V.5. Northern Europe

V.5.1. Funnel Beaker culture

The Funnel Beaker, Funnelbeaker or Trichterbecher (TRB) culture (ca. 4000–2800 BC) was spread through the North European Plains, to the north of the groups that formed the late LBK groups. Its characteristic pottery includes funnel-necked beakers, two-handled or four-handled amphorae, flasks, bowls, and flat clay disks, with limited ornamentation consisting of a series of stabs below the rim. Later, decoration of the vessel body with vertical incisions is common. Flint tools include (pointed or thin, butt-end, flat-trimmed) daggers, axes, round scrapers, transverse arrowheads, and knives. Flat hammer axes and club heads are made of ground stone, and amber heads and pendants are used as ornaments (Midgley 2004).

During the early period (ca. 4000–3500 BC), only small plots are cultivated, with cereal appearing late. Livestockcattle, pig, and few sheep–goatare more important than agriculture. Settlements with earthen long barrows are small and mobile, in the vicinity of lakes and streams or on the coast. Extensive swidden agriculture and ploughing appear ca. 3600 BC and replace wild resources in the diet. In this period (ca. 3600–3200 BC), a three-tier settlement pattern expands, organised around regional causewayed enclosured centres, surrounded by small communities (each with a settlement), a cluster of megalithic tombs, and bog deposits. During the final period (ca. 3200–2800 BC), habitation becomes concentrated in still larger settlements (Midgley 2004).

Initially, the burial rite consisted of non-monumental burials, including flat graves, a simple inhumation in the extended supine position, without a mound, which probably continued the Ertebølle tradition and expanded it through the Northern European Plains. The introduction of the new settlement pattern (ca. 3600 BC) coincides with the period of intense construction of megalithic tombs, which included only selected boneswith bodies skeletonised elsewhere—and elaborate sacrifices in the bogs. This period also coincides with the appearance of enclosures and changes in the landscape compatible with the deliberate creation of open areas, for both cereal cultivation and grazing (Midgley 2004).

Ditch systems, the so-called causewayed enclosures, are among the most impressive monumental constructions of Neolithic Europe. They comprise a succession of elongated single pits, possibly dug collectively by individual small groups, such as families. In the TRB North, causewayed enclosures are always accompanied by megalithic tombs, and their function may vary, possibly including a defensive role. Approximately every second generation, a burying and renewed digging phase is carried out, whichbased on the settlement patterns and small size of farmyardssuggests that inhabitants from different farmyards convened at intervals in order to cooperate at particular celebrations (Müller 2014).

These structures appear scattered all over Europe, developing first in the Paris Basin connected with late Chaséen and the early Michelsberg cultures, which did not initially have grave fields as south-eastern Europe nor megalithic tombs as western Europe. The central German region (Baalberg) began their construction ca. 3800 BC at the latest, and they appear after a temporal and spatial gapexcluding west, south-east, and east TRB groupsin the TRB North group ca. 3600 BC (Müller 2014).

Megalithic tombs appear ca. 3650 BC and spread through the TRB area. They consist of the collection of matching boulders to form a corridor covered with a capstone and, in contrast to earlier stone cists, to leave an open access and thus form a chamber that may be re-entered recurrently. The construction needs a supportive mound, which may also serve as a ramp during the building process. A variable number of objects may be deposited in or in front of the grave chamber (Müller 2014).

V.5.2. LublinVolhynia

The late phase of the Malice culture showed intense contacts during the second part of the 5th millennium BC with Trypillia: on a moderate scale, Trypillian men seem to have sought their wives in the area of the Malice culture, and women moved to the Trypillian settlements. These women were probably responsible for the unidirectional transfer of material culture, i.e. the numerous imitations of the Malice ceramics, and the long-lasting (selective) traditions of Malice pottery passed down in their new environment (Kadrow 2016).

The Lublin–Volhynia Painted Ceramic Ware culture, which lasted a good part of the 4th millennium BC, is closely related to the Wyciąże–Złotniki group (starting ca. 4200/4100 BC), with which it coexisted until the mid–4th millennium BC, both in turn coexisting between the late 38th and early 35th centuries BC with early Funnel Beaker and early Baden influences. The later Wyciąże/Niedźwiedź materials, beginning in the mid–4th millennium BC, coexisted partially with the Lublin–Volhynian culture, and with the Funnelbeaker culture until ca. 3100 BC (Novak 2017).

These east-central European groups show some key elements in common (Wilk 2018):

·         Concentration of graves in separate cemeteries;

·         differentiation of burials with regard to sex (the principle of the ‘left ̶ right’ side, different burial goods for males and females);

·         stratification of graves with regard to the richness of their inventories (this mainly applied to copper artefacts);

·         occurrence of indicators of the richest male burials (a copper dagger in Wyciąże, a copper battle axe, a small axe and a chisel in Książnice);

·         allocation of a separate area for elite burials (the eastern burial area in Książnice, and the south-eastern and north-central part of the necropolis in Wyciąże), as well as one for egalitarian burials (the western area in Książnice, and the south-central and western part of the cemetery in Wyciąże).

These patterns of social and religious behaviours, partly due to the expansion of the steppe package, stemed probably from areas lying to the south, beyond the Carpathian Mountains. Similarities with the late Polgár groups and areas of the Tisza river include especially the different treatment of the deceased depending on their sex, age, and social rank. In the Lublin–Volhynia culture, there is an opposition male–female observed particularly in the consistent positioning of males on the right, and females on the left side, a ritual norm that divided the deceased from early childhood (Zakościelna 2010).

Nevertheless, differences in the size of cemeteries and orientation of burials, as well as in the details of the burial goods (smaller frequency of copper artefacts, particularly in prestigious, heavy items like battle axes, axes, and daggers) and local pottery used support that these influences were not caused by migrations from the south, but were rather due to processes of selective cultural transmission (Nowak 2014).

During the 4th millennium BC, the Danube (youngest Malice culture and classic Lublin–Volhynia culture) and Trypillian settlement complexes came into contact on the upper Dniester, and in the Styr and the Horyn rivers in Volhynia. This contact helped continue the previous forms of marital exchange, resulting in the further popularisation of the Danube culture in Trypillian settlements. It seems that the demand from Lublin–Volhynian groups favoured the expansion of flint working technology (such as trough-like retouch, or long flint blades) from Trypillian sources (Kadrow 2016).

These interactions continued in the mid–4th millennium, until the Funnel Beaker culture quickly drove out and replaced the Danube population in western Volhynia and the upper Dniester basin during its pre-classic and early classic phase. During this stage, even as an agrarian community, it has been described as closer to the sub-Neolithic groups than its predecessor, the LBK culture, with an observed archaeological “confusion” concerning wider areas beyond the Polish Lowlands. This is exemplified by the emergence of the Zedmar culture (Zedmar-type materials), the impact of Comb Ware culture or other cultural impacts on the Narva culture, changes in the Neman culture (or Pripyat–Neman culture and rise of the Neman culture), and in Poland the Linin-type materials (Adamczak, Kukawka, and Małecka-Kukawka 2016-2017).

During its classic phase, in the second half of the 4th millennium BC, Funnel Beaker migrants settled more intensively the upper Dniester basin up to the Hnyla Lypa river, and western Volhynia up to the Styr river, coexisting and interacting with Trypillian settlements for many generations (Kadrow 2016).

V.5.3. Forest Zone

After the deglaciation of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet, the Great Lake of Central Finland formed around 6500 BC, dominating the whole region at the time of the Holocene climatic optimum. Its waters dispersed into two basins: one of them formed Lake Saimaa, which continued to tilt in the southeast direction. Around 3845–2795 BC, Lake Saimaa eventually burst through its southern boundary, burrowing a 23–km-long valley and flooding towards Lake Ladoga along the River Vuoksi, the new outlet of Lake Saimaa. The Vuoksi breakthrough is considered a natural disaster on a massive scale (Oinonen et al. 2014).

Drastic changes to the shoreline occurred, with dried shallow lakes and rivers, lakes isolated from the main body of water, and thousands of square kilometres of emerged new land, creating a patchy habitat soon populated by pioneer flora (e.g. Picea abies, and spruce and Scots pine replacing mixed conifer-deciduous forests) and fauna adapted to the gradually cooling climate that increased the local biodiversity over the following 100–400 years. Lake Ladoga rose 1–2 m, altering the shoreline ecosystem and burying several settlements (Oinonen et al. 2014).

These environmental changes were coupled with cultural transitions of hunter-gatherer populations that lived in the area. The introduction of a completely new archaeological assemblage, the Typical Comb Ware culture (ca. 3800-3450 BC) heralds the appearance of Neolithic traits in the forest zone. It was a relatively uniform culture that covered a vast area ranging from the Urals to the Baltic Sea, and from Northern Ukraine to the Arctic Ocean, although in southern Finland and Karelia variants of the older types remained still in use. The rapid spread of the Typical Comb Ware culture was almost contemporaneous with the disappearance with the Early Asbestos Ware culture, and has been considered the most influential and innovative culture of eastern Fennoscandian prehistory, introducing pit houses with rectangular timber-frames, red-ochre graves, and exotic materials such as amber, flint and copper, rare in earlier periods. It coincided with the population maximum of Neolithic Fennoscandia, and with the increased salinity of the Baltic Sea and Holocene climatic optimum, which is linked to high productivity of terrestrial, lacustrine and marine ecosystems (Nordqvist and Mökkönen 2016).  

The moose population explosion in southern Finland was due to the creation of huge areas rich in grazing lands for large ruminants, and came to an end one or two centuries after the Vuoksi breakthrough, when wetlands developed into old forests and spruce-dominated forests. The Typical Comb Ware culture, predominantly of maritime hunter-gatherers concentrated on seal hunting and fishing in the coastal areas, adapted to the new resources. Change in subsistence strategies include the increase of moose remains from ca. 3% in the Early Asbestos to ca. 24% in the Typical Comb Ware period (especially significant in the Lake Saimaa region), falling back to ca. 5% in later periods. All this led to a population maximum in the region that lasted for approximately two centuries (ca. 3800–3600 BC), declining after 3600 BC with the change from open grassland into old forests (Nordqvist and Mökkönen 2016). 

The disintegration of the Comb Ware phase began ca. 3500 BC, coinciding with the influence of the Volga–Kama region and the birth of several variants of Asbestos- and Organic-tempered Wares, although no break has been observed in cultural development (Nordqvist et al. 2012). These groups also maintained vast and varying intra- and interregional contact networks. During this period of 3500–3000 BC a shift to drier and cooler conditions is found in the steppes, with steppes expanding, and therefore also Yamna pastoralists and their cattle following them. The emergence of the poor Volosovo and Garino-Vor metallurgy in the 4th millennium BC (see§VIII.15.1. Balanovo) has been attributed to external influences from Yamna.

Between 3500–2000 BC an interruption in cultural continuity is found in the forest zone, coinciding with a major change in the environment, with selective felling and subsequent regeneration of forests in the Pit–Comb Ware area (Mazurkevich et al. 2009; Poska and Saarse 2002). This could have been caused by the complex movement of peoples in this period, as reflected by the interaction or “checkerboard of regional cultures covering the rolling hills and valleys of the forest steppe zone” (Anthony 2007), and a complex set of cultures is found in the east European forest zone, different from central European cultures (Czebreszuk and Szmyt 2004).

v.5. Northern Europeans

TRB samples from central Europe include: from the old Baalberge group, one individual from Esperstedt (ca. 3850 BC), of hg. I2-M438, and two from Quedlinburg (ca. 3650–3500 BC), one of hg. R1b1b-V88; one from the later Bernburg culture (ca. 3200 BC) in Esperstedt, of hg. I2a1a2a1a1-Y3749; and one from a west TRB group in Sorsum (ca. 3200 BC). All of them show a typical ancestry composed of NWAN ancestry plus contributions of WHG ancestry, forming a close cluster with other Early Neolithic farmers from Europe (Haak et al. 2015), as well as with contemporary Iberian Middle Neolithic and Hungary Chalcolithic samples, although with lesser WHG contribution than the samples of the Michelsberg culture (ca. 4600–3000 BC) from Blätterhöhle (Gamba et al. 2014; Krause-Kyora et al. 2018).

An Early Neolithic TRB sample from Kvärlöv in the Skåne region also shows similar ancestry, with hunter-gatherer contribution either from WHG or Baltic hunter-gatherers, rather than SHG (Mittnik, Wang, et al. 2018). On the other hand, a female from Syltholm in Denmark (ca. 3700 BC), before the transition to the Neolithic, shows entirely WHG ancestry, without any significant trace of EHG or NWAN ancestry, suggesting that EHG did not reach southern Denmark in Prehistory, and that NWAN ancestry had not still reached this region (Jensen et al. 2018).

TRB communities responsible for the spread of agriculture to Poland have been proposed to be formed by indigenous northern European Mesolithic peoples who adopted farming locally rather than by incoming exogenous Danubian farmers from central Europe. However, post-LBK samples of the Lengyel culture from the Brześć Kujawski group (ca. 4500–4000 BC) and of the TRB culture from Kuyavia (ca. 3500 BC) cluster together with Early/Middle Neolithic European farmers, with one Brześć Kujawski outlier showing an intermediate position with WHG, and another clustering together with WHG. One sample from the Brześć Kujawski group shows hg. G2a2b2a1a1a-U1, and one TRB sample shows hg. C1a2b-Z38888, while mtDNA shows a mixture of farmer and hunter-gatherer lineages (Fernandes et al. 2018).

At the transition to the northern Middle Neolithic (ca. 3300 BC) there was an intensification of agriculture in Denmark and in western and central Sweden, accompanied by the erection of megaliths, with Middle Neolithic (MN) TRB samples from western Sweden being directly derived from Early Neolithic TRB. In eastern central Sweden, settlements became concentrated along the coast, shifting towards marine resources. This early Pitted Ware culture (PWC), contemporaneous with MN TRB, shows an admixture and position in the PCA intermediate between SHG and MN TRB. Both MN TRB and PWC groups show continuity with hg. I2-M438 lineages (Skoglund et al. 2012; Raghavan et al. 2014; Skoglund et al. 2014; Mittnik, Wang, et al. 2018).

In the eastern Baltic, samples from the Mesolithic Kunda and Early Neolithic Narva cultures in Latvia and Estonia had an ancestry intermediate between WHG (ca. 70%) and EHG (ca. 30%) show a dramatic shift with the introduction of the Middle Neolithic Comb Pit Ware culture, with more EHG-related ancestry: from 65–99% EHG (and 1–32% WHG), with two individuals showing 100% EHG (Mathieson et al. 2018; Mittnik, Wang, et al. 2018). This suggests that a westward migration of peoples accompanied cultural changes in the region.

Individuals from the Forest Zone were not found to have received genetic influx from Anatolian-farmer-related genes during the Mesolithic or Neolithic, and therefore an inner cultural diffusion of pottery, farming and metallurgy is assumed for the population of the Baltic and Dnieper Rapids (Jones et al. 2017). The presence of a R1b1-L754 (xR1b1a2-M269) lineage in a Middle Neolithic sample from the Baltic may support both the continuity of (a part of) male lineages in the region, and the arrival of these lineages (probably R1b1a1-P297) from the west.