneous with the Linear Pottery culture, food-producers whose northernmost border was located just to the south. The Ertebølle did not practice agriculture but it did utilize domestic grain in some capacity, which it must have obtained from the south.
The Ertebølle culture replaced the earlier Kongemose culture of Denmark. It was limited to the north by the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures. It is divided into an early phase ca 5300 BC-ca 4500 BC, and a later phase ca 4500 BC-3950 BC. Shortly after 4100 BC the Ertebølle began to expand along the Baltic coast at least as far as Rügen. Shortly thereafter it was replaced by the Funnelbeaker culture.
In recent years archaeologists have found the acronym EBK most convenient, parallel to LBK for German Linearbandkeramik (Linear Pottery culture) and TRB for German Trichterbecher (Funnelbeaker culture). Ostensibly for Ertebølle Kultur, EBK could be either German or Danish and has the added advantage that Ellerbek also begins with E.
The Ertebølle culture falls within the Atlantic climate period and the Littorina Sea phase of the Baltic Sea basin; that is, climate was warmer and moister than today, deciduous forests covered Europe, and the Baltic was at higher levels than today, and was a salt sea, rather than a brackish one or a lake.
The Baltic coastline was often flooded to a level of 5m-6m higher than now. Jutland was an archipelago. Marshes were extensive, with tracts of shallow water rich in fish. The environment itself thus invited settlement.
The Ertebølle population settled on promontories, near or on beaches, on islands and along rivers and estuaries away from the dense forests. The environment most like the then range of the Ertebølle is the Wadden Sea region of the North Sea from the Netherlands to Denmark.
Due to chance fluctuations in the sea level during Ertebølle occupation of the coast and subsequently, many of the culture sites are currently under 3m-4m of water. Some have been excavated by underwater archaeology. The artifacts are in an excellent state of preservation, having been protected by anaerobic mud. On the disadvantage side, water movements have disrupted many sites.
The Ertebølle population derived its living from a variety of means, but chiefly from the sea. They prospered, grew healthy and multiplied on a diet of fish. They were masters of the inland waters, which they traversed in paddled dugouts. Like many peoples known in history, they were able to hunt whales and seals from their dugouts.
Their materials were mainly wood, with bone, antler and flint for functions requiring harder surfaces. Homes were constructed of brush or light wood. The materials encourage us to view them as transitory. They were, nevertheless, able to place the dead in longer-used cemeteries. Perhaps the dwelling-places were transitory, but the territories were not.
Skeletal remains are relatively meagre. They have been studied and described in great detail from an anthropometric, or “man-measuring”, point of view. Without resorting to this specialised language, the main conclusions are as follows.
The Ertebølle and preceding Kongemose populations were of mixed race. On the one hand they did not differ from the current inhabitants of Denmark in skeleton. Soft tissue features, being known through reconstruction only, leave some room for variation.
On the other hand, many skulls evidence facial features or dimensions of Cro-magnon man. The latter type prevailed in Late Paleolithic times in Europe, supplanting Neanderthal man there. Genetic analysis by scientists from the University of Ferrara (Italy) indicates that the Cro-magnons were ancestral to the current population of Europe.
Two hypotheses concerning the origin of the Ertebølle population are therefore possible and have been proposed. One is that in the remains we are seeing an intermediate phase in the evolution of the population of Scania. The second is that the Ertebølle population was an admixture of agrarian southerners with indigenous Scanians over a permeable border. Both views are supported by the evidence.
There is some evidence of conflict between Ertebølle settlements: an arrowhead in a pelvis at Skateholm, Sweden; a bone point in a throat at Vedbæk, Zealand; a bone point in the chest at Stora Biers, Sweden. More significant is evidence of cannibalism at Dyrholmen, Jutland, and Møllegabet on Ærø.
There human bones were broken open to obtain the marrow. The evidence of marrow exploitation in the Ertebølle remains indicates dietary rather than ritual cannibalism; as marrow is never the subject of ritualistic cannibalism.
The Ertebølle culture is of a general type called Late Mesolithic, of which other examples can be found in Swifterbant culture, Zedmar culture, Narva culture and in Russia. Some would include the Nøstvet culture and Lihult culture to the north as well.
The various locations seem fragmented and isolated, but that characteristic may be an accident of discovery. Perhaps if all the submarine sites were known, a continuous coastal culture would appear from the Netherlands to the lakes of Russia, but this has yet to be demonstrated.
Ertebølle peoples lived primarily on seafood. The mainstay of Ertebølle economy was fish. Three main methods of fishing are supported by the evidence, such as the boats and other equipment found in fragmentary form at Tybrind Vig and elsewhere: trapping, angling and spearing.
To trap fish, the fishermen constructed fish fences, or weirs, of approximately 4m-long hazel sticks set upright in the mud at the bottom of shallow water. The fish must have been corralled by some method and then harvested at will. Wickerwork traps were also used.
Ertebølle fishermen angled with hooks made of red deer bone, of which at least one example has been found with line attached. They spear-fished with spears made of shafts to which hazel tines were attached.
Boats were dugouts a few feet wide propelled by paddles constructed of shafts to which leaf-shaped or heart-shaped blades were attached. At one end a layer of clay spread on the bottom supported hot coals, an indispensable source of heat if you were going to spend much time in the boat.
Dozens of species of fish have been found in the middens. Some of the most common are pike, whitefish, cod and ling at Østenkaer, anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and eel at Krabbesholm.
The oldest site, Yderhede, featured remains of flatfish and sharks: porbeagle, topeshark, smoothhound and at Lystrup Enge spurdog. At Egsminde herring, cyprinids and European perch were found.
The presence of deep-sea fish and sharks probably indicates the Ertebølle fishermen often ventured out on deep water. Whether they did so in their marshland dugouts or also owned larger, ocean-going ones is an answer that waits for more evidence.
At Lystrup Enge, Yderhede and other places the bones of cetaceans and pinnipeds have been found; specifically, of killer whales, the white-beaked dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin among the Cetaceans. These are not animals requiring whaling voyages on the high seas. They could have been washed onto the shore or hunted in shallow waters.
The seals are the ringed seal, the harp seal and the grey seal. These animals for the most part were common in the Littorina Sea but are not found in the Baltic Sea now. Again, they could have been taken on land or in the shallows.
The species found raise the question of whether a whaling or sealing industry existed as such or whether the bones came from opportunistic scavenging. There is no direct evidence of voyaging out in dugouts to harpoon whales that could kill the voyagers in an instant.
However, one of the two main types of pottery used was the blubber lamp, a small, oval deep dish in which you ignited a chunk of blubber or even oil with a wick. The widespread use of this lamp implies a widespread industry to obtain blubber; i.e., professional whale and seal hunting.
Judging from the remains of animal bones at their sites, the Ertebølle people hunted mainly three types of land animals: large forest browsers, fur animals and maritime birds. The forest mammals are the red deer and roe deer, which were dietary staples, and the wild boar, elk, less frequently the aurochs, and a rare horse, believed to have been wild.
Only a left foreleg from Østenkær remains. It offers definitive proof that horses lived in the forests of Europe. On the plains to the east they are only found in association with man. The boar were supplemented by swine with mixed European and Near Eastern ancestry, obtained through their Neolithic farming neighbors, as early as 4600 BC.
The fur animals are fairly widespread: the beaver, squirrel, polecat, badger, fox, lynx. Furs might have served as a currency and may have been traded to some degree, but this is speculation. Maritime birds must have been easily taken in the marshes and ponds of the region: red-throated diver, black-throated diver, Dalmatian pelican, capercaille, grebe, cormorant, swan and duck.
In addition are a few others: the dog and the wolf, and two snakes, the common grass snake and the Aesculapian snake. As snakes do not appear in the art, it is impossible to say what cultural impact they had, if any.
The EBK gathered berries for consumption and also prepared a number of wild plants, judging from the seed remains of plants that could not be consumed without preparation. Of the berries that have been found are raspberry (Rubus idaeus), dewberry (Rubus caesius), wild strawberry, and the somewhat less palatable dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna and C. oxyacantha), rowanberry (Sorbus aucuparia), crab apple and rose hips.
Some seeds usually made into gruel in historical times are acorn and manna grass (Glyceria fluitans). Roots of the sea beet, Beta maritima, were prepared as well. That species is ancestral to modern domestic beets. Greens could have been boiled from nettle (Urtica dioica), orache (Atriplex) and goosefoot (Chenopodium album).
Some of the pottery evidences grain impressions, which some interpret as the use of food imported from the south. Certainly, they did not need to import food and were probably better nourished than the southerners.
Analysis of charred remains in one pot indicates that it at least was used for fermenting a mixture of blood and nuts. Some have therefore guessed that fermentation of grain was used to produce beer. Finally, fragments of textiles from Tybrind Vig were woven in the needle-netting technique from spun plant fibers.
The many settlements on the coast and in the hinterland vary between large all-year-round settlements and smaller seasonal settlements. A settlement consisted of huts, probably brush supported by posts. The huts were in no special order. Fire pits located outside the huts indicate that most village functions were performed outdoors, with the dwellings used perhaps for storage and sleeping. At the time winters were mild.
An external fireplace from Ronaes Skae was constructed as a perimeter of stones surrounding a mud and clay hearth on which charred wood was found in a spoke pattern. The wood was collected from the shore. Fungus was used for tinder.
Pottery was manufactured from native clays tempered with sand, crushed stone and organic material. The EBK pot was made by coil technique, being fired on the open bed of hot coals.
It was not like the neighbouring Neolithic Linearbandkeramik and appears related instead to a pottery type that first appears in Europe in the Samara region of Russia c. 7000 cal BC, and spread up the Volga to the Eastern Baltic and then westward along the shore.
Two main types are found, a beaker and a lamp. The beaker is a pot-bellied pot narrowing at the neck, with a flanged, outward turning rim. The bottom was typically formed into a point or bulb (the “funnel”) of some sort that supported the pot when it was placed in clay or sand. One can imagine a sort of mobile pantry consisting of rows of jars set now in the hut, now by the fire, now in the clay layer at the bottom of a dugout.
The beaker came in various sizes from 8 to 50 cm high and from 5 to 20 cm in diameter. Decoration filled the entire surface with horizontal bands of fingertip or fingernail impressions. It must have been in the decoration phase that grains of wheat and barley left their impression in the clay.
Late in the period technique and decoration became slightly more varied and sophisticated: the walls were thinner and different motifs were used in the impressions: chevrons, cord marks, and punctures made with animal bones. Handles are sometimes added and the rims may turn in instead of out.
The blubber lamp was molded from a single piece of clay. The use of such lamps suggests some household activity in the huts after dark. The flintstone industry evolved a high and unified standard with small and flake axes, long lithic flakes (knives) and arrow heads. However, tools of many materials were in use: wood prongs and points, antler parts, carved bone tools.
Paddles from Tybrind Vig show traces of highly developed and artistic woodcarving. This is an example of the embellishment of functional pieces. The population also polished and engraved non-functional or not obviously functional pieces of bone or antler. Motifs were predominantly geometric with some anthropomorphic or zoomorphic forms.
Also in evidence (for example, at Fanø) are polished amber representations of animals, such as birds, boars, and bears. Jewelry was made of animal teeth or decorative shells. To what extent any of these pieces were symbolic of wealth and status is not clear.
Cemeteries, such as the ones at Vedbæk and Skateholm, give a “sedentary” character to the settlements. Red ochre and deer antlers were placed in some graves, but not others. Some social distinctions may therefore have been made.
There was some appreciation of sexual dimorphism: the women wore necklaces and belts of animal teeth and shells. No special body position was used. Both burial and cremation were practiced. At Møllegabet, an individual was buried in a dugout, which some see as the beginning of Scandinavian boat burials.
Skateholm contained also a dog cemetery. Dog graves were prepared and gifted the same as human, with ochre, antler, and grave goods. In either history or prehistory the dog is an invaluable animal and is often treated as a person.

Swifterbant culture

The Swifterbant culture was a Subneolithic archaeological culture in the Netherlands, dated between 5300 BC and 3400 BC. Like the Ertebølle culture, the settlements were concentrated near water, in this case creeks, riverdunes and bogs along post-glacial banks of rivers like the Overijsselse Vecht.
In the 1960s and 1970s, artifacts classified as “Swifterbant culture” were found in the (now dry) Flevopolder in the Netherlands, near the villages of Swifterbant and Dronten. Other well-known sites were uncovered in Zuid Holland (Bergschenhoek) and the Betuwe (Hardinxveld-Giessendam).
The oldest finds related to this culture, dated to circa 5600 BC, cannot be distinguished from the Ertebølle culture, normally associated with Northern Germany and Southern Scandinavia. The culture is ancestral to the Western group of the agricultural Funnelbeaker culture (4000–2700 BC), which extended through Northern Netherlands and Northern Germany to the Elbe.
The earliest dated sites are season settlements. A transition from hunter-gatherer culture to cattle farming, primarily cows and pigs, occurred around 4800–4500 BC. Pottery has been attested from this period. In the region indications to the existence of pottery are present from before the arrival of the Linear Pottery culture in the neighbourhood.
The material culture reflects a local evolution from Mesolithic communities, with a pottery in a Nordic (Ertebølle) style and trade relationships with southern late Rössen culture communities, as testified by the presence of true Breitkeile pottery sherds.
The Rössen culture, being an offshoot of Linear Pottery, is older than the finds in Swifterbant, and contemporary to older stages of this culture as found in Hoge Vaart (Almere) and Hardinxveld. Contact between Swifterbant and Rössen expressed itself by some hybrid early Swifterbant pots in Anvers (Doel) and hybrid Rössen pottery Hamburg-Boberg.
In general, Swifterbant pottery does not show the same variety as Rössen pottery and Swifterbant pottery with Rössen influences are rare. Possibly the idea of cooking could be derived from agricultural neighbours. However, the technical style for making pottery are too different to consider such external influences.
Wetland settlement, unlike previous opinions, was a deliberate choice by prehistoric communities, as this offered attractive ecological conditions and a high natural productivity or agricultural potential.
The economy covered a broad spectrum of resources to gather food, ruled by a strategy to diversify rather than increasing volume. As such, the wetlands offered, next to hunting and fishing, optimized conditions for cattle and small scale cultivation of different crops, each having conditions for growing of their own.
The agrarian transformation of the prehistoric community was an exclusively indigenous process, that ultimately realized itself only at the end of the Neolithic. This view has been supported by the discovery of an agricultural field in Swifterbant dated 4300–4000 BC. Animal sacrifices found in the bogs of Drenthe are attributed to Swifterbant and suggest a religious role for both wild and domesticated bovines.

Narva culture

Narva culture or eastern Baltic (c. 5300 to 1750 BC) was a European Neolithic archaeological culture found in present-day Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast (former East Prussia), and adjacent portions of Poland, Belarus and Russia.
A successor of the Mesolithic Kunda culture, Narva culture continued up to the start of the Bronze Age. The technology was that of hunter-gatherers. The culture was named after the Narva River in Estonia.
The people of the Narva culture had little access to flint; therefore, they were forced to trade and conserve their flint resources. For example, there were very few flint arrowheads and flint was often reused.
The Narva culture relied on local materials (bone, horn, schist). As evidence of trade, researchers found pieces of pink flint from Valdai Hills and plenty of typical Narva pottery in the territory of the Neman culture while no objects from the Neman culture were found in Narva.
Heavy use of bones and horns is one of the main characteristics of the Narva culture. The bone tools, continued from the predecessor Kunda culture, provide the best evidence of continuity of the Narva culture throughout the Neolithic period.
The people were buried on their backs with few grave goods. The Narva culture also used and traded amber; a few hundred items were found in Juodkrantė. One of the most famous artifacts is a ceremonial cane carved of horn as a head of female elk found in Šventoji.
The people were primarily fishers, hunters, and gatherers. They slowly began adopting husbandry in the middle Neolithic. They were not nomadic and lived in same settlements for long periods as evidenced by abundant pottery, middens, and structures built in lakes and rivers to help fishing.
The pottery shared similarities with the Comb Ceramic culture, but had specific characteristics. One of the most persistent features was mixing clay with other organic matter, most often crushed snail shells.
The pottery was made of 6-to-9 cm (2.4-to-3.5 in) wide clay strips with minimal decorations around the rim. The vessels were wide and large; the height and the width were often the same. The bottoms were pointed or rounded, and only the latest examples have narrow flat bottoms. From mid-Neolithic, Narva pottery was influenced and eventually disappeared into the Corded Ware culture.
For a long time archaeologists believed that the first inhabitants of the region were Finno-Ugric, who were pushed north by people of the Corded Ware culture. In 1931, Latvian archaeologist Eduards Šturms [lv] was the first to note that artifacts found near the Zebrus Lake in Latvia were different and possibly belonged to a separate archaeological culture. In early 1950s settlements on the Narva River were excavated. The findings have been grouped with similar artifacts from eastern Baltic region and described the Narva culture.
At first, it was believed that Narva culture ended with the appearance of the Corded Ware culture. However, newer research extended it up to the Bronze Age. As Narva culture spanned several millennia and encompassed a large territory, archaeologists attempted to subdivide the culture into regions or periods. For example, in Lithuania two regions are distinguished: southern (under influence of the Neman culture) and western (with major settlements found in Šventoji).
There is an academic debate what ethnicity the Narva culture represented: Finno-Ugrians or other Europids, preceding the arrival of the Indo-Europeans. It is also unclear how the Narva culture fits with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans (Corded Ware and Globular Amphora cultures) and the formation of the Baltic tribes.
In a genetic study published in Current Biology in February 2017, it was determined that peoples of the Narva culture and the preceding Kunda culture showed closer genetic affinity with Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHGs) than Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHGs). In a genetic study published in Current Biology in July 2017, the mtDNA from an Narva male was extracted. He was found to be carrying haplogroup U5a2d.
In a genetic study published in Nature Communications in January 2018, the remains of ten individuals ascribed to the Narva culture was analyzed. Of the four samples of Y-DNA extracted, one belonged to I2a1a2a1a, one belonged to I2a1b, one belonged to I, and one belonged to R1.
Of the ten samples of mtDNA extracted, eight belonged to U5 haplotypes, one belonged to U4a1, and one belonged to H11. U5 haplotypes were common among Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHGs) and Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers (SHGs). Genetic influence from Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHGs) was also detected.
A genetic study published in Nature in February 2018 included an analysis of a large number of individuals buried at the Zvejnieki burial ground, most of whom were affiliated with the Kunda culture and the succeeding Narva culture.
The mtDNA extracted belonged exclusively to haplotypes of U5, U4 and U2. With regards to Y-DNA, the vast majority of samples belonged to R1b1a1a haplotypes and I2a1 haplotypes. The results affirmed that the Kunda and Narva cultures were about 70% WHG and 30% EHG.
The nearby contemporary Pit–Comb Ware culture was on the contrary found to be about 65% EHG. And individual from the Corded Ware culture, which would eventually succeed the Narva culture, was found to have genetic relations with the Yamnaya culture.

Funnelbeaker culture

The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, in short TRB or TBK (German: Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur, Dutch: Trechterbekercultuur; Danish: Tragtbægerkultur; c. 4300 BC–c. 2800 BC) was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe. It is named for its characteristic ceramics, beakers and amphorae with funnel-shaped tops, which were found in dolmen burials.
It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line. It was preceded by Lengyel-influenced Stroke-ornamented ware culture (STK) groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleráz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north.
The TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group in the Netherlands between the Zuiderzee and lower Elbe that originated in the Swifterbant culture, an eastern group centered on the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale.
Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged. In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.
The TRB ranges from the Elbe catchment in Germany and Bohemia with a western extension into the Netherlands, to southern Scandinavia (Denmark up to Uppland in Sweden and the Oslofjord in Norway) in the north and to the Vistula catchment in today’s Poland in the east.
Variants of the Funnelbeaker culture in or near the Elbe catchment area include the Tiefstich pottery group in northern Germany as well as the cultures of the Baalberge group (TRB-MES II and III; MES = Mittelelbe-Saale), the Salzmünde and Walternienburg and Bernburg (all TRB-MES IV) whose centres were in Saxony-Anhalt.
With the exception of some inland settlements such as Alvastra pile-dwelling, the settlements are located near those of the previous Ertebølle culture on the coast. It was characterised by single-family daubed houses c. 12 m x 6 m.
It was dominated by animal husbandry of sheep, cattle, pigs and goats, but there was also hunting and fishing. One find assigned to the Funnelbeaker culture is the Bronocice pot from Poland, which shows the oldest known depiction of a wagon, presumably drawn by aurochs whose remains were found with the pot.
Primitive wheat and barley was grown on small patches that were fast depleted, due to which the population frequently moved small distances. There was also mining (in the Malmö region) and collection of flintstone (Świętokrzyskie Mountains), which was traded into regions lacking the stone, such as the Scandinavian hinterland. The culture used copper from Silesia, especially daggers and axes.
The houses were centered on a monumental grave, a symbol of social cohesion. Burial practices were varied, depending on region and changed over time. Inhumation seems to have been the rule. The oldest graves consisted of wooden chambered cairns inside long barrows, but were later made in the form of passage graves and dolmens.
Originally, the structures were probably covered with a mound of earth and the entrance was blocked by a stone. The Funnelbeaker culture marks the appearance of megalithic tombs at the coasts of the Baltic and of the North sea, an example of which are the Sieben Steinhäuser in northern Germany.
The megalithic structures of Ireland, France and Portugal are somewhat older and have been connected to earlier archeological cultures of those areas. At graves, the people sacrificed ceramic vessels that contained food along with amber jewelry and flint-axes.
Flint-axes and vessels were also deposited in streams and lakes near the farmlands, and virtually all Sweden’s 10,000 flint axes that have been found from this culture were probably sacrificed in water.
They also constructed large cult centres surrounded by pales, earthworks and moats. The largest one is found at Sarup on Fyn. It comprises 85,000 m2 and is estimated to have taken 8000 workdays. Another cult centre at Stävie near Lund comprises 30,000 m2.
In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis (or steppe hypothesis), the culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing a culture of Neolithic origin, as opposed to the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples (see Yamna culture) who later intruded from the east.
Marija Gimbutas postulated that the political relationship between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into the Corded Ware culture.
By contrast, a number of other archaeologists in the past have proposed that the Corded Ware culture was a purely local development of the Funnelbeaker culture, which has been debunked by genetics.
The Bronocice pot, discovered in a village in Gmina Działoszyce, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, near Nidzica River, Poland, is a ceramic vase incised with the earliest known image of a wheeled vehicle.
It was dated by the radiocarbon method to 3635–3370 BC, and is attributed to the Funnelbeaker culture. Today it is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Cracow (Muzeum Archeologiczne w Krakowie), Poland.
The picture on the pot symbolically depicts key elements of the prehistoric human environment. The most important component of the decoration are five rudimentary representations of what seems to be a wagon. They represent a vehicle with a shaft for a draught animal, and four wheels.
The lines connecting them probably represent axles. The circle in the middle possibly symbolizes a container for harvest. Other images on the pot include a tree, a river and what may be fields intersected by roads/ditches or the layout of a village.
The Bronocice Pot suggests the existence of wagons in Central Europe as early as in the 4th millennium BC. They were presumably drawn by aurochs whose remains were found with the pot. Their horns were worn out as if tied with a rope, possibly a result of using a kind of yoke.
Based on Bronocice discovery, several researchers (Asko Parpola and Christian Carpelan), pointed out that “Indo-European languages possess inherited vocabulary related to wheeled transport”, thus providing new research information about the origin of the Indo-European; “the wheeled vehicles were first invented around the middle of the fourth millennium BC.”
In his review Theoretical Structural Archeology, Geoff Carter, writes: “The site was occupied during the Funnel Beaker or TBR culture phase, one of a complex group of cultures that succeeded the LBK in northern Europe, in the Fifth and Fourth Millennia BC.
Bones from the pit in which the pot was found gave radiocarbon dates of around 3635–3370 BC, which, as the excavators pointed out, is earlier than dates for pictograms of wheels from the Sumerian Uruk Period.” In nearby Olszanica 5000 BCE a longhouse was constructed with 2.2 m wide doors, presumably for wagon entry. This building was 40 m long with 3 doors.

Pit–Comb Ware culture

The Comb Ceramic culture or Pit-Comb Ware culture, often abbreviated as CCC or PCW, was a northeast European characterised by its Pit–Comb Ware. It existed from around 4200 BCE to around 2000 BCE. The bearers of the Comb Ceramic culture are thought to have still mostly followed the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, with traces of early agriculture.
The distribution of the artifacts found includes Finnmark (Norway) in the north, the Kalix River (Sweden) and the Gulf of Bothnia (Finland) in the west and the Vistula River (Poland) in the south. It would include the Narva culture of Estonia and the Sperrings culture in Finland, among others. They are thought to have been essentially hunter-gatherers, though e.g. the Narva culture in Estonia shows some evidence of agriculture. Some of this region was absorbed by the later Corded Ware horizon.
The Pit–Comb Ware culture is one of the few exceptions to the rule that pottery and farming coexist in Europe. In the Near East farming appeared before pottery, then when farming spread into Europe from the Near East, pottery-making came with it.
However, in Asia, where the oldest pottery has been found, pottery was made long before farming. It appears that the Comb Ceramic Culture reflects influences from Siberia and distant China.
The ceramics consist of large pots that are rounded or pointed below, with a capacity from 40 to 60 litres. The forms of the vessels remained unchanged but the decoration varied.
By dating according to the elevation of land, the ceramics have traditionally (Äyräpää 1930) been divided into the following periods: early (Ka I, c. 4200 BC – 3300 BC), typical (Ka II, c. 3300 BC – 2700 BC) and late Comb Ceramic (Ka III, c. 2800 BC – 2000 BC). However, calibrated radiocarbon dates for the comb-ware fragments found (e.g., in the Karelian isthmus), give a total interval of 5600 BC – 2300 BC.
Among the many styles of comb ware there is one which makes use of the characteristics of asbestos: Asbestos ware. In this tradition, which persisted through different cultures into the Iron Age, asbestos was used to temper the ceramic clay.
Other styles are Pyheensilta, Jäkärlä, Kierikki, Pöljä and Säräisniemi pottery with their respective subdivisions. Sperrings ceramics is the original name given for the younger early Comb ware (Ka I:2) found in Finland.
The settlements were located at sea shores or beside lakes and the economy was based on hunting, fishing and the gathering of plants. In Finland, it was a maritime culture which became more and more specialized in hunting seals.
The dominant dwelling was probably a teepee of about 30 square meters where some 15 people could live. Also rectangular houses made of timber become popular in Finland from 4000 BC cal.
Graves were dug at the settlements and the dead were covered with red ochre. The typical Comb Ceramic age shows an extensive use of objects made of flint and amber as grave offerings.
The stone tools changed very little over time. They were made of local materials such as slate and quartz. Finds suggest a fairly extensive exchange network: red slate originating from northern Scandinavia, asbestos from Lake Saimaa, green slate from Lake Onega, amber from the southern shores of the Baltic Sea and flint from the Valdai area in northwestern Russia.
The culture was characterised by small figurines of burnt clay and animal heads made of stone. The animal heads usually depict moose and bears and were derived from the art of the Mesolithic. There were also many rock paintings. There are sources noting that the typical comb ceramic pottery had a sense of luxury and that its makers knew how to wear precious amber pendants.
In earlier times, it was often suggested that the spread of the Comb Ware people was correlated with the diffusion of the Uralic languages, and thus an early Uralic language would have been spoken throughout this culture. It is also suggested that bearers of this culture likely spoke Finno-Ugric languages.
A more recent view is that the Comb Ware people may have spoken Pre-Indo-European languages, as some toponyms and hydronyms also indicate a non-Uralic, non-Indo-European language at work in some areas.
In addition, modern scholars have located the Proto-Uralic homeland east of the Volga, if not even beyond the Urals. The great westward dispersal of the Uralic languages is thought to have happened long after the demise of the Comb Ceramic culture, perhaps in the 1st millennium BC.
In a 2017 genetic study published in Current Biology, the remains of three CCC individuals buried at Kudruküla was analyzed. The Y-DNA sample extracted belonged to R1a5-YP1272. The three mtDNA samples extracted belonged to U5b1d1, U4a and U2e1.
In a genetic study published in Nature Communications in January 2018, the remains of two CCC individuals were analyzed. The male was found to be carrying R1 and U4d2, while the female carried U5a1d2b The CCC individuals were found to be mostly of Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) descent, and to have more EHG ancestry than people of the Narva culture.
In a genetic study published in Nature Communications in November 2018, the CCC individuals studies were modeled as being of 65% Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG), 20% Western Steppe Herder (WSH), and 15% Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) descent.
The amount of EHG ancestry was higher than among earlier cultures of the eastern Baltic, while WSH ancestry had previously never been attested among such an early culture in the region.

Corded Ware culture

The Corded Ware culture comprises a broad archaeological horizon of Europe between c. 2900 BCE – circa 2350 BCE, thus from the late Neolithic, through the Copper Age, and ending in the early Bronze Age. Corded Ware culture encompassed a vast area, from the Rhine on the west to the Volga in the east, occupying parts of Northern Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
The prototypal Corded Ware culture, German Schnurkeramikkultur, is found in Central Europe, mainly Germany and Poland, and refers to the characteristic pottery of the era: twisted cord was impressed into the wet clay to create various decorative patterns and motifs. It is known mostly from its burials, and both sexes received the characteristic cord-decorated pottery. Whether made of flax or hemp, they had rope.
According to Haak et al. (2017), the Corded Ware people 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 have disseminated the Proto-Germanic and Proto-Balto-Slavic Indo-European languages. It also shows genetic affinity with the later Sintashta culture, where the Proto-Indo-Iranian language may have originated.
The term Corded Ware culture (German: Schnurkeramik-Kultur, Dutch: touwbekercultuur, French: ceramique cordée) was first introduced by the German archaeologist Friedrich Klopfleisch in 1883. He named it after cord-like impressions or ornamentation characteristic of its pottery.
The term Single Grave culture comes from its burial custom, which consisted of inhumation under tumuli in a crouched position with various artifacts. Battle Axe culture, or Boat Axe culture, is named from its characteristic grave offering to males, a stone boat-shaped battle axe.
Corded Ware encompassed most of continental northern Europe from the Rhine on the west to the Volga in the east, including most of modern-day Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland, northwestern Romania, northern Ukraine, and the European part of Russia, as well as coastal Norway and the southern portions of Sweden and Finland. In the Late Eneolithic/Early Bronze Age, it encompassed the territory of nearly the entire Balkan Peninsula, where Corded Ware mixed with other steppe elements.
Archaeologists note that Corded Ware was not a “unified culture,” as Corded Ware groups inhabiting a vast geographical area from the Rhine to Volga seem to have regionally specific subsistence strategies and economies. There are differences in the material culture and in settlements and society. At the same time, they had several shared elements that are characteristic of all Corded Ware groups, such as their burial practices, pottery with “cord” decoration and unique stone-axes.
The contemporary Beaker culture overlapped with the western extremity of this culture, west of the Elbe, and may have contributed to the pan-European spread of that culture. Although a similar social organization and settlement pattern to the Beaker were adopted, the Corded Ware group lacked the new refinements made possible through trade and communication by sea and rivers.
The origins and dispersal of Corded Ware culture is one of the pivotal unresolved issues of the Indo-European Urheimat problem. The Corded Ware culture has long been regarded as Indo-European because of its relative lack of settlements compared to preceding cultures, which suggested a mobile, pastoral economy, similar to that of the Yamna culture, and the culture of the Indo-Europeans inferred from philology.
Its wide area of distribution indicates rapid expansion at the assumed time of the dispersal of Indo-European languages. Indeed, the Corded Ware culture was once presumed to be the Urheimat of the Proto-Indo-Europeans based on their possession of the horse and wheeled vehicles, apparent warlike propensities, wide area of distribution and rapid intrusive expansion at the assumed time of the dispersal of Indo-European languages. Today this idea has lost currency, as the Kurgan hypothesis is currently the most widely accepted proposal to explain the origins and spread of the Indo-European languages.
There is a stark division between archaeologists regarding the origins of Corded Ware. Some archaeologists believed it sprang from central Europe while others saw an influence from nomadic pastoral societies of the steppes. In favour of the first view was the fact that Corded Ware coincides considerably with the earlier north-central European Funnelbeaker culture (TRB).
According to Gimbutas, the Corded Ware culture was preceded by the Globular Amphora culture (3400–2800 BCE), which she regarded to be an Indo-European culture. The Globular Amphora culture stretched from central Europe to the Baltic sea, and emerged from the Funnelbeaker culture. However, in other regions Corded Ware appears to herald a new culture and physical type.
On most of the immense, continental expanse that it covered, the culture was clearly intrusive, and therefore represents one of the most impressive and revolutionary cultural changes attested by archaeology. The degree to which cultural change generally represents immigration was a matter of debate, and such debate had figured strongly in discussions of Corded Ware.
According to controversial radiocarbon dates, Corded Ware ceramic forms in single graves develop earlier in the area that is now Poland than in western and southern Central Europe. The earliest radiocarbon dates for Corded Ware indeed come from Kujawy and Lesser Poland in central and southern Poland and point to the period around 3000 BCE.
However, subsequent review has challenged this perspective, instead pointing out that the wide variation in dating of the Corded Ware, especially the dating of the culture’s beginning, is based on individual outlier graves, is not particularly in line with other archaeological data and runs afoul of plateaus in the radiocarbon calibration curve; in the one case where the dating can be clarified with dendrochronology, in Switzerland, Corded Ware is found for only a short period from 2750 BCE to 2400 BCE. 
Furthermore, because the short period in Switzerland seems to represent examples of artifacts from all the major sub-periods of the Corded Ware culture elsewhere, some researchers conclude that Corded Ware appeared more or less simultaneously throughout North Central Europe approximately in the early 29th century BCE (around 2900 BCE), in a number of “centers” which subsequently formed their own local networks. Carbon-14 dating of the remaining central European regions shows that Corded Ware appeared after 2880 BCE.
According to this theory, it spread to the Lüneburg Heath and then further to the North European Plain, Rhineland, Switzerland, Scandinavia, the Baltic region and Russia to Moscow, where the culture met with the pastoralists considered indigenous to the steppes.
Recent palaeogenomic data show that samples of the Corded Ware population from ca. 2400 BCE were genetically at least 75% similar to the Yamna population of the steppes, suggesting massive migrations from the steppes as a source for the Corded Ware culture. While honouring the possibilities of genetic research, this interpretation has been questioned by archaeologists as being too simple, as it ignores the complex processes involved in archaeological explanations.
In the western regions the transition to Corded Ware has been proposed to be a quick, smooth and internal change that occurred at the preceding Funnelbeaker culture, having its origin in the direction of eastern Germany. Whereas in the area of the present Baltic states and north-east of Poland, it is seen as an intrusive successor to the southwestern portion of the Narva culture. However, today Corded Ware is now everywhere seen as intrusive, though not necessarily aggressively so, and coexisting with earlier indigenous cultures in many cases.
The Corded Ware culture may have played a central role in the spread of the Indo-European languages in Europe during the Copper and Bronze Ages. According to Mallory, the Corded Ware culture may have been “the common prehistoric ancestor of the later Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, and possibly some of the Indo-European languages of Italy.”
Yet, Mallory also notes that the Corded Ware can not account for Greek, Illyrian, Thracian and East Italic, which may be derived from Southeast Europe. According to Anthony, the Corded Ware horizon may have introduced Germanic, Baltic and Slavic into northern Europe.
Haak et al. (2015) note that German Corded Ware “trace ~75% of their ancestry to the Yamna,” envisioning a west-north-west migration from the Yamna culture into Germany. Allentoft et al. (2015) envision a migration from the Yamna culture towards north-western Europe via Central Europe, and towards the Baltic area and the eastern periphery of the Corded Ware culture via the territory of present-day Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
According to Gimbutas’ original theory, the process of “Indo-Europeanization” of Corded Ware (and, later, the rest of Europe) was essentially a cultural transformation, not one of physical type. The Yamna migration from Eastern to Central and Western Europe is understood by Gimbutas as a military victory, resulting in the Yamna imposing a new administrative system, language and religion upon the indigenous groups.
The social organization greatly facilitated the Yamna people’s effectiveness in war, their patrilineal and patriarchal structure. The Old Europeans (indigenous groups) had neither a warrior class nor horses. They lived in (probably) theocratic monarchies presided over by a queen-priestess or were egalitarian societies. This Old European social structure contrasted with the social structure of the Yamna-derived cultures that followed them.
David Anthony (2007), in his “revised Steppe hypothesis” proposes that the spread of the Indo-European languages probably did not happen through “chain-type folk migrations,” but by the introduction of these languages by ritual and political elites, which were emulated by large groups of people, a process which he calls “elite recruitment”.
Yet, in supplementary information to Haak et al. (2015) Anthony, together with Lazaridis, Haak, Patterson, and Reich, notes that the mass migration of Yamna people to northern Europe shows that “the Steppe hypothesis does not require elite dominance to have transmitted Indo-European languages into Europe. Instead, our results show that the languages could have been introduced simply by strength of numbers: via major migration in which both sexes participated.”
Linguist Guus Kroonen points out that speakers of Indo-European languages encountered existing populations in Europe that spoke unrelated, non-Indo-European languages when they migrated further into Europe from the Yamna culture’s steppe zone at the margin of Europe. He focuses on both the effects on Indo-European languages that resulted from this contact and investigation of the pre-existing languages.
Relatively little is known about the Pre-Indo-European linguistic landscape of Europe, except for Basque, as the “Indo-Europeanization” of Europe caused a largely unrecorded, massive linguistic extinction event, most likely through language shift.
Kroonen’s 2015 study purports to show that Pre-Indo-European speech contains a clear Neolithic signature emanating from the Aegean language family and thus patterns with the prehistoric migration of Europe’s first farming populations.
Marija Gimbutas, as part of her theory, had already inferred that the Corded Ware culture’s intrusion into Scandinavia formed a synthesis with the indigenous people of the Funnelbeaker culture, giving birth to the Proto-Germanic language.
According to Edgar Polomé, 30% of the non-Indo-European substratum found in modern German derives from non-Indo-European-speakers of Funnelbeaker culture, indigenous to southern Scandinavia.
When Yamna Indo-European speakers came into contact with the indigenous peoples during the 3rd millennium BCE, they came to dominate the local populations yet parts of the indigenous lexicon persisted in the formation of Proto-Germanic, thus giving Proto-Germanic the status of being an “Indo-Europeanized” language.
A 2015 study by Allentoft et al. in Nature found the people of the Corded Ware culture to be closely genetically related to the Beaker culture, the Unetice culture and the Nordic Bronze Age. People of the Nordic Bronze Age and Corded Ware show the highest lactose tolerance among Bronze Age Europeans.
The study also found a close genetic relationship between the Corded Ware culture and the Sintashta culture, suggesting that the Sintashta culture emerged as a result on an eastward expansion of Corded Ware peoples.
The Sintashta culture is in turn closely genetically related to the Andronovo culture, by which it was succeeded. Many cultural similarities between the Sintashta/Andronovo culture, the Nordic Bronze Age and the peoples of the Rigveda have been detected.
A genetic study published in Science in 2018 found the Sintashta culture, the Potapovka culture, the Andronovo culture and the Srubnaya culture to be closely related to the Corded Ware culture.
These cultures were found to harbor mixed ancestry from the Yamnaya culture and peoples of the Middle Neolithic of Central Europe. The genetic data suggested that these cultures were ultimately derived of a remigration of Central European peoples with steppe ancestry back into the steppe.

Usatovo culture

The Usatovo culture is a late variant of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture which flourished northwest of the Black Sea from 3500 BC to 3000 BC. The Usatovo culture appears to be a mixture of Neolithic elements of Southeast Europe with intrusive cultures from the Pontic steppe.
Within the Kurgan hypothesis, the Usatovo culture represents the domination of native Cucuteni–Trypillia agriculturalists by Indo-European peoples from the steppe. From native Neolithic elements it shares flat graves, figurines and painted ceramics, while it shares tumulus burials, horses and shell-tempered coarse wares with steppe cultures. It also displays metallic items such as arsenical bronze and silver, which suggests contacts with the North Caucasus.
According to Anthony, the Pre-Germanic dialects may have developed in the Usatovo culture in south-eastern Central Europe between the Dniestr and the Vistula between c. 3,100 and 2,800 BCE, and spread with the Corded Ware culture.
Between 3100 and 2800/2600 BCE, a real folk migration of Proto-Indo-European speakers from the Yamna-culture took place into the Danube Valley, which eventually reached as far as Hungary, where pre-Celtic and pre-Italic may have developed. Slavic and Baltic developed at the middle Dniepr (present-day Ukraine).

Pitted Ware culture

The Pitted Ware culture (c. 3200 BC–c. 2300 BC) was a hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia, mainly along the coasts of Svealand, Götaland, Åland, north-eastern Denmark and southern Norway.
Despite its Mesolithic economy, it is by convention classed as Neolithic, since it falls within the period in which farming reached Scandinavia. The Pitted Ware people were largely maritime hunters, and were engaged in lively trade with both the agricultural communities of the Scandinavian interior and other hunter-gatherers of the Baltic Sea.
The people of the Pitted Ware culture were a genetically homogeneous and distinct population descended from earlier Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers (SHGs). The culture emerged in east-central Sweden around 3,500 BC, gradually replacing the Funnelbeaker culture throughout the coastal areas of southern Scandinavia. It subsequently co-existed with the Funnelbeaker culture for several centuries.
From about 2,800 BC, the Pitted Ware culture co-existed with the Battle Axe culture, which was the successor of the Funnelbeaker culture in southern Scandinavia. By 2,300 BC, the Pitted Ware culture had been absorbed by the Battle Axe culture. The subsequent Nordic Bronze Age represents a fusion of elements from the Pitted Ware culture and the Battle Axe culture. Modern Scandinavians, unlike the Sami, display partial genetic origins from the Pitted Ware people.
Genetic studies suggest that the Pitted Ware peoples, unlike their Neolithic neighbors, were descended from earlier Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers (SHGs). At the time of the emergence of the Pitted Ware culture, these hunter-gatherers persisted to the north of the agricultural Funnelbeaker culture. Their ceramic traditions are related to those of the Comb Ceramic culture.
The Pitted Ware culture arose around 3,500 BC. Its earliest sites are found in east-central Sweden, where it appears to have replaced the Funnelbeaker culture. Its subsequent expansion is accompanied by the disappearance of settlements of the Funnelbeaker culture throughout large parts of southern Scandinavia.
It came to occupy the coasts of Denmark, southern Sweden, southern Norway and various islands of the Baltic Sea, such as Öland, Gotland, and Åland. There were lively contacts with hunter-gatherer communities of Finland and the eastern Baltic.
During its initial years, the Pitted Ware culture co-existed with the Funnelbeaker culture. Although the two cultures exchanged goods with each other, its peoples appear to have had widely different identities, and they did not mix with each other to any notable extent. Throughout its existence of more than 1,000 years, the Pitted Ware culture remained virtually unchanged.
From around 2,800 BC, the Pitted Ware culture co-existed for some time with the Battle Axe culture, which succeeded the Funnelbeaker culture in southern Scandinvia. By ca. 2,300 BC, the Pitted Ware culture had been absorbed by the Battle Axe culture. The subsequent Nordic Bronze Age represents a fusion of elements from the Pitted Ware culture and the Battle Axe culture. Pitted Ware settlements were typically located along the coasts. They usually lived in huts.
The economy of the Pitted Ware culture was based on fishing, hunting and gathering of plants. Pitted Ware sites contain bones from elk, deer, beaver, seal, porpoise, and pig. Pig bones found in large quantities on some Pitted Ware sites emanate from wild boar rather than domestic pigs. The hunting of seal was particularly important. For this reason, the Pitted Ware people have been called “hard-core sealers” or the “Inuit of the Baltic”.
Seasonal migration was a feature of life, as with many other hunter-gatherer communities. Pitted Ware communities in Eastern Sweden probably spent most of the year at their main village on the coast, making seasonal forays inland to hunt for pigs and fur-bearing animals and to engage in exchange with farming communities in the interior.
This type of seasonal interaction may explain the unique Alvastra Pile Dwelling in south-western Östergötland, which belongs to the Pitted Ware culture as far as the pottery is concerned, but to the Funnelbeaker culture in tools and weapons. The Pitted Ware peoples appear to have been specialized hunters who engaged in the trade of animal goods with peoples throughout the Baltic.
The repertoire of Pitted Ware tools varied from region to region. In part this variety reflected regional sources of raw materials. However the use of fish-hooks, harpoons, and nets and sinkers was fairly widespread. Tanged arrow heads made from blades of flintstone are abundant on Scandinavia’s west coast, and were probably used in the hunting of marine mammals.
One notable feature of the Pitted Ware Culture is the sheer quantity of shards of pottery on its sites. The culture has been named after the typical ornamentation of its pottery: horizontal rows of pits pressed into the body of the pot before firing.
Though some vessels are flat-bottomed, others are round-based or pointed-based, which would facilitate stable positioning in the soil or on the hearth. In shape and decoration, this ceramic reflects influences from the Comb Ceramic culture (also known as Pit-Comb Ware) of Finland and other parts of north-eastern Europe, established in the sixth and fifth millennia BC.
Small animal figurines were modelled out of clay, as well as bone. These are also similar to the art of the Comb Ware culture. A large number of clay figurines have been found at Jettböle on the island of Jomala in Åland, including some which combine seal and human features.
The Pitted Ware people buried their dead in cemeteries. Most excavated Pitted Ware burials are located at Gotland, where around 180 graves have been found at numerous sites with several layers. One such site is at Västerbjers.
Pitted Ware people were typically buried in flat inhumation graves, although cremation does occur. Unlike the Funnelbeakers, they did not have megalithic graves. Pitted Ware burials are also distinguished from Funnelbeaker burials through their use of red ochre.
Grave goods include ceramics, boar tusks, pig jaws, pendants of fox, dog and seal teeth, harpoons, spears, fishhooks of bone, stone and flint axes, and other artifacts. The presence of slate artifacts and battle axes attest wide ranging contacts between the Pitted Ware people and other cultures of Northern Europe and the Baltic.
People of all ages and genders were buried in the same cemetery. There are no indications of difference in social status. Their mortuary houses and secondary burials are nevertheless evidence of complex burial customs. The Pitted Ware people had an animistic cosmography similar to that of the people of the Comb Ceramic culture and other Mesolothic hunter-gatherers of the Baltic.
Examination of the skeletons of Pitted Ware people have revealed that they were of a more robust build than contemporary neighboring populations. In particular, they were much better adapted to cold temperatures.
Genetic studies of the Pitted Ware peoples has found them to have been strikingly genetically homogenous, suggesting that they originated from a small founder group. In a genetic study published in Current Biology in September 2009, mtDNA was extracted from seventeen Pitted Ware people from Gotland.
Eight individuals belonged to U4 haplotypes, seven belonged to U5 haplotypes, one belonged to K1a1, one belonged to T2b, and one belonged to HV0. The results debunked previous theories suggesting that the Pitted Ware were related to the Sami people. On the contrary, Pitted Ware people showed closer genetic kinship to modern Balts.
In a genetic study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology in March 2010, it was discovered that the Pitted Ware possessed a very low level (5%) of an allele (−13910*T) strongly associated with the ability to consume unprocessed milk. This frequency is dramatically different from modern Swedes (74%). Whether the increase of this allele among the Swedes was a result of admixture or natural selection was uncertain.
In a genetic study published in Science in April 2012, an individual from the Pitted Ware culture was examined. The individual was found to have “a genetic profile that is not fully represented by any sampled contemporary population”.
In another genetic study published in Science in May 2014, the mtDNA of six individuals ascribed to the Pitted Ware culture was extracted. Four samples belonged to U4d, one belonged to U, and one belonged to V.
A genetic study published in August 2014 found that Pitted Ware peoples were closely genetically similar to people of the Catacomb culture, who like the Pitted Ware people carried high frequencies of the maternal haplogroups U5 and U4. These lineages are associated with Western Hunter-Gatherers and Eastern Hunter-Gatherers.
In a genetic study published in Nature in September 2014, members of the Pitted Ware culture were determined to largely belong to the Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherer (SHG) cluster.
In a genetic study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B in January 2015, the mtDNA of thirteen PCW individuals from Öland and Gotland was extracted. The four individuals from Öland carried H1f, T2b, K1a1 and U4a1. Of the ten individuals from Gotland, four carried U4, two carried U5 haplotypes, two carried K1a1, and one carried HV0.
The results indicated that the Pitted Ware culture was genetically distinct from the Funnelbeaker culture, and closely genetically related to earlier Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of Scandinavia and Western Europe. It was found that the Pitted Ware culture left a genetic imprint on Scandinavians, although this number is certainly not more than 60%.
A genetic study published in Nature Communications in January 2018 indicated genetic continuity between SHGs and the Pitted Ware culture, and found that the Pitted Ware people were genetically distinct from the Funnelbeaker culture.
A 2019 study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B the remains of a Pitted Ware male were analyzed. He was found to the carrying the paternal haplgroup U5b1d2, and probably a subclade of the paternal haplogroup I2.
He was estimated to be 25-35 years old and 165-175 cm tall. It was found that the Pitted Ware people only slightly contributed to the gene pool of the Battle Axe culture, who were almost wholly of Western Steppe Herder descent.

The Battle Axe culture

The Battle Axe culture, also called Boat Axe culture, is a Chalcolithic culture which flourished in the coastal areas of the south of the Scandinavian Peninsula and southwest Finland, from around 2,800 BC to 2,300 BC. The Battle Axe culture was an offshoot of the Corded Ware culture, and replaced the Funnelbeaker culture in southern Scandinavia, probably through a process of mass migration and population replacement.
The Danish-Swedish-Norwegian Battle Axe culture, or the Boat Axe culture, appeared ca. 2800 BCE and is known from about 3,000 graves from Scania to Uppland and Trøndelag. The “battle-axes” were primarily a status object.
There are strong continuities in stone craft traditions, and very little evidence of any type of full-scale migration, least of all a violent one. The old ways were discontinued as the corresponding cultures on the continent changed, and the farmers living in Scandinavia took part in a few of those changes since they belonged to the same network. Settlements on small, separate farmsteads without any defensive protection is also a strong argument against the people living there being aggressors.
About 3000 battle axes have been found, in sites distributed over all of Scandinavia, but they are sparse in Norrland and northern Norway. Less than 100 settlements are known, and their remains are negligible as they are located on continually used farmland, and have consequently been plowed away. Einar Østmo reports sites inside the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten, and as far north as the present city of Tromsø.
The Swedish-Norwegian Battle Axe culture was based on the same agricultural practices as the previous Funnelbeaker culture, but the appearance of metal changed the social system. This is marked by the fact that the Funnelbeaker culture had collective megalithic graves with a great deal of sacrifices to the graves, but the Battle Axe culture has individual graves with individual sacrifices.
A new aspect was given to the culture in 1993, when a death house in Turinge, in Södermanland was excavated. Along the once heavily timbered walls were found the remains of about twenty clay vessels, six work axes and a battle axe, which all came from the last period of the culture. There were also the cremated remains of at least six people. This is the earliest find of cremation in Scandinavia and it shows close contacts with Central Europe.
In the context of the entry of Germanic into the region, Einar Østmo emphasizes that the Atlantic and North Sea coastal regions of Scandinavia, and the circum-Baltic areas were united by a vigorous maritime economy, permitting a far wider geographical spread and a closer cultural unity than interior continental cultures could attain. He points to the widely disseminated number of rock carvings assigned to this era, which display “thousands” of ships. To seafaring cultures like this one, the sea is a highway and not a divider.
It is thought to have been responsible for spreading Indo-European languages and other elements of Indo-European culture to the region. It co-existed for a time with the hunter-gatherer Pitted Ware culture, which it eventually absorbed, developing into the Nordic Bronze Age. The Nordic Bronze Age has in turn been considered ancestral to the Germanic peoples.
The Battle Axe culture emerged in the south of the Scandinavian Peninsula about 2,800 BC. It was an offshoot of the Corded Ware culture, which was itself largely an offshoot of the Yamnaya culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Modern genetic studies show that its emergence was accompanied by large-scale migrations and genetic displacement. The Battle Axe culture initially absorbed the agricultural Funnelbeaker culture.
The concentration of the Battle Axe culture was in Scania. Sites of the Battle Axe culture have been found throughout the coastal areas of southern Scandinavia and southwest Finland. The immediate coastline was however occupied by the Pitted Ware culture. By 2,300, the Battle Axe culture had absorbed the Pitted Ware culture.
Throughout its existence the Battle Axe culture appears to have expanded into coastal Norway, and this is accompanied by dramatic cultural changes. Einar Østmo reports sites of the Battle Axe culture inside the Norwegian Arctic Circle in the Lofoten, and as far north as the present city of Tromsø.
The Battle Axe culture ends around 2,300 BC. It is eventually succeeded by the Nordic Bronze Age, which appears to be a fusion of elements from the Battle Axe culture and the Pitted Ware culture.
The Battle Axe culture is mostly known for its burials. Around 250 Battle Axe burials have been found in Sweden. These are quite different from those found in the Single Grave culture of Denmark.
In the Battle Axe culture, the deceased were usually placed in a single flat grave without a barrow. Graves were typically oriented north-south, with the body in a flexed position faced towards the east.
Men were placed on their left while women were placed on their right. In terms of both objects and placement, the grave goods are quite standardized. Axes of flint are found in both male and female burials. Battle axes are placed with males close to the head.
These battle axes appear to have been status symbols, and it is from them that the culture is named. About 3000 battle axes have been found, in sites distributed over all of Scandinavia, but they are sparse in Norrland and northern Norway.
The polished flint axes of the Battle Axe culture and the Pitted Ware culture trace a common origin in southwest Scania and Denmark. Corded Ware ceramics were also common grave goods in Battle Axe burials.
These were usually placed near the head or feet. Other grave goods include arrowheads, weapons of antler, amber beads, and polished flint axes and chisels. Faunal remains from burials include red deer, sheep, and goat.
A new aspect was given to the Battle Axe culture in 1993, when a death house in Turinge, in Södermanland was excavated. Along the once heavily timbered walls were found the remains of about twenty clay vessels, six work axes and a battle axe, which all came from the last period of the culture. There were also the cremated remains of at least six people. This is the earliest find of cremation in Scandinavia and it shows close contacts with Central Europe.
Few settlements of the Battle Axe culture have been uncovered. Most of them are located inland, but some are located in coastal areas. Battle Axe culture settlements are however not located directly on the coastline, which was rather occupied by the Pitted Ware culture. Less than 100 settlements are known, and their remains are negligible as they are located on continually used farmland, and have consequently been plowed away.
Archaeological remains of southern Sweden reveal close spatial relations between houses and graves. This suggests that farm was the centre of social and economic activity in the Battle Axe culture.
Battle Axe pottery has been found frequently in Pitted Ware settlements. Some settlements even display fusions of the pottery styles of the Battle Axe culture and Pitted Ware culture. The relationship between these two cultures is controversial and not well understood.
The social system of the Battle Axe culture was markedly different than that of the Funnelbeaker culture. This is marked by the fact that the Funnelbeaker culture had collective megalithic graves with a great deal of sacrifices to the graves, but the Battle Axe culture has individual graves with individual sacrifices. Individualism appears to have played a much more prominent part in the Battle Axe culture than among its predecessors.
The Battle Axe culture was based on the same agricultural practices as the previous Funnelbeaker culture. The Battle Axe culture appears to have emphasized cattle herding, which explains the apparent mobile nature of the culture. They also appear to have engaged in trade with populations to their north, exchanging animal goods with material goods.
Einar Østmo emphasizes that the Atlantic and North Sea coastal regions of Scandinavia, and the circum-Baltic areas were united by a vigorous maritime economy, permitting a far wider geographical spread and a closer cultural unity than interior continental cultures could attain. He points to the widely disseminated number of rock carvings assigned to this era, which display “thousands” of ships. To seafaring cultures like this one, the sea is a highway and not a divider.
The Battle Axe culture is believed to have brought Indo-European languages and Indo-European culture to southern Scandinavia. The fusion of the Battle Axe culture with the native agricultural and hunter-gatherer cultures of the region spawned the Nordic Bronze Age, which is the considered the ancestral civilization of the Germanic peoples.
The physical type of the Battle Axe people was different from the physical type of the preceding Funnelbeaker people of southern Scandinavia. In a 2019 study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the DNA of two Battle Axe individuals buried at the Bergsgraven in central Sweden was analyzed.
The male carried the paternal haplogroup R1a-Z283 and the maternal haplogroup U4c1a, while the female carried the maternal haplogrup N1a1a1a1. Haplogroup R1a is the most common paternal haplogroup among males from other cultures of the Corded Ware horizon, and has earlier been found among Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHGs) of the Mesolithic.
The two Battle Axe individuals examined were found to be closely related to peoples from other parts of the Corded Ware horizon. They were mostly of Western Steppe Herder (WSH) descent, although with slight Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) and Early European Farmer (EEF) admixture.
This admixture appears to have occurred through the mixing of WSH males with EEF and WHG females. The ancestry of the Battle Axe individuals was markedly different from that of previous Neolithic populations, suggesting stratification among the cultural groups.
WSH ancestry has not been detected among previous populations of the area. The results further underpinned the notion that the Battle Axe culture emerged as a result of a migration from the steppe.

Single Grave culture

The Single Grave culture (German: Einzelgrabkultur) was a Chalcolithic culture which flourished on the western North European Plain from ca. 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. It is characterized by the practice of single burial, the deceased usually being accompanied by a battle-axe, amber beads, and pottery vessels.
The Single Grave culture was a local variant of the Corded Ware culture, and appears to have emerged as a result of a migration of peoples from the Pontic-Caspian steppe. It was succeeded by the Bell Beaker culture, which appears to have been ultimately derived from the Single Grave culture.
The Single Grave culture was an offshoot of the Corded Ware culture, which was itself an offshoot of the Yamnaya culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe. On the western North European Plain, the Single Grave culture replaced the earlier Funnelbeaker culture.
Single Grave term refers to a series of late Neolithic communities of the 3rd millennium BCE living in southern Scandinavia, Northern Germany, and the Low Countries that share the practice of single burial, the deceased usually being accompanied by a battle-axe, amber beads, and pottery vessels.
The term Single Grave culture was first introduced by the Danish archaeologist Andreas Peter Madsen in the late 1800s. He found Single Graves to be quite different from the already known dolmens, long barrows and passage graves.
In 1898, archaeologist Sophus Müller was first to present a migration-hypothesis stating that previously known dolmens, long barrows, passage graves and newly discovered single graves may represent two completely different groups of people, stating “Single graves are traces of new, from the south coming tribes”.
The cultural emphasis on drinking equipment already characteristic of the early indigenous Funnelbeaker culture, synthesized with newly arrived Corded Ware traditions. Especially in the west (Scandinavia and northern Germany), the drinking vessels have a protruding foot and define the Protruding-Foot Beaker culture (PFB) as a subset of the Single Grave culture. The Beaker culture has been proposed to derive from this specific branch of the Corded Ware culture.
The Single Grave culture came to encompass the western part of the European Plain. In Denmark, Single Grave sites are concentrated in Jylland, where its appearance is accompanied by large-scale forest clearance and an expansion of animal husbandry, particularly cattle. In eastern Denmark, the Single Grave culture, the Pitted Ware culture, and the Funnelbeaker culture appear to have co-existed for some time. It maintained close connections to other cultures of the Corded Ware horizon.
The Single Grave culture was succeeded by the Bell Beaker culture. The Bell Beaker culture is thought to have been derived from the Protruding-Foot Beaker culture (PFB), which was a variant of the Single Grave culture.
The term Single Grave culture was first introduced by the Danish archaeologist Andreas Peter Madsen in the late 1800s. He found Single Graves to be quite different from the already known dolmens, long barrows and passage graves.
In 1898, Danish archaeologist Sophus Müller was first to present a migration-hypothesis stating that previously known dolmens, long barrows, passage graves and newly discovered single graves may represent two completely different groups of people, stating “Single graves are traces of new, from the south coming tribes”.
The Single Grave culture is known chiefly from its burial mounds. Thousands of such mounds have been discovered. These are typically low, circular earthen mounds. Originally, the mounds were surrounded by a circle of split timbers. In low mounds, grave would contain one, or even two, plank coffins. Each coffin contained a single individual.
Occasionally, new graves and mounds would be added on top of previous ones. Males were typically buried with battle axes, large amber discs and flint tools. Females were buried with amber necklaces made of small beads. Both genders were buried with a ceramic beaker.
This probably contained some form of fermented beverage, possibly beer. The standardized burial practices of the single grave culture have been interpreted as evidence of equality of the sexes in Single Grave society.
The Single Grave people were engaged in animal husbandry, particularly the raising of cattle. They also engaged in agriculture, with barley as the main crop.
The Single Grave people produced pottery with cord impressions similar to those of other cultures of the Corded Ware horizon. The cultural emphasis on drinking equipment already characteristic of the early indigenous Funnelbeaker culture, synthesized with newly arrived Corded Ware traditions.
Especially in the west (Scandinavia and northern Germany), the drinking vessels have a protruding foot and define the Protruding-Foot Beaker culture (PFB) as a subset of the Single Grave culture.
In a genetic study published in Nature in June 2015, the remains of a male buried at Kyndeløse in Denmark between 2,850 BC and 2,500 BC was analyzed.[9][10] This individual has been ascribed to the Single Grave culture.
He was found to be carrying the paternal haplogroup R1a1a1 and the maternal haplogroup J1c4. Like other people of the Corded Ware horizon, he was mainly of Western Steppe Herder (WSH) descent.

Bell Beaker culture

The Bell Beaker culture or short Beaker culture, is an archaeological culture named after the inverted-bell beaker drinking vessel used at the very beginning of the European Bronze Age. Arising from around 2800 BC, and lasting in continental Europe until 2300 BC, succeeded by the Unetice culture, in Britain until as late as 1800 BC.
The culture was widely scattered 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 follows the Corded Ware culture and for north-central Europe the Funnelbeaker culture. The name Glockenbecher was coined for its distinctive style of beakers by Paul Reinecke in 1900. The term’s English translation Bell Beaker was introduced by John Abercromby in 1904.
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 BC, however, the “Beaker folk” 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 artefact 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).
While Bell Beaker (Glockenbecher) was introduced as a term for the artefact type at the beginning of the 20th century, recognition of an archaeological Bell Beaker culture has long been controversial.
Its spread has been one of the central questions of the migrationism vs. diffusionism debate in 20th-century archaeology, variously described as due to migration, possibly of small groups of warriors, craftsmen or traders, or due to the diffusion of ideas and object exchange.
Gordon Childe interpreted the presence of its characteristic artefact as the intrusion of “missionaries” expanding from Iberia along the Atlantic coast, spreading knowledge of copper metallurgy. Stephen Shennan interpreted the artefacts as belonging to a mobile cultural elite imposing itself over the indigenous substrate populations.
Similarly, Sangmeister (1972) interpreted the “Beaker folk” (Glockenbecherleute) as small groups of highly mobile traders and artisans. Christian Strahm (1995) used the term “Bell Beaker phenomenon” (Glockenbecher-Phänomen) as a compromise in order to avoid the term “culture”.
The Bell Beaker artefacts at least in their early phase are not distributed across a contiguous area as is usual for archaeological cultures, but are found in insular concentrations scattered across Europe. Their presence is not associated with a characteristic type of architecture or of burial customs. However, the Bell Beaker culture does appear to coalesce into a coherent archaeological culture in its later phase.
More recent analyses of the “Beaker phenomenon”, published since the 2000s, have persisted in describing the origin of the “Beaker phenomenon” as arising from a synthesis of elements, representing “an idea and style uniting different regions with different cultural traditions and background.”
Archaeogenetics studies of the 2010s have been able to resolve the “migrationist vs. diffusionist” question to some extent. The study by Olalde et al. (2017) found only “limited genetic affinity” between individuals associated with the Beaker complex in Iberia and in Central Europe, suggesting that migration played a limited role in its early spread. However, the same study found that the further dissemination of the mature Beaker complex was very strongly linked to migration.
This is true especially for Britain, where the spread of the Beaker culture introduced high levels of steppe-related ancestry, resulting in a near-complete transformation of the local gene pool within a few centuries, to the point of replacement of about 90% of the local Mesolithic-derived lineages.
The origin of the “Bell Beaker” artefact itself has been traced to the early 3rd millennium, early examples of the “maritime” Bell Beaker design have been found at the Tagus estuary in Portugal, radiocarbon dated to c. the 28th century BC.
The inspiration for the Maritime Bell Beaker is argued to have been the small and earlier Copoz beakers that have impressed decoration and which are found widely around the Tagus estuary in Portugal.
Turek sees late Neolithic precursors in northern Africa, arguing the Maritime style emerged as a result of seaborne contacts between Iberia and Morocco in the first half of the third millennium BC. AOO and AOC Beakers appear to have evolved continually from a pre-Beaker period in the lower Rhine and North Sea regions, at least for Northern and Central Europe.
Heyd (1998) concluded that the Bell Beaker culture was intrusive to southern Germany which existed contemporarily with the local Corded Ware culture. Conversely, the burial ritual which typified Bell Beaker sites appears to be intrusive to Western Europe, from Central Europe.
Individual inhumations, often under tumuli with the inclusion of weapons contrast markedly to the preceding Neolithic traditions of often collective, weaponless burials in Atlantic/Western Europe. Such an arrangement is rather derivative of Corded Ware traditions.
The initial moves from the Tagus estuary were maritime. A southern move led to the Mediterranean where ‘enclaves’ were established in south-western Spain and southern France around the Golfe du Lion and into the Po Valley in Italy, probably via ancient western Alpine trade routes used to distribute jadeite axes.
A northern move incorporated the southern coast of Armorica. The enclave established in southern Brittany was linked closely to the riverine and landward route, via the Loire, and across the Gâtinais Valley to the Seine Valley, and thence to the lower Rhine. This was a long-established route reflected in early stone axe distributions, and via this network, Maritime Bell Beakers first reached the Lower Rhine in about 2600 BC.
Another pulse had brought Bell Beaker to Csepel Island in Hungary by about 2500 BC. In the Carpathian Basin, the Bell Beaker culture came in contact with communities such as the Vučedol culture, which had evolved partly from the Yamnaya culture, so shared the same type of metallurgy practised by Bell Beaker metalworkers. But in contrast to the early Bell Beaker preference for the dagger and bow, the favourite weapon in the Carpathian Basin during the first half of the third millennium was the shaft-hole axe.
Here, Bell Beaker people assimilated local pottery forms such as the polypod cup. These “common ware” types of pottery then spread in association with the classic bell beaker.
From the Carpathian Basin, Bell Beaker spread down the Rhine and eastwards into what is now Germany and Poland. By this, the Rhine was on the western edge of the vast Corded Ware zone. The Corded Ware culture shared a number of features with the Bell Beaker culture, derived from their common ancestor, the Yamna culture. These features include pottery decorated with cord impressions, single burial, and the shaft-hole axe.
A review in 2014 revealed that single burial, communal burial, and reuse of Neolithic burial sites are found throughout the Bell Beaker zone. This overturns a previous conviction that single burial was unknown in the early or southern Bell Beaker zone, and so must have been adopted from Corded Ware in the contact zone of the Lower Rhine, and transmitted westwards along the exchange networks from the Rhine to the Loire, and northwards across the English Channel to Britain.
The earliest copper production in Ireland, identified at Ross Island in the period 2400–2200 BC, was associated with early Beaker pottery. Here, the local sulpharsenide ores were smelted to produce the first copper axes used in Britain and Ireland. The same technologies were used in the Tagus region and in the west and south of France.
The evidence is sufficient to support the suggestion that the initial spread of Maritime Bell Beakers along the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean, using sea routes that had long been in operation, was directly associated with the quest for copper and other rare raw materials.
Given the unusual form and fabric of Beaker pottery, and its abrupt appearance in the archaeological record, along with a characteristic group of other artefacts, known as the Bell Beaker “package”, the explanation for the Beaker culture until the last decades of the 20th century was to interpret it as the migration of one group of people across Europe.
However, British and American archaeology since the 1960s had been sceptical about prehistoric migration in general, so the idea of “Bell Beaker Folk” lost ground, although recent genetic findings lend renewed support to the migratory hypothesis. A theory of cultural contact de-emphasizing population movement was presented by Colin Burgess and Stephen Shennan in the mid-1970s.
Under the “pots, not people” theory, the Beaker culture is seen as a ‘package’ of knowledge (including religious beliefs, as well as methods of copper, bronze, and gold working) and artefacts (including copper daggers, v-perforated buttons, and stone wrist-guards) adopted and adapted by the indigenous peoples of Europe to varying degrees.
This new knowledge may have come about by any combination of population movements and cultural contact. An example might be as part of a prestige cult related to the production and consumption of beer, or trading links such as those demonstrated by finds made along the seaways of Atlantic Europe.
Palynological studies including analysis of pollen, associated with the spread of beakers, certainly suggests increased growing of barley, which may be associated with beer brewing. Noting the distribution of Beakers was highest in areas of transport routes, including fording sites, river valleys and mountain passes, Beaker ‘folk’ were suggested to be originally bronze traders, who subsequently settled within local Neolithic or early Chalcolithic cultures, creating local styles. Close analysis of the bronze tools associated with beaker use suggests an early Iberian source for the copper, followed subsequently by Central European and Bohemian ores.
Investigations in the Mediterranean and France recently moved the discussion to re-emphasise the importance of migration to the Bell Beaker story. Instead of being pictured as a fashion or a simple diffusion of objects and their use, the investigation of over 300 sites showed that human groups actually moved in a process that involved explorations, contacts, settlement, diffusion, and acculturation/assimilation.
Some elements show the influence from the north and east, and other elements reveal the south-east of France to be an important crossroad on an important route of communication and exchange spreading north.
A distinctive ‘barbed wire’ pottery decoration is thought to have migrated through central Italy first. The pattern of movements was diverse and complicated, along the Atlantic coast and the northern Mediterranean coast, and sometimes also far inland. The prominent central role of Portugal in the region and the quality of the pottery all across Europe are forwarded as arguments for a new interpretation that denies an ideological dimension.
A strontium isotope analysis of 86 people from Bell Beaker graves in Bavaria suggests that 18–25% of all graves were occupied by people who came from a considerable distance outside the area. This was true of children and adults, indicative of some significant migration wave. Given the similarities with readings from people living on loess soils, the general direction of the local movement, according to Price et al., is from the northeast to the southwest.
The two main international bell beaker styles are: the All Over Ornamented (AOO), patterned all over with impressions, of which a subset is the All Over Corded (AOC), patterned with cord-impressions, and the Maritime type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later, other characteristic regional styles developed.
The beakers are suggested to have been designed for the consumption of alcohol, and the introduction of the substance to Europe may have fuelled the beakers’ spread. Beer and mead content have been identified from certain examples. However, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores, others have some organic residues associated with food, and still others were employed as funerary urns. They were used as status display amongst disparate elites.
Bell Beaker people took advantage of transport by sea and rivers, creating a cultural spread extending from Ireland to the Carpathian Basin and south along the Atlantic coast and along the Rhône valley to Portugal, North Africa, and Sicily, even penetrating northern and central Italy.
Its remains have been found in what is now Portugal, Spain, France (excluding the central massif), Ireland and Great Britain, the Low Countries and Germany between the Elbe and Rhine, with an extension along the upper Danube into the Vienna Basin (Austria), Hungary and the Czech Republic, with Mediterranean outposts on Sardinia and Sicily; there is less certain evidence for direct penetration in the east.
Beaker-type vessels remained in use longest in the British Isles; late beakers in other areas are classified as early Bronze Age (Barbed Wire Beakers in the Netherlands, Giant Beakers (Riesenbecher)). The new international trade routes opened by the Beaker people became firmly established and the culture was succeeded by a number of Bronze Age cultures, among them the Únětice culture in Central Europe, the Elp culture and Hilversum culture in the Netherlands, the Atlantic Bronze Age in the British Isles and the Atlantic coast of Europe, and by the Nordic Bronze Age, a culture of Scandinavia and northernmost Germany–Poland.
In Denmark, large areas of forested land were cleared to be used for pasture and the growing of cereals during the Single Grave culture and in the Late Neolithic Period. Faint traces of Bell Beaker influence can be recognised already in the pottery of the Upper Grave phase of the Single Grave period, and even of the late Ground Grave phase, such as occasional use of AOO-like or zoned decoration and other typical ornamentation, while Bell Beaker associated objects such as wristguards and small copper trinkets, also found their way into this northern territories of the Corded Ware Culture.
Domestic sites with Beakers only appear 200–300 years after the first appearance of Bell Beakers in Europe, at the early part of the Danish Late Neolithic Period (LN I) starting at 2350 BC.
These sites are concentrated in northern Jutland around the Limfjord and on the Djursland peninsula, largely contemporary to the local Upper Grave Period. In east central Sweden and western Sweden, barbed wire decoration characterised the period 2460–1990 BC, linked to another Beaker derivation of northwestern Europe.
Northern Jutland has abundant sources of high quality flint, which had previously attracted industrious mining, large-scale production, and the comprehensive exchange of flint objects: notably axes and chisels.
The Danish Beaker period, however, was characterised by the manufacture of lanceolate flint daggers, described as a completely new material form without local antecedents in flint and clearly related to the style of daggers circulating elsewhere in Beaker dominated Europe.
Presumably Beaker culture spread from here to the remainder of Denmark, and to other regions in Scandinavia and northern Germany as well. Central and eastern Denmark adopted this dagger fashion and, to a limited degree, also archer’s equipment characteristic to Beaker culture, although here Beaker pottery remained less common.
Also, the spread of metallurgy in Denmark is intimately related to the Beaker representation in northern Jutland. The LN I metalwork is distributed throughout most of Denmark, but a concentration of early copper and gold coincides with this core region, hence suggesting a connection between Beakers and the introduction of metallurgy.
Most LN I metal objects are distinctly influenced by the western European Beaker metal industry, gold sheet ornaments and copper flat axes being the predominant metal objects. The LN I copper flat axes divide into As-Sb-Ni copper, recalling so-called Dutch Bell Beaker copper and the As-Ni copper found occasionally in British and Irish Beaker contexts, the mining region of Dutch Bell Beaker copper being perhaps Brittany; and the Early Bronze Age Singen (As-Sb-Ag-Ni) and Ösenring (As-Sb-Ag) coppers having a central European – probably Alpine – origin.
The Beaker group in northern Jutland forms an integrated part of the western European Beaker Culture, while western Jutland provided a link between the Lower Rhine area and northern Jutland. The local fine-ware pottery of Beaker derivation reveal links with other Beaker regions in western Europe, most specifically the Veluwe group at the Lower Rhine.
Concurrent introduction of metallurgy shows that some people must have crossed cultural boundaries. Danish Beakers are contemporary with the earliest Early Bronze Age (EBA) of the East Group of Bell Beakers in central Europe, and with the floruit of Beaker cultures of the West Group in western Europe. The latter comprise Veluwe and Epi-Maritime in Continental northwestern Europe and the Middle Style Beakers (Style 2) in insular western Europe.
The interaction between the Beaker groups on the Veluwe Plain and in Jutland must, at least initially, have been quite intensive. All-over ornamented (AOO) and All-over-corded (AOC), and particularly Maritime style beakers are featured, although from a fairly late context and possibly rather of Epi-maritime style, equivalent to the situation in the north of the Netherlands, where Maritime ornamentation continued after it ceased in the central region of Veluwe and were succeeded c. 2300 BC by beakers of the Veluwe and Epi-Maritime style.
Clusters of Late Neolithic Beaker presence similar to northern Jutland appear as pockets or “islands” of Beaker Culture in northern Europe, such as Mecklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and southern Norway. In northern central Poland Beaker-like representations even occur in a contemporary EBA setting. The frequent occurrence of Beaker pottery in settlements points at a large-scaled form of social identity or cultural identity, or perhaps an ethnic identity.
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.
The introductory phase of the manufacture and use of flint daggers, around 2350 BC, must all in all be characterised as a period of social change. Apel argued that an institutionalised apprenticeship system must have existed.
Craftsmanship was transmitted by inheritance in certain families living in the vicinity of abundant resources of high-quality flint. Debbie Olausson’s (1997) examinations indicate that flint knapping activities, particularly the manufacture of daggers, reflect a relatively low degree of craft specialisation, probably in the form of a division of labour between households.
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.
The cultural concepts originally adopted from Beaker groups at the lower Rhine blended or integrated with local Late Neolithic Culture. For a while the region was set apart from central and eastern Denmark, that evidently related more closely to the early Únětice culture across the Baltic Sea. Before the turn of the millennium the typical Beaker features had gone, their total duration being 200–300 years at the most.
A similar picture of cultural integration is featured among Bell Beakers in central Europe, thus challenging previous theories of Bell Beakers as an elitist or purely super-structural phenomenon. The connection with the East Group Beakers of Únětice had intensified considerably in LN II, thus triggering a new social transformation and innovations in metallurgy that would announce the actual beginning of the Northern Bronze Age.
As the Beaker culture left no written records, all theories regarding the language or languages they spoke is highly conjectural. It has been suggested as a candidate for an early Indo-European culture; more specifically, an ancestral proto-Celtic.
Mallory has more recently suggested that the Beaker culture was possibly associated with a European branch of Indo-European dialects, termed “North-west Indo-European”, ancestral to not only Celtic but equally Italic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic.
Historical craniometric studies found that the Beaker people appeared to be of a different physical type than those earlier populations in the same geographic areas. They were described as tall, heavy boned and brachycephalic.
The early studies on the Beakers which were based on the analysis of their skeletal remains, were craniometric. This apparent evidence of migration was in line with archaeological discoveries linking Beaker culture to new farming techniques, mortuary practices, copper-working skills, and other cultural innovations.
However, such evidence from skeletal remains was brushed aside as a new movement developed in archaeology from the 1960s, which stressed cultural continuity. Anti-migrationist authors either paid little attention to skeletal evidence or argued that differences could be explained by environmental and cultural influences.
Margaret Cox and Simon Mays sum up the position: “Although it can hardly be said that craniometric data provide an unequivocal answer to the problem of the Beaker folk, the balance of the evidence would at present seem to favour a migration hypothesis.”
Non-metrical research concerning the Beaker people in Britain also cautiously pointed in the direction of immigration. Subsequent studies, such as one concerning the Carpathian Basin, and a non-metrical analysis of skeletons in central-southern Germany, have also identified marked typological differences with the pre-Beaker inhabitants.
Jocelyne Desideri examined the teeth in skeletons from Bell Beaker sites in Northern Spain, Southern France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Examining dental characteristics that have been independently shown to correlate with genetic relatedness, she found that only in Northern Spain and the Czech Republic were there demonstrable links between immediately previous populations and Bell Beaker populations. Elsewhere there was a discontinuity.
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 (note that the P312 subclade was not tested for), 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 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.
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.

Nordic Bronze Age

The Nordic Bronze Age from (1700–500 BC), also Northern Bronze Age or Scandinavian Bronze Age, is a period of Scandinavian prehistory. Some scholars also include sites in what is now Finland, Estonia, northern Germany and Pomerania as part of its cultural sphere.
A broader subdivision is the Early Bronze Age, between 1700 BC and 1100 BC, and the Late Bronze Age, 1100 BC to 550 BC. These divisions and periods are followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age. Around the 5th century BC, the Nordic Bronze Age was succeeded by the Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Jastorf culture. 
The cultures of the Pre-Roman Iron Age are sometimes hypothesized to be the origin of the Germanic languages. Herwig Wolfram locates the initial stages of Grimm’s Law here.
It emerged through the fusion of the Battle Axe culture and the Pitted Ware culture about 1700 BC. The Nordic Bronze Age is a successor of the Corded Ware culture in southern Scandinavia and Northern Germany. It appears to represent a fusion of elements from the Corded Ware culture and the preceding Pitted Ware culture.
The Nordic Bronze Age has in turn been considered ancestral to the Germanic peoples. It maintained close trade links with Mycenaean Greece, with whom it shares several striking similarities. Cultural similarities between the Nordic Bronze Age, the Sintastha/Andronovo culture and peoples of the Rigveda have also been detected.
The people of the Nordic Bronze Age were actively engaged in the export of amber, and imported metals in return, becoming expert metalworkers. With respects to the number and density of metal deposits, the Nordic Bronze Age became the richest culture in Europe during its existence.
The west coast of Sweden, namely Bohuslän, has the largest concentration of Bronze Age rock carvings in Scandinavia; and Scandinavia has the largest amount of Bronze Age rock carvings in Europe. The west cost of Sweden is home to around 1,500 recorded rock engraving sites, with more being discovered every year. When the rock carvings were made, the area was the coastline; but it is now 25 meters above sea level.
The engravings in the region depict everyday life, weapons, human figures, fishing nets, ships, the sun, deer, bulls, horses, and birds. By far, the most dominate theme is human figures and ships, especially ships — 10,000 of which have recorded. The typical ship depicts a crew of six to thirteen. Rock carvings in the late Bronze Age, and even the early Iron Age, often depict conflict, power, and mobility.
Settlement in the Nordic Bronze Age period consisted mainly of single farmsteads, with no towns or substantial villages known – farmsteads usually consisted of a longhouse plus additional four-post built structures (helms) – longhouses were initially two aisled, and after c. 1300 BC three aisled structure became normal.
Evidence of multiple longhouses at a single site have been found, but they are thought to date to different periods, rather than being of the same date. Settlements were geographically located on higher ground, and tended to be concentrated near the sea.
Associated with Nordic Bronze Age settlements are burial mounds and cemeteries, with interments including oak coffins and urn burials; other settlement associations include rock carvings, or bronze hoards in wetland sites.
In the Nordic Bronze Age, both agriculture (including wheat, millet, and barley) and husbandry (keeping of domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep and pigs) were practiced, and fishing and shellfish were also sources of food, as well as deer, elk, and other wild animal hunting. There is evidence that oxen were used as draught animals, domesticated dogs were common, horses were rarer and probably status symbols.
Even though Scandinavians joined the European Bronze Age cultures fairly late through trade, Scandinavian sites present a rich and well-preserved legacy of bronze and gold objects. These valuable metals were all imported, primarily from Central Europe, but they were often crafted locally and the craftsmanship and metallurgy of the Nordic Bronze Age was of a high standard. The archaeological legacy also comprise locally of crafted wool and wooden objects.
During the 15th and 14th centuries BC, southern Scandinavia produced and deposited more elaborate bronzes in graves and hoards than any other region of Europe. With respects to the number and density of metal deposits, the Nordic Bronze Age became the richest culture in Europe.
The Nordic Bronze Age maintained intimate trade links with the Tumulus culture and Mycenaean Greece. The Nordic Bronze Age exported amber through the Amber Road, importing metals in return. During the time of the Nordic Bronze Age, metals, such as copper, tin and gold, were imported into Scandinavia on a massive scale. Copper was imported from Sardinia and Iberia. The trade network was briefly disrupted during the Late Bronze Age collapse in the 12th century BC.
The art of the Nordic Bronze Age is very similar to that of Mycenaean Greece. The similarities are so striking that archaeologists have referred to the Nordic Bronze Age as “a specific and selective Nordic variety of Mycenaean high culture”.
These similarities can not have come about without intimate contacts, probably through the travels of warriors and mercenaries. It might also reflect and common Indo-European tradition. Such similarities are not detected between Mycenaean Greece and other European Bronze Age cultures. Numerous cultural similarities between the Nordic Bronze Age, the Sintastha/Andronovo culture and peoples of the Rigveda have been detected.
There is no coherent knowledge about the Nordic Bronze Age religion; its pantheon, world view and how it was practised. Written sources are lacking, but archaeological finds draw a vague and fragmented picture of the religious practices and the nature of the religion of this period. Only some possible sects and only certain possible tribes are known. Some of the best clues come from tumuli, elaborate artifacts, votive offerings and rock carvings scattered across Northern Europe.
Many finds indicate a strong sun-worshipping cult in the Nordic Bronze Age and various animals have been associated with the sun’s movement across the sky, including horses, birds, snakes and marine creatures. A female or mother goddess is believed to have been widely worshipped (Nerthus). There have been several finds of fertility symbols. Hieros gamos rites may have been common.
A pair of twin gods are believed to have been worshipped, and is reflected in a duality in all things sacred: where sacrificial artifacts have been buried they are often found in pairs. Sacrifices (animals, weapons, jewellery and humans) often had a strong connection to bodies of water. Boglands, ponds, streams or lakes were often used as ceremonial and holy places for sacrifices and many artifacts have been found in such locations.
There are many rock carving sites from this period. The rock carvings have been dated through comparison with depicted artifacts, for example bronze axes and swords. Many rock carvings are uncanny in resemblance to those found in the Corded Ware Culture. There are also numerous Nordic Stone Age rock carvings, those of northern Scandinavia mostly portray elk.
Ritual instruments such as bronze lurs have been uncovered, especially in the region of Denmark and western Sweden. Lur horns are also depicted in several rock carvings and are believed to have been used in ceremonies.
Remnants of the Bronze Age religion and mythology are believed to exist in Germanic mythology and Norse mythology; e.g., Skinfaxi and Hrímfaxi and Nerthus, and it is believed to itself be descended from the earlier Indo-European religion.
Thousands of rock carvings from the Nordic Bronze Age depict ships, and the large stone burial monuments, known as stone ships, suggest that ships and seafaring played an important role in the culture at large.
The depicted ships, most likely represents sewn plank built canoes used for warfare, fishing and trade. These ship types may have their origin as far back as the neolithic period and they continue into the Pre-Roman Iron Age, as exemplified by the Hjortspring boat. 3,600-year old bronze axes and other tools made from Cypriot copper have been found in the region.
The Nordic Bronze Age was initially characterized by a warm climate that began with a climate change around 2700 BC. The climate was comparable to that of present-day central Germany and northern France and permitted a fairly dense population and good opportunities for farming; for example, grapes were grown in Scandinavia at this time. A minor change in climate occurred between 850 BC and 760 BC, introducing a wetter, colder climate and a more radical climate change began around 650 BC.
A June 2015 study published in Nature found the people of the Nordic Bronze Age to be closely genetically related to the Corded Ware culture, the Beaker culture and the Unetice culture. People of the Nordic Bronze Age and Corded Ware show the highest lactose tolerance among Bronze Age Europeans.
The study suggested that the Sintashta culture, and its succeeding Andronovo culture, represented an eastward migration of Corded Ware peoples. Numerous cultural similarities between the Nordic Bronze, the Sintastha/Andronovo culture and peoples described in the Rigveda have been detected.
In the June 2015 study, the remains of nine individuals of the Northern Bronze Age and earlier Neolithic cultures in Denmark and Sweden from ca. 2850 BC to 500 BC, were analyzed. Among the Neolithic individuals, the three males were found to be carrying haplogroup I, R1a1a1 and R1b1a1a2a1a1. Among the individuals from the Nordic Bronze Age, two males carried I, while two carried R1b1a1a2.

Lusatian culture

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300 BC – 500 BC) in most of today’s Poland and parts of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, eastern Germany, and western Ukraine. It covers the Periods Montelius III (early Lusatian culture) to V of the Northern-European chronological scheme. There were close contacts with the Nordic Bronze Age. Hallstatt and La Tène influences can also be seen particularly in ornaments (fibulae, pins) and weapons.
The Lusatian culture developed as the preceding Trzciniec culture experienced influences from the Tumulus culture of the Middle Bronze Age, essentially incorporating the local communities into the socio-political network of Iron Age Europe. It forms part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.
It is followed by the Billendorf culture of the Early Iron Age in the West. In Poland, the Lusatian culture is taken to span part of the Iron Age as well (there is only a terminological difference) and is succeeded in Montelius VIIbc in northern ranges around the mouth of Vistula by the Pomeranian culture spreading south.
‘Lusatian-type’ burials were first described by the German pathologist and archaeologist Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902). The name refers to the Lusatia area in eastern Germany (Brandenburg and Saxony) and western Poland. Virchow identified the pottery artifacts as ‘pre-Germanic’ but refused to speculate on the ethnic identity of their makers.
The Polish archeologist Józef Kostrzewski, who starting in 1934 conducted extensive excavations of a Lusatian settlement of Biskupin, hypothesized that the Lusatian culture was a predecessor of later cultures which belonged to the early Slavs.
Modern archeologists, such as Kazimierz Godłowski and Piotr Kaczanowski, hold the view that at that time, the ethnic geography of Bronze Age central-Europe included peoples whose languages and ethnic identity we simply do not know.

Pre-Roman Iron Age

The Pre-Roman Iron Age (5th/4th–1st centuries BCE) was the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia and the North European Plain. The tripartite division of the Nordic Iron Age into “Pre-Roman Iron Age”, “Roman Iron Age” and “Germanic Iron Age” is due to Swedish archaeologist Oscar Montelius.
Succeeding the Nordic Bronze Age, the Iron Age developed in contact with the Hallstatt culture in Central Europe. Archaeologists first decided to divide the Iron Age of Northern Europe into distinct pre-Roman and Roman Iron Ages after Emil Vedel unearthed a number of Iron Age artifacts in 1866 on the island of Bornholm.
They did not exhibit the same permeating Roman influence seen in most other artifacts from the early centuries CE, indicating that parts of northern Europe had not yet come into contact with the Romans at the beginning of the Iron Age.
Out of the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of the 12th century BCE developed the Early Iron Age Hallstatt culture of Central Europe from the 8th to 6th centuries BCE, which was followed by the La Tène culture of Central Europe (450 BCE to 1st century BCE).
Although the metal iron came into wider use by metalsmiths in the Mediterranean as far back as c. 1300 BCE due to the Late Bronze Age collapse, the Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe covered the 5th/4th to the 1st centuries BCE.
The Iron Age in northern Europe is markedly distinct from the Celtic La Tène culture south of it. The old long-range trading networks south-north between the Mediterranean cultures and Northern Europe had broken down at the end of the Nordic Bronze Age and caused a rapid and deep cultural change in Scandinavia.
Bronze, which was an imported alloy, suddenly became very scarce; and iron, which was a local natural resource, slowly became more abundant, as the techniques for extracting, smelting and smithing it were acquired from their Central European Celtic neighbours.
Iron was extracted from bog iron in peat bogs, and the first iron objects to be fabricated were needles and edged tools such as swords and sickles. The rise of iron use in Scandinavia was slow: bog ore was only abundant in southwestern Jutland and it was not until 200–100 BCE that iron-working techniques were generally mastered and a productive smithing industry had evolved in the larger settlements.
There are many bog bodies from Danish bog areas, some ritually killed, perhaps as human sacrifices, of which Tollund Man (found 1950) is the best-known. Their hair, skin and possessions have often been preserved in the anaerobic conditions, allowing archaeologists to learn more about their lifestyle.
Iron products were also known in Scandinavia during the Bronze Age, but they were a scarce imported material. Similarly, imported bronze continued to be used during the Iron Age in Scandinavia, but it was now much scarcer and mostly used for decoration.
Funerary practices continued the Bronze Age tradition of burning corpses and placing the remains in urns, a characteristic of the Urnfield culture. During the previous centuries, influences from the Central European La Tène culture had spread to Scandinavia from north-western Germany, and there are finds from this period from all the provinces of southern Scandinavia
Archaeologists have found swords, shield bosses, spearheads, scissors, sickles, pincers, knives, needles, buckles, kettles, etc. from this time. Bronze continued to be used for torcs and kettles, the styles of which were continuous from the Bronze Age.
Some of the most prominent finds from the pre-Roman Iron Age in northern Europe are the Gundestrup cauldron and the Dejbjerg wagons, two four-wheeled wagons of wood with bronze parts.
The cultural change that ended the Nordic Bronze Age was influenced by the expansion of Hallstatt culture from the south and accompanied by a changing climate, which caused a dramatic change in the flora and fauna.
In Scandinavia, this period is often called the “Findless Age”, due to the lack of archaeological finds. While the archaeological record from Scandinavia is consistent with an initial decline in population, the southern part of the culture, the Jastorf culture, was in expansion southwards. It consequently appears that climate change played an important role in this southward expansion into continental Europe.
It is debated why cultural innovation spread geographically during this time: whether the new material culture reflects a possibly warlike movement of Germanic peoples (“demic diffusion”) southwards or whether innovations found at the Pre-Roman Iron Age sites represent a more peaceful trans-cultural diffusion.
The current view in the Netherlands is that Iron Age innovations, starting with Hallstatt (800 BCE), did not involve intrusions and featured a local development from Bronze Age culture. Another Iron Age nucleus considered to represent a local development is the Wessenstedt culture (800–600 BCE).
The bearers of this northern Iron Age culture were likely speakers of Germanic languages. The stage of development of this Germanic is not known, although Proto-Germanic has been proposed.
The late phase of this period sees the beginnings of the Migration Period, starting with the invasions of the Teutons and the Cimbri until their defeat at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BCE, presaging the more turbulent Roman Iron Age and Migration Period.

Roman Iron Age

The Roman Iron Age (1–400 CE) is a part of the Iron Age. The name comes from the hold that the Roman Empire had begun to exert on the Germanic tribes of Northern Europe.
In Scandinavia, there was a great import of goods, such as coins (more than 7,000), vessels, bronze images, glass beakers, enameled buckles, weapons, etc. Moreover, the style of metal objects and clay vessels was markedly Roman. Objects such as shears and pawns appear for the first time. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, some elements are imported from Germanic tribes that had settled north of the Black Sea, such as the runes.
There are also many bog bodies from this time in Denmark, Schleswig and southern Sweden. Together with the bodies, there are weapons, household wares and clothes of wool. Great ships made for rowing have been found from the 4th century in Nydam Mose in southern Denmark. The prime burial tradition was cremation, but the third century and thereafter saw an increase in inhumation.
Through the 5th and 6th centuries, gold and silver become more and more common. This time saw the ransack of the Roman Empire by Germanic tribes, from which many Scandinavians returned with gold and silver. A new Iron Age had begun in Northern Europe, the Germanic Iron Age.

Germanic Iron Age

The Germanic Iron Age is divided into the early Germanic Iron Age (EGIA) and the late Germanic Iron Age (LGIA). In Sweden, the LGIA (550–800) is usually called the Vendel era; in Norway and Finland, the Merovinger (Merovingian) Age.
The Germanic Iron Age begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Celtic and Germanic kingdoms in Western Europe. It is followed, in Northern Europe and Scandinavia, by the Viking Age.
During the decline of the Roman Empire, an abundance of gold flowed into Scandinavia; there are excellent works in gold from this period. Gold was used to make scabbard mountings and bracteates.
After the Western Roman Empire fell, gold became scarce and Scandinavians began to make objects of gilded bronze, with decorative figures of interlacing animals. In the EGIA, the decorations tended to be representational—the animal figures are rather faithful anatomically; in the LGIA, they tended to be more abstract or symbolic—intricate interlaced shapes and limbs.
The LGIA in the 8th century blends into the Viking Age and the proto-historical period, with legendary or semi-legendary oral tradition recorded a few centuries later in the Gesta Danorum, heroic legend and sagas, and an incipient tradition of primary written documents in the form of runestones.
In February 2020, Secrets of the Ice Program researchers discovered a 1,500-year-old Viking arrowhead dating back to the Germanic Iron age and locked in a glacier in southern Norway caused by the climate change in the Jotunheimen Mountains. The arrowhead made of iron was revealed with its cracked wooden shaft and a feather, is 17 cm long and weighs just 28 grams.

Nordic Iron Age

Iron Age Scandinavia (or Nordic Iron Age) refers to the Iron Age, as it unfolded in Scandinavia. The Northern European Iron Age is the locus of Proto-Germanic culture, in its later stage differentiating into Proto-Norse (in Scandinavia), and West Germanic (Ingvaeonic, Irminonic, Istvaeonic) in northern Germany.
The Iron Age in Scandinavia and Northern Europe begins around 500 BC with the Jastorf culture, and is taken to last until c. 800 AD and the beginning Viking Age. It succeeds the Nordic Bronze Age with the introduction of ferrous metallurgy by contact with the Hallstatt D/La Tène cultures.
The 6th and 5th centuries BC were a tipping point for exports and imports on the European continent. The ever-increasing conflicts and wars between the central European Celtic tribes and the Mediterranean cultures destabilized old major trade routes and networks between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, eventually breaking them down, and changing the Scandinavian cultures dramatically.
Now they had to be practically self-dependent and self-sustaining. Archaeology attests a rapid and deep change in the Scandinavian culture and way of life. Agricultural production became more intensified, organized around larger settlements and with a much more labour-intensive production. Slaves were introduced and deployed, something uncommon in the Nordic Bronze Age.
The rising power, wealth and organization of the central European tribes in the following centuries did not seem to instigate an increased trade and contact between Scandinavia and central Europe before 200‒100 BC.
At this point the Celtic tribes had organized themselves in numerous urban communities known as oppida, and the more stable political situation in Europe allowed for a whole new economic development and trade.
Bronze could not be produced in Scandinavia, as tin was not a local natural resource, but with new techniques, iron production from bog iron (mostly in Denmark) slowly gained ground. Iron is a versatile metal and was suitable for tools and weapons, but it was not until the Viking Age that iron incited a revolution in ploughing.
Previously, herds of livestock had pasture grazed freely in large wood pastures, but were now placed in stables, probably to utilize manure more efficiently and increase agricultural production. Even though the advent of the Iron Age in Scandinavia was a time of great crisis, the new agricultural expansions, techniques and organizations proceeded apace.
And though the decline of foreign trade might suggest that the period marked a transition from a rich and wealthy culture to a poor and meagre one, the population grew and new technology was developed. The period might just reflect a change of culture and not necessarily a decline in standards of living.

Jastorf culture

The Jastorf culture was an Iron Age material culture in what are now southern Scandinavia and north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south.
The Jastorf culture is named after a site near the village of Jastorf, Lower Saxony. It was characterized by its use of cremation burials in extensive urnfields and links with the practices of the Northern Bronze Age.
Archeology offers evidence concerning the crystallization of a group in terms of a shared material culture, in which the (impoverished) Northern Bronze Age continued to exert cultural influence, and in which the northward thrust of the Celtic Hallstatt culture into the same area was instrumental, while extensive migrations “should be discounted”.
No homogeneous contribution to the Germanic-speaking northerners has been determined, while earlier notions holding proto-Germanic peoples to have emigrated from Denmark during the Northern Bronze Age have been abandoned by archaeologists.
The Jastorf culture extended south to the northern fringes of the Hallstatt culture, while towards the north a general congruence with the late phases of the Northern Bronze Age can be noted. Gravefields in today’s Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, western Pomerania, in Brandenburg and in Lower Saxony show continuity of occupation from the Bronze Age far into the Jastorf period and beyond.
The specific contributions from the various quarters witnessing the meeting of Celtic and indigenous cultures during the early periods can not be assessed by the present state of knowledge, although a shift to a northern focus has been noted to accompany the dwindling vitality of continental Celtic cultures later on.
The Jastorf culture’s area was first restricted to what is today northern Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. It then developed a “very expansive” character, expanding towards the Harz hills and reaching by about 500 BC Thuringia, Lower Silesia, and the lower Rhine region, thus covering the southern and western parts of Lower Saxony.
This was helped or propitiated by the earlier vacancy or large depopulation of these areas, as it became known in the archaeological record and from Classic sources that local Hallstatt Culture groups considered Celtic or Belgian (more or less Celtic) migrated in its D period to extensive areas further West and South as far as the Mediterranean and Atlantic Europe.
In its mature phase, the Jastorf area proper in northern Lower Saxony (Lüneburger Heide, lower Elbe) can be contrasted with the so-called Nienburg (also Harpstedt-Nienburg) group to the west, situated along the Aller and the middle Weser rivers, bordering the Nordwestblock separating it from the La Tène culture proper farther south.
The Nienburg group has characteristics of material culture closer to Celtic cultures, and shows evidence of significant contact with the Hallstadt and La Tène cultures. Isolated finds are scattered as far as Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Finds are mostly from tumuli, flat graves and Brandgruben graves or cremation pits. There are few and modest grave goods, with the weapon deposits characteristic of migration period graves completely absent.
The southernmost extent of Germanic cultures beyond Jastorf has recently been accounted for at the final stages of the Pre-Roman Iron Age, with the paucity of Late-La Téne bracelet-types in Thuringia and northeastern Hesse proposed to suggest population movements between the central-Elbe/Saale region, Main-Franconia and the edge of the Alps and to have been triggered by the spread of the Przeworsk culture.
The demographic vacuum left in the south of Germany around the upper Danube and Rhine rivers, by the migrations of Celtic groups hitherto there into much richer lands in Gaul, Spain, Pannonia and Northern Italy from 400 BC probably also played a role.



Dagens situasjon




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Runestone U 112

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The Trundholm sun chariot, from the late Nordic Bronze Age.

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The Dejbjerg wagon

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Scene fra en av Merseburg Incantations: Gudene Odin og Balder står forran guddinnene Sunna, Sinthgunt, Volla og Frøya

(Emil Doepler, 1905)

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Hjalmars avskjed med Orvar Odd etter striden på Samsö


Bronsealder hellerissning fra Häljesta, Vestmandland, Sverige

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Steinskip ved Anund‘s barrow

The Oseberg Viking Longship in the Museum of Oslo


Statue of the Saxons leader Widukind, who fought for Saxon independence against Charlemagne, in Herford, Kreis Herford, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

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Alfred den store


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Nordisk bronsealder – 1200 f.vt.

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Preromersk jernalder 500-50 f.vt.

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De germanske stammenes ekspansjon i perioden 750 f.vt. til år 1
Rød: Bosettinger før 750 BC
Orange: Nye bosettinger etter 750 BC og frem til år 1
Gul: Nye bosettinger frem til år 100
Grønn: Nye bosettinger etter år 100
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Germanske stammer år 50


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Situasjonen på 200-tallet

By the 3rd century AD they had migrated as far south as the lower Danube, around the Black Sea. During that century Gothic armies and fleets ravaged Thrace, Dacia, and cities in Asia Minor and along the Aegean coast. They captured and plundered Athens in 267 to 268, and threatened Italy. For about a century, wars between the Roman emperors and Gothic rulers devastated the Balkan territory and the northeastern Mediterranean region. Other tribes joined the Goths, and under the great king Ermanaric in the 4th century, a kingdom was established that extended from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

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Folkevandringen 2nd century to 5th century


The Germanic invasions of Britain

Germanic Kingdoms and Later Germanic Migrations 450-535

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Det romerske og det hunnisk imperiumet i år 450

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Central Europe 5th Century

Europeiske stammer på 500-tallet f.vt.

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Det østromerske imperium og de omkringliggende germanske kongedømmene i år 526

Dagens situasjon:

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Haplogruppe R1b

Haplogruppe I2a

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