Friday, May 11, 2012

Ten bucks says I'll get more clicks on this Neolithic post than any other

Modern Descendants of the Uralic Language groups mentioned
at the bottom. This is a blatant attempt at a bait-and-switch
marketing scheme.

For the ten-thirteen podcast listeners eagerly awaiting the next installment of the The History of Europe podcast allow me to ensure you that the Neolithic part one podcast will be coming soon. I had planned on recording it today and sending it out, but there is a party beneath my apartment and I can't get good quality sound at the moment. I'll try again tomorrow, but plan on getting both parts of the Neolithic podcast within the week. As I am unable to release a podcast today, I plan on unleashing a slew of prehistoric cultures that didn't make the cut onto the blog. Here is one such unleashed item (actually its two rolled into one)

The Pitted-Ware Culture and the Comb Ceramic Culture were precursors to the Chalcolithic Corded Ware Culture. This culture will get a whole lotta love on the Chalcolithic podcast, which may or may not be a multi-part podcast. But, for now we'll focus on the Neolithic Pitted-Ware and Comb Ceramic cultures that preceded it.

Pitted-Ware Sculpture example
The Pitted-Ware Culture lasted from roughly 3200 BC - 2300 BC in areas of Northeast Denmark, Southern Norway, Sweden and on the Åland Islands, a Swedish archipelago under the rule of the Finnish government. The culture is named "Pitted-Ware" because the pottery that they created had horizontal rows of pits or circles pressed into the pottery. Other than that this widespread Scandinavian Neolithic culture was tied together by their use of nets and propensity for hunting marine animals like seals, whales and porpoises. They used basically the same structure of tools, though their composition varied on what materials were readily available. 

The Comb Ceramic Culture was a bit more far-flung than the Pitted-Ware Culture. It stretched across the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden, Norway and the islands of around these countries down into the Baltic Region of Poland and other Baltic states. The Narva Culture of Estonia was under the umbrella of this overarching culture status. We talked about the Narva in the Neolithic podcasts. It was a bit older than the Pitted-Ware culture and lasted a bit longer, ranging from around 4200 BC - 2000 BC before being taken over by the Corded Ware culture we'll spend some time on in the Chalcolithic podcast. 
This silly looking bike rack is located in Poland as a cultural
nod to the Comb-Ceramic Culture that existed there around
4000 BC. While this modern shaped comb probably wasn't
the exact prototype to the Comb Ceramic Culture, it was a
comb similar to this (on a smaller scale) that was used to
create the distinctive markings on this culture's pottery.

Like the Pitted-Ware Culture, the Comb Ceramic Culture was a hunter-gather group that made pottery. Its distinctive trait was lines made by what appear to be combs rather than the horizontal pits in the Pitted-Ware Culture. Other than that these two cultures were similar in their economical makeup. When the Comb Ceramic Culture was located near the sea they were maritime. When they were further inland they hunted. But, like the Pitted-Ware Culture they were nomadic and chased down their meals. They traveled around and built semi-nomadic settlements and stayed in oversized teepees. They made stone tools out of the locally abundant slate and quartz. When there was spare time they liked to paint in caves and make figurines. These figurines were similar to the Pitted-Ware culture in construction techniques but often depicted land animals like moose and deer, whereas the Pitted-Ware Culture depicted maritime animals like seals and porpoises in their statuary art.

These two scandinavian cultures get little to no play in the coming Neolithic podcasts, but shouldn't be written off in importance. They served as the basis for the far reaching and influential Corded Ware culture of the Chalcolithic. For this reason they are getting some love here on the blog.

Both the Pitted-Ware and Comb Ceramic culture likely spoke an early version of Uralic languages. Uralic languages have an incredibly large breadth of territory where their modern offshoots are spoken, including parts of Finland and Estonia (Finnic branch), Hungary (Hungarian branch) and places in Norway, Sweden and Finland that speak a local Sami language (Sami branch). There are a number of branches of the Uralic languages in Russia as well, including the Khanty, Mansi, Mari, Mordvinic and Samoyedic languages. In conclusion, the Pitted-Ware and Comb Ceramic Cultures have achieved boss status long after being taken into the wider Corded Ware Culture. But, not everyone has realized this boss status until now..

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