Contacts between Bell Beaker and Corded Ware


Settlement areas of both cultures, the Bell Beaker and the Corded Ware culture, especially in the common territories of Central Europe, seemed to remain separated. There are data suggesting rejection and aversion, but also some form of social discourse between the groups. With the interaction of both groups, Corded Ware burials adapted to Bell Beaker customs, and a decline in Corded Ware remains is found in shared areas.

The pattern observed is of spatial separation followed by partial integration (dissolution of the spatial-cultural divide), suggesting a land capture by the expanding Bell Beaker culture, and also an ethnic dimension based on cultural expressions and physical anthropology[Heyd 2014]. This separation is later observed clearly in the heirs of both cultures: the Danubian Early Bronze Age of Southern German groups, with a Bell Beaker foundation; the Únětice Early Bronze Age, on a Carpathian foundation; and the Mierzanowice/Nitra Early Bronze Age, with origins in the Corded Ware culture[Bertemes and Heyd 2002]. Each of them shows a different ideological resolution to these interactions in the Late Copper Age, and the creation of new social identities.

Therefore, while the regional substrate for many eastern and northern Bell Beaker groups is in many cases formed by late Corded Ware culture groups – with some pottery types persisting in later times, and with individual burials being also used by later settlers –, in western and southern Bell Beaker territory previous regional substrates do not herald the Bell Beaker groups, with newer settlements using locations different to Late Neolithic sites, and collective graves being reused or substituted by individual graves[Besse 2014].


  • [Bertemes and Heyd 2002] ^ Bertemes, F., and V. Heyd. 2002. Der Übergang Kupferzeit/Frühbronzezeit am Nordwestrand des Karpatenbeckens – kulturgeschichtliche und paläometallurgische Betrachtungen. Edited by Bartelheim.
  • [Besse 2014] ^ Besse, Marie. 2014. Common Ware during the third Millenium BC in Europe. In Similar but Different: Bell Beakers in Europe, edited by J. Czebreszuk. Leiden: Sidestone Press.
  • [Heyd 2014] ^ Heyd, Volker. 2014. Families, Prestige Goods, Warriors & Complex Societies: Beaker Groups of the 3rd Millennium cal BC Along the Upper & Middle Danube. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 73:327-379.