Globular Amphora culture

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Approximate extent of the Corded Ware horizon with adjacent 3rd millennium cultures (after EIEC).

The Globular Amphora Culture (GAC) (German: Kugelamphoren-Kultur (KAK); Russian: Культура шаровидных амфор, romanizedKultura sharovidnykh amfor), c. 3400–2800 BC, is an archaeological culture in Central Europe. Marija Gimbutas[1] assumed an Indo-European origin, though this is contradicted by newer genetic studies which clearly show a connection to the earlier wave of Neolithic farmers rather than to invaders from the southern Russian steppes.[2]

The GAC preceded the Corded Ware culture in its central area. Somewhat to the south and west, it was bordered by the Baden culture. To the northeast was the Narva culture. It occupied much of the same area as the earlier Funnelbeaker culture. The name was coined by Gustaf Kossinna because of the characteristic pottery, globular-shaped pots with two to four handles.

Globular Amphora


The Globular Amphora Culture was located in an area defined by the Elbe catchment on the west and that of the Vistula on the east, extending southwards to the middle Dniester and eastwards to reach the Dnieper. West of the Elbe, some globular amphorae are found in megalithic graves. The GAC finds in the steppe area are normally attributed to a rather late expansion between 2950 and 2350 cal. BC from a centre in Wolhynia and Podolia.


The economy was based on raising a variety of livestock, pigs particularly in its earlier phase, in distinction to the Funnelbeaker culture's preference for cattle. Settlements are sparse, and these normally just contain small clusters pits. No convincing house-plans have yet been excavated. It is suggested that some of these settlements were not year-round, or may have been temporary.


Globular Amphora tomb

The GAC is primarily known from its burials. Inhumation was in a pit or cist. A variety of grave offerings were left, including animal parts (such as a pig's jaw) or even whole animals, e.g., oxen. Grave gifts include the typical globular amphorae and stone axes. There are also cattle-burials, often in pairs, accompanied by grave gifts. There are also secondary burials in Megalithic graves.


The inclusion of animals in the grave is seen as an intrusive cultural element by Marija Gimbutas. The practice of suttee, hypothesized by Gimbutas is also seen as a highly intrusive cultural element. The supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis point to these distinctive burial practices and state this may represent one of the earliest migrations of Indo-Europeans into Central Europe. In this context and given its area of occupation, this culture has been claimed as the underlying culture of a Germanic-Baltic-Slavic continuum.[3]


  1. ^ Marija Gimbutas (2001). The Living Goddesses. University of California Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0520229150.
  2. ^ Tassi, F. et al. (2017). Genome diversity in the Neolithic Globular Amphorae culture and the spread of Indo-European languages. Proc. R. Soc. B 284:20171540.
  3. ^ J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, London and Chicago, 1997., "Globular Amphora culture"


  • J. P. Mallory, "Globular Amphora Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
  • Mikhail M. Charniauski et al. (eds.), Eastern exodus of the globular amphora people: 2950-2350 BC. Poznań, Adam Mickiewicz University, Institute of Prehistory 1996, Baltic-Pontic studies 4.