Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Michelsberg-Pfahlbaukultur, Alpine Cattle & CWC

Rick Hern just posted this interesting [link] in an old Beakerblog post concerning bos longifrons.  Although the studied animal only represents what Basal researchers call 'small cattle', it is worth pointing out that longifrons/brachyceros is dated earliest in the Swiss lakeside pile dwellings.  Though this is only a mitochondrial study, it could foreshadow increasing validity of those early archaeozoological observations.  They do notice that the size of the cattle is coincidentally similar to Swiss Rhaetian Greys, Tyroleans long considered longifrons since Adamtz (NPI).  I'll pause here momentarily..

Let's continue peeling the onion from two posts ago and revisit a recent genetics paper that involved a mysterious folk and then pivot from there: "Multi-scale ancient DNA analyses confirm the western origin of Michelsberg farmers and document probable practices of human sacrifice" by Beau et al, 2017

In that paper the MN Gougenheim (Alsace) burial site contained two different peoples, those who were sacrificed and tumbled into a pit (NCV), and those with a high status pit burial (CV), like the Beaurieux warrior below.  They are isotopically identical.  This is what Beau et al observed:
"Whereas all "H-G lineages" (of potential western origin) were found concentrated in the NCV group, the CV group contained a strong proportion of haplogroups H (H, H1 and H3) and X, which were more common in southern European and Paris Basin farmers"
Basically, you have typical farmers on one hand, and then the H1, H3 and X folks on the other.
Michelsberg Warrior (Manolakakis, Colas, Thevenet, 2007)

We've already seen a few Michelsberg derived or influenced groups with the male signature of, surprisingly, R1 or R1b (Baalberge and Blatterhohle I1594 & I1593), and they also oddly enough distinguish themselves for considerable WHG ancestry (Lipson et al, 2017, Supp Info).  Up to this point, the re-emergence of WHG in the MN has been, fairly reasonably, viewed as the consolidation of farmer majorities with hillbilly hunters in the margins of Europe.  If gory Gougenheim represents a larger phenomenon, perhaps simple gene flow is a weak explanation.

With regard to the rapid increase of H clades in Central Europe during the LN, two different hypotheses have been put forward.  Brotherton et al, 2013 proposed that H1 and H3 came from SW Europe during the LN.  Hervella et al, 2015 proposed this rise to a second Neolithic wave originating in NW Anatolia and transmitting to Central Europe via the Central Balkan Peninsula.  Comically, Michelsberg has 'heritage' it seems from both directions, but it is more plausible that at least its maternal basis originates in the South of France.  Still waiting Dulias et al, 2017...

Michelsberg emerges at a time when morphologically domestic horses (very large and very small) are becoming established in Continental Europe among several different cultures, 4k to 3k B.C.  "Horse size and domestication: Early equid bones from the Czech Republic in the European context" (Kysely and Peske, 2016) 

Michelsberg was a drinking culture that, like Beakers, also made bothroi sacrifices, "Un dépôt de céramiques Michelsberg à Obernai « Parc d’activités économiques intercommunal" by Lefranc and Feliu, 2015

For the first time there is deep flint mines, which is where brachycephalic "Rijckholt I" died.  Point-based pottery is a strange regression, potentially a indication of new mobility.  Salzmundians seem to have had a dogster phenomenon like CA Iberia, where I believe hunter ancestry also spikes.

Fig 30 Rijckholt I skull
Who knows what Horgen DNA looks like; it probably doesn't matter much anyway.  But if pockets of elite hunter-farmers established themselves in pockets of the Western Alps and the Upper Rhine, and if those elites were R1b, then those LN pile dwelling cattle just might make sense after all. 

Full circle again - one of Maju's posts
Rhaetian Grey (Swiss Info)


  1. Re last paragraph: This would also explain the striking continuity of material culture in the Alpine region. The Pfahlbaukultur persists until ca. 700 BC in the northern Alps and only recedes during the expansive Hallstatt C phase (the Celts essentially).

    Would be amazing to see some DNA samples from these cultures.

  2. Nice post. Really need some more full genome data from central France . I know many think all's done and dusted, but no harm seeing.