Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences December 2013
Ancient DNA insights from the Middle Neolithic in Germany
Esther J. Lee et al.
Genetic studies of Neolithic groups in central Europe have provided insights into the demographic processes that have occurred during the initial transition to agriculture as well as in later Neolithic contexts. While distinct genetic patterns between indigenous hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers in Europe have been observed, it is still under discussion how the genetic diversity changed during the 5,000-year span of the Neolithic period. In order to investigate genetic patterns after the earliest farming communities, we carried out an ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis of 34 individuals from Wittmar, Germany representing three different Neolithic farming groups (ca. 5,200–4,300 cal bc) including Rössen societies. Ancient DNA analysis was successful for six individuals associated with the Middle Neolithic Rössen and observed haplotypes were assigned to mtDNA haplogroups H5, HV0, U5, and K. Our results offer perspectives on the genetic composition of individuals associated with the Rössen culture at Wittmar and permit insights into genetic landscapes in central Europe at a time when regional groups first emerged during the Middle Neolithic.