Originated in the forests of central and northern European Russia, then expanded southward and eventually replaced the Yamna culture, from which it is culturally descended.
The Catacomb culture could be ancestral to the Indo-Iranians, and/or to the Daco-Thracians, Mycenaean Greeks, Phrygians and Armenians.
Stock-breeding culture of semi-nomadic herders riding on horses. Cattle were the dominant domesticated animals, followed by sheep/goat and horses. Cereal agriculture and pig-breeding was practiced in a few permanent settlements in river valleys.
Pottery more elaborated than Yamna. Use of similar cord-impressed pottery with geometric shapes as the Corded Ware culture. Bronze artefacts included shaft-hole axes, fanged daggers, adzes, hammer-head pins, bodkins and chisels. Stone maces, polished stone battle axes, flint arrowheads and flint spears were also used.
Houses were predominantly rectangular, partially sunken in the ground and built with wooden posts.
The dead were inhumed in kurgans similar to the Yamna culture, but with a trench dug into the main shaft, creating the "catacomb", and burial niches in its side walls. Bodies were usually placed in a crouched position on their side and were accompanied by weapons or tools (for men), or pottery and silver ornaments (for women). Graves of elevated social status also contained two- or four-wheeled wagons (and possibly some early chariots), prestige items (axes, scepters), and sacrificed animals (mostly cattle and sheep/goat). A new funeral practice emerged with the modelling of a clay mask over the face of the deceased. These masks may have been the prototypes of the Mycenaean gold masks, like the famous Mask of Agamemnon.