Sunday, February 25, 2024

Transformation of Europe in April 2024 (Abstracts)

 Here's some interesting abstracts from "The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millenium BC" in Budapest, Hungary.

A lot of emphasis on the Western Steppe and the directionality of change.  Change everything.

I'll post some of 2023 later...

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Adult-Child Beaker Graves (Zedda et al, 2023)

The two burials examined in this paper solidify previous research on Beaker family connections and social practices.  Here, a boy and girl are buried with close female relatives. See also

A previous post on the Dunstable Down burial [here] looked at the echinoid phenomenon; interestingly Altwies was surrounded by "...a stone ‘ring’, possibly made of fossilized shell..." (Le Brun-Ricalens, 2011)  The similarities of these British and Continental graves made the possibility of some kind of rite a question of interest.

The young girl was buried with her paternal aunt, a woman plausibly young enough to have been unmarried, an important point due to the long-distance female exogamy of this population. The boy was buried with his mother.  Both pairs had substantial Steppe ancestry and share closeness with populations of Bohemia, although some interpretive caution is advised.

Table 1 (so is it H5c or H33c?)

Most adult-child burials across Eurasia will prove to be children of close female relatives.  Occasionally non-related women may be buried with children and then it's fair to ask why.  But if we're going to ask why, let's not immediately jump to the least likely of all possibilities!

"A young adult woman, who had a typical ancestry of the Iberian Peninsula, was buried atop the skeleton of an infant girl in an artificial cave. The infant was neither her daughter nor a close biological kin, but had a comparatively high amount of steppe ancestry27,82,83. We may speculate that kinship practices were different in the southern domain of the Bell Beaker culture, where collective burial traditions in megalithic tombs and artificial caves continued uninterrupted"

What??  Why is placing the body of a young dead woman over the body an infant evidence of uninterrupted megalithic burial tradition?  The young woman likely had one of two relationships with the infant. 1) She was by family marriage an aunt, cousin or older step-sister to the infant and added weeks after the first burial for whatever netherworldly reasons, 2) She was sacrificed and placed on top of the first grave.  I think the second option is unlikely because the baby was both and infant and a girl.  Probably, it was just a sad misfortune of two deaths and it made sense to bury a baby and woman together.

Do these burials point to a patriarchal society as the authors suggest?  To the degree that we can speculate without further evidence, probably so. 

Although ALW2 was a boy of only 3-4 years old, his maleness is emphasized in this combined grave.  It's important to note nearby grave 1 (with no dna) could have been his young father.  Perhaps as sole male survivor of his young father's house, his social position was more meaningful to his mother and to those than knew them.  I recall a paper on idealized Czech child burials by Jan Turek, (I'll update when I find it).

For LUT1 (aunt), to be within close proximity of her brother's family would likely mean she was unmarried.  She would have been within the median range of first marriage for girls in Europe historically, so it's plausible.  This, in theory, reinforces the patrilocality of this community. 

Zedda, N., Meheux, K., Blöcher, J. et al. Biological and substitute parents in Beaker period adult–child graves. Sci Rep 13, 18765 (2023).

Friday, January 26, 2024

Back Again 2.3 (Seriously)

 Beaker Blog will be a thing in 2024. 

I think I've healed enough from my seven or eight divorces to get into this again.  Beakerblog may develop into a channel this year.  I will have to explore the possibilities since I don't live in Europe and it is difficult when the topic is quintessentially European .  The important thing is to do and blog about what I enjoy.  I look forward to the months ahead.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Norman after all?

Well, the new Anglo-Saxon paper is out and it is another notch in the belt for the ancient historians.

 I'll be watching to see what the refined quantities of post-Saxon French turn out to be.


Eleanor and Henry Plantagenet

I've thought for a long time estimates on French settlement were too low.  After all, how can two countries be politically unified for so long without significant mobility?


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Sanity Check, Geography of admixture (Lazaridis et al, 2022)

I've scoured papers, forums and blogs, and weirdly to no one does it seem important that losing 40,000 square miles* around the time of a great admixture event seem worth mentioning.

A vast plateau of swamps, sand dunes, peat bogs, deserts and alluvial plains wiped out in a matter of generations.  And the people?  Can we assume people lived there as most humans of our past lived within a few miles of a major water feature?   Then came salinization.  

Does anyone think it might be important to how two peoples crash into each other?


"I'm still confused BBB, please explain"

* Compilation of geophysical, geochronological, and geochemical evidence indicates a rapid Mediterranean-derived submergence of the Black Sea's shelf and subsequent substantial salinification in the early Holocene


Update 1.  See my comment below. 

Update 2. "A new approach to the problem of the Neolithisation of the North-Pontic area: is there a north-eastern kind of Mediterranean Impresso pottery?"


Potsherds from a few vessels with Cardium decoration were recently found in old collections of some Neolithic sites of the Northern Black Sea area. A good samples of the valves of brackish water ostracods were discovered in the raw material in most of these vessels. This could indirectly indicate the presence of Neolithic settlements with Cardium pottery on what is now a flooded region of the northern Black Sea coast. Some data show that its inhabitants could have been the initial source of the Neolithisation of neighbouring inland territories. Thus, the whole local Neolithic in the region is interpreted as a northeastern branch of the Mediterranean Neolithic with Impresso and Cardium pottery

Update 3.  FrankN wrote this in 2019 "How did CHG get into Steppe_EMBA? Part 2: The Pottery Neolithic"  He poopoos on Dmytro Gaskevych's idea that Mediterrean-based Impresso folks settled the area based on adna.  Given that Circum-Mediterrean Impresso peoples are probably very heterogenous, I think fairly weak argument.  It's a matter of which enclave produced the stream of settlers.

Reading further though, some agreement on the presence of CHG in the North Black Sea.  Very reason to think it was more prominent across the ancient northern Black Sea, than just the 1/3 northeasternly portion where we know it was abundant.