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Human Skull ‘Cups’ and Butchered Bones Lead Archaeologists to One Conclusion – Neolithic Cannibals

Human Skull ‘Cups’ and Butchered Bones Lead Archaeologists to One Conclusion – Neolithic Cannibals

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Archaeologists in Spain have made a grim discovery in a deep cave in the south-west of the country. They believe that they have found the remains of some Stone Age people who were butchered and probably cannibalized. Experts have found cups made out of the victims’ skulls. The find is adding to the debate on the phenomenon of cannibalism in prehistory.

A team led by “Jonathan Santana of Durham University and his colleagues at the Universidad de Cantabria and the Universidad de La Laguna” made the discovery reports Forbes. They had been exploring the cave known locally as Cueva de El Toro when they found the bones of seven people, which demonstrate clear signs of being skinned and butchered. The remains included four adults and three children and among these, they found ‘human skull cups’. Preliminary dating has concluded that the bones are up to 8,000 years old.

Neolithic skull cup from Cueva de El Toro, Spain. ( Dr. Jonathan Santana-Cabrera / Durham University)

Skull Cups

The team leader has written that the cups demonstrate “signs of de-fleshing, breakage by percussion and careful retouching of the broken borders” according to Forbes. A great deal of skill, not t mention a sturdy stomach, was needed to make the cups as it involved skinning the head, extracting brain matter, removing facial bones , and cutting off the top of the cranium which had to have its edges smoothed.

This is not the first time that these macabre cups have been found in Spain. They have been unearthed in caves in the south and north of the country. The skulls cups that have been found at Cueva de El Toro, are similar to these other remains. However, these vessels are more refined and better made than the other examples discovered. It appears that the skulls from the Spanish cave had been treated in boiling water and possibly polished.

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Figure detailing the cut marks on the Neolithic skull cups from Cueva de El Toro, Spain. Jonathan Santana-Cabrera / Durham University)

There is plenty of evidence of cannibalism having a long history among early humans in prehistoric Europe. A recent find in south-eastern France of the bones of six Neanderthals also displayed clear signs of cannibalism. There was evidence of “cut marks made by stone tools , complete dismemberment of the individuals, and finger bones that look as if they’ve been gnawed” reports Cosmos.

Theories of Cannibalism and the Skull Caps

Researchers contend that cannibalism was not a result of mindless brutality but was because of complex factors. One theory argues that cannibalism was often related to conflict, so-called ‘war cannibalism’. Victors often ate the defeated because it was believed it gave them strength or magical powers. The cups could have been trophies. There are many examples of this in history, for instance, a Bulgar Khan had a slain Byzantine Emperor’s skull made into a drinking vessel.

Bulgarian Khan ‘Krum the Fearsome’ feasts with his nobles as a servant brings the skull of Nikephoros I, fashioned into a skull cup, full of wine. (Soerfm / )

However, there is no evidence of artifacts such as spear points or flint knives at the cave in Spain that would indicate that the six victims were killed in some clan or tribal war. One theory is that environmental changes, especially during interglacial periods led to a decline in the large mammals, such as bison, which early human hunters depended on for their protein.

According to the Journal of Archaeological Journal “environmental upheavals, including depletion of prey biomass… contributed to the rise of cannibalistic behavior”. The six Neanderthals that were found butchered for meat in France were eaten by others who needed their flesh to survive during a famine caused by climate change.

Are the Spanish Skull Caps an Example of Funerary Cannibalism?

The team of experts who found the skull cups in the Spanish cave does not believe that environmental change caused a famine that led to the cannibalism. Instead, they believe that the butchered remains are evidence of ‘funerary cannibalism’ which was very common in the Stone Age, reports Forbes. This practice was once common among Amazonian tribes such as the Warri. It involves consuming the body of the departed so that they can stay part of the clan or tribe or ensure that they have a happy afterlife.

It appears that the butchering and the manufacture of the skulls’ cups occurred in a domestic setting. Research on the remains indicates that at least two were related. This is possibly evidence that a clan or family group cannibalized its dead members for ceremonial or religious purposes, which is very characteristic of funerary cannibalism.

Human remains bones were found along with the skull cups at the site. ( simanlaci / Adobe)

The find in Spain is still being investigated and experts will continue to argue about what led to the butchering of the remains presumably for human consumption and the manufacture of skulls cups . There are those who argue that there is no clear evidence of cannibalism found. If the Spanish team is correct it would seem that funerary cannibalism was widely practiced and that skulls cups were used for ritual purposes during the Neolithic period in Iberia and beyond.

Analysing the bones: what can a skeleton tell you?

Imagine you are an archaeologist excavating at a new building site in East London, the location of an ancient cemetery. Deep down you uncover bones that look old. You recover a full skull with teeth, and most of the bones of the body, missing a few smaller vertebrae and toes.

What can you find out about the person you’ve found? You can actually learn a lot just by having a closer look at their bones and teeth - such as who they were, what their life was like, and sometimes even how they died.

Explore some examples of Middle Stone Age tools. By 200,000 years ago, the pace of innovation in stone technology began to accelerate. Middle Stone Age toolkits included points, which could be hafted on to shafts to make spears stone awls, which could have been used to perforate hides and scrapers that were useful in preparing hide, wood, and other materials.

Explore some examples of Later Stone Age tools. During the Later Stone Age, the pace of innovations rose. People experimented with diverse raw materials (bone, ivory, and antler, as well as stone), the level of craftsmanship increased, and different groups sought their own distinct cultural identity and adopted their own ways of making things.


The Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods saw hunter-gatherers move into the region of Somerset. There is evidence from flint artefacts in a quarry at Westbury that an ancestor of modern man, possibly Homo heidelbergensis, was present in the area from around 500,000 years ago. [1] There is still some doubt about whether the artefacts are of human origin but they have been dated within Oxygen Isotope Stage 13 (524,000 – 478,000 BP). [2] Other experts suggest that "many of the bone-rich Middle Pleistocene deposits belong to a single but climatically variable interglacial that succeeded the Cromerian, perhaps about 500,000 years ago. Detailed analysis of the origin and modification of the flint artefacts leads to the conclusion that the assemblage was probably a product of geomorphological processes rather than human work, but a single cut-marked bone suggests a human presence." [3] Animal bones and artefacts unearthed in the 1980s at Westbury-sub-Mendip, in Somerset, have shown evidence of early human activity approximately 700,000 years ago. [4] [5]

Homo sapiens sapiens, or modern man, came to Somerset during the Early Upper Palaeolithic. There is evidence of occupation of four Mendip caves 35,000 to 30,000 years ago. [6] During the Last Glacial Maximum, about 25,000 to 15,000 years ago, it is probable that Somerset was deserted as the area experienced tundra conditions. Evidence was found in Gough's Cave of deposits of human bone dating from around 12,500 years ago. The bones were defleshed and probably ritually buried though perhaps related to cannibalism being practised in the area at the time or making skull cups or storage containers. [7] Somerset was one of the first areas of future England settled following the end of Younger Dryas phase of the last Ice Age c. 8000 BC. Cheddar Man is the name given to the remains of a human male found in Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge. He is Britain's oldest complete human skeleton. The remains date from about 7150 BC, and it appears that he died a violent death. Somerset is thought to have been occupied by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from about 6000 BCE Mesolithic artefacts have been found in more than 70 locations. Mendip caves were used as burial places, with between 50 and 100 skeletons being found in Aveline's Hole. In the Neolithic era, from about 3500 BCE, there is evidence of farming. [8]

At the end of the last Ice Age the Bristol Channel was dry land, but later the sea level rose, particularly between 1220 and 900 BC and between 800 and 470 BCE, resulting in major coastal changes. The Somerset Levels became flooded, but the dry points such as Glastonbury and Brent Knoll have a long history of settlement, and are known to have been occupied by Mesolithic hunters. [9] [10] The county has prehistoric burial mounds (such as Stoney Littleton Long Barrow), stone rows (such as the circles at Stanton Drew and Priddy) and settlement sites. Evidence of Mesolithic occupation has come both from the upland areas, such as in Mendip caves, and from the low land areas such as the Somerset Levels. Dry points in the latter such as Glastonbury Tor and Brent Knoll, have a long history of settlement with wooden trackways between them. There were also "lake villages" in the marsh such as those at Glastonbury Lake Village and Meare. One of the oldest dated human road work in Britain is the Sweet Track, constructed across the Somerset Levels with wooden planks in the 39th century BC, [9] [11] [12] [13] [14] partially on the route of the even earlier Post Track. [15]

There is evidence of Exmoor's human occupation from Mesolithic times onwards. In the Neolithic period people started to manage animals and grow crops on farms cleared from the woodland, rather than act purely as hunter gatherers. [16] It is also likely that extraction and smelting of mineral ores to make tools, weapons, containers and ornaments in bronze and then iron started in the late Neolithic and into the Bronze and Iron Ages. [17]

The caves of the Mendip Hills were settled during the Neolithic period and contain extensive archaeological sites such as those at Cheddar Gorge. There are numerous Iron Age Hill Forts, which were later reused in the Dark Ages, such as Cadbury Castle, [18] Worlebury Camp [19] and Ham Hill. The age of the henge monument at Stanton Drew stone circles is unknown, but is believed to be from the Neolithic period. [20] There is evidence of mining on the Mendip Hills back into the late Bronze Age when there were technological changes in metal working indicated by the use of lead. There are numerous "hill forts", such as Small Down Knoll, Solsbury Hill, Dolebury Warren and Burledge Hill, which seem to have had domestic purposes, not just a defensive role. They generally seem to have been occupied intermittently from the Bronze Age onward, some, such as Cadbury Camp at South Cadbury, being refurbished during different eras. Battlegore Burial Chamber is a Bronze Age burial chamber at Williton which is composed of three round barrows and possibly a long, chambered barrow. [21]

The Iron Age tribes of later Somerset were the Dobunni in north Somerset, Durotriges in south Somerset and Dumnonii in west Somerset. The first and second produced coins, the finds of which allows their tribal areas to be suggested, but the latter did not. All three had a Celtic culture and language. However, Ptolemy stated that Bath was in the territory of the Belgae, [22] but this may be a mistake. [23] The Celtic gods were worshipped at the temple of Sulis at Bath and possibly the temple on Brean Down. Iron Age sites on the Quantock Hills, include major hill forts at Dowsborough and Ruborough, as well as smaller earthwork enclosures, such as Trendle Ring, Elworthy Barrows and Plainsfield Camp.

Somerset was part of the Roman Empire from 47 AD to about 409 AD. However, the end was not abrupt and elements of Romanitas lingered on for perhaps a century.

Somerset was invaded from the south-east by the Second Legion Augusta, under the future emperor Vespasian. The hillforts of the Durotriges at Ham Hill and Cadbury Castle were captured. Ham Hill probably had a temporary Roman occupation. The massacre at Cadbury Castle seems to have been associated with the later Boudiccan Revolt of 60–61 AD. [9] The county remained part of the Roman Empire until around 409 AD. [24]

The Roman invasion, and possibly the preceding period of involvement in the internal affairs of the south of England, was inspired in part by the potential of the Mendip Hills. A great deal of the attraction of the lead mines may have been the potential for the extraction of silver. [25] [26]

Forts were set up at Bath and Ilchester. The lead and silver mines at Charterhouse in the Mendip Hills were run by the military. The Romans established a defensive boundary along the new military road known the Fosse Way (from the Latin fossa meaning ditch). The Fosse Way ran through Bath, Shepton Mallet, Ilchester and south-west towards Axminster. The road from Dorchester ran through Yeovil to meet the Fosse Way at Ilchester. Small towns and trading ports were set up, such as Camerton and Combwich. The larger towns decayed in the latter part of the period, though the smaller ones appear to have decayed less. In the latter part of the period, Ilchester seems to have been a "civitas" capital and Bath may also have been one. [26] Particularly to the east of the River Parrett, villas were constructed. However, only a few Roman sites have been found to the west of the river. The villas have produced important mosaics and artifacts. Cemeteries have been found outside the Roman towns of Somerset and by Roman temples such as that at Lamyatt. [9] Romano-British farming settlements, such as those at Catsgore and Sigwells, have been found in Somerset. There was salt production on the Somerset Levels near Highbridge and quarrying took place near Bath, where the Roman Baths gave their name to Bath. [27]

Excavations carried out before the flooding of Chew Valley Lake also uncovered Roman remains, indicating agricultural and industrial activity from the second half of the 1st century until the 3rd century AD. The finds included a moderately large villa at Chew Park, [28] where wooden writing tablets (the first in the UK) with ink writing were found. There is also evidence from the Pagans Hill Roman Temple at Chew Stoke. [28] [29] In October 2001 the West Bagborough Hoard of 4th century Roman silver was discovered in West Bagborough. The 681 coins included two denarii from the early 2nd century and 8 Miliarense and 671 Siliqua all dating to the period AD 337 – 367. The majority were struck in the reigns of emperors Constantius II and Julian and derive from a range of mints including Arles and Lyons in France, Trier in Germany and Rome. [30]

In April 2010, the Frome Hoard, one of the largest-ever hoards of Roman coins discovered in Britain, was found by a metal detectorist. The hoard of 52,500 coins dated from the 3rd century AD and was found buried in a field near Frome, in a jar 14 inches (36 cm) below the surface. [31] The coins were excavated by archaeologists from the Portable Antiquities Scheme. [32]

This is the period from about 409 AD to the start of Saxon political control, which was mainly in the late 7th century, though they are said to have captured the Bath area in 577 AD. [33] Initially the Britons of Somerset seem to have continued much as under the Romans but without the imperial taxation and markets. There was then a period of civil war in Britain though it is not known how this affected Somerset. The Western Wandsdyke may have been constructed in this period but archaeological data shows that it was probably built during the 5th or 6th century. This area became the border between the Romano-British Celts and the West Saxons following the Battle of Deorham in 577 AD. [34] The ditch is on the north side, so presumably it was used by the Celts as a defence against Saxons encroaching from the upper Thames Valley. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Saxon Cenwalh achieved a breakthrough against the British Celtic tribes, with victories at Bradford-on-Avon (in the Avon Gap in the Wansdyke) in 652 AD, [35] and further south at the Battle of Peonnum (at Penselwood) in 658 AD, [36] followed by an advance west through the Polden Hills to the River Parrett. [37]

The Saxon advance from the east seems to have been halted by battles between the British and Saxons, for example at the siege of Badon Mons Badonicus (which may have been in the Bath region e.g. at Solsbury Hill), [38] or Bathampton Down. [39] During the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries, Somerset was probably partly in the Kingdom of Dumnonia, partly in the land of the Durotriges and partly in that of the Dobunni. [8] The boundaries between these is largely unknown, but may have been similar to those in the Iron Age. Various "tyrants" seem to have controlled territories from reoccupied hill forts. There is evidence of an elite at hill forts such as Cadbury Castle and Cadbury Camp for example, there is imported pottery. Cemeteries are an important source of evidence for the period and large ones have been found in Somerset, such as that at Cannington, which was used from the Roman to the Saxon period. The towns of Somerset seem to have been little used during that period but there continued to be farming on the villa sites and at the Romano-British villages.

There may have been effects from plague and volcanic eruption during this period as well as marine transgression into the Levels.

The language spoken during this period is thought to be Southwestern Brythonic, [40] but only one or two inscribed stones survive in Somerset from this period. However, a couple of curse tablets found in the baths at Bath may be in this language. Some place names in Somerset seem to be Celtic in origin and may be from this period or earlier, e.g. Tarnock. Some river names, such as Parrett, may be Celtic or pre-Celtic. The religion of the people of Somerset in this period is thought to be Christian but it was isolated from Rome until after the Council of Hertford in 673 AD when Aldhelm was asked to write a letter to Geraint of Dumnonia and his bishops. Some church sites in Somerset are thought to date from this period, e.g., Llantokay Street.

Most of what is known of the history of this period comes from Gildas's On the Ruin of Britain, [41] which is thought to have been written in Durotrigan territory, possibly at Glastonbury.

The earliest fortification of Taunton started for King Ine of Wessex and Æthelburg, in or about the year 710 AD. However, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle this was destroyed 12 years later. [42]

This is the period from the late 7th century (for most of Somerset) to 1066, though for part of the 10th and 11th centuries England was under Danish control. Somerset, like Dorset to the south, held the West Saxon advance from Wiltshire/Hampshire back for over a century, remaining a frontier between the Saxons and the Romano-British Celts. [43]

The Saxons conquered Bath following the Battle of Deorham in 577, and the border was probably established along the line of the Wansdyke to the north of the Mendip Hills. Then Cenwalh of Wessex broke through at Bradford-on-Avon in 652, and the Battle of Peonnum possibly at Penselwood in 658, advancing west through the Polden Hills to the River Parrett. [44] In 661 the Saxons may have advanced into what is now Devon as a result of a battle fought at Postesburh, possibly Posbury near Crediton. [45]

Then in the period 681–85 Centwine of Wessex conquered King Cadwaladr and "advanced as far as the sea", but it is not clear where this was. It is assumed that the Saxons occupied the rest of Somerset about this time. The Saxon rule was consolidated under King Ine, who established a fort at Taunton, demolished by his wife in 722. It is sometimes said that he built palaces at Somerton and South Petherton but this does not seem to be the case. He fought against Geraint in 710. In 705 the diocese of Sherborne was formed, taking in Wessex west of Selwood. Saxon kings granted land in Somerset by charter from the 7th century onward. The way and extent to which the Britons survived under the Saxons is a debatable matter. However, King Ine's laws make provision for Britons. Somerset originally formed part of Wessex and latter became a separate "shire". Somersetshire seems to have been formed within Wessex during the 8th century though it is not recorded as a name until later. Mints were set up at times in various places in Somerset in the Saxon period, e.g., Watchet. [46]

Somerset played an important part in defeating the spread of the Danes in the 9th century. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in 845 Alderman Eanwulf, with the men of Somersetshire (Sumorsǣte), and Bishop Ealstan, and Alderman Osric, with the men of Dorsetshire, conquered the Danish army at the mouth of the Parret. This was the first known use of the name Somersæte. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that in January 878 the King Alfred the Great fled into the marshes of Somerset from the Viking's invasion and made a fort at Athelney. From the fort Alfred was able to organize an resistance using the local militias from Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. [47]

Viking raids took place for instance in 987 and 997 at Watchet [48] and the Battle of Cynwit. King Alfred was driven to seek refuge from the Danes at Athelney before defeating them at the Battle of Ethandun in 878, usually considered to be near Edington, Wiltshire, but possibly the village of Edington in Somerset. Alfred established a series of forts and lookout posts linked by a military road, or Herepath, so his army could cover Viking movements at sea. The Herepath has a characteristic form which is familiar on the Quantocks: a regulation 20 m wide track between avenues of trees growing from hedge laying embankments. The Herepath ran from the ford on the River Parrett at Combwich, past Cannington hill fort to Over Stowey, where it climbed the Quantocks along the line of the current Stowey road, to Crowcombe Park Gate. Then it went south along the ridge, to Triscombe Stone. One branch may have led past Lydeard Hill and Buncombe Hill, back to Alfred's base at Athelney. The main branch descended the hills at Triscombe, then along the avenue to Red Post Cross, and west to the Brendon Hills and Exmoor. [49] A peace treaty with the Danes was signed at Wedmore and the Danish king Guthrum the Old was baptised at Aller. Burhs (fortified places) had been set up by 919, such as Lyng. The Alfred Jewel, an object about 2.5 inch long, made of filigree gold, cloisonné-enamelled and with a rock crystal covering, was found in 1693 at Petherton Park, North Petherton. [50] Believed to have been owned by Alfred the Great [51] it is thought to have been the handle for a pointer that would have fit into the hole at its base and been used while reading a book.

Monasteries and minster churches were set up all over Somerset, with daughter churches from the minsters in manors. There was a royal palace at Cheddar, which was used at times in the 10th century to host the Witenagemot, [52] and there is likely to have been a "central place" at Somerton, Bath, Glastonbury and Frome since the kings visited them. The towns of Somerset seem to have been in occupation in this period though evidence for this is limited because of subsequent buildings on top of remains from this period. Agriculture flourished in this period, with a re-organisation into centralised villages in the latter part in the east of the county.

In the period before the Norman Conquest, Somerset came under the control of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, and his family. There seems to have been some Danish settlement at Thurloxton and Spaxton, judging from the place-names. After the Norman Conquest, the county was divided into 700 fiefs, and large areas were owned by the crown, [53] with fortifications such as Dunster Castle used for control and defence.

This period of Somerset's history is well documented, for example in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Asser's Life of Alfred. [54]

This is the period from 1066 to around 1500. Following the defeat of the Saxons by the Normans in 1066, various castles were set up in Somerset by the new lords such as that at Dunster, and the manors was awarded to followers of William the Conqueror such as William de Moyon and Walter of Douai. [55] Somerset does not seem to have played much part in the civil war in King Stephen's time, but Somerset lords were main players in the murder of Thomas Becket.

A good picture of the county in 1086 is given by Domesday Book, though there is some difficulty in identifying the various places since the hundreds are not specified. [56] [57] The total population given for the county, which had different boundaries to those today, was 13,399, however this only included the heads of households, so with their families this may have been around 67,000. [25] Farming seems to have prospered for the next three centuries but was severely hit by the Black Death which in 1348 arrived in Dorset and quickly spread through Somerset, causing widespread mortality, perhaps as much as 50% in places. It re-occurred, resulting in a change in feudal practices since the manpower was no longer so available.

Reclamation of land from marsh in the Somerset Levels increased, largely under monastic influence. Crafts and industries also flourished, the Somerset woollen industry being one of the largest in England at this time. [58] "New towns" were founded in this period in Somerset, i.e. Newport, but were not successful. Coal mining on the Mendips was an important source of wealth while quarrying also took place, an example is near Bath.

The towns grew, again often by monastic instigation, during this period and fairs were started. The church was very powerful at this period, particularly Glastonbury Abbey. After their church burnt down, the monks there "discovered" the tomb of "King Arthur" and were able rebuild their church. There were over 20 monasteries in Somerset at this period including the priory at Hinton Charterhouse which was founded in 1232 by Ela, Countess of Salisbury who also founded Lacock Abbey. [59] Many parish churches were re-built in this period. Between 1107 and 1129 William Giffard the Chancellor of King Henry I, converted the bishop's hall in Taunton into Taunton Castle. Bridgwater Castle was built in 1202 by William Brewer. It passed to the king in 1233 [60] and in 1245 repairs were ordered to its motte and towers. During the 11th century Second Barons' War against Henry III, Bridgwater was held by the barons against the King. In the English Civil War the town and the castle were held by the Royalists under Colonel Sir Francis Wyndham. Eventually, with many buildings destroyed in the town, the castle and its valuable contents were surrendered to the Parliamentarians. The castle itself was deliberately destroyed in 1645.

During the Middle Ages sheep farming for the wool trade came to dominate the economy of Exmoor. The wool was spun into thread on isolated farms and collected by merchants to be woven, fulled, dyed and finished in thriving towns such as Dunster. The land started to be enclosed and from the 17th century onwards larger estates developed, leading to establishment of areas of large regular shaped fields. During this period a Royal Forest and hunting ground was established, administered by the Warden. The Royal Forest was sold off in 1818. [17]

In the medieval period the River Parrett was used to transport Hamstone from the quarry at Ham Hill, [61] Bridgwater was part of the Port of Bristol until the Port of Bridgwater was created in 1348, [48] covering 80 miles (130 km) of the Somerset coast line, from the Devon border to the mouth of the River Axe. [62] [63] Historically, the main port on the river was at Bridgwater the river being bridged at this point, with the first bridge being constructed in 1200 AD. [64] Quays were built in 1424 with another quay, the Langport slip, being built in 1488 upstream of the Town Bridge. [64] A Customs House was sited at Bridgwater, on West Quay and a dry dock, launching slips and a boat yard on East Quay. [65] The river was navigable, with care, to Bridgwater Town Bridge by 400 to 500 tonnes (440 to 550 tons) vessels. [66] By trans-shipping into barges at the Town Bridge the Parrett was navigable as far as Langport and (via the River Yeo) to Ilchester.

This is the period from around 1500 to 1800. In the 1530s, the monasteries were dissolved and their lands bought from the king by various important families in Somerset. By 1539, Glastonbury Abbey was the only monastery left, its abbot Richard Whiting was then arrested and executed on the orders of Thomas Cromwell. From the Tudor to the Georgian times, farming specialised and techniques improved, leading to increases in population, although no new towns seem to have been founded. Large country houses such as at Hinton St George and Montacute House were built at this time.

The Bristol Channel floods of 1607 are believed to have affected large parts of the Somerset Levels with flooding up to 8 feet (2 m) above sea level. [67] [68] In 1625, a House of Correction was established in Shepton Mallet and, today, HMP Shepton Mallet is England's oldest prison still in use. [69] [70]

During the English Civil War, Somerset was largely Parliamentarian, although Dunster was a Royalist stronghold. The county was the site of important battles between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, notably the Battle of Lansdowne in 1643 and the Battle of Langport in 1645. [71] The castle changed hands several times during 1642–45 along with the town. [72] During the Siege of Taunton it was defended by Robert Blake, from July 1644 to July 1645. This war resulted in castles being destroyed to prevent their re-use. [73]

In 1685, the Duke of Monmouth led the Monmouth Rebellion in which Somerset people fought against James II. The rebels landed at Lyme Regis and travelled north hoping to capture Bristol and Bath, puritan soldiers damaged the west front of Wells Cathedral, tore lead from the roof to make bullets, broke the windows, smashed the organ and the furnishings, and for a time stabled their horses in the nave. [74] They were defeated in the Battle of Sedgemoor at Westonzoyland, the last battle fought on English soil. [75] The Bloody Assizes which followed saw the losers being sentenced to death or transportation. [76]

The Society of Friends established itself in Street in the mid-17th century, and among the close-knit group of Quaker families were the Clarks: Cyrus started a business in sheepskin rugs, later joined by his brother James, who introduced the production of woollen slippers and, later, boots and shoes. [77] C&J Clark still has its headquarters in Street, but shoes are no longer manufactured there. Instead, in 1993, redundant factory buildings were converted to form Clarks Village, the first purpose-built factory outlet in the United Kingdom. [78]

The 18th century was largely one of peace and declining industrial prosperity in Somerset. The Industrial Revolution in the Midlands and Northern England spelt the end for most of Somerset's cottage industries. However, farming continued to flourish, with the Bath and West of England Agricultural Society being founded in 1777 to improve methods. John Billingsley conducted a survey of the county's agriculture in 1795 but found that methods could still be improved. [79]

Arthur Wellesley took his title, Duke of Wellington from the town of Wellington. He is commemorated on a nearby hill with a large, spotlit obelisk, known as the Wellington Monument.

In north Somerset, mining in the Somerset coalfield was an important industry, and in an effort to reduce the cost of transporting the coal the Somerset Coal Canal was built part of it was later converted into a railway. [80] Other canals included the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, Westport Canal, Grand Western Canal, Glastonbury Canal and Chard Canal. [9] The Dorset and Somerset Canal was proposed, but very little of it was ever constructed.

The 19th century saw improvements to Somerset's roads with the introduction of turnpikes and the building of canals and railways. The usefulness of the canals was short-lived, though they have now been restored for recreation. The railways were nationalised after the Second World War, but continued until 1965, when smaller lines were scrapped two were transferred back to private ownership as "heritage" lines.

In 1889, Somerset County Council was created, replacing the administrative functions of the Quarter Sessions.

The population of Somerset has continued to grow since 1800, when it was 274,000, [25] particularly in the seaside towns such as Weston-super-Mare. Some population decline occurred earlier in the period in the villages, but this has now been reversed, and by 1951 the population of Somerset was 551,000. [25]

Chard claims to be the birthplace of powered flight, as it was here in 1848 that the Victorian aeronautical pioneer John Stringfellow first demonstrated that engine-powered flight was possible through his work on the Aerial Steam Carriage. [81] [82] North Petherton was the first town in England (and one of the few ever) to be lit by acetylene gas lighting, supplied by the North Petherton Rosco Acetylene Company. Street lights were provided in 1906. Acetylene was replaced in 1931 by coal gas produced in Bridgwater, as well as by the provision of an electricity supply. [83]

Around the 1860s, at the height of the iron and steel era, a pier and a deep-water dock were built, at Portishead, by the Bristol & Portishead Pier and Railway to accommodate the large ships that had difficulty in reaching Bristol Harbour. [84] [85] The Portishead power stations were coal-fed power stations built next to the dock. Construction work started on Portishead "A" power station in 1926. It began generating electricity in 1929 for the Bristol Corporation's Electricity Department. [86] [87] In 1951, Albright and Wilson built a chemical works on the opposite side of the dock from the power stations. The chemical works produced white phosphorus from phosphate rock imported, through the docks, into the UK. [88] The onset of new generating capacity at Pembroke (oil-fired) and Didcot (coal-fired) in the mid-1970s brought about the closure of the older, less efficient "A" Station. The newer of the two power stations ("B" Station) was converted to burn oil when the Somerset coalfields closed. [87] Industrial activities ceased in the dock with the closure of the power stations. The Port of Bristol Authority finally closed the dock in 1992, [89] and it has now been developed into a marina and residential area.

During the First World War hundreds of Somerset soldiers were killed, and war memorials were put up in most of the towns and villages only a few villages escaped casualties. There were also casualties – though much fewer – during the Second World War, who were added to the memorials. The county was a base for troops preparing for the 1944 D-Day landings, and some Somerset hospitals still date partly from that time. The Royal Ordnance Factory ROF Bridgwater was constructed early in World War II for the Ministry of Supply. It was designed as an Explosive ROF, to produce RDX, which was then a new experimental high-explosive. [90] It obtained water supplies from two sources via the Somerset Levels: the artificial Huntspill River which was dug during the construction of the factory and also from the King's Sedgemoor Drain, which was widened at the same time. [91] The Taunton Stop Line was set up to resist a potential German invasion, and the remains of its pill boxes can still be seen, as well as others along the coast. [92] A decoy town was constructed on Black Down, intended to represent the blazing lights of a town which had neglected to follow the black-out regulations. [1] Sites in the county housed Prisoner of War camps including: Norton Fitzwarren, Barwick, Brockley, Goathurst and Wells. Various airfields were built or converted from civilian use including: RNAS Charlton Horethorne (HMS Heron II), RAF Weston-super-Mare, RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron), Yeovil/Westland Airport, RAF Weston Zoyland, RAF Merryfield, RAF Culmhead and RAF Charmy Down. [93]

Exmoor was one of the first British National Parks, designated in 1954, under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. [94] and is named after its main river. It was expanded in 1991 and in 1993 Exmoor was designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area. The Quantock Hills were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1956, the first such designation in England under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The Mendip Hills followed with AONB designation in 1972. [95]

Hinkley Point A nuclear power station was a Magnox power station constructed between 1957 and 1962 and operating until ceasing generation in 2000. [96] Hinkley Point B is an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) which was designed to generate 1250 MW of electricity (MWe). Construction of Hinkley Point B started in 1967. In September 2008 it was announced, by Electricité de France (EDF), that a third, twin-unit European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) reactor known as Hinkley Point C is planned, [97] to replace Hinkley Point B which is due for closure in 2016. [98]

Somerset today has only two small cities, Bath and Wells, and only small towns in comparison with other areas of England. Tourism is a major source of employment along the coast, and in Bath and Cheddar for example. Other attractions include Exmoor, West Somerset Railway, Haynes Motor Museum and the Fleet Air Arm Museum as well as the churches and the various National Trust and English Heritage properties in Somerset.

Agriculture continues to be a major business, if no longer a major employer because of mechanisation. Light industries take place in towns such as Bridgwater and Yeovil. The towns of Taunton and Shepton Mallet manufacture cider, although the number of apple orchards has reduced.

In the late 19th century the boundaries of Somerset were slightly altered, but the main change came in 1974 when the county of Avon was set up. The northern part of Somerset was removed from the administrative control of Somerset County Council. On abolition of the county of Avon in 1996, these areas became separate administrative authorities, "North Somerset" and "Bath and North East Somerset". [99] The Department for Communities and Local Government was considering a proposal by Somerset County Council to change Somerset's administrative structure by abolishing the five districts to create a Somerset unitary authority. The changes were planned to be implemented no later than 1 April 2009. [100] However, support for the county council's bid was not guaranteed and opposition among the district council and local population was strong 82% of people responding to a referendum organised by the five district councils rejected the proposals. [101] It was confirmed in July 2007 that the government had rejected the proposals for unitary authorities in Somerset, and that the present two-tier arrangements of Somerset County Council and the district councils will remain. [101]

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Archaeological Evidence for Cannibalism in Prehistoric Western Europe: from Homo antecessor to the Bronze Age

Archaeological studies of human cannibalism and its causes have never lacked controversy. The reasons for this are both the difficulties in identifying cannibalism and the inherent complexity, by the many nuances that can have the behaviour of eating other humans. After Turner’s detailed studies in the Southwestern USA, reports were published in the 1990s of cannibalism during European prehistory. Archaeological sites identified with cannibalism have been found that date from the early Pleistocene to the Iron Age. In this study, we review data from Western Europe’s prehistoric sites, which allow us to discuss the various labels that accompany interpretations of cannibalism. The most common interpretation is not ritual but is rather gastronomic, nutritional or dietary. However, there is no agreement on this interpretation. Following the data review, we propose dividing cannibalism into the following broad, objective and useful categories: exocannibalism, endocannibalism and survival cannibalism, although it is not always easy to choose one option. We also review the taphonomic characteristics of these assemblages, which enable us to establish the most common taphonomic markers of prehistoric cannibalism. These features include abundant anthropogenic modifications (on more than of 20 % of human remains), the intensive processing of bodies, greater abundance of cut marks related to defleshing and filleting that dismembering and the presence of human tooth marks or chewing marks.

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Final Remarks

Mimicking cut marks from different processes are frequent in taphonomy and the case of the human radius of Gough’s Cave is a good example. Cut marks on the human radius from this site have highly similar, if not identical shapes, to those we have experimentally produced when meat was removed using individual movements due to hand supination and irregularities of the tool edge.
There are marked differences between the cut marks used for bone decoration as found in other decorated specimens from Gough’s Cave site, such as ‘battons percés’ which are characterized by individual and deep cuts, and those on the human radius. Similarities found by Bello et al., [25] with Magdalenian decorative bones (based on an apparent overall zig-zag aspect of the cuts [56]) are the result of mimicking marks from different processes, i.e. equifinality, so frequent in taphonomy.
The unusual shape of cuts on the human radius results from the confluence of several factors, such as the type of bone (a radius which bears less meat than other anatomical elements), lateral irregularities of the edge shape of the tool (bearing salient irregularities that marked the bone when cutting), and the cutmaker, who inclined the stone tool, maybe due to lack of skill, and did not make a straight cut. Given that each set of striations outlined in Figure 1b is superimposed on others, both groups of marks should be equally the result of subsequent cutting movements during a butchery process, using the same tool but with different hand supination by the cut-maker, maybe changing the orientation of the bone respect to the butcher. The overall zig-zag shape of the cuts is actually the result of handedness, hand-supination, irregularity of the stone tool edge and moving the bone while filleting.
All these indications suggest that the complex cuts repeated along the length of the Gough’s human radius were the result of butchery and filleting when removing meat, without decorative intention.
The other factor considered to be the outcome of ritual treatment is the complete calvaria named as skull cups. Skull cups appear in cannibalistic cases practiced by Homo sapiens. Whether these are indication of rituals or just a domestic and useful modification of the skull, imitating natural breakage of skulls to obtain a recipient or bowl shape, should be investigated in depth. Most cases where these skull cups have been found are in a context of intense nutritional exploitation of human bodies that, with the exception of the skulls, have all traits of dietary/gastronomic cannibalism. Notably, the general context of Gough’s Cave is one of intense nutritional exploitation, very similar to Gran Dolina-TD6. Both of them are characterized by intense and identical breakage, even of human faces, comparable treatment of humans and animals to obtain nutrients, and the mixing of the human remains with animal bones as food discard. Apparent ritualistic treatment of the skulls could more likely be due to transformation of the shape of the skull to obtain a bowl shape for practical domestic use rather than ritual motivations.
The most parsimonious hypothesis for Gough’s Cave then is that the human radius, like the rest of the human skeletal elements, including skulls and faces, were intensively butchered in cannibalistic acts and deposited in a context in which human bones were with other animals intensively butchered

Iron Age Hill Forts

Aerial view of entrance to Old Oswestry Hill Fort in the Welsh Marches near Oswestry in north west Shropshire during the Iron Age.

English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images

People throughout much of Celtic Europe lived in hill forts during the Iron Age. Walls and ditches surrounded the forts, and warriors defended hill forts against attacks by rival clans.

Inside the hill forts, families lived in simple, round houses made of mud and wood with thatched roofs. They grew crops and kept livestock, including goats, sheep, pigs, cows and geese.

Indigenous Cannibalism in the Americas

Pathways: Cannibalism in the American Southwest – In the 1990’s definitive proof arrived when a group of archaeological sites were excavated at the base of Sleeping Ute Mountain in southern Colorado. Within the first kiva was found a pile of chopped-up, boiled, and burned human bones. In the second kiva were found the remains of five people in which evidence suggested they had been roasted, the bones defleshed and split open for the marrow. The skulls of at least two people had been placed upside down on the fire, roasted, and broken open, and the cooked brains presumably scooped out. Tools for chopping were found with traces of human blood on them. In the third kiva, however, was the most unusual find. In the ashes of a central hearth was found a nondescript lump. Further analysis revealed it was a coprolite—desiccated human feces. Testing revealed that the feces contained human myoglobin, a protein found only in skeletal and heart muscle. The only way it could get into the intestinal tract was through eating. Based on the evidence at hand it was clear the community had been attacked. The people had been killed, cooked, and eaten. Then, in an ultimate act of contempt, one of the killers defecated in a hearth, the symbolic center of the family and the household.

Now there’s proof the flesh was eaten. That proof is found in human coprolites — otherwise known as dried-up feces.

Human muscle contains myoglobin, a protein found nowhere else except in skeletal and heart muscle. When human flesh is eaten, traces of myoglobin will appear in the diner’s excrement. Just such traces were found in human coprolites in Anasazi campsites where the bones of massacred people were scattered. It’s compelling evidence that cannibalism was real.

Toni Gore // Cannibalism in the American Southwest | Popular Archaeology – exploring the past – Another theory used to explain extensive perimortem skeletal trauma currently associated with cannibalism, is the cultural practice of secondary burials. According to Kantner (1999:81), preparation of the deceased as a cause for severe perimortem bone damage has specific contextual characteristics that one would expect if cannibalism had not occurred. These characteristics include the separation of human remains from faunal remains, formal mortuary treatment, and a standardized method of preparation. This is very rarely the context in which remains suggested to have occurred from cannibalistic activities are found. This being said, a study on Canyon Butte Ruin 3 in Northeastern Arizona did discover formally buried bones matching the taphonomic signatures of cannibalism, which could suggest mortuary practices as the cause of perimortem bone damage, rather than cannibalism. However, Turner & Turner (1992:676) maintain that extensive damage to the faces suggests death in the context of violence, as this type of inhumation was considerably rare in Anasazi society. Billman et al (2000:165) supports this conclusion, noting that, “although some North American societies are known to have removed flesh from the bones of the dead as part of the death ritual, often leaving cut marks as signs of the disarticulation process, they did not bash up the remains of their dead either before or after doing so”. He further maintains that the lack of any obvious burial goods, the random distribution of body parts, as well as extensive body mutilation, do not support the hypothesis of secondary burial practices as an explanation for the types of taphonomic characteristics found at 5MT10010. These rebuttals provide strong evidence against the practice of secondary burials at this site, as well as other sites in the American Southwest that have a history of probable cannibalism.

Study provides direct evidence of cannibalism in the Southwest //

“Now, we’ve identified biochemical remains of human tissue in a
coprolite, which is the term used for prehistoric human feces,” Billman
said. “Analysis of the coprolite, and associated remains, at last provides
definitive evidence for sporadic cannibalism in the Southwest.”

A report on the findings—certain to be controversial—appears in the Sept.
7 issue of Nature, a top scientific journal. Besides Billman, authors are Dr.
Richard A. Marlar of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Banks L.
Leonard of Soil Systems, Inc. of Phoenix, Dr. Patricia M. Lambert of Utah State
University and Jennifer E. Marlar of the Colorado Archaeological Society.

The article draws on a multidisciplinary study of a small Anasazi site—known
as 5MT10010—located in the Southwest Colorado. Results of the study of
artifacts, bones and architecture at that site were published in the January,
2000 issue of American Antiquity. Results indicated that three families occupied
the site for approximately 20 to 30 years. When the residents abandoned their
homes sometime around 1150, at least seven people—men, women and children—were
systematically cut up and consumed. One of the people involved in the
consumption of flesh defecated into a hearth. Researchers recovered human feces
from the hearth and tested it for biochemical evidence of human tissue.

Extensive analysis of the three prehistoric dwellings known as pithouses at
the site, and the human bones and tools found inside, along with laboratory
tests, showed:

human blood residue on two stone tools used in butchering

human myoglobin, which could only come from human muscle, in the human
excrement and on a cooking pot.

cutmarks and charring on human bones, including skulls, entirely
consistent with food preparation.

no evidence of other mammals, corn or other vegetable matter in the
coprolite, which suggested that other food was unavailable.

One unusual finding at the excavation was that in the pithouses, almost all
roofing material, tools and other valuables remained. When people abandon a
home, they almost always take with them anything that can be used again unless
they are somehow prevented from doing so. Indications are that the victims had
no time to leave peaceably or to flee in panic.

Soil Systems, Inc., a private archaeological consulting company for which
Billman worked before moving to UNC-Chapel Hill, conducted the excavations. The
Ute Mountain Ute tribe contracted with the company to excavate 60 archaeological
sites before newly irrigated agricultural fields destroyed them. Results of the
investigations indicated that people colonized and abandoned that part of
Southwest Colorado several times between 700 and 1300.

“During periods of good climate, farmers would establish small
communities consisting of clusters of homesteads,” Billman said,
“Eventually each colonization failed, probably because of drought.”
Farmers who periodically occupied the area likely were ancestors of such tribes
as the Hopi and Zuni.

Scientists have found what they say is the first direct evidence of cannibalism among prehistoric Indians in the American Southwest, belying the image of these people as steadfastly peaceful farmers.

The finding may well reignite a long-smoldering controversy over whether ancestral Indians ever made it a practice to eat human flesh, a conclusion deeply resented by their descendants.

The latest evidence sprang from the site of an ancient Anasazi settlement near Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado, where archaeologists came upon butchered human bones and stone cutting tools stained with human blood. A ceramic cooking pot held residues of human tissues. But the most telling of the evidence was found in human feces: biochemical tests revealed clear traces of digested human muscle protein in the dried coprolite, or fossilized prehistoric feces.

”Analysis of the coprolite and associated remains at last provides definitive evidence for sporadic cannibalism in the Southwest,” Dr. Brian R. Billman, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, said yesterday in an announcement of the discovery.

Europe’s Hypocritical History of Cannibalism | History | Smithsonian – By Sarah Everts
April 24, 2013

In 2001, a lonely computer technician living in the countryside in Northern Germany advertised online for a well-built man willing to participate in a mutually satisfying sexual act. Armin Meiwes’ notice was similar to many others on the Internet except for a rather important detail: The requested man must be willing to be killed and eaten.

Meiwes didn’t have to look far. Two hundred and thirty miles away in Berlin, an engineer called Bernd Brandes agreed to travel to Meiwes’ farmhouse. There, a gory video later found by police documented Brandes’ consensual participation in the deadly dinner. The cannibalism was both a shock to the German public and a conundrum to German prosecutors wanting to charge Meiwes with a crime.

Cannibalism might be humanity’s most sacred taboo, but consent of a victim typically eliminates a crime, explains Emilia Musumeci, a criminologist at the University of Catania, in Italy, who studies cannibalism and serial killers.

More technically, cannibalism is not designated as illegal in Germany’s extensive criminal code: Until that point, laws against murder had sufficed to cover cannibalism. If Brandes had volunteered his own life, how could Meiwes be accused of murder?

Because of his victim’s consent, Meiwes was initially found guilty of something akin to assisted suicide, and sentenced to eight years in jail. Had there not been widespread uproar about the seemingly lenient penalty, Meiwes would be out of jail by now. Instead, the uproar led to a subsequent retrial, where Meiwes was found guilty of killing for sexual pleasure. He will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.

The unusual Meiwes case is just one of the topics to be discussed this weekend at an interdisciplinary cannibal conference to be held at the Manchester Museum—the world’s first, say many attending the meeting.

The idea of a cannibalism conference might sound like the basis for a macabre joke about coffee-break finger food. However, there’s serious cannibal scholarship taking place in many disciplines, says conference organizer Hannah Priest, a lecturer at Manchester University, who has previously hosted other academic meetings on werewolves and monsters under the banner of her publishing company Hic Dragones. “From contemporary horror film to medieval Eucharistic devotions, from Freudian theory to science fiction, cannibals and cannibalism continue to repel and intrigue us in equal measure,” advertises the conference’s website.

When the call for abstracts went out last fall, “our first response was one from anthropology, another one was on heavy metal music and the third was on 18th-century literature,” Priest says. “Academics will quite happily discuss very disturbing things in quite polite terms and forget that not everybody talks about this stuff all the time.”

It is perhaps fitting that the conference should take place in Europe because the region has a long chronicle of cannibalism, from prehistory through the Renaissance, right up to the 21st-century Meiwes case. In addition, the area has bequeathed us a bounty of fictional cannibals, including Dracula, who is arguably the world’s most famous consumer of human blood and a gory harbinger of the current pop culture fascination with vampires and zombies.

Tough news to swallow: Europeans saw nothing wrong with cannibalism until the 1900s, two new books claim | Daily Mail Online – Sugg, from the University of Durham, told The Smithsonian: ‘The question was not, “Should you eat human flesh?” but, “What sort of flesh should you eat?”.

He explains how Thomas Willis, a 17th-century pioneer of brain science, brewed a drink for apoplexy, or bleeding, that mingled powdered human skull and chocolate. Meanwhile the moss that grew over a buried skull, called Usnea, was used to cure nosebleeds and possibly epilepsy.

Human fat was thought to cure gout, and German doctors soaked bandages in the fat for wounds.

A clue to our grisly past can be found in our literature, says Noble, from the University of New England in Australia. She found references in everything from John Donne’s ‘Love’s Alchemy’ to Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’.

Sugg also tells how fresh blood was highly valued for it’s ‘effects on vitality’. The German-Swiss physician Paracelsus, in the 16th century, believed blood was good for drinking.

Some followers advocated drinking blood fresh from the body, which does not seem to have caught on, but poor people could pay a small price for a cup of warm blood, served seconds after executions.

Europe’s ‘Medicinal Cannibalism’: The Healing Power of Death – SPIEGEL ONLINE – Finally, it was to be hung up “in a very dry and shady place.” In the end, the recipe notes, it would be “similar to smoke-cured meat” and would be without “any stench.”

Johann Schröder, a German pharmacologist, wrote these words in the 17th century. But the meat to which he was referring was not cured ham or beef tenderloin. The instructions specifically called for the “cadaver of a reddish man … of around 24 years old,” who had been “dead of a violent death but not an illness” and then laid out “exposed to the moon rays for one day and one night” with, he noted, “a clear sky.”

The Celts/Gaul's

Many modern scholars describe the historical Celts as a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age Europe. Proto-Celtic culture formed in the Early Iron Age in Central Europe (the Hallstatt period, named for the site in present-day Austria). By the later Iron Age (the La Tène period), Celts had expanded over a wide range of lands: as far west as Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula, as far east as Galatia (central Anatolia), and as far north as Scotland.

So let us trace the origins of the Hallstatt culture.

It begins with the "Corded Ware" culture

The Corded Ware culture receives its name "Corded Ware" from the frequent use of decorative cord impressions on the pots, which differed from the earlier Pit-Comb Ware culture, Single Grave from its burial custom, and Battle Axe from its characteristic grave offering to males, a stone battle axe (which was by this time an inefficient weapon, but still a traditional status symbol).

The Corded Ware culture is an enormous European archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic (Stone Age), flourishes through the Copper Age and finally culminates in the early Bronze Age, developing in various areas from about 3200 B.C. to 2300 B.C. It represents the introduction of metal into Northern Europe. Corded Ware culture is commonly associated with the Indo-European family of languages.

Corded Ware culture was the culmination of an interaction of opposing tendencies in the area of the North European Plain (between Denmark and Kiev) and between the expansionism in eastern Europe and the local sedentism of farmers in the west. The traditional view of this pottery representing a series of pan-European migrations from the steppe region of southern Russia has been abandoned. Also, Corded Ware Culture communities are now seen as sedentary agriculturalists.

Corded Ware ceramic forms in single graves develop earlier in Poland than in western and southern Central Europe. Contemporary development of non-ceramic Corded Ware burial rites in the western parts have been explained as a spread of Corded Ware cultural traits through a wide-spanning communication network rather than through migration, suggesting the existence of an "A-Horizon" in the 28th century B.C, to be understood as a number of connecting forms within different regional contexts.

It spread to the Lüneburger Heide and then further to the North European Plain, Rhineland, Switzerland, Scandinavia, the Baltic region and Russia to Moscow, where the culture met with the pastoralists (animal herders) considered indigenous to the steppes (white people). On most of the immense, continental expanse the culture is clearly intrusive.

The "Beaker" Culture:

The Bell-Beaker culture ca. 2800 &ndash 1900 B.C, is the term for a widely scattered cultural phenomenon of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic running into the early Bronze Age. The term was coined by John Abercromby, based on their distinctive pottery drinking vessels.

Beaker culture is defined by the common use of a pottery style &mdash a beaker with a distinctive inverted bell-shaped profile found across the western part of Europe during the late 3rd millennium B.C. The pottery is well-made, usually red or red-brown in colour, and ornamented with horizontal bands of incised, excised or impressed patterns. The early Bell Beakers have been described as "International" in style, as they are found in all areas of the Bell Beaker culture. These include cord-impressed types, such as the "All Over Corded" (or "All Over Ornamented"), and the "Maritime" type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later characteristic regional styles developed.

It has been suggested that the beakers were designed for the consumption of alcohol and that the introduction of the substance to Europe may have fueled the beakers' spread. Beer and mead content have been identified from certain examples. However, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores, others have some organic residues associated with food, and still others were employed as funerary urns. Beakers may have been a special form of pottery with a ritual character.

Many theories of the origins of the Bell Beakers have been put forward and subsequently challenged. The Iberian peninsula has been argued as the most likely place of Beaker origin. The oldest AOO shards have so far been found in northern Portugal. Bell Beaker is often suggested as a candidate for an early Indo-European culture or, more specifically, an ancestral proto-Celtic or proto-Italic (Italo-Celtic) culture. The Kurgan hypothesis initially proposed by Marija Gimbutas derived the Beakers from east central European cultures that became "kurganized" by incursions of Steppe Tribes (White people). Her general proposition is supported, though with modifications, by archaeologists J. P. Mallory, and David Anthony.

Note: The "Kurgan hypothesis" traces the migrations of White people from Central Asia into Europe.

The "Unetice" Culture

The Unetice Culture, is the name given to an early Bronze Age culture, preceded by the Beaker culture and followed by the Tumulus culture. The eponymous site is located at Únětice, northwest of Prague. It was named after finds in Aunjetitz, Bohemia and is now focused around the Czech Republic, southern and central Germany, and western Poland. It grew out of beaker roots. It is dated from 2300-1600 B.C. (Bronze A1 and A2 in the chronological schema of Paul Reinecke). The Sky Disc of Nebra is associated with the Unetice culture.

The 3,600-year-old Sky Disc of Nebra, was uncovered in 1999 and surfaced in 2002 when German grave robbers tried to sell it on the international market.

The enigma of a priceless Bronze Age disc seems to have been solved by a Hamburg scientist who has identified it as one of the world's first astronomical clocks. The 3,600-year-old Sky Disc of Nebra, which surfaced four years ago when German grave robbers tried to sell it on the international market, shows that Bronze Age man had a sophisticated sense of time.

"We have been dramatically underestimating the prehistoric peoples," said Harald Meller, chief archaeologist of Saxony-Anhalt, where the disc was found.

The bronze disc is about 30cm in diameter, has a blue-green patina and is inlaid with a gold sun, moon and 32 stars. Robbers using metal detectors found it in 1999 alongside a pile of bronze axes and swords in a prehistoric enclosure on top of a hill in deep forest 112 miles (180km) southwest of Berlin.

The Nebra settlement is close to Europe's oldest observatory in Goseck. The site appears to have had deep spiritual significance in the Bronze Age. From the hill it is possible to see the sun set at every equinox behind the Brocken, the highest mountain peak of the Harz range. And there are about 1,000 barrows, burial grounds for warriors and princes, in the nearby forests.

Since police tracked down the thieves in Switzerland in 2002, archaeologists and astronomers have been trying to puzzle out the disc's function. Ralph Hansen, an astronomer in Hamburg, found that the disc was an attempt to co-ordinate the solar and lunar calendars. It was almost certainly a highly accurate timekeeper that told Bronze Age Man when to plant seeds and when to make trades, giving him an almost modern sense of time.

Herr Hansen first tried to explain the thickness of the moon on the disc. "The crescent on the Sky Disc of Nebra seems to be equivalent to a four-day moon," he said.

He consulted the 7th and 6th century B.C. mul-apin collection of Babylonian documents in the British Museum. It appears that the users of the 3,600- year-old clock made similar calculations. The disc was used to determine when a 13th month should be added to the lunar year, which has shorter months than the solar year. Herr Maller said: "Probably only a very small group of people understood the clock."

But the knowledge was somehow lost, and scientists say that the clock would have been used for only about 300 years. Herr Maller said: "In the end, the disc became a cult object."

The 32-centimeter disc and weighs approximately 2 kilograms is decorated with gold leaf symbols that clearly represent a crescent moon, a circle that was probably the full moon and starts. A cluster of seven dots has been interpreted as the Pleiades constellation as it appeared 3,600 years ago, scattered other stars and three arcs, all picked out in gold leaf from a background rendered violet-blue -- apparently by applying rotten eggs. The formations on the disc are clearly based on previous astrological observations and that astronomical knowledge was tied to a mythological-cosmological worldview right from the beginning.

Although an earlier impression of the cosmos dating from 2400 B.C has been found in Egypt, The painting was found in the burial chamber in the pyramid of the Egyptian pharaoh Unas, which is decorated with stars.

The "Tumulus" culture

The Tumulus culture dominated Central Europe during the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1600 B.C. to 1200 B.C.). It was the descendant of the Unetice culture. Its heartland the area previously occupied by the Unetice culture besides Bavaria and Württemberg. It was succeeded by the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture. As the name implies, the Tumulus culture is distinguished by the practice of burying the dead beneath burial mounds (tumuli).

The Trundholm sun chariot is a late Bronze Age artifact discovered in Denmark. The sculpture was discovered in 1902 in the Trundholm moor in West Zealand County on the northwest coast of the island of Zealand in Denmark. The sculpture has been dated to the 18th to the 16th century B.C. It has been interpreted as a depiction of the sun being pulled by a mare.

The "Urnfield" culture

The Urnfield culture (c. 1300 BC - 750 BC) was a late Bronze Age culture of central Europe. The name comes from the custom of cremating the dead and placing their ashes in urns which were then buried in fields. The Urnfield culture followed the Tumulus culture and was succeeded by the Hallstatt culture. As there are no written sources, the languages spoken by the bearers of the Urnfield culture are unknown. Some scholars consider them to be the ancestors of the Celts. Urnfield material is found in some of the areas where later people were to be called "Kelt" or "Galatoi" by classical authors (who had never been there). As we do not know how processes of ethnogenesis work or how long they last, and whether a common material culture is always associated with social and political unity, this is highly contested.

The "Hallstatt" culture

The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries B.C. (European Early Iron Age), developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century B.C. (Late Bronze Age) and followed in much of Central Europe by the La Tène culture. By the 6th century B.C, the Halstatt culture extended for some 1000 km, from the Champagne-Ardenne in the west, through the Upper Rhine and the upper Danube, as far as the Vienna Basin and the Danubian Lowland in the east, from the Main, Bohemia and the Little Carpathians in the north, to the Swiss plateau, the Salzkammergut and to Lower Styria. It is named for its type site, Hallstatt, a lakeside village in the Austrian Salzkammergut southeast of Salzburg. The culture is commonly linked to Proto-Celtic and Celtic populations in its western zone and with pre-Illyrians in its eastern zone.

Agriculture, Food and Non-Food Products as Seen Zoo-archaeologically

Animals have been exploited for thousands of years for food, labor, religious figures and pets. Archaeologically, domestication, animal treatment, economy and religion can all be witnessed.

For thousands of years, animals have been exploited all over the world for agricultural and food production purposes. The presence of different types of exploited animals may shift over time. As societies progress and incorporate new technologies, create new trade routes and extend or morph existing routes, the result is often the introduction of new species to the location. The site of Durrington Walls in Wiltshire for example, reveals evidence of a late-Neolithic shift from cattle based to pork based economy (Albarella and Serjeantson 2002, 33). Pigs have larger and more frequent litters which grow to maturity at a far more rapid rate than cattle and they have a propensity to be feasting animals, as they have little purpose other than for meat, and have a higher fat content deeming the animal more of a specialty product and the ability to produce an abundance of feasting animals says a lot about the economy of the society. The reasons for frequent feasting may divulge nothing more than evidence of a wealthy economy. Though, in a less wealthy society, a grand feast may represent a special occasion, wedding, holiday or ritual. More feasts bring in more guests, trade, rituals and other economy boosting features. The Durrington Walls pigs were almost entirely domestic, and as expected, were used much more for feasting than were the cattle. This is evident by the lack of butchery evidence on pig bones. Though cut and chop marks were discovered on some of the pig bones, bos bones showed the cattle to be the favoured butchered animal. The pigs appeared to be cooked often times whole on a spit, for instance (Albarella and Serjeantson 2002, 41). A pig roasted whole is not likely evidence of everyday cooking but of a probable feast.

The cattle population had become one of by-product production. Cattle remains found and analyzed at Durrington Walls, were those of older animals which would generally not be used for meat. These cattle were more than likely milk producing or breeding animals. Worked cattle bone evidence at the site suggests marrow extraction was taking place. This was much more relevant in cattle than in pigs perhaps as a result of the pigs being used in large-scale feasts while the cattle were the more practical, everyday animal.

Another example of an animal by-product is manure. Manuring has been an essential animal by-product for many thousands of years. Animals, such as cattle, produce their fair share of waste, no matter the original use of the animal. Meat bearing males, milking females and plough pulling castrates alike are all sources of the natural and relatively inexpensive fertilizer.

What we find archaeologically certainly is a sign of what life was like at original deposition, although, what we do not find can also tell us many things about the society as well. Crannog sites, whose contents are primarily underwater, as well as fully terrestrial sites, provide evidence of economic status displayed by butchery patterns. The Scottish crannog site of Ederline, was probably a residential site of a wealthy individual or family. There is little evidence that show animals were butchered on the site. They were likely prepared elsewhere as the heads and feet, which are usually present at a butchering site, were missing. The pre-butchered cuts of meat were most likely brought onto the crannog at the request of the owner, suggesting a wealthier occupant resided there (Cook in Cavers and Henderson 2005, 292). This sort of economic standing is often viewable archeologically.

Another archaeologically viewable factor is the classes of people. There can be no doubt that food types and feasting methods display the status or economic standing of a person, family or society. Countless publications can attest to this notion. Serjeantson (2006) discusses which types of birds were raised and utilized by members of specific classes. Chicken and goose consumption in England began in the Roman period while the consumption of wild birds started in the early middle ages. Everyone seemed to follow suit from there. Chickens were an inexpensive, classless bird anyone could raise and consume them along with their eggs. While rarer, more expensive birds were reserved for the higher classes. Many of these birds were also being eaten at younger ages as acquiring them was not nearly the chore it was for the lower class community. Pigs were animals often consumed by both the wealthy and the not-so however, the manner of preparation of the meat was very different by the different classes. Fresh pork, in medieval times was a meat choice of the upper class. Albarella (2002) suggests that the meat was more readily available and accessible by the upper classes while the preserved form was the meat of necessity of the lower classed peasants.

In Dabney, Halstead and Thomas’s (2004) article regarding Mycenaean feasting, the topic of reciprocity arose with regards to the potential purpose of the feast. The bronze-age site of Tsoungiza at ancient Nemea was the focus of the paper. The use of one large cattle in the feast is suggestive of a large group of guests involved while the offering of food was more than likely presented by one person (as one person, as opposed to several, probably owned the cow). Along with zooarchaeological evidence, the archaeological remains of pottery provide evidence of ritual discarding of the kitchenware after the feast was complete. The idea of reciprocity was likely anticipated in other avenues such as political alliance or the creation of new trade partners (Hayden 2001, 58-59).

Moving to the discussion of living agricultural farm equipment, cattle, as well as other beasts of burden, have a quite obvious economic standing in agricultural societies. Animals exploited for traction have drastically changed the economy of many cultures. Large scale agriculture has become the normal food production practice in many societies across the globe. Large traction animals greatly increase the ability to grow more food products for personal consumption and for trading and selling. Economic standing of the society grows and allows for more incidents of trade and expansion of the culture. The gradual importation of new species of cattle only adds to the efficiency of the traction animals as they are bred to be stronger and more practical to the agricultural practices.

Evidence for possible traction-induced stress on metapodials of large animals such as cattle is an excellent indicator that ploughing or heavy transport was practiced in a society. Obvious physical changes are seen in the skeletal remains of the weight bearing animals often if the loads are just too heavy, they are forced to bear weight at too early an age, and if they have grown up pulling weight. The physical changes are rather easy to see on a weight bearing animal, indicating the level of agricultural exploitation by the society.

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