No man travels alone, he takes himself along

Between August 24-30 2020 the European Association of Archaeology organised its 26th Annual Meeting, held under the motto #Networking. Originally planned to take place in Budapest, the in-person meeting was cancelled due to the current coronavirus pandemic and replaced for the first time with an online conference. More than 150 sessions were organised, involving around 1800 presentations.

The YMPACT project team also took part in this exciting event. Thus, Session #196 No man travels alone, he takes himself along: Yamnaya transmission and/or transformation during the 3rd millennium BC in Europe was organised by Marja Ahola and Bianca Preda-Bălănică from University of Helsinki, along with colleagues Piotr Włodarczak from the Polish Academy of Sciences and Todor Valchev from the Regional Historical Museum - Yambol. The session was scheduled on Wednesday August 26th between 9.00-15.30 CEST and it brought together researchers from several European countries such as Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, and Finland.


In addition to organising the session members of the YMPACT team gave several presentations. Professor Volker Heyd gave a lecture about the interconnection between Yamnaya, Globular Amphora and Corded Ware peoples. Dr. Martin Trautmann and colleagues presented analyses of the skeletal remains of the Yamnaya and Corded Ware individuals from central and south-eastern Europe while Dr. Bianca Preda-Bălănică and Dr. Marja Ahola explored the Yamnaya ritual practice of reusing previous burial sites and settlements with new burials.

The presentations were followed by lively discussions grasping the many different ways transmission unfolded in various regions of Europe during the 3rd Millennium BC.

Session #196 Abstract

It is now often said that the arrival of the steppe populations, the so-called Yamnaya, in south-eastern Europe at the end of the 4th/very beginning of the 3rd Millennium BC changed forever the continent. Current research, especially fuelled by recent aDNA studies, suggests large scale migrations took place and triggered irreversible processes of change in biological ancestry and culture. According to this research, the scenario seems clear: the Yamnaya came, conquered the locals and… their descendants created phenomena apparent in the archaeological record, of which the Corded Ware complex is the most prominent example. But, was it this simple? From an archaeological perspective, how this process of interaction and networking unfolded in the various regions of Europe is still blurry.

This session aims to shift the focus from genetics to archaeology, and take a look at the material culture and ritual practices to explore how this transmission happened during the 3rd millennium BC. Since most of these phenomena are known especially through burial assemblages, our focal point will be in mortuary archaeology. However, instead of placing our gaze solely to the obvious – the tradition of a single grave under a barrow – we aim to dig deeper and investigate how the steppe ancestry translates in terms of religion, beliefs and ideology – and does it? For example general ideas about the transmission from Yamnaya to Corded Ware emphasise single graves under barrows while a variation of burial customs exists within the Corded Ware record.

Accordingly, we aim to explore the similarities and differences seen within the mortuary remains of the Yamnaya and subsequent archaeological complexes of the 3rd millennium BC. We welcome a broad spectrum of papers dealing with the material culture of death, body handling, sacred landscape, or papers that illustrate theoretical or methodological approaches to the study of interaction and transmission in 3rd millennium BC Europe.


The complete Scientific Programme of the EEA 2020 Virtual meeting including General sessions can be downloaded here (link to organizer's webpage). There, you can also download the Abstract Book.