Issues with the steppe hypothesis: An archaeological perspective. Iconography, mythology and language in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age southern Scandinavia

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In southern Scandinavia, Neolithic iconography was focused on non- figurative (aniconic) geometric motifs resembling those found as engravings on large stones across western Europe in areas where megalithic tombs were built. Such engravings are generally referred to as megalithic art. However, a certain group of elaborate anthropomorphic standing stones, statue menhirs, dating to the late 4th and early 3rd millennium BC, is known from western Europe and has clear parallels further east in the North Pontic area, in the Caucasus and as far away as the Altai Mountains. Are the personifications represented in these Chalcolithic statue menhirs expressing new social conducts, manifestations of elite groups and Indo-European mythologies? If so, why was this new mode of expression not adopted in southern Scandinavia with the introduction of Yamnaya/Corded Ware influences and early Indo-European around 2800 BC? It was not until the 2nd millennium BC (the Early Bronze Age in southern Scandinavia) that this region saw human representations and indications of Indo-European mythology. Taking the iconological changes of the Early Nordic Bronze Age as a point of departure, this paper argues against a single wave of steppe migration as the sole explanation for the Indo-Europeanization of southern Scandinavia. Instead, at least two major rounds of steppe innovation and influences are identified.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndo-European Interfaces : Integrating Linguistics, Mythology and Archaeology
EditorsJenny Larsson, Thomas Olander, Anders Richardt Jørgensen
Publication date11 Jun 2024
ISBN (Print)978-91-7635-218-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-91-7635-220-5, 978-91-7635-219-9
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2024
SeriesStockholm Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Neolithic, Bronze Age, Scandinavia, Indo-European, Iconography, Mythology, Steppe hypothesis

ID: 395141569