Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dunstable Echinoid Burial (Henry Rothwell)

Here's and article in Digital Digging [Link] by Henry Rothwell in which he examines a very old excavation of what is now identified as a young Beaker wife and several small children.  (Called Celtic in the original excavation)

There is an AMAZING wreath of echinoids that surround the occupants, something we've talked about [here] and [here] recently.

A diagram, I believe from the original excavator, via Digital Digging.

If you read the article, you'll notice that there is mention of cow 'horn cores', probably from the longifrons bones mentioned in the excavation.  These are likely baby bottles as are commonly found among the Asian steppe cultures.

*Update.  I'm curious about the placement of echinoids in burials.  At least in this one, they surround the occupants in a perfect ring.  In later times, the echinoids would be associated with the thunder and lightning war god.  I wonder if this is protection or a warning?. Either way, the grave appears to have been plundered in antiquity.


  1. So, where do you stand on the issue of whether Bell Beakers were Celts or merely pre-Celts? (I take the latter position).

    Are there any legends or oral histories or other clues out there to discern what meaning the whole Bell Beaker echinoid burial thing (which you have powerfully convinced me was indeed a thing) was about? It clearly fit into some religious/symbolic scheme, but I don't know what it is.

    1. Beakers definitely weren't Celts and since they're separated by almost two millennia, I really wouldn't even say pre-Celt. OTOH, there is also no real discontinuity in many areas, so the reverse might be said to be partly true.

      I think digging deeper the situation gets more difficult, as one example, the formation of the Cetina Culture and its "influence" in Peloponnese, Cyclades and Eastern Crete. If the implantation of proto-Mycenaean Greek came from (a) language spoken in proto-Cetina, and Centina is basically baby Beaker, then logically pre-proto-Greek came from a cultural milieu that was being heavily influenced by Beakers, unless the ancestor of Greek was already spoken in the Northern Balkans before contact with Beakers.

      I've just used this as one example, but if Beakers at any point did speak a unified IE language, it would have to be archaic enough to accommodate the diversity. I have to admit, I never get things figured out for longer than a day. Ha:)

    2. Beaker baby rather. Iow, cetina is an offspring

      I thought about that after I wrote it