December 14, 2013

Ancient mtDNA from Rössen culture in Wittmar, Germany

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.



Unknown said...

I think this map from Maciamo is relevant to this paper. Appears to show an inland migration for H5.

Unknown said...

And the corresponding one for K that Maciamo beleives is more reliable (than H5), shows France and also has slightly elevated levels in Wales.

Looks similar to H5 to me.

eurologist said...

Oh, great - another neolithic set of data points from the (wider) Elbe-Saale region! ;)

More seriously, too bad the article isn't available even with online library access, as far as I can tell.


The H5 map looks consistent with the northern portion of the Epi-Gravettian, plus some founder effects. It also indicates that the Slavic Expansion was low on H5.

K looks like it had Cardium and Megalithic expansions, from its map. Hard to say without further subgroups, though.

Some of the "theories" on eupedia are mind-boggling... ;)

Fiend of 9 worlds said...

That eupedia nonsense is hard to read.

Still talking about r1a 'dispersing' after we have its 24k year old predecessor already in place. Not to mention saying r1b is 100% neolithic, and must have picked up the correlation with K in georgia or some other nonsense.

Since bell beaker was about 90% r1b and H they had to have formed that way....

Slumbery said...


"Since bell beaker was about 90% r1b and H they had to have formed that way...."

There is only one Bell Beaker site with Y-Hg information I know of and even that is possibly one family. We have no data about percentages.

We can speculate about it based on the modern R1b distribution, but we do not know how much of the modern West European R1b comes from BB.

I agree with the point however that most of Eupedia's materials, well, a waste of time to even read them. (I did that a lot in the past though.)

Davidski said...


How do you know the Mal'ta R didn't migrate from Eastern Europe to Siberia, and R1a doesn't derive from the R that stayed put in Europe?

What's the bet that the Russian Sungir paternal line was R, and the predecessor to R1a?

The Mal'ta boy R is a dead end. Something like R3, killed off by the Ice Age.

Fiend of 9 worlds said...

Davidski a tale has been spun that all of europe was I1 clade, then neolithic farmers came with clades like e1b and G, then R1b only came with indo european migrations.

This finding says this is dead, to anyone reasonable. Especially without any I1 found either.

Unknown said...

Maciamo bases his haplogroup maps on the known data. I find them useful, and I am happy to make my own interpretations. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

eurologist said...

I still can't access the article - so here a few general comments:

Wittmar is an interesting location for several reasons. Firstly, it sits on a (modest) plateau just north of the Harz mountains; a plateau that separates drainage to the Aller/ Weser to the west, and drainage to the Saale/ Elbe to the east. As such, it sits at a strategically important (trading?) position between two rather substantial settlement areas.

It is also located on the SW slope (up to ~25%) of a substantial, elongated hill >200m which would have meant a slightly warmer climate than expected, and might explain a settletment at a slightly elevated "altitude" - rather unusual until the chalcolithic. (The main reason IMO being that 200m corresponds to roughly 1C lower temperatures, which makes a big difference when the average winter temperatures hover just above freezing: such hills in northern Germany carry much earlier and much more continuous snow cover than surrounding low-lands). The cemetery is at the edge of the steep slope, but flat plains at around 100m are accessible very close-by.

Also, historically, the hill has been used to mine for various salts (potassium and magnesium salts, but also table salt). It would be interesting to see whether these salt deposits were known in the neolithic.

Finally, the closeness to the Harz mountains (about one day travel) would have meant easy access to a number of additional valuable minerals and seasonally migrating game.

Bernard said...

From the paper:
The presence of haplogroup U5 associated with Rössen may reflect a genetic contribution from hunter-gatherers that was not prominent in the LBK. Findings of Mesolithic vessels excavated together with Rössen pottery suggest a possible link between the Mesolithic and the Middle Neolithic Rössen (Kampffmeyer 1991; Raemaekers 1999; Müller 2011). While a substantial genetic admixture remains to be seen, a scenario seems to be emerging in which there was likely a spatial co-existence of early farmers in the loess areas of central Europe and indigenous hunter-gatherers in northern–central Europe (Lüning 1991; Gronenborn 1999; Haak et al. 2005; Galeta et al. 2011; Bollongino et al. 2013).

eurologist said...


Yes, we should not forget that while the Neolithic in C and parts of "northerly" Europe spread very quickly, the percentage of actual area used was rather small (Loess soils, and initially only those parts that were easily accessible without felling many trees - mostly flood plains). This would have left the majority of the land for HGs. And without some more or less peaceful cooperation, the agriculturalists could have easily been driven out. As I have mentioned before, there must have been something "in it" for the HGs - like lucrative trade. Likely they also retained the (sole?) fishing rights.

The location of Wittmar is between the extensive German Mittelgebirge and northern plains with mostly poor soils - both of which would have been home to HGs for a long time.