VI.2. The Transformation of Europe

The so-called “Transformation of Europe” should probably be described as continuing the expansion of the ‘steppe package’ into western Europe, with expanding European cultures (such as northern European Globular Amphora or Corded Ware cultures, Balkan cultures like Makó/Kosihý–Čaka /Somogyvár) which share common traits (Heyd 2011):

·         An essential individualisation in burial ritual, up to individual graves: in wide parts from north-west and west Europe this is associated with the megalithic world, andstill in collective gravesthe appearance of individualising marks and personal possessions.

·         Mound building as personal memorial over individual graves.

·         Gender separation, not only in specific rituals, but also in gender-specific offerings.

·         Monumental anthropomorphic stone stelae, appearing first during the Middle Eneolithic in Lower Mikhailovka I, but later widespread in a transect from east to west Europe, from the Kemi-Oba group (succeeding Lower Mikhailovka around Crimea) to Iberia, and being especially relevant in northern Italy and southern France.

·         Internationalisation of certain goods, visible e.g. in the Grand Pressigny daggers.

·         Symbolic prestige and status objects, also represented in stelae, like copper Remedello daggers and double spirals.

·         Assignment of value to flint items according to the raw material they are made of (viz. valorisation of axes made of banded flint in GAC, flints for production of axes in CWC, spread of blade daggers of Grand Pressigny flint in western Europe, etc.).

·         Differences in technological advances in the Final Eneolithic become smaller between regions and within them (compared with the production of sophisticated tools by specialised craftsmen in earlier phases).

Reasons for this transformationas evidenced by the steppe origin of these cultural traitslie in the reaction of central and western Europe to the expanding economic innovations from the south-east (during the second half of the 4th millennium), associated with the further expansion of the “Secondary Products Revolution”, which involves the introduction of the wheel and wagon, plough, sheep wool, and probably also alcoholic beverages, first for the elites, then also to the whole agrarian population. Another reason could have been the influence of Aegean EBA cultures and their intensifying networks of communication, exchange, and even commerce (Heyd 2011).

However, the most important reason for this successful widespread adoption over almost all Europe (especially regarding late influences) must have been the irruption of thousands of Yamna migrants after 3100/3000 BC into the Carpathian Basin, which triggered a ‘domino effect’ in northern and central Europe, expanding further with CWC, GAC, Baden, and other central and west European cultures in contact with the new immigrants. For example, flint daggers – replacing copper daggers in the mid–4th millennium – reached the whole Balkans, the Aegean and Anatolia in the first quarter of the 3rd millennium (Heyd 2011).

VI.2.1. Tumuli

Western Yamna tumuli were not the first to be erected in their settlement areas (see §V.4. Steppe package), but they represent the first real wave of standardised tumulus construction. In neighbouring cultures, sometimes from distant regions, round personalised tumuli emerge. Five areas can be listed around the actual Yamna distribution (Heyd 2011):

·         East Banat and west/south-west Transylvania. Tumuli are small and low, stones are used in their construction, and culturally they belong to late Coţofeni and successive cultures such as Lizevile in the west, Șoimuș in the south-west. In other parts of Transylvania, tumuli are constructed as well.

·         East-Slovakian burial mounds are ca. 350 tumuli found in the Carpathians of east Slovakia, showing an amalgam of an inner Carpathian culture and Corded Ware tradition originating from the north of the Carpathians, which dates them rather to the mid–3rd millennium, although some poorly equipped ones may be earlier.

·         Dalmatia and the east Adriatic coast: a large tumulus province extending all along the Dalmatian coast into its hinterland, reaching into Bosnia and probably Albania, as well as North Italy and Apulia. These are part of the Adriatic province of the Vučedol culture.

·         Transdanubia, south-west Slovakia, and the Austrian Burgenland show some coherent cluster of tumuli with other Yamna links, such as a copper dagger, and a hair spiral. Neighbouring the Little Hungarian Plain, culturally it belongs to Makó/Kosihý–Čaka, Vučedol, and early Somogyvár.

·         The largest continuous tumulus zone, as in the case of the cord decoration, is the distribution area of the Corded Ware and Single Grave cultures of central and north-central Europe. These are small tumuli, probably receiving the idea through Austria and Moravia, through the northern Carpathians into Poland (the origin of the A-horizon, see §VI.3.3. East-Central Europe and Globular Amphora), or more likely south-east Poland through contacts with the rivers San, Prut and Dniester, and the Yamna there.

VI.2.2. Anthropomorphic stelae

Large anthropomorphic stone stelae seem to have first appeared in the Mikhailovka I culture in the second half of the 4th millennium. Mikhailovka I areas were replaced by the Usatovo culture (related to Trypillia), but its culture continued in the Kemi-Oba culture of Crimea. Carved stone stelae appear to have expanded in frequency and elaboration in both territories, and in part of the north Pontic steppes, after about 3300 BC (Anthony 2007).

Strikingly similar stone stelae appeared later in the Caucasus, Troy, and also in central and western Europe, and with special frequency in the Swiss Alps and in the Provence, with examples also in the Iberian Peninsula and northern Germany. A maritime route for some of these cultural expansions has been proposed, which would justify e.g. its early presence in Troy (Anthony 2007).

VI.2.3. Associated cultures

Mainly associated with funerary customs in the Yamna horizon, the use of other carved anthropomorphic stones seems to herald the influence of the Yamna culture in Europe. The first wave of the warrior ideology starts around the mid–4th millennium, probably coinciding with the expansion of late Repin / east Yamna settlers.

Rich single graves, daggers, flint and copper halberds, or anthropomorphic stelae are part of the new Mediterranean trends. Thus, pre-Beaker Italy shows the Gaudo culture (ca 3300 BC), the Remedello and Spilamberto culture (ca. 3400/3300 BC), and the potentially slightly earlier Rinaldone culture. Statues-menhirs appear in southern France, and Italian influence is felt in the Alps and south-eastern France in the late 4th millennium, and later in cultures of macro-villages appear in southern Iberia (Jeunesse 2015).

The building of tumuli, the enhancement of gender distinctions, and the internationalisation of special objects made of rare materials as status indicators are seen slightly later.  This influence was seen in the Corded Ware/Single Grave culture in central and eastern Europe in the east, Vučedol in the western Balkans, Makó/Kosihý–Čaka/Somogyvár in the Carpathian Basin and even the early Bell Beaker culture in south-western Europe around 2700/2600 BC (Harrison and Heyd 2007). Stone stelae and figurines might have also been used quite differently, or for different purposes, in certain local cultures (Robb 2009; Díaz-Guardamino 2014).

Radiocarbon dates from the north Pontic steppe show the late presence of steppe material cultures in the Carpathian EBA (ca. 2500 BC), in the Makó/Kosihý–Čaka/Somogyvár–Vinkovci, late Vučedol, and others like Schneckenberg-Glina III, Csepel, or Early Nagyrév. These cultures have been argued to form a cultural unity, and it is proposed that such influence may have come from Yamna settlers on the left bank of the Tisza River (Rassamakin and Nikolova 2008).

The appearance of the Classical Corded Ware culture from the Rhine to the Danube ca. 3000–2750 BC, apart from all these reasons, was facilitated by the previous expansion of the similar Globular Amphora culture, which must have worked as a catalyser, not only because of its similar regional expansion, but also because of its structural similarities with later Bronze Age stages. Globular Amphora was itself rooted in the previous TRB tradition, in the same region (Heyd 2011).

Another common Late Copper Age trait were the sets of weaponry that became associated with individual graves: the battle axe and flint dagger for the Corded Ware; copper shaft–hole axes for Makó, Vučedol, and related groups; and the bow and arrow and copper dagger for the users of Bell Beakers. This weaponry and its symbolism define the idealised image of the Late Copper Age warrior (Heyd 2011).

Signs of this transformation in south-west Europe, from Iberia through Atlantic façade to the Rhine delta, include scattered perforated battle axes of various styles in northern Iberia (3000–2500 BC), and daggers of flint and copper in collective tombs of central Portugal, the Algarve, and Andalusia (3000–2700 BC). The demographic or economic pressure of Yamna migrants must have been responsible for the events in southern and west-central Iberia that led to the creation of macro-villages, i.e. the migration from villages and hamlets into enormous settlements, with their satellites, outlying forts, and cemeteries of megalithic collective tombs (Heyd 2011).

In the end, supra-regional cultures superseding smaller, regional-based cultures of the earlier Copper Age represented a cultural phenomenon that united wide regions of Europe. Influenced by these European trends was born the Proto-Beaker package in west Iberia, expanding quickly into Central Europe, probably triggering cultural adoption, and accompanied only by minor population movements, if at all (Heyd 2011).

vi.2. Late European farmers

Three individuals from the Remedello culture, probably all of haplogroup I2a1a1a1-Y3992+ (formed ca. 9400 BC, TMRCA ca. 6700 BC), and from Ötzi the Iceman, of haplogroup G2a2a1a2a1a-L166 (ca. 3500–3100 BC), all of northern Italy, show a high affinity with Chalcolithic samples from central Anatolia at Kumtepe. This affinity is higher between them than with earlier Anatolian Neolithic populations, which is against the interpretation of Remedello’s ancestry representing a relict population stemming from Neolithic farmers (Hofmanova et al. 2016).

Because of their shared drift with CHG ancestry independent of steppe expansions, and because Kumtepe predates the northern Italian group by some 1,000 years, it has been proposed that they represent a more recent, yet undescribed, gene flow process from Anatolia into Europe. This Anatolian region shows a continued ‘eastern’ migration found in Anatolian Chalcolithic samples (Kilinc et al. 2016; Lazaridis et al. 2017).

Three Baden samples (ca. 3600–2850 BC) show no contribution of Steppe ancestry (Lipson et al. 2017), with one hg. G2a2b2a1a1c1a-Z1903 (formed ca. 6000 BC, TMRCA ca. 2400 BC), whichtogether with the genetic picture of Globular Amphora (see §vi.3. Disintegrating Uralians)supports the cultural rather than demic diffusion of concepts related to the Yamna culture during the “Transformation of Europe”.

Later cultures emerging in the Balkans near Yamna show contributions from the steppe, though: two of three samples of the Vučedol culture (ca. 2800–2700 BC) show Steppe-related ancestry over a mainly Balkan Chalcolithic population, with one sample from the Vučedol Tell of G2a2a1a2a-Z6488 lineage, and another from Beli Manastir–Popova Zemlja, Croatia (margins of the Vučedol area) of R1b1a2a2-Z2103 subclade (Mathieson et al. 2018). This supports the interpretation of (at least some) Balkan LCA cultures as a mixture of local and steppe populations.