Monday, April 27, 2015

Praying in the Chalcolithic

This is really, really fascinating.  It's so simple, so obvious.  I feel like I've been slapped across the face by Captain Obvious*.

First, I apologize for linking to a pay-per-view.  Second, I apologize for a pay-per-view I haven't read.  Thirdly, I pray for the souls who write articles that aren't accessible to those who care.

"Killing or Clemancy" Late 15th Matthew Strickland
Europeans have traditionally prayed with palms together.  It is an ancient habit that predates Christianity and is common among several Eurasian religions.  You may find Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Shintoists praying in such a manner.

The exact origin or meaning may be unattainable, but one line of thinking suggests that it is an act of submission, as one might expect his hands to be bound when lodging or being led into a strange village.  It is an act of vulnerability, but also bravery.

"Woman Praying" Hans Memling c1485 WikiArt
The paper appears to reference Beaker burials, but it really doesn't matter anyway.  The search results and abstract gave enough of it up.  The orientation of the body and the funerary arrangements tell us a little about the religion of the deceased as long as we are careful to not project too much on the materials.

Reinald II of Guelders and Elanor Woodstock (British Library)
I don't know that I ever thought about it too much, but is Amesbury Archer praying?  Most Beakers appear to have their hands together, although some deviate from this occasionally.  The placement of the hands isn't necessarily unique to Beakers, but a case can be made that the orientation of the body is observant.

Is Amesbury Archer praying to the East?  Wessex Archaeology

* This was really more of a manly punch, and a sucker punch at that.  I was surprised nonetheless.

Between Representation and Eternity: The Archaeology of Praying in Late Medieval and Post-Medieval times. European Journal of Archaeology. Rainer Atzbach 2015 [Link]


This paper seeks to explore how prayer and praying practice are reflected in archaeological sources. Apart from objects directly involved in the personal act of praying, such as rosaries and praying books, churches and religious foundations played a major role in the medieval system of intercession. At death, an individual's corpse and burial primarily reflect the social act of representation during the funeral. The position of the arms, which have incorrectly been used as a chronological tool in Scandinavia, may indicate an evolution from a more collective act of prayer up to the eleventh century AD to a more individual way of praying in the late and post-medieval periods.

Walls, Gates, Towers - Goncalves, Sousa, Costeira

The militarization of Southwest Portugal at the beginning of the 3rd millennium is a difficult subject because it's hard to develop a working narrative about how, why and who.  There's several scenarios so I'll lightly touch on those from what I've read.

Right now this paper describes remains of 30 or so forts which roughly corresponds to the region's current departments, however there may be as many as sixty when other candidates are investigated. They were built almost simultaneously using the same blueprint and on virgin sites where they are usually the first archaeological layer.

Zambujal.  A steep slope protects the rear.
Like other forts in the South and Southeast of the peninsula, there are hollow towers and solid towers along the walls. There are at least two concentric layers, with a smaller defensive layer similar to a medieval keep. Gates are subject to flanking fire and the entire plan makes use of terrain and natural obstacles.  The builders of these enclosures were the regions first metallurgists, however they probably were not Bell Beakers.

The evolution of wall towers probably follows a period when small unit tactics had advanced to a point where walls and palisades were being effectively compromised.  The advantage of a wall tower is that the assailants become in enfilade down the length of the wall and usually by archers in two separate towers.  It's much easier for the defenders to pick off invaders with short, straight shots than to hang over the edge of a palisade and try to aim an awkward oblique shot at a column of bad guys running up a ladder.

The tower also opens up the left and right lateral limits for each archer by getting him outside the wall while the tower also moves him closer to the slope than a structurally sound wall could provide.


There are two modern schools of thought on the significance and meaning of the Portuguese towers.  The Portuguese school views the towers within a purely defensive scheme in which territory and routes are tightly controlled.  In this way the forts are like garrisons that project power and control over a region that was vulnerable to raiding or unauthorized trading.

The German school appears to view the forts almost as the hallmark of a predatory feudal system, with the castles being the abodes of wealthy lords who need protection against their own people.  In this way, they are indeed defense systems, but defense against internal uprising.

This is where it gets strange though.  The forts were built suddenly, probably by foreigners from the Southern or Southeastern part of the Peninsula.  These original metallurgists do not appear to have been Beakers even though this is the timeframe in which the first Beakers begin appearing.  The forts are repaired and maintained for several hundred years then are mostly abandoned.  The time period in which they are abandoned corresponds with the absolute peak in Northwest African trade.

The forts are part of a complicated time in Iberian prehistory.  It may that multiple foreign interests were targeting this region simultaneously.  One thing to remember is that during this time of economic development, trade was probably managed by strongman cartels and the volume of exotic trade in this region was heavy.

If you imagine Chalcolithic Portugal as being ruled by Central American drug lords, you are probably pretty close to the actual situation.
ABSTRACT
In relation to the question of violence in the third millennium BCE, a synthesis is presented of fortified sites situated in the Centre and South of Portugal. The analysis is divided into three large territorial units: 1. Upper Eastern Algarve, with special emphasis on the Cerro do Castelo de Santa Justa; 2. Alentejo, in particular the middle Alentejo, where some recently excavated settlements and farms are to be found (São Pedro and Porto das Carretas); 3. Estremadura, the region where there is the largest concentration of fortified settlements (currently numbering 18), with over a century of archaeological research. Four main aspects were considered in testing for the possible existence of signs of violence:  1. Models of implantation; 2. chronologies and discontinuities in the occupation of the sites; 3. Defensive architectures, especially the general ground plans, towers and gates, and internal and external reinforcements. 4. Reconstructions and remodellings. By comparing these indicators with other archaeological data, the fortifications are considered as a reaction to the violence that existed between communities, testifying to effective territorial appropriation and denoting migratory movements of the first copper archaeometallurgists originating from Andalusia.

WALLS, GATES AND TOWERS. FORTIFIED SETTLEMENTS
IN THE SOUTH AND CENTRE OF PORTUGAL: SOME NOTES ABOUT VIOLENCE AND WALLS IN THE 3rd MILLENIUM BCE,
VICTOR S. GONÇALVES , ANA CATARINA SOUSA  and CATARINA COSTEIRA. CPAG 23, 2013, 35-97. ISSN: 2174-8063 (2013)  [Link]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Evolution of the Pectoral Lunula in Portugal? (Valera)

This is an older paper from 2010, but relevant for the story on lunulae from its roots in the boar's tusk tradition in the Late Neolithic and its continued evolution into golden lunulae.


Early on, you can see Perdigoes tusks are pairs or halved pairs which are connected together and worn in the shape of a pectoral lunula.  They are depicted both on the anthropomorphic Late Neolithic menhirs (in the paper) and also within the burial deposits.

In a comparative, proto-historical mythology, boar's tusks were associated with the moon goddess who was variously associated with the bow, the boar hunt, cow horns and the crescent shape.  Although a feminine symbol, both boar's tusks, boar's tusk pendants and lunulae appear to be mostly associated with men at first, but may have been expressed by both sexes at different times and places.
(jet spacer lunulae appear to have been worn exclusively by British women)

Perforations for connecting
One important difference between a pectoral lunula and a boar's tusk pendant of Central Europe is that pectoral lunulae face up and the suspended pendants face down.  The suspended pendants probably mimic flatbows or composite bows as believed by Stuart Piggott [Pendants], and the later golden lunulae probably represent "solar boats" or "moon boats" [Pendants]

A Late Neolithic Iberian figure with the typical 'facial tattoos' or 'mustache' of that era.
Boar's tusks have a symbolic value that transcend any sort of compositional worth.  As you can see in this ivory burial amulet, several reoccurring 'protective' features seem to be built in, including a boar's tusk lulula.  Boar's tusks and cornos have been until recently were fashioned into lunar shapes for the protection of horses or barns.  It's possible that the lunulae originally protected high status individuals from jealous and strange looks.

Marfim No Recinto Calcolitico Dos Perdigoes (1): "Lunulas", Fragmentacao E Ontologia Dos Artegactos.  Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Patrimonio - 5/2010 (www.nia-era.org) Antonio Carlos Valera.  [Link]

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tears for Phaeton in the Baltic

A short paper was recently presented at the Amber Expo in Poland.  It's linked below with an excerpt.  Since amber was crack for Early Bronze Age Europeans and especially Beakers, a little proto-historic background might illuminate their beliefs about it in the pre-historic period.

In classical times, amber was called electrum or elektron, in Latin, Greek rsp., meaning 'the shining sun'.  Our modern word for electricity basically comes from this pho-Latin name devised by William Gilbert noting its ancient reputation from attracting particles and dander.  (ie. static to spindle whorls, etc)

Proto-Indo-European lexical and mythological reconstructions offer some insight into Greek elektron (J. Paul Getty Museum of Amber):

"The standard Greek word for amber was elektron.[52] The derivation of this word is uncertain, although scholars have suggested that it might have connections with helko, meaning “to draw or attract,” or with aleko, meaning “to ward off evil.”[53] The word is certainly associated with elektor, used in the Iliad to mean “the beaming sun,”[54] and is most likely derived from an Indo-European verb with the root-meanings “brilliant” or “to shine.” This quality of beaming, or reflecting the sun, is also suggested by the Germanic word for amber, glaes or glese, recorded in some ancient Latin sources as glaesum, the same word used for glass in this period.[55] The Indo-Germanic root for this word, *ghel, means “lustrous, shimmering, or bright” and gives us words such as glisten, glitter, glow, and yellow in English..."
Using Greek or Celtic mythology as proxies, amber was formed by the teardrops of Apollo Helios or his daughters at the tragic death of his son Phaeton or the Celtic equivalent.  Since Phaeton's mother was an Oceanid, amber washes up on salty beaches.  That amber attracts particles to it, shows how amber is of divine origin.


In many ways, the material evidences and habits of Beaker customs foreshadow European religion in the proto-historic period.  The comment that caught my attention is the ritual destruction of some artifacts.  I suspect the fragmentation is part of a wider phenomenon of sentimental bead exchange and deconstruction for family and friends upon burial.  If the beads are intentionally crushed, then that is something else.  In that case it might appear similar to some potteries which were also destroyed in some deposits.


Amber as one of the determiners of “elite” prestige in the eastern part of Central Europe in the Late Stone/Early Bronze Age. A contribution to the research on the extraction, working and use of amber, DARIUSZ MANASTERSKI1 , KATARZYNA KWIATKOWSKA, (2015)  Amber Expo
[Link]

"At the end of the Neolithic, amber artefacts are known mainly from the amber workshops and burial sites of the Globular Amphora and Złota Cultures, where they expressed a collective manifestation of the entire group’s prestige... The tradition of Late Neolithic use of amber artefacts cannot be seen at the turn of the Early Bronze Age any more. These artefacts differ in both their shape and the layout of their components, but most of all they are related to specific individuals rather than to a community (see Renfrew 2001). Moreover, they are usually broken in pieces (through ritual destruction) and fragmented while being placed in ritual sites–including those of a funerary nature (Renfrew, Bahn 2002). Therefore, such behaviour may be considered an expression of new cultural trends which would reach the areas under consideration from broadly understood Western Europe and which were related to individual, rather than communal, prestige (Renfrew 2001). By identifying the cultural components visible in both amber artefacts and other accompanying items, one can infer the cultural environment related to the Bell Beaker Culture (see Manasterski 2009; Januszek, Manasterski 2012; Wawrusiewicz 2013). Some of these items, culturally alien to this area yet symbolising the “social standing” of their owners, may be interpreted as evidence of certain cultural patterns and behaviours being “imported.”"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Origin and Spread of Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis has an interesting story in Western Europe.  While changes in the 7q31.2 chromosome 7 (CFTR) have occurred independently at low frequencies, two separate haplogroups have spun out identifiable Cystic Fibrosis.  Of these, only one mutation, the ΔF508 deletion, of haplotype 1 has a frequency greater than 1% and causes about 2/3 of the total cases, concentrated mostly in Europe. 

The ΔF508 mutation causes around 66% of CF cases and is estimated to have arrived in Western Europe around 3,000 B.C. based on a phylogenetic timescale by (Busch, 1990).  More recently, Phillip Farrell and the University of Wisconsin have being doing genetic analysis on Iron Age Celts from the La Tene Period and Bronze Age individuals from the Danube.  They have a working hypothesis that ΔF508 entered Europe with large scale migrations in the Iron Age or thereabouts.  Some of the reasoning behind their origin hypothesis is very intriguing (more on that).

Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) is a gate keeping gene in the cell membrane that we all have.  It lets good things in, keeps bad things out.  It allows bad things to exit the cell and it enables the repair of damaged DNA.  Since people are largely juice and other stuff, defective 'shuttle valve' machinery in a cell membrane is damning in a homozygote.

At some point in the Pleistocene, a population with the CFTR gene in the lower branch (below) had successive mutations that dramatically increased in frequency at some time during the Holocene, and it has since descended in many Western Caucasians leaving a bread-crumb trail that makes it an interesting subject for population geneticists.

Figure 3.
Maximum-likelihood tree of allele frequencies of five loci (IVS6aGATT, IVS8CA, T854, IVS17bTA and TUB20) among normal chromosomes, from worldwide populations, and among CF chromosomes (ΔF508, G542X, N1303K, G551D and W1282X chromosomes). The inset shows an enlarged maximum-likelihood tree of allele frequencies of two loci (IVS8CA and IVS17bTA) among ΔF508 chromosomes in different European populations (Fbas = Basque; Fbri = British; Fbul = Bulgarian; Fcze = Czech; Fden = Danish; Ffin = Finnish; Ffra = French; Fger = German; Fhun = Hungarian; Fire = Irish; Fita = Italian; Fslo = Slovakian; Fspa = Spanish; Fswe = Swedish). Bars show the scale in genetic-distance units. Several trees have been built, using either other methods (e.g., Nei-Kimura distance and the neighbor-joining algorithm) or different sets of chromosomes. In all cases, results are similar.  (Mateu et al, 2007)
Like sickle cell anemia or the Rhesus D deletion, it is a usually a single deletion or mutation that traditionally caused infertility and death to European homozygotes (two copies), but is theorized to have survived culling pressure among heterozygotes, possibly due to typhoid (salmonella) resistance (which has been partially demonstrated).

A more recent hypothesis by the Wisconsin team believes that recessive CFTR mutations exponentiated as a response to arsenic and lead poisoning of Iron Age metal workers, the Celts of which have shown to be 1/30 carriers, similar to moderns.  Bronze Age Danubians, on the other hand, have not shown any CFTR mutations so far (however I would counter that their hypothesis actually corresponds to a spike in the Early Bronze Age or earlier otherwise its impossible to be 1/30 in the Iron Age).*

A paper in 2000 placed the origin of main culprit, ΔF508, in the Iranian plateau then spreading to Atlantic Europe and Baluchistan via a population movements.  In Europe it forms a very sharp cline in the NW.  It's lower frequency towards the SE of Europe is thought to lie with genetic heterogeneity, whereas towards the NW populations become increasingly homogeneous with much higher rates of the damaged Asiatic CFTR.  
"The hypothesis proposed here is that the original founder ΔF508 mutation giving rise to cystic fibrosis occurred in those inhabiting the Iranian Plateau and travelled from there eventually to Europe in the first wave of emigrants. Their descendants moved to the area of Baluchistan bringing the mutation with them. During the last 150 years, further migration has occurred into the Gulf Region and the ΔF508 mutation has joined the pool of CF mutations that are common in this region. "  (Dawson & Frossard, 2000)

The hypothesis goes that haplogroup 1 of CF is likely a one time hiccup that has left a phylogenetic bread crumb trail in its child populations.  As such, when looking at an identical CFTR, a population with little or no CF mutations may be viewed as harboring a native state, this might be Southern Iran. In this frame, a large component of European, Baluch and Berber ancestry could be traced to Northern Iran in recent prehistory, but the opposite can not be true.  (Dawson & Frossard, 2000)
This logic seems to have largely been agreeable with Mateu et al, but criticized the zeroing in on a geographic location.  (Mateu et al, 2007)

You can see above where ΔF508 breaks out into microsatellites (IVS8CA and IVS17bTA) and where Europeans are broken out with Basques and Finns being most distant from each other within a given timescale.  With the exception of Bulgaria, it would appear to have entered Europe from the Southwest if I'm reading correctly(?).  Northwest Europeans have the highest frequency of CF and the peak frequency is among Norwegians followed by Atlantids.   Another survey on the European Union found it most frequent in Ireland.  (Farrell, 2007) 

Another fascinating point worth noting, is that the CFTR gene in these West Asian populations (European, Berber, Baluch), in which the vessel CF haplotype occurs, is more directly related to those of North East Asia, particularly Yakuts, than they are to the other CFTRs in the West.  This would indicate the parent haplogroup responsible for G543X, N1303K and ΔF508 originated in Northeast Asia or Siberia.  I've talked a little about Lake Baikal and Sakha regions and early Holocene population movements previously [here].  This would also probably lend support for the idea that it only began exponentiating after arriving in SW Asia and not Siberia.

It is also interesting to note, that CF roughly correlates to the frequency of Haplogroup H* among Caucasians.  This is true among Basque, Baluch, Norwegians, Northern Italians, Berbers and Finno-Russians.  In Caucasians where H is low or absent, CF is similarly absent.
Table 2 [below] is the continental distribution.  South African and Australian whites comprise the majority in those continents, except for North Africans with Berber ancestry.   3120+1G->A is a separate mutation found in Greeks, Arabs and African Americans constituting less than 1%.  Along with three other CF haplotypes, it has failed classification in either of the two identified CFTR haplogroups with CF.


I'll get to the point now, whatever that is:

-Cystic fibrosis is caused by natural, deleterious mutations.  The modified dog-leg haplotype of the first figure appears to have been under recent and heavy selection among Europeans.
-It may have originated in Iran and spread to North Africa and Europe.
-Chronic exposure to heavy metals (arsenic, lead, lead salt), Typhoid outbreaks (salmonella) or high intake levels of to toxic plants (henbane, mushrooms, poison berry) have kept Cystic Fibrosis from diminishing.
-Cystic Fibrosis may have entered Europe with a population movement sometime between the Neolithic and the Metal Age and exponentiated dramatically with founder effects from the South to the North.

Early Neolithic Europeans and their hunter predecessors certainly had Cystic Fibrosis at low frequencies, but at the wrong end of the haplotree.  Whenever Cystic Fibrosis became became prevalent, it expanded rapidly with a small founder population that populated many different regions.  Chalcolithic?




See also:
CFTR mutation analysis and haplotype associations in CF patients

Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man
http://omim.org/  >> Cystic fibrosis 
Also, Cystic Fibrosis Mutation Database

University of Wisconsin >Cystic Fibrosis research   

 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Beakers in Hofstede's Paradigm

Several years ago I was exposed to Geert Hofstede's matrix on Cultural Dimensions Theory.  For about the last year I've had an interest in taking the circumstantial knowledge we have of Beaker culture and plugging it into Hofstede's calculator to see where they fall in relation to modern cultures.

What this does is measure certain foundational values of a particular culture (at a moment in time) against all other cultures.  In many ways it's no different than PCA analysis in population genetics, except here we are using the outcomes of human behavior to create a behavioral mosaic.

To give an example, one evaluated metric is the Uncertainty Avoidance Index.  It measures the comfort level a group of people have with uncontrolled outcomes and spontaneity.  Unsurprisingly, risk avoidance is highly valued in East Asia whereas cultures in the lower left quadrant can't keep naked drunks off the soccer field. This is measured by looking at a broad spectrum of human statistics (ie. personal savings, vital statistics) and plotting them in an x/y with everybody else. 

Uncertainty Avoidance and Individualism Indices, Hofstede (1997)

The other indices are Power Distance (PDI), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Long-Term Orientation (LTO) and Indulgence Versus Restraint (IVR).  It's interesting to see how your own country plots, especially if you've lived in or visited several different countries with very different cultures.

There have been for a long time certain observations about societal changes demonstrated in the archaeological record, especially the time-frame when the Beakers emerge.  Some of these have included the tendency towards individual burial expression (cemetery plot, megalithic or otherwise), idealistic expressions in burial, spatial distance of settlements, pioneering attitudes, cultural conformism and conservatism, etc.

The first question is a controversial question in archaeological theory.  Is it possible to discern mythology, worldviews, societal structure from thin archaeological record without excessive personal bias?

If so, the second question is where would Bell Beaker culture plot within any of the matrices, say within the Power Distance Index?  What is the probability that a powerful Bell Beaker chief would be attacked by a cursing mob of angry peasants?  Where would that plot between Japan and Brooklyn, New York?

Was Beaker culture a culture full of materialistic, ambitious, selfish backstabbers or were they communities concerned with quality of life for all?  How strictly were traditions and taboos enforced?

Where would various Neolithic, EBA, Medieval and Modern European societies plot against each other?

I really don't have time for this now, but having looked at aspects of this culture for a while, I see some similarities and some differences to the moderns.  Overall, they seem more similar to modern Euros than not.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Guess What?...LP Allele Not Under Selective Pressure.

Beaker blog already knew this.  Check Bernard Secher's blog comments [here].  I think he rightly lays T-13910 at the feet of the mysterious Beakers (or their immediate antecedents).

Moroccan question marks march across Chalcolithic Western Europe

So first of all, let me say that the "no selective pressure" conclusion is not what the paper said; that's what I wrote in the title because, even without ancient DNA, there are walls of constraints which are moving in the wrong direction.  I pre-concluded it.

We are inundated with a steady drumbeat of crazy selection arguments for T-13910 because this imparts some kind of super-human benefits to its bearers even though it takes only fifteen minutes to separate whey from curd.  In order to show rapid selection you'd need to show that the frequency has been increasing steadily over time or has increased through a series of punctuated bottlenecks.

You could have looked at China, Africa or the Middle East to have figured out that it has been a very long time since this adaptation has been under any kind of positive selective pressure.


Short Horn Cattle
In a previous post "The Bracyceros and the Bracycephlics"  I talked a little about the emergence of the Short Horn (Dairy Cow) in Europe about the time of Beakers.  The Short Horn probably entered Europe from North Africa and if you go further back it probably originates in Baluchistan.

I have some other stuff to post, hopefully will get to some of it this weekend.


Hunting for the LCT-13910*T Allele between the Middle Neolithic and the Middle Ages Suggests Its Absence in Dairying LBK People Entering the Kuyavia Region in the 8th Millennium BP. Witas HW, Płoszaj T, Jędrychowska-Dańska K, Witas PJ, Masłowska A, et al. (2015)  PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122384. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122384 [Link]

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sentimentalism in Jet, Amber Necklaces

I've just read an interesting paper about the incomplete jet necklaces worn by EBA women in Britain.  Some plausible theories have been put forward (Ann Woodward, Alice Sheridan) to suggest that beads were removed from old necklaces and given to daughters, cousins, good friends.

It seems that Beaker/EBA jewelry and adornment was sexually dimorphic (Alice Rogers).  The metaphorically black, moon-form necklaces appear to have been worn by women and strongly resemble the golden lunulae in decoration and form.*  Catherine Freiman looks at the deposition practices of these items, finding that they are usually under-complete, over-complete or mixed in burials:


"...in stringing these beads into complete necklaces, we add a layer of interpretation that affects how we see the individual beads...second, that many of their individual beads appear to have been crucial to determining the value of the whole ornament."
It's tempting to view the deposit of a lone bead as a stray or assume the incomplete necklace as a consequence of everyday wear.  Looking closely however, it appears that division and combination was intentional and common:
"...the apparent incompleteness...is, in fact, a necessary feature to study if we want to understand their value to the people who made, used and deposited them."
"While wear traces show these bead assemblages to have generally been strung tightly (Sheridan, pers. comm.), the presence of composite necklaces and heirloom beads means that, at times, the individual beads within a given assemblage were separated and handled."


Aside from women's jet, it's interesting to note how frequently a single amber bead is encountered in a deposit.  Most recently, this could be seen in the discovery of a ritual pit from Suprasl, Poland in which several artifacts were discovered in a pit with two bell beakers, a flint and a single amber bead.  Again, a single amber bead in the grave of a male in Brampton, Cambridgeshire.

Single beads of other materials appear frequently in other places and contexts.  Two schist beads and two axe heads in a similar Suprasl-styled pit from Los Tiesos I in North Central Spain.  An Iron Age woman from Denmark was discovered having a single glass bead.  A single bone bead in a woman's collard urn in Roxton, Bedfordshire.

It was common in colonial America to have remembrance rings funded through a person's estate for nephews, cousins and good friends.  Wedding, engagement rings are thankfully still common, however friendship rings have become less common.  Before the age of costume jewelry, earrings, bracelets and necklaces usually had some special meaning for the giver and the wearer.  It is very easy to imagine jet and amber necklace beads having strong sentimental value because endless examples can be shown in historical Europe.

It this context, it makes you think twice about the lone amber bead deposited in Suprasl's ceremonial pit.  It would almost appear that either someone was commemorated or it was a bodiless funeral. 

*Freiman suggests that jet spacer necklaces and golden lunulae do not overlap geographically in Britain.  This is a bit of a puzzle since lunulae appear to have been worn by warrior men in the continent and it would be reasonable to assume the golden lunulae in the Isles were worn by men (Orbliston possibly one example).  It's possible the jet lunulae from Britain are another example of the dualism in their religion.  In other words, the 'midnight' jet lunulae contrast with the 'solar' gold or amber lunulae; essentially female and male dualities as would by understood within/by their hypothetical mythological proxies [here] and [here].

Going to pieces at the funeral: Completeness and complexity in early Bronze Age jet 'necklace' assemblages, Journal of Social Archaeology, Catherine Frieman, 2014 [Link]

Thursday, April 2, 2015

ReichLab Brief - Olivier Lemercier

Olivier Lemercier was invited to brief Harvard's ReichLab last week concerning the status of the Bell Beaker phenomenon.  The slides and speak can be found [here].




Hopefully, this should be taken as an indication that the genetics community is starting to get moving on several Beaker individuals.

Lemercier has proposed the "Greek Implantation Model", which should not be construed as a place of origin, but rather a type of settlement activity.  It's possible to reconcile the GIM with any of the origin theories.

I hope the Reich team is looking to Atlantic Europe with a level of effort comparable to its recent study on steppe population movements.