Neolithic dairy farmers in Europe

By 4000 BC, three mixed-farming (dairy) cultures were in competition in East Central Europe; these were

  • Tripolye (and Cucuteni), a branch of the Danubian Linear-Ware farmers who, however, did not practice cereal farming, but rather had an economy based on orchards, cows, sheep, and pigs.
  • Sredny Stog (and Kemi-Oba), branches of the Kurgan breeders whose economy featured horses, cows, goats, barley, and animal byproducts like leather.
  • TRB/Funnel Beaker, believed to be a branch of the Erteboelle Hunters, who began to build primitive villages and adopt some of the economic ideas of their neighbors, including barley and dairy farming.

(Again, dating is approximate: Tripolye was being replaced with later cultures ehile TRB/Funnel was just emerging.)

There is no universal agreement on which of these three groups provided the proto-Indo-European language, and you can find sober scientists guessing that Indo-European was spoken by any combination of these groups, including none or all three!

Although all three of these groups — Tripolye, Sredny Stog, and Funnel Beaker — could be described as “early dairy farmers;” in fact the cultures were quite distinct: Tripolye was an organized village society with egalitarian matriarchal customs; Sredny Stog was a semi-nomadic patriarchal society which stressed individualistm; the haphazard lifestyle of Funnel Beaker villagers betrays their recent development from unsettled foragers.

(Cereal farming stresses patience, while stockbreeding requires physical strength — this may explain why domesticating large animals changes a matriarchal society to patriarchal. Furthermore, the contrast between land-fixed self-growing crops and mobile animals needing to be tended, may help predict whether ancient economics will be based on communal or individual property rights.)

Indo-European Origin.

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