Re: [tied] Kurgan Waves.

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 8623
Date: 2001-08-19

Several elements of Marija Gimbutas' original scenario raise severe objections and have been criticised by other archaeologists. It is especially the role of "steppe elements" in the formation of the FB [Funnel Beaker] and GA [Globular Amphora] cultures.
The earliest stage of the FB culture dates back to the end of the fifth millenium (ca. 4300-4000 BC) and is very clearly a North-Central European phenomenon, its focal area being (roughly) northeastern Germany. The core group of the GA culture is that of Kujawy (Kujavia), a region in NW Poland, where fully reliable datings begin ca. 3400 BC (with less credible ones going back even to ca. 3900 BC). The Middle Elbe/Saale group is younger (probably ca. 3250 BC). The chronology of the eastern GA group (in Volhynia and Podolia) begins between 3000 and 2900 BC, and there is more evidence of its strong impact on the cultures of the Noth Pontic zone (such as Yamnaya and Kemi-Oba, both much younger than the GA culture) than of any formative impulses reaching "Old Europe" from the steppes.
The expansion of the GA culture was probably the result of actual migrations of groups of people, while the spread of the CW [Corded Ware] culture affected only some of the elements of the cultural structure at the receiving end, reflecting more likely the dissemination of the "CW cultural package" (or "memes", to use a fashionable term) rather than the "CW people". The source area of the CW culture is difficult to determine, but at any rate the easternmost groups belonging to the CW circle (Fatyanovo) are currently considered the youngest (ca. 2700 BC), and the Sub-Carpathian CW culture (beginnig ca. 2900 BC) is younger than the groups to the north and the west (the end of the fourth millennium).
There were some elements present in the cultures of lowland Central Europe that no doubt originated in the North Pontic steppes -- e.g. the role of ochre in burial rites -- but they testify to the spread of ideas and customs rather than to invasions. If there were "pressures from the steppe", it's equally fair to speak of "pressures" (and even actual migrations) "from the west" in the history of the North Pontic and North Caucasian regions.
For some more criticism (concerning other aspects of Gimbutas' interpretations), see
----- Original Message -----
From: markodegard@...
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 4:42 PM
Subject: [tied] Kurgan Waves.

My most recent reading on the subject is from the extensive article by
V. Dergachev in the Fall/Winter 2000 JIES: "The Migration Theory of
Marija Gimbutas". He says, yes she was right, and yes, it is fair to
characterize them as military.

1st wave: 4400-4300 BCE. South from Volga-Caspian steppe to North
Caucasus and west to lower Dnieper.

2nd wave: 3500-3300 BCE. Mainly centered in Caucasian area.

3rd wave: 3100-2900 BCE. Carpathian-Danubian and Balkans, impacting
formation of TRB/Funnel Beaker and Globular Amphora.

I'm unaware of the research Piotr is citing, tho' I'm very interested.

My point in the quoted material is only that the 'kurgan waves' are
quite real, and really did have a major impact. A very consistent
motif of European history is that of intermittant pressures from the

For the 3rd wave, my present speculations suggest instrusion by a
steppe confederacy into Globular Amphora, but that this confederacy
collapsed a la the Hunnic confederacy, and that certain PIE speakers
(a la the Slavs after the collapse of the Huns) were sucked out onto
the steppe by the resultant power vacuum. This is probably also the
time the technological tool kit for Steppe pastoral nomadism was
perfected (excellent wheeled vehicles, horseback riding etc).

--- In cybalist@..., "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@...> wrote:
> --- In cybalist@..., markodegard@... wrote:
> > The three 'Kurgan waves' cannot be disputed, of
> > course, nor the military nature of these waves; we are only
> > questioning what the 'Kurganish' language was.
> Why "of course", Mark? As a matter of fact, they HAVE been disputed
> by archaeologists in recent years, with a good deal of success. The
> more we learn about the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures
> (and the final stages of the Funnel Beaker culture), the less
> evidence there is of any massive movements, let alone "waves", from
> the Steppe into NC Europe. New research has demonstrated, for
> example, that the Globular Amphora culture (one of the original
> waves) expanded eastwards from the lowlands of Central Europe. New
> series of dates obtained for the Steppe cultures (e.g. under the
> Polish-Ukrainian research programme: Klochko, Kosko and Szmyt 1999)
> show a corrected chronology that is much too shallow to be
> with the Pontic homeland hypothesis.
> Piotr