May 10, 2006

Anthropological types of Corded Ware and Yamna cultures

Some useful descriptions from the paper (pp. 351-353):
The Corded Ware culture includes about twenty variants (Sveshnikov 1974) and occupies predominantly Central Europe, Scandinavia, Sub-Carpathia and also the Upper Volga (Fig. 1). It was formed in Central Europe, in an area of special concentration of qute distinct cultures of different origins, including those from Mediterranean and North-Baltic regions of Europe. Bearers of the southern LBK (Roessen, Tisza, Lengyel, etc) were engaged in cattle-breeding, had developed ceramic production, and were familiar with plastic arts. They buried their dead in the flexed position on the right or left side. Generally it was a comparatively gracile short people of the Mediterranean (South Europoid) anthropological type.

Peoples of the Baltic circle of cultures (Ertebo/lle) were hunters and fishermen, and produced only one or two pottery forms. This was a rather tall, broad-faced population of the North Europoid type, who buried their dead in the extended position on the back.

Certain cultures of syncretic appearance involving Northern and Southern features were formed in Central Europe and the Baltic during the 4th-3rd millennium BC, e.g. Comb Ware, TRB, and Globular Amphora cultures. During the Early Bronze Age these cultures were displaced by the Corded Ware (Battle Axe) culture characterized by flexed inhumation on the back or side under a barrow. Specifically, this culture embraces both bottle-like vessels and bowls with funnel-like neck of the Northern circle of cultures, and also vessels of the Danubian type. In an anthropological sense this population combines traits of southern gracile and northern massive types, in particular bearers of TRB culture (Schwidetzky 1978).


The Yamna culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe is recorded for an enormous territory between the North-Western Pontic area and Trans-Uralia. Its sites are known here in the basin of the Emba and Tobol rivers, the Karaganda region and further eastward (Merpert 1974). The Yamna population generally belongs to the European race. It was tall (175.5cm), dolichocephalic, with broad faces of medium height. Among them there were, however, more robust elements with high and wide faces of the proto-Europoid type, and also more gracile individuals with narrow and high faces, probably reflecting contacts with the East Mediterranean type (Kurts 1984: 90).

See also a previous related post on the Anthropology of Sredny Stog and Novodanylovka.

Journal of Indo-European Studies Vol. 33: 3-4, p. 339

The Yamna Culture and the Indo-European Homeland Problem

D. Ya. Telegin

Excavations between the rivers Orel' and Samara have uncovered burials of a syncretic nature that attest contacts between the spheres of the Corded Ware and Yamna cultures. It is suggested that these may indicate early contacts between proto-Indo-Iranians and the prehistoric ancestors of the Balts and Slavs.

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