November 14, 2005

Corded Ware people were not mobile pastoralists

A new study disproves the idea that the Corded Ware people had a mobile, pastoral type of subsistence.

Journal of Archaeological Science (Article in press)

Mobility in Central European Late Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age: tibial cross-sectional geometry

Vladimír Sládek et al.


An absence of settlement features during the Central European Corded Ware period (Late Eneolithic, 2900–2300 BC) has been interpreted as a reflection of mobile pastoral subsistence. Recent analyses of the Late Eneolithic archeological context reveal that the Late Eneolithic exhibit evidence of sedentary agricultural activities similar to the Early Bronze Age. Since the archeological analyses are not clear cut, we tested mobility pattern differences between the Late Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age using biomechanical analysis of the tibial midshaft cross-sections. The total sample of the 130 tibiae representing five archaeological cultures was used. The results of the tibial midshaft geometry do not support the hypothesis about different mobility in the Late Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age. This conclusion is supported by nonsignificant differences between the Corded Ware females and the Early Bronze Age females. Higher absolute values for the Corded Ware males should be explained either by stochastic variation or by differing amounts of physical demands despite a generally similar pattern of subsistence of the Late Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age. One of the Early Bronze Age samples, the Wieselburger group, is an exception because the individuals show both reduced overall size and bending resistance of the tibial parameters not only in comparison with the Late Eneolithic but also to the rest of the Early Bronze Age. The results suggest that the behavioral processes which affected the tibial midshaft biology operated during the Late Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age as a mosaic across time and between/within cultures.


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