Saturday, January 29, 2005

Corded Ware and the Terramara

The Battle Axe folk are also known as the Corded Ware Culture after the cord-marked pottery that suddenly appears around the Neolithic-Bronze Age transition period.

Although scenarios vary, the Battle Axe people have been suggested as non-Indo-European speakers who are invaded or otherwise amalgamate with an early Indo-European folk described as Nordwestblock.

The resulting culture is, in turn, invaded by or met with migrations from Proto-Germanic speaking people.

Cord-marked pottery appears very early far to the east in Asia. In fact, the earliest pottery in the world is that of the Jomon of Japan. The name "jomon" refers to the use of cord-markings. Possibly this practice influenced the later corded horizon in Southeast Asia, which also has relationship to the Hoabinhian tradition.

Distribution of Corded Ware Culture

Among the reconstructions for "jar" in Austronesian are *kundu which appears related to *kundu "gourd." Dempwolff reconstructs *kenD(ih) "pitcher, water jar," and Hayes has Proto-Austric *(kEn)zeh "pitcher".

Pedersen offers the following list of possibly related words:

from Danish Etymological Dictionary:

kanna "pitcher" Old Norse
kande id. Danish
kanne id. Norwegian
kanna id. Swedish
kanna id. Old Saxon
loan from
canna "reed, tube; flute" Latin
("clay container with spout" > "pitcher")?
cf., with suffix
cana:lis "canal" Latin
loan from
kánna "tube" Greek
loan from
qanu: Babylonian-Assyrian
gin id. Akkadian-Sumerian
*gan(dh)- Proto-IndoEuropean
gann "vessel, container" Middle Irish
*gandhna- Proto-IndoEuropean

kani "plate" Old Norse
kane "boat" Danish dial.
"sleigh" Danish
kane id. Norwegian
kane "bowl with handles",
"scoop" Norwegian dial.
kani "boat" Old Swedish
kana type of sleigh Swedish dial.
kani "small wooden bowl",
"trunk, snout",
type of boat Icelandic
kane "boat" Middle Low German
Kahn id. German
kaan id. Dutch

Pedersen feels these words belong to non-Indo-European Nordwestblock as they do not reconstruct clearly into earlier branches:

The restricted number of IE branches that the root occurs in (Celtic, Germanic, Italic) makes one suspicious that it is not IE, but non-IE Nordwestblock (with two other "container" words in the Germanic languages, and , we can be certain they aren't Germanic; roots in Germanic of the form CVC where the C's are unvoiced stops (p, t, k, kW), would have to be from PIE roots CVC, where the C's are voiced stops (b, d, g, gW), but such roots do not occur in PIE. Further the /a/ of the Latin word makes it likely it was borrowed into Latin too. In my opinion the root can be accounted for much more easily by assuming it travelled as a loanword from SEAsia to Europe.

The natural frozen mummy known as Ötzi found in the Italian Alps and dating to this period might be related to this culture. The pile dwellings or terramarra of northern Italy have been linked with the shell mounds further north. They are also known as pile-middens. Like shell middens, pile-middens are mounds of accumulated rubbish.

The pile dwelling settlements were protected by plank-fortified earthen walls with a moat on the inner side, and the homes built on dry land. The earthen fortress was divided into four parts and usually located near a stream.

Recreation of a terramara

Settlements of nearly exactly the same type are constructed to this day in Southeast Asia and the Pacific (New Guinea). The earthen embankments are strengthened by logs, and middens accumulate under the pile-dwellings just as in early Italy. Even the height of the piles is usually the same. They are built over both dry land and over water.

Ötzi wore a loincloth but had plenty of other clothing to keep warm including leggings, insulated shoes, a bear-skin hat, a skin jerkin and a cape of linden tree bark fibers and feathers. He also had birch bark containers which he used to carry live embers. His stone axe was quadrangular in cross-section. His body had what may have been medicinal tattoos.

Most interestingly though, Ötzi wore barkcloth gauntlets!

Mummy of Ötzi

Paul Kekai Manansala