Marija Gimbutas – the Kurgan Saga – collision & amalgamation During the period A of the Tripolye culture (about 5450-4750 BC) the Tripolye influence was the most intensive. In caused the acquaintance of the Sredniy Stog and Azov-Dnieper population with the first metal. It is necessary to note, that the influence of the steppe traditions on the Tripolye culture was minimal during that period.

Taking into account data of the Early Eneolithic cemeteries of the steppe zone, where the first imported metal artifacts were found, I can suggest the existence of prestigious exchange, which played an important role in the relations of Tripolye and steppe population during that period. The Azov-Dnieper and Sredniy Stog population took part in it. The Tripolye population could provide its neighbors with metal (copper and gold) or metal artifacts (the Nikolskiy cemetery of the Azov-Dnieper culture and the Sredniy Stog burials of Mariupol cemetery), bracelets from Spondylus shell (the Lysogorskiy cemetery of the Azov-Dnieper culture) and sea shells with holes (Krivoy Rog). During the period of Tripolye B I the main influence of Tripolye population is fixed on the metalworking of steppe inhabitants and reflected only lightly in its ceramics.

Strange as it may seem, the Tripolye population was more interested in contacts, than the steppe inhabitants. They were newcomers, which gradually moved to the east through the forest-steppe area, occupying lands, which were settled by the Bug-Dniester and Kievo-Cherkassy Neolithic population. The Tripolye population needed allies and peaceful relations with the neighbors, especially with those, whose territories were unnecessary for them. Among such neighbors were the bearers of Azov-Dnieper and Sredniy Stog cultures, who occupied other natural-climatic zone, which was useless for the Tripolye population during the Early Eneolithic. Even during the Later Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age they occupied only the steppes in the South Bug basin and to the west of it, staying out of the territories of the Sredniy Stog descendants. Steppe inhabitants were interested in those contacts, first of all, because it received the copper and tools from them. That metal was obtained through the mediation of Tripolye population and as the result of immediate visits to centers of metallurgy and metalworking of the Balkan-Carpathian metallurgical province. The Dniester basin was the important region and the route of the exchange expeditions of steppe population, which went to the Lower Danube or Transylvania for the metal. In the period B I-II of the Tripolye culture the necessity of contacts with the Tripolye population of Dniester basin become stronger, because in that time metal began to arrive from the Transylvanian and Hungarian mines.

The growing of quantity of the ceramics with shell inclusions at the settlements of Dniester basin also testifies the strengthening of ties between the Sredniy Stog and Tripolye cultures. All features of steppe and Tripolye interaction, which were mentioned above, testify the peaceful co-existence and tight contacts of these groups. The coarse ceramics of Tripolye, which had the Sredniy Stog features, was made mainly at the Tripolye settlements, and steppe traditions were reproduced in the Tripolye style. It was impossible if there was any war situation.

There is a point of view about mutually beneficial cooperation It is possible, that the distribution of ceramics with the steppe traces in the Tripolye culture was related to the marriages with the Sredniy Stog women. Those women continued making their usual vessels, adapting them to the Tripolye economy (for example, making the flat bottom and stocky proportions). This suggestion explains the singleness of ceramics with shell inclusions in the period A and gradual increase of its quantity during period B I with the prevailing of typical Tripolye pottery on the settlements. Perhaps, the numbers of Sredniy Stog women and their descendants in the Tripolye communities during period A were very small and gradually increased during B I and B I-II periods. According to the prevailing of coarse pottery with shell inclusions in the southernmost Tripolye settlements, I can suggest, that the greatest number of the Sredniy Stog women lived there.

.. data testify the assumption about the existence of mixed Tripolye-Sredniy Stog marriages.. It is interesting to trace the dynamics of contacts of the steppe and Tripolye population. They began immediately after the appearance of Tripolye population in Dniester basin (the beginning of period A of the Tripolye culture), when the Late Azov-Dnieper and Early Sredniy Stog population began to interact with it.

KURGAN CULTURE Marija Gimbutas

EDITED BY JOAN MARLER Harper, San Francisco, 1994, ISBN 978-0062508041
Chapter 10 –The End of Old Europe: The Intrusion of Steppe Pastoralists from N.Pontic and the Transformation of Europe

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M. Gimbutas’ conceptual map of Kurgan westward waves (from R.R.Sokal et al. 1992), with superimposed migrations of the datable genetic markers

The First Wave of Kurgans Into East-Central Europe c. 4400-4300 BC and Its Repercussions.

After penetrating the Dnieper rapids region and the area north of the Sea of Azov, the Kurgans struck central Europe (see Fig. 10-6). Actual Kurgan graves (round kurgans with pit graves) found in Moldavia, southern Romania, and east Hungary are eloquent witnesses of these incursions. The earliest Kurgan graves in Moldavia date from Cucuteni A2-A3 phase, c. 4400-4300 BC.
The Coexistence of Kurgan Pastoralists and Cucuteni Agriculturalists. The Cucuteni civilization survived the first wave of Kurgan incursions intact. Its ceramic tradition continued undisturbed, although Kurgan elements within Cucuteni settlements (1 to 10 percent of Cucuteni A and AB pottery) indicate some sort of interaction between the two groups. This confirms the argument against Kurgan militancy, a main point in the Prof. M.Gimbutas theory; quite the opposite, the Kurganians and Cucutenians enjoyed mutually beneficial symbiotic coexistence. This intrusive shell-tempered pottery (referred to by some as Cucuteni C) is nearly identical in shape to that of the Sredniy Stog II (Kurgan I) level of the Lower Dnieper. Petrographic analysis has shown that all Cucuteni and Kurgan (Sredniy Stog II) samples were of similar mineralogical composition. This indicates that both peoples exploited similar clay types, but the respective technology was very different: the Cucuteni ware was well fired, completely oxidized, and without temper, whereas the Kurgan ceramics were low-fired and contained quantities of crushed shell, organic residues, and plant material.
At the time of Cucuteni B in the early 4th millennium BC, the local populace had relocated into areas more naturally defensible. In a few instances, an additional rampart was built across the river from a settlement. The villages and towns continued to grow, and boundaries of Cucuteni sites in the district of Uman, identified by aerial photography and magnetometry, show towns more than two kilometers long, laid out in a dozen or so concentric elipses radially cut by streets. The density of Cucuteni sites indicates no massive dislocations in the wake of the first wave of relatively small groups of Kurgan infiltrators; nor is there evidence of amalgamation of the two groups throughout these approximately 800 years of coexistence, at least not until the mid-4th millennium BC. 800 years of peaceful coexistence is not exactly image of warlike, patriarchal, and hierarchical people.


The Displacement and Amalgamation of the Varna, Karanovo, Vinca, and Lengyel Cultures. For the Karanovo-Gumelnita civilization, the Kurgan incursions proved catastrophic. The small farming villages and townships were easily overrun, and Karanovo groups must have fled from the Lower Danube basin westward.
The Salcuta group of southwestern Romania took refuge in Transylvanian caves or on Danubian islands. Layer after layer of habitation material similar to Salcuta IV indicates that the refugees maintained a semblance of cultural identity for yet another four or five hundred years. This must be one of the conflict episodes that came to light, not for its demographic dimension. Transylvanian caves or on Danubian islands could not harbor any significant population, the sources and sides of the conflict are not known.

In the first half of the 4th millennium BC, the Black Sea coastal Varna culture was replaced, in east Romania and Bulgaria, by a Kurganish complex designated as Cernavoda I. The fortified Cernavoda sites, in contrast to the Karanovo-Gumelnita and Varna settlements on the open plain, were strategically located on high river terraces and consisted of a few small surface or semi subterranean dwellings on sites generally covering no more than 100 by 200 m. These people bred stock (including the horse) and engaged in hunting, fishing, and primitive agriculture, and their antler and bone tools are identical to finds in the steppe north of the Black Sea. They produced gray, badly baked, crushed-shell tempered ceramics, unmistakably related to the Kurganoid wares in Moldavia and in the Ukraine, having the characteristic decor of stab-and-drag, knobs, and impressions of cord, fingernail, and shell. No painted pottery occurs at this time, although substratum influence may account for certain untempered, occasionally brown-slipped and burnished ceramics. Only a few stylized figurines were recovered from Cernavoda I, and Old European symbolic designs had disappeared. No cereal grains were found, despite the presence of antler and bone hoes, grinding stones, and sickle blades. Horse bones were ubiquitous among the remnant heaps of domesticated animals. Tools were predominantly of bone but included maceheads and perforated hammer axes of antler and stone, flint scrapers and knives, a few copper awls and chisels. These archeological results have parallels throughout the Kurgan expansions. The process came to us as series of exogamic marital unions, where Kurgan people, each tribe and subdivision separately, seeks and joins a permanent marital partner, we have examples from every place that had annalistic records. Among the known pairs are Hunnic-Tibetan, Hunnic-Mongolic, Hunnic-Tungusic, in the Caucasus it is a Koban Culture, in the Central Asia it is an As-Tokhar alliance; when in the 17th c. the Tele tribes found refuge in the Altai, they allied with local Altaian hunter-gatherers. In the area of Northern China, that process took place in 7th-4th cc. BC. In the Eastern Europe amalgamation between Proto-Slavs and Bulgarian Kurgans created a language called Old Church Slavonic, the Danube Slavs amalgamated with Avars, and with Becenyo/Bajanaks to become Bosnians.

The Kurgan disruption of Varna, Karanovo, and Vinca jolted a succession of dislocations in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and as far west as the Upper Danube, Upper Elbe, and Upper Oder basins. Cultural boundaries disintegrated as elements of Vinca populations moved into western Hungary (to eventually become the “Balaton” complex), and into Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia (to become the “Lasinja” group). 31 The Lengyel people migrated west and north along the Upper Danube into Germany and Poland. Furthermore, sites of the probable Vinca refugees are also found in regions where no human community had settled since Paleolithic times, such as the eastern Alps and the central part of Slovenia and Croatian Karst. In this hilly terrain, the location of settlements in the highest places, surrounded by cliffs or girded by rivers, suggest an extreme concern for defense. In a number of sites, traces of rectangular houses built of timber posts and thick clay walls testify to a certain retention of the Vinca architectural traditions. At the same time, caves were also occupied. The occupation of caves and of heretofore uninhabited lands suggests that the movement of the Vinca people to the northwest and west took place in times of stress.
There are no radiocarbon dates for the Balaton-Lasinja I complex. Its chronology is based on a typological relationship with the latest Vinca materials in Yugoslavia. The subsequent phase, labeled Balaton-Lasinja II-III, yielded two C-14 dates, the true age of which falls between 3900 and 3400 BC, placing the Balaton-Lasinja I complex before 4000 BC. By the end of the 5th millennium BC, the Vinca traditions with their temples, figurines and exquisite pottery are no longer found. There is no continuity of habitation on the Vinca mound after c. 4300 BC.

The Tiszapolgar complex, an offshoot of late Tisza, emerged in northeastern Hungary, eastern Slovakia, and western Transylvania. The continuity of their settlement to the mid-4th millennium BC indicates that these people survived and did not merge with the Kurgan culture. However, major social changes are observable and may reflect a Kurgan influence. In contrast to the Tisza and Lengyel pattern, where the majority of known sites are villages, the Tiszapolgar sites (about 100 reported) are cemeteries that suggest small communities of thirty to forty people. This situation does not reflect a normal growth of population as in Lengyel, Vinca, Karanovo, and other groups during the period before the first Kurgan wave. Also, the social role of the male had risen, indicated by several graves of males buried with more than usual care and equipped with status symbols such as maceheads. Significantly, the skeletons of these men were of proto-Europid type (proto-Europids=proto-Caucasians, i.e. the “robust” Cro-Magnon type), whereas the majority of the population was of Mediterranean type.
In the cemetery of Basatanya, of 75 graves (belonging to two phases), 33 a small group of male burials included maceheads, whereas the majority of the burials in this cemetery shows Old European features. 34 Is the Old European a Cro-Magnon or in Russian terminology Proto-European, or somethinf else? In the mountainous east Slovakia, the Tiszapolgar complex persisted through the mid-4th millennium BC. Several cemeteries of the Laznany group in the Carpathian foothills exemplify the last vestiges of this complex, which were finally submerged under the Kurganized Baden culture in the second half of the 4th millennium BC. North of Budapest and in western Slovakia, Lengyel disappears after c. 4400-4300 BC and reemerges in Bavaria, central Germany, and western Poland, where characteristic biconic and footed vessels with warts show up in graves and in settlements.

The Emergence of Kurgan Elements in the Milieu of the LBK Culture. The discontinuity of the Varna, Karanovo, Vinca, and Lengyel cultures in their main territories and the large scale population shifts to the north and northwest are indirect evidence of a catastrophe of such proportions that cannot be explained by possible climatic change, land exhaustion, or epidemics (for which there is no evidence in the second half of the 5th millennium BC.). Direct evidence of the incursion of horse-riding warriors is found, not only in single burials of males under barrows, but in the emergence of a whole complex of Kurgan cultural traits: hilltop settlements, the presence of horses, the predominance of a pastoral economy, signs of violence and patriarchy, and religious symbols that emphasize a sun cult. These elements are tightly knit within the social, economic, and religious structure of the Kurgan culture. The general absence of traces of violence suggest that amalgamation with Kurgans, or cultural influence of Kurgans, which enabled the population to be more mobile and active in locating and occupying better environmental niches, and made conflicts more acute.
A chain of hill forts that appeared on high riverbanks in the Middle and Upper Danube basin, in Hungary, Austria, western Slovakia, Moravia, Bohemia, and Bavaria 37 is a new phenomenon in European prehistory. The earliest hill forts are contemporary with late Lengyel and Rossen materials or immediately follow them. Radiocarbon dates place this period between 4400 and 3900 BC.

It is readily apparent that a portion of central Europe was Kurganized to varying degrees soon after the first Kurgan wave. While the civilization of Old Europe was agricultural, matricentric, and matrilineal, a transformation took place around 4000 BC to a mixed agricultural-pastoral economy and a classed patriarchal society which I interpret as a successful process of Indo-Europeanization. There was a considerable increase in husbandry over tillage. The change of social structure, religion, and economy was not a gradual indigenous development from Old Europe, but a collision and gradual hybridization of two societies and of two ideologies. Fortunately for us, we can trace these Kurgan people by the emergence of their genetical markers from the center of Asia to N.Pontic, and to Europe, with their Kurganization of Europe, which initiated eastward migration of somewhat Kurganized Europeans all the way to India.
Probably the best model is the expansion of the Slavs into the Eastern Europe, a creeping phased process that starts on a small scale into vacant niches and achieves accommodation with the local population, then a development into symbiotic syncretic phase along the old lines of command, and culminating with either a rise of the local rulers, or the pre-existing local or nomadic rulers claiming suzerainty over independent communities. Though conflicts are unavoidable, the process is generally bloodless, but the combat capacity is greatly enhanced with acquisition of cavalry and methods of mobile warfare. None of the premises constituting M.Gimbutas Kurgan theory appear to have solid grounds at the most critical time of switching from the Old Europe to Kurganization: mythological Sun cult is ethereal, pronounced militancy absent, patriarchy ethereal. The demographic ratio points to insignificant linguistic influence, mostly limited to new toponyms, horse husbandry terminology, and religious and societal terminology, i.e. the spheres that were affected the most.

Not all of central Europe was converted to the Kurgan way of life as an outcome of Wave No. 1, but it is clear that most of the Danube basin began to be ruled from hill forts. It took many successive generations for the Old European traditions to become gradually replaced. The indigenous populations either coexisted but remained separate from the Kurgan immigrants or were overrun and subjected to domination by a few Kurgan warriors.
A considerable number of Old European culture groups — the Cucuteni, TRB, and the western portion of the LBK — continued their existence throughout the first half of the 4th millennium BC or even longer. An increased Kurganization occurred during the second half of the 4th millennium BC, which is treated in the section below.

The Second Wave, c. 3500 BC, and the Transformation of Central Europe After the Middle of the 4th Millennium BC.

Culture groups c. 3500-3000 BC. New formations in central Europe influenced by North Pontic culture. 1. Cucuteni; 2. TRB; 3. Michelsberg.

This period of transformation coincides with changes in metal technology and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age in the circum-Pontic region. The new metallurgy is characterized by bronzes of copper and arsenic, copper and tin, and copper with arsenic-tin (As, Sn, As-Sn bronze) which replaced the pure copper metallurgy of the Old European Copper Age. Tests made on arsenical bronze prove it to have been reasonably hard and durable, but a side effect must have been the slow and sure poisoning of the smith. The complex of tools and weapons that emerged north and west of the Black Sea — daggers, knives, halberds, chisels, flat axes, shafthole axes — does not show a continuity from Old European local types. Rather, the shapes of bronze artifacts have analogies in the north Caucasus, in Transcaucasia, and the Near East.

The Source: The North Pontic Maikop Culture.
The North Pontic culture is typified by hill forts and hundreds of Kurgan tumuli (grave mounds) with mortuary houses built of stones or wood. Royal burials share a characteristic monumental style in which the tumuli are surrounded by orthostats (upright stone or slab) and stelae, then by an outermost ring of stones; within and below the kurgan is a stone- or wood-lined pit (mortuary house), covered with stone slabs and topped by a stone cupola. Models of wagons and daggers of hard metal accompany the males of the elite.

Hill forts with enormous fortifications and outstanding kurgans, including exceptionally well-built tombs of stone slabs, suggest a hierarchic society of consolidated tribal units ruled by leading families. The similarity of fortified settlements, burial rites, and ceramic, stone, and metal artifacts recovered northeast and northwest of the Black Sea suggests the unification of this region, not only by commercial contacts but also by political power. The North Pontic region had at this stage diverged from its Kurgan cousin of the Volga. The Kurgan elements that appear west of the Black Sea are clearly connected with the North Pontic, not with the Volga Steppe and have analogies in the Kuro-Araks valley of Transcaucasia.

Known from the end of the 19th century, the royal tomb at Maikop in the River Kuban basin, northwestern Caucasus, is the richest and most familiar of this culture. Although it dates from the early 3rd millennium BC, the place name has become eponymic of the whole North Pontic culture which began c. 3500 BC. The early phase of the Maikop culture in the Lower Dnieper area is best represented by the lowest layer of the Mikhailovka hill fort, surrounded by several walls of limestone boulders, which undoubtedly functioned as a strategic center. 48 The finds from Mikhailovka I show close affinities to those from Crimean and north Caucasian stone cists as well as to the Usatovo kurgans around Odessa. The chronology of this phase, the second half of the 4th millennium BC, is based on radiocarbon dates from Mikhailovka. (TABLE 25) There were two wattle-and-daub houses with apsidal ends at the Mikhailovka I hilltop.

Royal burials and hoards of the late Maikop culture in the River Kuban basin, northwestern Caucasus, express the fabulous riches of tribal leaders and their contacts with Mesopotamia in the early 3rd millennium BC. The most lavishly equipped are those of Maikop and Tsarskaya (now Novosvobodnaya) excavated by N.I. Veselovskii at the end of the 19th century (both are known from the publications by Rostovtzeff 1920; Tallgren 1934; Hancar 1937; Childe 1936; Lessen 1950; and myself 1956). 56 These outstanding kurgans and their treasures throw much light on the social structure, kingship, religion, and art of this period. The Maikop tomb, as well as the series of others in the northern Caucasus 57 and in the south Caspian area 58 speak of the campaigns and raids south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea.

An Amalgam of Kurgan and Cucuteni Traditions: The Usatovo Complex Northwest of the Black Sea. Outstanding sites are Usatovo near Odessa 59 and Tudorovo in Moldavia. 60 Characteristically, a kurgan of the Usatovo culture had a cist with uniform orthostats, an entrance corridor, a cupola-shaped cairn above the central grave, semicircles of stelae with engravings and reliefs, and inner and outer rings of stone. The richest graves were those of the leading member of the tribe and his suttee while graves of other adults and children were contrastingly poor. Near the settlement and kurgan at Usatovo there is a contemporaneous cemetery of the indigenous Cucuteni culture consisting of simple, unmarked (flat) pit graves, arranged in rows. Contrasting burial rites of the Cucuteni and Kurgan populations are paralleled by differences in their respective habitation sites. Cucuteni dwellings were on wide river terraces, while the Kurgans located their semisubterranean dwellings on spurs, dunes, and steep hills along rivers.

A Kurgan-Influenced Culture in East-Central Europe: The Baden-Vucedol and Ezero Groups. The second Kurgan infiltration headed south from the North Pontic region toward the Lower Danube area and beyond. At the fortified hill at Cernavoda, in Dobruja, radiocarbon dates from the second phase of the hill give the age as c. 3 400-3 200 BC.62 By that time, a chain of acropolises (citadels) along the Danube, in the Marica (Bulgaria) plain, and in the area north of the Aegean, reflected the spread of a ruling power. The finest recently excavated tells, converted to hill forts, are at Ezero in central Bulgaria, 63 and Sitagroi on the Drama Plain of Greek Macedonia. 64 Radiocarbon dates are given in tables 27 and 28.
In the Lower Danube, Marica, and Macedonian plains, many Karanovo tells indicate that the indigenous occupation of these sites was disrupted, and many were surmounted by fortifications (such are the Ezero, Sitagroi IV, Karanovo VII, Nova Zagora, Veselinovo, and Bikovo). In other areas, steep river banks and almost inaccessible promontories were selected as seats of the ruling class.
A cultural change of the same nature as in the Danubian basin is evident as far west as the Alpine valleys of Italy and Switzerland and the Po River basin (the Remedello group), where hill forts (such as Columare, north of Verona) 65 are known on steep hills. This change in social structure was accompanied by a change in religion. The beginning of a new era in religious concepts is manifested in the Alpine valleys by a series of stelae engraved with a set of symbols alien to the indigenous Cortaillod and Lagozza cultures. We shall return to these at the end of this chapter.

An Amalgamation of the Old European and the Kurgan Cultures. During the second half of the 4th millennium BC, the new regime seems to have successfully eliminated or changed whatever remained of the old social system. Hill forts were the centers of power and cultural life, while the surrounding area supported either pastoral or agricultural populations, depending on the environment and the numbers of indigenous people who remained. Villages were small, the houses usually semi subterranean. But in the economy, an amalgamation of the Old European and the Kurgan cultural systems is clearly evident. In some areas, such as in central Bulgaria, cultivation of emmer, barley, vetch, and pea continued intact, probably carried on by the remaining indigenous population. In other territories, seasonal camps of a pastoral economy prevailed.

The new metallurgy, with links to the circum-Pontic region, was now practiced all over east-central Europe, concentrating on the production of the dagger, the shaft-hole axe, and the flat axe of arsenic bronze; metal workshops (including clay bivalve molds) are found on hill forts. 66 The ceramic artifacts, however, continue to manifest certain Old European traditions: anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and ornithomorphic vases of beautiful workmanship were apparently produced by surviving Old European craftsmen. Such exceptional creations are typically found in the hill forts and rich tombs under large kurgans (cf. vases from Tarnava, fig. 10-11), although they are no longer found in the ordinary villages or graves. This situation seems analogous to that of Mycenaean Greece where surviving Minoan craftsmen continued to produce masterpieces of ceramic, gold, and stone for their new lords. The Old European symbolism largely vanished from popular artifacts, giving way to the ubiquitous solar design. Comparison with Mycenae is good, but not on the right scale. Going backwards, the best comparison is with USA and Russia, where the common technology and artifacts cover a width of a continent; the next compatible in area and commonality of culture is Ottoman Turkey, then Chingiz-Khan’s Mongolia, then Turkic Kaganate, then Hunnic Empires, and then Ahaemenid  Empire. Between the time of Ahaemenids and European Kurgans no written history exists, we can only compare the spread of common archeology, and it is hard to miss the parallels between the Kurgan Europe, Kurgan Mongolia, Kurgan  Turkic Kaganate, and Kurgan  Hunnic Empires. The ethereal “solar ornament” is not even a miniscule detail in the globality of cultural attributes.

Toward the end of the 4th millennium BC, only isolated islands of the Old European tradition persisted. Such was the Cotofeni complex in the Danube valley in Oltenia, western Muntenia, southern Banat, and Transylvania. The Cotofeni  were sedentary agriculturalists, living in solidly built houses, using copper tools, and still producing burnished red and white painted ceramics. Large numbers of bird-shaped vases attest the continuing worship of the Bird Goddess.


The Baden-Vucedol Culture in the Middle Danube Basin. Hundreds of sites in the best explored area, the Middle Danube basin, particularly in Hungary and western Slovakia, afford a good opportunity to follow the cultural development at this critical period of European prehistory. Although treated as a separate culture, the Baden (also called Pecel or Radial-decorated Pottery) culture is actually a western branch of the overall culture complex between western Anatolia and Poland.
The Baden complex, composed of indigenous and alien elements, covered the Middle Danube basin, with northern limits in Bohemia and southern Poland. In the south, it is known in the Morava-Vardar valleys of Yugoslavia, Bosnia, and even Albania.68 The available  radiocarbon dates range between the 34th and 29th centuries BC.
The eponymous site of Baden-Konigshohle, near Vienna, was excavated more than sixty years ago. 69 According to presently available radiocarbon dates, Baden lasted some 500 years. This period is subdivided into three phases: early (Boleraz), middle (classical Baden), and late (Bosaca). Almost a thousand Baden sites (counting surface finds) are recorded. 70

Hilltop Sites with Apsidal Houses. The hill sites at Vucedol and Sarvas in GimbutasCivilizationOfTheGoddessFig10-17northwestern Yugoslavia, Nitrianski Hradok near Nitra and Levoca in western Slovakia, 71 a number near Vienna and Melk in Austria, and those in southern Poland, must have served as seats of chieftains. They each bear a strong resemblance to the difficult-to-access and heavily fortified hills at Mikhailovka in the Lower Dnieper, and Liventsovka at Rostov on the River Don in the Ukraine.
The typical Baden village was set on a river terrace or promontory. The houses were small (the largest were 3.5 by 4.5 m), rectangular, and semisubterranean with pitched roofs supported by timber posts. Their clay-plastered hearths were either round or rectangular. Stable settlements were more or less confined to the uplands and the northwestern portion of this culture, whereas small short-lived settlements are found in the lowlands of eastern Hungary and Yugoslavia. The pattern of permanent settlement is clearly linked to the tradition of the Old European populations. Baden cemeteries show the typical Kurgan social inequality and the practice of human and animal sacrifice, the latter by the presence of cattle, dog, and horse bones included in ritual burials. The physical type of Baden was predominantly Mediterranean, as was to be expected from the Vinca substratum. A steppe type was also identified, however, and a certain facial flatness in some individuals seems to reflect eastern relations. At Budakalasz, the steppe type predominated, while at Alsonemedi the Mediterranean was mixed with a European brachycranial type.
The Old European symbols recur in the Baden culture on bird vases, on winged anthropomorphic urns, and on other fine-quality ceramics decorated with a breast motif and panels of chevron, ladder, and net patterns. The finishing of ceramics by burnishing and channeling are the last flutter of the Old European way in conflict with the new Indo-European, ideology reflected in the rows of pits, zigzags, and solar patterns on beakers, braziers, tureens, and wagon models.

From the sparse analyses of the oldest kurgan burials we can anticipate that the males in the Baden kurgan burials had a mixture of predominant R1a and lesser R1b haplogroups, brought over from the Central Asia, and vanishingly small traces of the Q and K haplogroups. In the later kurgan burials, such as Scythian, the proportion of the R1b, Q and K may be higher, and possibly appear C and N haplogroups. The Old Europe males are anticipated to belong to the I and J haplogroups.


Above – Skull of a male with a copper crown. – Multiple sacrificial burial of the Baden culture. Seventeen human skeletons (four adult and thirteen child) found in a pit. The oldest male (approximately 25 years old) lies in the center of the pit while the women and children are at the edge.

The Vucedol Culture. In the early 3rd millennium BC, the Vucedol culture followed the Baden in the northwestern Balkans and the east Alpine area. This culture is named after the Vucedol hill fort at Vukovar on the Danube, northwestern Yugoslavia, excavated by R. R. Schmidt. 82 In Hungary it is called the “Zok culture” with several subgroups: “Zok” proper in southwestern Hungary, “Mako” in the Koros and Maros basins of southeastern Hungary, and “Nyirseg” in northeastern Hungary. 83 In the eastern Alpine area, it is better known as “Laibach-Ljubljana culture,” after the peat-bog site excavated at Ljubljana in 1878-79 by K. Deschmann. 84
About 500 Vucedol sites have been reported, all clustered in essentially the same territory as the Baden sites. A number of hill forts contain both Baden and Vucedol deposits, and in the hill fort of Vucedol, two successive Vucedol strata overlie the late Baden (Kostolac) phase. A similar sequence was indicated in the stratified settlements of Sarvas, Gomolava, and Belegis in Syrmia and Slovenia, Brno-Lisen in Moravia, Zok-Varhegy at Pecs in southwestern Hungary, and elsewhere. Vucedol materials are found diffused as far as the Adriatic islands in the south and Bohemia and central Germany in the northwest.

An Intensive Defense System of Hill Forts. An intensive defense system is seen in the chain of impressive fortresses and fortified hilltop villages. Particular concentrations of settlements occur around Vukovar and Osijek in northwestern Yugoslavia; near Pecs in southwestern Hungary; around Ljubljana in Slovenia, south of Vienna, and in western Slovakia. These hill forts functioned as administrative centers, as in the Baden period, and were located on very steep river banks, usually at the confluence with a smaller river, and were heavily defended by ramparts, palisades, and ditches on the inland side. Other settlements are also found on river banks and elevations, or on lake shores, where people lived in pile dwellings (Stilt houses ) (Ljubljana and Ig, at Ljubljana).

Metallurgy. Most of the metallurgical activities took place in these fortified locations. The Vucedol hill fort yielded several smelting ovens, copper slags, and clay and sandstone molds. The metal-tool kit consisted of awls, tanged or riveted daggers, spiral tubes used for necklaces, weapons, and ornaments, in addition to shaft-hole axes, celts, and chisels. The ruling families had their own smiths who produced the best tools and weapons of the time. Metal, however, was still rare and most of the inventory was of bone and wood.

Pottery. The Vucedol ceramics are mostly memorable for the well-polished vases in dark brown or gray, excised and encrusted with white chalk (of crushed shell), which were stamped and impressed with geometric designs, typically in zones and metopes(spaces).  Much of the ceramic art reflects, as in Baden, the lingering of Old European traditions. This is strikingly evident in the presence of ornithomorphic vases. The Bird Goddess of the Vinca tradition and her symbols continued to be represented, but most of the symbolic signs and decorative motifs, especially those on the interior of dishes and braziers, are not in the Old European tradition. The dominant designs, instead, are sun and star motifs alien to Old Europe. Clearly, both traditions contributed to Vucedol art and symbolism.

Burial. A variety of grave types is reported — cremation, urn graves, inhumation, pits under round earthen kurgans, stone cists, and oven-shaped tombs favored for members of leading families.

The Ezero Culture in Bulgaria, the Northern Aegean, and Western Anatolia. Ezero is a tell in central Bulgaria located three kilometers southeast of Nova Zagora. 85 The excavations of a Bulgarian-Soviet team in this location during 1961-71 revealed an unusually complete picture of the Early Bronze Age life and chronology of the Ezero culture. Although there are a number of important settlements in central Bulgaria (Michalic, Veselinovo, Bikovo, Karanovo) as well as in the north Aegean and western Anatolia that have yielded material related to Ezero [Sitagroi IV and V, Troy I-II, Yortan, Alishar), none can compare with its scope and completeness of information. For this reason, the name Ezero is applied as a label for the entire culture in Bulgaria, northern Aegean, and western Anatolia. This is not a separate culture, however, but is part of one widely spread Baden-Ezero culture united by a standard repertoire of finds, and similar administrative system and settlement pattern.
Originally, the tell of Ezero, as also Karanovo, Veselinovo, Sitagroi, and others, was occupied by the Karanovo people. The continuity of this remarkable civilization, as we have seen in chapters 2 and 3, is well attested for almost two thousand years, c. 6000-4200 BC. Then, as a result of Kurgan Wave No. 1, the continuity of the Karanovo life was truncated. After a hiatus, a hybrid culture emerged which was an amalgamation of Old European traditions overlayed with new Kurgan influences.
The tell was converted into an acropolis. The Early Bronze Age layer of Ezero above the Karanovo tell had a thickness of 3.80 m. From nearly fifty houses uncovered, twenty had apsidal ends which appeared in the earliest horizon (Horizon XIII) and continued through the duration of this culture. Larger houses consisted of two rooms, living quarters and a working area, having ovens, hearths, platforms, and silo pits for drying and storing grain. The buildings stood in groups, about twenty houses in each horizon, around an open center. This central area had direct access to a corridor-like gate, 1 to 2.5 m wide and 8 m long, which was connected with the settlement’s fortification. The hill was surrounded by two stone walls. The inner wall was 80 m in diameter, 1.5 to 1 m thick, built of large undressed stones, 60 to 80 cm in size, while the outer was double in size. Such Cyclopean walls of larger boulders were strengthened with smaller stones at the bottom and glued with clay. This acropolis, which could have held up to two hundred people, must have served as a fortress for the small, unprotected villages around it. Who lived on this hill ? The chieftain with his council of war leaders, the craftsmen and their families? Unfortunately we do not know, although the pattern appears to be proto-typical of the later Bronze Age Mycenaean acropolises.
The acropolis was the center of many activities including the manufacture of tools and weapons of stone, bone, antler, copper, and bronze, typical throughout the Baden-Ezero culture. Flint was obtained from the Rhodope Mountains while other stones were gathered from south and north of Ezero. Metal artifacts were not abundant, in the earliest horizons, awls were made of pure copper or arsenical copper, while in later horizons the percentage of arsenic was much higher suggesting progress in metal work. From the onset of this culture, there was an overall decline in the quality of pottery which, in shape, make, and decoration, cannot be compared with the exquisite Karanovo VI pottery. Although the Baden-Ezero ceramics absorbed certain elements of the local cultures, this in no way represents a continuity of the Vinca or Karanovo.

The Globular Amphora Culture in the Northern European Plain Between Central Germany and East Romania. The Globular Amphora culture emerged on the northern European plain and north of the Carpathians — the present territories of globcentral Germany, Poland, Volynia, Podolia, and Moldavia — in the middle of the 4th millennium BC.86 (Table 31) It is known from hundreds of graves and from a few seasonal camps on sand dunes, small villages, and hilltop sites. The Globular Amphora culture was preceded by the Funnel-necked Beaker culture (TRB) and by the Cucuteni in the western Ukraine and Romania. In spite of a different substratum, the Globular Amphora culture was remarkably uniform. The typical vessel for which the culture is named is an amphora with a flat or rounded base.
There is similarity between the burial rites of the Globular Amphora people and those of the Kurgans of the Maikop culture in the North Pontic region. Both used mortuary houses built of stone slabs and practiced the ritual burial of horses, cattle, and dogs, as well as masshuman sacrifice in connection with funeral rites honoring high-ranking males.  A classed social structure and the dominant position of men is demonstrated by richly equipped graves that contained astounding numbers of sacrificed human beings and animals. The chief adult male occupied the central position in the stone cist and was accompanied into the afterlife by family members, servants, oxen, horses, and dogs as well as boars and other game animals. These extraordinary burials contained from three to ten human skeletons buried at the same time. The sex, age, and the position of the skeletons suggest that one or more young children, an adult female, and one or two attendants were put to death to accompany their father, husband, or master to the other world. Generally, rich male graves contain only one female skeleton and one or two of children. One exceptional instance is the cist grave at Voytsekhivka in Volynia, containing a male skeleton flanked by two women and four children, with a young man and a woman at his feet (see above picture). The sacrificed human beings are often headless or without legs, or are represented by heads alone.

Sun Symbolism and the Quest for Amber. The extension of Globular Amphora sites into the area of the Nemunas and Narva cultures is explained by their quest for amber to which they attached great ideological importance. Its golden hue was symbolically significant to these sun-worshiping people, and amber discs, plain or with carved solar designs (star or cross patterns), are found in important male graves. The Globular Amphora people were seminomadic herders living in small groups who practiced a limited seasonal movement documented by seasonal settlements of two or three rectangular semisubterranean huts, or a singular above-ground timber house. Hill forts and permanent settlements constituted the cultural focus for a tribe or clan. Agricultural tools, generally quern (grinder) stones, stone hoes, and wooden plowshares, indicate farming. These stone tools are replicates of a pair of metal tools, which in the west were very scarce. Flint, therefore, was universally cherished and the industry was intensive. For the Globular Amphora people, this was the primary choice for the axes and chisels. The fact that the Globular Amphora culture is more homogeneous than the Baden suggests that if these people were indeed Indo-European speakers, they completely succeeded in subverting the indigenous population or in converting them to their own creeds, customs, and language.

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4 Responses to Marija Gimbutas – the Kurgan Saga – collision & amalgamation

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