Monday, December 14, 2020

BIAB in PN (John Palmer)

I was brewing last night using the Brew in a Bag (BIAB) method, which is something I've never really tried.

Anyhow, I found this by John Palmer, who if you don't know is like the Elvis of brewing.  Here's a quote from an article in BYO entitled "BIAB: Tips from the Pros" :

Brew in a bag (or basket) might actually be the original home brewing method from thousands of years ago, and traditional mash and lauter tuns may actually be new-fangled contraptions to enable large scale brewing in the relatively recent past centuries. Therefore, embrace this new-old method and don’t be afraid to adapt it to modern brewing.


He's probably right. 

Obviously brewing was a process that developed over a long period of time with unique methods prevailing regionally.  This method, or straining with baskets and linens, is just one possibility.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

A Pattern of Behavior?

Let's go now to the rumor mill.  Eurogenes says there is an ancient man analyzed from Belgium that may be older than Aesch25 from Switzerland (c. 2500-2800 B.C.)  Again, we don't know how old or the cultural affiliation, but if he is L51 and has Steppe admixture, then this could a be very significant in the developments of the early Beaker phenomenon.  

For the sake of discussion, let's go with this ancient possibility and continue walking out on the ice. Anyone want to take a gamble at where in Belgium this ancient L51 is located?  Let me make a suggestion.

The Island Robinson near a something-border between Belgium and Netherlands

So let us remember a recent grave from Twello in the Netherlands.  The Twello Fellow had an axe and a flint that could be provenanced within a day's walking distance of either side of the Meuse, at or around Liege in Belgium.  In fact, you can nearly draw a line between Twello and Liege along the Meuse.

Although the Twello grave is later, the significance of an ancient R1b-L51 man in Belgium (and we will pretend that his grave is from Wallonia), means that people like that of Twello may not have been trading with their neighbors, they might have been trading with themselves!

In other words, it was immigration that facilitated this trade.  This is part of a "pattern of behavior" we see in the later Bell Beaker phenomenon.  In sourcing raw materials, they are not simply meeting strangers for honest trade.  They are immigrating to the sources of raw materials, taking control of them by marriage or force and then peddling commodities out in their long-range networks.  I think we see this from Southern Spain, to the Irish Sea, to the Northeast.  Purpose driven immigration and prospecting, marriage when it makes sense.

Steppe admixture in Belgium this early needs to come from the Netherlands because of Belgium's geography and surrounds.  The obvious conduit is the Meuse.  But why stop with Belgian flints and dolorite? 

Might we find that even more southerly trade and contact are not the product of mutual interests between cultures, but expressly intrusive behavior early on.  It would be interesting if the GP flint trade into the Netherlands wasn't the expansion of existing trade, but a change in management.

Fichera, Alessandro (2020) Archaeogenetics of Western Europe: the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.


The transition from hunting to farming started in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East, about 12 thousand years ago (kya). During the following millennia, farming spread across Europe largely due to migrations of people from a source in western Anatolia. The aim of this thesis is to investigate and assess the relative contribution of local hunter-gatherers and dispersing farming groups in a region of Western Europe where the archaeological evidence suggests potential complexity. In order to do so, two parallel approaches were carried out: i) the study of human remains from three archaeological sites in Belgium; and ii) a broader phylogeographic analysis of modern mitochondrial DNA sequences belonging to haplogroup HV.

Here I report the first genome-wide analysis of one Mesolithic and 32 Middle to Late Neolithic Belgian individuals. The Mesolithic individual was largely similar to other Western European Mesolithic and Late Palaeolithic samples. However, within the Neolithic group I observed two genetic clusters. The first cluster appears to be the result of an admixture between local Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers of Anatolian descent. However, the Mesolithic component was much larger than seen to date in other west European Neolithic samples, with a possible sex bias towards local males carrying Y-chromosome haplogroup I and dispersing females. The second, less numerous genome-wide cluster revealed admixture from a Pontic-Caspian Steppe related population, further indicated by the presence of Y-chromosome R1b-M269.

The phylogeographic analysis of modern mitochondrial haplogroup HV confirmed an Upper Palaeolithic Near Eastern origin. The new findings suggest an early introduction of several HV lineages into the north coast of the Mediterranean from the Late Glacial onwards, which increased during the Neolithic. In particular, the Mediterranean area appears to have served as a reservoir of HV lineages and as a source of later migrations in both the Neolithic and the Bronze Age.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Drinking with Straw (Turek, 2020) pt. 2

And then there's this... (cont. from pt. 1)

Bell beakers, as well as for example earlier Michelsberg Culture tulip beakers (see Figure 4), have sometimes extremely everted rims, that make direct drinking almost impossible. Such pots may have been used as containers or vessels for manipulation of liquids prior to their consumption, or they were designed for drinking using a straw, such as it is known from beer drinking scenes of ancient Mesopotamia or Egypt.


The beaker below gives you an idea of what an everted rim looks like, but suffice to say that it does not pour well and you can't drink without half of the beverage running down your beard.  I doubt Bronze Age women would appreciate that.  

Another point he makes is that some beakers are obscenely big to the point of being impractical.  Bell beaker beer steins aren't little 12 oz mugs.  They are often huge.

Another point about beards and mustaches (I can tell you from personal experience), they are difficult to eat and drink with.  If you're going on a date, no hot wings, spaghetti, ice cream, or basically anything.  In fact, in the 19th century the popularity of big mustaches caused a resurgence of the rye straw and the beverage guard.  

So how beverages were consumed might tell us a little about their grooming habits or the style of beer that was consumed.

Turek then discusses the Central European Corded Ware graves of men, women and children that often contained what appears to have been a beer-containing amphora, often without any accompanying cup to drink.  With this, he suggests that these beers could have been sipped much as we see in the Near East, and again it may reflect a certain 'style' of beer.

It's important to note that even up until the Iron Age, Thracians and Dacians consumed beer with straws, much to the disgust of their more civilized Greek neighbors.  Of course, drinking beer this way doesn't reflect some primitive way of brewing (as some retarded people suggests), rather it reflects a particular style of beer (bread beer), and one that seems to have been a favorite in Mesopotamia.

To give an example of this "ethnic style of beer" we see a Semitic man named Trr, drinking beer with his probably Egyptian wife, Irbr.  Rachel Sparks (2014) suggests that drinking beer from straws was limited to Asiatics in Egypt, as Egyptians never really adopted the use of straws.  In other words, Egyptians drank beer like you and me.

The Hubbard Amphora 800BC (Cyprus Museum in Nicosia (1938-XI/2/3))

Another example is the Hubbard Amphora which Diakaios suggests is not actually representative of how Cypriots drank their beer, but as in the previous example represents a foreign type.  See Brewing Classical Styles for commentary on Dikaios, P. 1936/1937. “An Iron Age Painted Amphora in the Cyprus Museum.” BSA 37: 56-72.

Using rye grass straws seems to have come in and out of vogue in Europe through the centuries, and surprise, rye straws are coming back as a more ecologically-friendly alternative to plastic straws or the worthless, recycled paper straws.

See also, "The Barbarian's Beverage:"  Max Nelson

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Beer, Pottery, Society and Early European Identity (Turek, 2020) pt. 1

Was alcohol the primary catalyst for to the adoption of ceramics in the Near East Pottery Neolithic?

Turek asks this question.  Could the data could soon point this direction?  Hayden, Canuel and Shanse tell us in their 2012 Natufian paper, that the subject matter of brewing shouldn't be taken as 'mirthful', especially if beer was the gas that fueled the entire cereal-farming Neolithic!

Snip from "Bell Beaker beer drinkers (photograph by J. Turek, courtesy of Museo Arqueologico Madrid)"

Of course grain or any one 'thing' doesn't define the Neolithic.  I like to think of it as a synthesis of specialized economies that all previously existed in the Paleolithic, albeit, independently.  When enough of these Paleolithic specializations began converging the general farm economy was born.  

There's no question as to the centrality of cereal farming to the Neolithic identity.  This is probably because cereal farming is an activity that requires the labor of the whole community.  Cereal farming symbolizes the idea of the Neolithic 'collective' over the rugged independence of the hunter-gatherer.

I'll jump around Turek's paper to highlight a few key points that stood out.  Let's go back to exterior day one.  What was the whole reason Near Easterners began using ceramics in the first place?

With the discovery of pottery and the beginnings of brewing beer, it’s a bit like a question of what occurred first, whether eggs or hen? It is generally believed that the invention of ceramics in the Near East enabled the common brewing of beer (Turek 2005). However, we have to bear in mind that evidence of malting and the oldest brewing dates back to the late Palaeolithic...

...Perhaps it was the production of beer that could have been the impetus for the beginning of Neolithic ceramic production

This makes a lot of sense (especially as a beer drinker).  Essentially Turek builds off an idea by Hayden et al, 2012 that cereal domestication and its dissemination was, in large part, about beer production and social cohesion.  What Turek suggests is that ceramic pottery could have been adopted precisely to make brewing more efficient, more abundant, and brewed with greater precision. 

As is discussed in the Hayden paper, the native geography of cereals are in the northern foothills of the Zargos, not spread across the Levant or wherever.  It also appears they were domesticated where they originated.  So what was the point of domestication?  The Hayden authors believe that mashing grain yields higher caloric returns on labor than threshing and milling.  In other words, the earliest Mesolithic farmers began to scale up production of grains, not to make more baby mush and bread cakes, but because they had the capacity to convert larger and larger volumes of cereal (barley especially) into something immediately useful as sustenance and as a social commodity.

Where do the first ceramics appear in the Near East?  In the foothills of the Northern Zargos.  It is some of those specific sites that have yielded archaeologist, Patrick McGovern, the oldest evidence of alcohol production west of Asia.  Again, it's important to point out a temporal connection between this ancient grain belt and the earliest adoption of pottery in the region.

So what does beer buy you?  

Turek remarks on a theory by (Neustupny, 1998) that beer can buy you the time of fighting men or working men.  Beer is a wage.  It is bait to amass a workforce for field improvements or community projects.  Workers in Uruk and Egypt were paid in beer rations.  This is an important concept because the Neolithic is really about an economy of back-breaking labor.  Digging wells, improving fields, reaping, sowing, building, cutting trees, defending.  It's a time of collective projects that transform landscapes.

If you can imagine a team of guys dragging a limestone block across the desert, what is their daily caloric requirement?  Or digging a well?  Seems a lot of mega-sites of Europe could well have been built with beer-power.

The paper then moves to the beer drinking cultures of Central Europe with specialized drinking sets.  

I'll save that for part 2...

Turek, Jan (2020). Beer, Pottery, Society and Early European Identity. Archaeologies, (), –. doi:10.1007/s11759-020-09406-7

Beer is not only a favourite drink for many archaeologists, but is increasingly the subject of their research. Brewing and beer consumption have played a significant role in prehistoric human cultures around the world. Beer was a tasty, nutritious food, a substance affecting the mind, medicine, a religious symbol, as well as a social medium and an accelerator. Alcohol relieved the pain and prevented the spread of infection. Beer was a safe and healthy drink compared to contaminated water. At the time when our ancestors began to domesticate agricultural crops, they commonly produced not only bread but also beer. It is probable that the first ceramic vessels in the Near East were created precisely out of the need to more effectively control the technological process of beer production. Similarly, in the Central European Copper Age, beer production and its growing social significance influenced the emergence of the set Ceramic complex that lasted continuously for more than three millennia. Beer has entered almost all aspects of social life, from everyday consumption and social interactions to initiation ceremonies and major religious celebrations. The study of beer and other fermented beverages sheds light on many aspects of the biocultural development of humans on this planet.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Pastoral Music Semiotic System (Alexsey Nikolsky, 2020)

In Frontiers Journal, Alexsey Nikolsky deals with the Indo-European "cow-languages", how they originally formed and how music has changed as a result.

This topic is hugely important for archaeology because it offers another dimension to understanding to the peculiarities of cattle management by the Corded Ware and later Bell Beaker groups, from gender roles to daily routines.

It is also, as Nikolsky asserts, a kind of connective tissue between PIE, music and myth.

Kulning and yodel form respectively Northern and Southern “dialects” of a cattle-directed “language”—a satellite of the proto-Indo-European.

semiotic system is a communication mode.   Humans generally have five large categories, which then splinter into various sub-modes and so on.  Pastoral cow language includes calling cow from a distance, sometimes a lead cow.  Communicating with other herdswomen from a distance.  Milking songs and other occasions.  

Nikolsky believes this language developed during Sherratt's "secondary productions revolutions" where we begin to see animals as producers rather than products.  As Nikolsky suggests, our falsetto mimics a tone that we use with small children, patronizing and neotenizing livestock from crazed beasts to the status of extended family.  Animals can be moved, relaxed and manipulated with "motherese".  

"The principal psychological trait of kulning is the “humanization” and child-like patronizing of cattle. Similar attitude characterizes reindeer pastoralism: animal is treated like a family member whose life is valued and its attitudes are respected (Ingold, 1986). Kulning, yodel, and reindeer-communication should all be regarded as various “languages of domestication,” generated by borrowing “acoustic traps and snares”—i.e., onomatopoeic decoy calls—from hunters and syntactically reorganizing them into “animal-directed” words to control the herd, its leader, and the individual animals (Alekseyev, 1995)."

Scandinavian Kulning is a more fossilized sister of Yodeling, which illuminates the Emperor Julian's complaint about the "wild shrieking sounds" that reverberated through the Alps.  Probably women calling their herds to safety from the war-machine chuckwagons.  They may have also served as lookouts, reporting the troop movements across the Alpine villages.
"Scandinavian, Icelandic, Alpine, Jurassic, Pyrenean, Apennine, Sardinian, Balkan, Turkish, and Caucasian mountains have sheltered singing styles that originated in the herding culture, and shared a peculiar singing technique based on a forceful high-laryngeal falsetto-like sound production (Wallin, 1991, 510). Wallin (pp. 511–23) summarizes the archeological, anthropometric, and genetic research to support the ethnographic findings of Carl-Allan Moberg (1971). Moberg outlines the core traits of the archaic Fåbodväsendetmusic: “head-voice” vocal technique, utilitarian function of long-distance signaling, and ideological roots in pagan magic."

The centerpiece of Fåbodväsendet tradition is its “maximal-distance” style—“kula”—that I distinguish from “kulning”—an umbrella-term for the entire Fåbodväsendet42.  Local names for kulning (e.g., lockrop) imply the alluring of animals by magic properties of sound to suggest certain behavior to the herd, avert evil trolls and predator-animals—following shamanic tradition of maiden singing (Mitchell R. W., 2001). In Swedish mythology, forest spirits possessed their own cattle, and herdswomen (kulerska) learned kulning from skogsrå, “sirens of the woods” (Johnson, 1990). Suggestive power of kulning was deemed so high that women lived in fåbods alone without any weapons. Folk beliefs attributed this power to beauty."

Gaelic Milking Song

"Similar to lullabies are milking songs (Nielsen, 1997)—used across Eurasia, from Scotland to Mongolia (Gioia, 2006b, 71). Remarkably, when milking, Mongolian herdsmen switch to motherese-like “musical talk,” based on animal onomatopoeia (Yoon, 2018). Known cases of male pastoral calling engage falsetto to imitate the female model (Uttman, 2002)."

St. Hilda

Before delving any deeper, the last part of the paper deals with more of the evolutionary nature of this music and the regression into "motherese" monophony versus are male-chorus polyphony.  I've been piddling with a paper by Jordina concerning Georgian polyphony and the male polyphonic traditions of the Circum-Mediterranean since last January.  

This subsequent post will concern another Pastoral Musical Tradition, probably introduced by the Western Steppe Herders, and how we hear the synthesis of these traditions in our modern music.

Nikolsky's paper is worth reading several times over if you can understand it.  I was a double bass performance major in college a long time ago and I found myself going through wikipedia a lot reading this.  If you have a musical background you'll appreciate his paper a lot, but there is something for everyone here; linguistics, evolution, genetics and economies.

Did ceramic cowbells precede metal bells in Europe?  I am remembering pottery fragments in cow manure piles...  Cowbell beakers?  pbbbbt 

Scandinavian Kulning is presented at Nordicvoice.

Author Alexsey Nikolsky"The Pastoral Origin of Semiotically Functional Tonal Organization of Music"
Front. Psychol., 23 July 2020 |  [Another Link]

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Agaric Craft Clubs

Certain groups of women, only women, did tasks involving the use of string using their teeth and they started it at an early age.

Via the DailyMail.  "Gendered jobs date back to Bronze Age: Textile work was done exclusively by women in Spain 4,000 years ago, study of dental remains reveals"

Angel Rubio Salvador via DailyMail

We can assume because these tasks were done by certain women, the handicrafts were bartered rather than created for household use.  Lozano et al mention that many materials of the Argaric "Kingdom" do show evidence of craft specialization (to a level of full-time professionals in some cases).

It's unlikely the women were slaves of any sort.  The economics of slavery demand better use of of a slave's time.  Probably, groups of women specialized in different types of craft.

Argaric Culture was sophisticated enough, and here maybe urban enough, to imagine bazaars with stands of fruits, nuts, spices, dyes, ivories and whatever.  Wild-eyed people handling snakes, prostitutes doing their craft, skinny dogs going through trash. 

The authors mention this technique for making cordage is widespread and we might assume it was common in Western Europe.  Although the graphic shows an extreme example of wear, I believe most teeth required closer examination.  So what percentage of European women could show this kind of micro-wear?

We might assume that every man and women had their primary duties in life; as a farmer, warrior, parent and so on.  But it's quite possible that everyone had a collateral specialty.  Some women being experts on midwifery, others rugs or cordage, others specialty foods.  It might be possible to divide people into basic collateral duties in a lot of European communities.


Marina Lozano, Sylvia A. Jiménez-Brobeil, John C. Willman, Lydia P. Sánchez-Barba, Fernando Molina, Ángel Rubio,Argaric craftswomen: Sex-based division of labor in the Bronze Age southeastern Iberia, Journal of Archaeological Science, 2020, 105239, ISSN 0305-4403,

Monday, November 16, 2020

Know what Kulning is?

 In the next several weeks I'll be rolling out a few posts on Bell Beaker music?  Say freakin' what!!?

Yep, archaeo-musicology has a number of fairly sophisticated hypotheses about the development of music in Europe, from the Neolithic through the transformation by Steppe Pastorlists in the Bronze Age.

I'm trying to clear out the back pages after a long and shitty year, and there are a lot of very, very interesting papers to discuss before 2020 lets out.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Kept Crying and Crying (Rebay-Salisbury et al, 2020)

This five-year-old boy was buried in Schleinbach near Vienna, Austria in an Early Bronze Age Únětice Culture setting. He was a bit small for his age and he had an ear infection that stressed the bones on one side of his face. He was murdered.





The area where he was buried is a few farm houses and a few dozen graves, women with jewelry, so on. The abstract tells the story.


The identification of sex-specific peptides in human tooth enamel by nanoflow liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry ( nano LC-MS/MS ) represents a quantum leap for the study of childhood and social relations more generally. Determining sex-related differences in prehistoric child rearing and mortality has been hampered by the insufficient accuracy in determining the biological sex of juveniles. We conducted mass spectrometric analysis to identify sex-specific peptides in the dental enamel of a child from a settlement pit of the Early Bronze Age settlement of Schleinbach, Austria (c. 1950–1850 BC). Four perimortal impression fractures on the skull of a 5–6-year-old child indicate an intentional killing, with a co-buried loom weight as possible murder weapon. Proteomic analysis, conducted for the first time on prehistoric teeth in Austria, determined the child’s sex as male. While we cannot conclusively determine whether the child was the victim of conflicts between village groups or was slain by members of his own community, we suggest that contextual evidence points to the latter. A possible trigger of violence was the follow-on effects of an uncontrolled middle ear infection revealed by an osteological analysis. The boy from Schleinbach highlights the potential for further investigation of gender-biased violence, infanticide and child murder based on the recently developed method of proteomic sex identification.

Let's get to the disturbing part.  Who kills with a loom weight??  Whoever it was, she faced the child when striking him. Two smaller punctures made with a different instrument might be interpreted as a coup de grace, perhaps by someone else? No idea what the fourth blow was.





The authors discuss the other folks in the cemetery and other contemporary child murders for the age before going over some interesting statistics on family violence. They make a fairly compelling case that this child was killed either as an act of mercy, or with some combination of frustration and malevolence. 

I think Rebay-Salisbury et al don't really believe it was a mercy killing though.  The reason is the stack of forensic statistics on child murders and perpetrators at different ages, male, female and so forth.  For example, we all know that a poor soul stabbed 100 times was likely the victim of a "crime of passion" where the victim actually knew the assailant.  Usually this happens face to face.  Muggings and carjackings bring different types of traumas.  Assassinations something else, etc.

The Schleinbach boy was obviously killed (probably) by a woman and she looked into his eyes as she killed him.  The problem with a mercy killing of the young and incompetent is that, if we loved them, we would never let them see our evil deed.  I doubt that changed in four thousand years.

"Child murder in the Early Bronze Age: proteomic sex identification of a cold case from Schleinbach, Austria"  Katharina Rebay-Salisbury1 & Lukas Janker2 & Doris Pany-Kucera1,3 & Dina Schuster2 &Michaela Spannagl-Steiner1,3 & Lukas Waltenberger1 & Roderick B. Salisbury1,4 & Fabian Kanz5  Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences (2020) 12:265

Friday, November 6, 2020

Mihaela is married!

This video has nothing to do with nothing.  Well, at least for now.  Folk music is soul-food musically.

I think she's from Western Moldovia, Romania.  How can the people go wrong with a little folk love?  

A few of my favorite songs.

Bucovina is half in Romania and half in the Ukraine.  It has influences from Germany, Poland, Transylvania.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween!

You'll notice one of the skeletons is wearing a Cubbies jersey.  Probably died of drinking and being generally foolish; I didn't notice if he was holding a koozie.  (Krefter, I think you can appreciate)

One of the houses we trick-o-treated.  There was a few good ones but COVID kind of was like a wet rag this year.  Luckily, it was a full-fanged moon and we met our quota.

And below, a few jack-o-lanterns in the drive of the Haunted Beaker Manor.  Sorry, did even think to put some candles in bell beakers and put those in the driveway.  Would have been a nice touch.  Next year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

18th Dynasty R1b, Tutankhamun mtdna K? (Gad et al, 2020)

This has been the subject of speculation for a long time, but now there is a peer-reviewed paper confirming the last rulers of the 18th Dynasty belonged to paternal haplogroup R1b.  

Gad et al. seem to suggest the reason for the delay publicizing results has been due to controversy surrounding contamination.  Seeing how remains are moved by a bunch of sweaty guys raining over a mummy being moved coffin to gurney, it's easy to understand the reservations.

I'm going to guess that subsequent papers are queued up with more 17th and 18th Dynasty profiles.  Just guessing.

As we've seen with the two papers on the German Beaker farmstead genealogies, there is potential to really expand the knowledge on relationships spanning hundreds of years in Egypt.  New questions will emerge, such as, what was driving the chaos of the whole 2nd Intermediate Period, what role did mercenaries play in forming new social classes, who were the barbarians invading?

I will assume for now (barring cuckoldry somewhere along the way) that Ahmose I was also R1b of the Atlantic type.  But then the question, how many generations into the 17th dynasty?  

Ahmose I

For some reason I had it imprinted on my mind that Tut had a Sub-Saharan mtdna profile, like L-something.  Not the case here.  He's a Near Eastern K-boy.  That's unexpected, at least for me. 

Gad, Y. Z., Hassan, N. A.-M., Mousa, D. M., Fouad, F. A., El-Sayed, S. G., Abdelazeem, M. A., … Ismail, S. (2020). Insights from ancient DNA analysis of Egyptian human mummies: clues to disease and kinship. Human Molecular Genetics.doi:10.1093/hmg/ddaa223 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Beaker-like H4a1 in Southern Egypt (Takabuti, the priest's daughter)

This slightly built woman named Takabuti has yielded an H4a1 result at around 90% certainty.

Unlikely most Egyptian women, her reddish-auburn hair was not shaved during the preparations, instead it was styled and curled.  I'll assume this is due to the religious significance of red hair in ancient Egypt and the broader Near East.  (things like dwarfism, gigantism, blue eyes, twins seemed to attract bug-eyed people holding snakes)

You will remember that "Ginger" from outside Heliopolis in a pre-dynastic setting was also a redhead.  So the question you may have, and I have had for a long time, is when exactly did these lineages and phenotypes enter Southern Egypt.  It may be a mistake to believe that this and other atypical lineages were only recently introduced in Bronze Age.  

While Tutakhamen's paternal lineage is more plausibly due to (*update *what the hell was I thinking?) potential mercenary lineage in the army, that may not necessarily be the case.  It's quite possible, as I've suspected since the beginning of this blog, that the mid-4th millennium circum-Pontic region was spinning immigrants out in all directions, including the North Africa and the entire Middle East.  This is not to say that these were PIE, most certainly not, probably Upper Mesopotamians here.  (apparently you can not utter these words in a university without getting kicked in the balls and beaten like a brand new chimpanzee)

This reminds me of the original Rostaluu paper concerning the origin of H mtdna sequences.  Probably worth a review.  We're not talking about a lot of people in relation to the population density

*I teased this back some time ago.  I think the Tutankhamun paternal lineage probably extends through the entire 18th dynasty at least past Ahmose I.  The question I want to know is how far back it went into the 17th.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Perdigoes as Woodhenge?

Via Ancient Origins.."Neolithic 'Woodhenge' Discovered at Perdigoes Complex Portugal"

and Live Science 

Daily Mail


I'm trying to separate the sensationalism and novelty of media blitzes from the actual sensational and new discoveries.  I've followed Perdigoes (Per-dig-gwah) for quite a while (sidebar), but not quite sure how much is new news.

What is clear is that Perdigoes began as a Neolithic structure, probably a religious center, and then of course in the Beaker Age is appropriated or re-organized toward new customs.  According to the Daily Mail article, the piling of timbers in a henge is more directly linked to the Beaker era, although it may not yet be clear if this was done by cultural Beakers or by people who hated Beakers.  Certainly the Beaker culture became prominent at this site, towards its end.

What is clear, as stated by Antonio Valera in the articles, is that these structures must have been built with some sort of intense communication, I might say even a common religion.

*update* So yes, it looks like there are another two outer circles of palisades, or weirdly almost like peiring.  Exactly what that looked like in Britain isn't know.  Most see them as kinds of primitive totems that are just piled into the ground in circular format.  A bunch of people with crazy eyes holding snakes.

Some see them as remnants of more sophisticated structures, perhaps piles for decking, seating or roofing.  Wouldn't it be messed up if the whole damn thing was a Neolithic/Bronze Age rodeo?

See also:

"Ritualized Ball Games in the Neolithic"

Saturday, August 8, 2020

South Moravia and Unetice Princes

Via BRNO Daily of South Morovia:  "Prehistoric Burial Grounds Discovered by Brno Archaeologists"

Tessa Adamson tells us these cemeteries are turning up around the I/50 highway in Souther Moravia.  Work is being done by the archaeologist from Brno Institute of Archaeological Conservation “Ústav archeologické památkové péče Brno”

via UAPP Brno

Quite a few of these are from the early Unetice period, but the most interesting thing is that the man above appears to have worn a crown before his grave was robbed.  It's fascinating to see that the Unetice Culture continues to provide evidence of early principalities and almost photo-statehood both militarily and in regalia.

via UAPP Brno

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Refrigeration in the Early Bronze Age

Via Volkstimme:  "Prähistorischer Kühlschrank"

Archaeologists have discovered a "refrigerator" among the houses surrounding the German Stonehenge.  Ringheiligtum Pömmelte was originally built by Beakers and continued without break into the Aunjetitzer or Unetice Culture.  The refrigerator (big pot in a deep shaft) was probably from this second phase.  (I believe it is clear that the shaft is not a well)

(This is an aerial video of the enclosure, first of a series)

The news of this discovery stirred some lingering questions I've had about the Beaker homestead and daily life, being that it was a dairy culture and the logistical problems of food preservation.  As Victor Mair mentions in his blog post "Galatic Glimmers", fermentation of milk into something like kumis is likely how steppe peoples and Beakers would have partaken.  Since Steppe folks were seasonal movers, refrigeration in wells or pits may not have been a worthwhile effort.  Plus, lactase persistence appears to have been much less common than in modern Europeans, so fermentation must have played a big role in consumption.  

As these people intermingled and settled in Northern Europe and around the snow-capped mountains further south, keeping raw milk products for longer periods of time became viable.  With that, the need to process milk may have been reduced while changing consumption habits.

So as a background, it may be surprising to know that refrigeration has been around for quite awhile.  In this case, quite a while.  There's about three methods ancient people used to refrigerate food or keep ice.  Evaporative cooling has been around since at least the Bronze Age (Yakhchals, Zeer Pots, Chinese Jian fridge).  Unsurprisingly, this method is more conducive to warm climates where evaporation is faster.

As a side funny, See Jian's high-tech $14,000 fridge:

Subterranean spaces and heavily-insulated ice rooms seem to have worked in much of Europe where the climate is cool enough.  In fact, there are other examples of cold storage from Beaker arrangements in Europe, such as these 'larders' of Oban, Argyll.  (and later discoveries Swiss pits, Pass-me-a-cold-one)
Cooling milk, yoghurt or beer may have been as simple as chilling pots in lake water or a well.  

A lot of European food was preserved by smoking, salting, brining/pickling and fermenting.  At least in the Isles and Far North of Europe, preserving butter was done in bogs, which sounds gross but actually produces good results.  So good, that a lot of these Bronze Age butters are still being found, some from the Beaker period.

Refrigeration techniques shouldn't be too surprising, but how common was it, and how might have it changed milk consumption?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte Series (Video 3-9)

Here's a great series on Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, the German Stonehenge.

The first two videos are aerial promos, so I'm starting with video 3.  Open in your browser to get the full series.

[You can subtitle any of these in your own language.  Youtube is a bit goofy, but hover over the video and click on the "Settings" gear icon.  Turn "subtitles" on.  At first it'll only give you the German option to subtitle, but if you hover away and hover back it'll allow you to click "Auto-translate".  Then select your language.]

Friday, July 17, 2020

Stereotype: The Role of Graveset in the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker... (Wentink, 2020)


Why does a thing have worth?  This research helps clarify what was valuable to Beakers.  An object's value says something about it's owner, his connectedness, his needs.  Does a gallon of water have more or less worth than a chest of gold?  If your house caught on fire and you could only save one thing, what would it be?

I think many archaeologists have offered a very one-dimensional concept of worth when it comes to prestigious objects of Beaker burials.  The scarcity and novelty of copper technology has often been touted as something lusted for by a big man society that valued gaudiness and prestige.  For example, the Amesbury Archer was buried with many package objects, so he's often said to be an important man.  But how do we know that, or are we just making shit up?  Could the Amesbury Archer be just a very ordinary man?  What does his burial set really say?

As I've mentioned, I'm trying to peck away at this thesis because I like the underlying questions and I think the answers to the questions add more natural dimensions to the desires and ideals of these ancient people.  So this post is a mess, but it's reading and editing real-time.

"Throughout northern Europe, thousands of burial mounds were
erected in the third millennium BCE. Starting in the Corded Ware culture, individual people were being buried underneath these mounds, often equipped with an almost rigid set of grave goods. is practice continued in the second half of the third millennium BCE with the start of the Bell Beaker phenomenon. In large parts of Europe, a ‘typical’ set of objects was placed in graves, known as the ‘Bell Beaker package’.

Thiis book focusses on the signi cance and meaning of these Late Neolithic graves. Why were people buried in a seemingly standardized manner, what did this signify and what does this reveal about these individuals, their role in society, their cultural identity and the people that buried them?

By performing in-depth analyses of all the individual grave goods from Dutch graves, which includes use-wear analysis and experiments, the biography of grave goods is explored. How were they made, used and discarded? Subsequently the nature of these graves themselves are explored as contexts of deposition, and how these are part of a much wider ‘sacri cial landscape’.

A novel and comprehensive interpretation is presented that shows how the objects from graves were connected with travel, drinking ceremonies and maintaining long-distance relationships."

Wentink speaks of the specificity of objects placed in Beaker graves as the source of true worth, not the objects' innate or material value.  The objects placed in Beaker graves are valuable because they are specific, not because they are valuable.   Objects of material value are "systematically excluded" from Beaker graves, unless of course they complement the specific objects.
"...therefore not simply a context of ‘showing wealth or status’. Instead it appears that specific things were selected for deposition in specific places."
Using this distinction, I think you could say that a copper dagger is valuable in a grave setting because it is a dagger, not because it is copper.  Or maybe the dagger is valuable because it was a gift?  The fact that it is copper only highlights the value of the specific object (copper, crystal or whatever) not the value of the material.  (We've discussed heirloom beads here as well)

There's a lot of thought in this and will return again tomorrow...

***Next day, Chapter 10 - "The Traveler"

If you're interested in the Indo-European question of the Bell Beakers and don't want to read an eye-bleeding thesis, you may want to at least visit this chapter as it compares a number of characteristics of the Beaker Culture to the theoretical framework of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.  Chapter 10 is totally devoted to the Beakers' adventurous nature as expressed in their funerary objects.  

Wentink describes an experience in Northwest Africa where he was received in a home for formal tea that was served from a specialized silver tea set, around a specialized table, in a room dedicated for the matter.  Anyone who has been received as an honored guest in the Middle East or Central Asia could probably well identify with the pomp, pageantry, largesse and all the 'extra' of hyper-hosting.  Wanting relates this experience to what he suspects was a Beaker social front and a host/guest culture.

In a way, this makes some sense.  The cumbersome bell beaker is in more ways a statement than a practical pot for drinking liquid.  (I mean, who sits down to supper with a gallon of ____?)  I've thought the metaphorical statement related to death, and while that may also be true, the bigness could very well be part of a broader expression of being 'extra' at important occasions like hosting.  Consider you are a weary traveller and you bang on the door of a man's home in the early night seeking a place to sleep.  He welcomes you in and his wife fetches you a very tiny beer stein.  Probably not.

An important part of host culture Wentink suggests, is the fear the traveller may be a supernatural character in disguise (then describing a number of mythological examples).  The host is motivated by a sometimes superstitious self-preservation, but of course the guest is in reality more vulnerable.  As Wanting alludes, this cultural phenomenon is deeply re-enforced in the spiritual dimension.

He quotes David Anthony concerning Yamnaya:
"Guest-host relationships would have been very useful in a mobile herding economy, as a way of separating people who were moving through your territory with your assent from those who were unwelcome, unregulated, and therefore unprotected."
And that is absolutely true in a number of modern places.  Once you've been a guest at the big man's house, you're essentially protected from at least some bad guys, maybe all bad guys.  Certainly his immediate family and extended relations.  Beakers must have had some way of discerning between good guys and people-you-kill.  Given their propensity to prospect and trade, and being stateless, they must have had some social guidelines for being guests.

Gift-giving is discussed in the context of early European Cultures and what this means for the exchange of prestigious objects.  He refers to the "souvenir", not necessarily in that the exotic items traded are that, but that it is a good pivot point for a discussion of why something is valuable, like a souvenir, heirloom, or whatever.

more tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Serving hors d'oeuvres in Devitsa

Ancient DNA has revealed the Scythian warrior bodies from a site in Western Russia are actually female [ScienceAlert].

Although these girls are Iron Age Scythians, this is a good ice breaker to discuss a paper by Jan Turek regarding gender identities in the Beaker and Corded Ware Cultures where we are able to observe a number of individuals who are treated in unexpected ways in death.

hors d'oeuvres are served!

In "Copper Age Transformations in Gender Identities", Jan Turek looks at some of the assumptions we have been making about the Bell Beaker and Corded Ware Culture based on gender distinctions in funerary arrangements.  We can assume they had an almost idealized notion of gender and gender roles, but aside from that, what do we really know?

As modern people we project quite a bit on the archaeological past to fill in the gaps of what we are able to observe.  Of course the problem is that those gaps are actually pretty huge, and the past is very distant.  So I'd like to give Turek's thoughts attention in more than one post.  But here, let's look at Amazons.

One of the Western Russia Amazon Scythians with headress

Turek cautions that we have to be careful in interpreting (for today's topic) graves of women with objects of power, prestige and warfare.  He uses the example of women pharaohs of Egypt wielding the objects of male pharaonic power, being depicted or buried as shepherd kings.  Understanding why Hatshepsut has a false beard takes a few minutes to explain in context.

Below we see Kurdish female fighters, which is an even more stark image coming from the part of the world where they are fighting.  What exactly does it mean though?  What is the message?  We have to be careful in projecting what we want it mean or don't want it to mean.  There is a context for this in Kurdish Culture and Kurdish political aims.

But as with quite a number of Scythian women, it isn't all show.  Many of them die fighting, often fairly horrible deaths at the hands of savages, and many have the notches on the buttstock to show for their time in the field.

Kurdish women fighters

I'll update this post later with a former paper showing that Beaker women may have ridden horses and shot the bow quite frequently.  

And below, a reconstruction of one of several Beaker Amazon graves.  Then the question, is she displaying icons of power, as a queen of Egypt, or, are these sentimental objects of male relations.  Or again, was she a fighter?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The genetics of the Tuatha Dé Danann

I want to link directly over to Razib Khan's "Gene Expression" comments on the Lara Cassidy paper on ancient Ireland.  Lots of interesting topics...

see below

 the "Tuatha Dé Danann"

The genetics of the Tuatha Dé Danann: The power of ancient DNA in terms of human evolution at this point is to a large extent the ability to understand the arc of human cultural history as reflected in our genealogies. Archaeologists h…

Friday, June 12, 2020

Protruding-Beakonaya (CBV95)

You may recall a lot of uninformed jerking regarding Eastern Domain Bell Beakers last year.  A few Beakers were identified as Z2103 and had elevated steppe components, so a few deep thinkers took that as direct and conclusive evidence for a founding source of Beaker heritage.  I poured cold water on that and detailed analysis added more cold water.

However...a few of these Paris Basin graves, including one from Ciry-Salsogne (CBV95) in Brunel et al, 2020's "Ancient genomes from present-day France unveil 7,000 years of its demographic history" should raise your antennas plenty.  As in the previous Harvard mega-papers, the archaeologists nominated from their x-files to get answers with genetic data.  CBV95 turned out to be from another planet (see plot at bottom).  

Here's the dig paper, "La sepulture campaniforme de City-Salsogne 'La Bouche a Vessel' (Aisne) by Hachem et al, 2011.

"Tarim woman with legs drawn up"

We have a Paris Basin Bell Beaker with typical male lineage buried with an AOO pot and a big French knife.  He's certainly the son of a number of Dutch immigrant ancestors, and given his age, we are left with no other reasonable choice other than to presume the majority of his steppe-like ancestors were PFBs. And then he's buried in a manner typical of the Steppe Cultures, like Khvalynsk-Yamnaya-Abashevo, supine-legs-drawn (as above).  And then there is his profile; makes it seem non-random.
As his maternal lineage is J2a1a1, we could probably discount the possibility that his mother was a recent immigrant from the steppe who married a Western man, thus allowing him rites in a supine-knees drawn up configuration after his mother's family.  In fact, the reverse would seem more likely and we might suspect that this orientation was more common among tribes of the SGC than available evidence is able to produce. 

"The French Freak" CBV95

About half his "very large wooden grave" was destroyed by a backhoe, but having looked at the drawings for a while, is it possible he was buried in a wagon?  It's a large rectangular structure that almost looks like the shadow of a wagon-plus-axle-hubs-and-yoke with the semi-solid (?) wheels removed.  Maybe not, but the upper layers are typical of many Corded Ware Culture ring ditches, with some sort of memorial shrine erected on top of the mound and a kind of palisade around.

Laure Salanova describes in "Behind the Warriors Bell Beakers and Identities in Atlantic Europe.."
"The two AOO graves from the Paris Basin (Jablines and Ciry-Salsogne) are dated from 2570-2450 cal BC (Salanova 2011).  All of the characteristics of these graves refer to foreign burial practices, from their architecture to their grave goods, which find comparisons in the Netherlands. According to archaeometric analyses, the AOO beakers were all produced locally, despite their typology indicative of an exogenous affinity. These graves are geographically located on the road that linked the Grand-Pressigny flint workshops to the Lower RhineValley, where daggers and blades imported from the Grand- Pressigny region have been recorded and were frequently included as grave goods associated with AOO beakers (Lanting & Waals 1976; Delcourt-Vlaeminck 2004). These three graves could therefore reflect an ethnic identity, including foreign traders in charge of another exchange network, linking the Atlantic coast to the Rhine Valley. This network did not remain thereafter; importations stopped at approximately 2400 cal BC, probably being replaced by exchanges of copper daggers."

his funerary beaker via ASAVA

So what does that mean?  You may remember the "Fellow from Twello" in the Netherlands.  As Laure Salanova discusses, the classic "Dutch model" and it's variations either don't work or have problems, but  there is a Dutch something.  "Bell Beaker Chronology in Northern France" (Laure Salanova, 2011)  

You can see where CBV95 falls below.  He's the pink diamond at the bottom of the upper Steppe cluster.  Then look to the graph on the right.  Now look at the Y-chromosomal diversity through the ages.  As in Britain, Iberia and elsewhere, we have almost complete supersession of males lineages.  Wow again.

And now, something that really pisses me off.  Seriously.  How the Dutch destroyed civilization.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

France, Like the Others (Brunel et al, 2020)

FINALLY.  After years and years and years of waiting for the curtain to be pulled back on ancient France, we FINALLY have a good initial bite on the sequence of genetic relationships across the Holocene.  Certainly we've had onesies and twosies and regional papers, but nothing as comprehensive.

For a broader out-take, see Bernard's comments.  Right now I'll focus on the French Beakers.

Even though we only have two Bell Beakers examined, they're interesting discussion material.  This man at Ciry-Salsogne (CBV95) was buried in supine-knees-drawn-up-looking-East configuration as the Yamanaya culture, and also had a very high proportion of similar ancestry.

The other Beaker from the Peirieres Dolmen (PEI2) had a lower percentage (~28%) of Yamanaya-like ancestry and also had a G2a Chromosome.

Via "La Sepulture campanifomre de Ciry-Salsogne" (Hachem et al, 2011)
Above you see how the knees fell to the side during decomposition.

Although we only have two Beakers in this paper (along with those previously reported), what is very apparent is that the Beaker (or Steppe) migration into France involved both men and women, introducing both Y-Chromosomes and mtdna mito-profiles not previously seen at any time during the Neolithic.  By the regular Bronze Age and Iron Age a situation exists in which the paternity of this geographical 'nation' had been almost completely superseded by those of the Steppe Cultures.

"The Transition: Before and After"  Snip from Figure S3-1

"Ancient genomes from present-day France unveil 7,000 years of its demographic history"
Brunel et al, PNAS June 9, 2020 117 (23) 12791-12798; first published May 26,2020 

"Genomic studies conducted on ancient individuals across Europe have revealed how migrations have contributed to its present genetic landscape, but the territory of present-day France has yet to be connected to the broader European picture. We generated a large dataset comprising the complete mitochondrial genomes, Y-chromosome markers, and genotypes of a number of nuclear loci of interest of 243 individuals sampled across present-day France over a period spanning 7,000 y, complemented with a partially overlapping dataset of 58 low-coverage genomes. This panel provides a high-resolution transect of the dynamics of maternal and paternal lineages in France as well as of autosomal genotypes. Parental lineages and genomic data both revealed demographic patterns in France for the Neolithic and Bronze Age transitions consistent with neighboring regions, first with a migration wave of Anatolian farmers followed by varying degrees of admixture with autochthonous hunter-gatherers, and then substantial gene flow from individuals deriving part of their ancestry from the Pontic steppe at the onset of the Bronze Age. Our data have also highlighted the persistence of Magdalenian-associated ancestry in hunter-gatherer populations outside of Spain and thus provide arguments for an expansion of these populations at the end of the Paleolithic Period more northerly than what has been described so far. Finally, no major demographic changes were detected during the transition between the Bronze and Iron Ages."

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Color Me Beaker (Berlin and Kay)

Did you know that many languages have no words for colors like orange, purple or green?

This short video describes Berlin and Kay's "seven-stange evolution of color terms" in languages.  From this, we might ask if there is physical evidence to infer the lexical colors of Beaker language*.

I have some ideas, but first, check it out...

Let's apply this theoretical scheme to the Bell Beaker Culture.  Remember that WHITE, BLACK and RED are Stage 2 development (and as a side note, these three colors are the only PIE lexical colors that can be reconstructed with any certainty.  In fact, they may be the only true lexical colors of PIE, the rest being descriptive, such as "shining", "glimmering", "lightish", "wine-red sea", etc)

What are lexical colors in the Beaker world?

A very decent case can be made that Bell Beakers distinguished BLACK, WHITE and RED.  In fact, we might suspect this just from the antiquity of their culture.  This three-part color scheme appears to have been the decorative colors of Atlantic Megalithic Culture (Bueno Ramirez et al, 2015, below), as well as, the roughly contemporary PIE Culture.  There's a few other circumstantial arguments we can delve into, but let's look at the material evidence.

Beaker Culture seems to have an almost dualistic tendency in contrasting various ideas, from gender to celestials, and probably, coloration.  The contrast between red and white is most apparent in the funerary pottery and a name for the two colors seems likely.


Red and white pottery, red and/or red and white cattle, probably reddish horse coats, red and white petroglyphs, red and white textiles, red-dyed wool or linen.  Certainly they often used ochre or cinnabar in burials.  Some of that was from dyed blankets, in Iberia that might have sometimes included red facial shrouds.  Red hair would have been worthy of linguistic distinction.  Of course, pure copper would belong in the red category (using the Berlin and Kay definition).  Semetite amber is red.   (Baltic amber is lighter, but we can't be sure they made any lexical distinction at this stage.  More on this in a moment...)


Quite a few things of importance were almost contrastively white in their culture.  Dairy products are uniquely white.  The inlay paste of their funerary pottery was usually gypsum, bone or other combinations. The ivory buttons and toggles must have accented darker clothing.   Whalebone pommels would have been striking.  Their cows may have been a single coat of red, but some may have had white faces or bellies.  Wooly sheep are white.  Salt is white, and interestingly the etymology of the Basque word for white probably comes from a word meaning 'salt'.

Of course every language understands black, as white and black are Stage 1 colors.  Jet would have been the most striking, but bitumen would be known to many men making arrows.  Charcoal is black, and that would have made pigment for tattoos and paint.

Beyond this, it is very difficult to imagine much else in the color palette of the Beaker tongue.  For one, it appears unlikely that many peoples of this time distinguished between green or blue, much less anything more interesting like purple (which obviously came very late).

Proto-Indo-Europeans, for example, seem to have had difficulty expressing many colors as distinct lexical terms.  A lot of the examples that could be used to describe a greenish-blue sea or gold, seem to use descriptive words like 'shimmering' or 'shining'.  A lot of words for these other colors are interchangeable and describe totally different colors in the daughter tongues.

Stage III?

It is possible that another color existed in Beaker Culture/PIE Culture *-ghel.  From this we get a color yellow from 'shining' which can be used to describe the Sun, gold and (quite specifically) Baltic Amber.  The debate is whether this had crystalized into an actual lexical term that literally meant YELLOW, or does this apply to anything shiny like the sparkle of the sea?

There is one other color in Stage III, that is green.  This is another debate topic for PIE, but what about Beakers?  Greenstone bracers seem to have been prestigious among Beaker archers.  In the age before this the green axeheads.  Obviously the oxidation of copper is green, and copper ores would be green as well.

So where were the Beakers?  Probably somewhere between 2 and 3.

See also:

Mallory and Adams in "The Oxford Dictionary of Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World"

"Natural and artificial colors: the megalithic monuments of Brittany" (Bueno Ramirez et al, 2015)
Antiquity 89 (2015): 55-71.  toi: 10.15184/aqy.2014.29

Proto-Indo-European Etyma.  University of Texas at Austin

"A Taste for Green..." (Rodriguez-Rellan et al, 2020

* Let's not be retarded.  Beakers certainly were able to communicate with each other in a commonly understood language even if the language of their household or communities varied significantly.