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Afanasievo culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Neolithic culture of the Yenisei valley of southern Siberia. The people, who were stock breeders and hunters, probably moved into the area in the late 3rd millennium BC. Excavations uncovered burials under kurgans (low mounds), surrounded by circular stone walls. There was stamped dentate pottery, stone, bone, and bronze tools, and some copper ornaments with the burials. The Afanasievo people were the first food-producers in the area, breeding cattle, horses, and sheep, but also practiced hunting. The Afanasievo were succeeded by the Andronovo culture in the mid-2nd millennium BC.
Agrelo culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The Agrelo culture was centered in northwestern Argentina and dates from AD 1 to 1000. The type site is just south of Mendoza and it features distinctive deep, wide-mouthed pottery with parallel stepped incised lines, punctations, and fingernail impressions, typical of southern Andean tradition. Pottery spindle whorls, crude figurines, labrets, clubheads, triangular projectile points, and beads of stone have been found. Pit inhumations were marked by stone circles. The Agrelo represents the agriculture-pottery threshold in this semi-arid area. Nearby coastal pottery styles (Cienega, El Molle) may be precursors to Agrelo.
Alaka culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A preceramic shell midden culture on the northwest coast of Guyana which may date to c 2000 BC. Located in the mangrove swamps, the middens have been grouped into the Alaka Phase. The culture relied on shellfish gathering, with some grinding stones, choppers, manos, and metates. There are some crude ceramics in the later stages and represent intrusive cultures and the passing of Alaka.
Andronovo culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture of southern Siberia, between the Don and Yenisei Rivers, dating to the 2nd millennium BC. The culture was relatively uniform in this large area and agriculture played a large role. Wheat and millet were cultivated and cattle, horses, and sheep bred. The metal-using culture (ores from the Altai), which succeeded the Afansievo, lived in settlements of up to ten large log cabin-like semisubterranean houses. Bowl- and flowerpot-shaped vessels were flat-bottomed, smoothed, and decorated with geometric patterns, triangles, rhombs, and meanders. Burial was in contracted position either in stone cists or enclosures with underground timber chambers. The wooden constructions in rich graves may have designated social differentiation. The Andronovo complex is related to the Timber-Grave (Russian Srubna) group in southern Russia and both are branches of the Indo-Iranian cultural block. The Andronovo were the ancestors of Karasuk nomads who later inhabited the Central Asiatic and Siberian steppes.
Apennine culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The Bronze Age culture of the Italian peninsula, lasting from c 2000-800 BC. The culture's pottery was distinctively dark and highly burnished, and decorated with incised and punctuated bands filled with white inlay. The handles, often single, were elaborate and included crested, horned, and tongue types. The people seemed to depend on pastoral economy and stock breeding in the mountains which give the culture its name. Trade and a more mixed economy has evidence at some sites - Ariano, Liparis, Luni, Narce, and Taranto - and the culture had some influence from the Balkans. Some inhumation cemeteries are known, but burials are rare. Bronze tools, though in use, are rarely found until very late in the period.
Basarabi culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Iron Age culture of cemeteries and settlement sites over much of Romania with its type site on the Danube. It is a local version of the Hallstatt culture, dating to 975-850 BC.
Battle-Ax culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Battle-Axe culture; Single-Grave culture; Single Grave culture; Battle Ax culture, Corded Ware culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A number of Late Neolithic cultural groups in Europe that appeared between 2800-2300 BC. So-named for their characteristic shaft-hole polished stone battle-ax, the people were also known for their use of horses. Their place of origin is not certain, but it was most likely east rather than west of their area of spread. It was a homogeneous culture with central European trade links and it remained in some areas through the Stone and Bronze ages. In central Europe, the Beaker Folk came into contact with the Battle-Ax culture, which was also characterized by beaker-shaped pottery (though different in detail). The two cultures gradually intermixed and later spread from central Europe to eastern England. The Battle-Ax people were also responsible for the dissemination of Indo-European speech.
Boat-ax culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Boat-axe culture, Boat Axe culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture of eastern Scandinavia found in the late Neolithic Period, c 2000 BC, that was an outlier of the European Battle-Ax cultures. This single-grave culture spread rapidly through Sweden, Finland, and the Danish islands. The people displayed the aspects of a homogeneous culture, with central European trade links. Its characteristic weapon is a slender stone battle-ax shaped like a simple boat with upturned ends. The term 'Boat-ax culture' is sometimes used for the east Scandinavian variant of the Single Grave or Corded Ware culture in which these axes occur.
British Mountain culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Palaeolithic culture of the Northwest Arctic in Yukon, near the border of Canada and Alaska. Artifacts, such as percussion flakes, share traits of European and Asian Levallois-Mousterian stone toolkits and are possibly 18,000 years old.
Catacomb Grave culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The second in the Kurgan culture series, after Yamnaya and before Srubnaya, in southern Russia and Ukraine between the Dniepr and Volga rivers. It is dated between c 2000-1500 bc (Bronze Age). The graves are not true catacombs but rather burials in which the skeleton and grave goods are put in a side wall niche of a shallow shaft. The shaft is filled in and then covered with a barrow.
Ch'i-chia culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Neolithic culture in northwest China dating from c 1700 BC which shows North Eurasian influence. Descendant of earlier painted pottery Neolithic cultures, it is characterized by the use of amphora-like jars with loop handles, comblike designs, and by copper tools (axes and rectangular knives). The culture survived into historic times and remains from as late as the 1st century BC have been found. Evidence of the culture was first found in Ch'i-chia-p'ing in the early 1920s by Swedish geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson. In the 1950s, important finds were located in nearby Yang-wa-wan and Ts'ui-chia-chuang by the Chinese archaeologists Pei Wen-chung and Hsia Nai. The Ch'i-chia people lived in large villages in terraces along the Huang Ho (Yellow River) and buried their dead in pits.
Ch'ing-lien-kang culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The name given an Eastern Neolithic culture of China, c 4000-3000 BC, found in the provinces of southern Shantung, Kiangsu, and northern Chekiang. Painted pottery with flowerlike designs existed that had certain affinities with pottery from western Neolithic Yang-Shao culture. Pottery on high pierced stands, fine flat polished axes, and decorative pendants in jade have also been found.
Ch'ü-chia-ling culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Neolithic culture of central China in the middle and lower Yangtze River valley in the 4th and 3rd millennia. It followed the Yang-Shao culture and preceded the Lung-Shan culture and shared a significant number of traits with the Ta-hsi culture. There was cultivation of rice, flat polished axes, ring-footed vessels, goblets with sharply angled profiles, ceramic whorls, and black pottery with designs painted in red after firing. Characteristic Ch'ü-chia-ling ceramic objects include eggshell-thin goblets and bowls painted with black or orange designs; double-waisted bowls; tall, ring-footed goblets and serving stands; and many styles of tripods. The whorls suggest a thriving textile industry. The chronological distribution of ceramic features suggests a transmission from Ta-hsi to Ch'ü-chia-ling, but the precise relationship between the two cultures is not known.
Corded Beaker culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Neolithic culture in central and northern Europe from c 2800 BC, named after a characteristic cord-marked decoration found on pottery. The Corded beaker culture belongs to the so-called Battle-Ax cultures of Europe. There were two phases of new burial rites, with individual rather than communal burials and an emphasis on burying rich grave goods with adult males. The first phase, characterized by Corded Ware pottery and stone battle-axes, is found particularly in central and northern Europe. The second phase, dated to 2500-2200 BC, is marked by Bell Beaker pottery and the frequent occurrence of copper daggers in the graves; it is found from Hungary to Britain and as far south as Italy, Spain, and North Africa. At the same time, there was an increase in the exchange of prestige goods such as amber, copper, and tools from particular rock sources.
Cris culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Early Neolithic culture of Romania and Moldova, part of the complex of Balkan Early Neolithic cultures. Cris settlements were flat and open.
Danubian culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early farming culture(s) of the Danube basin of central and eastern Europe, of the Neolithic and Eneolithic, starting c 5300 BC. The stages, named by Gordon Childe, were Danubian I (Linear Pottery culture), Danubian II (later Neolithic cultures, such as Tisza, Lengyel, Rossen, and stroke-ornamented pottery cultures), and Danubian III (late Lengyel, Brzesc, Kujawski, Jordanow). The first stage was based on slash and burn cultivation and the shoe-last celt, objects of spondylus shell, and the use of bandkeramik. There were substantial timber longhouses during occupations and after abandonment, sites were later reoccupied and villages rebuilt. By the mid-5th millennium, the Danubian II cultures (Rössen, stroke-ornamented ware, Lengyel, Tisza) arose. The term is now outdated.
Denalian culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A prehistoric culture or complex of central Alaska (the Tangle Lakes) dating to c 10,500-7000 BC. Similar to the Siberian Dyuktai (Diuktai) culture and defined by H. West in 1967, it is characterized by wedge-shaped microcores, microblades, burins, and bifacial points, scrapers on flakes, and large blades.
Desert culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A hunting-and-gathering way of life adapted to the post-Pleistocene conditions of the arid and semi-arid zones of the American West from Oregon to California, and with extensions into similar areas of Mexico. Agriculture was unknown or unimportant, and the small nomadic bands lived by collecting wild plants and hunting game. The concept was devised by J. Jennings at Danger Cave. Typical artifacts include grinding stones, basketry, small projectile points, and spear throwers. There is an absence of ceramics. Their mode of subsistence was established c 9000 BC and lasted until agriculture had developed sufficiently to permit settled life. In Mexico, farming villages were widespread by 2000 BC. In the southwestern US, this did not occur until the last few centuries BC.
Deverel-Rimbury culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Deverel-Rimbury people
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Bronze Age culture of southern Britain of the 15th-12th centuries BC. It was named after two sites in Dorset, and was characterized by Celtic fields, nucleated small farmsteads and palisaded cattle enclosures, and by inurned cremations, either in flat urnfields or under low barrows. The distinctive pots were globular vessels with channeled or fluted decoration, and barrel- or bucket-shaped urns with cordoned ornament. It is thought that people came over from France and were great farmers, introducing the plow into England. The square lynchets, which can be seen today, are the result of their plowing.
Fremont culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An agricultural Puebloan people found throughout much of present-day Utah between 400-1350 AD. There is some similarity to the Anasazi in pottery types and pithouse architecture. Hunting and gathering was most important, supplemented by the growing of maize, beans, and squash.
Gorodtsov culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An early Upper Palaeolithic culture of the Kostenki-Borshchevo sites in European Russia with assemblages c 30,000-25,000 bp. The artifacts include endscrapers and Middle Palaeolithic sidescrapers as well as bone tools.
Grebeniki culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Mesolithic culture situated between the Carpathians and the Dniester valley in the Ukraine c 6000 BC. It was succeeded by the Bug-Dniester complex c 5500 BC.
Halaf culture complex
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A material culture with a distinctive painted pottery style, centered at Tell Halaf. It is divided into Early, Middle, and Late phases from the late 6th to early 5th millennia BC (5050-4300). The pottery is decorated with geometric, floral, and some nature motifs. The Late Halaf pottery includes a polychrome painted ware. Well-known sites include Tell Aqab, Arpachiyah, and Yarim Tepe.
Hsin-tien culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture of northwest China in c 1500 BC based on farming and using handmade pottery and copper tools. The pottery was often painted with rudimentary scrolls.
Jastorf culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Iron Age culture of the southern Baltic during the late Hallstatt (600-300 BC), with some of the earliest iron metallurgy of the area. It extended from Lower Saxony through Pomerania.
Kartan culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A group of stone assemblages with heavy core tools found on Kangaroo Island and the nearby peninsulas of South Australia, a variant of the Australian Core Tool and Scraper Tradition. Kangaroo Island, now separated from Australia by a 15-km strait, was joined to the mainland during the Pleistocene. There were no Aboriginal inhabitants at the time of European contact. Radiocarbon estimates of 14,000 BC have been obtained for a possibly subsequent small scraper industry in Seton rock shelter on Kangaroo Island. Kartan tools include unifacially flaked pebble choppers, large steep-edged flake scrapers, waisted ax blades, and large horsehoof cores (mean weights of 500 grams), sometimes associated with small quartz flakes. The proportion of core tools in the assemblage is much higher than in other Pleistocene sites.
Knovíz culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Bronze Age urnfield culture of Bohemia, Thuringia, and Bavaria, following the decline of the Tumulus Bronze Age, c 1400-900 BC. Except for the burial rite, the Knovíz culture is similar to that of the neighboring Milavce group. The Knoviz group is one of the exceptions to the normal urnfield rite in that inhumation is more frequent than cremation burial. Few large settlement sites are known, the bulk of material deriving from small farmsteads with pits and post-holes and cemeteries. Hengiform monuments and horseshoe-shaped enclosures are occasionally associated with Knoviz pottery. The vessel form is the Etagengefass, with a large bulging body and a smaller bottomless pot fused on top of it to form the neck.
Komornica culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Mesolithic assemblages of the area between the Oder and Bug drainage systems in north-central Poland. It is contemporaneous with the Maglemosian culture of Denmark of the 7th-8th millennia BC.
Kostenki-Willendorf culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Upper Palaeolithic culture of central Europe and the Russian plain dating to c 30,000-20,000 bp. This culture is based on assemblages containing backed blades, shouldered points, and Venus figurines among the art objects. It is generally equated with the Eastern Gravettian industry.
Kuban culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A regional variant of the earlier Bronze Age 'North Caucasian' culture group, located in the Kuban Valley of southwestern Russia dated to the mid-2nd millennium BC. It was also the name of an industrial complex of the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age, dated to the early 1st millennium BC in the same area. That culture was distinguished by rich Kurgan graves, use of the battle-ax, and a range of metal objects including the 'Pontiac' hammerheaded pin. The heavy concentration of Caucasian bronzes in the amber source zone of east Prussia indicates an extensive amber trade.
Kunda culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The eastern Baltic variant of the Baltic Boreal and Atlantic climatic periods, c 7000-5000 BC, a Mesolithic culture named after the site of Kunda-Lammasmagi in Estonia. Most Kunda settlements are located at the edge of the forest, near rivers, lakes, and marshes. There was hunting of elk, seal, and fishing. Bone and antler tools were decorated with simple geometric motifs. The Kunda culture was followed by the Narva culture, with the appearance of pottery and food production.
Kura-Araxes culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Eastern Anatolian Bronze Age, Transcaucasian Early Bronze Age
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Culture complex of Early Bronze Age sites of Transcaucasia, eastern Anatolia, and northwest Iran, probably of the later 4th through later 3rd millennia BC. The complex is characterized by black or red highly burnished pottery. There were portable hearths and some circular houses.
Kurgan cultures
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A seminomadic pastoralist culture that spread from the Russian steppes to Danubian Europe about 3500 BC. By about 2300 BC the Kurgans arrived in the Aegean and Adriatic regions. The Kurgans buried their dead in deep shafts within artificial burial mounds, or barrows. The word kurgan means barrow or artificial mound in Turkic and Russian. The first Kurgan culture was the Yamnaya, or Pit-Grave, culture. Then came the Catacomb Grave culture, and finally the Srubnaya (Timber-Grave) culture.
Lamoka culture
CATEGORY: culture; site
DEFINITION: An inland site of the late Archaic period located in the Finger Lakes region of central New York dating c 2500-1800 BC. It is characterized by narrow-stemmed points of a type usually associated with coastal areas and by a well-developed industry in worked bone. Other traits include houses framed with upright poles, beveled adzes, atlatl weights, manos and metates, and fishing gear.
Larnian culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Mesolithic culture, named after Larne, Ireland, and found only on sites close to coasts and estuaries in western Scotland and eastern Ireland. It is characterized by shell middens and the early toolkits include leaf-shaped points made on a flake, the oldest unambiguous implement in Ireland, and scrapers. Some are dated to 6000 BC. Later assemblages contain more flakes than blades and include tranchet axes and very small scrapers. . More recent work casts doubt on the antiquity of the people who were responsible for the Larnian industry; association with Neolithic remains suggests that they should be considered not as Mesolithic but rather as contemporary with the Neolithic farmers. The Larnian could then be interpreted as a specialized aspect of contemporary Neolithic culture. Lake and riverside finds, especially along the River Bann, show a comparable tradition. A single radioactive carbon date of 5725 +/- 110 BC from Toome Bay, north of Lough Neagh, for woodworking and flint has been cited in support of a Mesolithic phase in Ireland.
Laurel culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Initial Woodland culture, dating c 200 BC-700 AD, located in northern Michigan, northern Ontario, northern Minnesota, south-central Manitoba, and east-central Saskatchewan. Artifacts include togglehead antler harpoons, cut beaver incisors, copper tools and beads, and grit-tempered pottery with stamping and incising. Laurel sites also have burial mounds.
Lima culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Early Intermediate Period (c 200 BC-600 AD) culture of the central coast of Peru. Its major population centers were Cajamarquilla and Pachacamac. There are ceramics (Maranga, Interlocking style) showing the influence of the Moche culture. Changes in the pottery style during the Middle Horizon (600-1000 AD) indicate influence from the Huari Empire.
Linear Pottery culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Linearbandkeramik; LBK; Danubian I
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The earliest Neolithic culture of central Europe, western Ukraine to eastern France, between c 4500-3900 BC. It is so named after curvilinear incised patterns which make its pottery so recognizable. This was the first farming culture in central Europe, based on grain cultivation and domesticated livestock, lasting to 3200 BC on its periphery. The Linear Pottery core area stretches from eastern Hungary to the Netherlands, including settlement concentrations in the Pannonian Basin, Bohemia, Moravia, central Germany and the Rhineland. A second rapid expansion occurred eastwards round the northern rim of the Carpathians, from Poland to the Dnieper. Linear Pottery is characterized by incised and sometimes painted pottery (3/4 spherical bowl) with linear designs (curvilinear, zigzag, spiral, and meander patterns), polished stone shoe-last adzes, and a microlithic stone industry. Small cemeteries of individual inhumations are common as are longhouses with rectangular ground plans. The remarkable uniformity that characterized the Linear Pottery culture in its core area broke down after c 4000 BC and the cultures that emerged - Tisza, Lengyel, Stroke-Ornamented Ware, Rossen etc. - were more divergent in characteristics. It is most possible that it derived from the Körös culture of the northern Balkans.
Lusatian culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Lausitz culture; Lusatia
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (Hallstatt period) culture of Poland and eastern Germany, an urnfield culture which had formed by c 1500 BC. Larger settlements, such as Biskupin, Senftenberg, and Sobiejuchy, are fortified. The culture is noted for its bronzework and its fine dark pottery, sometimes graphite-burnished and generally decorated with bosses and fluted ornament. Iron tools were adopted in the north throughout the earlier Iron Age. In some classifications, the Middle Bronze Age 'pre-Lausitz' phase is considered the first stage of the Lusatian culture proper.
Maritsa culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late Neolithic culture of the eastern Balkans, contemporary with Vinca C, between 4000-3700 BC. It is characterized by the materials from Karanovo's Layer V, with dark pottery whose surface tended to be covered by either incised or excised lines which were filled with white paint after firing.
Marpole culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An archaeological complex in Canada, dating c 500 BC-1500 AD; the type site is at the mouth of the Fraser River in British Columbia. Its distinctive traits include flaked-stone points, microblades, ground-slate points and fish knives, and disc beads of shell and shale. Antler was used for barbed point and harpoon making. There were midden burials, some with plentiful grave goods. It probably evolved from the Locarno Beach culture.
Middle Mississippi culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A part of the Woodland culture in the central Mississippi valley and its tributaries that came into existence around 700 AD and lasted until the historical 16th-17th centuries. The most notable features are elaborate pottery, large and often fortified villages, and ceremonial centers with temple platforms and courtyards. From its origin, these cultures spread outwards until they had overrun most of the eastern United States. In the north, the Mississippi culture encroached on and blended with the Woodland cultural tradition. Important sites are Etowah (Georgia), Moundville (Alabama), Spiro (Oklahoma), and Cahokia (Illinois).
Molodova culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Upper Palaeolithic culture of the western Ukraine, found in the 5th level of Moldova. The early phase, c 30-25,000 bp, has burins, large retouched blades, and endscrapers; later phases, c 23-12,000 bp, also had backed blades and points.
Mondsee culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Copper Age / Eneolithic culture of Upper Austria's Alpine foothills, noted for its villages of pile-dwellings and for its decorated pottery with white-inlaid circles and stellar designs. The Mondsee people were the first to smelt the local copper ores and manufacture copper artifacts on a large scale in the region.
Nok culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Nok figurine culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A valley in central Nigeria (Benue Plateau) associated with first iron-smelting people of West Africa and an Early Iron Age culture characterized by distinctive broken terra-cotta human and animal figures, some of them life-sized. Shallow pits with low surrounding walls served as furnaces for the smelting of iron. The terra-cotta figures are associated with an agricultural fertility cult; the detailed and accomplished modeling pays particular attention both to attributes such as beads as well as to physical peculiarities or deformities. Other artifacts of the Nok culture include iron tools, stone axes and other stone tools, and stone ornaments. Nok sites at Taruga and Samun Dukiya date to c 5th-3rd centuries BC. The culture may have continued to the 2nd century AD in some places. Their work was possibly ancestral to medieval sculpture of Yoruba and Ibo.
Obanian culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A group of kitchen midden settlements of the western Scottish coast, a Late Mesolithic culture (c 3065-3900 BC) named from Oban in Argyll. The sites are rock shelters and shell middens on post-glacial raised beaches. Diagnostic tools include barbed spears, some limpet-picks scoops), and antler harpoon heads.
Old Bering Sea Culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Eskimo subculture that settled in northern Alaska and northeast Siberia between 1500-2000 years ago, and is best known for its ivory objects. The earliest sites were in Bering Strait area and the major type site is on St. Lawrence Island. It is an early manifestation of the western Arctic Thule tradition, often linked with the possibly contemporaneous Okvik culture. Although both share similar traits - a highly evolved art style, polished slate tools and pottery - the relationship between the two is still uncertain. The art style appears to have flourished between 100-500 AD.
Old Copper Culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A series of late Archaic complexes in the upper Great Lakes area of the United States and Canada which settled there approximately 5,000 years ago. This culture of hunters and fishermen did not have pottery and agriculture, but the people mined native copper around Lake Superior and used it to make tools. The metal was worked by hot- and cold-hammering and by annealing. Characteristic copper implements were spear points, knives, awls, and atlatl weights. Its best-known assemblages are from Osceola and Ocanto. Later cultures did not develop metal technology, but reverted to stone use. There is general agreement that 1500 BC represents the terminal date.
Old Cordilleran Culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A late Pleistocene cultural tradition based on the hunting of small game and the collection of wild foods in the mountain and plateau region of western North America, especially Oregon and Washington, between c 9000-5000 BC (or later). The diagnostic tool is the leaf-shaped Cascade point, a distinctive bipointed lanceolate point. It was usually accompanied by scraping tools (chopper tools, bolas) and occasionally by milling stones (burins). The type site is Five Mile Rapids, Oregon (9800 BP). They may have been contemporaneous with Big Game Hunting tradition. The tradition has a terminal date of c 7000 BP and it may have cultural ties to the San Dieguito.
Ozieri Culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late Neolithic culture of Sardinia, known from caves and open villages, and dated to the late 4th and 3rd millennia BC. It produced elaborately decorated, high-quality pottery. Classic Ozieri decorated ware has been dated to c 4100-3500 BC at the Grotta di Filiestru (Bonu Ighinu). There are rock-cut tombs with Beaker pottery and occasionally copper and silver objects and marble figurines.
Peterborough Culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Neolithic culture grafted on to the native Mesolithic culture, one of the two major Neolithic groups of England (with the Windmill Hill people). They lived in villages and on seashores, grew grain and raised cattle, and hunted with square-tipped arrowheads. They also used axes and microlithic sickles.
Petresti culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Neolithic and Eneolithic culture of Transylvania, northwestern Romania, and dated to the early 4th millennium BC. Petresti settlement pattern is tell-based, with most occupations preceded by Early Vinca levels. The defining characteristic is a wide range of painted wares, bichrome and trichrome in style, and decorated with brown parallel lines in elaborate patterns. The culture is contemporaneous with the early stages of Cucuteni-Tripolye to the east and Gumelnita to the southeast.
Picosa culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late Archaic culture that began c 3000 BC in the American Southwest and is considered by some to be ancestral to the Anasazi, Hohokam, and Mogollon traditions. It was located in southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, and southwestern New Mexico, as well as the Four Corners region.
Pit Grave culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Yamnaya Kultura; Pit-Grave culture, Yamnaya culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late Neolithic culture of the lower Volga and Don steppes, the forerunner to Corded Ware, Single Grave, or Kurgan culture. It appears on Ukrainian steppes in 3rd millennium BC, with fortified villages and burials in pits under barrows.
Pitted-Ware culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: In Sweden and Finland, a series of foraging groups during the 3rd-1st millennia BC, part of the circumpolar complex of Holocene foragers. Amber ornaments were made widely and communities depended on seals and pigs for subsistence.
Promontory culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture sometimes identified with the Fremont culture in northern Utah which is now considered an early phase of the late prehistoric groups that followed the Fremont. It was a bison-hunting, cave-dwelling people.
Przeworsk culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late Iron Age culture in the Vistula and Bug drainages in southeast Poland of the La Tène period. It is known mainly from graves, which have metal artifacts and fibulae.
Rhône culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: After the melting of the glaciers, Neolithic cultures established themselves in parts of the Rhône and Rhine valleys. The Rhône culture is the Swiss and east French counterpart of the Early Bronze Age cultures of central Europe. The metalwork and pottery are similar to those of the Straubing group in Bavaria.
Riverton culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Archaic culture near Vincennes, Indiana, dating c 1500-1000 BC. It was a hunting-gathering culture with a variety of stone and bone tools. There were year-round settlements and seasonally occupied bases, hunting, and transient camps.
Rivnac culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Eneolithic culture of Bohemia (now Czech Republic) with small ditched and palisaded sites (Homolka) of the late 3rd millennium BC. The culture is related to the Baden culture to the southeast.
Rössen culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The successor of western branch of the Neolithic Linear Pottery Culture, with which is has many features in common. Its main distribution was in Rhineland and central and southern Germany, parallel to Lengyel culture in Czechoslovakia and mid-Danube. It is characterized by pottery with complex incised geometric motifs and by sites with trapezoidal longhouses. Radiocarbon dates indicate early 4th millennium BC. It is named after a cemetery site in Halle with 70 burials accompanied by bone and jet necklaces, shaft-hole-stone axes, and some long trapezoidal ones.
Samarran culture complex
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Cultural phase of east-central Irqu along the Tigris River which dates to the second half of the 6th and early 5th millennium BC, with sites such as Tell es Sawwan and Choga Mami. There are three phases of the complex: Early Samarran with coarse ware decorated by incision, Middle Samarran with painted pottery using naturalistic scenes and geometric designs; and Last Samarran with more geometric painted pottery and no naturalistic scenes. The Samarrans used irrigation agriculture and herding of animals, both important to the developing Mesopotamian civilizations.
Seine-Oise-Marne culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Neolithic culture of the Paris basin of northeast France c 3400-2800 BC, named after three rivers. It is best known for its megalithic tombs of gallery-grave type (hypogées), semi-subterranean funerary houses, and allées couvertes. The megalithic tombs often include port-hole slabs. In the chalk country of the Marne, rock-cut tombs were similarly made and some have hafted axes or schematized 'goddess' figures carved on their walls. Native artifacts include transverse arrows, antler, daggers, and rough, plain flat-based pots of cylinder and bucket shapes. The pottery type is the coarseware flat-based flower pot. Trade brought copper, Callaïs stone and beads, and Grand Pressigny flint to the region. The culture seems to have a composite origin, and certain elements of the assemblage occur in other - perhaps unrelated - cultures outside the SOM area proper. The SOM type of megalithic tomb is found from Brittany to Belgium, Westphalia, and Sweden, while similar crude pottery occurs in Brittany, west France, Switzerland (Horgen), and Denmark.
Shulaveri-Shomu culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Neolithic culture based on two sites on the Kura River in Georgia and Azerbaijan. There was coarse pottery decorated by incision or knobs and small round domestic structures. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC.
Sidemi culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture of the Vladivostok area of eastern Siberia from the late 2nd millennium BC. The population lived in coastal settlements of semi-subterranean houses, which are associated with shell middens. Characteristic tools were made of polished slate, though small quantities of iron were also used. The area came under strong influence from Manchuria and China, and in the 1st millennium AD it formed part of the Po Hai state.
Single Grave culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late Neolithic cultures of Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Low Countries, dated to c 2800-2400 BC. The burial rite was inhumation of a single corpse under or within a round barrow, and sometimes laid in a pit grave or a mortuary house. The burials include the stone battle-ax and corded ware beakers. The Single Grave culture has traditionally been regarded as intrusive in northern Europe because of the contrast with the collective burial in megalithic tombs practiced by the earlier Neolithic TRB people in the same area. It is possible that it developed out of the TRB culture and that the changes in the archaeological record at this time can be explained in terms of changing social systems - more complex social structures and the emergence of elites. The burial mounds are sometimes multi-phase with the sequence of under-grave, bottom-grave, and over-grave.
Spitsyn culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Upper Palaeolithic culture on the Don River in European Russia, dating to c 40,000-30,000 bp. Its artifacts include burins, retouched blades and scrapers, bone tools and ornaments.
Sredni Stog culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Eneolithic culture of the Dnepr basin of the Ukraine, c late 4th and early 3rd millennia BC with settlements and cemeteries. It preceded the Yamnaya culture (Late Eneolithic) and was important in the domestication of the horse.
Srubnaya culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Srubna culture, Timber Grave culture, Timber-Grave culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Bronze Age culture of the Volga and Don steppes in southern Russia, following the Yamnaya culture. The burials include horse appointments. The Andronovo complex is related to the Timber Grave group in southern Russia; both represent branches of the Indo-Iranian cultural block.
Strelets culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Upper Palaeolithic culture of the Oka-Don Lowland of European Russia, dated to c 40,000-25,000 bp. The earliest assemblages include Middle Palaeolithic scrapers, points, and bifaces. Later assemblages have scrapers, burins, non-stone tools, and art objects. The diagnostic tool is a small triangular bifacial point with concave base.
TRB culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Funnel Beaker culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Abbreviated name for the Danish Tragterbecker or German Trichterrandbecher culture, alternatively known in English as the Funnel Beaker Culture. It is the first Neolithic culture of northern Europe, found in southern Scandinavia, the Low Countries, northern Germany, and northern Poland, in the later 4th and early 3rd millennium BC. It is characterized by the use of a funnel-necked beaker with globular body. It is thought to represent the acculturation of local Mesolithic communities by contact with the Linear Pottery culture groups further south. Five regional groups have been determined: western group in the Netherlands, sometimes associated with hunebedden (megalithic burial monuments); southern group in Germany; southeastern group in Czechoslovakia; eastern group in Poland; and northern group in Denmark and Sweden. Settlement sites are not well known, but burials are abundant, especially Dysser in Scandinavia and in Kujavian Graves in Poland; passage graves were eventually used. Other artifacts include ground stone axes and battle-axes, and copper tools appear in later phases. The TRB culture is succeeded by - and perhaps developed directly into - the Single Grave culture.
Tagar culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Culture in south Siberia in the region of Minusinsk c 700-200/100 BC. The Bronze Age Karasuk culture was replaced by the Tagar culture, which endured until the 2nd century BC, producing an art of animal motifs related to that of the Scythians of southern European Russia. They also had broad daggers. On the Yenisey River, the Tagar culture was replaced by the Tashtyk culture, dating from the 1st-4th century AD.
Titterington culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A non-ceramic Late Archaic culture of the Midwest, c 2500-1900 BC, with small hunting and processing camps, base settlements, and mortuary sites. The artifacts include bifaces and were not heat-treated.
Tumulus culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tumulus Bronze Age, Tumulus period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Middle Bronze Age culture of the central Danube region in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Bavaria, with burials beneath round barrows, dating c 1500-1200 BC. The heartland of the Tumulus culture was Bavaria, Württemberg, and the area previously occupied by the Unetice culture, but distribution extended into north Germany and west as far as Alsace. With the introduction of urnfield burial, the Tumulus culture and the Middle Bronze Age came to an end. It is defined mainly by the dominant burial rite of inhumation beneath a burial mound, as well as a number of characteristic bronze types, found both in the burials and in hoards. It continued earlier trends in ceramics and metalwork, though more elaborate in form and decoration.
Veterov culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Bronze Age culture of Moravia with a material culture of the Hungarian Early Bronze Age and the Unetice culture of Bohemia.
Volga-Oka culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Mesolithic and Neolithic groups of the Central Russian Plain, related to Forest Neolithic groups of the Baltic. Pottery was adopted by hunter-gatherers who also fished.
Wessex culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Bronze Age culture of southern England with cemeteries of found barrows of special types (bell, disc and saucer barrows and enclosures strangely labeled 'pond barrows') c 2650-1400 BC. It developed from the Beaker tradition and was closely related to the Armorican Tumulus Culture. The Wessex I period, c 2650-2000 BC, is associated with the major rebuilding of Stonehenge (III). There are rich grave goods, including bronze daggers and axes, amber and shale beads and buttons, copper and gold. The pottery is mainly incense cups and the first collared urns. In the Wessex II period, c 1650-1400 BC, cremation replaced inhumation and there are faience beads. Bronze was normal in Wessex II, and contained up to 17 percent tin. They had contacts with Egypt, Mycenae, and Crete. Unfortunately no settlements of the Wessex culture are known.
Yamnaya culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late Neolithic culture of horizon of the lower Volga and Don steppes, regarded by some as the predecessor to the Corded Ware, Single Grave, or Kurgan culture.
DEFINITION: The cultivation of domesticated crops. The invention of agriculture occurred in the Near East during the Neolithic period (8500-4300 BCE).
DEFINITION: The totality of past human culture; an extinct group's learned behavior, cognition, and emotion.
archaeological culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The constantly recurring artifacts or group of assemblages that represent or are typical of a specific ancient culture at a particular time and place. The term describes the maximum grouping of all assemblages that represent the sum of the human activities carried out within a culture.
circumpolar cultures
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A group of related cultures in the most northerly (Arctic) regions of Europe, including Siberia, and North America. These peoples lived north of the region where settled farming life was possible. Although contemporary with Neolithic and Bronze Age communities farther south, the circumpolar tribes remained semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers. They adopted pottery from the farming peoples and their trade connections, making egg-shaped bowls with pitted or comb-stamped decoration. Characteristic tools were hunting and woodworking equipment, often of ground slate. Rock carvings and artifacts attest the use of skin boats, skis, and sledges which suggest long-distance trade - especially of amber. The sites and cemeteries are usually close to water. Fishing was an important activity and they exploited food sources such as elk, reindeer, and seal.
cognitive concept of culture
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A model of culture consisting of the set of meanings (categories and relationships) people construct for making sense of their lives. It is used in archaeological interpretation for both synchronic and diachronic descriptions of cultural meaning.
DEFINITION: In a general sense, the whole way of life of man as a species. In a more specific usage, it is the learned behavior, social customs, ideas, and technology characteristic of a certain people or civilization at a particular time or over a period of time (such as Eskimo culture). In this sense, a culture is a group of people whose total activities define what they represent and are transmitted to others in the group by social (mainly linguistic) - as opposed to genetic - means. Culture includes the production of ideas, artifacts, and institutions. In a more restricted sense (as in the term 'blade culture') culture signifies the artifacts or tool- and implement-making tradition of a people or a stage of development. Similar or related assemblages found in several sites within a defined area during the same time period, considered to represent the activities of one specific group of people is a culture. Cultures are often named for a particular site or an artifact. The word 'culture' in archaeology means a collection of archaeologically observable data; it is defined as the regularly occurring assemblage of associated artifacts and practices, such as pottery, house-types, metalwork, and burial rites, and regarded in this sense as the physical expression of a particular social group. This usage is especially associated with Gordon Childe, who popularized this concept as a means of analyzing prehistoric material. Thus the Bandkeramik culture of Neolithic Europe is an hypothesized social group characterized by its use of a particular type of pottery, houses, etc. The term, in reference to the specific elements of material culture, is most often used in the Old World.
culture area
DEFINITION: Major anthropological subdivisions of the North American continent, characterized by relatively uniform environments and relatively similar cultures. It is a geographical region in which general cultural homogeneity is to be found, defined by ethnographically observed cultural similarities within the area. A culture area is also a geographic area in which one culture prevailed at a given time. This concept was devised as a means of organizing museum data. Examples are the Southwest, the Northwest Coast.
culture center
DEFINITION: The center of a culture area, so designated because it best represents the essential qualities of the culture.
culture change
DEFINITION: Any significant modification in the essential structure and elements of a culture over a period of time.
culture complex
DEFINITION: An integrated group of cultural traits functioning as a distinct system within a culture area.
culture core
DEFINITION: Technological, organizational, and ideological features most directly related to meeting the most important material needs of a society.
culture history
DEFINITION: A history of the cultures that inhabited a particular location or region.
culture sequence
DEFINITION: The order in which cultures or assemblages from different cultures follow one another. In successive levels of a stratified site, the oldest is usually at the lowest level.
culture-historical approach
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: culture history, culture historical approach, culture-historical theory
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An approach to archaeological interpretation which uses the procedure of the traditional historian; the organization of the archaeological record into a basic sequence of events in time and space. This approach assumes that artifacts can be used to build a generalized picture of human culture and descriptive models in time and space, and that these can be interpreted. It is the reconstruction of the prehistoric past based on temporal and spatial syntheses of data and the application of general descriptive models usually derived from a normative concept of culture and induction. Culture history is the chronological arrangement of the time phases and events of a particular culture.
cyclic agriculture
DEFINITION: A term describing a hypothetical process that may have existed among early agriculturists. Before the use of fertilizers and other efficient farming methods, cultivated land around a settlement lost its fertility over time and eventually becomes unproductive unless it is allowed to lie fallow for a while. An early farming site might have been exploited for a decade, and then left while the inhabitants founded a new settlement not too far away, farming that area for a decade before moving on again. Its use is suspected in certain areas, such as in Eastern Europe.
epi-Paleolithic cultures
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Epipalaeolithic, Epipaleolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The final Upper Palaeolithic industries that emerged at the end of the final glaciation; the continuation of Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) cultures after the end of the last Ice Age, followed by Neolithic. In the Levant, it was c 20,000-10,000 BP.
DEFINITION: Cultivating particular plants; a stage in food production before agriculture.
intensive agriculture
DEFINITION: Field crop production by means of the annual preparation of fields intended for cultivation on a more or less permanent basis facilitated by use of the plow and other machinery, draft animals, fertilizers (anciently often animal and human fetal matter), irrigation, water storage technologies, and the like.
kitchen-garden agriculture
DEFINITION: A kitchen garden in which plants (as vegetables or herbs) for use in the kitchen are cultivated. Cultivation of garden and tree crops in plots next to dwellings was important to the Maya. Clear areas near residential Maya mounds may be kitchen gardens.
material culture
DEFINITION: The artifacts and ecofacts used by a group to cope with their physical and social environment. Material culture includes the buildings, tools, and other artifacts that constitute the material remains of a former society - its technology and artifacts combined. Material culture thus embraces folk architecture, folk arts, and folk crafts. For example, the construction of houses, the design and decoration of buildings and utensils, and the performance of home industries, according to traditional styles and methods, make up material culture. The distinction is made between those aspects of culture that appear as physical objects, and those aspects which are nonmaterial. It is the major source of evidence for archaeology.
megalithic culture
DEFINITION: In India, an Iron Age culture of the south from the 1st millennium BC or earlier which lasted into the early 1st millennium AD. The grave forms include urn burials and various cist, pit, and rock-cut graves. Stone alignments are also associated and graves generally contain burnished black-and-red ware, iron tools, weapons, horse and household equipment.
pan-grave culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Material culture of a group of semi-nomadic Nubian cattle herders who entered Egypt in the late Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC) and during the Second Intermediate Period (c 1633-1550 BC). They are well attested in Eastern Desert, the characteristic being shallow circular pit-graves with black-topped pottery, the 'pan graves' of Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia. Their material culture was similar to the C-Group. The people were mercenaries during this period of Egyptian history and during the New Kingdom, when they were called the Medjay.
swidden agriculture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: swidden farming; slash-and-burn agriculture; swidden; shifting cultivation; swidden cultivation
DEFINITION: Agricultural technique whereby forest vegetation is cut down annually, let dry and burned to prepare fields for crops. The method enriches the soil with nutrients from the ash, but the fields are only productive for a few years - at which time it is necessary to change fields. Swidden agriculture is most common to Mesoamerica. The foremost benefit of this procedure is that the plot will be relatively weed free at first.
tanged point culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term once used for any of a series of cultures of the Postglacial period whose tool kits include small tanged or shouldered points, e.g. the Ahrensburgian and Hamburgian.

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