The Beaker Culture of Ancient Europe

beaker culture

The Bell-Beaker Culture, which is often shortened to Beaker Culture, is a widely scattered archaeological culture of ancient Europe, which began in the late Neolithic era and ran into the early Bronze Age. Where did they come from? Who were the Beaker people?

The Beaker culture comprised of farmers and archers, and they are widely regarded as the first metal workers of ancient Europe, helping to bring in the Bronze Age. For reference to the time-frame for which they would have first migrated to Europe, the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze age era would have meant that these people lived about 4,500 years ago. They derive their name from the rather distinctively shaped beakers they created, which were, indeed shaped like bells.

Earthenware vessel, part of a beaker culture pottery collection from Ciempozuelos (Community of Madrid, Spain). Made of black clay between 1970 and 1470 BC (Bronze Age). National Archaeological Museum of Spain (Madrid).

Earthenware vessel, part of a beaker culture pottery collection from Ciempozuelos (Community of Madrid, Spain). Made of black clay between 1970 and 1470 BC (Bronze Age). National Archaeological Museum of Spain (Madrid).

The Beaker culture was generally warlike, mainly utilizing bows (coupled with a stone wrist guard to protect themselves from injury from the bowstring), but also created daggers or spearheads made from copper. In fact, a great deal of their migration and dissemination throughout ancient Europe had to do with their extensive searches for metals, particularly copper and gold. Although these people did search primarily for copper and gold, their spread accelerated the development of Bronze metallurgy throughout Europe as the Bronze Age dawned.

The Beaker Culture is generally regarded as one of the more widespread cultures in ancient Europe, as they migrated and landed in various parts of Europe on multiple coasts. As they spread throughout the country, they became a dominate culture.

They are a remarkable culture with great historical significance in part because of their contributions to Britain – primarily, the introduction of utilizing metal artifacts. Metal artifacts found in burials throughout Europe often contain some rudimentary metal artifacts, and can be linked to the beaker people based on other pottery findings in the area.

Another fascinating aspect of the Beaker Culture in ancient Europe is how very diverse they were – and particularly advanced in diversification for the era. As mentioned already, they were ahead of the curve for metalwork in Europe, and they were also rather warlike. Additionally, though, archaeological evidence has indicated that the Beaker Culture was not only the first culture to introduce metallurgy to Britain, but that they may have been one of the first inhabitants of Britain to utilize woven fabrics. Further, there is archaeological evidence that they cultivated crops, such as flax and barley, and may have also kept livestock.

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