Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Corded Ware Language, Culture (Kristiansen et al, 2017)

No lengthy overture.  The papers are here.  See also the summary on Kossinna's Smile.

Many of the bold assertions made in "Re-theorising mobility and the formation of culture and language among the Corded Ware Culture in Europe" are going to be broadly close to truth.  But it will be controversial due to the 'matter of fact' spirit of the piece and the name recognition of the authors.  Academically, it is tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet.

In a way, the hysteria generated in archaeological and linguistic circles as a result of this paper and the two 2015 papers will be good for the genetics community.  Controversy will spawn rebuttals built on additional evidences, which will eventually illuminate more dark areas of history.


1.  The Kristiansen authors refer to the so-far tested Yamnaya as a "best known proxy" for incoming populations into Europe.  Given genetic, economic and cultural similarities between these cultures, they believe a donor ancestor of CWC lived somewhere close to the regions tested thus far.

2.  Crisis in the European Neolithic?  New diseases?  Was Europe weakened in such a way that it became a magnet for immigration?

3.  A cultural and economic framework of Yamnaya is given which explains the unique similarities it has with the highly mobile Corded Ware.

4. Corded Ware males married outsider​ women; abduction is singled out as a contributing factor to male based exogamy.  (I'm guessing abduction becomes more common when doweries or bride price become excessive as is often the case in primative societies.  I'm not sure the economics of abduction make it a good fit for the observed exogamy.)

Nordic Bronze Age

5.  They suggest that pre-proto-Germanic developed out of a late Funnelbeaker presence in Western Jutland and the Danish Islands. (No idea whatsoever)


  1. The linguistic assertions are so deeply off base that it is hard to take the paper seriously, particularly when it isn't bringing anything new to the table that couldn't have been more appropriately aired in a longish blog post.

    1. I'm just guessing on what that forthcoming paper would look like. I guess they'll make a case that German has a mixed substrate , possibly TRB language was mixed.
      That's what the graphic seems to suggest

    2. I think that the substrate argument is one made by another pair of authors who are cited in this article. The substrate paper by somebody else may be worthwhile, but this preview is doing the substrate argument no favors with its rather obviously overstated claim about proto-Germanic or even pre-proto-Germanic that is not just wrong in time frame, but is wrong in geography and wrong in the ethnic identity of the people involved and wrong about the likelihood of a significant differentiation from PIE even existing at that point in time. The fact that there are multiple problems with the graphic in terms of timing and geography is likewise problematic.

    3. Maybe a bit overstated which is why you may see some papers pushing back. I'm curious though why CWC is singled out though. It was not the last pan-European culture in these areas I don't believe.

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  3. Thank you! Very interesting.