Stefan Schreiber had studying Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology, Medieval History and Medieval German Literature and Language at Humboldt University Berlin. In 2010 he wrote his M.A. thesis on the subject of “’Kulturelle Aneignungen’ als Strategien des Umgangs mit Dingen. Archäologische Betrachtungen zu einem kulturanthropologischen Modell“ (‚Cultural appropriation’ as a strategy of the handling of things. Archaeological reflections on a cultural anthropological model). Currently, he is working on his doctoral thesis on the topic “Wenn Dinge wandern: ‚Römische Funde’ in consumptionscapes, communities of practice und identity spaces im Barbaricum“ (Shifting Things: “Roman“ finds in the Barbaricum in consumptionscapes, communities of practice and identity spaces). His interests are archaeological and anthropological theories, material culture studies, gender theory, culture contact situations and agency theory. Epistemologically, he argues from a constructivist and posthumanist point of view.
The Globular Amphore Culture
The sites of the Globular Amphora culture (GAC) can be found across broad swaths of Central and Eastern Europe. Between 3100 and 2700 BC, its distribution area extended from the Elbe-Weser-region in the west to the Dniepr in the east. Natural expansion barriers include the Baltic Sea in the north and, roughly speaking, the German and Czech lower mountain ranges in the south, as well as the arc of the Carpathian Mountains. An internal differentiation into three subgroups has been established through previous research into this extensive archaeological complex. For the Western GAC, which covers the areas west of the Elbe River, the last comprehensive study was carried out in 1938. Since then, only regional studies have been pursued. The number of known sites has increased dramatically since then. Currently there are 900 sites in the project database, which can be used as a foundation for any further modern analyses.
Differentiation in Space and Time
Why does the differentiation in space and time of the GAC constitute one of the main research objectives? Research into this question can provide new evidence for the expansion of the GAC over such a vast territory. After classifying all the different kind of finds, mapping via ArcGIS will reveal regional elements and types. For the chronological differentiation, the correspondence analyses will prove the proper method to investigate the changes in shape and decoration of ceramics.
Cultural and Anthropological Identity
Which observations can offer indications for investigations concerning the cultural and anthropological identity of this late Neolithic population? During the expansion of the GAC within the area being researched, a discernible transition from collective burials towards individual graves took place. This change in tradition offers one opportunity to obtain an insight into the awareness of identity demonstrated by the people concealed behind this archaeological complex. The expenses of grave constructions and the individual configuration of grave furniture seem to indicate a hierarchically structured society.
A further highly interesting aspect is the connection between some human burials and cattle burials or deposits. In particular, regularly observed deposits consisting of two animals in antithetic crouched position, which are widely interpreted as a harnessed bovine team, seem to be characteristic of the time period for the GAC. These findings underline the extraordinary status enjoyed by domestic animals, which is often used to argue that the agricultural practices of the GAC were mainly based on cattle breeding.
Individual interactions with contemporary neighbouring cultural groups reveal the problems caused by the use of the term ‘cultural group’ in connection with the GAC. Perhaps the GAC could be described as a Neolithic parallel society, which gradually integrated into the indigenous cultural environment through sharing of settlements and burial sites with local cultural groups. At the same time, the GAC clearly isolated itself and developed its own separate settlement clusters.
The Working Hypothesis
What were the reasons for the GAC’s integration with other local groups and its widespread expansion? One possibility could be the desire to access local raw materials, such as salt, amber, copper or flint. Or perhaps it was the complementary system of agriculture? The agricultural system in question permitted the opening up of previously unpopulated areas with less fertile soils. With the climatic decline, it offered the local cultural groups the acceptable alternative of subsistence agriculture, which then caused the further expansion of the GAC in those regions.
Manfred Woidich, born in 1979 in Dillingen a. d. Donau, studied Prehistoric Archaeology, Classical Archaeology, Physical Geography and Informatics at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg from 2001 till 2007. There he wrote his master’s thesis on the subject “The Early Bronze-Age Settlement at the Tell of Uivar in Romanian Banat” and received his magister artium in July 2007. As a member of Research Group A-II “Spatial Effects of Technological Innovations and Changing Ways of Life”he is currently working on his doctoral thesis on the topic “The Western Globular Amphora Culture. Investigations into the differentiation in space and time and the cultural and anthropological identity”.