This dissertation examines the clay drums found in the Neolithic contexts of the
southern Trichterrandbecher culture (TRB).
Chapter 1 introduces the subject and provides basic definitions.
Chapter 2 reviews the archaeological literature of the southern TRB, including
typological, stratigraphic and dating concerns, followed by a survey of the settlement,
economic and burial evidence.
Chapter 3 reviews the classifications of the drums and proposes a revised
version, based on the vessel form, the decoration and the archaeological context.
In Chapter 4 we review the comparative analysis of the decoration and vessel
form with a view to understanding their origins.
Chapter 5 summarises the anthropological and archaeological literature on the
subject of shamanism, and shamanistic practices, reviewing the concept of altered states
of consciousness and providing definitions of the terms "trance", "ecstasy",
"shamanism" and "possession". Then we discuss the neurological evidence of
shamanism and brain structure, and explain the technical terminology. The chapter then
proceeds to examine the methods of inducing changes in consciousness, specifically the
use of auditory driving and imagery cultivation, finishing with a look at the evidence of
Chapter 6 examines the validity of applying a shamanistic approach using the
comparison with entoptic imagery.
Chapter 7 summarises the investigation, and after sifting the evidence draws
conclusions on the interpretation of the Neolithic drums, the plausibility of shamanistic
approaches and the nature of music in human culture.