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)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dogs and Donuts in the CWC

Last week I read a fascinating paper by Kyselý, Dobeš, Svoboda, 2017 - abstract below.  I'll briefly share some of their pay-per-view findings, but my interest is the meaning behind this phenomenon.  Related to this previous post:  "Woman with a Wolf-Toothed Necklace"

In a cemetery at Březiněves, Czech Republic, Kyselý, Dobeš, Svoboda examine what they believe is the largest collection of tooth and shell necklaces in the whole of Europe.  The distribution of shell and teeth are mostly necklaces, but in many cases the placement of shell beads or teeth also suggest decoration on certain garments, like women's hobbit cloaks, hoods, capes and purses.

Stuff and fake stuff. Fig. 7 (Kyselý, Dobeš, Svoboda, 2017)
What's interesting about Březiněves, like another recent Corded Ware site in Germany, is that the overwhelming majority of teeth are from domestic dog canines, mostly not wolves, but in a few other cases the canines or incisors of other animals, even canine imitations (above).  The shell beads are all from imported freshwater bivalves, which I imagine gave them the nacre luster of their day.

In the CWC it appears that only women wore a necklaces of canis canines separated by beads of freshwater bi-valve shells.  Although pearly buttons and solar emblems sometimes appear alone, and although dog teeth adorn certain women's accessories, the fashioning of the materials in the tooth-shell necklace is rather specific.  The tooth-shell necklace is so common and its construction is so prescribed that it would seem reasonable to think that it has a deeper meaning to the wearers than a simple fashion trend.  This is what I commented to JV in that first post, paraphrasing a few points from Theoi:
Modern Bi-vavles are called "naiads" [18th century taxonomy] after the nymphs of the springs, creeks and wetlands. Within the context of Greek religion, these nymphs of the springs are servants to Artemis (similar to Frigg), wetnurses of babies and overseers of girls. Conversely, boys are shepherded by the sun god "Apollo" [associated with wolves], as in the Roman myth of Romulus and Remus.  When a child reached a certain age, they would return to a spring for some sort of ceremony and sacrifice for thanks and passing into independence.  [Theoi, 2017]
And just to clarify after re-reading that statement, calling pearly mussels 'naiads' is only a modern-English taxonomical convention, nothing to suggest a concrete association between naidads and bivalves in ancient times that I am aware of.  Quite a few freshwater plant and animal species incorporate the mythological name in its taxonomical name.

But the point I was clumsily trying to make is that the association between these two species could be explained as a metaphor in Indo-European religion, specifically the relationship between Apollo and Artemis and their divine responsibilities, being suitable proxies for most Indo-European religions.  (And it is interesting to note the exclusivity mentioned in Kyselý et al between these necklaces and the solar crosses, and that they are generally worn by women, not men)

Romulus and Remus saved

So again, why would dog teeth be associated with wolves, wolves with a Sun god, and a Sun god with (generally child-bearing age) Corded Ware women?  Let me attempt to connect fifty thousand dots just for the heck of it.

The name of one of Apollo's epithets, Lyceius, is itself very likely a homophonic metaphor of the Proto-Indo-European names for wolf (*wĺ̥kʷos ) (or Lykeios -wolf slayer) and shining light (*lewkós).  Similar constructions can be made in the other religions as well, certainly Germanic and Celtic religions.  So how does that relate to dogs?

Indo-Europeanists Gamkrelidze and Ivanov have made the case that dogs and wolves were conflated in Indo-European speech and religion (1995, page 505).  Perhaps PIE dogs were more wolf-like and a lot less like Neolithic village dogs.  Regardless, I'd venture to bet that dog canines were suitable substitutes for a preference of rarer wolf teeth and that the hypothesis might testable by looking at the most elite CWC female burials or the oldest burials.  It's also possible that CWC folks saw no functional distinction between teeth of the two sub-species whatsoever.

Another possibility is that the canines of shepherd dogs were incorporated into these amulet necklaces for protection against wolves in addition to general misfortune.  A paper by Jean-Marc Moriceau (2014) relates a sad reality once common in wolf-infested Europe; from a small village in France, 1749:
“Marie, aged approximately 7 years, daughter of Jacques Prudent and his first wife, Tiennette Maroyer, was snatched from her doorway by a wolf and devoured in a field. Only her head, one arm and her stomach were found, and nothing besides. These pitiful remains were buried in the cemetery of this church the following day, fifth October, before my entire parish, who had gathered for Sunday Mass.”
Ironic that such a dark animal subject to local bounties and tributes, a terror of children's stories, an epithet of raiders and berserkers, and a real-life menace to children and livestock would be so venerated in IE folklore and religion.  Could it be that the purpose of the teeth and shell is not so much a fashion, but the fact that women of a certain belief system have male and female children?


Dance of the Naiades (Adolphe Lalyre)


Drilled teeth and shell artefacts from a grave at Prague-Březiněves and a review of decorative artefacts made from animal material from Corded Ware culture in the Czech Republic
Kyselý, R., Dobeš, M. & Svoboda, K. Archaeol Anthropol Sci (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-017-0514-5 [Link]
Necklaces or other decorations made from drilled animal teeth and small perforated shell beads are typical burial objects of graves from the Late Eneolithic Corded Ware culture (c. 2900–2300 bc) in the territories of the Czech Republic, based on local data, central Germany, and to lesser degree in some other European regions. The richest collection of tooth pendants and shell beads so far discovered in Bohemia, and potentially the whole of Europe, derives from the recent excavation at Prague-Březiněves (595 tooth finds; 2801 complete shell beads and their 5586 fragments). A detailed analysis of this find forms the first part of the paper. The second, comparative section reviews all available graves (134 graves) of this culture from the territories of the Czech Republic that contain decorative items made from animal material: drilled teeth and imitation teeth, small beads of shell or bone and larger discs made of shell (or sometimes bone) called “solar” discs because of the decoration based on the symbol of a cross. Altogether, over 4000 teeth finds (from 88 graves) and over 30,000 finds of shell ring (68 graves), serving as beads or pendants, were recorded. Furthermore, 58 solar discs in 37 graves were recorded. The graves discussed here are mostly of women, either young or older; but children also appear. The frequent co-occurrence of teeth and shell beads (small decorative items) and their tendency to be mutually exclusive with larger solar discs (possibly brooches with a variety of functions) attest to two phenomena. Dog teeth, especially canines and incisors, clearly predominate in the collections of drilled teeth (in Březiněves min. 502 tooth finds representing at least 403 teeth and at least 73 dogs). Teeth of wild carnivores—wolf (Canis lupus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), wild cat (Felis silvestris), badger (Meles meles), otter (Lutra lutra), smaller mustelids, and brown bear (Ursus arctos)—and deer (Cervus elaphus) provide clear evidence of their presence in the environment. Two drilled human premolars are highly exceptional finds. Decorated discs made from the shells of the non-autochthonous freshwater mussel Margaritifera auricularia found at Prague-Březiněves and other Czech sites suggest importation from western or southern Europe. Despite there being significant inter-grave differences in the composition of the collections, the regular appearance of the phenomena described in this research in c. 10% of all graves of this culture, together with the uniformities in the manufacture of the items, suggests relatively strict rules with respect to Corded Ware funeral customs. Nevertheless, differences in the proportions of artefacts within the region were observed, such as a shift to a relatively higher frequency of discs, a greater specialisation on dog canines and incisors and the exclusion of imitation teeth between typological (and probably chronological) groups of this culture. The role of dogs, the meaning of these phenomena and their relation to the broader temporo-spatial context are widely discussed.




See also:
"The Structure and Complexity of Corded Ware Mortuary Practices; a bi-ritual communal burial at Slany (Bohemia) and its social significance" (Jan Turek)

"Dog tooth studded purse" (National Geographic)

"A Reader in Comparative Indo-European Religion"  Ranko Matasović, 2016

"Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans. A Reconstruction and Historical Analysis of a Proto-Language and a Proto-Culture by Th.V.Gamkrelidze & V.V. Ivanov (page 505)



Friday, September 1, 2017

Alpine Savages, Valencia de Vucedol, Westphalian Weirdos

"Piece of Cake!"

Maybe a soul or two will remember this odd paper by Beau et al, 2017.  It's significance seems lost so far, so here's a simplified narrative: A predatory and expansive ethnic emerged in the MN Michelsberg, apparently a lightly-footed, pit-burying, hunter-heavy Atlantic with short heads.  Either the savages 'hunted' farmers beyond their borders or they represent a localized ethnic stratum, either way they appear genetically distinct from the people they ritually victimized.  Is this genetic apartheid also visible at Blatterhole in Westphalia? (Blätterhof, Blätterhohle)

This culture bleeds influences into a few other successor cultures; important ones with so-far uninteresting genetic anomalies you might recall.  The Michelsberg mito-profiles are interesting in that light.  A paper by Katrina Dulias et al was due to be published already this month and it will be interesting to see their analysis on the expansion of H1 and H3 from the Southwest.  More on Christina Roth, 2016 with mito-turnover in the Mesetas below. 

Before moving on to Baalbergers, Blatterhohleans and Barcelonans, it might be helpful or not helpful to look back on how American anthropologists viewed the origin of big-bodied brachycephals of the Late Neolithic during this last century.  Earnest Hooton and his students viewed the rugged 'Alpine' racial type to likely be a Mesolithic relict from small pockets of Western Europe that slowly re-emerged through a combination of selection and miscegenation.  Of course they understood that brachycephals were also lightly represented in pockets of the Near East and recognized a general brachycephalization trend, but they also understood that the Late Neolithic saw massive migration from the East into the West of Europe.  Despite this, Hooton preferred the view that this massive physique was more likely a re-emergence of the savage in the horridly barbaric Middle Neolithic.

While modern osteologists working in Central and Eastern Europe are dodgy about the directional origin of the Beaker 'Alpine ethnic', from what I've read of the six or so leading experts in Central Europe, I'd bet they prefer a Western origin of the Beaker physique.  To make the matter more complex is the fact that most ethnic Bell Beakers very likely have substantial Corded Ware ancestry and cultural heritage (if not a majority) even if the communities didn't exactly overlap spatially or chronologically.  And for extra credit to this problem, it's also likely that later ethnic Beakers of the Eastern group intermingled with unrelated Steppe groups (to both themselves or a separate Corded Ware); personally I would point to Szigetszentmiklós (I2787) as direct evidence of a potential Beaker-Yamna hybrid.

The nearly certain Corded Ware ancestry of the North Central Beakers, and really almost all non-Iberian Beakers, is problematic when looking at the Bell Beaker racial type because not many of their distinct features could be attributable to the more slightly built CWC.  OTOH, Beakers clearly have a larger amount of what looks like WHG ancestry and it would necessarily have to be this specific ancestry that accounts for some of their unique features if Corded Ware ancestry represents the entirety of their recent Steppe heritage.  Clearly the Meseta underwent a large change about the time of the Beakers, and these bulbous-headed giants lack a significant Steppe component.  So what the heck does that mean?


Anyhow, when you look at the Baalbergers from Salzmünde or the Blatterhohle Westphalians such as Bla16 I1593, something interesting becomes a possibility.  So for fun, let's pretend for a moment that the so-called Steppe migration did in fact happen in multiple waves instead of a single wave as currently understood by the Allentoft, Haack and Olalde papers.  Would the earliest waves have comparable amounts of CHG compared to the last wave, assuming the Corded Ware represents the last wave?  And what was the make up of the Northwest and Western Black Sea if that was an area that the initial wave formed?

Finally, we go to the Barcelonan Bell Beakers.  The current view is that Iberian Beakers contributed almost nothing to the Continental Beaker ethnic.  This is put forth in "The Bell Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwestern Europe".  That must be a false dichotomy because it is inconceivable on multiple grounds.  Iberian Beakers expanded powerfully into Europe.  That is not the same as 'Iberians expanded powerfully into Europe'.  So like Heyd has written, in broad strokes a picture is forming, but the details might be different than expected.  Right now there is a simple narrative, but by this time next year, we might find ourselves again passing the same tree.

It might be a good idea to, once again, re-read "Kossinna's Smile".

Monday, August 7, 2017

"Death by Combat" Page 2. (Needham et al, 2017)

This is page 2 of "Death by Combat" by Needham et al, 2017.
Having now read the paper in its entirety, some interesting questions...

Racton's Dagger.  Fig 17  (Needham et al, 2017, photograph Stuart Needham)

We might carefully assume that the dagger buried with Racton Man (above) was on his person when he died, Racton apparently having lost a dagger fight.  If that were true, it'd be interesting that the victor and his company did not take Racton's dagger having the power to do so, an item that would be very highly coveted for the time.  This potentially tells us about the nature of the encounter.

In his book "Feud in the Icelandic Saga", Jesse Byock (1984) makes a case that certain fundamentals of conflict resolution are woven into the themes of Icelandic (and by extension, IE) sagas.  Every story has woven within it a blood feud, a holmgang or einvigi.

Needham et al seem to view this death in that light, as an einvigi (single combat dual) and they further propose that this was because of a leadership contest.  That may be the case, but it could be as something stupid as a foul remark and a challenge to dual.  Either way, it is reasonable to think that this fight was mano-to-mano.


Milston Hill Dagger of similar riveted style.  From Fig 22 (Needham et al, 2017)

Like most Beakers, Racton Man was buried in a wooden enclosure or container with his head resting on a pillow.  When his body decomposed, his head rolled off the pillow giving its position in the grave.  There was also no perceivable rodent activity, so it would seem the container was fairly well constructed.

In addition to this, it can't be ruled out that he was also beheaded at death.  The attacker very forcefully made a succession of blows, any of which could have caused death.

And finally, to add something concerning high status dagger burials...

"It is intriguing that among these injuries, a high proportion are arm injuries: for example, a forearm parry fracture at Chilbolton, Hampshire; a healed upper arm fracture at Liffs Low (Beaker burial), Derbyshire; healed forearm fractures at Pyecombe, East Sussex, Barnack, Cambridgeshire, and Fordington Farm, Dorset; an extensive wound to the left wrist at Callis Wold 23, East Yorkshire, which the recipient survived; and a possible upper arm injury at Tallington, Lincolnshire. At Court Hill, Somerset, a left humerus chopped right through was interpreted as the probable cause of death, and a burial at Amesbury, Wiltshire, had suffered the same fate, but also lacked its right arm, skull and mandible. Burial 11 at Staxton Beacon, East Yorkshire, had a major weapon injury to the left shoulder.103 Taken together, these begin to look significant, particularly since leg injuries seem to be negligible by comparison. There are also several skull injuries of varied kinds. All but one of the skeletons is sexed and all are males. Thorpe saw such injuries as evidence that recipients were ‘killed in the course of small-scale conflicts, whose bravery was then recognised by a prestigious burial’.104 It may now be possible to venture more on the particular social context of some conflicts."

With all the engraved daggers, what went on at Stonehenge and Mont Bego anyway?
And hat tip to Andrew, see part 1

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mother Lode

Beakerblog found the mother lode of all flint mothers this week.  Some of the nodules are huge, Danish dagger worthy.  This particular lot lode is weirdly like 90% flint, different colors, different qualities.  Not exaggerating.  There is literally several TONS (tons!) of it is this particular parking lot.


The best place to find flint is actually in the parking lots of offices and businesses that have decorative rock beds.  A lot of time they truck in river stone.  The best way to know for sure you've got flint is to strike it and it'll smell like a cigarette lighter.

Always ask permission to hunt for rocks, very especially on private lands, and probably the same for doctor's offices, banks and small businesses.  My advice for the buy-n-large box stores is, well, that's for another blog.