Corded Ware Axe from S-Germany

IMG_5483This is a faceted battle-axe from S-Germany, with unusual decorations of unknown significance.  The German Corded Ware culture is known mainly from flat, single-burial graves, where the body was placed in the classical Corded Ware position: on an east-west axis with the face to the south; women on their left side with the head pointing to the east, men on the right side with the head pointing to the west.

In the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, some regions of Europe shared common elements of material culture, as well as similar ways of disposing of their dead. Vast areas of Central, Northern and Eastern Europe were connected by a certain uniformity of material culture, represented in a special range of symbolic, prestige funeral goods. The various cultural groups of this period have different names in different regions of Europe: Corded Ware, Single-grave culture, Battle-Axe culture, Pit-grave culture or Ochre-grave culture.

Male burial assemblages are characterized through weapons such as battle-axes or mace heads. In male graves, tools are represented by flint knives or flat axes of rock and copper tools in rare cases. The funerary pottery attributed to males display a range of distinctive shapes – beakers or jugs, which are decorated with cord impression or herring-bone motif.


Until recently, it did not seem likely that the appearance of Corded Ware over wide areas of Europe could be ascribed to the immigration of a new population. In this view, Corded Ware does not represent a single monolithic entity, but rather a diffusion of technological and cultural innovations of different, contemporaneous peoples, living in close proximity to each other and leaving different archaeological remains. With ancient DNA, one can establish whether or not migrations occurred, and tie migrations to well-defined archaeological cultures by sequencing DNA from radiocarbon dated skeletons buried with diagnostic grave goods. Thus, it is possible, using ancient DNA, to evaluate directly whether a particular material culture could have spread through migration or whether cultural transmission occurred.

IMG_5486In 2015 researchers reported that, based on the DNA analysis of 98 ancient skeletons from Europe and Russia, there had been a massive migration of Yamna culture people from the North Pontic steppe into Europe about 4500 years ago. These steppe people herded cattle and other animals, buried their dead in earthen mounds called kurgans, and may have created some of the first wheeled vehicles. About 75% of the DNA of late Neolithic Corded Ware skeletons found in Germany was similar to the Yamnana DNA.  This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central Europeans until at least 3000 years ago, and is still ubiquitous in present-day Europeans.

Suggested Reading:

6087 Views since 2/2016 8 Views Today

About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome!

About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University.

Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.

This entry was posted in Plaeolithics and Neolithics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Corded Ware Axe from S-Germany

  1. Pete says:

    “About 75% of the DNA of late Neolithic Corded Ware skeletons found in Germany was the same as the Yamnana DNA. ”

    That is not actually correct. CWC was similar but not *the same*. Quite likely, CWC has different origins to Yamnaya. More aDNA sampling will reveal its true ‘origins’.

  2. Katzman says:

    You’re right. Thanks a lot for critical counter-check !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *