Friday, October 12, 2018

The Handsome Horseman

A 20 year old Bell Beaker man was recently discovered in Rock, Northumberland wrapped in a horsehair blanket.  He was about 5'10" or 1.79m with remarkable skeletal symmetry and healthy, straight teeth.

A short video was later produced by the BBC here.

Handsome Horseman

You can see his grave is practically a vault.  Graves from Howick a few miles away are pretty stout as well.  Even though graves continue to be found in this area and along the beach, archaeologists have had a difficult time locating settlement activity in this neck of the woods during the time of the Beakers.

Head and horsehair (BBC)
The horsehair blanket is an interesting twist.  Assuming the coloration of the hair coat is in fact bay, then we should assume that the horsehair blanket was made from the hair coat of a domesticated horse.

the funerary beaker (Jessica Turner via the BBC)

Archaeozoologist Laura Kaagan has done work on the Beaker period horses and believes the Exmoor pony to be similar in form, if not an unimproved descendant of those early Beaker period horses.  Hopefully we will see some genetic testing of this horsehair blanket since we can be fairly sure of its color and utilization by the Beakers.  Although I'm not too optimistic about genetic analysis on domestics, we may get some surprise relations to the Exmoor.

Exmoor ponies (commons)



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ava's Scapula - Supper, Supplication or Sound?

Archaeologist Allison Sheridan takes questions on "Ava the Beaker" in the Achavanich Beaker Burial Project podcast with archaeologist-interviewer Maya Hoole.

At 7:50 Sheridan discusses Ava's high status as indicated by a cow shoulder blade in the grave.  But does a cow scapula necessarily point to a food offering, or are there other possibilities?  If it was a food offering, could the preference of this cut tell us something about food preparation in the Scottish Early Bronze Age?

By Hew Morrison via Smithsonian Magazine

The right-hand scapula is an interesting selection for Beakers to have included in her grave.  After all, they were a cattle people and no strangers to the anatomy or mythology of cattle parts.

Since the animal may have been butchered for the occasion of Ava's death, we should assume that she had a favorable cut, or at least some non-random process determined what ended up in her grave.

I'll offer two and a half alternative purposes for Ava's cow bone selection.  The first has quite a bit of historical support, though I can't say to what degree if ever it was used as a grave item.  The second is much more speculative, but interesting nonetheless.  The third is just a few notes.

1.   Scapulimancy.  A scapula reader saw a good omen in the bone.

The prominence of European scapulimancy can't be under-appreciated when considering this case.  In Scotland, this is called slinneineachd in the old tongue, which is interpreting a boiled, right-hand scapula. (Spence, 1999).  Beakers were cattle folk and it would be difficult to see superstitious Beakers inserting an unread scapula into the grave.  OTOH, it looks as if Ava's scapula is a left-hand shoulder, so maybe not? Did this bone have meat on it?  

Also, does the bone appear to have a few red stains?  Is that cinnabar or ochre?  If so, how did it get on the bone?

In a scapulmancy scenario, we might imagine that different relatives came in for the wake.  Hillbillies walk by and touch her cold hands and they all drink very heavily and process a bullock, quartering it out for the guests.  Some bug-eyed person reads the boiled scapula, it's a message of fortune.  Maybe Ava shared a number of fears toward her end, like the well-being of her child(ren) or the meaningfulness of her own life.  The good answer may have been inserted in the grave for that reason.

See also Scapulimancy in occultopedia,

2.  Ava played some sort of harp or lyre.

Again, it's a bit curious that she is buried with a scapula, although it may be a left-hand. A hypothesis by Matahisa Koitabashi, 2013 concerned Near Eastern RH-notched bovine scapulas.  Basically, he believes it's the frame is some sort of scraper musical instrument, but not a lute bridge as previously suggested.  Without notches, it's hard to see it as a warping paddle, although I've suggested previously that Beaker women were often buried with sewing kits.

The scapular bone is easily scraped from the beef (here at two minutes), and you can see how large the harp-like bone actually is.  Maybe it's ironic that a scapula looks like a harp or lyre, or even that the harp is associated with a goddess like Egyptian Hathor or the bovine lyres of Sumeria. 

Freeze from "A Journey through Scotland's Part: The Age of Bronze"

3.  And finally, let's get to the beef cuts.

One thing that may not be so obvious is how beef is cut and prepared in the island of Britain historically.  In the United States, Bar-b-Que is a tradition originating in Southern England (Narnia) and in which the preference for meat was typically over the fire.  For this reason, blackening leaner cuts gives a flavorful taste and so the back cuts, rump and flanks come out pretty good.

The forward of the cow which has lots of marbling (the round) gets turned into ground beef or stew cubes.  This is important because in the borderlands and northern areas of Britain making beef stews was the cooking preference, so fatty meats may have been the prime for boiling with vegetables.

Even in the most primitive, hunter-gatherer society, cutting beef or buffalo is a science, so I highly doubt Beakers simply tossed a slab of beef over the shoulder into a grave.  That bone is evidence of something:  supper, supplication or sound. 


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Beakerfolk and Cystic Fibrosis (Farrell et al, 2018)

Smithsonian Magazine has an article of interest for Beakerwatchers and migration archaeology specialists:

"Tracking Down the Origins of Cystic Fibrosis in Ancient Europe" - Smithsonian Magazine

Farrell via Smithsonsian Mag

That Smithsonian article reduces down the most recent study by Philip Farrell et al in the August 2018 issue of Nature "Estimating the age of p.(Phe508del) with family studies of geographically distinct European populations and the early spread of cystic fibrosis"

Back in 2015 I blogged about their previous research in "Origin and Spread of Cystic Fibrosis".

That's enough reading anyway, but I'll give you the ultra Cliff's Notes version:

- Cystic Fibrosis is mostly limited to Caucasians and it clearly peaks in Northwestern Europeans
- The mutation spread around the time Beakerfolk were marauding through Western Europe
- Cystic Fibrosis sucks to death if you have two copies
- But for others, it must have some useful purpose - exposure to heavy metals is a strong possibility
- The ancestral carriers were from the neighborhood of the Black and Caspian Seas

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Moonmen from Far Away?

What genders were the primary solar and lunar deities of the Bell Beaker Culture?
 
It's generally agreed that among the gods worshiped by PIE's, two prominent gods were a solar goddess (*suh2lio-) and a lunar god (*Meh1not-).  These assignments were in opposition to the Mediterranean Basin where gender roles of the sun and moon were reversed, and different from the basque religion which apparently lacked opposing genders in favor of female celestial deities.

Proto-historical descriptions of the far north and northwest raise the possibility that this region at one time concentrated attention toward a feminine solar figure.  Because of the implications of steppe-like ancestry, let's re-examine the gendered artifacts that suggest celestial dualism.

Boar's tusk pendants as worn
It is only with men where we find the bone-colored, lunar pendants associated with many Continental European Beakers.  In previous posts, Greek mythology was used to interpret their suggestive values because it is better attested.  And while the attributes are sensible, there is some residual evidence that the original Proto-Greek moon god was instead male.  Do these masculine tusk artifacts point to the veneration of a god?

Is the down-facing position of these tusks in someway suggestive?  Maybe not, but have a look at the inverted, feminine lunulae and then compare to the representation of the goddess Nut and her consort, Geb.

via National Museum of Wales

Solar-boat lunulae were probably worn by women due to their geographical opposition to jet-bead lunulae in Britain.  At least in the far north of Europe, it might make more sense to see a goddess driving a solar-boat full of dead people than a male god like Ra.  Plus, we have many respectable warriors buried with the complete "man's room" - never this golden boat.

Excluding men's basket earrings*, the later golden solar hats and cape of the EMBA appear to be associated with women based on body and head sizes.  Though the phallic hats would seem rude for goddess worship, as Sulis was patroness of fertility, rude may have been the order of business.

man things and woman things


The metaphor of the wolf-tooth necklaces might make a little more sense when looking at wolf-teeth and bi-valve spring shell necklaces of Corded Ware women (might she be associated with springs like Bath?).  Maybe a more direct understanding of these necklaces could be made with Saule from the Baltic religions.  All this is just food for thought.  There's a lot of contradictions that can be seen.

Marian Catholics of both genders often wear a gold cross or Marian medallion.  Obviously Beakers of both genders are worshiping the same gods in ways that are similar and different.

*Until another idea takes its place, I proposed the idea that basket earrings were attached to quills.  Based on the shaped of the missing Kirkhaugh half, raptor quills that men wore in their headband.
I have no idea what that means.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Schnursprecher Glockensprecher? (Kristiansen et al, 2017)

Kristiansen et al, 2017endorsed and elaborated on the hypothesis that Proto-Germanic was born in the traditional North Sea urheimat as an intermingling between the likely IE-speaking Corded Ware/Battle Axe Culture and the local, non-IE speaking Funnelbeaker farmers, among others.

This older linguistic hypothesis posits that Germanic words without clear etymologies are probably not IE and that the early sound shift in Proto-Germanic is the influence of a native tongue.  Since IE daughter languages generally have native substrates, it is reasonable that PtG borrowed as well.

While the core intent of the Kristiansen paper is focused on the genetic influence of the PtG and PIE homelands, I think identifying the Corded Ware as the prime linguistic ancestor of the people who would become proto-Germans is problematic for a host of reasons. The Germanic substrate hypothesis is vital to this, and yet it continues to be pruned back from its former status as 'an explanation for everything weird in Germanic'.

Also important to this augmented hypothesis is an outdated linguistic phylogeny stuffing Centum Germanic into a North European node with Balto-Slavic, which I'm not sure even the most bug-eyed lumper would support today.

Rather than review a host of supporting facts evenhandedly, I'll just throw darts at this narrative. If you disagree, tell me why.

Odin and Frigg (Leeke)
1. Proto-Germanic is descended from a squarely centum language, sufficiently removed from the cultural zone of Balto-Slavic and Indo-Aryan. It would become necessary to say that satemization partially baked the eastern half on the Corded Ware nation, not the western half, after CW had spread into the continent.

But if Tocharian is descended from the language of the Afanasievo Culture (Yamnaya, jr.), then it would be a remarkable coincidence that the isogloss just happens to stop at the point where lineages commonly associate with the Corded Ware nation and its descendants transitions to that of languages and lineages associated with centumization and R1b.  (Also since publishing this post, a number of early historical German tribes have been sampled and unsurprisingly, are very R1b and very Western)

2. Here's a problem regarding the Nordic Bronze Age origin that can be summarized in a single axiomatic statement. When Bell Beakers existed near other human beings, even as small minorities, the Bell Beaker cultural expression and posture is always dominant, without exception. I think this is especially true with the development of the Nordic Bronze Age and the maritime culture emphasis.

So we would have to accept that Beaker language, while present and plausibly Centum, did not permanently influence this area, but that a "Centum" Corded Ware language did.

3. But it might not matter anyway. A more refined understanding of Proto-Germanic by specialists has shown that 'germanisms' are part of a natural linguistic process over a long period of time. Some of the most identifiable characteristics of parental proto-German may be rather late.

The point is that these changes didn't happen in a decade or a hundred year period or something. They happened gradually and that that inertia continued after the breakup of proto-German and continues today, self-stimulated.

4.  Like the probable spread of Celtic in Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Britain, it may disappoint a lot of Germanic language speakers if the origin and spread of proto-Germanic is no older than the Jastorf Culture in which elite speakers dominated a region of archaic tongues prior to the first millennium.

This doesn't mean that Germanic is not native to the region.  Germanic certainly broke off the mother tongue in its own right and it absolutely makes sense that it dwelled in a North Sea linguistic bubble for a long time.  It may even be the case that a host of para-pre-proto-germanic (!) languages existed in the region.  

What doesn't jive is that break-up of actual proto-Germanic is just too late to envision a wide-spread "Germanic proto-nation". Somebody's axe-wielding elite dominated somebody else recently. Jastorf looks red-handed in all of this - timing, language influences, directionality.



Here's a very short chapter "The Sea and Bronze Age Transformations" by Prescott, Sand-Eriksen and Austvoll in Water and Power in Past Societies (Emily Holt, 2018)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Völkerwanderungwagen!!!



We come in peace!

Still working on the Beakerbus.  Hope you like the front license plate.  

Beakerblog is almost back in the saddle. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Prince and His Twenty Wives (Garcia Sanjuan et al, 2018)

Try and wrap your mind around the size of the gigantic Copper Age site, Valencia de Concepcion.  If even a tenth of it was utilized at a time, that sector would still shadow most any contemporary site in Europe.  One of these sectors contains some very rich and interesting graves.  This large paper by Garcia Sanjuan et al is Open-Access, linked below.   

Crystal & Ivory from Valencina de la Concepción, S.W. Spain Garcia SanJuan et al
(foto: Miguel Ángel Blanco de la Rubia)

The grave above and beyond any other belonged to a man possessing this crystal dagger.  BTW, Be on the lookout for DNA that will follow these radiocarbon dates.  There is a related paper in the same journal by Antonio Blanco-Gonzales concerning demographic 'dynamics' in this region in the Copper and Bronze Age, so you know it's coming.  It'll be surprising if there are no surprises.  I'll start psyching myself out now.


The prince buried with the crystal dagger is identified in PP4-Montelirio Structure 10.049.  See also [link]   He is absolutely, positively the richest, big-man burial in all of Europe at this time with competition only from Goldfinger in Varna.

This Copper Age prince was buried in a vault at the end of a very long, stone-vaulted corridor (39 meters, or 127 feet).  The entire gamut was painted with priceless cinnabar.  Although the archaeologists shy away from any speculation based on the fragmentary evidence, it does appear that the prince of 10.049 was buried with around two dozen or so twenty-to-thirty-year-old women.

The large chamber also included a steppic-like steale and a number of gold, African ivory, ostrich and other objects.  Volker Heyd describes some of these in "Kossinna's Smile".   Using a large number of new radiocarbon dates from this tomb, a fairly secure date of build and burial puts it around 2850-2750 B.C.


In the discussion part of the paper, there is this comment:
Anecdotally, when excavations of this monument began in 2007, the Spanish media reported extensively on comments (intended just as informal remarks) by one of the team members, who claimed that the individuals buried in the main chamber (mostly women) may have formed part of the ‘grave goods’ of an important individual buried there, in a scenario similar to the tomb of Queen Pu-Abi from the Third Dynasty of Ur, in Mesopotamia.
Everything written above, including the title of the post, came from simply looking at the fact that a man buried with a crystal dagger was buried with a large number of young women.  In fact, I almost made a comment like this "similar to the tomb of Queen Pu-Abi from the Third Dynasty of Ur".  All of this without any knowledge of what was reported in the Spanish media.

If crystal daggers equal golden 9mm Brownings or gold AK-47's, and golden guns correspond to harems, then a crystal dagger correlates with roughly twenty women.  Oddly enough though, it would seem that these women wouldn't be the mothers of his children (his wives) for the reason that he would want his children to be raised successfully.

So maybe they're virgin priestesses, or the opposite of that.  Or maybe they were his wives and they were all killed by a political enemy at the same time, or an jealous wife. 

Several things I hope to see in the DNA.  1)  Verification that all the skeletal remains are women 
2)  Are the women genetically similar or are they different...flavors (Qaddafi)  3)  What the heck is this man's profile?  4)  Are the two individuals in the smaller tomb his mother and father  5)  Do any of these people cluster with Bell Beakers or other European groups  6)  Is the man racially distinct from the women, or most of them 7)  Are STD's or lethal toxins present or determinable?

Fig 1 from the paper.  Contemporary copper age sites around Valencia de C.


"Assembling the Dead, Gathering the Living: Radiocarbon Dating and Bayesian Modelling for Copper Age Valencia de la Concepcion (Seville, Spain)"  Journal of World History, 2018
Leonardo Garcia Sanjuan et al... https://doi.org/10.1007/s10963-018-9114-2  [link]

Abstract: The great site of Valencina de la Concepcio´n, near Seville in the lower Guadalquivir valley of southwest Spain, is presented in the context of debate about the nature of Copper Age society in southern Iberia as a whole. Many aspects of the layout, use, character and development of Valencina remain unclear, just as there are major unresolved questions about the kind of society represented there and in southern Iberia, from the late fourth to the late third millennium cal BC. This paper discusses 178 radiocarbon dates, from 17 excavated sectors within the c. 450 ha site, making it the best dated in later Iberian prehistory as a whole. Dates are modelled in a Bayesian statistical framework. The resulting formal date estimates provide the basis for both a new epistemological approach to the site and a much more detailed narrative of its development than previously available. Beginning in the 32nd century cal BC, a long-lasting tradition of simple, mainly collective and often successive burial was established at the site. Mud-vaulted tholoi appear to belong to the 29th or 28th centuries cal BC; large stone-vaulted tholoi such as La Pastora appear to date later in the sequence. There is plenty of evidence for a wide range of other activity, but no clear sign of permanent, large-scale residence or public buildings or spaces. Results in general support a model of increasingly competitive but ultimately unstable social relations, through various phases of emergence, social competition, display and hierarchisation, and eventual decline, over a period of c. 900 years.

Nope to Nabta Playa (Brass, 2017)

People, pots and domesticates move together.  In North Africa, this started around 6,500 B.C.


Early North African Cattle Domestication and Its Ecological Setting: A Reassessment
Michael Brass (March 2018) Journal of World Prehistory.  Volume 1 / 1987 - Volume 31 / 2018

Nearly four decades have passed since an independent North African centre for cattle domestication was first proposed in 1980, based on the Combined Prehistoric Expedition’s work in the Nabta Playa—Bir Kiseiba region of southern Egypt, and the initial rigorous debates between Andrew B. Smith and Fred Wendorf, Romuald Schild and Achilles Gautier. More recently, geneticists have entered the fray with determinations on the spread of haplotypes, and the timing thereof, that extend the scope and increase the complexity of the debate. Here, a new look at the botanical data and a re-analysis of the geology of Bir Kiseiba–Nabta Playa rejects the ecological foundations of the early African domestication model, while a detailed examination of the published osteological and radiometric data from the same area reveals a more nuanced picture than has been recognised to date. These results are placed into context by a wider review of the genetic and other archaeological evidence from the Western Desert of Northeast Africa, where no other cattle remains designated as domesticated have been found. It is concluded that (a) Bos remains from the early Holocene at Nabta Playa—Bir Kiseiba were those of hunted aurochs; (b) domesticated caprines were likely present in Northeast Africa before domesticated cattle; and (c) the domesticated cattle spreading across Northeast and northern Africa, including Nabta Playa—Bir Kiseiba, from the late seventh millennium BC or early sixth millennium BC onwards were descendants of Bos taurus domesticated in the Middle Euphrates area of the Middle East.
A recent theory proposed by David Wright is that the sudden expansion of domestic cattle in the Sahara contributed greatly to the speed of catastrophic desertification.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hepititis B-eaker (Muhleman et al, 2018)

The Dailymail reports:

"Strain of hepatitis B found on a 4,500-year-old skeleton is the oldest human virus ever to be discovered"   .

As promised by David Reich, research into ancient remains is yielding information that may help conquer some of our most deadly diseases.

Glockenbechergrab ORF.

Although HBV is now known to be millions of years old, scientists are trying to understand how and when it started infecting mammals and finally humans.  Some theories suggest it was party to the OOA exodus, others say it may be more recent.

The infected Bell Beaker man was RISE563 from the cemetery of Osterhofen-Altenmarkt, Germany.  In addition RISE386 from the Sintashta Culture in Russia and a number of other Scythian related groups of Asia have HBV infections of different variants.

The Bell Beaker and a few other individuals belong to a HBV sister clade of the Chimpanzee-Gorilla node, which these scientists points to a more recent infection from Africa spreading into Eurasia.  But a cluster HBV clades in Asian steppe pastoral cultures point to some variants having a deeper history in Eurasia, however deep.

The position taken in this paper is that HBV diversity in moderns is not that informative in light of the high mobility seen in these samples and in recent papers.  (In fact, this grave at Altenmarkt was shown by Douglas Price et al years ago to belong to a high mobility isotopic group)  With that and the extinction of this old clade, the scientist claim that HBV may be overwriting its geographic positions and that the only way to formulate a hypothesis of its human relationship is through direct evidence on ancient human remains.

* News outlets are reporting that the oldest sample is 7,000 years old.  That's because they cut and paste each other without reading the paper.  RISE563 is the oldest reported in this paper.

"Ancient hepatitis B viruses from the Bronze AGe to the Medieval period"
Nature 2018.  Muhlemann, Willerslev et al. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0097-z 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Bear Claw to LPIE

A lot of fur has been flying in the PIE debate recently which has been brought about by the addition of the most recent Near East genomes.  Enjoy the wonder while you can.


I'm now going to take a big bear claw to the notion that PIE can exist without EHG.  A number of the chief Harvard scientists are essentially suggesting this possibility, Lararidis, 2018.  As a consequence, LPIE becomes a chapter in a kaleidoscope narrative.  I'm all about some Gordon Whitakker Proto-Euphratean, but that's a separate topic.  This is about PIE, exterior day 1.


I'll offer a short narrative below to mete out where I think the stronger points can be found to dispel a southern, one half of itself origin.  Maybe I'll expand on these later.


"Strange Wives Part 1"

1.  Proto-Indo-European was the inevitable development of a world-system seeking to gain access to patrilocal, riverine communities in its periphery.  Traders cemented their interests with these fisher-woodsmen around the northern half and western inlets of the two seas the old fashioned way - by making them cousins.  Look no further than academia or entertainment to see what factors drive marriage decisions (and to see how quickly they dissolve when nepotic incentives dry up).  For incipient IE, this had to have happened at leadership levels and perhaps on a more massive scale involving women.

Since these rather small riverine villages were strongly patrilocal, the issues of trade - protection, passage and privilege - could be cultivated by the marriage of a southern-speaking daughter to the foreign lord, with loyalties and shared interests being nursed and expanded generation after generation.  There was an incentive for southern outfits in this global economy to develop these relationships, if for no other reason than to crowd out competing interests.

Make no mistake, the contribution of southern ancestry in PIE (the steppe) originates from this sophisticated world-system on a continuous basis, not some well-positioned archaeological culture in the northern reaches.  These northern and southern ancestries combined to create PIE.

The development of PIE at its most fundamental level requires interaction between these two spheres.  In all likelihood, a global trade language emanating from the Southern Caucasus/Northern Euphrates was widely understood in the basins of both seas, its river villages, and - apparently in many northern homes.  Perhaps a dynamic was in place for hundreds and hundreds of years in which very fertile crescenters overwhelmed the men of renown.

"Strange Wives Part 2"

2.  What is Late Proto-Indo-European?  What should it be?

LPIE is the Corded Ware-ization of the surviving IE groups, excluding Anatolian, Tocharian and Euphratean (if that exists, which I think it does).  That means all surviving IE cultures, to which I would include the Bell Beakers, have significant CW ancestry by different means.  In the case of the Beakers, it is strangely female-mediated over a short segment of time.

Am I wrong about those points?


One point worth considering is the similar but different situation at transitioning Lepenski Vir.  A similar bridal arrangement tamed these patrilocal barbarians, except the stream of ladies is coming from Western Anatolia it seems.  You can see the social process is similar, and necessary.  What this shows is that the situation was the rule, not the exception.

It's exceedingly difficult to see IE developing south of the seas.  The social and linguistic ingredients just aren't there.  Well, half of it is.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Iberian After All (Alberto's Runs)

Let's look at a Szigetzentmiklos Bell Beaker with zero Steppe ancestry, grave 49, I2741.

Previously, I had wondered if this guy was a Spaniard.  I'm pasting what Eurogenes Alberto came up with, although I don't know what methodology or tool he's using (otherwise I'd comment on everything)

Beaker_Hungary_no_steppe:I2741

Iberia_Southwest_CA 48.44%
Czech_MN 28.91%
Baden_LCA 6.25%
Tisza_LN 4.69%
Wales_N 3.91%
Globular_Amphora 3.12%
Koros_HG:I4971 3.12%
Ukraine_Eneolithic:I4110 1.56%
Distance 1.875%

Everything looks pretty square for a guy from Budapest...... except for the Iberia_Southwest_CA 48.44%!
How about another one.

Grave 2 Beaker, (Moslein, 2005)

This is one of two brothers that have the same mother in Alburg, Bavaria, Germany.  Maternally H1e1a.  Since CWC is excluded from these analysis (which is fine), we get inflated Yamnaya, Ukraine and Sweden MN, since it wants to find a big chunk of CW that isn't there.  This small cemetery is described by Heyd as belonging to the later begleitkeramik phase, so we should have a trickle of weird Balkanesque stuff that became increasingly prominent in those Csepel communities early on.  Check.

Again in this example, we're poking around at SW Europe in the mid to low teens.  And what is the inspiration for a decoration such as this?

Beaker_Central_Europe:I3588

Sweden_MN 33.59%
Yamnaya_Samara 33.59%
Ukraine_Eneolithic:I6561 14.06%
Iberia_Central_CA 11.72%
LBKT_MN 5.47%
Greece_N 1.56%

Distance 2.3907%


Most of these folks are within a few generations of being mixed so it's especially important to look at individuals and context.

Anyhow, Iberian (or wherever) is all over the place, albeit very unevenly distributed if real.  Hopefully someone can try Hegenheim again.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Beaker G25 Ancestry Runs (Rocca)

I thought I'd cut and paste some of R. Rocca's early Beaker ancestry runs from Anthrogenica.
Check out his comments.

I'd have preferred to do this myself, but I just don't have time for anything at the moment.  But Rocca's runs are plenty for some commentary, so I'll highlight some of his observations and add a few more with snips from his post.

The first thing he does is take the oldest, directly-dated Bell Beakers and sees what they prefer among Neolithic European populations.  Makes sense.  Here's a snip from the oldest Beaker, a Dutchman.

================================================== ====
>> Beaker_The_Netherlands:I5748
>> 2579–2233 calBCE (3945±55 BP, GrN-6650C)
>>> P312+
================================================== ====
[1] "distance%=2.2331"

CWC_Germany,70
France_MLN,11.4
CWC_Baltic_early,6.8
Yamnaya_Kalmykia,3.8
Yamnaya_Samara,3
Ukraine_Mesolithic,2.6
CWC_Baltic,1.4
Samara_Eneolithic,1
Beaker_Iberia,0
Remedello_BA,0

Comment #1.  You can see that like almost all Bell Beakers, the Dutchman has a very strong affinity for the Corded Ware people, either the German CWC or the Baltic CWC in various proportions.  Except in the Dutchman's case using this measure, it is a whopping 80%.

What you see in these Beakers and other runs are digits for Comb Ware, GAC, Narva or Sweden MN.  This is unquestionably NE European influence coming very directly from the Corded Ware Cultures.  The expansion of CWC in Europe was probably multi-polar, fluid and web-like, so the differences in digits among individuals might reflect the personal genealogies of particular wagon bands.  (being more or less of Swedish Battle Axe, Moravian, Dutch Single Grave, Baltic, etc, etc.)

Culturally this makes a lot of sense to me.  Phenotypically it makes sense.  The very first Mittle-Saale Beaker made sense as being half local CWC and something else.

It's not lost on me that there is a significant presence of R1b in the Narva Baltic where the CWC intruded, but that's a lot late and apparently the wrong stuff, plus we'd be looking at huge chunks of Narva (not the case).

Next, a Z2103 Malopolskan.
================================================== ====
>> Beaker_Poland:I4253
>> Z2103+
>> 2456–2207 calBCE (3850±20 BP, PSUAMS-2339)
================================================== ====
[1] "distance%=2.2247"

CWC_Germany,44.4
Yamnaya_Ukraine,14.2
Vucedol,11.1
Portugal_MN,10.1
Yamnaya_Bulgaria,10.1
Iberia_Southwest_CA,6.6
Blatterhole_MN,1.6
Armenia_ChL,1.4
Poltavka,0.5

Comment #2.  Rocca notes that this Beaker is interesting in that he has a respectable chunk of Vucedol ancestry that his clan and most non-Iberian Beakers lack entirely.  I'm either right or wrong about this (I don't care in the slightest), but I'm pretty sure that a few individuals in Csepel Island, and by extension the Malopolskan region, have direct Yamnaya influence from the Tisza River region and south of this.  In fact, there's cultural influence to suggest this scenario.

I'm not denying the relatedness of the Yamnaya and Beaker Y-chromosomes.  Instead I'm just pointing out that it just ain't that simple, people.  Yes, I'm suggesting Bell Beakers and Yamnaya mixed within an erogenous zone. [cymbal shot]  I mean contact zone.


Now the Italian
================================================== ====
>> Beaker_Northern_Italy:I2478
>> P312+
>> 2194–1939 calBCE (3671±40 BP, LTL-5035A)
================================================== ====
[1] "distance%=2.6952"

CWC_Germany,38.7
Iberia_Southwest_CA,35.4
Czech_MN,14.3
Yamnaya_Bulgaria,7.3
Armenia_ChL,4.3
Beaker_Iberia,0
Remedello_BA,0

Comment #3.  None of the Continental Beakers like them some Remedello, not even the Italian.  But Remedello, Vucedol and SW Iberia seem to have something together not insignificant.  He asks if this is the Stelae Road.  Some-'ems up, don't know what.


================================================== ====
>> Remedello:RISE489
>> I2a-M26
>> 2908-2578 calBCE (4185±70 BP, ETH-12188)
================================================== ====
[1] "distance%=2.3032"

Spain_LNCA,29.5
Koros_EN,17.1
Czech_MN,14.6
Iberia_Southwest_CA,14.5
Tisza_LN,11.5
Vucedol,8.2
Iberia_Central_CA,4.6

================================================== ====
>> Vucedol:I3499
>> 2884-2666 calBCE (4176±28 BP, BRAMS-1304)
>> R1b1a1a2a2-Z2103
================================================== ====
[1] "distance%=2.2451"

Remedello_BA,31.4
Yamnaya_Kalmykia,27.6
Anatolia_ChL,25.4
Tisza_LN,15
Levant_N,0.6

================================================== ====
>> Iberia_SW_Chalcolithic:I6601
>> 2800–2600 BCE (No radiocarbon dates, but only Copper Age Portugese sample)
>> I2
================================================== ====
[1] "distance%=3.2808"

Iberia_ChL,50
Portugal_MN,21.2
Remedello_BA,18.6
Czech_MN,7.9
Tisza_LN,2.3

Comment #4  Clearly, Bell Beakers are poking all around at low levels in the Yamnayo-sphere.  What I've seen here and in other runs is something that splits between Kalmykia and Bulgaria.  If we go back to the Dutch Beaker at the top of the page, there isn't a whole lot of clutter.  Basically we have a fairly clean ancestry of 80% Corded Ware 10% France MN/LN and 10% Yamnaya.

I5748 is early enough and clean enough that he could probably tell you about his great-grandparents on his mom and dad's sides.  Would he tell you that his father's side were full-blooded Yamnaya immigrants or is this an indication that we should be more careful in examining early steppe influence in NE France and Germany?

If you got runs, by all means post them.   

Update
Thanks to R. Rocca for posting these at Anthrogenica, I'll put up Alberto's next, then Andrew K's.

Car Boot Beakers

The DailyMail reports on a box of miscellaneous stuff (probably from an old detectorist) that turned-up at a car boot sale.  Inside was a folded-up work of Beaker gold.



The foil has the characteristic points around the edge, certainly Beaker period.  Not sure how long the unfurled foil was, but it looks longer than the description.









Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cotton Henge to be Bulldozed

Cotton Henge, a 4,000 year old ditched enclosure, will be dozed to make room for a new warehouse that will go out of business in 4 years.  Video interviews in the link.

"Growing anger over new development on top of prehistoric monument"  ITV



I want to put this in context so you can be properly pissed.  The developer and land owner already knew of the existence of the Neolithic ditched enclosure.  Features like this are clearly marked on the plat, the geological-topographical survey, county maps, archaeological surveys and numerous other documents.  > and websites Megalithic UK

Most of the time, springs, mines, small cemeteries, old wells and other such features are marked on the documents used to transfer property.  So if you want to build a warehouse, don't buy a tract and pretend you didn't know there was a 4,000 year old ditched enclosure when you signed the papers.

As a land owner, depending on the country, you have full legal rights to a tract of land including all minerals, water courses, surface and timber rights, so long as they are properly conveyed without reservations.  However, if that tract of land contains a small cemetery or items of archaeological significance you do not have the power to control those because they ARE THE NATURAL RESERVATION of the former owners (or at least a public interest).  You don't have rights to certain waters, easements or public concerns, like hunting endangered species or damming up a navigable creek.

What has happened here is that the developer is claiming that he has been unfairly burdened by the "discovery of an relatively unimportant archaeological site" and that rescue archaeology is the reasonable compromise to satisfy archaeology and development.  Look closely at what their doing.

Here's the thing.  Try to build a picket fence in the village of Cotton without fifty permits from the county and get shot down every time because of the thrity thousand regulations in the building code.  This is a fast-talking company that is twisting the ethical norms for a cheap return.  They give two shits about the local people or their heritage.

The long term damage isn't the loss of one archaeological site, it's that the very concept of rescue archaeology is damaged by shenanigans like this.  Plus the definition of what rescue archaeology is expanded from "oh crap, our dozer hit a stone cist" to one in which the archaeologists drive up to a site driving a cement mixer.  The mutual cooperation and trust between developers, archaeologists, city planners, private property owners, and the citizenry is eroded.  That isn't good for anybody.

See also,
Northhamptonshire Telegraph




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Likely Beaker in Looe

Following the untimely passing of Jean Manco, a fitting follow-on in the West Country.

Dr. Katherin Frieman of Austrailian National University begins excavation Easter Sunday on an Early Bronze Age barrow outside the fishing village of Looe in Cornwall. Heritage Daily and Science Daily.

Pasture outside Looe (Looe fishing tours)
It sounds like a respectable grave in tin country, hopefully Dr. Frieman will keep the newspaper photographers busy!

*Update 4/19.  Excavators discovered a burial urn.  Will add link later.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Jean Manco (in memoriam)

I just read from Anthrogenica that Jean Manco passed away Palm Sunday from cancer.  Very sad to hear.

She wrote several books about the peopling of Europe and she commented on Beakerblog a few times.  Jean also wrote about the architectural history of Bath and Bristol and spent her career in the West Country.


Funny how things work, sometimes we cross paths in different times and in different ways.  She was an expert on Bath Abbey.  Several of my ancestors are buried in the Bath abbey, and I'm grateful for Jean and those that preserve the past and seek to learn more about it.

Her avatar in various forums and websites was the Owl of Athena, which had a special significance to her in the quest for ancient truths and appreciation for wisdom and the arts.  She will be missed.


Sincerest Condolences to her family.

Biography at archaeology wiki


Jean speaking "Who are the Celts?" Youtube

Eursasians, Iberomaurusians & Bell Beakers

With some new genomics data coming out of North Africa, let's try and wring out some potential implications for our interest, the Beaker Phenomenon. (Pleistocene North African genomes link Near Eastern and Sub-Saharan African human populations" Van de Loosdrecht et al, 2018)



Here's the recent history of West North Africa based on the last several studies.

1.  Iberomaurusian is an ancient, distinct and persistent ancestry in northwestern and northcentral North Africans.  Both Natufians and Iberomaurusians have a low (6-7%) affinity to Yoruba, but Yoruba itself has a chunk of something weird in about the same frequency.  A ghost may be lurking the corridors.
Anyhow, the picture is somewhat muddled for this genetic group since we're still mostly using modern Africans to model ancient and highly diverged ones.  The important takeaway though is this, we can firmly name those components associated with the local Paleolithic and any newcomers.

2.  In the epi-Paleolithic/Neolithic transition around the coast of Morocco, the first Cardium Neolithic ancestry significantly adds to Iberomaurusian rather than replacing it.  We see this in Fregel et al, 2017.
That's important because if any Neolithic population were to leave this area and venture into Neolithic Europe, it would certainly carry this Iberomaurusian component to some minor degree.  If Early Neolithic Atlantic Europeans don't have any trace of this in future analyses, then that severely challenges any role North Africa would have in the Neolithization of the western coast of Europe.

3.  A very strong pulse of Continental European ancestry enters Late Neolithic North Africa that appears proportionally similar to some populations in the Middle Neolithic of France and Germany, notably the Salzmunde and Baalberge. Fregel et al, 2017 This is where a lot of questions keep coming back.

First of all, the maternal profiles of some Oasis Berber and Canary populations are similar to the haplogroup frequencies associated with some MN populations of Western Europe.  It's clear there is some ancient shared ancestry beyond blood alleles and mtdna, and no it's not Roman or Medieval.

When we look at the ethnogenesis of Fula people in the Senegal-Gambia region, we have several odd things to look at.

It looks as if R1b-V88 in North Africa comes recently from Southern Europe, which itself is not surprising.  What is surprising is that the time frame in which V88 would branch from Southern Europe (Sardinia?, this study; Iberia?) and that it puts us within an archaeological timeframe in which there is heavy communication between Iberia and NW Africa.  In the Beaker period, there appear to be cultural inflows and outflows, but a lot of directionality in the Beaker period.  Then there is the presence of T-13910 in Africa which needs some splain'n.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe all of the Barcelona Bell Beakers were T-13910, which is interesting given the fact that the same Paris Street Beaker males were also R1b-V88 or close.
There's many aspects to this, but at this point I don't care.  Bring forth the DNA!!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bell Beaker Using RADON-B

Data nerds will like this website,  RADON-B
They have about 222 Beakers in the database along with reference material for each individual.  For large archaeological complexes that were migratory (and whose data is spread across 20-something languages), this can be a handy tool.

Snip of Kornice Beaker from RADON-B
Understanding how to interpret the data is necessary to make any useful sense of it.  Of those that understand it, Beakers have been shown to forma cultural cline from Southwest Europe to Northwest Europe.  (One of RADON-B's contributors is Johannes Müller, who along with Van Willigen, established that directionality in 2001.

It is curious to see a number of early dates in other places, such as the Netherlands and Hungary.  The earliest Beaker date appears to be in Csepel-Háros, but Muller and Van Willigen consider these contexts, source materials and data quality in the larger picture (page 73).


A lot of folks are in this database which can be sorted by date, geography, or cultural attributes.  You can export a selected group (Beakers) directly into an excel spreadsheet for analysis.  Since I hate math and have no time, it won't be me.  Good luck.




"Problems with the Periodization of the Early Bronze Age in the Carpathian Basin in Light of the Older and Recent AMS Radiocarbon Data"  Géza SZABÓ, 2017. Archeometriai Műhely 2017/XIV./2.HU

"Chronology and Bell Beaker Common Ware"  Martine Piguet and Marie Besse, 2009 RADIOCARBON, Vol 51, Nr 2, 2009, p 817–830

"Bell Beakers in Spain and Portugal: Working with radiocarbon dates in the 3rd millennium BC"  Richard J. Harrison, 1988 Antiquity 62(236):464-472 · September 1988

"Beaker People in Britain: migration, mobility and diet" MP Pearson et al, 2017.  Durham University http://dx.doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2016.72

Monday, March 19, 2018

Blood and Guts Bronze Age (Horn & Kristiansen, 2018)

"Warfare in Bronze Age Society" is a work about the global emergence of militarized, heroic societies that seeded the early military aristocracies.  It's a time of plenty and plunder, warriors and other men (Skogstrand, 2016).  For belligerent societies where "bellicose masculinity" was loudly displayed, it is also irony that the European population doubled in it's first 500 years (2,000 - 1,500 BC).     

This work is edited by Christian Horn and Kristian Kristiansen but include various experts looking at the different aspects of warriors, weapons and warfare of the Bronze Age.  The first three chapters are free to view.

Tollense River Battle (ScienceMag)

Chapters:

Introducing Bronze Age warfare (Christian Horn and Kristian Kristiansen)

Bronze Age encounters – violent or peaceful? (Anthony Harding)

Warfare and the political economy: Europe 1500–1100 BC (Kristian Kristiansen)

Warfare vs exchange? – thoughts on an integrative approach (Christian Horn)

Maritime warfare in Scandinavian rock art (Johan Ling and Andreas Toreld)

Bronze weaponry and cultural mobility in Late Bronze Age Southeast Europe (Barry Molloy)

The emergence of specialized combat weapons in the Levantine Bronze Age (Florian Klimscha)

Beyond the grave – crafting identities in the Middle Bronze Age Southern Trans Urals (Derek Pitman and Roger Doonan)

Carp's tongue swords and their use: functional, technological, and morphological aspects (Marc Gener)

Warfare or sacrifice? Archaeological research on the Bronze Age site in the Tollense Valley, Northeast Germany (Gundula Lidke, Ute Brinker, Detlef Jantzen, Anne Dombrowsky, Jana Dräger, Joachim Krüger and Thomas Terberger)

Violence and ritual in Late Bronze Age Britain: weapon depositions and their interpretation (Tobias Mörtz)

'Warrior graves' vs warrior graves in the Bronze Age Aegean (Ioannis Georganas)

The Chief and his sword? Some thoughts on the swordbearer's rank in the Early Nordic Bronze Age (Jan-Heinrich Bunnefeld)

Body aesthetics, fraternity, and warfare in the long European Bronze Age – postscriptum (Helle Vandkilde)

Tollense Warriors (ScienceMag)

See also [Danish Halberds] ; [Dents in our Confidence] ; [Unetice Armies?] ; [Death by Combat] ;

And also
"Violence and Virility" Horn, 2013
"Harm's Way: An Approach to Change and Continuity in Prehistoric Combat" Horn, 2014


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

2 BA Iberians

Two Bronze Age Iberians look like Eastern France Beakers.  One is DF27. 

Epi-Cardial is genetically Cardial + the letters Epi. 

The Basques look close to LN/CHL

Some other interesting stuff.  See Bernard'blog in sidebar

Monday, March 12, 2018

Kin in Kornice (PAP)

Science in Poland has this "Unusual journey of culture in prehistoric Europe" on a Beaker cemetery in Kornice, Poland.

Kornice Beaker, 1561, (Maksym Mackiewicz UWr via PAP)
You learn a little from everywhere...
"Our samples from several sites in Lower and Upper Silesia were analysed in the Reich Laboratory of David Reich from the Department of Genetics of Harvard Medical School in Boston by the team led by David Reich and Iñigo Olalde" - explains Dr. Furmanek in the materials sent by the University of Wroclaw. - "The largest number of samples comes from the extremely interesting Bell-Beaker culture cemetery in Kornice, in the commune of Pietrowice Wielkie in Silesia. With regard to these burials, we have also obtained interesting information about family relationships between some of the dead. We have identified a father and two of his children - a son and a daughter".
It'd be interesting to see how much admixture existed between the father and his wife.

More on this cemetery and Silesia
"New data for resear on the Bell Beaker Culture in Upper Silesia Poland"

In the news [Link]

Thursday, March 8, 2018

All About Iberia (Goncalves, 2017)

This is a large 2017 compendium on Iberian Bell Beakers (linked below) with a lot of attention on Portugal and Southern Spain.  The leading archaeologists from the corners of the peninsula presented their cases knowing the early results of the Olalde et al, 2017 pre-print.




Iberia is not that simple for beakers and you get a sense of that reading from the authors presenting here.  It's hard to interpret Iberian Beakers as a coherent group when they are so inconsistent from site to site, region to region.  But it's important to remember the size of the peninsula when overlayed on a map of Europe.  It's a huge area with great human numbers of diverse backgrounds in ancient times.  So rather than saying there is an Iberian Beaker, there's probably several different Beaker nations or traveling groups that were in a constant state of flux and having slightly different cultural backgrounds. 

One of the Portuguese Olalde samples was a 'Beaker without Bell Beakers' as presented by Zilhao.  That's a complicated situation when the individual is only classified as Beaker by a scrap of gold, two buttons and turns up genomically Neolithic (not saying that's wrong).  But identity isn't always as simple as the Amesbury Archer.

And then Goncalves seems to suggests in the introduction that acacia decoration is found outside of Iberia everywhere in a very low degree which would be interesting. (again the translation is garbled, I may have misinterpreted this)



Gonçalves, V. S. (Ed.). (2017). Sinos e Taças. Junto ao oceano e mais longe. Aspectos da presença campaniforme na Península Ibérica. Lisboa: UNIARQ - Centro de Arqueologia da Universidade de Lisboa.  http://hdl.handle.net/10451/31912

Universidade de Lisboa, UNIARQ download [Link]

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Epigentic traits of Bohemian Beakers (Czarnetzki, 1976)

In 1969 Alfred Czarnetzki examined a collection of ancient skulls spanning the Late Neolithic, Beaker Period and the Aunjetitz (Unetice) Culture in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia.  His analysis of early epigenetic and non-metric traits got a supporting boost from the recent Olalde paper.

Although he and his colleagues had examined numerous traits in this set, in the article he chose to focus on persistent metopism for discussion.  Commonly believed to be an epigenetic trait, he discusses the frequencies of males and females among these remains and makes some comments about gender-based mobility, ethnic intermingling and population continuity.
"Metopic Suture" Cambridge Anatomy

Persistent metopism is different from metopic craniosynostosis in that the rather than the premature fusion of the plates, the fibrous sutures between plates persist through adulthood creating a sort of soft line.

Czarnetzki found (here free to read at JSTOR after registering) what appeared to be a clear break between the Late Neolithic and the Bell Beaker where the incidence in the females is reduced in half.  The frequency between Bell Beaker and Unetice is similar, which is viewed as population continuity.  Only looking at this one trait, he proposed that during the Bell Beaker period there had being a influx of immigrants that was male-biased into the local population.  During the Beaker period he sees a leveling of sorts with male immigrants and local women, this in turn is expressed in new frequencies during Unetice.

Metopism does not appear to be correlated with common head shapes and it's probably not useful other than looking at local populations within a short period.  But older studies like this deserve a victory lap for being a vanguard of new anthropological data and for being right at the wrong time.

"Epigenetic traits: The change of frequencies during the Neolithic-Bronze Age Transition in Bohemia"  Anthropologie XIV/1,2 Alfred Czarnetzki (1976)


If I don't flunk out of this, I'll try to do some modeling of different Beaker populations within the coming days and weeks.  If you have anything of your own, please post in the comments section.  There's enough genomes now to start making some real use of what's available.  More to follow.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Frog Pose or Yamna Repose?

Although the male in grave 3 is not included in the current Olalde paper, his burial pose is more interesting now with the revelation that one of his apparent kin (I4253) is Z2103.  These residents were from a small cemetery in Samborzec, Little Poland and genetically tested in "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwestern Europe"

In a paper entitled "Yamnaya Groups and Tumuli West of the Black Sea", Volker Heyd made this comment regarding the orientation of bodies in the Western Yamnaya:
"The position of the body in the [Yamna] grave pit is typically supine with the flexed legs...Flexed legs are often still upright, even after thousands of years in the graves, but may have also fallen to one side due to decomposition of the body tissues.  Also, the so-called frog-position of the legs might be due to this process of decay."
Male Archer looking East.  Samborzec, stanowisko 1, grave 3 (Makarowicz)
I've discussed frog-burials in this post "The Samborzec Sage" and my interpretation was that these could have been devaraja poses of high status males that had relaxed within the container.  But Heyd's comment makes more sense after looking again at grave 3's clearly supine position. 

The legs of grave 3 may have originally looked like this, which is how Yamna people were buried.

So now the fun part.  What does this mean?  Z2103 is now in two Beaker graves I2787, I7044 from Szigetszentmiklos and I4253 from Samborzec.  A man at Samborzec appears to have been buried with a mixture of Beaker and Yamnaya rites.  But what does the phylogeny mean in light of this?

One way to look at this is that there is a clear sign of a founder effect heading West.  Looking strictly at the phylogeny of R1b, and not taking anything else into consideration, this of course makes a lot of sense.  That solves it for a lot of people.  But extrapolating geo-phylogeny on an archaeological culture can be a problem when the two are in apparent disagreement.

Another way to look at it (until Western kurgans prove or disprove the presence of L51/P312) is that in the highly heterogeneous border outpost of the Csepel populations (and by extension the closely related Samborzec community), Bell Beakers and Yamnaya, confusingly, actually mixed to a small and unimportant degree.

Within these old Beaker cemeteries of Békásmegyer, Budakalasz, Szigetszentmiklós, Bell Beakers appear as a minority that increases but it is clear that there are different peoples mixing at these sites and that mixing is a cultural trajectory away from Bell Beaker.

I2787 at Szigetszentmiklos could be a red herring or it could provide a connection. While it's obvious Beaker is paternally related to Z2103 and shares a similar ideaology, and while a bunch of scenarios and chronologies are possible, drawing straight arrows from one to the other is an over-simplification or wrong.

But in any case, this one grave is an interesting one with mixed traits.