Farming arrived in Central Europe sometime around 5500 BC, spreading with relative rapidity along the river valleys, forming settlements on the fine,
silty Loess soils that were easy to till, fertile and productive. This distinct branch of the farming package has been dubbed the
or LBK for short, after the designs etched into their pottery.
Certain aspects of this culture, and it’s development, have led it to be supposed that knowledge of farming was passed along the established trade
routes and that farming was first adopted by the Mesolithic peoples
who inhabited the major routes on which trade moved; the rivers Danube, Rhine and Oder and not by migrations from pioneer farmers moving in from the
This view was challenged in 2010 with the publications of the results of a
that compared DNA from Neolithic burials with modern populations. According to the results of Y-chromosomal examination almost all of
the modern European population is descended from the first farmers of the fertile crescent. That, though, was just the genetic material passed from
father to son, the MtDNA study held another story. Here researchers found that the first farmers had had very little impact.
Reporting this study the press
joked that the Mesolithic women must have found
farmers ‘sexy’ insinuating that Mesolithic man had lost out in the sexual selection stakes. Elsewhere, it has been opined that the farmers traded
goods for local women, or that the women were drawn to the ‘easy life’ that farming offered. None of these explanations though seem to adequately
account for the almost eradication of the palaeolithic male line.
The BBC's undeniably sexy artistic impression of Neolithic Man
Excavations, such as that at Lepenski Vir
have revealed that the Mesolithic peoples in this area
had formed all year round settlements some time before the Neolithic farmers arrived and although hunting still provided them with all their meat,
some selective cultivation of wild plant crops was replacing gathering, and it is assumed that some had even begun to store food as a means of
alleviating the problem of intermittent food shortages. The women of these settlements seemed already to have the ‘easy life’, if anything, it
was the men that had the most to gain by adopting animal husbandry, saving them the effort of long treks into the hinterland, and the long trek back
heavily laden with their catch.
These excavations have also revealed that the women folk were held in high regard. They are buried, along with children, within the confines of their
buildings, demonstrating that women were the home, and the reason for being in a settlement. The men on the other hand were buried either at some
distance from the home, or in the gaps between the houses. The picture that this presents, to me, strongly contradicts the notion that these women
were traded as a commodity, they appear to have served a valuable function in social and economic cohesion to the group that could not easily be
replaced by fancy goods.
So perhaps the press are right, perhaps the Neolithic farmers had the edge when it came to sex appeal. Or maybe, there is another explanation, one
that was necessitated by the very reasons above, these women couldn’t be bought and they couldn’t be tempted away with the promise of a home and
hearth of their own, they had to be obtained by other means.
Within Grosse Ofnet
, a cave overlooking prime farming land that stretches to the river
Danube two pits were excavated. In total 33 skulls were uncovered that had been carefully buried with some ceremony. The ‘grave’ contained
beads made from pierced red deer teeth, shells, that had travelled from as far away as the Meditterranean, and red ochre. All had been decapitated
soon after death, and most showed signs of blunt force trauma as the likely cause of death. The skulls belonged to 4 men, 9 women and 20 children who
ranged from infancy to puberty. Due to the under-representation of adult males amongst the group, as well as the careful burial, it has been
theorised that the group was murdered during the hunter’s absence, and buried upon their return.
'Nest' of Skulls at Ofnet Cave
In contrast, at Talheim
, close to the Rhine in Germany, an excavation of a village revealed
a pit containing 34 bodies which had been dumped one on top of the other without either care or ceremony. Similarly, at
, a ditch was excavated that revealed the bodies of
at least 67 individuals. These people had perhaps been left where they fell, never buried, their bones had been chewed by wolves or dogs, and many
were missing the bones of extremities.
The 'Death Pit' at Talheim
The skeletons at Talheim showed no signs of defensive wounds, almost all the victims having been attacked from the rear, their heads caved in with
adzes, some had arrow heads embedded in their backs, many of the men had suffered multiple blows to the head, evidence of over kill, but the most
notable aspect of all three of these sites, is the lack of young women and girls among the dead.
As a number of the sources indicates, these massacres have been interpreted variously, from inter village rivalry to competition for resources, and
yet, taken in conjunction with the genetic studies, isn’t there a more obvious conclusion? That one resource in particular was in such great demand
that it justified murder. And if so, why the reluctance to ‘tell it how it is’?
edit on 8-7-2013 by KilgoreTrout because: (no reason given)