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Le Campaniforme dans le sud-est de la France. De l'Archéologie à l'Histoire du troisième millénaire avant notre ère

Abstract : The term "Bell Beaker", in the strict sense, designates a ceramic beaker form with an S-shaped profile that gives it the shape of an inverted bell. This type of drinking-vessel is characterized by both its very particular pattern of decoration and by the generally skilled execution of that decoration. By extension, the decoration characteristic of these beakers bas allowed the expansion of the category "Bell-Beaker" to include other pottery forms and even other types of decoration showing the same tradition, vvhich probably represent an evolution or reproduction of the original Bell Beaker pattern, The recognition of these objects and their definition as a class date to the nineteenth century. A characteristic set, or "package", of associated objects was pro-gressively defined by the periodic addition of items as these were discovered in association with Bell Beakers. These include such things as V-perforated buttons, perforated plaques called "archers wrist-guards", tanged an-owheads with squared wings, certain types of jewelry (such as arch-form pendant earrings and certain gold jewelry), and certain copper objects (such as tongued daggers and double-pointed awls of square section). These finds, derived primarily from funerary contexts, have for a long time influenced the interpretation of this phenomenon : it was envisaged as the diffusion of "prestige goods" linked to the ritual of burial in individuel graves and as a reflection of the emergence of a social hierarchy that constituted a rupture with thée"egalitarian image" of the Neolithic societies of which they mark the end. Based upon the definition of this "Bell Beaker package", two observations could be made that have sustained the attention of several generations of archaeologists. First was the very rapid appearance of these objects during the third millennium BC and their enormous geographical distribution, from Morocco to Poland and from Ireland to Sicily. Second is the fact that most of these objects were found in graves, at least for the early phases. Settlements were more rare in the archaeological record, although they were well represented in some régions and for later periods. For over a century, the significance of this continent-wide abundant distribution has been pondered in several regions of Europe and from a variety of angles. However, no consensus has yet emerged concerning the nature or even the origin of the diffusion of these beakers.
Southern France, with more than 300 sites recorded and perhaps 1200 decorated vases, is one of the regions that is richest in Bell Beaker finds. The analysis of these assemblages and their contexts of discovery, based upon a major catalogue of data, has allowed the definition of several Bell Beaker clusters. The patterns of the emergence of these clusters, their relations with local late Neolithic cultures, and their development in the heart of the region are considered in order to establish their chronological and functional articulation. Comparisons with other regions of Europe enable a more précise identification of possible origins of the different elements that compose these Bell Beaker clusters and they further enable one to trace the great cultural movements that marked Europe during the second half of thé third millennium BC. The nature of these cultural movements is discussed within a chronological Framework that can be understood as the end of the Neolithic cycle or the first beginnings of the protohistoric period.
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Contributor : Olivier Lemercier <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - 12:59:51 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 6, 2020 - 4:02:23 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, April 5, 2010 - 10:43:41 PM

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  • HAL Id : tel-00087323, version 1

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Olivier Lemercier. Le Campaniforme dans le sud-est de la France. De l'Archéologie à l'Histoire du troisième millénaire avant notre ère. Sciences de l'Homme et Société. Université de Provence - Aix-Marseille I, 2002. Français. ⟨tel-00087323⟩

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