February 11, 2013

Human mobility at the start of Balkan Neolithic

Link to press release.

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211474110

Strontium isotopes document greater human mobility at the start of the Balkan Neolithic

Dušan Borić and T. Douglas Price

Questions about how farming and the Neolithic way of life spread across Europe have been hotly debated topics in archaeology for decades. For a very long time, two models have dominated the discussion: migrations of farming groups from southwestern Asia versus diffusion of domesticates and new ideas through the existing networks of local forager populations. New strontium isotope data from the Danube Gorges in the north-central Balkans, an area characterized by a rich burial record spanning the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition, show a significant increase in nonlocal individuals from ∼6200 calibrated B.C., with several waves of migrants into this region. These results are further enhanced by dietary evidence based on carbon and nitrogen isotopes and an increasingly high chronological resolution obtained on a large sample of directly dated individuals. This dataset provides robust evidence for a brief period of coexistence between indigenous groups and early farmers before farming communities absorbed the foragers completely in the first half of the sixth millennium B.C.

Link

25 comments:

Onur said...

before farming communities absorbed the foragers completely in the first half of the sixth millennium B.C

This early phase of absorption of southeastern European hunter-gatherers may explain the Sardinian-like rather than West Asian-like genetic makeup of the later European agriculturalist samples such as Ötzi and Gök4.

eurologist said...

"This dataset provides robust evidence for a brief period of coexistence between indigenous groups and early farmers before farming communities absorbed the foragers completely in the first half of the sixth millennium B.C."

Good to know that this is in agreement with longstanding archeological evidence. The next questions are of course whether such phases of coexistence happened elsewhere, later on the westward migration, and what was the result of that (and mtDNA findings say yes, and very much so).

jackson_montgomery_devoni said...

Hmmm that is interesting Onur. So it could be that the ''Mediterranean'' component in Dienekes' ADMIXTURE runs is related to this mixture of early Neolithic farmers and indigenous foragers in southeast Europe.

andrew said...

The press release suggests that the assimilation took place in about two hundred years (much shorter than the abstract made clear), and suggests that the gender differential in foreigners (more women than men) represents essentially mail order brides from homeland Neolithic cultures for locally born farmer men. But, it is all a bit mushy without access to the full text of the article.

ssas said...

I have the full article and these are some of the conclusions:

Our findings prefer the model of intense and prolonged, over
at least two centuries, interaction between certain indigenous
forager communities, such as those found in the Danube Gorges,
and the earliest farming and stock-breeding communities in the
Balkans. Moreover, the Danube River Basin might have been of
considerable importance in the spread of Neolithic communities
through southeastern Europe with the general direction from the
south and southeast to the north and northwest. A route from
western Anatolia, Bosphorus, Thrace and along the Black Sea
coast into the Danube, and farther through the Danube Gorges
might have been a very important dispersal axis for the earliest
Neolithic groups. This assumed route for the spread of the
Neolithic communities is important in the context of a recent
suggestion that the western and northwestern parts of presentday
Turkey “became the core or the primary zone of the European
Neolithic” in the last centuries of the seventh millennium
B.C. (7). The Danube Gorges region with its strong forager
presence must have been of considerable importance as a zone
of special interest for these highly mobile and expanding Neolithic
communities. The social ethos of these Neolithic communities
might have been in large part aiming at incorporation of
foreign groups encountered in parts of southeastern Europe,
as a way of “domesticating the other” (53). As for the Danube
Gorges foragers, judging by, at first, a rather organic appropriation
and incorporation of new elements of social and material
existence as well as biologically “new blood” into the existing
modes of being, and, consequently, the abandonment of forager
cultural specificity, the mentioned process might have had a
predominantly positive connotation or at least represented the
only viable solution in the face of the emerging demographics.

apostateimpressions said...

What evidence do the authors present that the farmers absorbed the foragers in the Balkans? Why does that evidence prove absorbtion rather than replacement? How have they excluded the possibility that the farmers absorbed some of the forager women but eventually wiped out the mass of the foragers?

(The computer wants five pound off me before I can read the paper.)

Fanty said...

It would be good to finaly find out the foragers Y-DNA.

What will it be really? "I" as many think or "N" or something totaly unknown?

If its "I" then the Balkans are full of that (I2a)

Kurti said...

@Onur I disagree. As we know from "hunters and gatherers" they were all predominantly North European like. The West Asian component is relatively closer to the North European as the Mediterranean component is. So I can not imagine how a fusion with North European like hunters and gatherers could create a component which is less close to the North European component as the original West Asian.

There is no doubt for me that the "proto-Mediterranean" component appeared first somewhere in the area between Levant, Mesopotamia and Southern Anatolia.

Kurti said...

Actually, it appears more like the West Asian genetic signature is a composite of North European and Mediterranean. And this makes also more sense in my opinion. It appears like "West Asian" is a composite between the original Farmers and hunters and gatherers.

jackson_montgomery_devoni said...

@Kurti

Would this make sense to you.

North European Component: Genetic inheritance from European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers

Mediterranean Component: Genetic inheritance from early Neolithic Levantine and Southern European farmers

West Asian Component: Genetic inheritance from early West Asian Neolithic farmers from the northern portions of the Near East and Caucasus

apostateimpressions said...

We cant trust the glip conclusions that come out of the establishment, its occupied by minority interests, you know who.

eurologist said...

...mail order brides from homeland Neolithic cultures for locally born farmer men...

Quite the opposite - it seems that during this phase, neolithic woman married into the local "foragers," who also showed unprecedented cultural sensitivity by burying foreigners according to their original culture.

Conversely, there is a large amount of evidence that progressing farmers eventually took on local women, which is what historically and from other investigations always happens with successful (i.e., genealogically important) male intruders (almost all societies abhor inbreeding, often to the second cousin level and even beyond, and then there is also the lack of women available).

I find it silly that people still insist that you can use haplogroups to distinguish between western Anatolian and southern Balkan populations during the neolithic expansion. There was no geographic barrier - why should these populations have been different? Now, Cardium might be an exception, because much of it might originate from the northern Levant, instead.


If its "I" then the Balkans are full of that (I2a)

Fanty,

I agree with some of your general statements concerning I, but if you mean by I2a the I-L147.5 (off L69.2) of the NW Balkans, that is actually a very specific, very recent subgroup likely associated with Slavic/East-Germanic migrations during Slavic expansion (probably originating from the Vistula river to Western Ukraine; Ken Nordtvedt arrived at similar conclusions).

I believe that some I haplogroups (such as the Scandinavian I-M253) are indeed from the post-glacial expansion from some southern (Balkan? Moravia?) refugium, but others may have spread during the neolithic expansion (e.g., from the Balkans and surroundings).

Grey said...

"How have they excluded the possibility that the farmers absorbed some of the forager women but eventually wiped out the mass of the foragers?"

They don't need to have wiped anybody out. Unless the farmers could farm *everywhere* (which seems extremely unlikely) then it makes more sense for them to have displaced the foragers in the terrain suitable for farming leaving the rest to the foragers.

If the population density of the farmers in the terrain they could farm was much higher than the forager's population density then any eventual hybrid population would be mostly farmer simply as a function of the pop. density.

Example
If the forager pop. density was n and the farmer pop. density 10n (but only in the terrain they could farm) then the farmers would only need 10% of the total land surface of a region to be more than 50% of the resulting total population in that region, only need 30% of the land to be 81% of the population and 60% of the land to be 94% of the population.

If so then you'd find the original dna in higher proportions in the more mountainous regions along the route of the expansion e.g. Dinaric alps, and at the far extremities of the expansion e.g. Baltic / Scandinavia and/or in regions where there was later backflow from places like that.

Va_Highlander said...

"Unless the farmers could farm *everywhere* (which seems extremely unlikely) then it makes more sense for them to have displaced the foragers in the terrain suitable for farming leaving the rest to the foragers."

The "foragers" in question were living on highly defensible terraces above the Danube, I understand. They lived primarily on fishing, were in contact with neighboring agricultural communities, and no one was necessarily displaced. Over time, they adopted some agriculture before the entire region was subsequently abandoned, for reasons not well understood.

apostateimpressions said...

Grey, I like your logic.

If the HGs had a pop dens of say 10 per mile in the Balkans and a rough max of 10 x X Balkan miles, then the expansion of farmers would subtract Y from X and thus reduce the pop dens of HGs by roughly Y x 10.

The two groups would eventually fight for land. Every mile taken by the farmers would reduce the land available to HGs. The loss of land would reduce to HGs to crisis and thereafter each farmer mile would reduce HGs by roughly say 10.

The HGs would be forced to fight. The farmers would be forced to fight. Extermination of the opposition would become topical, even vital.

Of course we need evidence of what happened but I dont accept that farmers absorbed the mass of HGs unless evidence is forthcoming. The authors' conclusion seems glib, PC and driven by the demands of recent academic orthodoxy. It suggests a 1960s "be in".

It seems bizarre that people would issue conclusions and hide the data behind a pay wall. I am pretty sure that scientists and philosophers did not expect to act that way in the past. One might term it the "proletarianisation" of science. It was not necessary in the past.

Scientists and philosophers struggled for centuries to free their studies from Christian orthodoxy. Has our generation chucked any pretense of independence in the cause of PC? If we stand on the shoulders of giants then lets not toilet on their heads. :)

Va_Highlander said...

@apostateimpressions: "The two groups would eventually fight for land."

There is no evidence that they did and, given the subsistence strategies of the people in question, this is not at all surprising.

"The authors' conclusion seems glib, PC and driven by the demands of recent academic orthodoxy."

I'm sure they will be devastated to learn of your disapproval.

Grey said...

Va
""Unless the farmers could farm *everywhere* (which seems extremely unlikely) then it makes more sense for them to have displaced the foragers in the terrain suitable for farming leaving the rest to the foragers."


"The "foragers" in question were living on highly defensible terraces above the Danube"

Yes, exceptions for areas where the HGs had comparable population densities and/or particularly defensible positions.

.
apostate
"The HGs would be forced to fight. The farmers would be forced to fight. Extermination of the opposition would become topical, even vital."

I don't think that at all. I think there would have been a lot of conflict but if the farmers had a higher population density (in the terrain they could farm) but couldn't farm everywhere then there's a natural stalemate with the foragers unable to take the farmer settlements and the farmers unwilling to *conquer* terriotory they couldn't use.

They may well have gone after forager settlements as a punitive action after a forager raid but if they couldn't farm the terriotory there would be no point trying to hold it.

I think it would have been like the Norse and the Skraelings - raids and reprisals within an overall stalemate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skr%C3%A6ling#First_Contact_between_Vikings_and_Skr.C3.A6ling

eurologist said...

There is no evidence that they did and, given the subsistence strategies of the people in question, this is not at all surprising.

Highlander,

There is even a third group involved. The fishing-people sourced their tool-stones (if not stone tools)from hill people living a bit north. When agriculture became more dominant and crossed the Danube, guess what? The people then still sourced their stones / tools from the same hill people (who evidently had the local monopoly on good stones).

Peaceful arrangements were quite common (but of course, there surely also were exceptions). There is a study in Holland/ Belgium, where arrowhead distributions show that newly-arrived agriculturalists and HG lived in the same general area for centuries, with the former only occupying small patches of Loess soil, and the latter being all over the place, but typically keeping some (hunting) distance from the settlements.

There is no question: there must have been something "in it" for the HGs not to fight the agriculturalists. Firstly, they surely were better at fighting. Secondly, it would have been all-to-easy to get rid of the farmers: just burn their houses in late fall, when they were stocked with flammable grains and tons of hay for the winter. Even if the farmers survived, they would have had a very hard time surviving the winter or making a living the next year.

apostateimpressions said...

Va and Grey, I am not sure that either of you disagree with me.

"The "foragers" in question were living on highly defensible terraces above the Danube"

So what happened to the HGs in the rest of the Balkans? The HGs would have previously expanded through the Balkans until they reached their max pop dens. The farmers would have reduced the HG pop by taking land off them. That is a conflict scenario. They would be forced to fight. Why were the HGs reduced to "highly definsible terraces" if they had not been wiped out on the plains? Why would the farmers not eventually wipe out the HGs from these refuges? Can farmers not eat fish? The farmers would reach their pop dens and then go after the HGs sources of food -- or die. Thats how nature works: conflict is necessary because resources are finite and the occassion of competition.

This is the conclusion that I question: "This dataset provides robust evidence for a brief period of coexistence between indigenous groups and early farmers before farming communities absorbed the foragers completely in the first half of the sixth millennium B.C." Really, no loss of land by HGs? No dead HGs? No conflict, no war, no extermination? Like I said, it sounds glib and like 1960s "be in" anthropology. "Everyone peaced out and made love not war." It seems bizarre to use what looks like final mountain refuges to argue that they co-existed and then absorbed. It seems more likely that piece of the jigsaw was part of quite a different picture. What I want is their _evidence_ to support their interpretation: if they have none then their conclusion is indeed glib and likely PC.

Grey said...

"agriculturalists and HG lived in the same general area for centuries, with the former only occupying small patches of Loess soil, and the latter being all over the place, but typically keeping some (hunting) distance from the settlements."

This is how i picture it - personally i assume it was more a stalemate with periods of peaceful co-existence interspersed with raids and reprisals rather than peaceful co-existence all the time but either are possible.

.
"There is no question: there must have been something "in it" for the HGs not to fight the agriculturalists. Firstly, they surely were better at fighting. Secondly, it would have been all-to-easy to get rid of the farmers: just burn their houses in late fall"

Didn't the farmers build walls / stockades like the Norse in Greenland? That would be my guess at the source of the stalemate - if that is what happened - with the HGs raiding but unable to take the forts - like a legion fort surrounded by Tuareg.

I'd have thought there might be a pattern with those loess soils where patchs that weren't also defensible were left - or only settled after all the defensible patchs had already been fully settled.

eurologist said...

apostateimpressions,

Please read the article - sorry to say, but you really make no sense in the context of the article.

Didn't the farmers build walls / stockades like the Norse in Greenland?

Grey,

No, they didn't. There is zero evidence of fortifications for early LBK or Cardium farmers. They clearly weren't superior warriors - so they must have resorted to diplomatic, sexual, and subsistence-related efforts.

apostateimpressions said...

Someone please email me a copy of the paper to apostateimpressions@yahoo.co.uk

Grey said...

eurologist
"There is zero evidence of fortifications for early LBK or Cardium farmers"

Ah ok. I've seen info about walled early farming settlements along the Danube but i guess they must have been from a different region / time period.

Bear101 said...

I think Central and Northern Europe were sparsely populated till at least 4000BP. Why I think so is ancient stories of the population of Ireland. The first settlers did not encounter resistance from other people but were wiped out by disease.(a plague). The first population apparently arrived from the Mediterranean area.

Battling of the elements seems to be the focus points of most early European populations. Battling against the human element only became prominent after the arrival of the Battle Ax Cultures from Eastern Europe (Ukraine and bordering areas).

Subsistence farming do not require huge areas of land and most Hunter Gatherers do not care about ownership of land as long as they can follow the herds which is their staple. Even Pasturilist do not care for ownership as long as your herd is not on the spot where they want to feed their herds at a specific time. Most of Central and Southern Europe were forested anyway. This made migration slower.
Why would I move and inhabit a open plain where very little trees grow for firewood to protect me from the cold ? That is why the Middle Eastern influence in Europe were mostly limited to the Southern Parts. Sparse population made for an Easy occupation by Steppe Tribes of the Central and Northern areas, which they were more adapted to.

Bear101 said...

R1b must have originated in an area where both hot and cold bordered each other and where they could adapt to diseases from both the Mediterranean and the Northern latitudes. This makes the Northern Caucasus an ideal area to obtain this traits.

That is how they come to dominate so quickly in Western Europe and probably why there were no dominant Haplogroup of such a scale before they arrived.