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A synopsis of the physical anthropology of the corded ware complex on the background of the expansion of the Kurgan cultures

Menk, Roland
Published in Journal of Indo-European studies. 1980, vol. 8, no. 3-4, p. 361-392
Abstract Morphometrical data of human skeletal material from Eastern and Central Europe, of the period 4000 b.c. to 1800 b.c. (c. 5000-2500 B.C.), are elaborated with the aid of multivariate methods. A synoptical picture is presented describing biological affinities between the cultural groups concerned. The affinities are interpreted on the background of the geographical distances. "Old Europe" cultures are confronted a) to their local and chronological successors, and b) to populations living in, or originating from, Eastern Europe, in order to work out - on the background of current theories on Indo-Europeanization and the expansion of Kurgan cultures - the biological elements potentially implied in the formation of the Corded Ware complex. The question of the phenotypical variability of the latter is investigated with respect to time and space (expansion) ; its biological incidence on the autochthonous populations (substratum) is analyzed. In parallel, the Corded Ware complex is confronted to the Bell Beaker complex, especially as to their morphological and cultural antagonism. The great lines can be summarized as follows. Initially, two biological and geographical blocks were present: in Western Europe, the homogenuous complex of "Old Europe" populations ; in Eastern Europe the Neolithic substratum and the quite different Kurgan groups. The biological effect of the expansion of the Kurgan traditions is evident in the regions adjacent to the North Pontic area, but it is fading out progressively with increasing distance from this center. The Corded Ware complex s.I. is biologically heterogeneous. The local groups of the core area (Central Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland) form a very homogeneous block, issued from the local "Old Europe" substratum and persisting until Aunjetitz at least. This block shows no biological affinities to the Ukrainian Kurgan populations. There is no evidence for physical presence of Kurgan tribes in this area. Indo-Europeanization of Northern Europe could be explained by indirect Kurganization, i.e. by invasion of previously Kurganized neighbor groups.
Keywords Culture des tombes à fosses d'Europe de l'EstExpansion territorialeEuropeAnthropologie physique
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MENK, Roland. A synopsis of the physical anthropology of the corded ware complex on the background of the expansion of the Kurgan cultures. In: Journal of Indo-European studies, 1980, vol. 8, n° 3-4, p. 361-392. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:97271

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