Thursday, May 25, 2017

Anthropological Background of Danubian Budakalász, Szigetszentmiklós, and Surrounds

There is a new archaeogenetic study of Mesolithic Danubian Basin located around Romania.  Significant are the affinity to WHG of Iberia, the greater presence of WHG in the Neolithic, and again Mesolithic R1b Y-lineages, which taken with the Iron Gates and other peninsular sites may be relevant later.

This post, which was written earlier today, is a little further upstream on another part of the Danube around Budapest and the surrounds.  For my own knowledge, I'm reading the anthropological background of this area, which is critical for understanding the personal genetics of specific individuals from  "The Beaker Phenomenon: The genomic transformation of Nortwestern Europe"

So before looking at those specific individuals, here's a little about the anthropology of the Budapest-Csepel area and Lake Balaton to the Southwest.  One of the sites investigated by Olalde et al, 2017 were Beaker individuals from Szigetszentmiklós, Budakalász and Békásmegyer.  Here's a background on the area from "The Copper Age cemetery of Budakalász" edited by Bondar and Raczky, 2009 and cited by Kitti Kohler.

"The anthropology of the Baden culture was first discussed by Nemeskéri in the 1950s, based on the skeletal remains from the Alsónémedi cemetery. His study provided the foundations for the culture’s anthropological characterisation for a very long time.  Nemeskéri distinguished three main groups according to the traditional typology: (a) a meso-hypsicranic group with Mediterranean variants and some Negroid and brachymorph elements arriving from the southwest, (b) a meso-dolicho-hypsicranic, Mediterranean + proto-European (Cro-Magnoid) groups arriving from the north-west, from the Linear Pottery and Corded Ware distribution, and (c) a brachy-hypsicranic, Alpine-Dinaric group reflecting eastern and western ethnic impacts.  The two child burials uncovered at Budapest–Békásmegyer were analysed at roughly the same time.  Together with these finds and the human remains from Budapest–Andor Street, Palotabozsok, Szentes–Nagyhegy and the already analysed burials from Budakalász, Nemeskéri again attempted a characterisation of the culture’s population.  The mean sizes and mean indices of the forty-seven skulls available for study suggested that in addition to the three components distinguished at Alsónémedi (the meso-dolichohypsicranic Mediterranean and the brachy-hypsicranic Alpine element, as well as the meso-hypsicranic element reflecting a local population mix between the two), a fourth, dolicho-hypsicranic group could be identified at Budakalász. Nemeskéri linked this latter to the Atlanto-Mediterranean type. In his view, the culture’s population was dominated by gracile and classical Mediterranean types, which could in part be derived from the local Neolithic Tisza population and in part from new immigrants from the south-east.  Regarding the brachycephalic component, he derived the so-called eastern Alpine type with planoccipital nape profile from the east and the so-called western Alpine type with curvoccipital nape profile from the west.  Nemeskéri published one other study on the anthropology of the Baden population, in which he emphasized that in addition to the dominance of dolichomorphic elements, the proportion of brachymorphic elements was quite significant compared to the preceding Bodrogkeresztúr period.  In his view, the striking presence of brachycephalic components (estimated at 30 to 35 per cent) reflected a change in the anthropological spectrum during the Late Copper Age."

There's more there concerning later studies
Kohler again from the same paper:

"The welcome increase in the Late Copper Age anthropological material enabled a new Penrose distance analysis using three Boleráz/Baden series based on samples from the Budapest area, the Balatonregion, and various other areas. The results of this analysis confirmed earlier findings, according to which the Baden groups differed markedly from other Neolithic and Copper Age series in the Carpathian Basin and exhibited a significant relationship with the early populations of Anatolia, Greece and the eastern Balkans."
"The proportion of brachycranial individuals was relatively high in the Budakalász cemetery (17 per cent)and even higher at Alsónémedi (25 percent)...This suggests a significantchange in the Baden culture’s anthropological composition or the arrival of a new population to the Carpathian Basin."
"Nemeskéri identified four individuals with a planoccipital nape profile at Alsónémedi, but his attribution has been seriously challenged.73 The appearance of this type in the Carpathian Basin is generally dated to a later period and associated with the the appearance of the Beaker population in the Early Bronze Age"

From "Life and Death: Mortuary Rituals of the Baden Culture at Lake Balaton (Transdanubia)" by Tunde Horvath and Kitti Kohler:
"Considering the entirety of the Baden culture, the population is defined by the dolichocran Mediterranean element, more closely by the dominancy of the gracile-Mediterranean type component. At the same time, the proportion of the Nordoids and Cro-magnoids, which were determinative beside the Mediterranean types in the earlier era, is negligible. This change in the anthropological features in the Late Copper Age, with the increased presence of the brachycran individuals (so-called Alpine type) may denote the arrival of a new population into the Carpathian Basin. While in the preceding Bodrogkeresztúr culture (Middle Copper Age) the proportion of this component was below 5% (Zoffmann 1992), in the Late Copper Age it approaches 20% (in the Budakalász cemetery it is 17%, at Alsónémedi [Kom. Pest] it is 25%), demonstrable – in a much smaller proportion – in the series of the Lake Balaton region (Nemeskéri 1951a; 1951b; 1956; Zoffmann 1992; 2004b; 2006; Köhler 2008)"
"...This modification of types and type-variants also marks the arrival of a new ethnical component in the Carpathian Basin (Zoffmann 2006)."

Köhler, Kitti.  Anthrop. Közl. 52; 55 76. (2011)  [Link]

"Köhler, K.: Anthropological examination of the Bell Beaker cemetery at Szigetszentmiklós-Felső-Ürge-hegyi dűlő. The archaeological remains of the Early Bronze Age Bell Beaker culture, known from all around West-Europe, are present in Hungary along the Danube down to the Csepel Island. In this paper we present the results of the physical anthropological analysis of the cemetery found at Szigetszentmiklós, excavated by Róbert Patay, between 2006 and 2007. During
the examination 100 inhumation and 74 cremations were analysed. Based on the results of the metrical and morphological examination we may establish that we can for the first time demonstrate the presence of the brachycranial, so called (“Glockenbecher”) Taurid type in the Bell Beaker populations from the Carpathian Basin. Previously, the presence of this anthropological component in this region could be demonstrated only indirectly, through its appearance among human remains of somewhat later Bronze Age cultures.
Keywords: Early Bronze Age; Bell Beaker cemetery; Demographical, metrical, morphological and pathological analysis."

To summarize, the 'Alpine' headed Beakers are intrusive from the East or West.  Baden and it's groups, or part of it from the Southeast.  Corded WareLBK-esque influence from the Northeast.
Other Neolithics were already there, Yamnaya in the Western Plain at a different time.
Pecking away piece by piece.


  1. The post looks fine.

    OT question: The photo below shows embalming pots, they remind me of ostrich eggshells used to carry water, and in the past perhaps to carry embers. Do you see cultural linkage between bell beakers and these pots and ostrich eggs?

    1. Not really, but Middle Kingdom is roughly contemporary so I wouldn't be surprised to see global trends. That's a cool video.

  2. Baden is looking like a Central European culture. It's early phase (Boleraz) is well represented in Slovakia and the Danube bend
    The genetic data, and being full of I2a/ I2c generally are consistent with this

    1. I agree with that, especially in the Boleraz phase the craniums are generally long and Neolithic and the people are small. But overall since the Hungarian Beakers are so heterogeneous in their personal backgrounds, I'm trying to lay down some frame work for these next several individuals.

    2. Yes i see. What has been your overall impression so far from the west Iberia and NW Europe data ?

    3. Personally I'm questioning their view that no meaningful exchange happens between Iberia and the rest of Beaker. The mtdna change in the Meseta was rather stark. Conversely, Maritime traditions did expand and I'm like 90% that it wasn't a fashion. Plus the Portuguese EBA do have steppe admixture, so I think it's there during the Late Copper Age, just not substantial or widespread enough or old enough to show in all the samples.

    4. I agree completely. But the signs are subtle and need propper analysis and better sampling