Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Controversies and Discoveries for 2016

2016 will be a watershed year for the study of the Bell Beaker Phenomenon.  A rapid data metamorphosis is radically changing the resolution of prehistory.  I don't think we need to be worried about get stuck in a rut or being bored.

This year we'll see a lot of Atlantic genomes, possibly soon.  I don't have any special gouge, however the ripples are what you'd expect [here] and [here]. In addition to the shaking bushes, there's always one study that jumps out of nowhere with a big surprise.

Here's some papers and posts ahead:

- A sufficient amount of "The Bell Beaker Transition in Europe" by Prieto-Martinez and Salanova is now preview-able that I can begin posting and commenting.  Each topic covers some very interesting questions, timely as the genomic question has moved to the forefront of discussion.  From linguistics to ethnicity, there's plenty 'cage match' worthy material. 

- "Children as Potters" is an interesting subject discussed by Garrido-Pena and Herrero-Corral in a chapter of a recent book "Children, Spaces and Identity"

- Another chapter by Aliaga-Almela, Liesau, Rios, Blasco and Galindo look at Beaker babies in "Infant Burials During the Copper and Bronze Ages in the Iberian Jarama River Valley"

- There's a paper in Quaternary that was presented at a conference this last Spring about a horse butcher site at Portalon.  Young foals appear to have been selectively butchered (I commented on this before and the context is pre-Beaker or non-Beaker).  This sounds simple, people eating horse chili, but it becomes increasingly problematic, especially because of the effective population size. 

It's likely that the Atapuerca horses were genetically similar to the Sorraia and Lusitano.  In fact, H.P. Uerpmann (page 70, Olsen) theorized that the smaller Bell Beaker horse around Europe was essentially something akin to the Portuguese Lusitano, and then boom, the same menage that happened between Beakers and the Corded Ware people also happened with Beaker and Corded Ware horses (Warmuth et al, 2011)

What! What!  (Fig.1, Warmuth et al, 2011)
So aside from the genetics of migrating people, the genetics of migrating animals offer the second biggest artifact of Beaker history.  I've previously commented on the brachyceros/longifrons [here].

- There's a coming thesis examining the biometrics of Beakerfolk by Jos Kleijne, Kiel University (I'm not sure of the date of this paper)

- There's a thesis (Jessica Ryan) looking at musculoskeletal stress indications of Bell Beaker archers.  There have been various examinations and comments on the bodies of Neolithic or Medieval archers, however this will be the first study that examines this specific phenomenon, and certainly that of the Beaker time-frame.

- I believe there will be sequel coming out on Beaker pottery from Moroccan rock shelters.

- Google Earth and zebra mussels are cranking out Neolithic and Bronze Age discoveries on a daily basis.  A gigantic and previously unknown circle anomaly was discovered in Britain last week by amateur mousing around the terrain. This year will rock for discoveries.

Dr. Tibor Bader (Sudwest Presse Photo Initiative)

- In 2015, I had hoped to see a study on vegetarianism in a certain portion Bronze Age and/or Neolithic people.  The issue was mentioned by Garrido-Pena (?) in an abstract from Burgos and I looked further into an earlier isotope study and found what look like a small but visible portion of isotopic vegans.

I find this interesting because vegetarianism is most often engendered by people with a certain metaphysical worldview, although a minority in practice.  Given what we know about Bronze Age religions, which gave us the majority of modern religions, we may be able to extrapolate how they may have viewed the nature of man and the material world.

And finally, I have a long list of quacky, heuristic, loose-on-the-facts, but free blog posts.  This year is going to be for me suckingly busy, but I will not relent.  Long live the Beakers!


  1. "The Bell Beaker Transition in Europe"

    I got the EBook for $15
    *Score *

  2. Let me know if you want anything clarified

  3. Hi Jos Kleijne here ;) I like following this blog to keep me updated on many issues, and thanks for the mention! My Phd is not about biometrics and BB but about tradition and change on BB settlements, and various local trajectories across Europe, mainly with respect to pottery technology and subsistence economy. Apart from that I've previously worked on SGC settlements and burials and I'm interested in the problem of mobility in the Late Neolithic.

    1. Oh and I still have 2 more years for my thesis, so due to finish in 2017 fortunately :)

    2. Hi Jos, sorry my mistake. I think I got wires crossed somewhere!

      Anyhow, I look forward to seeing this paper. Migration and change is a very interesting subject, especially this timeframe.

      I guess I'll have to wait. Thanks again!

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I've been looking forward to see if beaker archers had the same skeletal features as medieval longbowmen.

    Also curious about the vegetarian angle - maybe priesthood?

    1. Looking at a few other examples in the Indian subcontinent and the Bronze Age in general, sages and holy people may have practiced this.

  5. I've been looking forward to see if beaker archers had the same skeletal features as medieval longbowmen.

    Also curious about the vegetarian angle - maybe priesthood?