Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year Ahead. 2015.

2015 will be a thrilling year for those interested in the ancient past.  Here's a few things to look forward to:

Sheep at pasture (Michael Ely)

1.  We should see some published DNA from Saxony-Anhalt, Portugal and the UK.  I'm still trying to get digs on what's out there.  The Amesbury Archer and his 'son' were supposed to be tested according to Wessex Archaeology's webpage to determine their relationship.  If you've got scoop, reply to this post.  thx

2.  University College London's Beaker People Project/Sheffield's Beaker Isotopic Project is now putting pen to paper on the results of the isotopic and possibly some? genetic analysis conducted on 285 Bell Beaker individuals of the British Islands, this in concert with Aberdeenshire's Beakers and Bodies Project. UCL's final report and several other outputs may be in store this year.

3.  A paper out in the Spring will look at war related deaths in a Beaker cemetary in NE Iberia.  Granted, an arrowhead between the eyes is probably not a grave offering, however re-consideration is being given to arrowhead 'offerings' around the body found in previously excavated graves throughout Europe.  Re-evaluation has already re-categorized cause of death in a number of individuals.  **This just in...surprising evidence that people buried with weapons may have led violent lives.  More to follow**

4.  Garrido-Pena 2014? makes reference to the presence of strict vegetarianism (using phosphate analysis) among a select portion of an Iberian Beaker population.  A similar phenomenon is witnessed in final Bell Beaker and early Bonnanarro Cultures of Sardinia, vegetarian estimates are about 7.5%. (Luca Lai, 2008)  I'd guess a similar percentage will be shown for the mentioned Iberian population.

I'd like to know 'who' was a strict vegetarian and why this avoidance.

5.  Ciempozuelos has some apparent connection with the British Isles.  Presented in September, hopefully we'll see this soon.

6.  Also, from the Burgos conference, Peska Jaroslav gave a presentation Beaker metal workers from Moravia.  **Updated 1/6**  (To clarify here, he seeks to conduct chemical analysis of the bones and teeth to better understand the smith's processes.  I had previous stated that this had already been done and briefed, but is rather in the beginning stage.  It's possible to run with the ball quite a bit here.  For example, you may be able to understand what age apprenticeship started, or if extraction was performed by smith's, what fuel was used for heat or if smith's were specialized.)

Here's an unrelated 2014 paper concerning osteological indications of arsenic poisoning.  I noticed that in some descriptions of Early Bronze Age remains that "some men" have indications of osteoporosis and phosphate degradation usual for men of their young age.

One individual described by Samatha Walsh 2013, was a thirty-someone year old man, strongly built, but with osteoporosis of the spine typical of an older women?  Another possibility is emasculation in the priesthood.  I don't know if osteology can tell this from the skeleton of an adult male.

7.  Dental plaque could be a big deal this year.  LP alleles don't tell you if the individuals are actually lactose intolerant.  Tooth plaque will add new questions, answers.  In the entire human population, this question is uniquely pertinent for Chalcolithic/EBA Europeans.  The universally accepted meme is that the sudden rise of European LP is due natural selection.  I believe it is due to immigration of dairyists from Northern Africa.  All my chips are on the table.

8.  Prieto-Martinez and Salanova have another pan-European Beaker book coming out in the Spring.  [here]
It looks to have some interesting chapters on changes in palynology, linguistic associations and the North Sea.

9.  Animal DNA.  For whatever reason, it seems easier to get yDNA from ancient chicken crap than a Bell Beaker warrior.  There will certainly be studies out on the genetics of warm bloods, short-horns and woolly sheep.  All are important to Beakerhood.  In the case of Woolly Sheep, again we are starring down the barrel of a 3,000 B.C. date in which wool is sheared, spun and wove into hobbit clothes.  The short-horn, I've already commented on, and the egger chicken as well.  All of these probably originating in the mountains of Iran, originally.

10.  Bell Beaker Procrastinator will try to get a few things off my plate.  Yes, I look forward to stuff from myself.

With an already exciting year ahead, there will be surprises as well.  I look forward to the news and papers ahead!


  1. I hope someone is sampling a genome of an early Neolithic Near eastern, and maybe a pre-farming Near eastern to. mtDNA results so far from the early Neolithic Near east are very unusual.

    "1. We should see some published DNA from Saxony-Anhalt, Portugal and the UK."

    "2. University College London's Beaker People Project/Sheffield's Beaker Isotopic Project is now putting pen to paper on the results of the isotopic and possibly some? genetic analysis conducted on 285 Bell Beaker individuals of the British Islands"

    Ancient DNA(not just mtDNA and Y DNA) from Portugal and the UK?

    I hope this year we get early bronze age genomes from Iberia, Britain(Ireland?), and Denmark, because we already have one from Hungary and several from Germany, and they both tell the same story(ANE was introduced to the west during the bronze age, and WHG rose).

    It looks like most Europeans descend from the same meta-populations who mixed in the bronze age, but at different ratios.

    1. The ones from Germany are probably full ancestry, not sure about the others.

    2. Who writes this blog?

    3. I'll be updating my profile before long. If you need to contact me my email is in the profile.

    4. I just saw my first reply. I meant "not full ancestry"

      Crap, I'm glad I saw that.

  2. Sorry to rain on your parade again, but there is nothing African or West Asian about Bell Beaker. They are going to largely resemble NW Europeans. This is obvious from the plot that had them close to Corded Ware. There will be no Sub-Saharan outside of normal showing for an ancient genome, with some stuff outside of modern variation.

    1. Un-crossed Bell Beaker and Corded Ware populations will exhibit a great deal of genetic similarity because they belong to the same pastoral metapopulation that expanded from Northwest Iran or thereabouts around 5500 B.C.

    2. That is doubtful. No R's or ANE in the neolithics from eastern Anatolia and the South Caucasus.

  3. The vegetarian data point is intriguing. The percentages would be about right for a Brahmin priest-like caste obsessed with purity, and perhaps with preserving cows in a newly dairying society (and are also quite similar to the priestly Cohen percentages among Jews).

    Query if Bell Beaker social/religious influence could have impacted not only pre-IE Western and Northern Europe, but could also have been the source of vegetarianism in pre-IE Indus Valley Civilization which would have been roughly contemporaneous.

    The modern Hindu beef taboo and tendency to favor vegetarianism probably pre-dates the Indo-Aryans (and we know for sure that curry pre-dates the Indo-Aryans from archaeological evidence, and curry spices are notable because the smell savory without having actual meat).

    If pre-Bell Beaker people originate somewhere in West Asia, it only makes sense that there would be expansions in both directions. Alternately, vegetarianism by a priestly caste could be a Harappan influence on Bell Beaker which they carried further West.

    What would cause "thirty-someone year old man, strongly built, but with osteoporosis of the spine"? A vegan diet without adequate nutritional substitutes.

    1. It is certainly intentional, especially to have made a lifestyle of it. Religious graves may be slightly over-represented though. It is intriguing to think of a permanent religious order.

  4. The Y-DNA study of 220 men in a Tunisian town is notable

    dominated by Berber and Arab and N.E. African haplotypes. Also, two DE*.

    1. There is either strong disparity in the Berber population, the European population or both. It presents a bit of a problem because some Berbers and Western Europeans have strong genetic ties, but strong paternal disparity.

      It seems unlikely that the pre-historical European Y-chromosome was Berber-like, however maternally, there is a strong connection. Neither region was conquered by women, but the connection is more recent that not. It's a bit of a mystery.

  5. Refraining from eating beef or pork was a taboo of ancient Egyptians and Berbers. So, these people could have been part of a North African minority population.

  6. "I'd like to know 'who' was a strict vegetarian and why this avoidance."

    Did their vegetarianism include milk? That might create a strong selection pressure for LP if they were allowed milk but not meat and moved to a region with very low crop yields.

    Can Brahmin drink milk?

  7. The vegetarian percentage is also quite similar to the amount of North African admixture in Iberians.

  8. One more vegetarianism point. In the Andalusian Neothilic of S. Iberia, they grew plants, but for meat had only pigs and rabbits, possibly wild. Thus, the civilization that preceded Bell Beaker ate very little meat. Vegetarians could be a hold over from that culture.