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Title: Bell Beakers and their context in Central Europe : a new approach
Author: Shennan, Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3402 8990
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1977
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After a brief history of previous research on the Bell Beaker cultures of Central Europe, it is argued that traditional explanations for the presence of Bell Beakers in this area, in terrns of the immigration of a 'Beaker people', are unsatisfactory, and result at least in part from a lack of attention to the context in which Beakers are found; it is suggested that the widespread Bell Beaker objects are, in fact, prestige goods. In the following three chapters certain expectations derived from this argument are tested for three different regions of Central Europe: Bohemia, Moravia, and Central Germany. This analysis shows that the assumptions about Bell Beaker relative chronology on which earlier theories have been based are incorrect, and at the same time leads to some modifications of the model proposed above. In the light of these results the connections between different parts of Central Europe, and between Central and Western Europe, are examined and a hypothesis is offered to account for them in terms of the diffusion of innovations with prestige overtones. After the development of this relatively static picture of a functioning system in which the Bell Beakers and their associated objects have a role, the approach shifts to a study of changes through time in Central Europe and the impact the appearance of Bell Beakers has on this sequence. A detailed presentation of the regional chronology is given, followed by a discussion of changes in economy and settlement pattern. In the two succeeding chapters the change from Corded Ware to Bell Beakers is examined in more detail, with particular reference to Bohemia. Finally, in the conclusion, the argument is summarised and extended, with a discussion of the situation outside Central Europe and some suggestions as to why the Bell Beaker phenomenon may have occurred when it did. The point is made, however, that the Bell Beaker 'problem' is far more complex than is usually acknowledged, and that before it is possible to embark on large-scale explanations it is necessary to establish for each area exactly what it is that has to be explained.
Supervisor: Clarke, David ; Coles, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Bell Beakers ; Central Europe ; Bohemia ; Moravia ; Central Germany