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Beaker people
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Beaker Folk, Beaker culture; Bell Beaker culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A widespread Late Neolithic European people of the third and second millennium BC named after the characteristic bell-shaped beakers found buried with their dead. These people spread a knowledge of metalworking in central and western Europe from c 2500-2000 BC. They first came to Britain between 1900-1800 BC in successive waves, via Holland, from the Rhineland. Their origins are uncertain, with theories of them being the Battle-Ax people from south Russia and Spanish Megalithic people from Almeria or from Portugal and Hungary. They were copper and bronze workers and famous for their great collective tombs. The assemblages of grave goods -- decorated pottery, fighting equipment (arrowheads, wristguards, daggers) -- were characteristic of the people, who lived in small groups mainly by major river routes as they were known traders. Burial was by contracted inhumation in a trench, or under a round barrow, or as a secondary burial in some form of chamber tomb. Each burial was accompanied by a beaker, presumably to hold drink, probably alcoholic, for the dead man's last journey.

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