A bit more on Funnelbeaker

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This post is a correction on what I posted earlier.

After further reading, it appears that my information on Funnelbeaker/TRB is subject to debate.  Although Lengyel is still mostly LBK-affine, I was wrong, in the same vein, on it being a Maykop-farmer-like, proto-Indoeuropeanized culture (though Baden culture that replaced it is indeed a PIE-derived culture).

Let me list first what I did state correctly:

  • Funnelbeaker does appear to be a rather different culture from LBK.
  • Funnelbeaker, where evidence exists of farming, does appear to be less sophisticated than LBK’s, with constant moving even when sedentary (due to soil exhaustion).
  • Funnelbeaker did, in effect, destroy LBK: culturally, and at least partly genetically (possibly fully, too; see below).

Now, for where I was incorrect:

  • Funnelbeaker is probably not Samara-derived and, if it is, not directly. It looks like it is a derivation Ertebølle culture, from North Europe.
  • It is unlikely to be a pastoralist culture, as no evidence is yet found of horse-oriented economy.

Now, for the main question: did the almost complete genetic destruction of LBK in the North European Plain happen via Funnelbeaker or via Corded Ware/Yamnaya, after 3000 BC?

The answer is: I don’t really know, but it’s possible that I was correct in my previous post, despite being wrong about pastoralist nature underpinning the story. Albeit the megalith-building Funnelbeaker’s mtDNA appears to have a high LBK component, something like  > 40%, it is plausible that this component is a backflow from Lengyel culture, from the Danubian world, which was LBK-based. (Coincidentally, I stand by what I observed about Lengyel in the last post, regarding its connection to LBK).

Either way, we can say with a lot of certainty that a culture does not suddenly go from more sophisticated to more primitive non-violently. It looks like Funnelbeaker, being hunter-gatherer derived, is a major reversion from LBK lifestyle, that Funnelbeaker is a successful resurgence of hunter-gatherers in the North European Plain.

The resurgent hunter-gatherers are no longer as primitive as the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer Europeans. They, by 4500 BC, have absorbed enough husbandry tech and skill sets to become herders on their own right.

Still the mystery remains: the LBK were superior to the hunter-gatherers in smarts and tech. Obviously, what happened to them means that they were either less capable militarily or, possibly, were simply overwhelmed.

Again, I should reiterate here that a sedentary lifestyle requires great ability to protect settlements, as they are vulnerable to mobile groups using nasty tactics like fire or just purposeful destruction of agrarian plots (say, via trampling).

I still can’t say exactly what happened. Internal cultural decline? Just unlucky?

My best guess right now is that when the hunter-gatherers were mostly hunters, gatherers and fishers, it was relatively easy for LBK farmers to “squeeze in,” founding discrete settlements around rivers, on periglacial loess. The surrounding hunter-gatherers fought with them, but they were not as developed technologically, plus they most likely did not critically need those lands, or, at least, as much as the farmers did. Moreover, the former instead could engage in some form of trade, seeing that these two groups’ lifestyles differed so significantly. Over subsequent centuries of interaction, hunter-gatherers absorbed some technology and cultural ideas from farmers (possibly genes, too) and, most importantly, became herders (non-horse kind), and the situation changed. Now access to flat land and to rivers became critically important to these upgraded hunter-gatherers-cum-herders. Plus, as technologically hunter-gatherers became less primitive, they did not need as much from farmers, item-wise. Hence, whatever trade existed between those two groups became less important in the calculus of expansion. The stage was set for destruction of LBK on the North European Plain.

If I was right in my previous post about almost-complete annihilation of northern LBK, the ultimate irony of Yamnaya horse-driven invasion cannot be missed: one set of ex-hunter-gatherers-cum-herders replacing another.

 

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