Middle Dnieper culture
| Bronze Age|
Near East (c. 3300–1200 BC)
South Asia (c. 3000– 1200 BC)
Europe (c. 3200–600 BC)
China (c. 2000–700 BC)
The Middle Dnieper culture is an eastern extension of the Corded Ware culture, ca. 3200—2300 BC, of northern Ukraine and Belarus. As the name indicates, it was centered on the middle reach of the Dnieper River and is contemporaneous with the latter phase and then a successor to the Indo-European Yamna culture, as well as to the latter phase of the Tripolye culture.
Geographically it is directly behind the area occupied by the Globular Amphora culture (south and east), and while commencing a little later and lasting a little longer, it is otherwise contemporaneous with it.
More than 200 sites are attested to, mostly as barrow inhumations under tumuli; some of these burials are secondary depositions into Yamna-era kurgans. Grave goods included pottery and stone battle-axes. There is some evidence of cremation in the northerly area. Settlements seem difficult to define; the economy was much like that of the Yamna and Corded Ware cultures, semi-to-fully-nomadic pastoralism.
Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, this culture is a major center for migrations (or invasions, if one prefers) from the Yamna culture and its immediate successors into Northern and Central Europe.
It has been argued that the area where the Middle Dnieper culture is situated would have provided a better migration route for steppe tribes along the Pripyat tributary of the Dnieper and perhaps provided the cultural bridge between Yamna and Corded Ware cultures. This area has also been a classic invasion route as seen historically with the armies of the Mongol Golden Horde (moving east to west from the steppes) and Napoleon Bonaparte (moving west to east from Europe).
On the other hand, under a viewpoint that sees the spread of Indo-European languages primarily as occurring via culture exchange rather than migration, the Middle-Dnieper culture has been viewed as a contact zone between Yamnaya steppe tribes and occupants of the forest steppe zone, interpreted as pre-Indo-Iranian speakers and pre-Balto-Slavs respectively. The exchange of material goods is evident in the archaeological record and has been considered significant enough to resemble known modern-day examples of cultural spread of language.
- J. P. Mallory, "Middle Dnieper Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
- Rifkin, M. 2007. A Spatial Analysis of Neolithic Cultures throughout Eastern, Central, and Northern Europe in Relation to Proto-Germanic. Journal of Indo-European Studies. 35 (1 & 2): 53–81
- Telegin, D. 2005. The Yamna Culture and the Indo-European Homeland Problem. Journal of Indo-European Studies. 33 (3 & 4): 339–358