March 12, 2009

Body proportions in Neolithic Germany

Homo doi:10.1016/j.jchb.2008.05.006

Population continuity, demic diffusion and Neolithic origins in central-southern Germany: The evidence from body proportions.

Gallagher A, Gunther MM, Bruchhaus H.


The transition to agro-pastoralism in central Europe has been framed within a dichotomy of "regional continuity" versus exogenous "demic diffusion". While substantial genetic support exists for a model of demographic diffusion from an ancestral source in the Near East, archaeological data furnish weak support for the "wave of advance" model. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence attests the widespread introduction of an exogenous "package" comprising ceramics, cereals, pulses and domesticated animals to central Europe at 5600calBCE. Body proportions are under strong climatic selection and evince remarkable stability within regional lineages. As such, they offer a viable and robust alternative to cranio-facial data in assessing hypothesised continuity and replacement with the transition to agro-pastoralism in central Europe. Humero-clavicular, brachial and crural indices in a large sample (n=75) of Linienbandkeramik (LBK), Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age specimens from the middle Elbe-Saale-Werra valley (MESV) were compared with Eurasian and African terminal Pleistocene, European Mesolithic and geographically disparate recent human specimens. Mesolithic Europeans display considerable variation in humero-clavicular and brachial indices yet none approach the extreme "hyper-polar" morphology of LBK humans from the MESV. In contrast, Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age peoples display elongated brachial and crural indices reminiscent of terminal Pleistocene and "tropically adapted" recent humans. These marked morphological changes likely reflect exogenous immigration during the terminal Fourth millennium cal BC. Population expansion and diffusion is a function of increased mobility and settlement dispersal concomitant with significant technological and subsistence changes in later Neolithic societies during the late fourth millennium cal BCE.



Polak said...

Dienekes, I read with interest your Greek autosomal DNA article, and have to say I'm a little disappointed.

Quote:"The overall BOMs of the Greek individuals is also noteworthy because no matches are observed between Greeks and Eastern Europeans or vice versa. This probably indicates the absence among Greeks of many substantially "Slav-like" individuals; individual Greeks may have "genetic look-alikes" in distant Britain or Scandinavia, but none at all in Eastern Europe."

Yup, but guess what, the vast majority of Poles have Scandinavian, North German or Dutch BOMs. So, with that cleared up, how do you think the Scandinavian BOMs got to Greece...with the Vikings or with the Slavs?

Jack said...

With the Turks and Egyptians.

Dienekes said...

Yup, but guess what, the vast majority of Poles have Scandinavian, North German or Dutch BOMs.

That is irrelevant to the question of Greek affinities. Bidirectional gene flow and/or a common genetic substratum explains relationships in Northern Europe.

So, with that cleared up, how do you think the Scandinavian BOMs got to Greece...with the Vikings or with the Slavs?

The BOMs are too ambiguous to be interpreted in terms of people "getting to" anywhere either way.

For example, if a Pole has a German BOM, this may be because the Pole has a great deal of Slavicized German ancestry, or the German a great deal of Germanized Slavic ancestry, or they both happened by chance to inherit similar genomes of overall Northern European ancestry.

Whether or not modern Greeks have a greater Slavic or NW European contribution is yet to be determined. But, certainly, if some Greeks were Graecized Slavs then you'd expect them to have Slavic BOMs. Clearly whatever Slavic component may exist in Greeks is not enough to create a strong affinity in this type of comparison.

Polak said...


As usual, Sound of the Occident wanders in like a child, with no idea what he's talking about.

BOM = Best Overall (Genetic) Match

Polak said...


dderinoss said...

This comment refers to the excellent linienbandkeramik burials/ body proportions paper which supports a localised "demic" version of Paleo to Neolithic change. No surprise there. As with many either/or arguments in anthropology, the answer often comes out as "it depends on who, where and/or when". In central Europe, it appears that there was variation in the porportions of demic versus cultural farming replacement in different settings. And times-the whole broad "P to N" change took millennia to occur. Our perspective is foreshortened by patchy archaeology samples so as to imagine a rapid wave of advance, when it was in human terms anything but rapid. Compare the Cambrian "explosion" fixation-that looked (Geologically) rapid, but on climatic-biological timescales was very slow.

Anonymous said...

People want to believe the Neolithic demic diffusion of people from the Near East into Europe, and the effect of North African, Arab and Turkish admixture in Southern Europeans. They did years ago before dna could be tested. The assumption then, and it seems now, was that Europeans are and were, all pale, blond and blue eyed. Any "European" who is olive, dark haired and eyed is Middle Eastern and of recent European residence like Gypsies. I don't accept it. I accept that all humans that ended up in Europe had a Near Eastern or Central Asian origin barring some Northern Africans crossing into Iberia or Italy during times of lowered Mediterranean Sea level or via island crossings.

Tropically adapted people? Since when was the Near East tropical, and at what age did that occur? Another question, what were tropical Africans doing in Central Europe?

What is substantial genetic support? I have not seen substantial genetic data of Paleolithic, Mesolithic or Neolithic age Europeans. Just lots of assumptions on the dna of pre historic Europeans based on the current distribution of haplogroups and other genetic data in 20th century Europeans and Middle Easterners. The mtDNA from some Cro Magnoid human skeletal remains from Italy showed these two remains to match more with today's Near Easterners. It is not really scientific to assume that today's haplotypes are like those of the past when the past is in terms of many thousands of years,and no dna is available to test these assumptions.

Agriculture arose in the Near East, domestic animals like sheep, goats, pigs, and bovines originated in the Near East. Wheat and barley are Near Eastern. That is all that came be proven.

By the way, I can cook excellent Thai food. Never been to Thailand or know any Thai people. I can grow Chinese vegetables, and consume them and I have never been to China.