Cradle of Civilization

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Pre History of Europe

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 15, 2013

Epipaleolithic Europe

Epipaleolithic Europe

Around 17,000 BCE, Europe witnesses the appearance of a new culture, known as Magdalenian, possibly rooted in the old Aurignacian one. This culture soon supersedes the Solutrean area and also the Gravetian of Central Europe. However, in Mediterranean Iberia, Italy and Eastern Europe, epi-Gravettian cultures continue evolving locally.

With the Magdalenian culture, Paleolithic development in Europe reaches its peak and this is reflected in the advanced art, owing to the previous traditions of painting in the West and sculpture in Central Europe.

The populations evolving at the onset of the Bölling oscillation (approximately 12,000 BP) and which have continued to the end of the Preboreal have been generally attributed to the Epipaleolithic. Consequently, this historical period could be associated with the interval between 13,000 and about 9,500-9,000 BP.

These communities continued the lifestyles of the Upper Paleolithic. Due to numerous factors, including changes in the climate, the small groups of hunters-fishermen-gatherers innovated tool and weapon types — producing, for instance, microlites (trapeze) — while also keeping the traditional tool types.

The area of Porţile de Fier (Iron Gates) is settled by a population attributed to the Late Epigravettian or Mediterranean Tardigravettian. The first stage of this period has been made known to us by the discoveries in the Climente II cave (Mehedinţi County), and the second stage, by discoveries in the shelter under the rocks at Cuina Turcului, Dubova, both of which are located in the same limestone massif — Ciucaru Mare.

The two dwelling levels at Cuina Turcului have produced a large quantity of tools and weapons made of flint in particular, and less so of obsidian, bone and horn, as well as body ornaments (shells and drilled teeth, bone pendants, etc.) The ornaments are often decorated with incised geometrical patterns. The most remarkable is a drilled horse phalange, wholly ornamented and probably representing a female figure.

Besides the mammal (beaver, boar, mountain goat, etc.), bird and fish remnants, fragments of human skeletons were also found. The Climente II cave has produced a human skeleton, set in a crouching position, and covered by a thick layer of red ochre, which is attributed to the Tardigravettian dwelling and which predates Level I at Cuina Turcului.

The discoveries in the Clisura area display striking similarities to the industries of the Italian Peninsula — the expression of the migrant human bearers of the Late Epigravettian in the mentioned area.

Around 10,500 BCE, the Würm Glacial age ends. Slowly, through the following millennia, temperatures and sea levels rise, changing the environment of prehistoric people. Nevertheless, Magdalenian culture persists until circa 8000 BCE, when it quickly evolves into two microlithist cultures: Azilian, in Spain and southern France, and Sauveterrian, in northern France and Central Europe.

Though there are some differences, both cultures share several traits: the creation of very small stone tools called microliths and the scarcity of figurative art, which seems to have vanished almost completely, being replaced by abstract decoration of tools.

In the late phase of this Epipaleolithic period, the Sauveterrean culture evolves into the so-called Tardenoisian and influences strongly its southern neighbour, clearly replacing it in Mediterranean Spain and Portugal.

The recession of the glaciers allows human colonization in Northern Europe for the first time. The Maglemosian culture, derived from the Sauveterre-Tardenois culture but with a strong personality, colonizes Denmark and the nearby regions, including parts of Britain.

Ahrenburg culture belongs to a Late Paleolithic and early Mesolithic (or Epipaleolithic) cultural complex that started with the glacial recession and the subsequent disintegration of Late Palaeolithic cultures between 15,000 and 10,000 calBC. The extinction of mammoth and other megafauna provided for an incentive to exploit other forms of subsistence that included maritime resources.

Northward migrations coincided with the warm Bølling and Allerød events, but much of northern Eurasia remained inhabited during the Younger Dryas. During the holocene climatic optimum, the increased biomass led to a marked intensification in foraging by all groups, the development of inter-group contacts, and ultimately, the initiation of agriculture.

The different technolithic complexes are chronologically associated with the climatic chronozones. The re-colonisation of Northern Germany is connected to the onset of the late Glacial Interstadial between Weichsel and the Dryas I glaciation, at the beginning of the Meiendorf Interstadial around 12.700 calBC. Palynological results demonstrate a close connection between the prominent temperature rise at the beginning of the Interstadial and the expansion of the hunter-gatherers into the northern Lowlands.

The existence of a primary “pioneer phase” in the re-colonisation is contradicted by proof of e.g. an early Central European Magdalenian in Poland. Today it is commonly accepted that the Hamburgian, featured by “Shouldered Point” lithics, is a techno-complex closely related to the Creswellian, a British Upper Palaeolithic culture named after the type site of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, which dates from c. 13.000 to 11,500 BP and was replaced by the Ahrensburg culture, and rooted in the Magdalenian.

The Magdalenian (French: Magdalénien), refers to one of the later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in western Europe, towards the end of the last ice age, dating from around 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. It is named after the type site of La Madeleine, a rock shelter located in the Vézère valley, commune of Tursac, in the Dordogne department of France.

Originally termed “L’âge du renne” (the Age of the Reindeer) by Édouard Lartet and Henry Christy, the first systematic excavators of the type site, in their publication of 1875, the Magdalenian is synonymous in many people’s minds with reindeer hunters, although Magdalenian sites also contain extensive evidence for the hunting of red deer, horse and other large mammals present in Europe towards the end of the last ice age. The culture was geographically widespread, and later Magdalenian sites have been found from Portugal in the west to Poland in the east.

There is extensive debate about the precise nature of the earliest Magdalenian assemblages, and it remains questionable whether the Badegoulian culture is in fact the earliest phase of the Magdalenian. Similarly finds from the forest of Beauregard near Paris have often been suggested as belonging to the earliest Magdalenian. The earliest Magdalenian sites are all found in France. The Epigravettian is another similar culture appearing during the same period in Italy and Eastern Europe (Moldavia, Romania).

The Late Glacial Maximum (ca. 13,000-10,000 years ago), or Tardiglacial (“Late Glacial”), is defined primarily by climates in the northern hemisphere warming substantially, causing a process of accelerated deglaciation following the Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 25,000-13,000 years ago).

It is at this time that human populations, previously forced into refuge areas as a result of Last Glacial Maximum climatic conditions, gradually begin to repopulate the northern hemisphere’s Eurasian landmass and eventually populate North America via Beringia for the first time.

Climate amelioration begins to occur rapidly throughout Western Europe and the North European Plain ca. 16,000-15,000 years ago. The environmental landscape becomes increasing boreal except in the far north, where conditions remain arctic. Sites of human occupation reappear in northern France, Belgium, northwest Germany, and southern Britain between 15,500 to 14,000 years ago. Many of these sites are classified as Magdalenian though other industries containing distinctive curved back and tanged points appear as well. As the Fennoscandian ice sheet continued to shrink, plants and people began to repopulate the freshly deglaciated areas of southern Scandinavia.

The European distribution of Y-chromosome Haplogroup I and various associated subclades has also been explained as resulting from male post-glacial re-colonization of Europe from refuge in the Balkans, Iberia, and Eastern Europe. Males possessing Haplogroup Q are postulated as representing a significant portion of the population that crossed Beringia and populated North America for the first time.

Human site occupation density was most prevalent in the Crimea region and increased as early as ca. 16,000 years before the present. However reoccupation of northern territories of the East European Plain did not occur until 13,000 years before the present. Prior to this settlement of the central portion of the East European Plain was significantly reduced during a period of maximum cold ca. 21,000-17,000 years before the present.

Overall, there is little archaeological evidence to suggest major shifting settlement pattern during this time on the East European plain. This is unlike what was occurring in Western Europe, where Magdalenian industry producers were rapidly repopulating much of Europe. Evidence of this can be found as far east at Kunda sites (ca. 10,000 years ago) located throughout Baltic country territory where tanged point and other tool making traditions reminiscent of the northwestern European Magdalenian persist.

Generally, lithic technology is dominated by blade production and typical Upper Paleolithic tool forms such as burins and backed blades (the most persistent). Kostenki archaeological sites of multiple occupation layers persist from the Last Glacial Maximum and into the Late Glacial Maximum on the eastern edge of the Central Russian Upland, along the Don River. Epigravettian archaeological sites, similar to Eastern Gravettian sites, are common in the southwest, central, and southern regions of the East European Plain ca. 17,000-10,000 years BP, and are also present in the Crimea and Northern Caucasus.

In Western Europe, between ca. 22 k.a. and 20 k.a cal BP, human groups responded to LGM environmental conditions by developing a suite of new technologies characterized by a variety of diagnostic projectile points produced by bifacial retouch, which define the Solutrean technocomplex.

In the regions of southeastern Europe, hunter-gatherers of the LGM produce a different lithic technology, the early Epigravettian (20,000-8000 BP), which evolved into the Mesolithic, characterized by shouldered and backed projectile points produced by unifacial retouch most probably being derived from the preceding Gravettian technocomplex. Bifacial leaf-shaped points are rare and have been recovered from only a few sites in northern Italy.

Epigravettian was followed by the Sauveterrian and Castelnovian in the 7th millennium BC. Epigravettian cultures developed contemporaneously in various parts of Europe, notably the Creswellian in Britain.

Reconstructions of their ecological niches indicate that they overlap broadly, but that the Solutrean was able to exploit colder and more humid areas, corresponding to areas with permanent permafrost during the LGM. In contrast, the Epigravettian in Italia and the Balkans seems to have been better adapted to areas characterized by discontinuous permafrost and seasonal freezing. Neither technocomplex was adapted to the more southerly dry and relatively warmer Mediterranean environments during the LGM.

The later phases of the Magdalenian are also synonymous with the human re-settlement of north-western Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum during the Late Glacial Maximum. Research in Switzerland, southern Germany and Belgium has provided AMS radiocarbon dating to support this. However being hunter gatherers Magdalenians did not simply re-settle permanently in north-west Europe as they often followed herds and moved depending on seasons.

By the end of the Magdalenian, the lithic technology shows a pronounced trend towards increased microlithisation. The bone harpoons and points have the most distinctive chronological markers within the typological sequence. As well as flint tools, the Magdalenians are best known for their elaborate worked bone, antler and ivory which served both functional and aesthetic purposes including perforated batons. Examples of Magdalenian portable art include batons, figurines and intricately engraved projectile points, as well as items of personal adornment including sea shells, perforated carnivore teeth (presumably necklaces) and fossils.

The sea shells and fossils found in Magdalenian sites can be sourced to relatively precise areas of origin, and so have been used to support hypothesis of Magdalenian hunter-gatherer seasonal ranges, and perhaps trade routes. Cave sites such as the world famous Lascaux contain the best known examples of Magdalenian cave art. The site of Altamira in Spain, with its extensive and varied forms of Magdalenian mobillary art has been suggested to be an agglomeration site where multiple small groups of Magdalenian hunter-gatherers congregated.

In northern Spain and south west France it was superseded by the Azilian culture. In northern Europe we see a slightly different picture, with different variants of the Tjongerian techno-complex following it. It has been suggested that key Late Glacial sites in south-western Britain can also be attributed to the Magdalenian, including the famous site of Kent’s Cavern, although this remains open to debate.

The Hamburg culture or Hamburgian (13,500-11,100 BC) was a Late Upper Paleolithic culture of reindeer hunters in northwestern Europe during the last part of the Weichsel Glaciation beginning during the Bölling Interstatial. Sites are found close to the ice caps of the time.

The Hamburg Culture has been identified at many places, for example, the settlement at Meiendorf and Ahrensburg north of Hamburg, Germany. It is characterized by shouldered points and zinken tools, which were used as chisels when working with horns. In later periods tanged Havelte-type points appear, sometimes described as most of all a northwestern phenomenon. Notwithstanding the spread over a large geographical area in which a homogeneous development is not to be expected, the definition of the Hamburgian as a technological complex of its own has not recently been questioned.

The culture spread from northern France to southern Scandinavia in the north and to Poland in the east. In the early 1980s, the first find from the culture in Scandinavia was excavated at Jels in Sønderjylland. Recently, new finds have been discovered at, for example, Finja in northern Skåne. The latest findings (2005) have shown that these people traveled far north along the Norwegian coast dryshod during the summer, since the sea level was 50m lower than today.

In northern Germany, camps with layers of detritus have been found. In the layers, there is a great deal of horn and bone, and it appears that the reindeer was an important prey.

The distribution of the finds in the settlements show that the settlements were small and only inhabited by a small group of people. At a few settlements, archaeologists have discovered circles of stones, interpreted as weights for a teepee covering.

Within the Hamburgian techno-complex, a younger dating is found for the Havelte phase, sometimes interpreted as a northwestern phenomenon, perhaps oriented towards the former coastline. The Hamburgian culture existed during the warm Bølling period, the brief Dryas II glaciation (lasting 300 years) and in the early warmer Allerød period.

However, the distribution of the Hamburgian east of the Oder River has been confirmed and Hamburgian culture can also be distinguished in Lithuania. Finds in Jutland indicates the expansion of early Hamburgian hunters and gatherers reached further north than previously expected. The Hamburgian sites with shouldered point lithics reach as far north as the Pomeranian ice margin. The younger Havelte phase has been proven for the area beyond the Pomeranian ice margin and on the Danish Isles after circa 12.300 calBC.

The “Backed Point” lithics of Federmesser culture are usually dated in the Allerød Interstadial. Early Federmesser finds follows shortly or are contemporary to Havelte. The culture lasted approximately 1200 years from 11.900 to 10.700 calBC., and is located in Northern Germany and Poland to south Lithuania.

The Federmesser culture or Federmesser group is a toolmaking tradition of the late Upper Palaeolithic era, of the Northern European Plain from Poland (where the culture is called Tarnowian and Witowian) to northern France, dating to between c. 12000 and 10800 BC (uncalibrated). It is closely related to the Tjongerian culture, as both have been suggested as being part of the more generalized Azilian culture, a name given by archaeologists to an industry of the Epipaleolithic in northern Spain and southern France.

It used small backed flint blades, from which its name derives (Federmesser is German for “feather knife”), and shares characteristics with the Creswellian culture in Britain.

The Creswellian culture has parallels with the Federmesser and Hamburgian cultures of today northwestern continental Europe and the Magdelanian culture of southern Europe.

Swiderian culture, also published in English literature as Sviderian and Swederian, is the name of Final Palaeolithic cultural complexes in Poland and the surrounding areas. The type-site is Świdry Wielkie, in Otwock. The Swiderian is recognized as a distinctive culture that developed on the sand dunes left behind by the retreating glaciers.

Rimantiene (1996) considered the relationship between Swiderian and Solutrean, a relatively advanced flint tool-making style of the Upper Palaeolithic, from around 22,000 to 17,000 BP, “outstanding, though also indirect”, in contrast with the Bromme-Ahrensburg complex (Lyngby culture), for which she introduced the term “Baltic Magdalenian” for generalizing all other North European Late Paleolithic culture groups that have a common origin in Aurignacian.

“Solutrean” is named after the type-site of Crôt du Charnier at Solutré in the Mâcon district, Saône-et-Loire, eastern France, and appeared around 21,000 BP. The Solutré site was discovered in 1866 by the French geologist and paleontologist Henry Testot-Ferry (second son of Napoleon’s famous cavalryman, General Claude Testot-Ferry, Baron of the Empire). It is now preserved as the Parc archéologique et botanique de Solutré.

The industry was named by Gabriel de Mortillet to describe the second stage of his system of cave chronology, following the Mousterian, and he considered it synchronous with the third division of the Quaternary period. The era’s finds include tools, ornamental beads, and bone pins as well as prehistoric art.

The Solutrean may be seen as a transitory stage between the flint implements of the Mousterian and the bone implements of the Magdalenian epochs. Faunal finds include horse, reindeer, mammoth, cave lion, rhinoceros, bear and aurochs. Solutrean finds have been also made in the caves of Les Eyzies and Laugerie Haute, and in the Lower Beds of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, England. The industry first appeared in what is now Spain, and disappears from the archaeological record around 17,000 BP.

The Solutrean hypothesis builds on similarities between the Solutrean industry and the later Clovis culture / Clovis points of North America, and suggests that people with Solutrean tool-technology crossed the Ice Age Atlantic by moving along the pack ice edge, using survival skills similar to those of modern Eskimo people. The migrants arrived in northeastern North America and served as the donor culture for what eventually developed into Clovis tool-making technology. Archaeologists Dennis Stanford and Bruce Bradley suggest that the Clovis point derived from the points of the Solutrean culture of southern France (19,000 BP) through the Cactus Hill points of Virginia (16,000 BP) to the Clovis point. This would mean that people would have had to move from the Bay of Biscay across the edge of the Atlantic ice sheet to North America. Supporters of this hypothesis believe it would have been feasible using traditional Eskimo techniques still in use today, while others argue that the conditions at the time would have made such a journey unlikely.

The idea of a Clovis-Solutrean link remains controversial and does not enjoy wide acceptance. The hypothesis is challenged by large gaps in time between the Clovis and Solutrean eras, a lack of evidence of Solutrean seafaring, lack of specific Solutrean features in Clovis technology, and other issues.

Three periods of the Swiderian culture can be distinguished. The crude flint blades of Early Swiderian are found in the area of Nowy Mlyn in the Holy Cross Mountains region. The Developed Swiderian appeared with their migrations to the north and is characterized by tanged blades: this stage separates the northwestern European cultural province, embracing Belgium, Holland, northwest Germany, Denmark and Norway, and the Middle East European cultural province, embracing Silesia, Brandenburgia, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Central Russia, Ukraine and the Crimea. Late Swiderian is characterized by blades with a blunted back.

The Swiderian culture plays a central role in the Palaeolithic-Mesolithic transition. It has been generally accepted that most of the Swiderian population emigrated at the very end of the Pleistocene (10,000 BP uncalibrated; 9500 BC calibrated) to the northeast following the retreating tundra, after the Younger Dryas. Recent radiocarbon dates prove that some groups of the Svidero-Ahrensburgian Complex persisted into the Preboreal.

Unlike western Europe, the Mesolithic groups now inhabiting the Polish Plain were newcomers. This has been attested by a 300-year-long gap between the youngest Palaeolithic and the oldest Mesolithic occupation.

The oldest Mesolithic site is Chwalim, located in western Poland; it outdates the Mesolithic sites situated to the east in central and northeastern Poland by about 150 years. Thus, the Mesolithic population progressed from the west after a 300-year-long settlement break, and moved gradually towards the east. The lack of good flint raw materials in the Polish early Mesolithic has been interpreted thus that the new arriving people were not acquainted yet with the best local sources of flint, proving their external origin.

The Ukrainian archaeologist L. Zalizniak (1989, p. 83-84) believes Kunda culture of Central Russia and the Baltic zone, and other so-called post-Swiderian cultures, derive from the Swiderian culture. Sorokin (2004) rejects the “contact” hypothesis of the formation of Kunda culture and holds it originated from the seasonal migrations of Swiderian people at the turn of Pleistocene and Holocene when human subsistence was based on hunting reindeer.

Many of the earliest Mesolithic sites in Finland are post-Swiderian; these include the Ristola site in Lahti and the Saarenoja 2 site in Joutseno with lithics in imported flint, as well as the Sujala site in Utsjoki in the province of Lapland. The raw materials of the lithic assemblage at Sujala originate in the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway.

Concerning this region, the commonly held view today is that the earliest settlement of the North Norwegian coast originated in the Fosna culture of the western and southwestern coast of Norway and ultimately in the final Palaeolithic Ahrensburg culture of northwestern Europe.

The combination of a coastal raw material and a lithic technique typical to Late Palaeolithic and very early Mesolithic industries of northern Europe, originally suggested that Sujala was contemporaneous to Phase 1 of the Norwegian Finnmark Mesolithic (Komsa proper), dating to between 9 000 and 10 000 BP.

Proposed parallels with the blade technology among the earliest Mesolithic finds in southern Norway would have placed the find closer or even before 10 000 BP. However, a preliminary connection to early North Norwegian settlements is contradicted by the shape of the tanged points and by the blade reduction technology from Sujala.

The bifacially shaped tang and ventral retouch on the tip of the arrowpoints and the pressure technique used in blade manufacture are rare or absent in Ahrensburgian contexts, but very characteristic of the so-called Post-Swiderian cultures of northwestern Russia. There, counterparts of the Sujala cores can also be found.

The Sujala assemblage is currently considered unquestionably post-Swiderian and is dated by radiocarbon to 9265-8930 BP, the true age being approximately 8300-8200 CalBC. Such an Early Mesolithic influence from Russia or the Baltic might imply an adjustment to previous thoughts on the colonization of the Barents Sea coast.

Fish-hooks were discovered in Allerød layers and emphasize the importance of fishing in the Late Palaeolithic. A certain survival of late Upper Palaeolithic traditions similar to contemporary Azilian (France, Spain) becomes apparent, such as the amber elk from Weitsche that can be considered as a link to the Mesolithic, amber animal sculptures.

The Neman culture (7th – 3rd millennium BC) is the name of two archaeological cultures that existed in Mesolithic and continued into middle Neolithic. It was a continuation of the Swiderian culture and was replaced by the Corded Ware culture. It was located in the upper basin of the Neman River: northern Poland, southern Lithuania, western Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast. In the north, the Neman culture bordered the Kunda culture during Mesolithic and Narva culture during Neolithic.

During the Atlantic period, the climate warmed and broad-leaved tree forests covered much of the territory. The migrating reindeer, mainstay of the Paleolithic hunters, retreated to the North and were followed by forest animals.

The people adapted to the changed environment. They were still nomadic, but traveled shorter distances and stayed in the same place for longer periods. The archaeologists found small camps used just once and larger camps to which hunters returned repeatedly.

These camps were usually located near lakes or rivers. The people used to hunt with arrows and spears and fish with harpoons. The flint tools of Mesolithic Neman culture were influenced both by microliths from southeastern Europe and macroliths from northern Europe (Maglemosian culture).

Therefore the culture was initially called Microlithic-Macrolithic culture to avoid confusion with the already established Neolithic Neman culture. Despite variety of influences, the culture was rather stable for 2500–3000 years indicating no significant migrations. Therefore the artifacts are rather unvaried stock of arrowheads, trapezoid blades, oval axes.

The Neolithic began with appearance of pottery in mid 5th millennium BC. The Semi-Neolithic Neman culture was a successor of the Mesolithic Neman culture. Most of flint tools are very similar between both cultures. A new widespread development was knives with sharpened and flared point.

Pottery of the Neman culture had pointed bottoms and was made of clay mixed with organic matter or crushed quartzite. Some latter examples have flat bottoms. The vessels were a bit narrower and curvier than of the Narva culture. They were decorated with a thin layer of white clay and rows of small imprints around the rim.

The rest of the vessel had diagonal stripes forming a pattern of a fishnet or more rows of small imprints. Some pottery found in settlements of Neman culture was made by Narva culture. Such phenomenon is explained by trade of flint, which Narva culture in the north did not have.

Towards the end of the Neman culture, the pottery became more varied and exhibits influence of the Rzucewo culture: imprints made by a cord or resembling a fir. Eventually the culture was overtaken by the Corded Ware culture and Globular Amphora culture.

The Azilian culture dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 12,000 years ago (uncalibrated) and followed the Magdalenian culture. Archaeologists think the Azilian represents the tail end of the Magdalenian as the warming climate brought about changes in human behaviour in the area. The effects of melting ice sheets would have diminished the food supply and probably impoverished the previously well-fed Magdalenian manufacturers. As a result, Azilian tools and art were cruder and less expansive than their Ice Age predecessors – or simply different.

Diagnostic artifacts from the culture include Azilian points (microliths with rounded retouched backs), crude flat bone harpoons and pebbles with abstract decoration. The latter were first found in the River Arize at the type-site for the culture, Le Mas-d’Azil in the French Pyrenees. 145 are known from the Swiss site of Birsmatten-Eremitage. Compared with the late Magdelanian, the number of microliths increases.

The Azilian co-existed with similar early Mesolithic European cultures such as the Tjongerian and the Ahrensburg culture of Northern Europe, the Swiderian of North-Eastern Europe, and the Creswellian in Britain.

In its late phase, it experienced strong influences from neighbouring Tardenoisian, reflected in the presence of many geometrical microliths persisted until the arrival of the Neolithic, that in some western areas was only adopted very late, almost in the Chalcolithic era.

Bromme culture sites are found in the entire southern and southeastern Baltic, and are dated to the second half of Allerød and the early cold Dryas III period. The “classical” Brommian complex is typified by simple and fast, but uneconomical, flint processing using unipolair cores. A new development noticed in Lithuania introduced both massive and smaller “Tanged Points”.

In Bromme culture this technology is proposed to be an innovation derived from tanged Havelte groups. As such, derivation of Bromme culture and even migration of its representatives from the territories of Denmark and northern Germany have been proposed, although other sources hold early Bromme not to be very well defined in (late Allerød) Northern Germany, where it groups with Federmesser.

Ahrensburg culture is normally associated with the Younger Dryas glacialization and the Pre-boreal period. The traditional view of the Ahrensburg culture being a direct inheritor of the Bromme culture in the late Dryas period is contradicted by new information that the Ahrensburgian techno-complex probably already started before the Younger Dryas, strengthening proposals to a direct derivation from the Havelte stage of the Hamburg culture.

Some recent finds, such as the Hintersee 24 site in southern Landkreis Vorpommern-Greifswald, would contribute to the argument of an early Ahrensburgian in northern Germany. Alternatively, flint artefacts of Bromme tanged-point groups is considered to prelude the techno-complex of the Ahrensburg culture and would point to the provenience of Ahrensburg from Bromme culture. As such, the Grensk culture in Bromme territory at the source of the Dnieper River was proposed to be the direct originator of Ahrensburgian culture.

However, the exact typological chronology of this culture is still unclear. Though associated with the Bromme complex, Grensk culture has its roots more defined in the local Mammoth Hunters’ culture.

Another possibility derives from the observation that on a regional scale, the Hamburgian culture is succeeded geographically as well as chronologically by the Federmesser culture, or Arch-Backed Piece Complex. The existence of a genuine Federmesser occupation in southern Scandinavia is highly controversial, and there is wide, though not unanimous, agreement that some Federmesser types constitute an integral part of the early Brommean artefact inventory. Still, Federmesser types are also often found in close association with Hamburgian assemblages (e.g. at Slotseng and Sølbjerg) and tentative, dating from northern Germany shows some degree of contemporaneity between the late Hamburgian Havelte sites and the Federmesser ones. Therefore in southern Scandinavia the Federmesser may represent a brief transitory phase between the Hamburgian and the Brommean.

This corresponds with the notion that “tanged point cultures” such as “Brommian” or “Bromme-Lyngby” appear to be based on the Magdalenian, during the Allerød and were closely associated with reindeer hunting.

Stellmoor was a seasonal settlement inhabited primarily during October, and bones from 650 reindeer have been found there. The hunting tool was bow and arrow. From Stellmoor there are also well-preserved arrow shafts of pine intended for the culture’s characteristic skaftunge arrowheads of flintstone. A number of intact reindeer skeletons, with arrowheads in the chest, has been found, and they were probably sacrifices to higher powers. At the settlements, archaeologists have found circles of stone, which probably were the foundations of hide teepees.

The earliest reliable traces of habitation in the northern territories of Norway and western Sweden date to the transition period from the Younger Dryas to the Preboreal. More favourable living conditions, and past experience gained through seasonal rounds, prompted increased maritime resource exploitation in the northern territories.

The Hensbacka group on the west coast of Sweden exemplifies the cultural fragmentation process that took place within the Continental Ahrensburgian. Instead of new immigrations at the beginning of the Mesolithic, the discovery of deposited bones and new dating indicate that there was no (significant) break in settlement continuity. New knowledge provides aspects for a further autochthonous development, with a rapid climatic change stimulating a swift cultural change.

The Ahrensburg culture or Ahrensburgian (11th to 10th millennia BCE) was a late Upper Paleolithic nomadic hunter culture (or technocomplex) in north-central Europe during the Younger Dryas, the last spell of cold at the end of the Weichsel glaciation resulting in deforestation and the formation of a tundra with bushy arctic white birch and rowan.

The culture is named after a tunnel valley near the village of Ahrensburg, 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Hamburg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, where Ahrensburg find layers were excavated in Meiendorf, Stellmoor and Borneck.

While these as well as the majority of other find sites date to the Young Dryas, the Ahrensburgian find layer in Alt Duvenstedt has been dated to the very late Allerød, thus possibly representing an early stage of Ahrensburgian which might have corresponded to the Bromme culture in the north. Artefacts with tanged points are found associated with both the Bromme and the Ahrensburg cultures.

The most important prey was the wild reindeer. The earliest definite finds of arrow and bow date to this culture, though these weapons might have been invented earlier. The Ahrensburgian was preceded by the Hamburg and Federmesser cultures and superseded by mesolithic cultures (Maglemosian).

Ahrensburgian finds were made in southern and western Scandinavia, the North German plain and western Poland. The Ahrensburgian area also included vast stretches of land now at the bottom of the North and Baltic Sea, since during the Younger Dryas the coastline took a much more northern course than today.

The Bromme culture is a late Upper Paleolithic culture dated to c. 11 600 to 10 800 cal BC, which corresponds to the second half of the Allerød Oscillation.

At this time, reindeer was the most important prey, but the Bromme people also hunted moose, wolverine and beaver. The landscape was a combination of taiga and tundra.

The culture is named after a settlement at Bromme on western Zealand, and it is known from several settlements in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. In Sweden, it is known from the country’s earliest known settlement at Segebro, near Malmö.

It is characterized by sturdy lithic flakes that were used for all tools, primarily awls (sticklar), scrapers and skaftunge arrow heads. No stone axes have been found.

The Bromme culture and the Ahrensburg culture are so similar that it has been proposed that they should be classed as one and the same, under the label Lyngby culture, with the Bromme culture being recognized as an older northern branch of the same culture as the Ahrensburg culture.

The oldest traces of settlements in the territory of the Wieliszew Commune dating back to 8000 years BC have been discovered at numerous archaeological sites in the territory of the village of Komornica (e.g. flint tools). This so-called Komornica culture, which is one of the oldest cultures discovered on the European continent, prevailed in parts of Poland, Germany, Denmark, and southern Sweden.

The Sauveterrian is the name for an archaeological culture of the European Epipaleolithic which flourished around 8500–6500 years BC. The name is derived from the type site of Sauveterre-la-Lémance in the French département of Lot-et-Garonne.

It extended through large parts of western and central Europe. Characteristic artefacts include geometric microliths and backed points on micro-blades. Woodworking tools are notably missing from Sauveterrian assemblages. There is evidence for ritual burial.

It eventually evolved into the Tardenoisian culture, an archaeological culture of the Epipaleolithic period from northern France and Belgium, of similar characteristics. Similar cultures are known further east in central Europe, Italy, parts of Britain, and west across Spain. Characteristic artefacts include trapezoid, chisel-ended arrowheads and small flint blades made by the pressure-technique.

The Fosna/Hensbacka cultures (ca. 8300 BC – 7300 BC), or (12000 cal.BP – 10500 cal.BP) were two very similar Late Palaeolithic/early Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavia, and are often subsumed under the name Fosna-Hensbacka culture.

This complex includes the Komsa culture, a Mesolithic culture of hunter-gatherers that existed from around 10000 BC in Northern Norway, that, notwithstanding different types of tools, is also considered to be a part of the Fosna culture group.

The culture is named after the Komsa Mountain in the community of Alta, Finnmark, where the remains of the culture were first discovered. The term was first used by Norwegian archaeologist Anders Nummedal (1867-1944) after the discoveries he made in the Komsa Mountains during 1925. The distinction between a “Komsa” type of stone-tool culture north of the Arctic Circle and a “Fosna” type from Trøndelag to Oslo Fjord was rendered obsolete in the 1970s. Nowadays both phenomena are ascribed to different types of tools of the same culture.

Recent archeological finds from Finnish Lapland were originally thought to represent an inland aspect of the Komsa culture equally old to the earliest finds from the Norwegian coast. However, this material is now considered to be affiliated with the contemporary Post-Swiderian culture of North Central Russia and the eastern Baltic and thus represents a separate early incursion into northernmost Scandinavia.

The commonly held view today is that the earliest settlement of the North Norwegian coast originated on the western and southwestern coast of Norway and ultimately in the final Palaeolithic Ahrensburg culture of northwestern Europe.

The Komsa are thought to have followed the Norwegian coastline when receding glaciation at the end of the last ice age (between 11,000 and 8000 BC) opened up new areas for settlement. Some elements may have moved into modern-day Finnmark from the northeast, possibly coming from ice-free coasts of the Kola Peninsula, though evidence to this formerly widely held view is still poor.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Komsa culture was almost exclusively sea-oriented, living mainly off seal hunting and being able boatbuilders and fishermen. In comparison to the southern Norway’s contemporary Fosna variety of this same culture, stone tools and other implements appear relatively crude. This has been explained with a paucity of flintstone in the region.

The main difference is that the Fosna/Komsa culture was distributed along the coast of Northern Norway, whereas the Hensbacka culture had a more eastern distribution along the coast of western Sweden; primarily in central Bohuslän to the north of Göteborg.

Recent investigations indicate that this particular area, i.e. central Bohuslän, may well have had the largest seasonal population in northern Europe during the Late Palaeolithic/early Mesolithic transition. This was due to environmental circumstances brought about by the relationship between the Vänern basin in the east, and topographical features in the North Sea basin to the west.

The Hensbacka culture evolved into the later Sandarna culture which is found along the coast of western Sweden.

Kunda Culture, with its roots in Swiderian culture[1] is a mesolithic hunter-gatherer communities of the Baltic forest zone extending eastwards through Latvia into northern Russia dating to the period 8000–5000 BC by calibrated radiocarbon dating. It is named after the Estonian town of Kunda, about 110 kilometres (70 mi) east of Tallinn along the Gulf of Finland, near where the first extensively studied settlement was discovered on Lammasmäe Hill and in the surrounding peat bog.

Most Kunda settlements are located near the edge of the forests beside rivers, lakes, or marshes. Elk were extensively hunted, perhaps helped by trained domestic hunting-dogs. On the coast seal hunting is represented. Pike and other fish were taken from the rivers. There is a rich bone and antler industry, especially in relation to fishing gear. Tools were decorated with simple geometric designs, lacking the complexity of the contemporary Maglemosian Culture communities to the southwest.

The Kunda Culture is succeeded by the Narva culture who use pottery and show some traces of food production. The oldest known Kunda culture settlement in Estonia is Pulli settlement.

The Kunda culture appears to have undergone a transition from the Palaeolithic Swiderian culture located previously over much of the same range. One such transition settlement, Pasieniai 1C in Lithuania, features stone tools of both Late Swiderian and early Kunda. One shape manufactured in both cultures is the retouched tanged point. The final Swiderian is dated 7800-7600 BC by calibrated radiocarbon dating, which is in the Preboreal period, at the end of which time with no gap the early Kunda begins. Evidently the descendants of the Swiderians were the first to settle Estonia when it became habitable. Other post-Swiderian groups extended as far east as the Ural mountains.

Narva culture or eastern Baltic (ca. 5300 to 1750 BC) was a European Neolithic archaeological culture found in present-day Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast (former East Prussia), and adjacent portions of Poland and Russia. A successor of the Mesolithic Kunda culture, Narva culture continued up to the start of the Bronze Age. The technology was that of hunter-gatherers. The culture was named after the Narva River in Estonia.

The people of the Narva culture had little access to flint; therefore, they were forced to trade and conserve their flint resources. For example, there were very few flint arrowheads and flint was often reused. The Narva culture relied on local materials (bone, horn, schist). As evidence of trade, researchers found pieces of pink flint from Valdai Hills and plenty of typical Narva pottery in the territory of the Neman culture while no objects from the Neman culture were found in Narva.

Heavy use of bones and horns is one of the main characteristics of the Narva culture. The bone tools, continued from the predecessor Kunda culture, provide the best evidence of continuity of the Narva culture throughout the Neolithic period. The people were buried on their backs with few grave goods.

The Narva culture also used and traded amber; a few hundred items were found in Juodkrantė. One of the most famous artifacts is a ceremonial cane carved of horn as a head of female elk found in Šventoji.

The people were primarily fishers, hunters, and gatherers. They slowly began adopting husbandry in middle Neolithic. They were not nomadic and lived in same settlements for long periods as evidenced by abundant pottery, middens, and structures built in lakes and rivers to help fishing.

The pottery shared similarities with Comb Ceramic culture, but had specific characteristics. One of the most persistent features was mixing clay with other organic matter, most often crushed snail shells.

The pottery was made of 6-to-9 cm (2.4-to-3.5 in) wide clay strips with minimal decorations around the rim. The vessels were wide and large; the height and the width were often the same. The bottoms were pointed or rounded, and only the latest examples have narrow flat bottoms. From mid-Neolithic Narva pottery was influenced and eventually disappeared into the Corded Ware culture.

For a long time archaeologists believed that the first inhabitants of the region were Finno-Ugric, who were pushed north by people of the Corded Ware culture. In 1931, Latvian archeologist Eduards Šturms was the first to note that artifacts found near Zebrus Lake in Latvia were different and possibly belonged to a separate archaeological culture. In early 1950s settlements on the Narva River were excavated. Lembit Jaanits and Nina Gurina grouped the findings with similar artifacts from eastern Baltic region and described the Narva culture.

At first it was believed that Narva culture ended with appearance of the Corded Ware culture. However, newer research extended it up to the Bronze Age. As Narva culture spanned several millenniums and encompassed a large territory, archaeologists attempted to subdivide the culture into regions or periods. For example, in Lithuania two regions are distinguished: southern (under influence of the Neman culture) and western (with major settlements found in Šventoji).

There is an academic debate what ethnicity represented the Narva culture: Finno-Ugrians or Europids, preceding arrival of the Indo-Europeans. It is also unclear how the Narva culture fits with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans (Corded Ware and Globular Amphora cultures) and formation of the Baltic tribes.

Mesolithic cultures

Mesolithic Europe

The Mesolithic (Greek: mesos “middle”, lithos “stone”) is an archaeological concept used to refer to specific groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic. The term developed as a catch-all to refer to material that did not fit into the other categories of prehistory. The term “Epipaleolithic” is often used for areas outside northern Europe but was also the preferred synonym used by French archaeologists until the 1960s.

The term is used to refer to different time spans in different parts of Eurasia. It was first used to refer to post-Pleistocene but pre-agricultural material in northwest Europe about 10,000 to 5000 BCE but is also applied to material from the Levant (about 20,000 to 9500 BCE).

Mesolithic 1 (Kebara culture; 20–18,000 BCE to 12,150 BCE) followed the Aurignacian or Levantine Upper Paleolithic throughout the Levant. By the end of the Aurignacian, gradual changes took place in stone industries. Small stone tools called microliths and retouched bladelets can be found for the first time. The microliths of this culture period differ greatly from the Aurignacian artifacts. This period is more properly called Epipaleolithic.

By 20,000 to 18,000 BCE the climate and environment had changed, starting a period of transition. The Levant became more arid and the forest vegetation retreated, to be replaced by steppe. The cool and dry period ended at the beginning of Mesolithic 1. The hunter-gatherers of the Aurignacian would have had to modify their way of living and their pattern of settlement to adapt to the changing conditions. The crystallization of these new patterns resulted in Mesolithic 1. New types of settlements and new stone industries developed.

The inhabitants of a small Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant left little more than their chipped stone tools behind. The industry was of small tools made of bladelets struck off single-platform cores. Besides bladelets, burins and end-scrapers were found. A few bone tools and some ground stone have also been found. These so-called Mesolithic sites of Asia are far less numerous than those of the Neolithic and the archeological remains are very poor.

The second period, Mesolithic 2, is also called the Natufian culture. The change from Mesolithic 1 to Natufian culture can be dated more closely. The latest date from a Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant is 12,150 BCE. The earliest date from a Natufian site is 11,140 BCE.

This period is characterized by the early rise of agriculture that would later emerge into the Neolithic period. Radiocarbon dating places the Natufian culture between 12,500 and 9500 BCE, just before the end of the Pleistocene. This period is characterised by the beginning of agriculture. The earliest known battle occurred during the Mesolithic period at a site in Egypt known as Cemetery 117.

Natufian culture is commonly split into two subperiods: Early Natufian (12,500–10,800 BCE) (Christopher Delage gives a. 13000 – 11500 BP uncalibrated, equivalent to ca. 13,700 to 11,500 BCE) and Late Natufian (10,800–9500 BCE). The Late Natufian most likely occurred in tandem with the Younger Dryas.

The Mesolithic began with the Holocene warm period around 11,660 BP and ended with the introduction of farming, the date of which varied in each geographical region. Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last glacial period ended have a much more apparent Mesolithic era, lasting millennia. In northern Europe, for example, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands created by the warmer climate. Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviors that are preserved in the material record, such as the Maglemosian and Azilian cultures. Such conditions also delayed the coming of the Neolithic until as late as 5000-4000 BC in northern Europe.

As the “Neolithic package” (including farming, herding, polished stone axes, timber longhouses and pottery) spread into Europe, the Mesolithic way of life was marginalized and eventually disappeared. Mesolithic adaptations such as sedentism, population size and use of plant foods are cited as evidence of the transition to agriculture.

In North-Eastern Europe, Siberia, and certain southern European and North African sites, a “ceramic Mesolithic” can be distinguished between 7000-3850 BCE. Russian archaeologists prefer to describe such pottery-making cultures as Neolithic, even though farming is absent. This pottery-making Mesolithic culture can be found peripheral to the sedentary Neolithic cultures. It created a distinctive type of pottery, with point or knob base and flared rims, manufactured by methods not used by the Neolithic farmers. Though each area of Mesolithic ceramic developed an individual style, common features suggest a single point of origin.

The earliest manifestation of this type of pottery may be in the region around Lake Baikal in Siberia. It appears in the Elshan or Yelshanka or Samara culture on the Volga in Russia c. 7000 BCE, and from there spread via the Dnieper-Donets culture to the Narva culture of the Eastern Baltic. Spreading westward along the coastline it is found in the Ertebølle culture of Denmark and Ellerbek of Northern Germany, and the related Swifterbant culture of the Low Countries.

In one sample from the Blätterhöhle in Hagen, it seems that the descendants of Mesolithic people maintained a foraging lifestyle for more than 2000 years after the arrival of farming societies in the area. In north-Eastern Europe, the hunting and fishing lifestyle continued into the Medieval period in regions less suited to agriculture.

The Tardenoisian culture lasted from about 6500 BC until the Neolithic, and is the source of the first Nordic culture, the Maglemosian (ca. 9000 BC–6000 BC), the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in Northern Europe.

Specialist opinions fix the beginning of the Mesolithic era at the end of the Preboreal, its development throughout the Boreal, and its end as late as the beginnings of the Atlantic. Chronologically then, it can be set between 9,500-9,000 and 7,500 BP. Two cultures are documented on the territory of Romania in this time period: the Tardenoisian and the Schela Cladova types.

The Tardenoisian spread in several of the country’s regions (Moldavia, Muntenia, Dobrogea), including the mountainous area of Transylvania in the southeast (Cremenea-Sita Buzăului, Costanta-Lădăuţi) and northwest (Ciumeşti-Păşune). In the settlement of Ciumeşti (Satu Mare County), besides the typically Central and East European Tardenoisian microlitice tools made of flint and obsidian, some artefacts were found in the form of circular segments and two triangular ones, in addition to trapezes. The fauna remnants indicate the presence of wild boar and deer.

Some specialists do not exclude the possibility of identifying the Late Tardenoisian communities of the north-western Pontic or central European types (of which the settlement at Ciumeşti is one) as being in the process of neolithization, albeit incomplete, that is, displaying an incipient productive economy, whose foundations were laid by animal domestication and plant cultures.

The Schela Cladovei culture is known through the nine open air settlements in the proximity of the Danube. The lithic utensils come in numerous atypical forms and are fashioned of quartzite and siliceous sandstone while an additional small number are made of flint. The horn tools (agriculture artefacts with one or two handle attachment holes) apparently indicate the debut of plant cultivation. Some of the larger river rocks flattened by water or some of the thicker slabs might have served for grinding. The examination of the fauna indicates an economy based mainly on hunting. The targeted game were deer, roebucks, European bisons, wild boars, hares, wild donkeys, foxes, etc. Furthermore, it would seem that the representatives of this culture domesticated the dog.

Anthropological data are quite consistent. The physical type was evaluated as Oriental Cro-Magnon. The skeletons of the deceased were laid in rectangular holes, some dug in the floor of the dwelling itself. Part of them was laid in a crouching position, part was laid on their back, together with some of their personal belongings. Child mortality was high, while the average life expectancy for adults was 36.2 years. The discovery of some skeletons with arrowhead marks speaks of violent death. Research so far has proved that this culture does not have its roots in the Mediterranean type Tardigravettian, but rather originated by some new migration into the Porţile de Fier region. In addition, it would seem that on the arrival of the first bearers of the Neolithic civilisation (Precriş culture), the Schela Cladovei culture had already come to an end.

Maglemosian (ca. 9000 BC–6000 BC) is the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in Northern Europe. The actual name came from an archeological site in Denmark, named Maglemose near Høng on western Zealand, where the first settlement was found in 1900. During the following century a long series of similar settlements were excavated from England to Poland and from Skåne in Sweden to northern France.

The Maglemosian people lived in forest and wetland environments using fishing and hunting tools made from wood, bone, and flint microliths. It appears that they had domesticated the dog. Some may have lived settled lives but most were nomadic.

Huts made of bark have been preserved, and the tools were made of flintstone, bone, and horn. A characteristic of the culture are the sharply edged microliths of flintstone which were used for spear heads and arrow heads. A notable feature is the Leister or Fish Spear.

Sea levels in northern Europe did not reach current levels until almost 6000 BC by which time they had inundated some territories inhabited by Maglemosian people.

The Maglemosian culture in Scandinavia is succeeded by the Kongemose culture (ca. 6000 BC–5200 BC), a mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia.

The Kongemose culture was the origin of the Ertebølle culture (ca 5300 BC – 3950 BC), the name of a hunter-gatherer and fisher, pottery-making culture dating to the end of the Mesolithic period, and was bordered on the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures in the north.

The Nøstvet culture (ca 6200 BC-3200 BC) and the Lihult culture are two very similar Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavian prehistory derived from the earlier Fosna-Hensbacka cultures. They are so varied and vaguely defined that they are rather a tradition than an archaeological culture.

The Nøstvet culture appeared around the Oslofjord and along the Norwegian coast up to Trøndelag, whereas the Lihult culture is found in Sweden. Sometimes the Sandarna culture appears as the name of an intermediary form between the Swedish Hensbacka and Lihult cultures. This name comes from a settlement near Gothenburg (approximately 7000 BC–5000 BC).

The Nøstvet people lived on open settlements. They used honed axes and microliths of various rocks, such as quartz, quartzite and flint. They lived primarily of hunting various animals such as seafowl and marine mammals, in addition to fishing and gathering. The size of the settlements grows during time, which reflects an increase in population and a more sedentary lifestyle.

In southern Scandinavia, its neighbours were first the Kongemose culture (roughly 6000 BC–5200 BC) and later on the Ertebølle culture (about 5200 BC–4000 BC).

During the period 4000 BC–3200 BC, the Nøstvet and Lihult cultures are succeeded by the Funnelbeaker (ca 4300 BC–ca 2800 BC) and the Pitted Ware cultures (ca 3200 BC– ca 2300 BC), and disappear from the archaeological record.

The Kongemose culture is named after a location in western Zealand and its typical form is known from Denmark and Skåne. The Ertebølle culture was concentrated in Southern Scandinavia, but genetically linked to strongly related cultures in Northern Germany and the Northern Netherlands.

The Ertebølle culture was concentrated in Southern Scandinavia, but genetically linked to strongly related cultures in Northern Germany and the Northern Netherlands. It is named after the type site, a location in the small village of Ertebølle on Limfjorden in Danish Jutland.

In the 1890s, the National Museum of Denmark excavated heaps of oyster shells there, mixed with mussels, snails, bones and bone, antler and flint artifacts, which were evaluated as kitchen middens (Danish køkkenmødding), or refuse dumps. Accordingly the culture is less commonly named the Kitchen Midden. As it is approximately identical to the Ellerbek culture of Schleswig-Holstein, the combined name, Ertebølle-Ellerbek is often used. The Ellerbek culture (German Ellerbek Kultur) is named after a type site in Ellerbek, a community on the edge of Kiel, Germany.

The Ertebølle culture was roughly contemporaneous with the Linear Pottery culture, food-producers whose northernmost border was located just to the south. The Ertebølle did not practice agriculture but it did utilize domestic grain in some capacity, which it must have obtained from the south.

In the 1960s and 1970s another closely related culture was found in the (now dry) Noordoostpolder in the Netherlands, near the village Swifterbant and the former island of Urk.

During the formative stages contact with nearby Linear Pottery culture settlements in Limburg has been detected. Like the Ertebølle culture, they lived near open water, in this case creeks, riverdunes and bogs along post-glacial banks of the Overijsselse Vecht.

Recent excavations show a local continuity going back to (at least) 5600 BC, when burial practices resembled the contemporary gravefields in Denmark and South Sweden “in all details”, suggesting only part of a diverse ancestral “Ertebølle”-like heritage was locally continued into the later (Middle Neolithic) Swifterbant tradition (4200 – 3400 BC).

The Ertebølle culture replaced the earlier Kongemose culture of Denmark. It was limited to the north by the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures. It is divided into an early phase ca 5300 BC-ca 4500 BC, and a later phase ca 4500 BC-3950 BC. Shortly after 4100 BC the Ertebølle began to expand along the Baltic coast at least as far as Rügen. Shortly thereafter it was replaced by the Funnelbeaker culture.

In recent years archaeologists have found the acronym EBK most convenient, parallel to LBK for German Linearbandkeramik (Linear Pottery culture) and TRB for German Trichterbecher, Danish Tragtbæger (Funnelbeaker culture) and Dutch trechterbekercultuur. Ostensibly for Ertebølle Kultur, EBK could be either German or Danish and has the added advantage that Ellerbek also begins with E.

Named the Swifterbant culture (5300 – 3400 BC) they show a transition from hunter-gatherer to both animal husbandry, primarily cows and pigs, and cultivation of barley and emmer wheat.

The oldest finds related to this culture, dated to circa 5600 BC, cannot 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), which extended through Northern Netherlands and Northern Germany to the Elbe.

The earliest dated sites are season settlements. A transition from hunter-gatherer culture 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 pottery 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 Drenthe are attributed to Swifterbant and suggest a religious role for both wild and domesticated bovines.

Neolithic (Old) Europe

Neolithic Europe

Neolithic Europe refers to a prehistoric period in which Neolithic technology was present in Europe. This corresponds roughly to a time between 7000 BC (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) and c. 1700 BC (the beginning of the Bronze Age in northwest Europe). The Neolithic overlaps the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe as cultural changes moved from the southeast to northwest at about 1 km/year.

The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place, its end marked by the introduction of bronze implements: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4,000 years (i.e. 7000 BC–3000 BC) while in Northwest Europe it is just under 3,000 years (c. 4500 BC–1700 BC).

Regardless of specific chronology, many European Neolithic groups share basic characteristics, such as living in small-scale, family-based communities, subsisting on domesticated plants and animals supplemented with the collection of wild plant foods and with hunting, and producing hand-made pottery, that is, pottery made without the potter’s wheel.

There are also many differences, with some Neolithic communities in southeastern Europe living in heavily fortified settlements of 3,000-4,000 people (e.g., Sesklo in Greece) whereas Neolithic groups in England were small (possibly 50-100 people) and highly mobile cattle-herders.

The details of the origin, chronology, social organization, subsistence practices and ideology of the peoples of Neolithic Europe are obtained from archaeology, and not historical records, since these people left none.

Since the 1970s, population genetics has provided independent data on the population history of Neolithic Europe, including migration events and genetic relationships with peoples in South Asia. A further independent tool, linguistics, has contributed hypothetical reconstructions of early European languages and family trees with estimates of dating of splits, in particular theories on the relationship between speakers of Indo-European languages and Neolithic peoples.

Some archaeologists believe that the expansion of Neolithic peoples from southwest Asia into Europe, marking the eclipse of Mesolithic culture, coincided with the introduction of Indo-European speakers, whereas other archaeologists and many linguists believe the Indo-European languages were introduced from the Pontic-Caspian steppe during the succeeding Bronze Age. A few see Indo-European languages starting in Paleolithic times.

Archeologists believe that food-producing societies first emerged in the Levantine region of southwest Asia at the close of the mini-Ice Age around 12,000 BC, and developed into a number of regionally distinctive cultures by the eighth millennium BC. Remains of food-producing societies in the Aegean have been carbon-dated to around 6500 BC at Knossos, Franchthi Cave, and a number of mainland sites in Thessaly. Neolithic groups appear soon afterwards in the Balkans and south-central Europe. The Neolithic cultures of southeastern Europe (the Balkans, Italy, and the Aegean) show some continuity with groups in southwest Asia and Anatolia (e.g., Çatalhöyük).

Current evidence suggests that Neolithic material culture was introduced to Europe via western Anatolia, and that similarities in cultures of North Africa and the Pontic steppes are due to diffusion out of Europe. All Neolithic sites in Europe contain ceramics, and contain the plants and animals domesticated in Southwest Asia: einkorn, emmer, barley, lentils, pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle.

Genetic data suggest that no independent domestication of animals took place in Neolithic Europe, and that all domesticated animals were originally domesticated in Southwest Asia. The only domesticate not from Southwest Asia was broomcorn millet, domesticated in East Asia. The earliest evidence of cheese-making dates to 5500 BC in Kujawy, Poland.

Archaeologists seem to agree that the culture of the early Neolithic is relatively homogeneous, compared both to the late Mesolithic and the later Neolithic. The diffusion across Europe, from the Aegean to Britain, took about 2,500 years (6500 BC – 4000 BC). The Baltic region was penetrated a bit later, around 3500 BC, and there was also a delay in settling the Pannonian plain.

In general, colonization shows a “saltatory” pattern, as the Neolithic advanced from one patch of fertile alluvial soil to another, bypassing mountainous areas. Analysis of radiocarbon dates show clearly that Mesolithic and Neolithic populations lived side by side for as much as a millennium in many parts of Europe, especially in the Iberian peninsula and along the Atlantic coast.

With some exceptions, population levels rose rapidly at the beginning of the Neolithic until they reached the carrying capacity. This was followed by a population crash of “enormous magnitude” after 5000 BC, with levels remaining low during the next 1,500 years. Populations began to rise after 3500 BC, with further dips and rises occurring between 3000 and 2500 BC but varying in date between regions.

The Balkan region was the first area of Europe to experience the arrival of farming cultures in the Neolithic era. The practices of growing grain and raising livestock arrived in the Balkans from the Fertile Crescent by way of Anatolia and spread west and north into Pannonia and Central Europe.

The Neolithic began with the slow migration of communities from the south of the Balkan Peninsula (the Protosesklo culture from the Thesalo-Macedonean area), who brought with them momentous economic progress. Consequently, the process of neolithisation, which is essentially a shift to plant growing and animal breeding, was not an innovation of the local Mesolithic population but rather the result of the penetration of this territory by communities carrying the Neolithic civilization.

The normal divisions of the Neolithic are: Early Neolithic, Developed Neolithic and Chalcolithic (Copper Age). The Neolithic epoch on the territory of Romania, as certified by calibrated 14C dates, began around 6600 BC, and ended around 3800-3700 BC, and no later than 3500 BC.

The Early Neolithic (c. 6600 – 5500 BC) consists of two cultural layers: genetically linked and with similar physiognomies. The first (layer Gura Baciului – Cârcea/Precriş) is the exclusive result of the migration of a Neolithic population from the South Balkan area, while the second (the Starčevo-Criş culture) reflects the process of adjusting to local conditions by a South Balkan community, possibly a synthesis with the local Tardenoisian groups.

Layer Gura Baciului – Cârcea, also called the Precriş culture, is a spin-off of a Protosesklo culture group that advanced north and reached the North Danubian region where it founded the first culture of painted pottery in Romania. The small number of sites attributable to this early cultural time has not allowed the route followed by the group, to penetrate the Inter-Carpathian area, to be firmly established, yet in all likelihood, it was the Oltului Valley.

Based on the stratigraphy in the site of Gura Baciului (Cluj County) and Ocna Sibiului (Sibiu County) the development of the culture is divided into three major stages. The settlements are situated on high terraces strung along secondary valleys. The dwellings are most often underground, but there are also ground level houses, usually standing on river stone platforms. Pottery (bowls, cups) is refined, with white painted dots or geometrical patterns on red or brown-red background.

Concomitant with pottery, plant cultures and animal breeding, the new culture introduces implements of polished stone and the first clay statuettes. The dead are buried on the grounds of the settlements sometimes directly under the dwellings. Gura Baciului is the first site on the territory of Romania attesting incineration as a funerary practice.

Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic plastic art reveals a bipolar system of beliefs: the Great Mother, representing the female principle, and the Bull, representing the male principle. The presence among the findings at Gura Baciului of some anthropomorphic stone heads, similar to the famous stone heads of Lepenski Vir, signify possible contact between the locals, the Mesolithic cultures, and the newcomers. Furthermore, the adoption of these alien deities, even if exclusively a plastic substantiation,speaks of a remarkable process of assimilation, characteristic of the layer above mentioned.

At Ocna Sibiului, at Precriş, level II, a small conical stone statuette was found, with a shape representing a couple embracing, and a plinth of the same material associated with the figure. On the statue and the plinth several symbols can be distinguished interpreted by the discoverer as ideograms.

Archaeologists have identified several early culture-complexes, including the Cucuteni culture (4500 to 3500 BC), Starcevo culture (6500 to 4000 BC), Vinča culture (5000 to 3000 BC), Linear pottery culture (5500 to 4500 BC), and Ezero culture (3300—2700 BC). The Eneolithic Varna culture in Bulgaria(4600-4200 BC radiocarbon dating) produced the world’s earliest known gold treasure, communicated with the Mediterranean and had sophisticated beliefs about afterlife.

The Starčevo-Criş culture, representing the generalisation of the early Neolithic in the Intra-Carpathian territory, has been regarded by some as the prolongation of the Gura Baciului-Cârcea/Precriş culture, disregarding that it is probably the result of a new south Balkan migration (the Presesklo culture) arriving in Transylvania via Banat. The Starčevo – Criş culture has a long evolution in four stages.

Dwellings were set up on meadows, terraces, hills and even in caves, wherever the environment was friendly. The dwellings were embedded in the early phases and were huts at ground level, in the later phases. Asymmetrical receptacles, bowls, spherical cups, all of which were made of clay, furnish the interiors of this culture.

The lithic utensil inventory includes flint and obsidian microlites, as well as large polished stone axes of the Walzenbiele type. It is now, too, that the first small copper items occur sporadically. The pintaderas decorated with geometrical patterns as well as the Spondylus and Tridacna shells testify to possible connections with Eastern Mediterranean regions. Burials were performed both inside and among the dwellings. Anthropological analyses have revealed a major Mediterranean component suggesting a southern origin of this population.

The Developed Neolithic (c. 5500 – 4000 BC) covers the interval between the last phase of the Starčevo – Criş culture and the beginnings of the Petreşti culture, the period including what has long been known as middle and late Neolithic. The Developed Neolithic is marked by the migration of some new groups of populations, whose point of departure was the south of the Balkan Peninsula, as part of the group of cultures with polished black pottery.

These same groups created the Vinča culture (more commonly divided into four main phases: A, B, C and D), whose beginning is synchronous with the final phase of the Sesklo culture (Greece) occupying Banat and most of Transylvania. In about the same period, the north-east of Transylvania was penetrated by several groups, bearing the linear and musical note pottery culture.

The Linear Pottery culture, a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic in Central Europe, is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing ca. 5500–4500 BC.

It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), is also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture, and falls within the Danubian I culture, coined by the Australian archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe to describe the first agrarian society in central and eastern Europe. It covers the Linear Pottery culture (Linearbandkeramik, LBK), stroked pottery and Rössen cultures (4,600–4,300 BC).

The Rössen culture is important as it marks the transition from a broad and widely distributed tradition going back to Central Europe’s earliest Neolithic LBK towards the more diversified Middle and Late Neolithic situation characterised by the appearance of complexes like Michelsberg and Funnel Beaker Culture.

The beginning of the Linear Pottery culture dates to around 5500 BC. It appears to have spread westwards along the valley of the river Danube and interacted with the cultures of Atlantic Europe when they reached the Paris Basin.

Danubian I peoples cleared forests and cultivated fertile loess soils from the Balkans to the Low Countries and the Paris Basin. They made LBK pottery and kept domesticated cows, pigs, dogs, sheep and goats.

A second wave of the culture, which used painted pottery with Asiatic influences, superseded the first phase starting around 4500 BC. This was followed by a third wave which used stroke-ornamented ware.

Middle and late phases are also defined. In the middle phase, the Early Linear Pottery Culture intruded upon the Bug-Dniester culture and began to manufacture Musical note pottery. In the late phase, the Stroked Pottery Culture moved down the Vistula and Elbe.

The Stroke-ornamented ware (culture) or (German) Stichbandkeramik (abbr. STK or STbK), Stroked Pottery culture, Danubian Ib culture, or Middle Danubian culture, is the successor of the Linear Pottery culture. The STK flourishes during approximately 4600-4400 BC. Centered on Silesia in Poland, eastern Germany and the northern Czech Republic, it overlaps with the Lengyel horizon to the south, and the Rössen culture to the west.

A number of cultures ultimately replaced the Linear Pottery culture over its range, but there is no one-to-one correspondence between its variants and the replacing cultures. The culture map instead is complex. Some of the successor cultures are the Hinkelstein, Großgartach, Rössen, Lengyel, Cucuteni-Trypillian, and Boian-Maritza.

The Vinča culture in Romania comes in many forms depending on the local background against which it developed (the Starčevo-Criş culture and the linear pottery) and the degree of southern influence.

The Vinča communities that advanced on the middle course of the Mureş River, under the influence of the Starčevo-Criş traditions and the elements of the linear pottery, created a new cultural synthesis called the Turdaş culture. The occurrence of signs incised on the bottom of several vessels, particularly on those at Turdaş (Hunedoara County), have often been regarded as the potter’s mark. More recently they have been considered by some researchers as early attempts at recording dates graphically.

That things might stand this way is demonstrated, apparently, by the baked clay tablets covered with incised pictographic patterns at Tărtăria (Alba County), discovered, according to Nicolae Vlassa, in a ritual hole in the ground, next to clay and alabaster idols and a fragment of an anchor, all of which have triggered hot debate over the stratigraphy and chronology of the settlement.

The preservation by some Starčevo-Criş communities of painted pottery, in addition to the Vinča elements, engendered in the area of the eastern arch of the Western Carpathians the Cluj-Cheile–Turzii-Lumea Nouă-Iclod cultural complex. This complex represents the substratum for the emergence of the Petreşti culture. Long term research at Iclod has demonstrated that this station possessed a complex fortification system built during the Iclod, Phase I, still in use for some time in the Iclod II phase, eventually abandoned when the settlement expanded.

It is in the same spot that research has been carried in two inhumation necropoles, where the dead were laid on their backs hands across their chests or abdomens or along their bodies; the bodies were oriented east-west, their heads facing east. The inventory consists of vessels (cylindrical, painted bowls, and S profile pots), ochre, stone utensils, ornaments and animal offerings.

The synthesis of the above mentioned elements gave birth to numerous related regional elements, so that when referring to the Transylvania territory, specialists do not speak of a Vinča culture per se, but rather that of the Banat culture, the Bucovăţ group, the Pişcolt group, the Turdaş culture, the Cluj-Cheile–Turzii-Lumea Nouă-Iclod complex, the Iclod group.

A general characteristic of these groups is the black polished pottery (cups, bowls, lids, etc.). The decorations are variously incised and impressed (bands filled in with stripes, in particular) in addition to displaying fine grooves. The statuettes feature oblong heads (possibly indicating a mask), cross-like bodies, and are often decorated with spiral winding patterns.

In Banat, with the end of the Vinča A2 stage there emerges the Banat culture with several distinctive regional peculiarities (groups Bucovăţ and Parţa). The Parţa settlement, thoroughly researched, demonstrates that the culture reached a high level of civilization, attested to by the one storey buildings and by a complex spiritual life, partly decoded by the components of the great sanctuary studied here.

The charred seeds found in the Liubcova settlement indicate that several cereals were grown. Wheat prevailed, particularly the Triticum dicoccum species, as well as the Triticum monococcum and Triticum aestivus species in proportion of approx. 10%.

The first occurrence on the territory of Romania of the Hordeum vulgare barley is seen. Also present are such leguminous plants as lentil and vetch. Of paramount interest is that wheat was harvested, as discovered in a settlement south of the Carpathians (the Gumelniţa culture), and was possibly used in other areas, too. The wheat was harvested by pulling out, then was sheaved and tied with a switch, vine shoots or ivy. Once carried to the settlement, the grain was threshed.

Sesklo is a village near the city of Volos, in Thessaly (central Greece), in the regional unit of Magnesia. It is part of the municipal unit Aisonia. Nearby, a Neolithic settlement was discovered at the end of the 19th century and the first excavations were made by Greek archaeologist, Christos Tsountas.

The Starčevo culture, sometimes included within a larger grouping known as the Starčevo–Kőrös–Criş culture, is an archaeological culture of Southeastern Europe, dating to the Neolithic period between c. 5500 and 4500 BCE (according to other source, between 6200 and 5200 BCE).

Starčevo, the type site, is located on the north bank of the Danube in Serbia (Vojvodina province), opposite Belgrade. It represents the earliest settled farming society in the area, although hunting and gathering still provided a significant portion of the inhabitants’ diet.

The pottery is usually coarse but finer fluted and painted vessels later emerged. A type of bone spatula, perhaps for scooping flour, is a distinctive artifact. The Kőrös is a similar culture in Hungary named after the River Kőrös with a closely related culture which also used footed vessels but fewer painted ones. Both have given their names to the wider culture of the region in that period. Parallel and closely related cultures also include the Karanovo culture in Bulgaria, Criş in Romania and the pre-Sesklo in Greece.

The Starčevo culture covered sizable area that included most of present-day Serbia and Montenegro, as well as parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, and the Republic of Macedonia. The westernmost locality of this culture can be found in Croatia, in the vicinity of Ždralovi, a part of the town of Bjelovar.

This was the final stage of the culture. Findings from Ždralovi belong to a regional subtype of the final variant in the long process of development of that Neolithic culture. It is designated as Ždralovi facies of the Starčevo culture or the Starčevo – Final stages. In 1990, Starčevo was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, protected by Republic of Serbia.

There are different opinions about the ethno-linguistic origin of the people of Starčevo culture. According to one opinion, Neolithic cultures of the Balkans were of non-Indo-European origin[9] and Indo-European peoples (originating from eastern Europe) did not settle in this area before the Eneolithic period. According to other opinions, Neolithic cultures of the Balkans were also Indo-European and originated from Anatolia, which some researchers identified with a place of origin of Indo-European peoples. These differing theories are termed the Kurgan hypothesis and the Anatolian hypothesis (see also; Proto-Indo-European Urheimat hypotheses).

This settlement gives its name to the first Neolithic culture of Europe, which inhabited Thessaly and parts of Macedonia (Greece). The oldest fragments researched at Sesklo place the civilization’s development as far back as 6850 BC with a +/- 660 year margin of error. The first settlements, which predate the 6th millennium BCE, are known as proto-Sesklo (main group) and pre-Sesklo (secondary groups with differentiated characteristics) and they show an advanced agriculture and a very early use of pottery that rivals in age those of the Near East.

The peoples of Sesklo built their villages on hillsides near fertile valleys, where they grew wheat and barley, also keeping herds of mainly sheep and goats, though they also had cows, pigs and dogs. Their houses were small, with one or two rooms, built of wood or mudbrick in the early period. Later the construction technique becomes more homogeneous and all homes are built of adobe with stone foundations. In the 6th millennium BCE, the first houses with two levels are found and there is also a clear intentional urbanism.

The lower levels of proto-Sesklo lack pottery, but the Sesklo people soon developed very fine glazed earthenware (cups and bowls) that they decorated with geometric paintings in red or brown colours. In the Sesklo period new types of ware are incorporated. At the end of the period the decoration evolves to flame motifs. Pottery of this ‘classic’ Sesklo style was also used in Western Macedonia as at Servia.

When investigating whether these settlers could be migrants from Asia Minor, there are many similarities between the rare Asia Minor pottery and Greek Early Neolithic pottery, but these similarities seem to exist between all early pottery from Near Eastern regions. The repertoire of shapes is not very different, but the Asia Minor vessels seem to be deeper than their Thessalian counterparts. Shallow, slightly open bowls are characteristic of the Sesklo culture and absent in Anatolian settlements. The ring base was almost unknown in Anatolia, whereas flat and plano-convex bases were common there. Altogether the appearance of the vessels is different. The appearance of the earliest figurines is additionally completely different.

The very rare pottery from levels XII and XI at Çatal Hüyük closely resembles in shape the very coarse ware of Early Neolithic I from Sesklo, but the paste is quite different, having a partly vegetable temper. This pottery is contemporaneous with the better made ware and not a predecessor of the Thessalian material. On the whole, the artefactual data argues in favour of a largely independent indigenous development of the Greek Neolithic settlements.

The data available also indicates that the domestication of cattle has taken place at Argissa as early as 6300 BC during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. The non-pottery bearing levels at Sesklo contained bone fragments of domesticated cattle too. The earliest occurrence reported in the Near East is at Çatal Hüyük, in stratum VI, dating around 5750 BC, though it may have been present in stratum XII too – somewhere around 6100 BC. This indicates that the domestication of cattle was indigenous on the Greek mainland.

One significant characteristic of this culture is the abundance of statuettes of women, often pregnant, probably connected to the widely hypothesized prehistoric fertility cult. Whichever the case, these abundant sculptures are present in all the Balcanic and most of the Danubian Neolithic complex form many millennia, though they can’t be considered exclusive of this area.

The culture of Sesklo is crucial in the expansion of the Neolithic into Europe. Dating and research points to the influence of this culture to other Balcanic (Karanovo I-II and Starčevo-Körös) which seem to originate here, and will be these which will stimulate the birth of the important Danubian Neolithic current. Also, it is thought that the differentiated settlements of pre-Sesklo can be, at least partly, responsible for the origin of the Mediterranean Neolithic (Cardium pottery). So it can be said that, with some geographically isolated exceptions, European Neolithic seem to originate here: in the Thessalia of Sesklo.

The “invasion theory” states that the Sesklo culture lasted more than one full millennium up until 5000 BC when it was violently conquered by people of the Dimini culture. The Dimini culture in this theory is considered different from that found at Sesklo. However, Professor Ioannis Lyritzis provides a different story pertaining to the final fate of the “Seskloans”. He, along with R. Galloway, compared ceramic materials from both Sesklo and Dimini utilizing thermoluminescence dating methods. He discovered that the inhabitants of the settlement in Dimini appeared around 4800 BC, four centuries before the fall of the Sesklo civilization (ca. 4400 BC). Lyritzis concluded that the “Seskloans” and “Diminians” coexisted for a period of time.

The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, short TRB or TBK from (German) Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur (ca 4300 BC–ca 2800 BC) was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe. It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.

Preceded by Lengyel-influenced STK groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleraz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north, the TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern eastalbingian Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group between Zuiderzee and lower Elbe, an eastern group centered around the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale. Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged.

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, the culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing the culture of what Marija Gimbutas termed Old Europe, the peoples of which were later to be governed by the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples (see Yamna culture) intruding from the east. The political relation between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into Corded Ware culture.

Heterodoxically, Dutch publications mention mixed burials and propose a quick and smooth internal change to Corded Ware within two generations occurring about 2900 BC in Dutch and Danish TRB territory, probably precluded by economic, cultural and religious changes in East Germany, and call the migrationist view of steppe intrusions introducing Indo-European languages obsolete (at least in this part of the world). It is more likely that Indo-European languages were adopted by local populations because they represented a new way of life, bringing with them horses and cattle and the status they represented.

The Globular Amphora Culture (GAC), German Kugelamphoren-Kultur (KAK), ca. 3400–2800 BC, is an archaeological culture preceding the central area occupied by the Corded Ware culture. Somewhat to the south and west, it was bordered by the Baden culture. To the northeast was the Narva culture. It occupied much of the same area as the earlier Funnelbeaker culture. The name was coined by Gustaf Kossinna because of the characteristic pottery, globular-shaped pots with two to four handles. The Globular Amphora culture is thought to be of Indo-European origin and was succeeded by the Corded Ware culture.

The inclusion of animals in the grave of Globular Amphora Culture is seen as an intrusive cultural element by Marija Gimbutas. The practice of suttee, hypotised by Gimbutas is also seen as a highly intrusive cultural element. The supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis point to these distinctive burial practices and state this may represent one of the earliest migrations of Indo-Europeans into Central Europe. In this context and given its area of occupation, this culture has been claimed as the underlying culture of a Germanic-Baltic-Slavic continuum.

In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.

In the 19th century the Corded Ware culture was favoured by some authors as the Urheimat (original homeland) of the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language, a theory that has been discarded by modern science in favor of the Kurgan hypothesis or the Renfrew NDT. Still it is generally held that “Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic may possibly be traced back to the Corded Ware horizon of north, central, and eastern Europe”.

However, this is not to suppose that all of these proto-languages actually arose during the period of the Corded Ware horizon, across its whole territory, or exclusively within its confines. The Proto-Germanic language is often assumed to have been spoken in southern Scandinavia or northern Germany towards the end of the Nordic Bronze Age or at the beginning of the Pre-Roman Iron Age (mid-first millennium BC), and the Proto-Balto-Slavic language and Proto-Celtic language may date only slightly earlier, to the Early Iron Age (early first millennium BC).

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, the TBK culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing the culture of what Marija Gimbutas termed Old Europe, the peoples of which were later to be governed by the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples (see Yamna culture) intruding from the east. The political relation between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into Corded Ware culture.

The Pitted Ware culture (ca 3200 BC– ca 2300 BC) was a hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia, mainly along the coasts of Svealand, Götaland, Åland, north-eastern Denmark and southern Norway. Despite its Mesolithic economy, it is by convention classed as Neolithic, since it falls within the period in which farming reached Scandinavia. It was first contemporary and overlapping with the agricultural Funnelbeaker culture, and later with the agricultural Corded Ware culture.

One notable feature of the Pitted Ware Culture is the sheer quantity of shards of pottery on its sites. The culture has been named after the typical ornamentation of its pottery: horizontal rows of pits pressed into the body of the pot before firing.

Though some vessels are flat-bottomed, others are round-based or pointed-based, which would facilitate stable positioning in the soil or on the hearth. In shape and decoration, this ceramic reflects influences from the Comb Ceramic culture (also known as Pit-Comb Ware) of Finland and other parts of north-eastern Europe, established in the sixth and fifth millennia BC.[5]

Small animal figurines were modelled out of clay, as well as bone. These are also similar to the art of the Comb Ware culture. A large number of clay figurines have been found at Jettböle on the island of Åland, including some which combine seal and human features.[6]

As the language left no records, its linguistic affiliations are uncertain. It has been suggested that its people spoke a language related to the Uralic languages and provided the unique linguistic features discussed in the Germanic substrate hypothesis.

A theory among archaeologists was that the Pitted Ware culture evolved from the Funnelbeaker culture by a process of abandonment of farming for hunting and fishing. However the two populations are genetically distinct. Samples of skeletal remains from Pitted Ware and Funnelbeaker sites in Sweden yielded mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The nineteen Pitted Ware samples from Gotland were dominated by mtDNA haplogroups U4, U5 and U5a, though it should be noted that, because of the low resolution of the tests performed, some haplotypes reported as U4 may actually belong to haplogroup H. By contrast the three Funnelbeaker samples from Gökhem contained no haplogroup U. This is consistent with findings elsewhere in northern Europe of a distinct difference in mtDNA between hunter-gatherers and farmers.

It has been suggested that the Funnelbeaker culture was the origin of the gene allowing adults of Northern European descent to digest lactose. It was claimed that in the area formerly inhabited by this culture, prevalence of the gene is virtually universal.

A paper published in 2007 by Burger et al. indicated that the genetic variant that causes lactase persistence in most Europeans (-13,910*T) was rare or absent in early farmers from central Europe. A study published by Yuval Itan and colleagues in 2010 clearly shows this. A study published in 2009, also by Itan et al., suggests that the Linear Pottery culture (also known as Linearbandkeramik or LBK), which preceded the TRB culture by some 1,500 years, was the culture in which this trait started to co-evolve with the culture of dairying.

Ancient DNA extracted from three individuals ascribed to a TRB horizon in Gökhem, Sweden, were found to possess mtDNA haplogroups H, J, and T.

A very low level (5%) of an allele (-13910*T) strongly associated with the ability to consume unprocessed milk at adulthood was found among Pitted Ware Culture individuals in Gotland, Sweden. This frequency is dramatically different from the extant Swedish population (74%).

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Doggerland – Exploring the submerged landscapes of Prehistoric North Sea

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 15, 2013

‘Britain’s Atlantis’ – a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea – has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews. Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC.

Divers from oil companies have found remains of a ‘drowned world’ with a population of tens of thousands – which might once have been the ‘real heartland’ of Europe. A team of climatologists, archaeologists and geophysicists has now mapped the area using new data from oil companies – and revealed the full extent of a ‘lost land’ once roamed by mammoths.

‘Britain’s Atlantis’ found at bottom of North sea – a huge undersea world swallowed by the sea in 6500BC

‘Britain’s Atlantis’ found at bottom of North sea

Doggerland – Wikipedia

Picture of artwork depicting a Mesolithic camp in Doggerland

Searching for Doggerland – National Geographic Magazine

Doggerland – Exploring the submerged landscapes of Prehistoric Wales

Beyond Stone and Bone » Drowned Worlds – Archaeology.org

Doggerland – Mapping a lost world « NextNature.net

Archaeology: The lost world : Nature News

Life in 'Doggerland' - the ancient kingdom once stretched from Scotland to Denmark and has been described as the 'real heart of Europe'

A visualisation of how life in the now-submerged areas of Dogger Bank might have looked

A visualisation of how life in the now-submerged areas of Dogger Bank might have looked

Doggerland

The research suggests that the populations of these drowned lands could have been tens of thousands, living in an area that stretched from Northern Scotland across to Denmark and down the English Channel as far as the Channel Islands

File:Kultura ahrensburska.jpg

Extension of the Ahrensburg culture

Doggerland is a name given by archaeologists and geologists to a former landmass in the southern North Sea that connected the island of Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age, surviving until about 6,500 or 6,200 BCE and then gradually being flooded by rising sea levels.

Geological surveys have suggested that Doggerland was a large area of dry land that stretched from Britain’s east coast across to the present coast of the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and Denmark. Doggerland was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period.

The archaeological potential of the area had first been discussed in the early 20th century, but interest intensified in 1931 when a commercial trawler operating between the sandbanks and shipping hazards of the Leman Bank and Ower Bank east of the Wash dragged up a barbed antler point that dated to a time when the area was tundra.

Later vessels have dragged up mammoth and lion remains, among other remains of land animals, and small numbers of prehistoric tools and weapons that were used by the region’s inhabitants. The recession of the glaciers allows human colonization in Northern Europe for the first time.

Around 10,500 BCE, the Würm Glacial age ends. Slowly, through the following millennia, temperatures and sea levels rise, changing the environment of prehistoric people. Nevertheless, Magdalenian culture persists until circa 8000 BCE, when it quickly evolves into two microlithist cultures: Azilian, in Spain and southern France, and Sauveterrian, in northern France and Central Europe. Though there are some differences, both cultures share several traits: the creation of very small stone tools called microliths and the scarcity of figurative art, which seems to have vanished almost completely, being replaced by abstract decoration of tools.

In the late phase of this Epipaleolithic period, the Sauveterrean culture evolves into the so-called Tardenoisian and influences strongly its southern neighbour, clearly replacing it in Mediterranean Spain and Portugal.

The Ahrensburg culture or Ahrensburgian (11th to 10th millennia BCE) was a late Upper Paleolithic nomadic hunter culture (or technocomplex) in north-central Europe during the Younger Dryas, the last spell of cold at the end of the Weichsel glaciation resulting in deforestation and the formation of a tundra with bushy arctic white birch and rowan.

Ahrensburgian finds were made in southern and western Scandinavia, the North German plain and western Poland. The Ahrensburgian area also included vast stretches of land now at the bottom of the North and Baltic Sea, since during the Younger Dryas the coastline took a much more northern course than today.

The most important prey was the wild reindeer. The earliest definite finds of arrow and bow date to this culture, though these weapons might have been invented earlier.

The Ahrensburgian was preceded by the Hamburg and Federmesser cultures and superseded by mesolithic cultures, the Maglemosian culture (ca. 9000 BC–6000 BC), the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in Northern Europe derived from the Sauveterre-Tardenois culture, but with a strong personality.

The actual name came from an archeological site in Denmark, named Maglemose near Høng on western Zealand, where the first settlement was found in 1900. During the following century a long series of similar settlements were excavated from England to Poland and from Skåne in Sweden to northern France. The Maglemosian colonizes Denmark and the nearby regions, including parts of Britain.

The Maglemosian people lived in forest and wetland environments using fishing and hunting tools made from wood, bone, and flint microliths. It appears that they had domesticated the dog. Some may have lived settled lives but most were nomadic.

Huts made of bark have been preserved, and the tools were made of flintstone, bone, and horn. A characteristic of the culture are the sharply edged microliths of flintstone which were used for spear heads and arrow heads. A notable feature is the Leister or Fish Spear.

Sea levels in northern Europe did not reach current levels until almost 6000 BC by which time they had inundated some territories inhabited by Maglemosian people.

In Scandinavia the Maglemosian culture is succeeded by the Kongemose culture (ca. 6000 BC–5200 BC), a mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia, and the origin of the Ertebølle culture (ca 5300 BC – 3950 BC). In the north the Kongemose culture were bordered on the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures.

Geological history of Europe

Prehistoric Europe

Ahrensburg culture

Maglemosian

 

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Again on Neolithic and European Y-DNA

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 14, 2013

Again on Neolithic and European Y-DNA

Specially on why R1b1b2a1 (the bulk of Y-DNA R1b and the Western European specific subclade) cannot be Neolithic. It comes up in all discussions and I really feel the need to explain: to create a generic post that serves as reference.

For that purpose I created a simplified map of European Neolithic cultural flows (excluding mostly Eastern Europe that anyhow had its own distinct processes):

 

The Early Neolithic

As you probably know, European Neolithic (defined by the existence of farming and animal husbandry, and also often of pottery) began by all accounts in Thessaly, Greece (Sesklo Culture). It’s characterized by a pottery painted using mostly the colors red and white and with those colors it spread through the Balcans.

More intriguing are the origins of the Cardium-Imprinted Pottery culture, specific of the Western Balcans, who did not use color in their pottery and instead decorated them with patterned impressions often made with the shell of a mollusk of the genus Cardium (hence the name). Some early pottery of this kind has been found at the Thessalian site of Otzaki, along with finer pottery of Sesklo style, however it is only known as distinct culture once it became dominant in the Western Balcans.

This Balcanic duality defines the general duality of early European Neolithic because Cardium Pottery Culture would spread by the Mediterranean shores, largely by boat, while the main Balcanic Neolithic would eventually give rise to the Central European one, often known as Danubian Neolithic.

The Cardium Pottery Culture spread with some colonization but mostly by acculturation of the indigenous peoples, as is evidenced in the toolkit continuity in most sites. They were specialized in fishing and sheep/goat herding but also carried the full package of cereals and at least one legume: lentils. They built villages but also inhabited in caves. After the initial coastal expansion local expansions took place as well already under the tag of Epicardial, most importantly along the Rhone and Ebro rivers.

Meanwhile in NE Hungary (curiously the easternmost reaches of Epi-Magdalenian culture) an ill explained cultural shift happened: the Balcanic pottery style was replaced by an engraved one. It is the Eastern Lineal Pottery Culture, which had a very limited expansion on its own (mostly to Transylvania).

However a derived culture arose then in Western Hungary, Moravia and Eastern Austria: it is the Western Lineal Pottery Culture, more commonly known as Danubian Neolithic. This one had a massive spread through Central Europe reaching into Belgium and Northern France (where it shared the territory with other minor local Neolithic cultures for some time) by the West and into Moldavia by the East, where a previous local Neolithic culture was assimilated as well. It even influenced the area of Vallachia-Bulgaria at a later time, generating which was maybe the first large European state: the Karanovo VI-Gumelnita culture, older than dynastic Egypt but short-lived.

Now it seems also clear that late Danubian peoples from Northern France brought agriculture to Britain, simultaneously to Megalithic peoples from Western France.

But I’m going too fast.

The Late Neolithic

A key an often ignored region in the second Neolithic phase is SW Iberia (mostly southern Portugal). Here there was also an important cultural shift: the custom of clannic (collective) burial in megalithic tombs known as dolmens or trilithons appeared just a few centuries after the arrival of the first Neolithic influences. Dolmenic Megalithism in this area is older than anywhere else by at least a thousand years.

Only much later, c. 3800 BCE, this custom appears in Brittany and other areas of Western France. In the following centuries it would spread through all Atlantic Europe and many parts of the Western Mediterranean, as well as penetrating in parts of the late Danubian cultural area.

It has been speculated that cod fishing may have been related to this expansion, however there must be more than just a mere economic activity: Megalithism had clearly a cultural, probably religious, element to it.

Many areas of Atlantic Europe only reached Neolithic with the arrival of Megalithism or a few centuries before it.

Another key region is more obscure: Denmark and neighboring areas. Here there was an important seagoing culture known as Ertebölle, which has been claimed to be Neolithic… only to see others rejecting that claim. This is a key issue that should be clarified in order to understand the Nordic Neolithic.

Related to this issue is that of Funnelbeaker Culture (often named by its German acronym of TRBK), which is clearly Neolithic in the North and West, where it is also Megalithic but is not in the East (Mecklenburg, Northern Poland). Some had theorized that Funnelbeaker began in Denmark, derived from Ertebölle after the arrival of Eastern influences related to Pitted Ware (another allegedly hunter-gatherer culture of Neolithic times, seemingly rooted in Eastern European Neolithic), but this is contested by others who think it’s derived from some northern offshoots of Danubian Neolithic.

The issue is very murky so I prefer to leave it as it is: a mere anotation of unsolved complexity.

All this sums up pretty well the essence of Neolithic in Europe (excluding the East), I believe. In order to synthesize I had to ignore many local groups, often interesting but that add little to the global picture.

Can R1b1b2a1 be Neolithic?

Many people seem to believe that, in spite of this haplogroup being most concentrated in the westernmost reaches of Europe and decaying towards the East.

The most biased ones love to oversimplify and ignore R1b1b2a1 altogether, talking instead of R1b1b2. This was the case with the recent paper by Balaresque et al. which produced the following haplotype structure, which I have duly annotated to indicate what is not R1b1b2a1 and that way unveil the truth:

It is obvious that the star-like expansion of R1b1b2 happened already at the level of R1b1b2a1 and happened already in Europe: either in Central or West Europe.

It is obvious that it does not show two distinct centers of expansion nor two different waves as should be the case would it have any relation with European Neolithic spread but instead shows one and only one general expansion affecting essentially to West and Central Europe without any kind of pattern, at least not one that we can easily spot (thank Balaresque for that lousiness).

It is obvious that the center of expansion is not in the Balcans either.

The R1b1b2a1 star-like structure has 15 basal branches, of which at least half show a clear strong presence in Iberia (sample that does not include Basques, as the only Basque sample used by Balaresque was from the North and hence included along all French in the Other category). This alone would suggest that the origin of the expansion should not have been too far from Iberia.

Oddly enough, this graph clearly supports the hypothesis of R1b1b2a1 having expanded with Magdalenian culture from the Franco-Cantabrian refuge in the late Upper Paleolithic.

However I do not bet all my money to this hypothesis because the limited haplotype diversity data I manage rather suggests slightly higher diversity in Central and even Northern Europe (this last only with small samples).

But I do bet all my money to the haplogroup having expanded before Neolithic. There is simply no way that the rapid expansion that star-like structure so clearly indicates could have been caused by Neolithic cultural flows. These can explain the scatter of other lineages like E1b1b1, J2b, G2a, T and even some subclades of I maybe. But that’s about all.

[Note: what follows is an update, some 10 or 12 hours after the first publication]

What about Megalithism?

The only possibility for R1b1b2a1 to have expanded within Neolithic would be within the frame of Dolmenic Megalithism. This would fit reasonably well with the haplogroup’s spread area, with some notable exceptions and would allow for Portugal to act as a transition zone between R1b1b2a* (that has high diversity in this country, comparable to that of Turkey or Italy) and R1b1b2a1a.

However this poses several problems:

First, while Megalithism may be associated to the origins of agriculture in some areas, it is certainly not the case in most. Second, Megalithism shows high cultural diversity and appears related to many different local cultures: it is not a monolithic phenomenon at all, what should be the case if it was essentially one of demic expansion. Third, some crucial areas do not fit well: East and Central Iberia were never Megalithic but are high in R1b1b2a1, instead North Africa was and shows very low levels of the haplogroup (these are just two examples: Central Germany, Austria and Italy also contradict the pattern). Fourth, Portugal has rather low levels of diversity for R1b1b2a1.

The mtDNA control

As mentioned, R1b1b2a1 has a marked star-like structure, meaning rapid expansion from a single center. Several European mtDNA lineages also have such structures. The most notable one is H, which is the second largest star-like structure in all the human mtDNA tree, after M, having 34 basal sublineages. Its descendant H1 also has a noticeable star-like structure with 15 basal sublineages. Less impressive but still meaningful are their ancestor HV (6 branches), their cousin V (9 branches), H3 (7 branches), H1b’f’g’k’q (5 branches), H2a (5 branches). In the U haplogroup there are also several with presence in Europe: K1a1 (9), K2a (6) and U5b3 (6). Other haplogroups important in Europe with some star-like structure are: T2 (7) and its descendant T2b (6), as well as I (5).

But only one group of those mtDNA star-like structures seems to be parallel in geography and dimensions to that of R1b1b2a1: H and its descendants.

In my opinion, H must have spread in Europe early on, probably with the colonization of the continent by our species in the early Upper Paleolithic. Only that can explain the the massive star-like structure, the high diversity in Central Europe and the known presence of this lineage in Paleolithic Portuguese and Moroccans. I also get those time frames using a control region mutation count. However there is one significant difference with R1b1b2a1: H is also found in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in large amounts, while R1b1b2a1 or R1b1b2 is not (and only R1b1b1 is in in Central Asia). This situation also happens in North Africa, where SW Europe-derived mtDNA H and V is very common (c. 25%) while Y-DNA R1b is very rare.

One possible explanation could be that there has been Y-DNA sweeps in those areas which did not affect so much to mtDNA. This could be because of Capsian Culture in North Africa (Epipaleolithic and Neolithic – Afroasiatic languages) and because of Kurgan migrations in Eastern Europe (Chalcolithic – Indoeuropean languages).

However it is still a weak point, admittedly.

So are there other options? I have flirted with the expansion of mtDNA K, which is a much recent expansion than that of H. But K only amounts to 6% of all Europeans, while R1b1b2a1 makes up more than 50% in all Western Europe. They are simply not comparable. Same for the other potential candidates mentioned above.

So at the moment I think that the expansion of R1b1b2a1 must have happened within that of mtDNA H, what implies a Paleolithic time frame.

Isn’t a Paleolithic time frame too old for R1b1b2a1?

As you probably know, I strongly distrust molecular clock age estimates, favoring instead an holistic logic, inclusive of all genetic and archaeological data available.

The earliest Eurasian ancestors of R1b (F, IJK, K and MNOPS) must have been there in the time of the main Eurasian expansion. F, IJK and K surely coalesced in South Asia, while MNOPS did in SE Asia. Y-DNA P represents the only known back-migration to South Asia of this macro-haplogroup.

Y-DNA R and probably R1 as well surely coalesced in South Asia then but R1b already did in West Eurasia (either in West Asia or Italy). This R1->R1b migration must have happened within the colonization of West Eurasia by H. sapiens, which happened in the 50-40 Ka time frame by all accounts. So I presume that R1b is 50-40 Ka old.

Then R1b split into R1b1a and R1b1b, which must have existed in the Eastern Mediterranean arch (Italy-West Asia).

Then R1b1b split into a minor Central Asian haplogroup (R1b1b1) and the main West Eurasian one (R1b1b2). This one shows a clear origin in Anatolia-SW Caucasus, where it is most diverse, specially once excluded R1b1b2a1 (however notice that Italy and Portugal have similar diversity levels, what again makes me wonder about the exact role of Italy in particular on the spread of this lineage), and where the main R1b1b2a node seems to have coalesced on light of its non-R1b1b2a1 scatter.

And then R1b1b2a1 spread in a very quick expansion, not from Anatolia but from somewhere in West or Central Europe. This might have happened either in the early colonization of Europe (Aurignacian culture, c. 40 Ka ago), in the second wave of Gravettian culture (Cro-Magnon type, c. 30 Ka ago) or in the post-LGM recolonization from the Franco-Cantabrian refuge (Magdalenian culture, c. 15 Ka ago). It is really difficult to determine which wave but, if R1b1b2a1 has to correspond with mtDNA H, then the latter has to be discarded.

And that’s what I can say on this matter. Really, without a time machine or accurate aDNA testing, we cannot say much more.

Posted in Europa, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

The spread of haplogroup G2a in Europe

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 2, 2013

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/European_Late_Neolithic.gif

https://i0.wp.com/thewaythetruthandthelife.net/index/2_background/2-3_biological/2-3-9_peopling-europe/BellBeaker.gif

The Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware culture is connected with haplogroup G2,

the same as Linear Pottery Group, the first neolithic culture into Europe via Balkan, and Bell-Beaker culture.

Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware

The Neolithic began in Sardinia in the 4th millennium BC with the Cardium Pottery Culture or Cardial Culture, or Impressed Ware Culture, which eventually extended from the Adriatic sea to the Atlantic coasts of Portugal and south to Morocco.

Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware is a Neolithic decorative style that gets its name from the imprinting of the clay with the shell of the cockle, an edible marine mollusk, formerly Cardium edulis, now Cerastoderma edule. These forms of pottery are in turn used to define the Neolithic culture which produced and spread them, mostly commonly called the “Cardial Culture”.

The alternative name Impressed Ware is given by some archaeologists to define this culture, because impressions can be with sharp objects other than cockle shell, such as a nail or comb. Impressed pottery is much more widespread than the Cardial. Impressed Ware is found in the zone “covering Italy to the Ligurian coast” as distinct from the more western Cardial extending from Provence to western Portugal.

The sequence in Western Europe has traditionally been supposed to start with widespread Cardial Ware, and then to develop other methods of impression locally, termed “epi-Cardial”. However the widespread Cardial and Impressa pattern types overlap and are now considered more likely to be contemporary.

This pottery style gives its name to the main culture of the Mediterranean Neolithic: Cardium Pottery Culture or Cardial Culture, or Impressed Ware Culture, which eventually extended from the Adriatic sea to the Atlantic coasts of Portugal and south to Morocco.

The earliest Impressed Ware sites, dating to 6400-6200 BC, are in Epirus and Corfu. Settlements then appear in Albania and Dalmatia on the eastern Adriatic coast dating to between 6100 and 5900 BC. The earliest date in Italy comes from Coppa Nevigata on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy, perhaps as early as 6000 cal B.C.

Also during Su Carroppu civilization in Sardinia, already in its early stages (low strata into Su Coloru cave, c. 6000 BC) early examples of cardial pottery appear. Northward and westward all secure radiocarbon dates are identical to those for Iberia c. 5500 cal B.C., which indicates a rapid spread of Cardial and related cultures: 2,000 km from the gulf of Genoa to the estuary of the Mondego in probably no more than 100–200 years. This suggests a seafaring expansion by planting colonies along the coast.

Older Neolithic cultures existed already at this time in eastern Greece and Crete, apparently having arrived from the Levant, but they appear distinct from the Cardial or Impressed Ware culture. The ceramic tradition in the central Balkans also remained distinct from that along the Adriatic coastline in both style and manufacturing techniques for almost 1,000 years from the 6th millennium BC.

Early Neolithic impressed pottery is found in the Levant, and certain parts of Anatolia, including Mezraa-Teleilat, and in North Africa at Tunus-Redeyef, Tunisia. So the first Cardial settlers in the Adriatic may have come directly from the Levant. Of course it might equally well have come directly from North Africa, and impressed-pottery also appears in Egypt. Along the East Mediterranean coast Impressed Ware has been found in North Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.

Haplogroup G2a

Haplogroup G is believed to have originated around the Middle East during the late Paleolithic, possibly as early as 30,000 years ago. At that time humans would all have been hunter-gatherers, and in most cases living in small nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. Members of this haplogroup appear to have been closely linked to the development of early agriculture in the Levant part of the Fertile Crescent, starting 11,500 years before present.

There has so far been ancient Y-DNA analysis from only four Neolithic cultures (LBK in Germany, Remedello in Italy and Cardium Pottery in south-west France and Spain), and all sites yielded G2a individuals, which is the strongest evidence at present that farming originated with and was disseminated by members of haplogroup G (although probably in collaboration with other haplogroups such as E1b1b, J, R1b and T).

Ötzi the Iceman, the mummy of a man who lived in the Italian Alps during the Chalcolithic, about 3,300 BC, and were found on the Alps in 1991, belonged to haplogroup G2a2a2 (L91), a relatively rare subclade found nowadays in the Middle East, southern Europe (especially Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica) and North Africa. the mummy of a man who lived about 3,300 BC, found on the Alps in 1991

G2a2 (PF3146) is otherwise found at low frequencies all the way from the Levant to Western Europe. In conclusion, Neolithic farmers in Europe would have belonged to G2a, G2a2 (+ subclades) and G2a3 (and at least the M406 subclade).

So far, the only G2a people negative for subclades downstream of P15 or L149.1 have all been found in the South Caucasus region. The highest genetic diversity within haplogroup G is found between the Levant and the Caucasus, in the Fertile Crescent, which is another good indicator of its region of origin.

Various estimated dates and locations have been proposed for the origin of Haplogroup G. The National Geographic Society places haplogroup G origins in the Middle East 30,000 years ago and presumes that people carrying the haplogroup took part in the spread of the Neolithic. Two scholarly papers have also suggested an origin in the Middle East, while differing on the date. Semino et al. (2000) suggested 17,000 years ago. Cinnioglu et al. (2004) suggested the mutation took place only 9,500 years ago.

Haplogroup G2a(SNP P15+) has been identified in neolithic human remains in Europe dating between 5000-3000BC. Furthermore, the majority of all the male skeletons from the European Neolithic period have so far yielded Y-DNA belonging to this haplogroup. The oldest skeletons confirmed by ancient DNA testing as carrying haplogroup G2a were five found in the Avellaner cave burial site for farmers in northeastern Spain and were dated by radiocarbon dating to about 7000 years ago.

Men who belong to G2a3 but are negative for all its subgroups represent a small number today. Together with its several subgroups seem most commonly found in Turkey and the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean where it can constitute up to 50% of haplogroup G samples.

G2a3a is more common in southern Europe than northern Europe. In Europe, except in Italy, G2a3a constitutes less than 20% of G samples. G2a3a so far has seldom surfaced in northern Africa or southern Asia, but represents a small percentage of the G population in the Caucasus Mountains region and in Iran.

G2a3a has two known subgroups. Both are relatively common among G2a3a persons. A relatively high percentage of G2a3a persons have a value of 21 at STR marker DYS390. The DYS391 marker has mostly a value of 10, but sometimes 11, in G2a3a persons, and DYS392 is almost always 11. If a sample meets the criteria indicated for these three markers, it is likely the sample is G2a3a.

This haplogroup was found in a Neolithic skeleton from around 5000 BC, in the Neolithic cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II of north central Germany, with burial artifacts belonging to the Linear Pottery culture, known in German as Linearbandkeramik (LBK), but was not tested for G2a3 subgroups. This skeleton could not be dated by radiocarbon dating, but other skeletons there were dated to between 5,100 and 6,100 years old.

The most detailed SNP mutation identified was S126 (L30), which defines G2a3. G2a was found also in 20 out of 22 samples of ancient Y-DNA from Treilles, the type-site of a Late Neolithic group of farmers in the South of France, dated to about 5000 years ago. The fourth site also from the same period is the Ötztal of the Italian Alps where the mummified remains of Ötzi the Iceman were discovered.

Haplogroup G2a2b is a rare group today in Europe. The authors of the Spanish study indicated that the Avellaner men had rare marker values in testing of their short tandem repeat (STR) markers.

Two men found in a high-status burial at Ergolding in present-day Bavaria, southern Germany, of the Merovingian dynasty period (7th century), were found to belong to haplogroup G2a (P15+).

It has now been proven by the testing of Neolithic remains in various parts of Europe that early Neolithic farmers and herders carrying haplogroup G2a expanded from the Levant and Mesopotamia westwards to Anatolia and Europe, eastwards to South Asia, and southwards to the Arabian peninsula and North and East Africa between 9,000 and 6,000 years ago.

In this scenario migrants from the eastern Mediterranean would have brought with them sheep and goats, which were domesticated south of the Caucasus about 12,000 years ago. This would explain why haplogroup G is more common in mountainous areas, be it in Europe or in Asia.

The domestication of goats and cows first took place in the mountainous region of eastern Anatolia, including the Caucasus and Zagros. This is probably where the roots of haplogroup G2a (and perhaps of all haplogroup G) are to be found.

The geographic continuity of G2a from Anatolia to Thessaly to the Italian peninsula, Sardinia, south-central France and Iberia already suggested that G2a could be connected to the Printed-Cardium Pottery culture (5000-1500 BCE).

Whilst such studies are insightful, even if the dates postulated by authors are correct, they do not necessarily imply that the spread of a particular genetic marker represents a distinct population, ‘tribe’ or language group.

Authors often take for granted that the expansion of a lineage is related to real demography rather than other evolutionary events, such as random genetic drift or natural selection. Moreover, they overlook detailed analyses of the archaeological record which demonstrate the genesis of cultural phenomena representing multiple, complex lines of interaction criss-crossing far-flung regions rathern than simple ‘folk migrations’.

As such, ‘genetic studies’ have often drawn criticisms not only from archaeologists and cultural anthropologists, but also from fellow population geneticists.

However, studies of the ancient Y-DNA from the earlier Neolithic cave burials of Cardium pottery culture men shows they were mainly haplogroup G2a. These ‘Neolithic lineages’ accounted for 22% of the total European Y chromosome gene pool, and were predominantly found in Mediterranean regions of Europe (Greece, Italy, southeastern Bulgaria, southeastern Iberia).

Ancient DNA tests conducted on skeletons from a LBK site in Germany (who were L30+) as well as Printed-Cardium Pottery sites from Languedoc-Roussilon in southern France and from Catalonia in Spain all confirmed that Neolithic farmers in Europe belonged primarily to haplogroup G2a. Other haplogroups found so far in Neolithic Europe include E-V13, F and I2a1 (P37.2).

Nowadays haplogroup G is found all the way from Western Europe and Northwest Africa to Central Asia, India and East Africa, although everywhere at low frequencies (generally between 1 and 10% of the population). The only exceptions are the Caucasus region, central and southern Italy and Sardinia, where frequencies typically range from 15% to 30% of male lineages.

Haplogroup G2a nowadays is found mostly in mountainous regions of Europe, for example, in the Apennine mountains (15 to 25%) and Sardinia (12%) in Italy, Cantabria (10%) and Asturias (8%) in northern Spain, Austria (8%), Auvergne (8%) and Provence (7%) in south-east France, Switzerland (7.5%), the mountainous parts of Bohemia (5 to 10%), Romania (6.5%) and Greece (6.5%).

It may be because Caucasian farmers sought hilly terrain similar to their original homeland, perhaps well suited to the raising of goats. But it is more likely that G2a farmers escaped from Bronze-Age invaders, such as the Indo-Europeans and found shelter into the mountains. For example, G2a3a (M406) is found at relatively high frequencies in the southern Balkans, the Apennines and the Alps, in contrast with G2a3b (L141.1), which is found everywhere in Europe.

About 42% of the Sardinians belong to Y-chromosome haplogroup I, which is otherwise frequently encountered only in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Croatia-Bosnia-Montenegro-Serbia area. The second-most common Y-chromosome haplogroup among the Sardinian male population is the haplogroup R1b (22% of the total population) mainly present in the northern part of the island.

Sardinia also has a relatively high distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup G (11%), which is also found mainly in the Caucasus. The Sardinian subtype of the Haplogroup G is closer to that one still present today in the Alps region, in particular the Tyrol area. Ötzi the Iceman was discovered recently to be closely related genetically to modern Sardinians.

LBK

The Linear Pottery culture (also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture, ca. 5500–4500 BC) is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic. It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), and falls within the Danubian I culture of V. Gordon Childe.

The densest evidence for the culture is on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. It represents a major event in the initial spread of agriculture in Europe. The pottery after which it was named consists of simple cups, bowls, vases and jugs, without handles, but in a later phase with lugs or pierced lugs, bases and necks. They were obviously designed as kitchen dishes, or for the immediate or local transport of food and liquids.

Important sites include Nitra in Slovakia; Bylany in the Czech Republic; Langweiler and Zwenkau in Germany; Brunn am Gebirge in Austria; Elsloo, Sittard, Köln-Lindenthal, Aldenhoven, Flomborn and Rixheim on the Rhine; Lautereck and Hienheim on the upper Danube; Rössen and Sonderhausen on the middle Elbe.

Excavations at Oslonki in Poland revealed a large fortified settlement (dating to 4300 BC, i. e., Late LBK), covering an area of 4,000 m². Nearly thirty trapezoidal longhouses and over eighty graves make it one of the richest such settlements in archaeological finds from all of central Europe. The rectangular longhouses were between 7 and 45 meters long and between 5 and 7 meters wide. They were built of massive timber posts chinked with wattle and daub mortar.

Two variants of the early Linear Pottery culture are recognized:

  • The Early or Western Linear Pottery Culture developed on the middle Danube, including western Hungary, and was carried down the Rhine, Elbe, Oder and Vistula.
  • The Eastern Linear Pottery Culture flourished in eastern Hungary.

Middle and late phases are also defined. In the middle phase, the Early Linear Pottery Culture intruded upon the Bug-Dniester culture and began to manufacture Musical note pottery. In the late phase, the Stroked Pottery Culture moved down the Vistula and Elbe.

A number of cultures ultimately replaced the Linear Pottery culture over its range, but there is no one-to-one correspondence between its variants and the replacing cultures. The culture map instead is complex. Some of the successor cultures are the Hinkelstein, Großgartach, Rössen, Lengyel, Cucuteni-Trypillian, and Boian-Maritza.

Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture

While the Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture (short TRB or TBK from (German) Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur, ca 4300 – 2800 BC), an archaeological culture in north-central Europe, isn’t exactly the LBK, the TRB origins have to be sought rather in the central European LBK than in the Mediterranean Cardium pottery. According to a craniometrical cluster analysis by Ilse Schwidetzky, the Swedish neolithic is very similar to the central European middle neolithic Rössen culture, and both are close to LBK.

The main difference between the Danubian cultures and the Cardium derived cultures is that the latter seem more strongly dominated by haplogroup G, which in turn seems to imply a stronger presence of the (Southern part of the) Caucasus component, while the former may have had more haplogoup I and Haplogroup R1b3.

Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies, such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH). The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum.

However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones. More recently, data and calculations from Myres (2011), Cruciani (2010), Arredi (2007) and Belaresque (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.

These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence from ancient DNA. For example, Early Neolithic Y-DNA from Spain did not reveal any R1b, but rather E-V13 and G2a, whilst a similar study from a French pre-Beaker Neolithic site revealed haplgroup G2a and I-P37. It is only later, from a German Bell Beaker site dated to the third millennium BCE, that the first evidence for R1b is detected. Ancient Y-DNA results for the remains of Beaker people from Iberia have yet to be obtained.

Whilst Cruciani, Belaresque and Arredi support a spread of R1b from South-Eastern Europe, Klyosov (2012) postulates that “Western European” R1b-L150 entered Europe from Northern Africa, via Iberia, coincident with the spread of the Bell Beaker culture.

The TRB developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.

Preceded by Lengyel-influenced STK groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleraz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north, the TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern eastalbingian Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group between Zuiderzee and lower Elbe, an eastern group centered around the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale.

Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged. In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC.

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, the culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing the culture of what Marija Gimbutas termed Old Europe, the peoples of which were later to be governed by the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples intruding from the east. The political relation between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into Corded Ware culture.

Heterodoxically, Dutch publications mention mixed burials and propose a quick and smooth internal change to Corded Ware within two generations occurring about 2900 BC in Dutch and Danish TRB territory, probably precluded by economic, cultural and religious changes in East Germany, and call the migrationist view of steppe intrusions introducing Indo-European languages obsolete (at least in this part of the world). It is more likely that Indo-European languages were adopted by local populations because they represented a new way of life, bringing with them horses and cattle and the status they represented.

The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era. The Funnelbeaker culture marks the appearance of megalithic tombs at the coasts of the Baltic and of the North sea, an example of which are the Sieben Steinhäuser in northern Germany. The megalithic structures of Ireland, France and Portugal are somewhat older and have been connected to earlier archeological cultures of those areas.

Burial practices were varied, depending on region and changed over time. Inhumation seems to have been the rule. The oldest graves consisted of wooden chambered cairns inside long barrows, but were later made in the form of passage graves and dolmens. Originally, the structures were probably covered with a heap of dirt and the entrance was blocked by a stone. The graves were probably not intended for every member of the settlement but for only an elite. At graves, the people sacrificed ceramic vessels that probably contained food, and axes and other flint objects.

The technology was flint-based, of which the deposits found in Belgium and on the island of Rügen as well as deposits in the Kraków area were important. The culture used Battle Axes which were stone versions of Central Europe’s copper axes. The early versions were multi-angled, and the later are called double-edged, although one of the edges is more rounded. It imported copper from Central Europe, especially daggers and axes. Axes and vessels were also deposed in streams and lakes near the farmlands, and virtually all Sweden’s 10,000 flint axes that have been found from this culture were probably sacrificed in water.

One find assigned to the Funnelbeaker culture is the Bronocice pot, which shows the oldest known depiction of a wheeled vehicle (here, a 2-axled, 4-wheeled wagon). The pot dates to approximately 3500 BC.

The picture on the pot symbolically depicts key elements of the prehistoric human environment. The most important component of the decoration are five rudimentary representations of what seems to be a wagon. They represent a vehicle with a shaft for a draught animal, and four wheels. The lines connecting them probably represent axles. The circle in the middle possibly symbolizes a container for harvest. Other images on the pot include a tree, a river and what may be fields intersected by roads/ditches or the layout of a village.

The image on the pot is the oldest well-dated representation of a 4-wheeled vehicle in the world.[2] It suggests the existence of wagons in Central Europe as early as in the 4th millennium BC. They were presumably drawn by aurochs whose remains were found with the pot. Their horns were worn out as if tied with a rope, possibly a result of using a kind of yoke.

It has been suggested that the Funnelbeaker culture was the origin of the gene allowing adults of Northern European descent to digest lactose. It was claimed that in the area formerly inhabited by this culture, prevalence of the gene is virtually universal. A paper published in 2007 by Burger et al. indicated that the genetic variant that causes lactase persistence in most Europeans (-13,910*T) was rare or absent in early farmers from central Europe. A study published by Yuval Itan and colleagues in 2010 clearly shows this.

A study published in 2009, also by Itan et al., suggests that the Linear Pottery culture, which preceded the TRB culture by some 1,500 years, was the culture in which this trait started to co-evolve with the culture of dairying.

Ancient DNA extracted from three individuals ascribed to a TRB horizon in Gökhem, Sweden, were found to possess mtDNA haplogroups H, J, and T.

 Andalusia

In the 6th millennium BC, Andalusia experiences the arrival of the first agriculturalists. Their origin is uncertain (though North Africa is a serious candidate) but they arrive with already developed crops (cereals and legumes). The presence of domestic animals instead is unlikely, as only pig and rabbit remains have been found and these could belong to wild animals. They also consumed large amounts of olives but it’s uncertain too whether this tree was cultivated or merely harvested in its wild form. Their typical artifact is the La Almagra style pottery, quite variegated.

The Andalusian Neolithic also influenced other areas, notably Southern Portugal, where, soon after the arrival of agriculture, the first dolmen tombs begin to be built c. 4800 BC, being possibly the oldest of their kind anywhere.

C. 4700 BC Cardium Pottery Neolithic culture (also known as Mediterranean Neolithic) arrives to Eastern Iberia. While some remains of this culture have been found as far west as Portugal, its distribution is basically Mediterranean (Catalonia, Valencian region, Ebro valley, Balearic islands).

The interior and the northern coastal areas remain largely marginal in this process of spread of agriculture. In most cases it would only arrive in a very late phase or even already in the Chalcolithic age, together with Megalithism.

The Chalcolithic or Copper Age is the earliest phase of metallurgy. Copper, silver and gold started to be worked then, though these soft metals could hardly replace stone tools for most purposes. The Chalcolithic is also a period of increased social complexity and stratification and, in the case of Iberia, that of the rise of the first civilizations and of extense exchange networks that would reach to the Baltic and Africa.

The conventional date for the beginning of Chalcolithic in Iberia is c. 3000 BC. In the following centuries, especially in the south of the peninsula, metal goods, often decorative or ritual, become increasingly common. Additionally there is an increased evidence of exchanges with areas far away: amber from the Baltic and ivory and ostrich-egg products from Northern Africa.

It is also the period of the great expansion of Megalithism, with its associated collective burial practices. In the early Chalcolithic period this cultural phenomenon, maybe of religious undertones, expands along the Atlantic regions and also through the south of the peninsula (additionally it’s also found in virtually all European Atlantic regions). In contrast, most of the interior and the Mediterranean regions remain refractary to this phenomenon.

Another phenomenon found in the early chalcolithic is the development of new types of funerary monuments: tholoi and artificial caves. These are only found in the more developed areas: southern Iberia, from the Tagus estuary to Almería, and SE France.

Eventually, c. 2600 BC, urban communities began to appear, again especially in the south. The most important ones are Los Millares in SE Spain and Zambujal (belonging to Vila Nova de São Pedro culture) in Portuguese Estremadura, that can well be called civilizations, even if they lack of the literary component.

It is very unclear if any cultural influence originated in the Eastern Mediterranean could have sparked these civilizations. On one side the tholos does have a precedent in that area (even if not used yet as tomb) but on the other there is no material evidence of any exchange between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, in contrast with the abundance of goods imported from Northern Europe and Africa.

Los Millares is the name of a Chalcolithic occupation site 17 km north of Almería, in the municipality of Santa Fe de Mondújar, Andalusia, Spain. The complex was in use from the end of the fourth millennium to the end of the second millennium BC and probably supported somewhere around 1000 people. It was discovered in 1891 during the course of the construction of a railway and was first excavated by Luis Siret in the succeeding years. Further excavation work continues today.

The site covers 2 hectares (4.9 acres) and consists of three concentric lines of stone walls, the outer ring the largest, running more than 650 feet with nineteen ‘bastions’ and a gate guarded by foreworks. The road to the site is guarded by four smaller outlying stone forts. There is an extensive cemetery of eighty passage grave tombs. Radiocarbon dating has established that one wall collapsed and was rebuilt around 3025 BC.

A cluster of simple dwellings lay inside the walls as well as one large building containing evidence of copper smelting. Pottery excavated from the site included plain and decorated wares including symbolkeramik bowls bearing oculus motifs. Similar designs appear on various carved stone idols found at the site.

Although primarily farmers, the inhabitants of Los Millares had crucially also learned metal working, especially the smelting and forming of copper, and the site is considered highly important in understanding the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. The Los Millares culture eventually came to dominate the Iberian peninsula, and to develop into the Bell Beaker culture.

The population of Los Millares has been estimated at approximately 1000 in the timeframe 3200–2300 BC. The labor involved in its construction, The large volume of stones used, its geometric characteristics and sophisticated design all indicate multiple functionality, including defense and power.

Los Millares participated in the continental trends of Megalithism and the Beaker culture. Analysis of occupation material and grave goods from the Los Millares cemetery of 70 tholos tombs with port-hole slabs has led archaeologists to suggest that the people who lived at Los Millares were part of a stratified, unequal society which was often at war with its neighbours.

The Los Millares civilisation was replaced circa 1800 BC, with the arrival of Bronze by the El Argar civilisation, whose successor culture is embodied in the contemporary culture of Vila Nova de São Pedro in nearby Portugal.

Similarities between Los Millares architecture and the step pyramid at Monte d’Accoddi in Sardinia have been noticed. Other Iberian settlements in this region of a similar age to Los Millares include the settlement of Los Silillos and Neolithic finds at Cabrera.

Los Silillos is the site of a Bronze Age prehistoric settlement covering an area of 180,000 square metres. The discovery was made in 2007 during excavation work in constructing the A-45 Motorway on Spain’s Iberian Peninsula. (EFE, 2007)

The site is located approximately nine kilomtres north of the town of Antequera. The discovery includes architectural elements of 52 subterranean structures, which are only a portion of the numerous circular dwellings built by prehistoric peoples here. Farming implements and copper tools found at Los Silillos have been dated to 2500 BC by researchers at Malaga University. It is thought that some of the tools found at Los Silillos may have been employed in constructing dolmen burial mounds at nearby Antequera.

Manuel Romero, the Antequera municipal archaeologist, indicated that only about two percent of the total Los Silillos site has been excavated as of October, 2007. Romero further stated that ongoing research is occurring for the site, including more precise radiocarbon dating in Switzerland. Animal relics retrieved on the site include fossilised ram horns and deer antlers. The Los Silillos site at an elevation of approximately 435 metres is situated in an agricultural valley between Antequera and Cordoba.

REGIONAL PREHISTORY. There is extensive prehistoric settlement in this region of southern Spain, probably linked to the mild climate, rich mineral resources of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (Leistel, 1997) and proximity of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to Neanderthal presence and the Magdelanian paleolithic era cave painters, other Iberian settlements of the approximate age of Los Silillos in this region include the Chalcolithic settlement of Los Millares and Neolithic finds at Cabrera.

Somewhat to the east of Los Silillos, scientists have recently conducted core drilling to reconstruct the natural history of 1900 BC Argaric settlements. They found that rich deciduous forests once covered much of the region; however, the thriving Bronze Age Argaric peoples stripped the trees to such an extent that the ecology was transformed to an agriculturally unproductive, arid Mediterranean scrub.

While climate change may have played a subordinate role, the Argaric civilisation itself appears to have caused its own demise by unwise resource management. The resulting degradation of soils and appears to have “caused the collapse of agriculture and pastoralism, the foundation of the Argaric economy”, and hence a “massive depopulation”. (BBC, 2007)

Since c. 2150 BC, the Bell Beaker culture intrudes in Chalcolithic Iberia. After the early Corded style beaker, of quite clear Central European origin, the peninsula begins producing its own types of Bell Beaker pottery. Most important is the Maritime or International style that, associated especially with Megalithism, is for some centuries abundant in all the peninsula and southern France.

Since c. 1900, the Bell Beaker phenomenon in Iberia shows a regionalization, with different styles being produced in the various regions: Palmela type in Portugal, Continental type in the plateau and Almerian type in Los Millares, among others.

Like in other parts of Europe, the Bell Beaker phenomenon (speculated to be of trading or maybe religious nature) does not significantly alter the cultures it inserts itself in. Instead the cultural contexts that existed previously continue basically unchanged by its presence.

 Bell Beaker culture

The Bell-Beaker culture (sometimes shortened to Beaker culture, Beaker people, or Beaker folk; German: Glockenbecherkultur, ca. 2800 – 1800 BC), is the term for a widely scattered archaeological culture of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic and running into the early Bronze Age.

The term was coined by John Abercromby, based on the culture’s distinctive pottery drinking vessels, but is understood not only as a particular pottery type, but as a complete and complex cultural phenomenon involving other artefact styles such as weaponry and ornamentation, as well as shared ideological, cultural and religious ideas.

From the third millennium BC on, comb-impressed Beaker ware, as well as other Beaker material in Ozieri or sub-Ozieri contexts, has been found, demonstrating continuing relationships with the western Mediterranean; it appears likely that Sardinia was the intermediary that brought Beaker materials to Tuscany and Sicily.

Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies, such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH).

The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum. However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones.

More recently, data and calculations from Myres (2011), Cruciani (2010), Arredi (2007) and Belaresque (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.

These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence from ancient DNA. For example, Early Neolithic Y-DNA from Spain did not reveal any R1b, but rather E-V13 and G2a, whilst a similar study from a French pre-Beaker Neolithic site revealed haplgroup G2a and I-P37. It is only later, from a German Bell Beaker site dated to the third millennium BCE, that the first evidence for R1b is detected. Ancient Y-DNA results for the remains of Beaker people from Iberia have yet to be obtained.

Whilst Cruciani, Belaresque and Arredi support a spread of R1b from South-Eastern Europe, Klyosov (2012) postulates that “Western European” R1b-L150 entered Europe from Northern Africa, via Iberia, coincident with the spread of the Bell Beaker culture.

From a mitochondrial DNA perspective, mtDNA Hg H, which has high (~ 40%) throughout Europe, has received similar attention. Early studies by Richards et al (2000) purported that it arose 28 – 23,000 years ago (kya), spreading into Europe ~ 20 kya, before then re-expanding from an Iberian glacial refuge ~ 15 kya, calculations subsequently corroborated by Pereira (2004).

However, a larger study by Roostalu (2006), incorporating more data from the Near East, suggested that whilst mtDNA Hg H did begin to expand c. 20 kya, this was limited to the Near East, Caucasus and Southeastern Europe.

Rather its subsequent spread further west occurred later, in the post-glacial period from a postulated South Caucasian refugium. This hypothesis has been supported by a recent ancient DNA analysis study, which links the expansion of mtDNA Hg H in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker phenomenon.

The Bell Beaker period marks a period of unprecedented cultural contact in Atlantic and Western Europe on a scale not seen previously, nor again seen in succeeding periods. This contrasted the situation in Central and Eastern Europe where the slightly earlier Corded Ware Culture had already established wide-ranging contacts within those regions. It lasted until 1800 BC, when the incipient Bronze Age dissolved the beaker phenomenon.

It is important to note that underlying the Bell beaker superstratum existed a wide diversity in local burial styles (including incidences of cremation rather than inhumation), housing styles, economic profile and local coarse ceramic wares which continued to persist.

It has been suggested that the beakers were designed for the consumption of alcohol, and that the introduction of the substance to Europe may have fuelled the beakers’ spread. Beer and mead content have been identified from certain examples.

However, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores, others have some organic residues associated with food, and still others were employed as funerary urns. They were used as status display amongst disparate elites.

There are two main Bell Beaker styles: the cord-impressed types, such as the “All Over Corded” (AOC) or “All Over Ornamented” (AOO), and the “Maritime” type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later, characteristic regional styles developed.

AOO and AOC Beakers appear to have evolved continually from pre-Beaker period in the lower Rhine and North Sea regions, at least for Northern and Central Europe.

Furthermore, the burial ritual which typified Bell Beaker sites was intrusive into Western Europe. Individual burials, often under tumuli burials, with the inclusion of weapons contrast markedly to the preceding Neolithic traditions of often collective, weaponless burials in Atlantic/Western Europe. Such an arrangement is rather derivative of Corded Ware traditions, although instead of ‘battle-axes’, Bell Beaker individuals used copper daggers.

Overall, all these elements (Iberian-derived maritime ceramic styles, AOC and AOO ceramic styles, and ‘eastern’ burial ritual symbolism) appear to have first fused in the Lower Rhine region.

There have been numerous proposals by archaeologists as to the origins of the Bell Beaker culture, and debates continued on for decades. Several regions of origin have been postulated, notably the Iberian peninsula, the Netherlands and Central Europe.

Similarly, scholars have postulated various mechanisms of spread, including migrations of populations (“folk migrations”), smaller warrior groups, individuals (craftsmen), or a diffusion of ideas and object exchange.

Recent analyses have made significant inroads to understanding the Beaker phenomenon, mostly by analysing each of its components separately. They have concluded that the Bell Beaker phenomenon was a synthesis of elements, representing “an idea and style uniting different regions with different cultural traditions and background.”

Radiocarbon dating seems to support that the earliest “Maritime” Bell Beaker design style is encountered in Iberia, specifically in the vibrant copper-using communities of the Tagus estuary in Portugal around 2800-2700 BC and spread from there to many parts of western Europe. An overview of all available sources from southern Germany concluded that Bell Beaker was a new and independent culture in that area, contemporary with the Corded Ware culture.

The inspiration for the Maritime Bell Beaker is argued to have been the small and earlier Copoz beakers that have impressed decoration and which are found widely around the Tagus estuary in Portugal.

Turek sees late Neolithic precursors in northern Africa, arguing the Maritime style emerged as a result of seaborne contacts between Iberia and Morocco in the first half of the third millennium BCE. However, radiocarbon dating from North African sites is lacking for the most part.

The Bell Beaker culture

The Bell-Beaker culture (sometimes shortened to Beaker culture, Beaker people, or Beaker folk; German: Glockenbecherkultur, ca. 2800 – 1800 BC), is the term for a widely scattered archaeological culture of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic and running into the early Bronze Age.

The term was coined by John Abercromby, based on the culture’s distinctive pottery drinking vessels, however, it should not be understood only as a particular pottery type, but as a complete and complex cultural phenomenon involving other artefact styles such as weaponry and ornamentation, as well as shared ideological, cultural and religious ideas.

The Bell Beaker period marks a period of unprecedented cultural contact in Atlantic and Western Europe on a scale not seen previously, nor again seen in succeeding periods. This contrasted the situation in Central and Eastern Europe where the slightly earlier Corded Ware Culture had already established wide-ranging contacts within those regions. It lasted until 1800 BC, when the incipient Bronze Age dissolved the beaker phenomenon.

It is important to note that underlying the Bell beaker superstratum existed a wide diversity in local burial styles (including incidences of cremation rather than inhumation), housing styles, economic profile and local coarse ceramic wares which continued to persist.

Similarly, scholars have postulated various mechanisms of spread, including migrations of populations (“folk migrations”), smaller warrior groups, individuals (craftsmen), or a diffusion of ideas and object exchange.

There are two main Bell Beaker styles: the cord-impressed types, such as the “All Over Corded” (AOC) or “All Over Ornamented” (AOO), and the “Maritime” type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later, characteristic regional styles developed.

AOO and AOC Beakers appear to have evolved continually from pre-Beaker period in the lower Rhine and North Sea regions, at least for Northern and Central Europe. Overall, all these elements (Iberian-derived maritime ceramic styles, AOC and AOO ceramic styles, and ‘eastern’ burial ritual symbolism) appear to have first fused in the Lower Rhine region.

It has been suggested that the beakers were designed for the consumption of alcohol, and that the introduction of the substance to Europe may have fuelled the beakers’ spread. Beer and mead content have been identified from certain examples.

However, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores, others have some organic residues associated with food, and still others were employed as funerary urns. They were used as status display amongst disparate elites.

Recent analyses have made significant inroads to understanding the Beaker phenomenon, mostly by analysing each of its components separately. They have concluded that the Bell Beaker phenomenon was a synthesis of elements, representing “an idea and style uniting different regions with different cultural traditions and background.”

Bell Beaker people took advantage of transport by sea and rivers, creating a cultural spread from Ireland to the Carpathian Basin and south along the Atlantic coast and following the Rhone valley to Portugal, North Africa and Sicily, even penetrating northern and central Italy. Its remains have been found in what is now Portugal, Spain, France (excluding the central massif), Great Britain and Ireland, the Low Countries, and Germany between the Elbe and Rhine, with an extension along the upper Danube into the Vienna basin (Austria), Hungary and the Czech Republic, with Mediterranean outposts on Sardinia and Sicily; there is less certain evidence for direct penetration in the east.

Beaker-type vessels remained in use longest in the British Isles; late beakers in other areas are classified as early Bronze Age (Barbed Wire Beakers in the Netherlands, Giant Beakers (Riesenbecher).

The new international trade routes opened by the Beaker people became firmly established and the culture was succeeded by a number of Bronze Age cultures, among them the Únětice culture in Central Europe, the Elp culture and Hilversum culture in the Netherlands, the Atlantic Bronze Age in the British Isles and the Atlantic coast of Europe, and by the Nordic Bronze Age, a culture of Scandinavia and northernmost Germany-Poland.

However, this is not to suppose that all of these proto-languages actually arose during the period of the Corded Ware horizon, across its whole territory, or exclusively within its confines.

The Indo-Europeans

Archaeologists recognize a complex of inter-related and relatively mobile cultures living on the Eurasian steppe, part of which protrudes into Europe as far west as Ukraine. These cultures from the late Neolithic and into the Iron Age, with specific traits such as Kurgan burials and horse domestication, have been associated with the dispersal of Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

Modern linguists have placed the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, a distinct geographic and archeological region extending from the Danube estuary to the Ural mountains to the east and North Caucasus to the south.

The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (7000-2200 BCE) by Marija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds (“kurgan”) among the succession of cultures in that region. It is now known that kurgan-type burials only date from the 4th millenium BCE and almost certainly originated south of the Caucasus.

Horses were first domesticated around 4600 BCE in the Caspian Steppe, perhaps somewhere around the Don or the lower Volga, and soon became a defining element of steppe culture. Nevertheless it is unlikely that R1b was already present in the eastern steppes at the time, so the domestication of the horse should be attributed to the indigenous R1a people.

Haplogroup R-M17, sometimes referred to as R-M198, is particularly common in a large region extending from South Asia and Southern Siberia to Central Europe and Scandinavia. It is the most common subclade within the family of Y DNA lineages referred to as R1a or R-M420, which share in common the M420 SNP mutation, and before the discovery of M420, R-M17 was itself referred to as R1a.

The decade-long debate as to which Eurasian region possessed the most diverse, hence oldest, STR values within R-M17, has been effectively put to an end with the discovery of R-M17 sub-clades. SNPs offer a clearer and more robust resolution than STRs. They shows that all their tested Indian R-M17 samples belong to the Z-93 sub-clade, which is a derivative, “daughter” branch of R-M17.

Exactly when and where R-M17 arose requires further elucidation. The major limitations precluding an equivocal conclusion include the need for: (i) greater population sampling (ii) more ancient DNA data, and (iii) more robust and consistent methodology in estimating haplogroup ages and their phylogeographic relationships. The observed data currently suggests that haplogroup R1a likely differentiated in the region between Eastern Europe and South Asia.

In contrast, Eastern European populations belong to different daughter branches of R-M17, namely Z- 280 and M-458. The former is widely distributed over south-eastern, central-eastern and eastern Europe, and as far as Central Asia. Indeed, Central Asia is an overlap zone for the R1a1-Z280 and R1a1-Z93″, being found in Mongol and Uzbek populations. On the other hand, M-458 is more geographically restricted to central-eastern Europe.

Furthermore, the undifferentiated, parental M-198 existed in the European populations, but was not found in the Indian groups. This pattern implies that an early differentiation zone of R1a1-M198 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Eastern Europe, from where South Asian Z-93 and European Z-283 sub-clades differentiated and spread in opposite directions.

Nearly all samples from Bronze and Iron Age graves in the Krasnoyarsk area in south Siberia belonged to R-M17 and appeared to represent an eastward migration from Europe. In central Europe, Corded Ware period human remains at Eulau from which Y-DNA was extracted appear to be R-M17(xM458) (which they found most similar to the modern German R-M17* haplotype.

The Proto-Germanic language is often assumed to have been spoken in southern Scandinavia or northern Germany towards the end of the Nordic Bronze Age or at the beginning of the Pre-Roman Iron Age (mid-first millennium BC), and the Proto-Balto-Slavic language and Proto-Celtic language may date only slightly earlier, to the Early Iron Age (early first millennium BC).

Origin of the Bell Beaker

There have been numerous proposals by archaeologists as to the origins of the Bell Beaker culture, and debates continued on for decades. Several regions of origin have been postulated, notably the Iberian peninsula, the Netherlands and Central Europe.

Based on the radiocarbon (C-14) dating of short lived material, the current prevailing view is that Bell Beaker culture originated in Iberia (2900 BC cal.), with an almost concurrent appearance in southern France and northern Italy. The spread of Bell Beaker culture into Northern and Central Europe seems to have occurred somewhat later (~2500 BC).

Radiocarbon dating seems to support that the earliest form of Bell Beaker called the Maritime Bell Beaker design style is encountered in Iberia, specifically in the vibrant copper-using communities of the Tagus, that flows west through the middle of Spain, across Portugal, and out into the Atlantic, estuary in Portugal around 2800-2700 BC. From Tagus it spread to many parts of western Europe.

The initial moves from the Tagus estuary were maritime. A southern move led to the Mediterranean where ‘enclaves’ were established in south-western Spain and southern France around the Golfe du Lion and into the Po valley in Italy probably via ancient western Alpine trade routes used to distribute Jadeite axes. A northern move incorporated the southern coast of Armorica with further, less well defined, contacts extending to Ireland and possibly to central southern Britain.

Vander Linden questioned the use of C-14 dating to find the origins of Bell Beaker culture, mainly on the grounds that most dates fall within a very narrow time-frame. He reinforced instead the Dutch Model, which based on typology and burial data, sees Bell Beaker culture as an evolution of the Corded Ware culture in the lower Rhine.

Limited ancient DNA has failed to provide a male genetic link, however, as Corded Ware skeletons have been found to belong instead to haplogroup R1a1, haplogroup G and possibly haplogroup I.

An overview of all available sources from southern Germany concluded that the Bell Beaker culture was a new and independent culture in that area, contemporary with the Corded Ware culture.

This conclusion was supported by a review of radiocarbon dates for Bell Beaker across Europe, which showed that the earliest dates for Bell Beaker were 2900 BC in Iberia, which makes the style contemporary with Corded Ware, but beginning in a different region of Europe.

The inspiration for the Maritime Bell Beaker is argued to have been the small and earlier Copoz beakers that have impressed decoration and which are found widely around the Tagus, the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula, estuary in Portugal.

Turek sees late Neolithic precursors in northern Africa, arguing the Maritime style emerged as a result of seaborne contacts between Iberia and Morocco in the first half of the third millennium BC. However, radiocarbon dating from North African sites is lacking for the most part.

Furthermore, the burial ritual which typified Bell Beaker sites was intrusive into Western Europe. Individual burials, often under tumuli burials, with the inclusion of weapons contrast markedly to the preceding Neolithic traditions of often collective, weaponless burials in Atlantic/Western Europe.

Such an arrangement is rather derivative of Corded Ware traditions (in Middle Europe c. 2900 – 2450/2350 cal. BC), although instead of ‘battle-axes’, Bell Beaker individuals used copper daggers.

Ancient DNA analysis of two male skeletons from the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker site of Kromsdorf, Germany showed they belonged to Y-DNA haplogroup R1b. More specifically, one skeleton belonged to R1b (M343) with the testing of R1b1a2 (marker M269) having failed and the other skeleton belonged to R1b1a2. Both were ancestral for SNP U106. No other downstream markers were tested.

The find is important because it links the widespread Bell Beaker Phenomenon with the most frequent Y-DNA haplogroup in modern Western European males. It is also important as R1b has not appeared in any Neolithic or pre-Neolithic ancient DNA to date.

Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies, such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH).

The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum. However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones.

More recently, data and calculations from Myres (2011), Cruciani (2010), Arredi (2007) and Belaresque (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.

These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence from ancient DNA. For example, Early Neolithic Y-DNA from Spain did not reveal any R1b, but rather E-V13 and G2a, whilst a similar study from a French pre-Beaker Neolithic site revealed haplgroup G2a and I-P37. It is only later, from a German Bell Beaker site dated to the third millennium BCE, that the first evidence for R1b is detected. Ancient Y-DNA results for the remains of Beaker people from Iberia have yet to be obtained.

Whilst Cruciani, Belaresque and Arredi support a spread of R1b from South-Eastern Europe, Klyosov (2012) postulates that “Western European” R1b-L150 entered Europe from Northern Africa, via Iberia, coincident with the spread of the Bell Beaker culture.

From a mitochondrial DNA perspective, mtDNA Hg H, which has high (~ 40%) throughout Europe, has received similar attention. Early studies by Richards et al (2000) purported that it arose 28 – 23,000 years ago (kya), spreading into Europe ~ 20 kya, before then re-expanding from an Iberian glacial refuge ~ 15 kya, calculations subsequently corroborated by Pereira (2004).

However, a larger study by Roostalu (2006), incorporating more data from the Near East, suggested that whilst mtDNA Hg H did begin to expand c. 20 kya, this was limited to the Near East, Caucasus and Southeastern Europe.

Rather its subsequent spread further west occurred later, in the post-glacial period from a postulated South Caucasian refugium. This hypothesis has been supported by a recent ancient DNA analysis study, which links the expansion of mtDNA Hg H in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker phenomenon.

Historical craniometric studies found that the Beaker people appeared to be of a different physical type than those earlier populations in the same geographic areas. They were described as tall, heavy boned and brachycephalic.

The early studies on the Beakers which were based on the analysis of their skeletal remains, were craniometric. This apparent evidence of migration was in line with archaeological discoveries linking Beaker culture to new farming techniques, mortuary practices, copper-working skills, and other cultural innovations.

However, such evidence from skeletal remains was brushed aside as a new movement developed in archaeology from the 1960s, which stressed cultural continuity. Anti-migrationist authors either paid little attention to skeletal evidence or argued that differences could be explained by environmental and cultural influences.

Margaret Cox and Simon Mays sum up the position: “Although it can hardly be said that craniometric data provide an unequivocal answer to the problem of the Beaker folk, the balance of the evidence would at present seem to favour a migration hypothesis.”

Non-metrical research concerning the Beaker people in Britain also cautiously pointed in the direction of immigration. Subsequent studies, such as one concerning the Carpathian Basin, and a non-metrical analysis of skeletons in central-southern Germany, have also identified marked typological differences with the pre-Beaker inhabitants.

Jocelyne Desideri examined the teeth in skeletons from Bell Beaker sites in Northern Spain, Southern France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Examining dental characteristics that have been independently shown to correlate with genetic relatedness, she found that only in Northern Spain and the Czech Republic were there demonstrable links between immediately previous populations and Bell Beaker populations. Elsewhere there was a discontinuity.

Migration vs. Acculturation

Given the unusual form and fabric of Beaker pottery, and its abrupt appearance in the archaeological record, along with a characteristic group of other artefacts, known as the Bell Beaker “package”, the explanation for the Beaker culture until the last decades of the 20th century was to interpret it as a diffusion of one group of people across Europe.

However British and American archaeology since the 1960s had been sceptical about prehistoric migration in general, so the idea of “Bell Beaker Folk” lost ground. A theory of cultural contact de-emphasizing population movement was presented by Colin Burgess and Stephen Shennan in the mid-1970s.

It is now common to see the Beaker culture as a ‘package’ of knowledge (including religious beliefs and copper, bronze and gold working) and artefacts (including copper daggers, v-perforated buttons and stone wrist-guards) adopted and adapted by the indigenous peoples of Europe to varying degrees.

This new knowledge may have come about by any combination of population movements and cultural contact. An example might be as part of a prestige cult related to the production and consumption of beer, or trading links such as those demonstrated by finds made along the seaways of Atlantic Europe. Palynological studies and analysis of pollen, associated with the spread of beakers, certainly suggests increased growing of barley, which may be associated with beer brewing.

Noting the distribution of Beakers was highest in areas of transport routes, including fording sites, river valleys and mountain passes, it was suggested that Beaker ‘folk’ were originally bronze traders, who subsequently settled within local Neolithic or early Chalcolithic cultures creating local styles. Close analysis of the bronze tools associated with beaker use suggests an early Iberian source for the copper, followed subsequently by Central European and Bohemian ores.

Investigations in the Mediterranean and France recently questioned the nature of the phenomenon. Instead of being pictured as a fashion or a simple diffusion of objects and their use, the investigation of over 300 sites showed that human groups actually moved in a process that involved explorations, contacts, settlement, diffusions and acculturation/assimilation.

Some elements show the influence from the north and east, and other elements reveal the south-east of France to be an important cross road on an important route of communication and exchange spreading north. A distinctive barbed wire element is thought to have migrated through central Italy first. The pattern of movements was diverse and complicated, along the Atlantic coast and the northern Mediterranean coast, and sometimes also far inland. The prominent central role of Portugal in the region and the quality of the pottery all across Europe are forwarded as arguments for a new interpretation that denies an ideological dimension.

A Strontium isotope analysis of 86 people from Bell Beaker graves in Bavaria suggests that 18-25% of all graves were occupied by people who came from a considerable distance outside the area. This was true of children as well as adults, indicative of some significant migration wave. Given the similarities with readings from people living on loess soils, the general direction of the local movement according to Price et al., is from the northeast to the southwest.

Corded Ware culture

The Corded Ware cultures (in Middle Europe c. 2900 – 2450/2350 cal. BC), alternatively characterized as the Battle Axe culture or Single Grave culture, an enormous European archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic (Stone Age), flourishes through the Copper Age and culminates in the early Bronze Age, replaced their predecessors and expanded to Danubian and Nordic areas of western Germany around 2400 BC.

It receives its name Corded Ware from the ornamentation of its characteristic pottery, Single Grave from its burial custom, and Battle Axe from its characteristic grave offering to males, a stone battle axe (which was by this time an inefficient weapon but a traditional status symbol).

It encompassed most of continental northern Europe from the Rhine River on the west, to the Volga River in the east, including most of modern-day Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, northwestern Romania, northern Ukraine, and the European part of Russia, as well as coastal Norway and the southern portions of Sweden and Finland.

The contemporary Beaker culture overlapped with the western extremity of this culture, west of the Elbe, and may have contributed to the pan-European spread of that culture. Although a similar social organization and settlement pattern to the Beaker were adopted, the Corded Ware group lacked the new refinements made possible through trade and communication by sea and rivers.

There have been many different views concerning the origin of the Corded Ware culture. There is broadly a division between archaeologists who see an influence from pastoral societies of the steppes north of the Black Sea and those who think that Corded Ware springs from central Europe. In both camps, there are many differing views. The recent tendency has been to seek a middle way. The distribution of the Corded Ware culture coincides in part with the earlier Funnelbeaker culture, with which it shares a number of features, such as cord impressions on pottery, and the use of horses and wheeled vehicles, that can be ultimately traced to the cultures of the European steppe.

In places a continuity between Funnelbeaker and Corded Ware can be demonstrated, whereas in other areas Corded Ware heralds a new culture and physical type. On most of the immense, continental expanse that it covered, the culture was clearly intrusive, and therefore represents one of the most impressive and revolutionary cultural changes attested by archeology. The degree to which cultural change generally represents immigration is a matter of debate, and such debate has figured strongly in discussions of Corded Ware.

In summary, Corded Ware does not represent a single monolithic entity, but rather a diffusion of technological and cultural innovations of different, contemporaneous peoples, living in close proximity to each other and leaving different archaeological remains.

The people of the Corded Ware is associated with some of the Indo-European family of languages by many scholars and believed to be related to the Catacomb culture. It is generally held that “Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic may possibly be traced back to the Corded Ware horizon of north, central, and eastern Europe. One related branch invaded Denmark and southern Sweden, while the mid-Danubian basin, though showing more continuity, shows also clear traits of new Indo-European elites.

The forest-steppe origin of this culture is obvious from the introduction of corded pottery and the abundant use of polished battle axes, the two most prominent features of the Corded Ware culture.

However, this is not to suppose that all of these proto-languages actually arose during the period of the Corded Ware horizon, across its whole territory, or exclusively within its confines. The Proto-Germanic language is often assumed to have been spoken in southern Scandinavia or northern Germany towards the end of the Nordic Bronze Age or at the beginning of the Pre-Roman Iron Age (mid-first millennium BC), and the Proto-Balto-Slavic language and Proto-Celtic language may date only slightly earlier, to the Early Iron Age (early first millennium BC).

The Eneolithic Vučedol culture (3000 and 2200 BC), centered in Syrmia and eastern Slavonia on the right bank of the Danube river, but possibly spreading throughout the Pannonian plain and western Balkans and southward, was contemporary with the Sumer period in Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic period in Egypt and the earliest settlements of Troy (Troy I and II).

The early stages of the culture occupied locations not far from mountain ranges, where copper deposits were located, because of their main invention: making tools from arsenical copper in series reusing double, two-part moulds.

One of the major places they occupied is present-day Vučedol (“Wolf’s Valley”), a location six kilometers downstream from the town of Vukovar, Croatia. It is estimated that the site had once been home to about 3,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest and most important European centers of its time.

The Vučedol culture developed from two older eneolithic cultures: the Baden culture, mainly in the Pannonian plain, and the Kostolac culture in northern Serbia and western Romania, so the primary region of Vučedol development is eastern Croatia and the Syrmia region.

By some authors the Vučedol culture is regarded to be an Indo-European culture. According to Bogdan Brukner, proto-Illyrians descended from this wave of Indo-European settlers. It followed the Baden culture (ca 3600 BC-ca 2800 BC), another wave of perhaps Indo-European speakers came to the banks of the Danube.

In the Kurgan hypothesis espoused by Marija Gimbutas, the Baden culture, an eneolithic culture found in central Europe, seen as being Indo-Europeanized, but the linguistic identity and ethnic self-identification of the people associated with this culture is impossible to ascertain. It may be tempting to put the Italic and Celtic stocks together here at some point, at least in that great European mixing bowl, the plains of Hungary, but this is a speculation lacking any archaeological foundation.

The excavated settlement of Vučedol provides a base for the cultural stratigraphy of the whole culture. No final conclusions about the Vučedol culture population can be made that they were linguistic Indo-Europeans, or to what extent they mixed with native European population, especially in regions of the eastern Adriatic coast, Dalmatia and Herzegovina with some parts of Bosnia as well.

Marija Gimbutas characterized the Bell Beaker culture complex as an amalgam of Vucedol and Yamna culture traditions formed after the incursion of the Yamna people into the milieu of the Vučedol culture, which evolved in the course of the three or four centuries after 3000/2900 BC.

Ancient DNA testing has confirmed the presence of haplogroup R1a1a in samples from the Corded Ware culture in Germany (2600 BCE), from Tocharian mummies (2000 BCE) in Northwest China, from Kurgan burials (circa 1600 BCE) from the Andronovo culture in southern Russia and southern Siberia, as well as from a variety of Iron-age sites from Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia.

The Proto-Indo-European expansion was possible thanks to an early adoption of bronze weapons and the domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes (circa 4000-3500 BCE). The southern Steppe culture is believed to have carried predominantly R1b (M269 and M73) lineages, while the northern forest-steppe culture would have been essentially R1a-dominant. R1a is thought to have been the dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European language speakers, that evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic branches.

The first expansion of the forest-steppe people occured with the Corded Ware Culture. The migration of the R1b people to central and western Europe left a vacuum for R1a people in the southern steppe around the time of the Catacomb culture (2800-2200 BCE). This is also probably when the satemization process of the Indo-European languages began since the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian language groups belong to the same Satem isogloss and both appear to have evolved from the the Catacomb culture.

The Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic R1b people had settled in what is now Germany by 2300 BC, where they founded the Unetice culture (2300-1600 BC). The following Tumulus (1600-1200 BC), Urnfield (1300-1200 BC) and Hallstatt (1200-750 BC) cultures are linked to the diffusion of R1b to Europe, as they abruptly introduce new technologies and a radically different lifestyle.

Judging from the propagation of bronze working to Western Europe, those first Indo-Europeans reached France and the Low Countries by 2200 BC, Britain by 2100 BCE and Ireland by 2000 BCE, and Iberia by 1800 BCE. This first wave of R1b presumably carried R1b-L21 lineages in great number (perhaps because of a founder effect), as these are found everywhere in western, northern and Central Europe. The early split of L21 from the main Proto-Celtic branch around Germany would explain why the Q-Celtic languages (Goidelic and Hispano-Celtic) diverged so much from the P-Celtic branch (La Tène, Gaulish, Brythonic), which appears to have expanded from the later Urnfield and Hallstat cultures.

Some L21 lineages from the Netherlands and northern Germany later entered Scandinavia (from 1700 BCE) with the dominant subclade of the region, R1b-S21/U106 (see below). The stronger presence of L21 in Norway and Iceland can be attributed to the Norwegian Vikings, who had colonised parts of Scotland and Ireland and taken slaves among the native Celtic populations, whom they brought to their new colony of Iceland and back to Norway. Nowadays about 20% of all Icelandic male lineages are R1b-L21 of Scottish or Irish origin.

In France, R1b-L21 is mainly present in historical Brittany (including Mayenne and Vendée) and in Lower Normandy. This region was repopulated by massive immigration of insular Britons in the 5th century due to pressure from the invading Anglo-Saxons. However, it is possible that L21 was present in Armorica since the Bronze age or the Iron age given that the tribes of the Armorican Confederation of ancient Gaul already had a distinct identity from the other Gauls and had maintained close ties with the British Isles at least since the Atlantic Bronze Age.

The Bronze Age did not appear in Iberia until 1800 BCE, and was mostly confined to the cultures of El Argar and Los Millares in south-east Spain, with sporadic sites showing up in Castile by 1700 BCE and in Extremadura and southern Portugal by 1500 BCE. These Early Bronze Age sites typically did not have more than some bronze daggers or axes and cannot be considered proper Bronze Age societies, but rather Copper Age societies with occasional bronze artefacts (perhaps imported). These cultures might have been founded by small groups of R1b adventurers looking for easy conquests in parts of Europe that did not yet have bronze weapons. They would have become a small ruling elite, would have had children with local women, and within a few generations their Indo-European language would have been lost, absorbed by the indigenous languages.

Iberia did not become a fully-fledged Bronze Age society until the 13th century BCE, when the Urnfield culture (1300-1200 BCE) expanded from Germany to Catalonia via southern France, then the ensuing Hallstatt culture (1200-750 BCE) spread throughout most of the peninsula (especially the western half). This period belongs to the wider Atlantic Bronze Age (1300-700 BCE), when Iberia was connected to the rest of Western Europe through a complex trade network.

It is hard to say when exactly DF27 entered Iberia. Considering its overwhelming presence in the peninsula and in south-west France, it is likely that DF27 arrived early, during the 1800 to 1300 BCE period, and perhaps even earlier, if R1b adventurers penetrated the Bell Beaker culture, as they appear to have done all over Western Europe from 2300 BCE to 1800 BCE. The Atlantic Bronze Age could correspond to the period when DF27 radiated more evenly around Iberia and ended up, following Atlantic trade routes, all the way to the British Isles, the Netherlands and western Norway (where M153 and SRY2728 make up about 1% of the population).

Iberia

The center of Bronze Age technology is in the southeast since c. 1800 BC. There the civilization of Los Millares was followed by that of El Argar, initially with no other discontinuity than the displacement of the main urban center some kilometers to the north, the gradual appearance of true bronze and arsenical bronze tools and some greater geographical extension. The Argarian people lived in rather large fortified towns or cities.

From this center, bronze technology spread to other areas. Most notable are Bronze of Levante in the Land of Valencia, which had smaller towns, but show intense interaction with their neighbours of El Argar, South-Western Iberian Bronze in southern Portugal and SW Spain, which is poorly defined archaeological horizons that show the presence of bronze daggers and an expansive trend in northwards direction, Cogotas I culture (Cogotas II is Iron Age Celtic), which shows that the pastoralist peoples of the plateau become for the first time culturally unified. Their typical artifact is a rough troncoconic pottery.

Some areas like the civilization of Vila Nova seem to have remained apart from the spread of bronze metallurgy remaining technically in the Chalcolithic period for centuries.

El Argar is the type site of an Early Bronze Age culture called the Argaric culture, which flourished from the town of Antas, in what is now the province of Almería, south-east of Spain, between c. 1800 BC and 1300 BC.

The Argaric culture was characterised by its early adoption of bronze, which briefly allowed this tribe local dominance over other, copper age peoples[citation needed]. El Argar also developed sophisticated pottery and ceramic techniques, which they traded with other Mediterranean tribes.

The center of this civilization is displaced to the north and its extension and influence is clearly greater than that of its ancestor. Their mining and metallurgy were quite advanced, with bronze, silver and gold being mined and worked for weapons and jewelry.

Pollen analysis in a peat deposit in the Canada del Gitano basin high in the Sierra de Baza suggests that the Argaric exhausted precious natural resources, helping bring about its own ruin. The deciduous oak forest that covered the region’s slopes were burned off, leaving a tell-tale carbon layer, and replaced by the fire-tolerant, and fire-prone, Mediterranean scrub familiar under the names garrigue and maquis.

The civilization of El Argar extended to all the province of Almería, north onto the central Meseta, to most of the land of (Murcia) and westwards into the provinces of Granada and Jaen. Its cultural and possibly political influence was much wider, clearly influencing eastern and southwestern Iberia (Algarve), and possibly other regions as well. Some authors have suggested that El Argar was a unified state.

The collective burial tradition typical of European Megalithic Culture is abandoned in favor of individual burials. The tholos is abandoned in favour of small cists, either under the homes or outside. This trend seems to come from the Eastern Mediterranean, most likely from Mycenaean Greece (skipping Sicily and Italy, where the collective burial tradition remains for some time yet).

From the Argarian civilization, these new burial customs will gradually and irregularly extend to the rest of Iberia.

In the phase B of this civilization, burial in pithoi (large jars) becomes most frequent (see: Jar-burials). Again this custom (that never reached beyond the Argarian circle) seems to come from Greece, where it was used after. ca 2000 BC.

Las Cogotas, Spanish: Las Cogotas is an archaeological site in Spain in Cardenosa municipality, province of Avila. The site was researched by the Galician archaeologist Juan Cabré in 1920s. It is namesake for two different archaeological cultures known from this site: Cogotas I (pre-Celtic) of the Late Bronze Age and Cogotas II (most probably Celtic) of the Iron Age. The latter is known from the upper layer of Las Cogotas, which represents a classical settlement of Vettones, which inhabited the territory of modern provinces of Avila and Salamanca, as well as parts of Toledo, Zamora, Caseres and Tras-os-Montes in Portugal.

This stage of the Meseta history is the least known, although a series of archeological sites, such as Los Tolmos de Caracena in Soria, Cogeces del Monte in Valladolid, Abia de la Obispalia in Cuenca, and some others, allow to describe Protocogotas culture as a formation stage of Cogotas I culture. This culture, which existed around 1700—1550 BC, is also known as Cogeces horizon, and is based on the Bell Beaker substrate influenced by either El Argar or Atlantic Bronze. Although Protocogotas culture was not represented by finds in La Cogotas, it did have characteristic traits later displayed in Cogotas I.

In the early 1st millennium BC the Iberic peninsula was invaded by the Celts and other Indo-European tribes, which occupied the central and western parts of the peninsula and created new cultures on the ruins of the older ones. One of them were Vettones, most probably tribes of western Hispano-Celtic and Celtiberian origin organized since the 3rd Century BC into a tribal confederacy of undetermined strength.

The Lusitanians (or Lusitani in Latin) were an Indo-European people living in the west of the Iberian Peninsula centuries before it became the Roman province of Lusitania (most of modern Portugal, Extremadura and a small part of the province of Salamanca). Modern Portuguese people see the Lusitanians as their ancestors. The most notable Lusitanian was Viriathus.

They spoke the Lusitanian language, an Indo-European language which might have been heavily influenced by Celtic or was closely related to Celtic, if not a form of archaic Celtic or proto Celtic. The language was spoken in the territory inhabited by Lusitanian tribes, from Douro to the Tagus rivers, territory that nowadays belongs mainly to Portugal, but also to Spain.

Prosper, in his Lusitanian etymologies (2002; 2008), demonstrates that not only does Lusitanian not agree closely with the usual Celtic reflexes but that it is closer to Italic, in which case there were two well-differentiated branches of Indo-European in the Iberian Peninsula before the Romans, with Lusitanian belonging to the non-Celtic branch. Villar and Pedrero (2001), like Prosper, also connect Lusitanian with the Italic languages. They base their finding on parallels in the names of deities and some lexical items, such as the Umbrian gomia, Lusitanian comaiam, and some grammatical elements. Prósper also sees Lusitanian as predating the introduction of Celtic and shows that it retains elements of Old European.

Traditional allies of the Lusitani, the Vettones helped the latter in their struggle against the advancing Carthaginians led by Hasdrubal the Fair and Hannibal in the late 3rd century BC. At first placed under nominal Punic suzerainty by the time of the Second Punic War, the Vettones threw off their yoke soon after 206 BC. At the Lusitanian War of the 2nd century BC they joined once again the Lusitani in their attacks on Baetica, Carpetania, the Cyneticum and the failed incursion on the North African town of Ocilis (modern Asilah, Morocco) in 153 BC.

Although incorporated around 134-133 BC into Hispania Ulterior, the Vettones continued to raid the more romanized regions further south and during the Roman civil wars of the early 1st century BC, they even provided auxiliary troops to Sertorius’ army in 77-76 BC. Crushed by the provincial propraetor Julius Caesar in 61 BC, they later rose in support of the Pompeian faction and fought at the battle of Munda (Montilla – Córdoba) in Baetica.

The Romans promptly began to establish military colonies at Kaisarobriga or Caesarobriga (Talavera de la Reina – Toledo) and Norba Caesarina (near Cáceres), and in around 27-13 BC the Vettones were aggregated to the newly created Roman province of Lusitania with Emerita Augusta (Mérida) as the capital of the new province.

The Atlantic Bronze Age

The Atlantic Bronze Age is a cultural complex of the Bronze Age period of approximately 1300–700 BC that includes different cultures in Portugal, Andalusia, Galicia, Armorica and the British Isles.

The Atlantic Bronze Age is marked by economic and cultural exchange, which led to the high degree of cultural similarity exhibited by the coastal communities from Galicia to Scotland, including the frequent use of stones as chevaux-de-frise, the establishment of cliff castles, or the domestic architecture sometimes characterized by the round houses.

Commercial contacts extended from Sweden and Denmark to the Mediterranean. The period was defined by a number of distinct regional centres of metal production, unified by a regular maritime exchange of some of their products. The major centres were southern England and Ireland, north-western France, and western Iberia.

The items related to this culture are frequently found forming hoards, or they are deposited in ritual areas, usually watery contexts: rivers, lakes and bogs. Among the more noted items belonging to this cultural complex we can count the socketed and double ring bronze axes, sometimes buried forming large hoards in Brittany and Galicia; war gear, as lunate spearheads, V-notched shields, and a variety of bronze swords – among them carp’s-tongue ones – usually found deposited in lakes, rivers or rocky outcrops; and the elites feasting gear: articulated roasting spits, cauldrons, and flesh hooks, found from central Portugal to Scotland.

The origins of the Celts were attributed to this period in 2008 by John T. Koch and supported by Barry Cunliffe, who argued for the past development of Celtic as an Atlantic lingua franca, later spreading into mainland Europe, but this stands in contrast to the more generally accepted view that Celtic origins lie with the Hallstatt culture.

XXX

An updated summary of the Bell Beaker problem in the Southern Meseta of the Iberian Peninsula is presented, following the great increase of new finds resulting from the latest surveys and excavations. Totalling 181sites, this is one of the biggest concentrations of Beaker sites in Europe. High-quality information, however, is still restricted to the one extensivelyexcavated and recently published site, the settlement of El Ventorro (Madrid).The available information is compared with that of the Northern Meseta, and a model is presented of the role Beakers played, as a ritual drinking-set, in thedevelopment of ranked societies in the inner regions of Iberia.

Bell Beakers in the Southern Meseta of the Iberian Peninsula: Socioeconomic Context and New Data

Posted in Europa, Haplogroups, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

The Current State of Neolithic Research at Ulucak, İzmir

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 2, 2013

Introduction

This paper provides up to date information on the culturaland historical stages of development observed at Ulucak IV,V and VI with regards to the settlement’s organization, ar-chitectural components and material culture. The resultspresented here should be considered as preliminary. Inter-pretations are based on the detailed examination of theexcavation data since 1995 and on available publications byprevious excavators. It is possible that future research willnecessitate revisions of our current views on the settlementhistory. That said, we consider it important to share the mostrecent insights and data obtained from the excavations atUlucak with the archaeological community. Hopefully, withthe addition of future research we will be able to obtain ahigh-resolution picture of the life during the 7 – 6th millenniaBC in the area.

The Current State of Neolithic Research at Ulucak, İzmir

Posted in Anatolia, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

Pig Domestication and Human-Mediated Dispersal in Western Eurasia Revealed through Ancient DNA and Geometric Morphometrics

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 2, 2013

Zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that wild boar were domesticated independently in the Near East by at least 8,500 BC. By examining pig bones recovered from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers at Cayonu Tepesi (10,000–6,300 BC) in southeastern Anatolia identified a disproportionate decrease in molar tooth size over two millennia.

They interpreted this pattern to be the result of a long-term in situ domestication process that led to the emergence of morphologically domestic pigs by 6,800 BC (early Pottery Neolithic). Similar, though contentious, claims for human controlled pig breeding between 8,200 and 7,500 BC have been made at Cafer Höyük and Nevali Çori in southeastern Anatolia.

The introduction of wild boar to Cyprus by at least 9,700–9,400 BC, however, indicates that humans were actively manipulating wild boar populations for millennia before the emergence of domestic pigs.

Though the zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that pigs were first domesticated in Southwest Asia, virtually all modern domestic pigs from western Eurasia possess mitochondrial signatures similar (or identical) to European wild boar. Ancient DNA extracted from early Neolithic domestic pigs in Europe resolved this paradox by demonstrating that early domestic pigs in the Balkans and central Europe shared haplotypes with modern Near Eastern wild boar.

The absence of Near Eastern haplotypes in pre-Neolithic European wild boar suggested that early domestic pigs in Europe must have been introduced from Anatolia by the mid 6th millennium BC before spreading to the Paris basin by the early 4th millennium BC.

Abstract

Zooarcheological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated in Southwest Asia ∼8,500 BC. They then spread across the Middle and Near East and westward into Europe alongside early agriculturalists. European pigs were either domesticated independently or more likely appeared so as a result of admixture between introduced pigs and European wild boar.

As a result, European wild boar mtDNA lineages replaced Near Eastern/Anatolian mtDNA signatures in Europe and subsequently replaced indigenous domestic pig lineages in Anatolia. The specific details of these processes, however, remain unknown.

To address questions related to early pig domestication, dispersal, and turnover in the Near East, we analyzed ancient mitochondrial DNA and dental geometric morphometric variation in 393 ancient pig specimens representing 48 archeological sites (from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to the Medieval period) from Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

Our results reveal the first genetic signatures of early domestic pigs in the Near Eastern Neolithic core zone. We also demonstrate that these early pigs differed genetically from those in western Anatolia that were introduced to Europe during the Neolithic expansion.

In addition, we present a significantly more refined chronology for the introduction of European domestic pigs into Asia Minor that took place during the Bronze Age, at least 900 years earlier than previously detected.

By the 5th century AD, European signatures completely replaced the endemic lineages possibly coinciding with the widespread demographic and societal changes that occurred during the Anatolian Bronze and Iron Ages.

Introduction

The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture is one of the most important biocultural processes in human history. Though this transition took place in numerous locations across the globe, the earliest stages of animal domestication in western Eurasia are recorded in the northern Fertile Crescent in the 9th millennium BC. Recent evidence suggests that the establishment of food production was followed by rapid population growth and agropastoral economies often spread through demic diffusion. This was certainly the case for Southwest Asia where, following the development of agricultural economies, farmers migrated into Europe during the Neolithic bringing with them domestic crops and livestock.

The increased resolving power of new genetic and morphometric techniques has allowed for the identification of fine-scale population differences across wide temporal and geographic contexts and the capability of tracking these differences through time and space. For example, DNA derived from modern animal and plant domesticates have been used to unravel geographic origins and dispersal patterns. The use of modern data alone, however, can be problematic. Past domestic populations often underwent dramatic bottlenecks, demographic fluctuations (including complete replacement), and admixture with wild relatives, thus obscuring the genetic signatures of earlier populations.

Analyses of ancient DNA (aDNA) have overcome this issue by typing (pre)historic populations and allowing for the direct observation of genetic signatures through time. This approach has generated new insights related to past genetic diversity, wild–domestic hybridization, and human migration. Similarly, novel morphometric methods, including geometric morphometrics (GMM), have been successfully applied to document changes between wild and domestic animals and plants and to track the phenotypic evolution of past populations.

Zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that wild boar were domesticated independently in the Near East by at least 8,500 BC. By examining pig bones recovered from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers at Cayonu Tepesi (10,000–6,300 BC) in southeastern Anatolia, identified a disproportionate decrease in molar tooth size over two millennia. They interpreted this pattern to be the result of a long-term in situ domestication process that led to the emergence of morphologically domestic pigs by 6,800 BC (early Pottery Neolithic). Similar, though contentious, claims for human controlled pig breeding between 8,200 and 7,500 BC have been made at Cafer Höyük and Nevali Çori in southeastern Anatolia. The introduction of wild boar to Cyprus by at least 9,700–9,400 BC, however, indicates that humans were actively manipulating wild boar populations for millennia before the emergence of domestic pigs.

Though the zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that pigs were first domesticated in Southwest Asia, virtually all modern domestic pigs from western Eurasia possess mitochondrial signatures similar (or identical) to European wild boar. Ancient DNA extracted from early Neolithic domestic pigs in Europe resolved this paradox by demonstrating that early domestic pigs in the Balkans and central Europe shared haplotypes with modern Near Eastern wild boar. The absence of Near Eastern haplotypes in pre-Neolithic European wild boar suggested that early domestic pigs in Europe must have been introduced from Anatolia by the mid 6th millennium BC before spreading to the Paris basin by the early 4th millennium BC.

By 3,900 BC, however, virtually all domestic pigs in Europe possessed haplotypes originally only found in European wild boar. This genetic turnover may have resulted from the accumulated introgression of local female wild boar into imported domestic stocks or from an indigenous European domestication process. After the genetic turnover had taken place in Europe, aDNA from Armenian pigs indicated that European domestic pigs were present in the Near East by the 7th century BC at the end of the Iron Age where they replaced indigenous Near Eastern domestic mtDNA lineages. Crucially, the archeological record attests to rapid demographic and societal changes during the Late Bronze Age (1,600–1,200 BC) and Iron Age (1,200–600 BC), including large-scale migrations and the expansion of trade and exchange networks across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.

To establish a more precise geographic and temporal framework of mitochondrial Sus haplotypes in Anatolia and to address questions related to the mitochondrial turnover in Armenia at the end of the Iron Age, we obtained mitochondrial sequences from 39 modern wild boar and 393 archeological wild and domestic pigs from 48 Near Eastern sites spanning the Pottery Neolithic (∼7,000 BC) to the 15th century AD from western Turkey to southwestern Iran. We analyzed our novel data alongside previously published ancient and modern sequences. In addition, we performed a dental morphological assessment of 46 archeological specimens (with known genetic haplotypes) using traditional osteometric and GMM methods to assess the correlation between genetic and morphometric variation.

Pig Domestication and Human-Mediated Dispersal in Western Eurasia Revealed through Ancient DNA and Geometric Morphometrics

The comings and goings of Near Eastern and European domestic pigs (Ottoni et al. 2012)

Posted in Domestication, Haplogroups, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 31, 2013

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/European_Late_Neolithic.gif

Indo-Europeans

Funnel beaker from Skåne.

Pottery

Lactose tolerance

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A copy of the key element on the pot

– The image on the pot is the oldest well-dated representation of a 4-wheeled vehicle in the world

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Double-edged battle axe from Skåne

Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture

While the Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture (short TRB or TBK from (German) Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur, ca 4300 – 2800 BC), an archaeological culture in north-central Europe, isn’t exactly the LBK, the TRB origins have to be sought rather in the central European LBK than in the Mediterranean Cardium pottery. According to a craniometrical cluster analysis by Ilse Schwidetzky, the Swedish neolithic is very similar to the central European middle neolithic Rössen culture, and both are close to LBK.

The main difference between the Danubian cultures and the Cardium derived cultures is that the latter seem more strongly dominated by haplogroup G, which in turn seems to imply a stronger presence of the (Southern part of the) Caucasus component, while the former may have had more haplogoup I and Haplogroup R1b3.

Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies, such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH). The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum.

However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones. More recently, data and calculations from Myres (2011), Cruciani (2010), Arredi (2007) and Belaresque (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.

These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence from ancient DNA. For example, Early Neolithic Y-DNA from Spain did not reveal any R1b, but rather E-V13 and G2a, whilst a similar study from a French pre-Beaker Neolithic site revealed haplgroup G2a and I-P37. It is only later, from a German Bell Beaker site dated to the third millennium BCE, that the first evidence for R1b is detected. Ancient Y-DNA results for the remains of Beaker people from Iberia have yet to be obtained.

Whilst Cruciani, Belaresque and Arredi support a spread of R1b from South-Eastern Europe, Klyosov (2012) postulates that “Western European” R1b-L150 entered Europe from Northern Africa, via Iberia, coincident with the spread of the Bell Beaker culture.

From a mitochondrial DNA perspective, haplogroup H, which has high (~ 40%) throughout Europe, has received similar attention. Early studies by Richards et al (2000) purported that it arose 28 – 23,000 years ago (kya), spreading into Europe ~ 20 kya, before then re-expanding from an Iberian glacial refuge ~ 15 kya, calculations subsequently corroborated by Pereira (2004). However, a larger study by Roostalu (2006), incorporating more data from the Near East, suggested that whilst Hg H did begin to expand c. 20 kya, this was limited to the Near East, Caucasus and Southeastern Europe. Rather its subsequent spread further west occurred later, in the post-glacial period from a postulated South Caucasian refugium. This hypothesis has been supported by a recent ancient DNA analysis study, which links the expansion of mtDNA Hg H in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker phenomenon.

The TRB developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.

Preceded by Lengyel-influenced STK groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleraz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north, the TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern eastalbingian Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group between Zuiderzee and lower Elbe, an eastern group centered around the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale.

Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged. In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC.

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, the culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing the culture of what Marija Gimbutas termed Old Europe, the peoples of which were later to be governed by the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples intruding from the east. The political relation between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into Corded Ware culture.

Heterodoxically, Dutch publications mention mixed burials and propose a quick and smooth internal change to Corded Ware within two generations occurring about 2900 BC in Dutch and Danish TRB territory, probably precluded by economic, cultural and religious changes in East Germany, and call the migrationist view of steppe intrusions introducing Indo-European languages obsolete (at least in this part of the world). It is more likely that Indo-European languages were adopted by local populations because they represented a new way of life, bringing with them horses and cattle and the status they represented.

The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era. The Funnelbeaker culture marks the appearance of megalithic tombs at the coasts of the Baltic and of the North sea, an example of which are the Sieben Steinhäuser in northern Germany. The megalithic structures of Ireland, France and Portugal are somewhat older and have been connected to earlier archeological cultures of those areas.

Burial practices were varied, depending on region and changed over time. Inhumation seems to have been the rule. The oldest graves consisted of wooden chambered cairns inside long barrows, but were later made in the form of passage graves and dolmens. Originally, the structures were probably covered with a heap of dirt and the entrance was blocked by a stone. The graves were probably not intended for every member of the settlement but for only an elite. At graves, the people sacrificed ceramic vessels that probably contained food, and axes and other flint objects.

The technology was flint-based, of which the deposits found in Belgium and on the island of Rügen as well as deposits in the Kraków area were important. The culture used Battle Axes which were stone versions of Central Europe’s copper axes. The early versions were multi-angled, and the later are called double-edged, although one of the edges is more rounded. It imported copper from Central Europe, especially daggers and axes. Axes and vessels were also deposed in streams and lakes near the farmlands, and virtually all Sweden’s 10,000 flint axes that have been found from this culture were probably sacrificed in water.

One find assigned to the Funnelbeaker culture is the Bronocice pot, which shows the oldest known depiction of a wheeled vehicle (here, a 2-axled, 4-wheeled wagon). The pot dates to approximately 3500 BC.

The picture on the pot symbolically depicts key elements of the prehistoric human environment. The most important component of the decoration are five rudimentary representations of what seems to be a wagon. They represent a vehicle with a shaft for a draught animal, and four wheels. The lines connecting them probably represent axles. The circle in the middle possibly symbolizes a container for harvest. Other images on the pot include a tree, a river and what may be fields intersected by roads/ditches or the layout of a village.

The image on the pot is the oldest well-dated representation of a 4-wheeled vehicle in the world.[2] It suggests the existence of wagons in Central Europe as early as in the 4th millennium BC. They were presumably drawn by aurochs whose remains were found with the pot. Their horns were worn out as if tied with a rope, possibly a result of using a kind of yoke.

It has been suggested that the Funnelbeaker culture was the origin of the gene allowing adults of Northern European descent to digest lactose. It was claimed that in the area formerly inhabited by this culture, prevalence of the gene is virtually universal. A paper published in 2007 by Burger et al. indicated that the genetic variant that causes lactase persistence in most Europeans (-13,910*T) was rare or absent in early farmers from central Europe. A study published by Yuval Itan and colleagues in 2010 clearly shows this.

A study published in 2009, also by Itan et al., suggests that the Linear Pottery culture, which preceded the TRB culture by some 1,500 years, was the culture in which this trait started to co-evolve with the culture of dairying.

Ancient DNA extracted from three individuals ascribed to a TRB horizon in Gökhem, Sweden, were found to possess mtDNA haplogroups H, J, and T.

Posted in Europa, Megalithic, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

Beehive house

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 30, 2013

File:Harran-beehouses.jpg

Harran-beehouses

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Another view of beehive houses in Harran

A beehive house is a building made from a circle of stones topped with a domed roof. The name comes from the similarity in shape to a straw beehive. A beehive tomb, also known as a tholos tomb (plural tholoi) (“domed tombs”), is a burial structure characterized by its false dome created by the superposition of successively smaller rings of mudbricks or, more often, stones. The resulting structure resembles a beehive, hence the traditional English name.

Tholoi were used for burial in several cultures in the Mediterranean and West Asia, but in some cases they were used for different purposes such as homes (Cyprus), ritual (Syria), and even fortification (Spain, Sardinia). Max Mallowan used the same name for the circular houses belonging to the Neolithic culture of Tell Halaf (Iraq, Syria and Turkey).

Beehive houses are some of the oldest known structures in Ireland and Scotland. Dating from as far back as around 2000 BC and some were still being built as late as the 19th century in Puglia (Italy). The ancient Bantu used this type of house, which was made with mud, poles, and cow dung.

Circular structures were commonly built in the Near East, including the examples known as tholoi found in the Neolithic Halaf culture of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They were probably used as both houses and as storage structures, but ritual use may also have occurred. Other, later examples are found in Cyprus (Khirokitia), where they were used as homes. There is no clear connection between these domestic, circular buildings and later tholos tombs.

Beehive tomb

Clochán, Irish stone huts, often beehive shaped

Dovecote also called doocot (Scots), buildings to house doves, some are beehive shaped, stone structures.

Musgum mud huts, huts of the Musgum people in Cameroon

Nuraghe, large, round, neolithic, stone structures in Sardinia

Trullo, a southern Italian type of beehive house

Posted in Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

N1a lineages found among Central European early Neolithic people (Western The Origin of the N1a lineages – of West Asian origin, or from Eastern, Southern or local Central Europe?

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 30, 2013

The ancestry of modern Europeans is a subject of debate among geneticists, archaeologists, and anthropologists. A crucial question is the extent to which Europeans are descended from the first European farmers in the Neolithic Age 7500 years ago or from Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who were present in Europe since 40,000 years ago.

The mysterious N1a mtDNA type is currently rare anywhere in the world. It is carried by only 0.2 percent of Europeans. But it has a high frequency among these Neolithic Europeans – 25 percent of the samples, which means the true population frequency was likely between 8 and 42 percent. Maybe “selection” is the key.

Haplogroup N1a (mtDNA) originated in the Near East 12,000 to 32,000 years ago. Specifically, the Arabian Peninsula is postulated as the geographic origin of N1a. This supposition is based on the relatively high frequency and genetic diversity of N1a in modern populations of the peninsula. Exact origins and migration patterns of this haplogroup are still subject of some debate.

Relatively high frequencies of N1a are found in the modern population of Saudi Arabia. Estimates range from 2.4% to 4%. Regional analysis revealed that the haplogroup was most common in the center of the country. Haplotype diversity is noted for being higher here than elsewhere.

Frequencies of N1a in Yemen are relatively high, with estimates varying by study: 3.6%, 5.2%, and 6.9%. Yemen is noted for high haplotype diversity within the population. Elsewhere in the Near East, prevalence of N1a is lower. A 2008 article cited population frequencies of 1.1% in Qatar, 0.3% in Iran, and 0.2% in Turkey.

It is estimated that N1a coalesced some 19,600 to 23,500 years ago in West Asia. Its subclades N1a1 and N1a1a1 may have formed between 6,800 and 10,700 years ago, already in Europe, while N1a1a2 may have coalesced in a later date: 3,400-4,000 years ago, making it a good candidate for a Neolithic-specific expansion.

Two main competing scenarios exist for the spread of the Neolithic from the Near East to Europe: Demic diffusion (in which farming is brought by farmers) vs. Cultural diffusion (in which farming is spread by the passage of ideas).

Here we have a common variant in Europe only 7500 years ago that today is almost gone. You might therefore expect that some clever geneticists would claim that the Neolithic farmers contributed little or no genetic ancestry to living Europeans.

An analysis of ancient DNA from early European farmers extracted and sequenced intact stretches of maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 24 out of 57 Neolithic skeletons from various locations in Germany, Austria, and Hungary found that 25% of the Neolithic farmers had one characteristic mtDNA type and that this type formerly was widespread among Neolithic farmers in Central Europe.

Europeans today have a 150-times lower frequency (0.2%) of this mtDNA type, revealing that these first Neolithic farmers did not have a strong genetic influence on modern European female lineages. These finding lends weight to a proposed Paleolithic ancestry for modern Europeans.

These simulations reject the simple hypothesis in which modern Europeans are direct descendants of these first farmers and have lost N1a mainly by genetic drift. Hence the simulations confirm that the first farmers in Central Europe had limited success in leaving a genetic mark on the female lineages of modern Europeans. This is in contrast to the success of the Neolithic farming culture itself, which subsequently spread all over Europe, as the archaeological record demonstrates.

One possible explanation is that the farming culture itself spread without the people originally carrying these ideas. This includes the possibility that small pioneer groups carried farming into new areas of Europe, and that once the technique had taken root, the surrounding hunter-gatherers adopted the new culture and then outnumbered the original farmers, diluting their N1a frequency to the low modern value.

Archaeological research along the Western periphery of LBK and isotope studies of some of our sampled individuals seem to support the idea that male and female hunter-gatherers were integrated into the Neolithic communities. This hypothesis implies that N1a was rare or absent in Mesolithic Europeans, which may be a reasonable assumption given the rarity of the N1a type anywhere in the world (Fig. 3). An alternative hypothesis is a subsequent post early-Neolithic population replacement in Europe, eliminating most of the N1a types. Archaeological evidence for such an event is as yet scant.

This idea depends on several unknowns. It proposes that European hunter-gatherers who were contemporary with the LBK culture had very different mtDNA types – indeed, that they had the types that are presently common. And it proposes that the intrinsic growth rate of agriculturalists was very small, so that their genes were flooded by hunter-gatherers transitioning to agriculture.

But if their genes were so flooded at every stage of their expansion, then the N1a mtDNA sequences shouldn’t be there in the first place — they should have been left behind in the Near East. So this is a very curious event – an expanding population saw one of its major mtDNA variants greatly contract in frequency, so much so that today it is nearly gone.

Tracing the genetic origin of central European farmer N1a lineages can provide a unique opportunity to assess the patterns of the farming technology spread into central Europe in the human prehistory. The geographic origin and expansion of farmer lineages related N1a subclades have been deduced. The phylogeographic analysis revealed that the central European farmer lineages have originated from different sources: from eastern Europe, local central Europe, and from the Near East via southern Europe.

The results obtained emphasize that the arrival of central European farmer lineages did not occur via a single demic diffusion event from the Near East at the onset of the Neolithic spread of agriculture into Europe. Indeed these results indicate that the Neolithic transition process was more complex in central Europe and possibly the farmer N1a lineages were a result of a ‘leapfrog’ colonization process.

During the past thirty years, Cavalli-Sforza and others have pushed a model called “demic diffusion” for Neolithic Europe – essentially the idea that population growth resulted in the net movement of Near Eastern genes across Europe. But there are other models for population interactions as agriculture spread and populations became more dense – including long-distance colonizations, elite dominance by one group or another, cultural diffusion without significant genetic movement, and so on.

The evidence from phylogeographic analysis of N1a lineages emphasizes that European farmer N1a lineages might have been originated from different sources- from eastern Europe (for N1a1a1), from Near East via southern Europe (for N1a1b and perhaps for N1a1a3), and from local central European source (for N1a1a2). It is thus clear that Neolithic farmers’ migration into central Europe did not occur in a uniform way; indeed these results indicate that the Neolithic transition process was more complex in central Europe and possibly the farmer N1a lineages were brought in through the ‘leapfrog’ colonization process.

The main question recently has been about the strength of net movement of genes into Europe. Some have claimed that the majority of present European genes can be traced to the Near East before 6000 years ago. Others have argued that the genetic influence of West Asian populations was substantially more minor, or at least had extended over a longer time from the Upper Paleolithic to the present, instead of being concentrated in the Neolithic revolution itself.

The widespread distribution of the N1a lineage in Early and Middle Neolithic northwestern Europe may indicate genetic continuity from Mesolithic populations. This scenario would support a Mesolithic contribution to the earliest Neolithic of Atlantic Europe. This would imply that the N1a lineage was already common in indigenous north European populations and that the spread of the Neolithic was principally the result of cultural diffusion.

Although so far the N1a lineage has not been encountered among late European hunter-gatherers in central and north Europe (Bramanti et al., 2009; Malmstro¨m et al., 2009), it is worth noting that less than half of the hunter-gatherers’ paleogenetic data come indeed from the pre-Neolithic period (predating LBK expansion).

Finally, no paleogenetic data currently exist for the Mesolithic period in Western Europe. This prevents any conclusion being drawn about N1a occurrence during the Mesolithic period in those regions.

Of course we won’t know if N1a occurred in France prior to the Neolithic until we test pre-Neolithic French samples. However, if N1a was present in France prior to the Neolithic, then why wasn’t it present in central-northern Europe where substantial sample sizes exist?

This would require a partition of pre-Neolithic populations of Europe, and also existence of N1a in both the Linearbandkeramik (that spread on a south-north vector) and in Mesolithic French. So, while we wait for pre-Neolithic Western Europeans to come up N1a, I’m willing to wager that they will not, and that N1a spread into France with the Neolithic or the later spread of Megalithic cultures.

Recent paleogenetic studies have confirmed that the spread of the Neolithic across Europe was neither genetically nor geographically uniform. To extend existing knowledge of the mitochondrial European Neolithic gene pool, we examined six samples of human skeletal material from a French megalithic long mound (c.4200 cal BC). We retrieved HVR-I sequences from three individuals and demonstrated that in the Neolithic period the mtDNA haplogroup N1a, previously only known in central Europe, was as widely distributed as western France.

Alternative scenarios are discussed in seeking to explain this result, including Mesolithic ancestry, Neolithic demic diffusion, and long-distance matrimonial exchanges.

In light of the limited Neolithic ancient DNA (aDNA) data currently available, we observe that all three scenarios appear equally consistent with paleogenetic and archaeological data. In consequence, we advocate caution in interpreting aDNA in the context of the Neolithic transition in Europe. Nevertheless, our results strengthen conclusions demonstrating genetic discontinuity between modern and ancient Europeans whether through migration, demographic or selection processes, or social practices.

In 2010, researchers led by Palanichamy conducted a genetic and phylogeographic analysis of N1a. Based on the results, they conclude that some of the LBK samples were indigenous to Europe while others may have resulted from ‘leapfrog’ colonization. Deguilloux’s team agreed with Haak’s conclusion on a genetic discontinuity between ancient and modern Europeans. However, they consider demic diffusion, cultural diffusion, and long-distance matrimonial exchanges all equally plausible explanations for the current genetic findings.

Haplogroup N1a (mtDNA)

Mitochondrial haplogroup N1a phylogeography, with implication to the origin of European farmers

Danubian Neolithic ancient mtDNA N1a is (mostly) European by origin

Posted in Europa, Haplogroups, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

Ancient DNA from European Early Neolithic Farmers Reveals Their Near Eastern Affinities

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 23, 2013

The transition from a hunter–gatherer existence to a sedentary farming-based lifestyle has had key consequences for human groups around the world and has profoundly shaped human societies. Originating in the Near East around 11,000 y ago, an agricultural lifestyle subsequently spread across Europe during the New Stone Age (Neolithic).

Whether it was mediated by incoming farmers or driven by the transmission of innovative ideas and techniques remains a subject of continuing debate in archaeology, anthropology, and human population genetics. Ancient DNA from the earliest farmers can provide a direct view of the genetic diversity of these populations in the earliest Neolithic.

Here, we compare Neolithic haplogroups and their diversity to a large database of extant European and Eurasian populations. We identified Neolithic haplotypes that left clear traces in modern populations, and the data suggest a route for the migrating farmers that extends from the Near East and Anatolia into Central Europe. When compared to indigenous hunter–gatherer populations, the unique and characteristic genetic signature of the early farmers suggests a significant demographic input from the Near East during the onset of farming in Europe.

In Europe, the Neolithic transition (8,000–4,000 b.c.) from hunting and gathering to agricultural communities was one of the most important demographic events since the initial peopling of Europe by anatomically modern humans in the Upper Paleolithic (40,000 b.c.). However, the nature and speed of this transition is a matter of continuing scientific debate in archaeology, anthropology, and human population genetics.

To date, inferences about the genetic make up of past populations have mostly been drawn from studies of modern-day Eurasian populations, but increasingly ancient DNA studies offer a direct view of the genetic past.

We genetically characterized a population of the earliest farming culture in Central Europe, the Linear Pottery Culture (LBK; 5,500–4,900 calibrated b.c.) and used comprehensive phylogeographic and population genetic analyses to locate its origins within the broader Eurasian region, and to trace potential dispersal routes into Europe.

We cloned and sequenced the mitochondrial hypervariable segment I and designed two powerful SNP multiplex PCR systems to generate new mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal data from 21 individuals from a complete LBK graveyard at Derenburg Meerenstieg II in Germany.

These results considerably extend the available genetic dataset for the LBK (n = 42) and permit the first detailed genetic analysis of the earliest Neolithic culture in Central Europe (5,500–4,900 calibrated b.c.).

We characterized the Neolithic mitochondrial DNA sequence diversity and geographical affinities of the early farmers using a large database of extant Western Eurasian populations (n = 23,394) and a wide range of population genetic analyses including shared haplotype analyses, principal component analyses, multidimensional scaling, geographic mapping of genetic distances, and Bayesian Serial Simcoal analyses.

The results reveal that the LBK population shared an affinity with the modern-day Near East and Anatolia, supporting a major genetic input from this area during the advent of farming in Europe. However, the LBK population also showed unique genetic features including a clearly distinct distribution of mitochondrial haplogroup frequencies, confirming that major demographic events continued to take place in Europe after the early Neolithic.

Posted in Europa, Haplogroups, Neolithic, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

 
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