Tuesday, February 3, 2015

AOO Beaker Deposited in Urnfield Culture Cemetary?

Below is an AOO/AOC (All over corded beaker) that was found with a cremation in an Urnfield Culture Cemetery.  The authors argue against intrusion and instead suggest potential reuse of pottery. Regardless of the validity of this particular case, numerous examples of very late contexts with Beaker material can be found in other places.

(As a side note, Harry Fokkens thankfully makes this clarification for non-Dutch speakers [here], which is that within the Netherlander Archaeological community AOO Beakers are generally considered Single Grave Culture (as in this paper, Drenth and Hogestijn*) or Intermediary; outside the Netherlands they are considered Bell Beaker with possible SGC influences)**

AOC Beaker with cremation from Urnfield Cemetery

Here's an interesting except concerning this AOO Beaker:

It's associated pottery suggest a Late Neolithic date for the Vaassen grave, but things may not be as straightforward as they seem.  Theoretically, the Vaassen grave could represent an anachronism.  Occasionally typologically older artefacts are encountered within a demonstrably younger context, which suggests that some items were being reused (in the widest sense of the word).  An example is provided by barrow 9 at Mainzlar-'Schabenberg', Landkreis Giessen, Germany.  Here, an AOO beaker of type 2IId (after the typology by Lanting & van der Waals, 1976: 6) was discovered on the old surface, placed upside down over a cremation (Jorns, 1976: 29 and pl. 29.2).  A sample of the incinerated bone has been radiocarbon dated to 3090 +/- BP (GrA-16041; Land & van der Plicht, 1999/2000: 81).  This date points to the Middle or Late Bronze Age.  We know of two comparable finds from the Netherlands.

These examples suggest that some Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age artefacts were being reused during the Middle Bronze Age and the Urnfield period.

Other examples can be pointed to.   Drenth and Hogestijn give examples from the Netherlands and Germany, but there are Iberian examples as well.  So rather than one or two outliers or grave intrusions, there may be a widespread phenomenon of occasional beaker reuse.

It makes you wonder if grave robbing was so pervasive in the Bronze Age that the burial rites were actually modified to protect the deceased?

* It seems to me that Drenth and Hogestijn give evidence to contradict the notion that AOO Beakers should be associated with SGC.  As the mention in their concluding remarks, cremation is virtually unknown to SGC in this region, wheres the Beakers were more accepting of this practice, included the cremated individual in this AOO Beaker.

**Several Early AOC Beakers in Iberia would seem to give some support to the later.

A Cremation Grave with AOO Pottery at Vaassen (Epe, prov. of Gelderland, NL)  Notae Praehistoricae, 34/2014 : 105-113, Erik Drenth & Willem-Jan Hogestijn (2014) [Link]

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