Friday, October 17, 2014

African Origin of Bell Beaker Lithics (Part 1)

If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I feel very comfortable with the probability that the pre-Bell Beaker phenomenon has its origin in Neolithic Subpluvial of the African Steppe.

Today, I'm going to cover Apel's work on the transmission of "bifacial thinning using pressure flaking" and then in a later post talk about the "Barbed and Tanged" arrowheads of the Heavy Pastoralist Wet Sahara.    I'll explain why the Bell Beaker arrowhead comes from here, not other places.

Jan Apel has a paper on pressure flaking I found a while back.  Although Apel is singularly focused on bifacial surface pressure flaking in this study, there are additional details to the Beaker projectiles that makes them very African.  But overall, as you can see and will read, the projectiles in the Western sphere correspond with the spread of the Bell Beaker phenomenon from Iberia and in the East it corresponds with the formation of the Single Grave Culture.*

Although the Corded and Beaker populations have similar learned male grammers, it is apparently a deep one and one that originates in the Northern Middle East and Eastern Anatolia.  (I will call it Euphratean)  The most important concept about male grammers is that they are transmitted from father to son.  (Think Y-chromosomal DNA, now consider the fifty DNA studies on Neolithic Europe)

I will cover typology and selection in another post.  I am also working on the genetics stuff, rewriting genetics page 1 and other things. 

Tracing pressure-flaked arrowheads in Europe.  Becoming European:  The transformation of the third millennium Northern and Western Europe.  Jan Appel, 2012  [Link]

* there are some pioneering exceptions to this, both in Iberia and Central Europe.  


  1. Are the years on the chart BCE or BP?

    1. The chart is BC. It's a little confusing but the text helps clarify. I had to look a it a couple of times.

    2. Thanks for the clarification.

    3. This seems to put all of the dates except the 2400 and 2500 dates well before any dates usually associated with Beaker which starts ca. 2700-3000 BCE in Iberia. Indeed, even those two dates could conceivably be pre-Beaker as Beaker takes a while to get that far North.

    4. Pressure flaking probably roughly follows metallurgy in Chalcolithic Iberia, since in most cases a metal awl was used (although a hardened deer antler may suffice)

      Admittedly, 3200 is about 300-400 years before the earliest Beaker date. Pressure flaking appears with what may be Almerian influence in the late 4th millennium, however these arrowheads are long and slender. It's possible this early style came directly from the eastern Middle East along with other influences, but still remained a minority.

      Another possibility is that the very noteworthy appearance of L3F in SE Iberia reflects intrusion from the Southern Sahel. L3F has been linked, along with R1b-V88 with the spread of Chadic languages in Africa and is otherwise absent earlier in the Earlier Neolithic. If L3F women migrated to SE Iberia, they came with L3F men, who might have R1b-V88 (and other) who would have been pressure flakers on barbed projectiles.

    5. I'll make some quick comments about the map above. I wanted to keep the blog post short.

      You'll notice that pressure flaked hollow bases appear older (purer). This style migrates from the Altai (probably much older than the 5900 above) and then to the Euphrates region where it is applied to the very old and characteristically African Barb and Tang.

      Hollow base, bifacial pressure flaked arrowheads appears north of the Black Sea around 5,000 B.C. This is roughly around the emergence of the Sredny Stog and the so-called Kurgan group. Before this, impresso-ware, Megalithic people and hunter groups occupied this area.

      The 4000 B.C. date in Central Europe is an outlier. Not sure what this is, but probably involves copper.