In the 60's and 70's, artifacts were found that are classified as "Swifterbant culture" in the (now dry) Noordoostpolder in The Netherlands, near the village Swifterbant and the former island of Urk. Other well known sites are uncovered in Zuid Holland (Bergschenhoek) and the Betuwe (Hardinxveld- Giessendam).
The oldest finds related to this culture, having an antiquity of 5600 BC, can't be distinguished from the Ertebølle culture, normally associated with Northern Germany and Southern Scandinavia. The culture is ancestral to the Western group of the agricultural Funnelbeaker culture (4000-2700 BC), that includes the Northern Netherlands and Northern Germany until the Elbe.
The earliest dated sites are season settlements. A transition from hunter-gathering to cattle farming, primarily cows and pigs, occurred around 4800-4500 BC. Pottery has been attested from this period. In the region indications to the existence of pottery are present from before the arrival of the Linear Pottery culture in the neighbourhood. The material culture reflects a local evolution from Mesolithic communities, with a pottery in a Nordic (Ertebølle) style and trade relationships with southern late Rössen culture communities, as testified by the presence of true Breitkeile pottery sherds. The Rössen culture, being an offshoot of Linear Pottery, is older than the finds in Swifterbant, and contemporary to older stages of this culture as found in Hoge Vaart (Almere) and Hardinxveld. Contact between Swifterbant and Rössen expressed itself by some hybrid early Swifterbant pots in Anvers (Doel) and hybrid Rössen pottery Hamburg-Boberg. In general, Swifterbant pots does not show the same variety as Rössen pottery and Swifterbant pottery with Rössen influences are rare. Possibly the idea of cooking could be derived from agricultural neighbours. However, the technical style for making pottery are too different to consider such external influences.
Wetland settlement, unlike previous opinions, was a deliberate choice by prehistoric communities, as this offered attractive ecological conditions and a high natural productivity or agricultural potential. The economy covered a broad spectrum of resources to gather food, ruled by a strategy to diversify rather than increasing volume. As such, the wetlands offered, next to hunting and fishing, optimized conditions to explore both cattle and small scale cultivation of different crops, each having conditions for growing of their own. The agrarian transformation of the prehistoric community was an exclusively indigenous process, that ultimatey realized itself only at the end of the Neolithic. This view has been supported by the actual discovery of an agricultural field in Swifterbant dated 4300-4000 BC.
Animal sacrifices found in the bogs of Drente are attributed to Swifterbant and suggest a religious role for both wild and domesticated bovines.
Early farmers, late foragers, and ceramic traditions; on the beginning of pottery in the Near East and Europe.(Brief article)(Book review)
Feb 01, 2010; 9781443801591 Early farmers, late foragers, and ceramic traditions; on the beginning of pottery in the Near East and Europe....