September 02, 2013

EAA 2013 abstracts

By the beginning of the 6th Millennium cal BC, the first farmers reached the Carpathian Basinwhere the last transition to food production and sedentary life took place. The early neolithic groups became restructured both in their cultural and genetic composition in the 6th and 5th Millennium BC, affected by at least five major Northern Balkan impulses. The western part of the area became a major communication zone, mediating between South Eastern and Central Europe. Our working group has been focusing on this early population history of Eastern Hungary and of Transdanubia, developing and comparing ancient DNA, stable isotope, osteological and archaeological data gained from not less than 600 neolithic skeletons (6000–4300 cal BC).  
In the session we would like to give an account of the DNA and stable isotope (SR, N, C) analysis, carried out within the frames of a three-year interdisciplinary project funded by the German Research Foundation along with the co-evaluation of these results with osteology and zooarchaeology, as well as giving a comparative interpretation of this data within our present socioarchaeological knowledge.
The megalithic past of the Bronze Age kurgans of the North Pontic Region 
The Early Bronze Age (EBA) burial mounds (kurgans) in the western part of the North Pontic Region (NPR) display a tendency to be erected over earlier megalithic ritual constructions. The initial purpose of these megalithic structures might have been cosmology-related. In succeeding time periods the initial astronomic purpose could have been forgotten and these megalithic sites became designated at sacred places suited for distinguished burials. Megalithic elements comprising the initial constructions became incorporated into the subsequent burials. The Revova kurgan from western NPR is one such construction. It was erected over a megalithic structure in a shape of a tortoise with the stone elements of the construction being astronomically aligned. An assembly of disarticulated human remains deposited in the center of the construction dated to the Eneolithic (4200 BC). On the other hand, the layout of stones comprising the “Tortoise” appears to most accurately line up with the movement of celestial objects as they appeared on the sky around 6300 BC. Mitochondrial DNA lineage extracted from the remains was characteristic to the Mesolithic/Neolithic hunter-gatherer populations from northern Europe as well as Bronze Age groups from south Siberia. 
The spread of domestic pig in the central and Eastern part of the Romanian territory described by the ancient mithochondrial DNA
Previous genetic analysis showed the presence of two different haplotypes for domestic pigs from 11 different sites in the South-Eastern part of Romania: the Near-Eastern haplotype ANC-Y1-5A, for 18 individuals, and ANC-Aside european haplotype, for 8 individuals. This study reveals the genetic signature for other 52 samples (5000–3500 BC, from 7 archaeologic sites) covering the central and Eastern parts of Romania. After the DNA extraction, PCR, and sequencing, no ANC-Aside haplotype was found, but, apart from the Near-Eastern ANC-Y1-5A haplotype, identified in the majority of domestic pig samples, the european ANC-Cside haplotype (generally identified in the wild boars), was also found in three domestic pigs from Poduri, Ghigoiesti and Trusesti. The wide spread of the wild boar with the ANC-Cside haplotype not only on the entire Romanian territory, but also, as previously shown, in it’s close proximity, and the emergence of this genetic signature in both wild and domestic pigs from three different sites could support the idea of a local domestication of the wild boar after 4500 BC, in this specific area.
The genetic make-up of the Linear Pottery culture
The Linear Pottery culture (LBK) is one of the first Central European Neolithic farming cultures marking the transition from a hunter-gatherer to a farming lifestyle. The LBK is thought to have originated from Early Neolithic cultures in the Carpathian Basin from where it extended across Europe over a vast distribution area spanning from the River Rhine to the Ukraine. Consequently, its role during the process of Neolithisation in Central Europe is subject of a long-standing debate in archaeology, anthropology and human genetics. Ancient DNA studies have provided direct insights into Mesolithic and Neolithic mitochondrial diversity indicating genetic discontinuity between Central Europe’s autochthonous hunter-gatherers and LBK populations. Comprehensive population genetic analyses utilizing large databases of present-day populations have disclosed genetic affinities of the LBK to the modern-day Near East, Anatolia and the Caucasus, supporting genetic influx from this region into Central Europe at the advent of farming and explaining the apparent genetic discontinuity between foragers and farmers. We will summarize the inferences that have been drawn from 108 LBK data to provide an overview of genetic diversity of the first farming communities in Central Europe, which represents an invaluable genetic perspective for the discussion of the Neolithic in the Carpathian Basin.
Bell Beaker child burials and their gender identity in the light of DNA analysis
The DNA analysis of 53 child burials from the Bell Beaker cemetery at Hostice-I produced data on 21 sexed individuals. Out of 14 burials with male gender attributes were 12 individuals biologically male and two determinate as women. Cases of girls that were brought up as boys probably existed in 3rd Millennium BC burial customs. Out of seven children buried in the female position only 1 was actually biological female (juvenile 15–20 years) and 6 male (2 juvenile 15–19/20 years). That means four boys (aged 3–4, 7, 8–12, 15) were in fact buried as women. Such a result is in line with known demographic unbalance within Beaker cemeteries. Most young girls were not buried at the communal cemetery and considerable number of boys were buried in the female fashion. This is rather high number of cases when the masculine attributes were downplayed in the burial customs and it is hard to interpret whether they were boys supposed to be brought up as women or they had yet no right to act as men, unlike some other sub-adult boys, perhaps members of families with ascribed hereditary warrior status. It almost seems that some young boys were socially considered to be girls, perhaps until ceremonial rite of passage, social initiation of some kind.
Ancient Human DNA – A problem of interpretation
The problem with ancient human DNA is not contamination with modern human DNA any more. This still happens, but aDNA scientists can now recognise it and deal with it. The problem is with the overinterpretation of results. Only a few mitochondrial and Y chromosome aDNA sequences may be obtained from a burial assemblage, but these are interpreted in a population genetics framework which incorporates DNA sequences obtained from present day populations. This type of analysis ignores the possibility that social structures can affect genetic outcomes, as is seen in traditional societies and has recently been recognised by evolutionary geneticists. Societies practising patrilocal exogamy versus endogamy have been studied and the mtDNA and Y chromosomal haplotype diversity analysed. Patrilocal societies show high mtDNA diversity while Y haplotype diversity is reduced. Endogamous societies do not show the reduction in Y diversity, but mtDNA diversity is maintained. Ancient DNA results from several Neolithic sites can therefore be interpreted to identify the type of social structure present. Patrilocal exogamy is the most parsimonious interpretation and this is corroborated by Sr isotope studies from LBK sites.
 Ancient DNA discloses multiple migrations into Central Europe during the Neolithic
The Central European Neolithic is characterised by a succession of differentiated archaeological cultures indicating a period of fundamental cultural change. A recurrent question in archaeology and anthropology is whether cultural change in prehistory was accompanied by variation in the gene pool of associated populations. Ancient DNA studies based on mitochondrial DNA revealed a discontinuity between Central Europe’s autochthonous hunter-gatherers and their early farmers and between the latter and the present-day population, suggesting further migration events after the initial Neolithisation. However, to date little attention has been drawn to cultural and potentially population changes in subsequent Neolithic periods. To investigate this issue, we conducted a large chronological study including a succession of nine cultures from the Mittelelbe-Saale region, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany to reconstruct a detailed temporal profile of cultural and genetic diversity in Central Europe. The presented diachronic study spans overall 3,950 years from the beginning of the Neolithic period and the introduction of producing subsistence strategies ~5,500 BC to the appearance of structured chiefdoms in the Early Bronze Age ~2,200–1,550 BC. This transect through time identified multiple population dynamic events during the Neolithic, which involved genetic influx from various regions in Europe.
 Ancient DNA and isotope analysis of the Starčevo graves at Alsónyék-Bátaszék
Between 2006 and 2009 at Alsónyék-Bátaszék a settlement with 26 graves of the Starčevo culture were unearthed. More than 400 various features belonged to this early Neolithic period on an extension of 80 hectares. The archaeological findings underline the significance of Alsónyék-Bátaszék, which is to date the largest Starčevo site uncovered in present-day Hungary. We analysed the 26 Starčevo burials from Alsónyék from ancient DNA and stable isotopic aspects, involving them in our three-year bioarchaeological Neolithic project. The excellent DNA preservation made it possible to gain reproduced mitochondrial DNA results from all skeletons, and we could additionally type the Y chromosome in 5 of the male individuals. The strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and oxygen (δ18Op) isotopic data obtained an insight into the mobility and kinship system of the population. The carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analyses of the skeletons supported a basis for a diet reconstruction, supplementing the archaeozoological proceedings of the site. Our results from the Alsónyék-Bátaszék Starčevo specimens, dated between ca. 5800-5500 cal BC, denote a milestone of the early Neolithic bioarchaeological studies in Transdanubia.
 6–5th millennium BC cultural changes in Western Hungary tested by ancient DNA
Western Hungary (Transdanubia) was one of the key regions at the process of Neolithisation in Central Europe. The Starcevo culture, representing the earliest farmers on this region, settled down at latest 5750 cal BC south of the Lake Balaton. It had a major role in the formation of the Linearbandkeramik culture in Transdanubia. The following Sopot, Lengyel cultures of the late Neolithic and Early Copper Age Transdanubia show repeated cultural influences from the Balkan, besides local extant cultural traditions. 
The focus of our study is the process of these cultural changes in Transdanubia, in the view of ancient DNA, investigating mitochondrial and Y chromosomal lineages and markers. A total of 292 skeletons were sampled and processed, with an overall success rate of 89% for mitochondrial DNA. Comparing the mitochondrial and Y chromosomal results with other published data and evaluating them with population genetic analyses, we gained a peerless insight into the population history of Western Hungary. 
Our study may give an additional help to prehistoric archaeology, for a better understanding of the nature of cultural changes, supporting it with a new type of evidence, in order to see Transdanubia as a mediating area between South East and Central Europe.


apostateimpressions said...


<< Comprehensive population genetic analyses utilizing large databases of present-day populations have disclosed genetic affinities of the LBK to the modern-day Near East, Anatolia and the Caucasus, supporting genetic influx from this region into Central Europe at the advent of farming and explaining the apparent genetic discontinuity between foragers and farmers. >>

LBK has affinities to the Near East yet the "West Asian" Admixture component, so common in the NE today, is totally absent from LBK? The WAC is then intrusive not only to Europe but to WA? That seems consistent with a central Asian origin of WAC (and of R1a/b) which later entered Europe through the NE. Or maybe the WAC was around the NE but did not mix with the Southern European component that entered Europe during the neolithic? But why then did WAC not enter then? S totally blocked WAC from Europe? It seems more likely that WAC did not enter Europe then from the NE because it was not there.

Im guessing that LBK is heavy on the S component. Why then would LBK have closer affinity to the present NE than to places heavier with S?

Dr Rob said...

awesome array of work ! Bless them all

eurologist said...


I am still not convinced about the premise in the first place. "I have voiced my criticism of Haak many times before." <-- you can actually google that ;)

The bottom line is that there are many circular arguments and flaws when comparing ancient Central European mtDNA with extant Near Eastern and Anatolian. It by definition assumes that the Balkan and CE mtDNA has changed, but the Near Eastern has not - which is ridiculous. We know Near Eastern, Anatolian, and even SE Asian mtDNA has changed though migrations, wars, slave trade, merchants, and mercenaries. And yes, often neglected: males can have a huge impact on mtDNA propagation.

I believe the origin of particular mtDNA subgroups when full mtDNA studies and absence in a large dataset of aDNA resolve the likely origin. Which is not that easy on a sub-10,000 year time scale.

andrew said...

It is getting increasingly hard to keep track of the total corpus of ancient DNA data.

The Bell Beaker child burial paper is quite interesting, although the notion that a previous "male-female" distinction was really a "warrior-nonwarrior" distinction is a pretty likely one. I could imagine the female buried as a warrior being some sort of one off post-humous recognition for brave action during a village raid resulting in death as much as anything more formal related to true gender identity.

Grognard said...

Literally everything in anatolia was razed in bronze age collapse. Repopulation didn't come for a long time and probably had a big component from assyria.

So no, continuity has to be almost zero, though we do get traces that show r1b radiating out of it, which is what we expect regardless of if if we believe BAC spawned repopulation of europe.

Including italic r1b, for that matter. So there were migrations, we already know that. The problem is the iron age really didn't get swinging until AFTER the bronze age collapse, when we already have r1b in 2600 bc in bell beaker and know the celts were r1b and they are already well into europe.

The the migrants were peoples like Romans. And since even Rome, the most powerful group to migrate, didn't leave that big of a genetic mark on europe, the whole premise falls apart.

That's only 500 years or less between start of bronze age collapse which made tin unavailable, and start of historic records of rome. So it's just not possible, there were r1b migrations in iron age, but if anything it was that they lost territory like anatolia, not that they gained.

eurologist said...


I agree with you; but more importantly, Bell Beakers by definition took on defending and stabilizing trade posts and river crossings. They also likely knew that, given their minority status almost everywhere, they needed to out-marry. Young girls capable of doing house work are quite valuable even before child-bearing age; as such, it seems plausible that BB girls were traded at large scale, not the least to acquire local women, leaving a surplus of boys having to do house work unless / until they qualified for "warrior" (= protection services) status.

Crimson Guard said...

Beaker People are mostly known for being Atlanto Med.-Dinaric/Armenoid and richer in blood type q(B) which isnt particularly something Spanish are known for.

"We also find some other old, eastern, round-skulled and high-skulled, dark strains, which are higher in the frequency of blood type gene q, in some of the coastal regions of West Europe. These strains are our Litorid race (See Map 18). They are approximately equivalent to Deniker's Litoral race. The coastal regions where these strains are found include: the Swedish western coast, northwestern Jutland, the Dutch province of Zeeland, Kent in England, northeastern Scotland (where the frequency of blood type gene q reaches almost 10%), the Isle of Man, southwestern Ireland (Valentia), western Wales, Cornwall, and western France (Brittany, Gironde)."

"A particular, subrace belonging here is surely the big-bodied
and light eyed, but dark haired North Atlantic race (somewhat q-richer), although it is to some extent an "intermediary race" between Nordids (of Götatyp) and Insulars."-Lundman

"The distribution of high B frequency fits the patter of settlement of the Beaker People and the Celts, for the distribution is restricted to that found for Wedge or Gallery graves and early metal working: the finding of a few Wedge graves in the other areas of Ireland would be explained by cultural diffusion."
- Tills and Mourant, Blood Groups of the Irish(1977)

Onur said...

Literally everything in anatolia was razed in bronze age collapse. Repopulation didn't come for a long time and probably had a big component from assyria.

What is your evidence for a depopulation in Anatolia following the Bronze Age collapse, and also for its subsequent repopulation from Assyria? The only known migrations to Anatolia following the BAC are from the Balkans (Phrygians, Bithynians, Greeks and possibly Armenians); there is no known migration from Assyria.

Grognard said...

google wiki bronze age collapse

Grognard said...

I accidentally posted another comment towards you in the next post up, onur :(

Remember hittite is an indo european language. Assyrian is a semitic language. IE languages always seem to be associated with r1b and r1a, so far, though dienekes (and myself) think the origin is elsewhere. Most likely originally a lingua franca.

Nothing I have ever posted on the subject is anything that's really disputed. You can look right in wiki article on bronze age collapse, and on hittites.

There's just no way anyone can make a decent case for genetic continuity in anatolia when we have archaeological evidence of every city in the region being burned to the ground and no cultural or linguistic continuity. Not to mention it took over a thousand years for the population levels to recover.

And bronze age collapse is just one of many big events in anatolia.

Onur said...


We do not know the haplogroup composition or the autosomal genetics of the Proto-Indo-Europeans or even their location and time. If the Proto-IE lived away from Anatolia (i.e., Eastern Europe), then we can say based on the genetic makeup of modern populations that Anatolia and environs were IE-ized with very little genetic change to those regions. You mention Armenians. Armenians have very little (less than Anatolian Turks, for instance), if any, genetic ancestry that is traceable to the Proto-IEs if we assume that the Proto-IEs lived away from Anatolia and environs, as Armenians are autosomally very Anatolian-like.

Also, we have extremely little available ancient DNA data from Anatolia to trace the genetic history of Anatolia through the centuries, much less through the millennia. Currently we make much better inferences about the genetic history of Anatolia using the available craniometric data, as there are currently vastly more ancient craniometric data available from Anatolia than the ancient DNA data. The available craniometric data from Anatolia through the millennia indicate that there is a high degree of genetic continuity in Anatolia at least since the Bronze Age. Whatever demographic changes occurred in Anatolia following the Bronze Age collapse apparently were not sufficient to make a big difference in the genetic makeup. The population movements might have been mostly short-distance.

Regarding Assyrians, they expanded their territory to Anatolia centuries after the BAC and only acquiered the SE corner of Anatolia, which they retained only for a few centuries. Assyrians cannot have made a bigger genetic impact on Anatolia than the Iron Age populations from the Balkans did. You say that Anatolia became more Assyrian-like following the BAC, but history and archaeology indicate that Anatolia, if anything, must have become more Balkan-like, because, as I wrote in my previous post, Anatolia saw more immigrant populations from the Balkans than from Assyria post-BAC.