Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Origin of Cogotas Pottery

Cogotas Ware replaces the old Beaker Ciempozuelos in the North Meseta of Iberia.  This paper explores how Cogotas retains, mimics or was influenced by the old pottery.

As I mentioned on the DNA page of procrastination, the end of a nominal Bell Beaker identity in Europe has received much less interest than its origins.  While the beginning of the Beakers is exciting and full of debate, its end should be more interesting to those involved in genetics.  Cogotas may or may not be an example of cultural continuity, but the continuation of mesetan motifs hints at a stable identity or belief.

As Blanco-Gonzales mentions (others have mentioned this in other regions as well), there are a number of confusing allusions to Beakers in later times.  What do you make of a bell beaker dated to a much later period?  Or golden beakers?

Another dynamic not mentioned in this paper is the potential influences back and forth between the Irish Channel and the Meseta over a long period of time. (Savory, 1978)  Maybe Agaric and British influences shaped the body of Mesetan pottery but not the Mesetan message?

Copying from sherds. Creativity in Bronze Age pottery in central Iberia (1800-1150 BC) Creativity: An Exploration through the Bronze Age and Contemporary Responses to the Bronze Age. Oxbow Books: Oxford.  Antonio Blanco-González, 2014 [Link]


  1. Maybe the most interesting aspect of Cogotas is that it is the first culture ever to unify the Iberian Plateau (except Extremadura, that remained a separate area and much of La Mancha, which was rather influenced by the proto-Iberians of Bronze of Levante and El Argar, i.e. the Motillas). Earlier it was rather divided in ill-defined local groups, except for the Megalithic corridor to the West and North, and later appears this dynamic group near modern Madrid which is the Ciempozuelos Bell Beaker group.

    I must say that this location, just south of modern Madrid is not at all the North of the Plateau but rather center-south. Maybe you got the data from a mention about the North of the Souther Plateau, because the Iberian Plateau has two halves: the Northern Plateau (approx. Castilla-León), which is some 700 m above sea level, and the Southern Plateau (approx. Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura) which is some 500 m above sea level. Both are separated by the Central Range, just north of Madrid.

    1. Oops, forgot to subscribe.

    2. Ok, got it. Thanks for clarifying. North of the Southern plateau before the mountains. Update coming

    3. Just look up Ciempozuelos at google maps, it's a medium sized town south of Madrid, near Leganés. It's not the typical site that only appears in papers and handbooks but actually corresponds to a modern well-known town.

    4. The area of the Ciempozuelos Bell Beaker group is of course a bit larger but in essence concentrated at the Manzanares river basin, near the homonym town. Otherwise the style does show up in both sub-plateaus and even in the Upper Ebro and Andalusia, reaching even to Almería (which hosts another important late BB group).

      I understand that Cogotas was largely a herders' culture focused on transhumance (economic practice active until recently and that largely influence Castile's medieval and early modern laws: conflicts between herders and farmers, etc.) It would seem that the Ciempozuelos group anticipates this development at least in its extension. Even if Andalusia was definitely not part of Cogotas culture, a scatter of Cogotas pottery is found in it, probably because transhumant herders also migrated seasonally to that area. Surely it was the same already with Ciempozuelos. However we do see a decay in pottery quality, what may suggest that prosperity and hence refinement was greater in the late Chalcolithic than in the Bronze Age.

    5. A similar phenomenon is in Britain. Pottery becomes progressively less fine, even ugly, but it similarly keeps the old motifs alive. At least for a while.

      Of all the Beaker potteries, Ciempozuelos is the most interesting.