Monday, March 30, 2015

Motif Mysteries - Valera

An interesting essay in this month's Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Patrimonio looks at the stylistic motifs of some early Ciempozuelos pottery.  (The article is in English)

On the left is what appears to be crop rows of a plant with seed or berries on the leaves.  The one on the right is a more stylized version, the sub-components of which appear repeatedly throughout Ciempozuelos pottery.

This is a fairly important discovery because the abstraction process can be demonstrated between two sherds at the same site.  This is hugely important for the understanding of Ciempozuelos and Beaker pottery in general.

There has always been an historical trend towards disassociation and abstraction.  This is how a cows head (aleph) became the letter "A" and so on.  Everything becomes short, sloppy, abbreviated, schematic, representative, etc.

The plant depicted here is a seasonal crop in rows with symmetrical leaves.  It doesn't appear woody and it doesn't appear to be a cereal.  Rather it has little berries, fruits or beans within its general body.  Other than peas or lintels, I really can't think of another food item that would be cultivated so intensely as to be the solely depicted plant of this pottery, unless this particular plant is uniquely symbolic.

It's not cannabis.  In a previous post [here], I mentioned that henbane was positively identified in a Ciempozuelos beaker.  Aside from the symmetry, it could plausibly be a large stalky plant as this.  (It is noteworthy that all Ciempozuelos pottery has sun symbols or emblazoning on it... and the person buried with it faces the rising sun...?

Regardless of the exact plant, it is possible to now see the formation of some of the abstract motifs.

More [here] [here] [here] [here]

Valera, MAR 2015, [Link]

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lost and Found Paradigms (Turek)

Here's a short read concerning Beaker paradigms and archaeological interpretation. It comes within a series of essays dedicated to Czech archaeologist and theorist Evzen Neustupny.

Beakers are a unique international question, so even the most basic interpretations and assumptions have been diverse. The history's history of Beaker culture can be shown to have also followed the moods of the socio-political timeline of the last hundred years.

When it comes to paradigms or interpretations I have some issues with the mainstream including a few in this paper.  It's too much to discuss in a ten paragraph blog, so I may address those separately in the weeks to come.

Quickly, I think there is too much emphasis on the 'Beaker package' and over-interpreting the importance of its components.  Americans smoke tobacco (Native American), have crappy tribal tattoos (Polynesia), eat pizza (Italy) and drink Pilsners (Czech R.).  You could add cowboy hats (S. Spain), denim jeans (France) and probably a long list of the "American Package" that come from other places, but it doesn't mean that all these cultures played an active role in creating the archetype.  Some components of the Beaker outfit seem to be getting inordinate weight.

I see a similar tendency in the interpretation of Beaker pottery.  There are things that are important and things that are less important.  I've used the Coca-Cola to media comparison before.

Finally, It would be incorrect to say that Guanches, Aztecs, and Solomon Islanders collaborated to create Hispanic culture.  Spaniards do exist and regardless of how you define Hispanic, it is a coherent international Spanish influence, not collaboration that defines Hispano-America, for example.  This is at the root of the question as to whether Beakers in the Isles, Bohemia, Poland and Spain had a common 'culture'.  Beaker 'culture' and its 'subcultures' is a more complex issue so I'll leave it at that for now.

Overall, this paper is a good, quick narrative concerning the development and influences of the Beakers.  Both the African and European influences are discussed.

*Been a really busy week, I hope to start throwing down some posts beginning on Monday* -BBB

Paradigm Found:  Archaeological Theory, Present, Past and Future.  Essays in Honour of Evzen Neustupny.  Oxbow Books, edited by Kristiansen, Smedjda and Turek (2015)  [Link]

Monday, March 23, 2015

Deer and People - Bookmark

This is a cool book on Deer-Human interaction from the Paleolithic to the Modern Age.

Book cover, 2014 
Enough of it is accessible (or findable) that it's worth referencing next time deer remains turn up somewhere and you'd like to better understand the significance.

Deer were very important to some European cultures.  Some Mesolithic Europeans, like the La Brana bros, had the habit of wearing red deer tooth necklaces.  I believe perforated deer teeth and trophy antlers were very important to those cultures.

Neolithic cultures may have avoided killing deer altogether because annual antler sheds were more important for picks than the meat.  This hypothesis looks at the lack of deer processing evidence and tool usage requirement in the Neolithic.  Interesting theory, I'm just not sure I'd be okay with a group of does visiting my oat field three times a day.

Beaker and Bronze Age folk also used antler pick tools like Neolithic folk.  However, Beakers may have also used narrow pointed antler tines to pressure flake arrowheads when copper awls weren't available.  The Amesbury Acher had a shed antler in his grave, other archers have as well.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Beaker New Year

Today is the day that would have been New Year's Day in the 2nd and 3rd millennium in Western Europe and probably the holiest day in Beaker religion.

Today is the vernal or spring equinox in which the dawn goddess brings her brother (the sun) and sister (the moon) in equal phase*.  The vernal equinox would not have not been missed by those who buried their dead facing the rising sun and who adorned all of their personal gear with solar and lunar motifs.

Aphrodite (or Venus) from Pompeii

In fact, the linguistic variation of "April" or "Avril" suggests 'to open', as in a new year, and a more linguistic and mythological constructions point to a dawn goddess/morning star who rises from the sea foam of Oceanus. (This etymology is contested.  A more likely source is from Etruscan from "Apru", aka Venus.  On the other hand, it's Etruscan which is another rabbit hole)

Originally, the Roman calendar started with the vernal equinox (today), but the Romans decided early to migrate from the ten month calendar (December, 'deci' being the tenth month) to a more rational twelve month calendar) and later on moving New Year's from Mars (corrected) to Janus's month, January (he being one who looks back and forward)  Before the fist of Rome, most European calendars were on the old school system and many of those lasted to early medieval times.  I won't dive into the fifty thousand subjects that brings up and will instead say, "Happy Beaker New Year!" and also, "Happy Birthday Beaker Blog"/

*Update* Just a correction.  As Maju points out, the first month is Mars in the Roman calendar, followed by April.  Assuming they and other Europeans followed a strictly solar calendar, the first month would always be Mars or equivalents, whereas in modern times falls about half and half.  In Germanic mythology, the first month before Easter was Hretha or Rheda, who like Venus had twins with the primary war god.  Peeling away the layers of divergence and syncretism makes an interesting study.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Peterborough Ware, DNA

The apparent resurgence of WHG profiles by the end of the Middle Neolithic has been variously commented on and I think putting one corner of Europe in an archaeological context might give a little clarity for why this happened.

I had meant to post this paper on Peterborough Ware as it relates to the food vessels of British Beakers, but got sidetracked with other news.

Fengate Ware, Berkshire, 1990,1009.31, British Museum (order FI-000715026)

The British Middle Neolithic Peterborough Ware may have its roots in Southern Sweden or generally the Baltic coast, having plausibly spread via the similarly named Peterborough Ware of the Dutch lowlands.   History repeating itself.

If this was a population movement by stone-axe wielding boatsmen, it may have been part of a flood of similar Middle Neolithic 'pre-Vikings' that were floating down the rivers throwing axes in the faces of Farmers.  It's possible that the rise of certain genetic profiles we see in the Middle Neolithic from Hungry and Sardinia to the Languedoc and Northern France, were subject to similar throngs of northern barbarians coming over the walls of the palisades.  Environmental conditions again changing the board of history.

The Peterborough People seem to have arisen about 3,330 B.C. and probably overlap the introduction of Bell Beakers (more on that).  But before the Beakers, the Peterborough tradition appears to have lived in a system of apartheid or avoidance from the Grooved Ware peoples, reasonably assuming the two wares weren't used differently by the same people.  These two peoples seem to have been total opposites in every conceivable way, preferring different living arrangements and beliefs.

The fluffy version of Grooved Ware origins is that it is an independent development in Britain with people being attracted to a cool culture based on communal feasting and alcohol, except for those that avoid it.  (Whenever you hear the words "independent development" come from the mouth of an archaeologists, a good rule of thumb is to immediately disregard and begin looking for population movements).  Regardless, Grooved Ware culture is intrusive to most or all of the Isles, having come several hundred years after Peterborough Ware.  When Bell Beaker Culture arrives, it begins consolidating and/or replacing various separate traditions into a more uniform Early Bronze Age.

How exactly food vessels and urns emerge is another question mark.  Clearly food vessels are heavily influenced by islander impressed potteries, like Peterborough, but overlaid with Beaker motifs.  According to historical dating schemes, this shouldn't have been possible given the end of one and the beginning of the other.  But it may be that Beaker pottery is both earlier than presumed and Peterborough Ware continues strongly with hillbillies.

To add to the weirdness, is it possible that some Peterborough pottery, like the Fengate bowl above, are already beginning to copy certain Beaker stylistic motifs?  Perhaps the relationship between Beaker immigrants and hillbillies was agreeable given a common enemy, or Beaker cattle drivers were more frequently in contact with the marginal areas.

The question of Scandinavian influence from the Middle Neolithic is a good one.  Given its strong influence on the Isles prior to the Bronze Age, it would certainly seem that British profiles may be shifted towards Fennoscandia and the Baltic Coast.  As such, we may expect some British haplogroups to descend from these early migrants, but more interesting is the abundance of certain maternal haplogroup H and V in Britain.

It would truly be the most bizarre situation ever if the maternal lineages in Britian were the recombination of Fennoscandian and Ibero-Saharan sister lineages, both making their way ultimately from the Northern Middle East and both generally pared with members of the R1 paragroup in opposite directions?

Total PeterboroughWare



Summary. Peterborough Ware is now recognized as the dominant ceramic tradition of the middle Neolithic in southern Britain during the period 3400–2800 BC, part of a wider north European family of Impressed Wares. Drawing on an extensive inventory of 600 recorded assemblages constructed by enriching previous lists with the results of development-driven research carried out over the last 20 years or so, this paper reviews the production, distribution and use of Peterborough Ware. Support is found for the traditional sub-division of the Peterborough Ware series into three sub-styles: Ebbsfleet, Mortlake and Fengate Wares on the basis of the materials used, forms, and the decorative
schemes preferred in each. The overall distribution of Peterborough Ware focuses on south-eastern Britain although there are important assemblages from areas to the west and north, especially those composed of Mortlake Ware. The range of contexts in which Peterborough Ware was deposited is wide, but suggests a backward-looking attitude in which the users of this style of pottery were trying to connect with their past.
Alex Gibson [Link] 

Julian Thomas [Link]

*Update 1*  This big study from Nature genetics hit the wire literally moments after my post - via Dienekes.  I consider my above comments as "pre-criticism".  Most notable is red square country of England clustering with Scandinavia which overlays Peterborough world.  Only large-scale dna from ancient remains can properly resolve the human mosaic over time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Smith, the Smithy and Bagpipes

This is a paper about the smithies of Bronze Age Britain.  The author seeks to better understand the shop, the tools and the techniques of the early smiths.

The center of the shop was certainly the anvil.  It is by far the oldest tool in the smithy and central to a lame god poisoned by what we know today is arsenic.  Many smaller anvils have survived in Britain and the Netherlands. [examples: Drenth, 2013]  Most of these, like that of the Amesbury archer, where IMO carried around by those who needed to frequently re-shape practical, everyday tools.

The smithy anvil was probably a much larger stone secured to a tree stump.  There would have been a large whetstone, a flat standard, a furnace and a work bench.  Fregni illustrates some of the basic skills and terminology in the British metalwork of the Bronze Age.

One point Frengi throws a wet towel on is the idea that early European smiths were itinerant (traveling doers of good metallurgical deeds).  This was first proposed by Gordon Childe and is very often repeated as a catalyst for the spread of Beaker culture.  He uses a few ethnographic examples to show how even itinerant African smiths generally service villages within a radius of their own village.

I got sidetracked as usual with the description of the early blast furnace bellows.  Here Frengi describes the earliest as probably 'wine skins and reeds tipped with refractory'.  I did some quick google searching on the origins of bagpipes and thought for certain that someone, somewhere has made the association between furnace bellows and bagpipes, but haven't found anything yet.

Regardless, it is no accident that bagpipes historically overlay the CMP area.  I would imagine that a reed was placed at the base of the blast tube (drone) so the smith workers could hear changes in airflow to the base of the furnace.  In my own furnace, the different sounds of a hairdrier was indicative of different airflows for different temperatures.  (I melted the hairdier ((and the furnance)), but it worked for aluminum)

I would guess pipes would have been a development of the regular bronze age when metal moves from simple ornaments and weapons to stressed pieces in caldron rings and chariot components.  It's not impossible that a certain tube length and diameter would resonate a particular key for a certain temperature/airflow.

The mythology surrounding witches and smiths is a good start to understanding Beaker religion in my view. 

The Compleat Metalsmith: Craft and Technology in the British Bronze Age. ELPIDIA GIOVANNA FREGNI, 2014 [Link]

**Footnote Update**

Here's an interesting etymology for the "bellow" as descended from PIE through various languages.

bellows descends form Middle English belwes which means 'leather bags, bags or belly' which appears to have been usually plural.  It was apparently shortened from blaestbaelg, apparently 'blast bag'.  (as a side note 'blast' is generally referred to as the induction of a blast furnace or blast cooled generators, etc)
Blast and Bladder apparently descend from a common word blase or blaze (Skeat), which reconstructed forms various words in IE languages for blowing a trumpet or similar. (2)

to bellow (v.) similarly comes from Old English bylgan from PIE bhel, meaning to roar, blow or bleat (generally of a ruminant animal, in modern usage a doe or non-bovid ruminant cow).  The last point is interesting in that most commercial bleats and grunts for hunting are reeds inserted in a small tube.

to bleat also descends from the same root of bhel via PtG blētijanan (1) and Old English blǣtan, again meaning the cry of an animal, more appropriately from hot does or cows.

Various other reconstructions can be made from Slavic, Celtic and Latin.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Solar Jewelry - Mary Cahill

"Here Comes the Sun" is a short article by Mary Cahill in the Spring 2015 Archaeology Ireland

Many items manufactured by Beakers, whether it was houses, jet buttons, boar's tusks or pottery, in some way incorporate explicit or metaphoric associations with solar religion.  This article looks at some of those associations found in Beaker gold.

One very plausible possibility is that lunulae represent solar boats, which may represent the moon as well.  The Brone Age Nebra sky disk from Saxony-Anhalt is one of several examples showing a solar boat transitioning across the sky.

Nebra Sky Disk with Solar Boat (Unetice Culture)

Solar crosses are prominent in Beaker gold.  They also are found in various forms of beaker pottery in several regions.  Considering the bottom of bell beakers is this quote from Kristiansen:

"...Kristian Kristiansen (2011, 153) has remarked that, when the cups are raised to the
mouth, the sun would be seen to rise metaphorically as the image became visible."
This is especially meaningful when considering the content of the beaker.  I've made several posts concerning the discovery of Hyoscyamus niger (the herb of Apollo Helios) in a Ciempozuelos beer beaker, also found with regularity throughout Bronze Age Europe.

Solar crosses, probably sewn to clothing.
Continuing with Greek mythology as a proxy, it's possible to further unpack the metaphoric meanings of certain grave items.  For example, Selena Artemis (the moon) is, like her sun god brother, uniquely associated with archery.  Her bow was symbolic of the moon and also being the huntress, associated with wild boars (presumably due to the crescent tusks).

The similarity in decoration of Central European boar's tusk pendants and Atlantic lunulae is quite evident.  However, the development of lunulae from boar's tusks might be demonstrated in Chalcolithic Portugal as well.  (Valera, 2010 another interesting paper)

One passing comment about the solar crosses.  In this article, Cahill suggests that the cross represents the halo of the sun (very plausible or most plausible)  Another possibility that may be also true is that the four spoke wheel had become common enough to become known by this time in Europe.  This is important because by the Iron Age the chariot becomes the vehicle of solar movement in many religions.

More on jewelry to come...

Archaeology Ireland, Spring 2015 issue [here]

Monday, March 9, 2015

The dogma of the Iberian origin - Jeunesse

The dogma of the Iberian origin of the Bell Beaker: attempting its deconstruction.  Journal of Neolithic Archaeology. Christian Jeunesse, 2015 [Link]

Hubert Schmidt, Iberia first, 1912 (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
"The hypothesis of an Iberian origin of the Bell Beaker has been advanced from the beginning of the 20th century on. For a time challenged by the assumption of a cradle located rather in the northwestern part of continental Europe, it is currently making a comeback and is supported by most specialists of the Bell Beaker phenomenon.  An examination of the conditions related to its construction demonstrates that its dominant position owes more to contingent causes such as the charismatic personalities of its creators and their study areas than to an objective analysis of the archaeological record.  A small exercise of archaeology-fiction in which we will trace back the history of research based on the assumption of a central-European origin highlights the structural weakness and the dogmatic character of the hypothesis of the Iberian cradle."
Jeunesse criticizes what he views as the uncritical acceptance of the 102 year old Iberian hypothesis, it remaining fairly dependent on typology rather than a large body of empirical support.

He points out how chronologies were built using subjective pottery typology, which in turn identifies intrusive or native elements before self-validating the preconceived paradigm.  So with Bosch-Gimpera's original Iberian evolution being invalidated by the re-sequencing of Early Neolithic materials, Jeunesse sees no reason to accept the current paradigm.
"Some will tell me that this exercise is only of anecdotic interest in that the matter is closed today.  First, I want to say to them that their reaction perfectly demonstrates the force of inertia of the Iberian paradigm and, second, that they are wrong to assume that « the game is over »."
Student of Schmidt, Pere Bosch-Gimpera 1927 (National Library of France)

And so it is called, The Beaker Engima.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mên-an-Tol and Holed Stones

I previously posted on what may be a similar holed stone from Sicily [here]  Apparently, they are very common in the Isles, France and generally over Western Europe.

Mên-an-Tol, EBA, Cornwall, England (Zinnmann, commons)

It appears that country people have used these stones in folkloric medicine in similar ways, whether in Austria or this one in Cornwall.  Passing changeling babies or children with rickets through them seems common across Europe.  People with arthritis or back problems would crawl through them as well, and it seems that people have done this across the continent to modern times.

In various places, a bride or groom might hold their hands inside the portal to make their vows and in other cases people would swear by the stone.

This book is worth a read "Magical Medicine: The Folkloric Component of Medicine in the Folk Belief, Custom, and Ritual of the Peoples of Europe and America"  by Wayland D. Hand [Link]  (free)

"Penzance" Melissa Hardie [Link]

Country Swedes cure a bratty kid through a holed tree [Hand]

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Media and the Message

Here's another way to look at Beaker pottery.

Regardless of the variation in the shape of Beaker pottery, it is usually easily recognizable.  It's decoration says "I'm a beaker".

In graphic A you have a media - coffee cups.  Most have the same fabric and the same shape.
In graphic B you have a message - Coca-Cola, which is a cultural phenomenon that can appear on any media, including a coffee cup, as in graphic A.

In some ways Beaker is like Coca-Cola.  It's the projection of an identity and social value that extends beyond the beverage.  Also, like Coke, the medium is not too important, even for the drink containers which vary.  But Coke's message is conveyed through the coloration (red background - white message) and a certain stylistic motif (cursive coca-cola).  Idealic people smile and hold a coke suggesting that you should as well.

Here's various forms of Beaker pottery from around Europe over a thousand years.  In order to be honest, I chose some of the weirder ones, including a few very late ones.  I also excluded a few of the marginal for simplicity.  Without getting too wrapped up in the selection, I think the point is still fairly easy to see.  Most of the Beakers appear to have been reddish with white encrustation on many with very similar, repetitive motifs.  

The interpretation of the message is another subject.  Many beakers will have an abstract motif that is somewhat reminiscent of the tartans depicted in anthromorphic figures of the Iberian Early Chalcolithic**.  Like Borderlander Tartans, these may reflect tribal differences or clan descent.  (This had been previously hypothesized for anthromorphic slate plaques in funerary arrangements)

Beakers also tend to have banding, either cord, herringbone, plain grooves or acacia* (IMO*).  Like Sherratt, I've thought that this indicates the principle bittering adjunct to the beverage.  [here]  Also, many beakers feature a solar emblem on the bottom, which is unfortunately rarely photographed.  This is significant given the burial position of those buried with them.  In fact, the triangular patterns may sometimes depict a sort of 'blazing', although the abstracting makes it difficult to know for sure.

The techniques used to style the beakers is another interesting story to cover later.

**pre-Beaker.  Also, similar motifs can be found on the dress of anthromorphic stelae from the EBA in various places.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Irish Burial Narratives

This thesis by Keeline Baine covers burial practices in Éire during the transition from the Neolithic.

Archaeology is dominated by burial practices that define cultures and belief systems.  However, a number of recent papers have been punching holes in older stereotypes and narratives.

Loughash Wedge Tomb (photo: LizH via
You'll read that food vessels substitute beakers in Irish burials and that the very abundant Beaker artifacts (ie. bracers, lunulae, solar badges, buttons, thin-walled bell beakers) are rarely found in burial contexts.  It seems rather suspicious; regardless the current state of data shows:
"Unlike Beaker burials found with crouched inhumations in Britain, Irish Beaker
burials are most often associated with cremated remains located in wedge tombs. Rare
instances of Beaker burials at other monument types have been identified (i.e. Knowth, Co. Meath). Based on the highly localized and regional variances in the Irish Beaker contexts, Waddell (2010) argues that the presence of Beaker pottery and its associated artifacts is most likely the result of the passing of knowledge over space and time rather than the migration of a certain group of people throughout Europe."
Essentially, there is a disassociation between the abundant Beaker materials and any burials, which is kind of what defines Bell Beaker Culture.  This problem lead to Waddell's conclusion, in my mind easy to torpedo.  The burial issues are more likely problems with local practicality, chronology or archaeological survival.

Baine's analysis looked at two regions in Ireland, one that was relatively fertile farm land and another that was a little more marginal.  Her results showed that regardless of the cultural horizon, there were always differences between the two.  She suggests this was possibly the result of different economic realities due to agricultural surplus, local substrate and other variables.
"The results of this study show that when multiple lines of evidence from burials are analyzed, general stereotypes of the manner in which socio-economic identity was manifested in the archaeological record during the Neolithic and Bronze Age cannot be applied to Ireland as a whole. Instead, the manner in which individuals are deposited and preserved in burial ritual is governed by isolated local traditions, rather than large, regional traditions"
Cremation preference, when it is prevalent, is another question.  Our knowledge of burial might be skewed toward those burials that survived instead of those that didn't (the low number of woman or child burials in Europe) and we shouldn't assume the resurgence of cremation as being equivalent to the resurgence of a neolithic tradition when there may be practical concerns.

I've wondered if preference for cremation in the European Bronze Age was a response to frequent disturbances and desecrations.  It would appear that looting was a huge problem as there really is no other way to explain Beaker material in graves of later ages. [here]

Ireland is a small, fertile Island inhabited by relatively big, fertile people.  It's likely that the human population has been continuously white-capping sustainable capacity since the Neolithic.  Intense agriculture may have left little sacred ground, especially for those buried near farming communities.
I think this paper shows shifting narratives in Ireland which will hopefully be further illuminated with ancient DNA.

Mortuary ritual and social change in neolithic and Bronze Age Ireland.  Kéelin Eílise Baine, University of Iowa 2014 [Link]

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cerveza For Your Ciempozuelos

It's likely beakers were used for alcohol, probably barely beer, but also meads, nogs and other cereal beers.  The evidence isn't overwhelming for all of Europe, but it leads that direction.  At least in Northern Spain, there seems to be a fairly good association with alcohol and beakers.  This thesis by Vaca Alonso examines the earliest alcohols from the Early Neolithic through the Bronze Age in Northern Spain.

La Sima by Luis Pascual Repiso, Aratikos Arqueólogos S. L.

She points out that alcohol beverages have likely been in Europe since the Early Neolithic.  Various evidences from Cardial to Grooved Ware point that direction.  Her conclusion is that beer takes on a new meaning with the ideology and idealism of Bell Beaker Culture.

To go off tangent here...

One thing not too surprising is the presence of henbane in some of the Meseta beakers.  In fact, before beer was hopped, probably all beer gruits, including those of the Christian era, were mildly psychoactive.  Henebane was probably one of many different additives used for beer gruit.

European purity laws had tinkered with regulating beer ingredients since the eleventh century, but it was the Protestant Reformation that fueled the anti-gruit lobby (see here) and this was imposed by various duchies during the Holy Roman Empire, the most famous known as the Reinheitsgebot.

The purity laws had a complex mix of cronyism and politics, but it appears that Protestants were more interested in lowering the hotness of beer, whose additives multiplied alcohol's unchaste behaviors and chemical dependence.  Hops, it was known, made the drinker sedated, relaxed, and the estrogenic compounds decreased libido or increase erectile dysfunction.  So hops it came to be.

Henbane, the Witch's plant. [USDA Forrest Service]
I've speculated that all of the iconography and linguistic terminology associated with witchcraft has its origins in brewing [here].  Henbane, which seems to have been a common additive to early gruit, was in ancient times associated with the god Apollos Helios* (god of sunlight), brother to Selene Artemis (goddess of the moon).  I've commented on these associations [here] and also the possibility that beaker decoration (corded, acacia, herringbone) corresponds to the principle gruit or bittering ingredient (cannabis, acacia, henbane, etc).

The linguistic etymology for henbane and hemp similarly emerge from PIE bhongo or soma1, generally attributed to the sun god who rides at daybreak.  Because PIE does not appear to distinguish from various psychoactives, it's possible multiple drugs were lumped into a single category.

A possible etymology of English hene-bane or heng-belle may also be found in Old High German as constructed by Siebs as the German god, Henno Wotan, aka the Roman sun-god Mercury or Greek Apollo. (Liberman, 2008)  It's interesting to note that the etymology associates the various sun gods + death (aka hene) for people who were buried facing the sunrise (regardless if it was hyoscyamus niger or not)  But it's also interesting to note that both PtG hene and pech are associated with black resins.

A long list of mood altering additives were originally put in alcoholic beverages, especially beer.  I'm very interested in seeing a more complete chemical analysis from beaker pottery and dental plaque.  I think the decoration of European pottery hints at some of those substances.

La cerveza en la prehistoria reciente: contextos de producción y consumo en la Península Ibérica, Alicia Vaca Alonso, Universidad de Valledoloid, 2014 [Link]


(1) Flattery & Swartz on Soma [here]
*In fact, the Greek word, Herba Apollinaris, is 'the herb of Apollo'