Friday, May 26, 2017

Yamnaya Kurgan Origins East of the Tisza River, Hungary

Filling in the background of the general region of  "Identifying Kurgan Graves in Eastern Hungary" from 2012.

There's several key points to take away from this paper.  For one, people moved here from the East.

Secondly, it would seem that the Yamnaya presence in Hungary was entirely peripheral, not a core area in terms of space and density.  Surprisingly, mentioned here and elsewhere, it's estimated that several tens of thousands of kurgans were once present in this area.  It may have been the most dense Yamnaya concentration.  This is discussed by David Anthony in "Horse, Wheel and Language" under the heading "The Yamnaya Migration up The Danube Valley".

A Hungarian Kurgan [via Magyarvarak]
There, he had also suggested an either dependent or predatory nature of Yamnaya groups based on the proximity of cemeteries to foreign population centers.

Since the Yamnaya component may be more direct in the Csepel Beakers, it'll be interesting to see how this shakes out when the analysis comes available.  The highest Steppe ancestry in a Bell Beaker is one of the individuals at Szigetszentmiklós on Csepel Island.  More on this later...

The study site is was of the Tisza, and directly East of Csepel Island.

"Identifying kurgan graves in Eastern Hungary: A burial mound in the light of strontium and oxygen isotope analysis" (2012)
Claudia Gerling, Volker Heyd, Alistair Pike, Eszter Banffy, Janos Dani, Kitti Kohler, Gabriella Kulcsar, Elke Kaiser, Wolfram Schier.  Excellence Cluster 264 TOPOI, based at the Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität in Berlin [Link]

Isotopic analyses of human tooth enamel are increasingly applied to provide answers to archaeological questions.  87Sr/86Sr and 18O analyses are used to investigate small- and
large-scale mobility and migration of prehistoric human individuals. Within a pilot study looking into the kurgan graves in the Eastern Carpathian Basin, we analysed the tooth enamel of8 humans from the Early Bronze Age burial mound of Sárrétudvari-O˝ rhalom, Hungary. According to the archaeological record, the kurgan is linked to the Northern Pontic Yamnayaregional groups. Certain foreign burial traditions suggest that the connection is close, or even that the individuals buriedin the mound had migrated from the East into the Great Hungarian Plain. Strontium and oxygen isotope analyses reveal an earlier period of ‘local’ burials, spanning the period3300–2900 BC, followed by burials that postdate 2900 BCthat exhibit ‘nonlocal’ isotopic signatures. The combination of the isotope values and the grave goods associated with the nonlocalburials point to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains as the nearest location representing a possible childhood originof this nonlocal group.


  1. Did Yamnaya men & women migrate into Hungrary at this time? M. Gimbutas, in her research, mentioned the 1st wave of Kurgan( Yamnaya) was in this area. Yet, some researchers feel it was a male only migration during this time. I've read that the Yamnaya migrated as far west as Serbia, as far south Macedonia & Greece during this 1st wave of migration.

    1. Just looking at this one kurgan it seems to indicate folk movement. Based on the Yamnaya economy, that'd be true throughout, at least initially.

    2. Male only migration doesn't really make a lot of sense to me, banditry yes, but their economy is based on mobile extended families.