The World behind the World

Intercultural Processes in the Prehistory of European Civilization

by Josef Vladár (Volume editor) Egon Wiedermann (Volume editor)
©2020 Edited Collection 202 Pages


This book examines transcultural processes between the Eurasian and Inner-Carpathian worlds in the Aeneolithic and Early Bronze Age from the perspectives of archaeology, history, anthropology, ethnology, art and philosophy. Based on archaeological sources, the authors reconstruct the character, extent, time and space of possible migration-invasive movements of communities from the East to central Europe. Archaeology of migration focuses primarily on the growing base of cultural attributes and identifiers that cannot be attributed to local prehistoric communities. They also can help analyse the multiple layers of prehistoric processes and complex prehistoric social phenomena. The book presents the authors’ reflections on the subject, based on artefacts of foreign origin that appear in the communities of the Inner North-Western Carpathians at the turn of the early Metal periods.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the authors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction (On Intuition, Archaeology, Migration, and Worlds That Sometimes Interwined)
  • Eastern Flows in the Inner North-Western Carpathians of the Early Metallicum
  • From Group Contacts to Migration-Invasion Processes
  • European Oicumene of the Yamna Culture
  • Archaeology of Migration and Invasion: Transcultural Attributes and Identifiers
  • Kurgan and Ochre Deposition
  • Corded Identity
  • Archaeology of Cord
  • Corded Ornament
  • Cord Associations
  • Translation of Cord
  • Stone Stelae
  • Arbor Vitae
  • Rhomboid Position
  • Zoomorphic Sculptures
  • Finds of Zoomorphic Sculptures of the Early Metallicum from the Inner North-Western Carpathians
  • Cult, Social-Economic, and Environmental Scope of Zoomorphic Sculptures
  • Symbol of Enormous Herd Validity?
  • Phytomorphic Jewelry and Industry
  • Mobility and Migration – Beginnings of the Leaf-Shaped Personal Ornament in Central Danube Region
  • Taxonomic, Chronological, Cultural-Historical, Socio-Stratification, and Trade-Exchange Context of the Willow-Leaf-Shaped Personal Ornament
  • Eastern and Near Eastern (?) Accent of Phytomorphic Jewelry
  • Two Worlds? We – Carpathian Autochthons and They – North Carpathian Allochthons
  • North Carpathian Fortified Settlements – A New Settlement Phenomenon
  • Intercultural Processes
  • Local Identification Strategy
  • Heterogeneous Communities with Agrarian and Pastoral Basis
  • Social Hierarchy of the North-Carpathian Communities in the Early Metallicum and Eastern Migrations
  • Early Socially Stratified Communities in the Inner North-Western Carpathians
  • Ceremonial and Intersocial Communication
  • Social Stratification and Eastern Cultural Flows
  • From the People to the Elite – from the Beginning to the End of Formation Process
  • Unceasing Discovery of the Unknown
  • Archeológia eurázijsko-karpatských migrácií
  • List of Figures
  • Bibliography

Introduction (On Intuition, Archaeology, Migration, and Worlds That Sometimes Interwined)

The primary goal of our efforts was to bring ideas. Describe the problem as little as possible and think about it as much as possible. Thus, the monograph is more or less analytical thinking about archaeology, especially about the archaeology of the migration in one territory in one historical turning period. It is about the European prehistoric populations at the turn of the early metal periods that were concentrated in the rugged natural environment of the Inner North-Western Carpathians, far from the monotonous Central Danube plains. It is therefore also about environmental determinants and social adaptation, but above all it is a contemplation of the perceptible forms and expressions of intercultural relations. And last but not least, it is about vital population impulses – about the contexts of change.

It should be mentioned at the outset that intuition played its role somewhere at the very beginning of thinking about prehistoric North Carpathian–Pontic communication. Only a vague sum of knowledge with relative value in the scientific environment in the early second half of the 20th century seemed to be a state of easy awareness of the causes and context of this situation. In other words, in the beginning it was the search for connections between the two worlds, accompanied by not quite clear state of knowledge. But despite the vague contours, often intuitive initial reflections on prehistoric intercultural contexts form a serious platform for a shift from preliminary, conjectural, and unjustified research position to first professional studies.

The shift toward deeper exploration, often evoked by intuition, was based on expanding knowledge and motivated by continually increasing basis of information. Therefore, the initial intuitive (effortless) reasoning (considered by theoreticians as flawless) has gradually grown into a scientific (more reliable) one that is capable of interpreting the research real results in a more objective way. It should be recalled, however, that intuition as a process of rapid understanding, with no complicated reasoning and looking for motives, continues to be applied in the process of research. The reason is simple. As thing go forward, nothing can be completely clarified and closed. Usually, our knowledge is always farthest – only at the border of the unknown. And it is this border zone, where the intuition has a serious integration function. It becomes a kind of primordial bridge ←7 | 8→(processual element) connecting the known with the unknown and revealing contours of possible interactions of known worlds with lesser known ones.

Therefore, the methods of exploring the various cultural and temporal levels of multifarious prehistoric worlds at the break of the earliest metal periods in the Inner North-Western Carpathians that were used in this work are essentially a blending of multiple approaches to the sources studied. The methodological instrumentarium used (artefactual archaeology heuristics, prehistoric, environmental, cultural-anthropological, inductive-deductive and cognitive approaches, conservative spatial analyses, etc.) largely reflects the possibilities arising from the current level of exploration of the level of information in individual segments of the issue. Thus, in principle, the spectrum of the methods used can be ranked more like classical approaches, while being aware of the risks associated with the interpretation or reconstruction of past phenomena. Indeed, no interpretation of a dead archaeological culture can be objectified or generalized. It is only a very imaginary explanation of the fragmentary reflection of a living culture after the archaeologization process.

However, the more or less conservative approach to the research of the monitored group of sources was not contingent only on the relativity of the investigated database, but also, to a large extent, on the long-term forming opinion of the authors on the significantly limited research possibilities of some issue segments in the field of traditional artefactual archaeology. At the same time, however, there were more difficulties and embarrassment, especially in the field of applied analytical methods, highlighting the “exactness” of outputs of in-depth analyses of various cultural and socio-group phenomena. The question is whether the work with mathematical-statistical accuracy can solve “all the main problems”, whether studies of this kind can be truly stimulating, but especially which meaningful methods can be reliably applied to archaeological material. Doubts, uncertainty, and ultimately the nature of the sources studied caused that in the work the accent has been put on the use of classical inductive-deductive methods.

As already mentioned, regarding the methodology, in some cases, the reverse side of archaeological sources will be more in the focus. This means that the usually practiced formal explication, the intricate variety of subjective comparisons to more or less comparable or more or less incomparable artefact properties as a systemic method to understanding historical development are often abandoned. It is largely abstracted from the traditional interpretation of comparative historical analyses, the structure of which is built on interconnections of individual elements of material culture with no relation to its creators. This secondary – depersonalized and only by way of ad fontes (material culture) interpreted world ←8 | 9→of life is replaced (as far as possible) by an attempt to excursion into another – exclusively primary cognitive system is based on the subjectivity of the role of personality in history. In other words – from simple research of history of material culture, the effort evolves more toward getting to know their creator, man, and community.

In this line, in several chapters of the monograph, the focus of our reflections is shifted from artefactual archaeology to the circle of prehistory (that is perceived as contextual science, comprising applied disciplines from the field of historical sciences, including archaeology), or their mutual intersection. Regarding the methodology, this meant a substantial extension of the research field, which included both the narrow circle of study of archaeological sources and also the disciplines that could significantly exceed this material framework (… the main motivation here was especially the effort to study the issue in a complex way, including both the scientific empiric facts and the sphere of metaphysics or ethics). Here, the chapter on the corded ornament can be an example. Artefactual sources in the form of pottery with corded ornament are examined in different meaning levels. A closely empirical artefact is directly reflected in the field of vision of semiotics, philosophy, art, or ethnology. The broader field of research simultaneously brought new possibilities of interpretation, but also undeniable risks of entering the circle of working hypotheses. Any indications of assumptions or purpose-built interpretations were subjected to collective authorial criticism and elimination.

The excursion to the prehistoric (interdisciplinary) framework of relations of archaeology with related disciplines (history, ethnology, arts, anthropology, philosophy, etc.) during the research of intercultural processes can be perceived as a necessity, as archaeology is positioned directly among natural, social, and artistic disciplines. Considering the authors and the research, the context of archaeology with arts is very attracting and extremely agreeable, not only in the sphere of creative processes of transcription of artefact into the text (information) itself, but especially in the interpretation levels revealing possible levels of its sensitivity (aesthetics). That is, in the spirit of Kantian philosophy and aesthetics, everything that a person physically creates first emerges in human consciousness. The idea may be artistic in nature, but an artefact as its materialized form has rather a meaning of purpose. It is this ambivalence of the artefact that suggests its potential areas of study – information (communication-purpose) and aesthetic (artistic-utility) ones. In addition, the prehistoric artistic field is a much more open personalization space, in which synergy of creative contribution of ancient artist (creator) with intellect of current researcher arises, in difference to mechanical artefactual research of an individual or a narrow circle of specialists.

←9 |

What does the monograph examine, what is its goal and what could it bring in? Something of this has been suggested by the previous lines. To put it very briefly – the research subject lies primarily in archaeology of migration, i.e., interactions (migration-invasive movements) of the relatively well-known central European world of the incipient early metal period with the parallel and also relatively well-known Eurasian Pontic world, which were studied – in terms of the program – based on archaeological sources. In obtaining knowledge of the Northern Pontic cultural responses (of the Yamna culture predominantly) in the North-Western Carpathian foothills in the Aeneolithic final phases and in the Early Bronze Age, our attention will be paid more or less to some of the attributes and identifiers of eastern origin that appeared in the North Carpathian border zone of the Yamna culture and that hardly can be attributed to local prehistoric communities.

In the past, the topics of intercultural contacts, structure of mobile processes, and consequent socio-cultural interactions on the territory of the Inner North-Western Carpathians at the turn of the Final Aeneolithic and the Early Bronze Age were contributed and many important impulses were brought to the attention by famous personalities of Slovak archaeology – V. Budinský-Krička, A. Točík, J. Vladár, and more recently by J. Bátora in a more concentrated way. At present, on the basis of new knowledge and research methods, J. Vladár and subsequently E. Wiedermann returned to this issue. In separate studies as well as in joint ones (see bibliography), they have drawn their attention especially to the interactions of autochthons settled in the Inner North-Western Carpathians with allochthons flowing to the Carpathians in varying intensity from the Northern Pontic and Lower-Danubian territories. The accent was largely put on the study of processes of diffusion, migration, immigration, invasion, and acculturation, in particular on the exploration of the nature, causes, and consequences of transterritorial population movements.

In the wider European context, beginnings of exploration of the migration-invasive movements (archaeology of migration) can be combined with diffusionism – the then new paradigm in historical sciences. At the time of its greatest efflorescence in the first decades of the 20th century, the Boas´ School of Historicism (the School of Historical Particularism) came to the fore in the Anglo-Saxon environment. On the European continent, the diffusion concept of the German-Austrian school of culture circles was developed along with the British Heliolithic School. European diffusionism was associated with the name of German anthropogeographer F. Ratzel (1844–1904) and his student L. Frobenius (1873–1938). In their work, human society and culture were interpreted as a biological organism. They both pointed out the necessity of researching cultural ←10 | 11→contacts of ethnic groups and nations in the past, migration, diffusion, or density of population in the study of human culture. This concept was further developed by the representatives of the German-Austrian Kulturkreis (Culture Circles) School, such as B. Ankermann, F. Graebner, W. Koppers, and W. Schmidt. The concept of culture circles preferred reconstructing historical contacts of people and studying the spread of cultural elements from one culture to another. In the field of contemporary human geography, diffusion is understood to be a process of disseminating society’s cultural elements from a native region (the heart of the culture) to other regions with a different culture through diffusion, i.e., by scattering from one or more centers.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
Inner North-Western Carpathians Eurasia Aeneolithic Early bronze age artefact prehistoric mobility
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 202 pp., 33 fig. col., 14 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Josef Vladár (Volume editor) Egon Wiedermann (Volume editor)

Jozef Vladár is a professor of Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts, Constantine The Philosopher University in Nitra. He specializes in eneolithic and early bronze age. Egon Wiedermann is a professor of Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts, Constantine The Philosopher University in Nitra. He specializes in environmental and prehistoric archaeology.


Title: The World behind the World
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204 pages