Funnel beaker culture

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Funnel beaker culture
Age : Neolithic
Absolutely : about 4200 BC BC to 2800 BC Chr.


Funnel beakers, collar bottles, flint and rock axes, accompanying ceramics

Late expansion of the funnel beaker culture.
The shape of the funnel beaker (here a specimen from Skarp Salling, Denmark) gave the culture its name

The funnel beaker culture or funnel rim beaker culture (abbreviation: TBK , TRB ); ( English Funnelbeaker culture or Funnelneckbeaker culture , abbreviation FBC ) is an archaeological culture of the Neolithic Age (around 4200 - 2800 BC in northern Central Europe , in central Eastern Europe; in Denmark and southern Scandinavia, it is the first culture of the Nordic Early Neolithic to be influenced by agriculture . In the north it follows the Mesolithic Ertebølle culture (5100–4100 BC), in the rest of the distribution area it follows the peasant cultures of the ceramic band and the Rössen culture .

The term TBK was introduced in 1910 by Gustaf Kossinna after the typical cup with a funnel rim. A structure proposal for the funnel beaker culture was first made in 1932 by the Polish archaeologist Konrad Jażdżewski (1908–1985).


The temporal and spatial origins of the funnel beaker culture have not yet been satisfactorily clarified. Very early 14 C dates (4400 BC) from Sarnowo (German : Schamau in East Prussia ) are unreliable, as the charcoal samples used were taken from a pit located under the object to be dated ( chamberless giant bed ). At best, this results in a terminus post quem , i.e. an earliest time lower limit. More reliable data (from charred food crusts on ceramics) resulted from excavations in Wangels in East Holstein , which was settled in 4100 BC. Begins. Since the 13 C values ​​were also measured here for each sample , contamination by "old water" ( reservoir effect ) can be ruled out with certainty if there are more than one data. In the meantime, the role of early copper imports has been emphasized in the development of the TBK . In the north, these were already accessible to the late hunters and gatherers of the Ertebølle culture and, as prestige goods, could have led to ideological and social changes, while the economic structure did not develop any further. A connection between the appearance of copper objects and the Neolithization of the area can be established both in the western Baltic Sea region and in Poland , but cannot be regarded as the cause.


The TBK found its maximum extent from the province of Drenthe in the Netherlands over the North German Plain and southern Scandinavia to about the western bank of the Dnepr . In the early Neolithic it bordered on the Michelsberg culture in the south, and on the Wartberg group in the late Neolithic . Josef Kostrzewski distinguished the following subgroups:

  • Western group from the Drente to about the Weser,
  • Northern group from Scandinavia to the central part of Northern Germany,
  • Eastern group in the north of Poland (here embedded the Brześć Kujawski - for the Lengyel culture ),
  • Southeast group from southern Poland to about the Dnieper, u. a. with the early carriage depiction of Bronocice (southern Poland) (approx. 3300-3600 BC)
  • Southern group in Central Germany, Saxony-Anhalt and the Czech Republic with the subgroups:


Distribution channels

The terms older and younger funnel beaker culture are generally used for a rough time division . The TBK can also be divided into time levels depending on the region. These levels differ in terms of their material culture and are primarily based on the respective ceramics and their decoration.

In the Schleswig-Holstein distribution area of ​​the TBK, for which relatively reliable C14 data is available, z. B. the following classification:

  • Older TBK or Nordic Early Neolithic (FN) with the cultural stages
    • Wangels phase (4200-3900 BC)
    • Siggenebben phase (3900-3700 BC)
    • Satrup level (3700-3500 BC)
    • Fuchsberg Level (3500-3300 BC)

According to A. Sherrat, the Satrup and Fuchsberg levels are associated with a change in ideology, as a result of which megalithics appeared. Andersen and H. Schwabedissen listed 30 sites with Fuchsberg ceramics as early as the 1960s, which stretch from central Jutland over the western main Danish islands to northern Elbe .

  • Younger TBK or Nordic Middle Neolithic A (MN A) with the cultural stages MN AI to V (3300–2800 BC) megalithic phase

In other regions of the TBK, different chronology schemes with different culture levels are used. This is due to temporal and typological differences.

Material culture


Ceramic ornament by Karleby 63

The relatively short-lived (easily destructible) ceramics is an important tool for archaeologists (one speaks of guide finds) when they are to determine the time of a find or site. The u. Ceramics that can be dated through thermoluminescence dating can be subdivided into different styles of shorter or longer duration (e.g. deep-engraving ceramics according to Hans-Jürgen Beier regional between 3500 and 3000 BC). This allows the development of ceramics (in terms of material, shape and decoration) and the age of the various finds to be narrowed down.

  • The funnel beakers , named for all groups and levels of culture, have a slightly bulbous lower part and a funnel-like upper part above the vessel shoulder.

The mugs with complex patterns are among the most beautiful ceramic objects of the funnel cup culture. In Denmark the rises around 3200 BC. Beaker made by Skarpsalling .

  • Amphorae have a bulbous body and usually a cylindrical or slightly funnel-shaped neck and two or four eyelet handles at the base of the neck or on the abdomen.
  • Typical, albeit less often, are collar bottles , small vessels with a spherical or pear-shaped body. The upper part is designed like a bottle neck and has a collar-shaped protuberance.
Pointy ax
Thin-nosed ax
Thick ax

Hatchets and tools

Characteristic are rock and flint axes, usually polished, which were used as status symbols or for woodworking. The shape changes in the course of the TBK from pointed to thin-nosed to thick-nosed axes. The latter two have been numbered in types.

  • Thin-nosed axes appear in the early Neolithic C and are represented in the Middle Neolithic stages Ia and Ib (a Troldebjerg, b Klintebakken) with type I. Type II is typical of the Middle Neolithic stage II (Blandebjerg).
  • Thick axes of type III appear in the Middle Neolithic stage III (Bundsø). Type IV in stage IV (Lindø); the type 5 in level 5 (Store Valby).

There are also the usual Stone Age tools made of flint, such as scrapers and arrowheads .

The wheel

Beaker from Bronocice in Poland (approx. 3500-3350 BC), Archaeological Museum in Krakow. Right: oldest known image of a car

Within Central Europe, the oldest wagon records come from the funnel cup culture. The incision on a ceramic terrine from Bronocice on the northern edge of the Beskids (northern Carpathian ring) is indirectly dated 3636–3373 BC. It is the oldest reference to the knowledge of drawn wagons in Central Europe. It is interesting that the Bronocice is also a place of discovery of the early and middle Baden-Boleraz culture. The Baden culture here follows, with effect from the 3200th Until about 2800 BC Chr. The funnel cup culture and subsequently mixes with the cord ceramic. So Bronocice is on a Bronze Age trade route. Further information can be found in the articles wheel , cart , and cart .


The few copper finds are imported prestige objects.


The few house floor plans known so far come from small oval buildings with a central row of posts. Buildings that were interpreted as long houses with interior division are now considered graves. In Denmark , the Køkkenmøddinger (clam heaps) of the Mesolithic Ertebølle culture continued to be used. The rectangular floor plan of Flögeln (Cuxhaven district) has since been recreated several times.

Monumental buildings

Monumental buildings between 3500 BC BC and AD 800

Earthworks and posts

Earthworks , Vasagårds-anlæg and Niedźwiedź-type systems were built in the TBK in two phases. The systems of the first phase belong to the levels FN II and MNA I, i.e. between about 3800 and 3500 BC. Their parallel rows of trenches are characteristic, which were not always simultaneous and continuous, and mostly consisted of a series of elongated-oval pits. Palisades are only occupied for some of the structures, but losses in this regard are to be expected due to erosion phenomena. Today about 40 earthworks are known for the TBK , but most of them have only been investigated through small-scale emergency excavations . Among the best researched are the earthworks of Büdelsdorf in Schleswig-Holstein and the earthworks of Sarup on Funen in Denmark.

At the end of the TBK and in the transition to the battle ax culture (MNA V - MNB I, around 2800 BC), enclosures were again built on Zealand, Bornholm and Scania in a second phase , but these only consisted of one or more rows of palisades, becoming trenches not excavated. The Vasagård site on Bornholm shows a continuity of the site - an earthwork was laid here in the first phase. The only almost completely excavated palisade enclosure of the TBK is in Hyllie near Malmö (southern Sweden).

The interpretation of these enclosures has not been clarified for either phase. In Scandinavian research, it is currently assumed that it functions as a cult or meeting place. Use as a fortification, as was often assumed in the past, is almost impossible due to the lack of internal buildings and the heavily segmented trenches. The repeatedly found dumping of entire vessels or flint axes destroyed by fire are striking.

Megalithic systems

From 3800 BC Large mounds of earth were built as a precursor to the megalithic systems . Between 3500 and 2800 BC Chr. Were about 10,000 megalithic plants than rock chambers almost generally from foundling blocks, mostly built with Überhügelungen and borders. In Germany, of the once 5,000 megalithic sites, some of which were quite impressive, only around 900 (of which 443 in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, 121 in Schleswig-Holstein and 26 in Brandenburg) have survived. Concentrations can be found on Rügen and in the Eversdorfer Forest (in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), in the Haldensleben Forest in Saxony-Anhalt, in the Wildeshauser Geest ( small kneading stones , heather sacrificial table ), and in the Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony ( Sieben Steinhäuser , Oldendorfer Totenstatt ). The most south-westerly preserved stone chamber grave that can be assigned to the TBK is the Düwelsteene near Heiden in the Borken district. The megalithic systems in Poland , the Netherlands and Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway , Sweden) are usually also assigned to the TBK.

In addition to burials in megalithic graves, there are both stool burials in the ground and cremations. The namesake cups often appear as additions .


Model of a house of the funnel cup culture , based on the excavation
results of Flögeln , district of Cuxhaven . The floor plan was about 13 × 5 meters. The house probably had several rooms

The people of northern Central Europe and Scandinavia had held onto a Mesolithic hunter culture for almost 2000 years longer than the band ceramicists living south of you . A sedentary way of life shaped by agriculture appeared here for the first time with the funnel cup culture. Due to arable farming and livestock farming (cattle instead of sheep and goats), hunting no longer played a role, although there were regional differences here. In the Baltic Sea (especially in Denmark) the fishing and collecting of molluscs as well as the hunting of seals and whales has been proven. Settlements are also known from eastern Poland that have over 60% wild animal bones.

Social structure

Neolithic monuments are an expression of the culture and ideology of Neolithic societies. Their origin and function are considered to be the hallmarks of social development.

Some authors suggest a social hierarchy headed by chiefs and priests. This is mainly attached to the labor-intensive monumental buildings, for which a hierarchical social structure is required. At least for the northern distribution area of ​​the TBK, however, a segmentary society can be made credible. Here the earthworks and megalithic structures were probably signs of a pronounced ritualization of intergroup relationships, the purpose of which is presumed to be in conflict resolution or avoidance.



The TBK develops in the late Atlantic to the so-called subboreal with higher average temperatures than today.

Genetic Studies

The mitochondrial haplogroups H1 and H3 were probably the most widespread maternal haplogroups in the Funnel Beaker cultures, which cover the entire period of the Neolithic and the Copper Age, i.e. from 5000 BC. Until the arrival of the Proto-Celts (Y-DNA R1b) from 2200 to 1800 BC The funnel cup people largely belonged to the Y haplogroups I 2, G 2a and E 1b1b, which were possibly supplemented by J2 in the Copper Age.

See also



  • Jan Albert Bakker , Simone Bloo and M. Dütting (Eds.): From Funeral Monuments to Household Pottery - Current advances in Funnel Beaker Culture (TRB / TBK) research: Proceedings of the Borger Meetings 2009, The Netherlands (= BAR International Series. Volume 2474). Archaeopress, Oxford 2013, ISBN 978-1-4073-1085-5 .
  • Martin Furholt : What is the Funnel Beaker Complex? Persistent troubles with an inconsistent concept. In: Martin Furholt, Martin Hinz, Doris Mischka, Gordon Noble, Deborah Olausson (eds.): Landscape, Histories and Societies in the Northern European Neolithic (= early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 4). Rudolf Habelt Verlag, Bonn 2014, ISBN 978-3-7749-3882-3 , pp. 17-26 ( online ).
  • Gergely Kápolnási : The emergence of the funnel cup culture . Models for the neolithization of the southern Baltic region (= university research on prehistoric archeology. Volume 210). Habelt, Bonn 2012, ISBN 978-3-7749-3723-9 .
  • Jens Lüning : Stone Age farmers in Germany - agriculture in the Neolithic. Habelt Verlag, Bonn 2000, ISBN 3-7749-2953-X (University research on prehistoric archeology; Vol. 58)
  • Lutz Klassen: Early Copper in the North: Investigations into the chronology, origin and significance of the copper finds of the northern group of the funnel cup culture Moesgard 2000
  • Magdalena Midgley : TRB Culture. The First Farmers of the North European Plain. University Press, Edinburgh 1992, ISBN 0-7486-0348-4 (standard overview)
  • Johannes Müller : Megaliths and Funnel Beakers: Societies in Change 4100-2700 BC (= 33. Kroon-Voordracht. ). Amsterdam 2011 ( online ).
  • Johannes Müller: Large stone graves, trench works, long mounds. Early monumental buildings in Central Europe (= archeology in Germany. Special issue 11/2017). Theiss, Stuttgart 2017, ISBN 978-3-8062-3464-0 ( online ).

Funnel Beaker Northern Group (Northern Germany / Denmark / Southern Scandinavia)

  • Lars Bägerfeldt : Megalitgravarna i Sverige. Type, tid, rum och social miljö. 2nd edition, Arkeo Förlaget, Gamleby 1992, ISBN 91-86742-45-0 .
  • Jan Piet Brozio : Megalithic systems and settlement patterns in the Ostholstein from the funnel cup period (= early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 9). Rudolf Habelt, Bonn 2016, ISBN 978-3-7749-4013-0 ( online ).
  • Hauke ​​Dibbern : West Holstein from the time of the funnel cup. A study on the Neolithic development of landscape and society (= early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 8). Rudolf Habelt, Bonn 2016, ISBN 978-3-7749-3989-9 ( online ).
  • Klaus Ebbesen : The younger funnel cup culture on the Danish islands. Akademisk Forlag, Copenhagen 1975, ISBN 87-500-1559-1 .
  • Klaus Ebbesen: Tragtbægerkultur i Nordjylland. Study over jættestuetiden. Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskriftselskab, Copenhagen 1979, ISBN 87-87438-16-5 .
  • Martin Hinz : Neolithic settlement structures in southeastern Schleswig-Holstein. (= Early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 3). Rudolf Habelt, Bonn 2014, ISBN 978-3-7749-3881-6 ( PDF ).
  • Jürgen Hoika : The Middle Neolithic at the time of the funnel beaker culture in Northeast Holstein. Studies on archeology and landscape history (= Offa books. Volume 61). Wachholtz, Neumünster 1987, ISBN 3-529-01161-4 .
  • Luise Lorenz : Communication structures of Middle Neolithic societies in the north-central European lowlands (= early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 14). 2 volumes. Habelt, Bonn 2018 ( online ).
  • Mats P. Malmer : The Neolithic of South Sweden - TRB, GRK, and STR. Almquist & Wiksell, Stockholm 2002, ISBN 91-7402-327-6 .
  • Ingeburg Nilius : The Neolithic in Mecklenburg at the time and with special consideration of the funnel cup culture (contributions to the prehistory and early history of the districts of Rostock, Schwerin and Neubrandenburg; vol. 5). Museum of Prehistory and Early History, Schwerin 1971 (also dissertation, University of Halle 1966).
  • Ewald Schuldt : The Mecklenburg megalithic graves. Investigations into their architecture and function (contributions to the prehistory and early history of the districts of Rostock, Schwerin and Neubrandenburg; vol. 6). German Science Publishing House, Berlin 1972.
  • Märta Strömberg : The megalithic tombs of Hagestad. On the problem of grave structures and grave rites (= Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Volume 8). Bonn / Lund 1971.

Central Germany

  • Eberhard Kirsch : Finds from the Middle Neolithic in the state of Brandenburg. Brandenburg State Museum for Prehistory and Early History, Potsdam 1993.
  • Eberhard Kirsch: Contributions to the older funnel cup culture in Brandenburg (research on archeology in the state of Brandenburg; Vol. 2). Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum, Potsdam 1994, ISBN 3-910011-07-1 .
  • Johannes Müller : Sociochronological studies on the Young and Late Neolithic in the Middle Elbe-Saale area (4100–2700 BC). A socio-historical interpretation of prehistoric sources (prehistoric research; vol. 21). Rahden, Leidorf 2001, ISBN 3-89646-503-1 (plus habilitation thesis FUB, 1998).

Altmark group of deep engraving ceramics

  • Joachim Preuss : The Altmark group of deep engraving ceramics (= publications of the State Museum for Prehistory in Halle. Volume 33). German Science Publishing House, Berlin 1980.


  • Dobrochna Jankowska : Kultura pucharów lejkowatych na Pomorzu Środkowym. Grupa Łupawska (= Seria archeologia. Volume 17). UAM, Poznań 1980.
  • Dobrochna Jankowska (Ed.): The funnel cup culture . New research and hypotheses; Material from the international symposium Dymaczewo, September 20–24, 1988. 2 volumes. Instytut Prahistorii Uniwersytetu Im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu, Poznań 1990–1991.
  • Konrad Jażdżewski : Kultura puharów lejkowatych w Polsce zachodniej i środkowej (= Biblioteka prehistoryczna. Volume 2). Polskie Tow. Prehistoryczne, Poznań 1936.
  • Seweryn Rzepecki : The roots of megalithism in the TRB culture. Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Łódźkiego, Poznań 2011, ISBN 978-83-933586-1-8 (also dissertation University of Poznań) ( online ).

Funnel Beaker Southeast Group

  • Sławomir Kadrow : Confrontation of Social Strategies? - Danubian Fortified Settlements and the Funnel Beaker Monuments in SE Poland , Jungsteinsite of the University of Kiel, 2011. ( online ).
  • Dariusz Król : Chamberless Tombs in Southeastern Group of Funnel Beaker Culture. Rzeszów 2011, ISBN 978-83-7667-107-9 ( online ).

Funnel Beaker West Group (Northwest Germany / Netherlands)

  • Jan Albert Bakker: The TRB West Group. Studies in the Chronology and Geography of the Makers of Hunebeds and Tiefstich Pottery (= Cingula. Volume 5). Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1979, ISBN 978-90-70319-05-2 ( online ).
  • Jan Albert Bakker: The Dutch Hunebedden. Megalithic Tombs of the Funnel Beaker Culture. International Monographs in Prehistory, Ann Arbor 1992, ISBN 1-879621-02-9 .
  • Albert Egges van Giffen : De Hunebedden in Nederland. 3 volumes, Oosthoek, Utrecht 1925.
  • Heinz Knöll : The north-west German deep engraving ceramics and their position in the north and central European Neolithic (= publications of the antiquity commission in the provincial institute for Westphalian regional and folklore. Volume 3). Aschendorff, Münster 1959.
  • Moritz Mennenga : Between the Elbe and the Ems. The settlements of the funnel beaker culture in northwest Germany (= early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 13). Rudolf Habelt, Bonn 2017, ISBN 978-3-7749-4118-2 ( online ).
  • Julia Menne : Pottery from megalithic graves in northwest Germany. Interactions and networks of the funnel cup west group (= early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 16). Habelt, Bonn 2018, ISBN 978-3-7749-4140-3 .


  • Torsten Madsen : Ideology and social structure in the earlier Neolithic of south Scandinavia. A view from the sources. In: Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia , Vol. 29 (1997), pp. 75-81.
  • Jürgen E. Walkowitz : The megalithic syndrome. European cult sites of the Stone Age (= contributions to the prehistory and early history of Central Europe. Vol. 36). Beier & Beran, Langenweißbach 2003, ISBN 3-930036-70-3 .

Web links

Commons : Funnel Beaker Culture  - collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. for example in Martin Furholt, Martin Hinz, Doris Mischka, Gordon Noble, Deborah Olausson (eds.): Landscape, Histories and Societies in the Northern European Neolithic (= early monumentality and social differentiation. Volume 4). Rudolf Habelt Verlag, Bonn 2014, ISBN 978-3-7749-3882-3 .
  2. a b Almut Bick: The Stone Age . Theiss WissenKompakt, Stuttgart 2006. ISBN 3-8062-1996-6
  3. Konrad Jażdżewski: Summarizing overview of the funnel cup culture . Prehistoric Journal 23, 1932, pp. 77–110.
  4. Konrad Jażdżewski: Kultura pucharów lejkowatych w Polsce zachodniej i środkowej . Poznań 1936.
  5. ^ Sönke Hartz and Harald Lübke: On the chronostratigraphic structure of the Ertebølle culture and the earliest funnel cup culture in the southern Mecklenburg Bay. In: Ground monument maintenance in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Jahrbuch 52, 2004, pp. 119-143.
  6. Lutz Klassen: The copper finds of the northern group of the funnel cup culture. Dissertation Freiburg 1996, Archäologische Informations 20/1, 1997, 189–193 [1]
  7. Prestige goods are (according to the economic encyclopedia) those goods which in primitive societies were ritually exchanged as gifts or given to others to ensure loyalty.
  8. Lutz Klassen: Early Copper in the North. Aarhus 2000.
  9. Hilthart Pedersen: The younger stone age on Bornholm. Munich & Ravensburg 2008.
  10. M. Rech: Studies on depot finds of the funnel cup and single grave culture of the north. 1979. Offa vol. 39 p. 25
  11. Burmeister, Stefan (2011): Innovation Paths - Paths and Communication; Knowledge problems on the example of the car i 4th year BC. In: S. Hansen (ed): Social Archaeological Perspectives: Social Change 5000–1500 BC Between the Atlantic and the Caucasus. Pp. 211-240.
  12. Raiko Krauss, Dan Ciobataru: data at the end of Baden's ceramic style . 2013, doi: 10.1515 / pz-2013-0003 .
  13. J. Müller in: Archeology in Germany 2/2011, p. 19.
  14. J. Müller In: Varia neolithica VI, 2009, p. 15.
  15. Torsten Madsen: Ideology and social structure in the earlier Neolithic of south Scandinavia. A view from the sources. In: Analecta Praehistoria Leidensia. 29, 1997, pp. 75-81.
  16. Holm, Hans J. (2011a): Archäoklimatologie des Holozäns: A thorough comparison of the "growth homogeneity" with the solar activity and other climate indicators ("proxies"). Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 41-1, pp. 119–132.
  17. Guido Brandt: Only change is constant! The reconstruction of the settlement history of Europe during the Neolithic using paleo- and population genetic methods. Dissertation University Mainz, 2014 [2]