Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mad Skills, Meaning Nils (Kuijpers, 2017)

Kuijpers argues that archaeometric examination of early metal works have produced results that are often projected directly as raw data onto a social framework.  In doing so, much of the context is absent or a different picture is created altogether.

It's simplifying those things that require great skill and time at the forge but look easy in the mature hands of the craftsman.  Through the eyes and in the hands of the craftsmen were ancient works created; it's in this dimension where Kuijpers argues so much of our understanding depends.

"The Blacksmith",  Minneapolis Museum of Art, (Franz von Defregger)

"There are two distinct frameworks in which prehistoric technologies are studied: a material framework and a social framework."  [Kuijpers, 2013 proposed a third "psychophysical framework"]..This framework takes into account prehistoric skill, cognition, and the senses"
Kuijpers proposes a 'sensory update' to the chaîne opératoire in reconstructing the processes of metal production, limited to the smithyVandkilde, 2010, had suggested applying this approach to metal production, which had been applied with success by lithics researchers. 

This sensory update optimizes the operational chain by including those ques used by the smith: colors, smells, hardness, speed, malleability, plumes, etc.  From these ques a decision tree forms that illuminates the mental processes of the smith during the initial production using raw materials.  From this expanded approach, additional information is learned, such as the skill-level of EBA craftsmen, which is highly variable and more often 'motley' in Kuijper's view.

But most important a decision tree emerges based on the way different materials were worked in order to achieve a desired endstate.  In this way, much more can be reverse engineered out of an object, particularly it's use need if the artisan was skilled.  About 10-15 pages.  See also: Kuijpers, 2018

A Sensory Update to the Chaîne Opératoire in Order to Study Skill: Perceptive Categories for Copper-Compositions in Archaeometallurgy
Kuijpers, M.H.G. J Archaeol Method Theory (2017).

This paper introduces the methodology of perceptive categories through which an empirical analysis of skill is achievable, taking European Bronze Age metalworking as a case study. Based on scientific data provided by the material sciences, in this case compositional and metallographic analyses of Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age axes, the thresholds to categorise and interpret these data, and organise them in a chaîne opératoire, are centred on the human senses—and thus on metalworking as a craft. This is a pragmatic approach that appreciates scientific measurements of metal objects as essential empirical evidence whilst recognising that a considerable share of these archaeometric data are inapt or too detailed for an understanding of skill. This empirical approach towards skill is relevant to our knowledge of the role of crafts and materials in the past. After all, skill is a fundamental asset for the production of material culture, and a distinct human-material relationship characterised by an intimate form of material engagement.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

More Loch Ness Beakers (AOC Archaeology)

New Beaker cist from across a medical center in Drumnadrochit via DailyMail.

(AOC Archaeology via Scotland Herald)
Previously, there was a stone lined cist discovered under during construction of the medical center [this post].  A lot of superlatives here and there, still trying to figure out what it is that is so exciting.  In one article they seem to suggest that there are more graves??

(AOC Archaeology via DailyMail)

One thing that is astonishing, however, is how far Beakers spanned in the Island of Britain within just a few generations and considering what appears to have been near total population replacement by the Middle Bronze Age.  That's epic.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hell on Horseback - Únětice Armies? (Harald Meller, 2017)

There is an image of Early Bronze Age warriors as solitary figures who seldomly engaged in combat, but looked the part. When they did go to combat, it was some sort of insipid, highly-individualized type of combat without any real purpose other than general cock-strutting and virtue broadcasting.  Heads spinning off shoulders and torched landscapes would have been an implausible narrative for this period.

"Asgårdsreien", by Peter Nicolai Arbo, 1872.
To a degree, Late Neolithic warfare continues to be viewed as an age of loner heros, including in this paper in Cambridge "Antiquity" by Harald Meller.  But Meller's paper is one of several recent papers by prominent archaeologists that are starting to question the prevailing view of European warfare as limited ceremonial skirmishing rather than a now more plausible idea of large-scale, organized warfare in the Early Bronze Age.  He examines the widespread Únětice Culture and questions the interpretation of the ritual deposits of bronze axe hoards.

Most interesting is what Meller interprets to be Unetice barracks at Dermsdorf in Sömmerda District.  The longhouse is unusually long and could be a kind of communal squad bay for the 98 axes and two daggers deposited at its door.  In some ways, a class distinction between weapons of modern 'officers' and 'enlisted', common to Western Europe could be interpreted in this way.  Strangely the number is about the size of a Roman centuria and similar descended units.  He speculates that within sight of the Leubingen burial mound, other barracks may have been seen in the landscape.

Next, he discusses the division of arms in other hoards and suggests the percentages are indicative of a military unit structure; axes, halberds, daggers and (the likely ceremonial) double-axes.  A good illustration of this social division of arms in an infantry unit can be seen in the homecoming video of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.  Keep in mind though, that this 'European' social division of arms within a unit is different from a Combined Arms Concept, although that may be further developed in the future as well.

After the pipe band passes, you'll see officers equipped with service pistols and holding their ceremonial swords and following by basic riflemen.  (see below)

Meller continues by mathematically breaking down other hoards and envisions a rank structure not unlike those of historical Europe.  I think he makes an interesting and very powerful argument. 

There are now several important papers queued up by influential archaeologists regarding the magnitude and organization of warfare in the Early Bronze Age.  Horn and Christiansen have a paper that may already be out regarding Bronze Age warfare.  Christian Horn has a very comprehensive paper on type-use of halbards as well that I hope to get to at a later date. 

"Armies in the Early Bronze Age? An alternative interpretation of Únětice Culture axe hoards" Harald Meller, Antiquity, Volume 91, Issue 360.December 2017 , pp. 1529-1545


"The Early Bronze Age Únětice Culture in central Germany was a highly stratified society with a ruling class of ‘princes’, as evidenced by the famous burials at Leubingen and Helmsdorf, and the newly excavated burial mound Bornhöck near Dieskau. To investigate the notion of Únětice military organisation, this article presents a new interpretation of the numerous weapons hoards recovered from the region. Hoard deposition and composition from central Germany strongly suggests a shift from a Late Neolithic culture of ‘warrior heroes’ to the creation of organised standing armies of professional soldiers under the control of ruling elites."

Friday, November 24, 2017

DNA - Globular Amphora Culture

Bernard has a summary of this paper by Tassi et al, 2017 called "Genome Diversity in the Neolithic Globular Amphorae and the spread of the Indo-European languages".

GAC burial by G. Osipowicz via (Message to Eagle)

These particular genomes come from a megalithic grave in Northeastern Poland.  One thing to keep in mind is that very little is known about the GAC, and secondly what is known is that there is some regional diversity in economy and burial practices.  A single individual in this group appears to have some amount of steppe-related DNA, which is only surprising to those who might have expected more.

The GAC individuals, minus the one, are notable for having elevated HG ancestry of similar proportions to Middle Neolithic Sweden, Hungary and Iberia Chalcolithic.  But they don't not seem to share a composition similar to local populations.

In fact, if GAC migrated from anywhere, it seems that they migrated from the West to the East including some analysis of rare ancestry, but certainly their maternal profiles.
"The GAC samples are clearly separated from those populations, and show instead a closer relationship with the western, Late Neolithic, Bell Beaker population (electronic supplementary material, figure S12).

The median-joining network [34] (electronic supplemen- tary material, figure S13) shows GAC sequences falling in haplogroups H, J, K, U and W. The relationships between the GAC and other populations of the same time period are evi- dent (electronic supplementary material, figure S14, inset d), especially with the population from Sweden and, although less so, with the Baalberge population from Germany."
Violet Volken from Northern France?  (Genetically speaking; the earliest GAC dates are from Poland and have steppe cultural influences)  Clearly they are not derived from the steppe region as once believed by Gimbutas and many others.  Interestingly though, these very 'Western' looking people do end up in the Northern Pontic Steppe, or at least their influences do.  This would presumably mean that GAC was intrusive.

Another thing that's puzzling is their highly mobile economy.  Maybe another time.

And a strange comment:
"However, in this case, the substantial contribution of males should at least result in some degree of similarity between GAC and Yamnaya at the nuclear level, which did not emerge in this study. In both cases, a trans- mission of cultural traits from the Pontic steppes to the GAC, and later further West, is conceivable and not ruled out by our data; further archaeological work, including studies of other GAC sites, may shed additional light on this."
If I were to assume they had y-chromosomal DNA of these GAC individuals, and they are looking at disparity between nuclear DNA and paternal haplogroups of Yamnaya and GAC, then what are they looking at?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Maternal Genetic Makeup of the Iberian Peninsula (Szécsényi-Nagy et al, 2017)

Middle Neolithic.  France.

This paper includes the HVS-1 profiles of nearly three hundred ancient Iberians.  Rather than summarize the paper, let me ignore everything else and zero in on a single point.  The enigma of H1 and H3.

Multiple streams of evidence are starting to illuminate something that happened in the MN, possibly moving out of France.  From the Paris Basin to Paris Street, to barbarian Blatterhohleans and belligerent Baalbergers we see something that is curiously steeped in WHG-rich ancestry, high haplogroup H frequency, and the curious presence of R1b.  I call them the Violet Volken after the Fregel et al, 2017 K=8.

Studied Area. Snip from Fig 1
Before delving into this study, let's question the basis of a particular narrative.  It is that the rebound of WHG-related ancestry in the Middle Neolithic is the result of a slow process by which hunter communities were civilized and absorbed into the general farming population.  Does that even work mathematically based on population estimates?

But at gory Gougenheim (Beau et al, 2017) the maternal profiles don't support a situation in which shy hunters slowly grafted into the settled mainstream.  Instead, like Blatterhohle Cave we see what amounts to a 'deeply segregated society' based on the data available so far.  It's pretty clear who ruled the school in Gougenheim.  What if the spike in HG-related ancestry isn't local, shy hunters?  Let me answer that for you, it's probably not.

This study possibly adds more full to that fire.  Maybe in the strictest terms Olalde et al, 2017 is right that Maritime Iberian Beakers contributed little ancestry to Continental Beakers, but it may be more complex than that.  And this offers an intriguing thread to pull:
"...the proportion of haplogroup H is higher in the Iberian Early Neolithic (EN) (22.2%; n = 27) than in Central Europe (15%; n = 160), while the frequency of N1a is very low (3.7% compared to 9.4% in Central Europe). Another difference with regards to Central Europe is the occurrence of haplogroup N* in Neolithic NEI group"
Hervella et al, 2015 made a nearly identical comment concerning the Neolithic Balkans.  I'll revisit the Hervella "H" hypothesis in a moment.
Snip of Fig 2
It's unlikely that the high rate of H1 and H3 can be explained by a founder effect of the Danube farmers.  Just not enough time for a patriocally, high female-mobility-oriented culture to pile up only H1's in some remote pocket of Southern France.  That reasonably leaves the Cardial/epi-Cardial/Impressa or whatever tradition which can explain the Mediterranean littorals; or alternatively, as Hervella et al suggested, a third Neolithic expansion (more on this).
"The largest proportion of the H individuals belongs to the subhaplogroup H1 (65.1%), and the second largest group is subhaplogroup H3 (14%)... H3 is detected in Chalcolithic individuals from central, southeast and southwest Iberia. H1 is observed in each period and region, but more frequently in the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age than in the Neolithic. .... However it becomes apparent from our results that the H diversity in prehistoric Iberia is different from the H diversity of Central Europe, and more similar to the Neolithic populations in France.  Notably, common Central European subhaplogroups H5 and H7 have not yet been observed in Southwest Europe."
The below hints at what I've already suspected, that a large portion of the Steppe-related ancestry in Beakers of the North European Plain is owed to the Corded Ware Culture that it subsumed, probably from a combination of wife-buying and destruction.
"Interestingly, we also do not find evidence for influx in the East to West direction, as none of the investigated Chalcolithic individuals show ‘steppe ancestry’, which seen in contemporaneous Central European Corded Ware and Bell Beaker groups, suggesting that eastern influxes did not reach the Iberian Peninsula until later periods."
What this means is that the rapid rise of haplogroup H in Iberia is not connected to Steppe-related ancestry, at least before the regular Bronze Age.  This is an important and subtle point.  It means that Iberia was experiencing a surge-of-something that was also affecting other parts of Europe hundreds of years before the Beaker phenomenon. 

Finally to the Hervella "H" Hypothesis which is an attempt to explain the extreme rise in the haplogroup H right before the Late Neolithic.  Brotherton et al, 2013 postulated that this rise reasonably came from Southwest Europe into Central Europe with the Bell Beaker Culture.  But the Hervella team found that explanation not suitable after examining a similar mito-phenomenon in the much earlier Neolithic and Metal Age of the Balkan Peninsula.  Clearly there were farmer-like maternal profiles and then the exploding H-people.  This is what Hervella wrote in response to Brotherton in 2015:

"...none of the models studied to date have taken into consideration another possible and obvious explanation, namely a new wave of Neolithic migration into Europe through the ‘traditional route’ of the Balkan Peninsula. This new wave of Neolithic migrations are represented by Vinča and Dudeşti cultures (5500–5000 BC), that trace their origin in North-West Anatolia on the basis of ceramics features [28]. The Boian, Zau and Gumelniţa cultures from Middle-Late Neolithic (M_NEO) from Romania are the direct continuation of this cultural complex; the M_NEO group from Romania displayed differences in haplotype (S5 Fig) and haplogroup distributions (S4 Fig) with the Middle Neolithic from Central Europe."
That would put a 3rd Neolithic behind the Iron Gates, in the Wallachian Plains cultures that also gave rise to the Boian encrusters, who are nearly contemporary with cultural changes in the North of France and Germany around 4300.

What if that is the source of excess WHG in the Middle Neolithic in the West of Europe?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Daggerology (Frieman & Eriksen, 2015)

Here's a mostly-available-on-line ebook called "Flint Daggers in Prehistoric Europe".

Here's a summary of the chapters.

A lot of assumptions are baked-in to the interpretation of stone daggers.  One of the more irritating is the view that stone daggers were seen as inferior, imitative or less desirable than copper daggers.

There is some discussion in this work that the imitativeness was reciprocating and I'm interested to see if there is any evidence to suggest that one material was more desirable than the other aside from imitation.

If you look at the decline of blacksmithing as an economics problem, was it because of less demand for wrought iron works?  Future researchers may conclude that wrought iron gates and fencing were replaced by extruded steel which proves that Chinese steel was highly valued for its strength and uniformity. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Brit Women Liked "Wasted Studs"

Via LincolnshireLive UK:

Sorry gents, that'd be earrings.

This particular ear plug, or waisted stud, was found near the early Bronze Age burial mounds on the north bank of the Witham.  It's a stray find that may have been unearthed during a previous excavation and mishandled.

Jet ear plugs have so far only been found with women in Britain.  I believe most anything jet in the EBA is usually, or only, found with women. 
Via LincolnshireLive
It's likely that some men had plugs of a more perishable material, and certainly not a chicky color.  Otzi and Tutakhamen bookend the periods before and after the Beaker Period, and both of those individuals had stretched earlobes - so it's possible.

Totonac Ceramic (Vassil)

Plus, in the Irish Late Bronze Age, these spools become very dramatic and are worn by men.  Given that the material was gold, that makes one wonder if plugs of similar size were worn in the Beaker period but no evidence survives.  Who knows.

Depiction of a Late Bronze Age Irish-Hawaiian.  

I'd imagine that some sort of balance would be sought for a woman wearing jet earrings.  Possibly charcoal eyeliner, facial tattoos or facial art in order to bring it all together.  Looking at Pre-Columbian Indians and the Western Pacific, probably. 

Here's a paper by Mary Cahill concerning the ear spools of the British Isles.

"Unspooling the Mystery"

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Homestead in Hrbovice? (Ustecky Denik)

There is a spectacular Beaker site uncovered in the Ústí region of the Czech Republic in or near a town called Hrbovice, Ústecký kraj.  From Ustecky Denik

The Bohemian Bowmen are outfitted with the full warrior gear including bow-shaped pendants on the chests, quivers (one having 9 arrows), spears and at least one wrist guard.  The translation is somewhat garbled, but it appears a boat-shaped Beaker house is also discovered here with parallels to those in Hungary.

If I understand correctly, they have about thirteen graves from the Beaker Culture thus far.

It sounds as if the Beaker settlement sits on top of a very large Funnelbeaker settlement.  Archaeologist Luboš Rypka declares TRB settlement as "probably one of the largest settlements of this culture in northwestern Bohemia". 

Alexrk2 (commons)
Hrbovice is located on the Žďrnický potok (Žďrnický brook/stream), originating in the Ore Mountains that separate Saxony from Bohemia.  The area was a major source of metals in the Bronze Age.  From Žďrnický potok the water empties into the Bilina which empties into the Elbe at Ústí nad Labem, nearby.

Hrbovice (

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"Johnny Klokbekker" (Fokkens et al, 2017)

Continuing with "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwest Europe", we'll now look to Oostwoud-Tuithoorn which gets to the point of the Olalde et al, 2017 paper.

This paper was just uploaded by Harry Fokkens entitled "Excavations of Late Neolithic arable, burial mounds and a number of well-preserved skeletons at Oostwoud-Tuithoorn: a re-analysis of old data" The available information is much better than many tested in the Olalde paper despite being one of the oldest excavated in the group.  Decades old information is compiled and reanalyzed; this site being important for several reasons.

"Jan van Oostwoud" The Earliest Beaker Skeleton 575 (Fred Gijbels)
One is that very few human remains have survived in the acidic soil of the Netherlands.  Tuithoorn was subject to some unusual tidal flooding and soil conditions that not only preserved the skeletal material, but made the DNA quality fairly good.  It also strangely preserved years of plow marks, which you can see below.  You'll see the blue plow marks are slightly curved around what was once a mound.  That added some interesting details to how this site was interpreted.

The other important aspect of this site is essentially the title of the Olalde paper.  The British Beakers and the Dutch Beakers are tightly clustered in several different analyses.  Whether or not the Olalde ~93% number goes up or down, one thing will remain certain - that is that the Northwest Continent was catastrophically imposing itself on the Isles during this time, especially Britain.

The graves are fairly typical of Beaker graves in some ways.  Men lay on their left side and women their right.  These men look South and women North, so in some ways it has a little CWC flavor, along with ring ditch.  Unlike other Dutch Beakers, these folks weren't buried with much of anything that could be discerned when they were excavated.  But within these plowmarks and the infills there was a considerable amount of Beaker sherds, which Fokkens speculates came to the field possibly in compost or manure.

The site is in a wetland, but dry enough for farming.  Although no homesite is provably detectable, the burial site is probably very close to one or several homesteads where the Beakers fished, farmed, hunted and ultimately buried.
‘Jan van Oostwoud’ is the oldest skeleton which lays beneath the plough marks.  He's the guy in the top picture, although his genetic results don't appear to be included in the Olalde paper.  They may have been excluded from the study because they rest in a local museum.  Fokkens speculates his grave was a flat grave accidentally plowed over by Beakers unaware, 1-3 generations later.  Still not knowing this, the later Beakers constructed the burial mound over this particular grave, perhaps recognizing the sacredness of the site generally, but not his grave specifically.

Grave 575 from Fig 17
One of the women tested here (243), appears to have had rickets and other conditions.  A separate paper is in the works, probably from Barbara Veselka.

Another individual (235) buried in tumulus II was head-less, although a jaw confusingly labelled 230 (a duplicate individual of tumulus I).  After mtDNA testing, it does appear this stray jaw (230 extra) could belong to 235.  Since full genome of 235 could not be obtained, it will remain unproven for now.

A relative of 236 and buried originally next to Jan the Beaker is 242.  This guy was very likely hit by the plow which is important when looking at the anomalies of the other Beaker and EBA individuals.  All of the Oostwould people appear to have been buried fairly shallow:

"We think ploughing continued, and that at some point 242/533 was hit by the plough and torn apart while the ligaments were still intact. This resulted in dispersal of body parts near their original location, but damaged and maybe even trodden into the soil. The chamber around burial 575 must have been filled-up by then, because there is no sign that the plough sank into the chamber;"
"Our conclusion is that skeleton 242/533 originally was located directly near skeleton 575, on top of the plough soil covering the older burial. According to the model the interval of time between the first events prior to the arable layer and the subsequent burials is between 5 and 181 years (at 95.4% probability). DNA gives us another clue towards dating: skeleton 236 appears to have been a second or third degree relative of 242/533. This means they were probably two or three generations apart: about 30-40 years. skeleton 242 was dated to (most probably) 2193-1941 cal Bc (95.4% probability), skeleton 236 to 2146-1925 cal Bc (table 1). Both were placed close together on top of the arable land covering skeleton 575.
With that, note that 228's arm is strangely located below the feet.  There isn't enough information to determine if the arm was amputated during this individual's life and saved for burial, if it was the cause of death, or if there was a ritual reason to disconnect it sometime after death.  It's noted that the clavicle and scapula are missing, so it may stand to reason that this individual was hit by an ancient plow and some effort was made to rebury the arm, or what was left of it.  The fact that a later supine burial (230) appears to have had its right arm ripped off and dragged (presumably by a plow) would seem to bolster this scenario. 

228 from Fig 40
Harry Folkens mentions this paper "Voorgeschiedenis der Lage Landen" by De Laet and Glasbergen 1959, which I suppose reveals the 'Beakerness' and brachycephally of the Oostwoud remains.  That may be something to look to in the future.

Unfortunately, there's a lot here for a ten paragraph blog, but I may return for a couple items of interest.  For now I'd recommend the paper [here]; it's about forty pages of text and has plenty of graphics.  Finally, something that has interested me...
"What is noteworthy at Oostwoud is the shift from a crouched burial position [Tumulus II] to a supine position stretched on the back [Tumulus I] that is visible between the two mounds."
He [they] goes on to ask why this change from crouched burials in NW Europe happened and why it was irrevocable.  I've yet to find any comprehensive research on European bedding through the ages, but I've wondered if supine burials follow changes in how people sleep.  Did families sleep together like a bunch of hamsters or did they sleep individually?  Were males and females segregated at bedtime as in some rural African societies?  If so, do gendered burials then reflect a kind of modesty of women's burials?  Do elevated beds become necessary in mice and roach infested cereal-producing societies?

 Genetic results and supplements from Olalde are inserted below:

Oostwoud-Tuithoorn (West Frisia, Netherlands)
Contact person: Harry Fokkens

In 1956 and 1957, two burial mounds were excavated at Oostwoud-Tuithoorn, with additional research in 1963, 1966 and 1978 37–39. Both burial mounds were located on a levee or crevasse splay of a large tidal creek system, about 40 km inland. The silt and clay sediments in which the skeletons were embedded provided an excellent context for bone preservation. After approximately 800 BCE the area was submerged until the building of dykes after 1000 CE. There is plenty of settlement evidence in the area from Late Vlaardingen/ Late Corded Ware groups, but few Bell Beaker associated remains. The Oostwoud-Tuithoorn burials are in that sense unique, even though they probably represent a much more extensive but difficult to detect settled landscape. The sequence at this site starts with skeleton 575, dated between 2579–2284 calBCE (3945±55 BP, GrN-6650C). After a few decades, the site was likely converted into arable land. The next stage is the erection of Tumulus II, in which 11 individuals were buried between 2200 and 1900 calBCE: eight male individuals (skeletons 127, 228, 229, 435 233, 235, 236, 239, 242) and three female individuals (skeletons 243, 247 and possibly 436 232)38. Genetic data indicate that skeletons 228, 236 and 242 are second- or third-degree relatives. Several phases of mound extension have become visible through bundles of prehistoric plough marks that surround a circular or oval mound. The arable land underlying and around the burial mound contained many Bell Beaker and pot beakers sherds (Bell Beaker settlement ware). In essence, this dates all skeletons buried in mound II to older than approximately 1900 BCE. The male individuals were all buried on their left side, facing south. The three females were buried on the right side, facing west or north. All individuals were laid down in a crouched position typical for Beaker burials. Apart from occasional flint artefacts no burial gifts were present. In the Early Bronze Age, between 1900 and 1700 BCE probably, at 20 m distance, a second burial mound (Tumulus I) was raised in which two skeletons have been interred, probably in the already existing barrow (skeletons 230 and 231). Both skeletons were buried in a manner typical for the Middle Bronze Age, stretched on their backs. Both are dated between 1880 and 1650 calBCE (3440±40 BP, GrA-17225 and 3450±BP, GrA-17226). The burial mound was surrounded by a circle of 80 cm wide pits with a diameter of approximately 20 m. Probably at the same time a 35 m long alignment of almost identical pits was dug in connection with the older mound (Tumulus II). The stratigraphy of the arable land, the graves and the pit circles and alignments demonstrate that the Oostwoud-Tuithoorn burial mounds constituted a small persistent place, a burial ground that was used intermittently but consistently, probably by several generations of a local group of inhabitants. We successfully analysed nine individuals from this site:
  • I4067/skeleton 127-M1: 1945–1692 calBCE (3500±50 BP, GrA-15602) 
    • [mtdna R1b1]
  • I4068/skeleton 228-M3: 2300–1900 BCE 
    • [R1b1a1a2a1a2 + U5a2a1] (26-35 years)
  • I4069/skeleton 229-M4: 2188–1887 calBCE (3640±50 BP, GrA-6477) 
    • [R1b1a1a2a1a2 + U5a1a1] (26-35 years)
  • I4070/skeleton 230 barrow I-M7:1881–1646 calBCE (3440±40 BP, GrA-17225 
    • [R1b1a1a2a1a1 + U5a1b1a]
  • I4071/skeleton 231 barrow I-M10: 1883–1665 calBCE (3450±40 BP, GrA-17226) 
    • [H6a1a] (male age 36-49)
  • I4073/skeleton 236-M13: 2196–1903 calBCE (3660±50 BP, GrA-15598) 
    • [R1b1a1a2a1a2 + U5a2b3] (male age 36-49)
  • I4074/skeleton 242-M14: 2278–1914 calBCE (3690±60 BP, GrA-15597)  
    • [R1b1a1a2a1a2 + H] (26-35 years)
  • I4075/skeleton 243-M15: 2300–1900 BCE 
    • [H5a1] (female 36-49)
  • I4076/skeleton 247-M18: 2300–1900 BCE 
    • [K1d] (female 26-35)
The skeletons are stored in the provincial depot of the province of Noord-Holland at Castricum. We thank the staff of the depot and archaeologist R. van Eerden, archaeologist of the province of Noord-Holland, for the kind permission to sample the Oostwoud skeletons. Sampling (E. Altena) and first analysis of the skeletal remains (B. Veselka) was made possible by a grant from the Leiden University Fund/Bakels Fund.

Snip from Fig S-1 of Olalde et al, 2017
"Excavations of Late Neolithic arable, burial mounds and a number of well preserved
skeletons at Oostwoud-Tuithoorn: a re-analysis of old data"
Harry Fokkens, Barbara Veselka, Quentin Bourgeois, Iñigo Olalde and David Reich, 2017


Friday, October 13, 2017

Beakers in the Polish Lowlands

Here's a chapter on Bell Beakers of the Polish Lowlands by Czebrezuk and Szmyt entitled "Bell Beakers and Their Role in a Settlement Evolution During the Neolithic-Bronze Interstage of the Polish Lowland"

Field in Kujawy (commons)
I'll summarize a few points covered in the chapter:

In Poland there was a fading of village life from the earliest Neolithic down to the Late Neolithic cultures.  Whereas in the early Neolithic people clustered in farm hamlets and villages, by the Late Neolithic evidence for settlements becomes much more sparse, especially among the Corded Ware.  This trend is considered the result of growing reliance on husbandry over cultivation.

Initially the Beaker mobility pattern is similar to the Corded Ware, but it is for the first time this trend is reversed as Beakers begin settling down and making agricultural improvements.  Beakers of the Polish lowland seem to prefer high elevations on deep, sandy soil overlooking rivers and steams.  Their houses are semi-subterranean, which may additionally have some design influences from Denmark, possibly including Danish TRB.

Keeping that in mind, we should see some Bell Beaker genomes from the Iwno group, which is an increasingly distinct type of Beaker to Greater Poland.  These remains might serve as a proxy for Danish Beakers and they'll likely have some differences from the Malopolskan and Silesian Beakers who appear to derive from the area of the modern Moravia and Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Beakers of the Bothros Brotherhood

I've done a quick search combining "Bell Beaker" with "bothros" or "bothroi" in the English language.  No results!

I started think about bothroi sacrifices reading this paper, "Un dépôt de céramiques Michelsberg à Obernai « Parc d’activités économiques intercommunal" by Lefranc and Feliu, 2015

Bodiless burials seem quite common throughout the entire Bell Beaker world.  Usually they contain smashed drinking sets and personal offerings such as daggers, bead singlets or odd things.  Some sites  are in cemeteries, but many are just kind of out there by themselves.  Aside from the religious aspect of this, I've wondered pits were instruments or monuments for covenants

"Hades abducts Persephone" (One of the more anti-social gods)

But a simpler explanation may be available if Bell Beaker and Michelsberg drinking pits were among the precursors to Greek bothroi.

If that was the case, then a fairly satisfying explanation can be found in "The Sacrificial Rituals of Greek Hero-Cults in the Archaic to the Early Hellenistic Period" by Gunnel Enroth, beginning in paragraph 74 of Chapter 1.

But it's also possible that the most serious oaths, pledges and contracts were made, even at the Greek bothroi.  After all, the boundary of the underworld is where the gods made theirs [Styx].  There may be some clues as to the Beaker conception of the underworld.

Silesian Beakers 2015

Two different groups of Polish Beakers that have yet to be genetically sampled are the Beakers of the Lowlands and then those of Silesia.  Reading something else I happened to stumble on this story from Polish PAP.

Fot. M. Mackiewicz via PAP
We've already seen some Małopolskans some and I believe that more are coming from that group [this post].

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Arroyal I in Burgos!!!

Here's a closer look at another grave examined in "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwestern Europe". [here]

(I previously wrote Burgos was in Catalonia.  It's like 4 hours from there!  Thank you Cesar and Olalde!)

From website of Eduardo Camerona, archaeologist (commons)
Eduardo Camerona twitter

In the Ballestro et al paper linked below they figure that Arroyal I faces East overlooking the Ubierna River Valley and the town of Arroyal.  I snipped this photo from Google maps on Calle San Antonio from the church, Ermita de San Antonio Abad.  Unfortunately it ends at the windmill easement dirt road, but you can see looking WSW (West South West) that the burial mound was perched at the highest point looking straight back at an elevation of 967 meters.  I'll extract a few items from the Ballestro paper to give additional context to the Olalde paper below:

Previously a dolmen, the tomb of Arroyal I was modified from a collective space into a burial mound for the first Beaker girl.  Being the earlier of the two girls, I0462 (UE 25) was located in Phase 4 of the tomb and was probably associated with two nearby bell beakers of the international maritime style and two serving dishes.  She was [K1a+195].

Later in the Beaker period was buried I0461 (UE 19) and she was [K1a1b1].  Her burial was in a pit grave stone box and she had with her ciempozuelos, but also some fragments of maritime style.

Previous to the individual burials of these girls (at different times), a large number of highly fragmented human remains were uncovered from the older layers.  They appear to be associated with the precampaniforme pottery style.  Another important difference noted in the Olalde paper is the presence of steppe-like ancestry in the girls, but not the previous occupants.  The earlier girl has more steppe-like ancestry and the latter less, which might be expected if foreigners are melded with the local population.

One important distinction between the two girls is that the earlier was buried in the chamber and represents the last grave of that sequence, possibly the only one depending on the purpose of being surrounded by skulls and bones (not sure I'm fully understanding that).  The second girl, maybe considerably later was buried in a pit grave, almost the way additional pits might be added to an old kurgan. 
The site of Arroyal I was excavated by a research team from the University of Burgos in
2011–2012. The site is a megalithic grave with well-preserved structural elements: a
rectangular chamber (3x3.5 m), a long corridor (6 m), and a stone mound. The grave
was used as a collective burial during 400 years in the Late Neolithic (3300–2900
calBCE)19. The grave was then abandoned until the Chalcolithic when it was
extensively remodelled: Neolithic layers were almost eliminated; the corridor was filled
with rocks and sediment; the useful area inside the chamber was reduced when a stone
wall was built; and a floor of limestone blocks was built inside the chamber. Several
consecutive and isolated burials (9–10) were then introduced. The last one (Roy5) was a
young individual buried with a set of 4 vessels (2 Bell Beakers [international maritime style and 2 carinated bowls) and surrounded by the long bones and skulls from previous burials. She represents the earliest observation of steppe-related genetic affinities in the Iberian Peninsula. Then the dolmen was closed using materials from the site (in secondary position) and, at the same time, the mound height was increased. Finally, an isolated pit grave (Roy4) was made inside the mound. We successfully analysed 5 individuals from this site:
I0458/Roy1/SU25, Skull 1: 2458–2206 calBCE (3850±30 BP, UGA-15904)
I0459/Roy2/UE25, Isolated human jaw: 2600–2200 BCE
I0460/Roy3/SU25, Skull 2: 2461–2210 calBCE (3860±30 BP, UGA-15905)
I0461/Roy4/SU19, Inhumation 1: 2348–2200 calBCE (3827±25 BP, MAMS-14857)
I0462/Roy5/SU25, Inhumation 2: 2465–2211 calBCE (3870±30, UGA-15903);
2566–2346 calBCE (3950±26 BP, MAMS-25936)
Samples Roy1 and Roy3 were genetically first-degree relatives and belonged to
different mitochondrial haplogroups, which points to a father-son relationship.

From Fig S1
If I find photos of the graves at some point in the future I'll update this post.

See Also

"El dolmen de Arroyal I: usos y modificaciones durante el III milenio cal AC." Ballestero, Arnaiz, Alameda Cuenca-Romero [Link]

"El campaniforme internacional en el dolmen de Arroyal I (Quintanadueñas): estudio estilístico y analítico de los restos arqueológicos"  Gonzalo de Pedro Andrés

Monday, October 2, 2017

Discovery - Lingenfeld Glockenbecher

Die Rheinpfalz reports the discovery of a Glockenbecher burial during the construction of a new building.

Landesarchäologie via Rheinpfalz

The discovery comes from the town of Lingenfeld, south of Spayer in Rhineland-Palatinate.  It's fairly close to the Rhine River.

Photo from Lenz via Rheinpfalz
This photo was taken from an inlet street of Neustadter Street of the same name. You can see the back of the steeple of the Catholic Church in the upper right.  Unfortunately, google maps doesn't have a streetview available of the main Neustadter Street.  The aerial photo still shows the old sawmill.

The only publication that's reported on this find is Rheinpfalz.  I can make out what looks like what was a bag at his feet, I guess.  He has a beaker behind the head and by that a cluster of something.  It looks like his left arm may have a bracer, but it's hard to tell since his arms are piled up.  His head looks to the rising sun slightly to the northeast, so maybe he died in the wintertime?

The Long-legged Lingenfelder?  Couldn't think of anything that rhymes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

DNA - The Violet Volken? (Fregel et al, 2017)

Something curious is afoot.  New questions emerge from this paper.

I guess I've mis-understood the Ifri n'Amr o'Moussa cave site from the outset unless it's been re-dated, it seems that all of the human remains buried here (facing NS and EW) are dated to be Cardial Farmers more than likely, not associated with the Beaker materials of this cave.  If I understand correctly, no human remains in this cave can be attributed to the Beaker period.  These samples are called IAM after the excavation, and they look like a mixture of early farmers and native people.  

The second site of Kehf el Baroud is the site that raised my antennas.  These samples are called KEB and come from a white layer dated to around 3200-3000, right below the grey Beaker horizon.  This archaeological layer is associated with a pottery tradition that some have described as proto-Beaker, including (Daugas et al, 1989) or more often 'influences' from here can be seen on the later ceramic.

During this time, extensive trade is occurring between the Portuguese castillos, Southern Spain and nearby burial sites like Rouazi-Skhirat and El Kiffen. (also The Ivory Road) Now a genetic relationship and population movement can be demonstrated as well.  In fact, based on the mtdna profiles and comments in this draft, it looks something short of population turnover with people coming from Iberia at some point before the LN.

KEB is, to some degree, a combination of a previous Moroccan mix with a strong and distinctly European vein that is suggestive of a SW European expansion, and curiously they specifically mention this 'violet component' rise in Middle Neolithic Central Europe with Baalberge and Salzmunde, which they see as moving from SW Europe.  Another distinct part of those and Michelsberg was a spike in WHG ancestry emanating from the Paris Basin and probably further south, although there are 'steppic' or SE European elements as well .  See previous post.

IAM girl with millstone?  Moroccan Press

Remember that the results below are from only two Moroccan caves so it's definitely not the full picture, but interestingly haplogroup H is missing from the Mesolithic/Early Neolithic 'native' set. Keeping in mind it's only one cave, it still seems significant because it's there in modern times, among some Saharan and Atlas Berbers in spades.
If there were more bodies to test from the pre-Beaker and Bell Beaker period, it's likely that one or both could have some M269.  It's definitely there by the first millennium.  Canary Islander DNA from the first millennium.

"By 3,000 BCE, a European Neolithic expansion brought Mediterranean-like ancestry to the Maghreb, most likely from Iberia. Our analyses demonstrate that at least some of the European ancestry observed today in North Africa is related to prehistoric migrations, and local Berber populations were already admixed with Europeans before the Roman conquest. Furthermore, additional European/Iberian ancestry could have reached the Maghreb after KEB people; this scenario is supported by the presence of Iberian-like Bell-Beaker pottery in more recent stratigraphic layers of IAM and KEB caves."
And here something interesting
"At K=8, a new violet component is majoritarian in Iberian Neolithic_EN and most Europe_MNChL, splitting from the early farmers green component.  Europe_MNChL samples that posses 100% of the violet component include Early/Middle Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites from Iberia, Middle Neolithic sites from Germany (Baalberge and Salzmuende cultures) and a Chalcolithic site from Italy (Remedello culture) (Figure S7.4). This result could indicate an, at least partial, Iberian component in Middle Neolithic and Chalcolithic populations in Germany and Italy."
And the dating of Kehf el Baroud
"The human remains analyzed in this study were obtained from the white layer, whose
pottery remains are quite similar to Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic pottery from
other locations in Morocco, such as the two neighboring necropolis of Rouazi-Skhirat and El Kiffen, and from Spain and Portugal, primarily in Los Millares and Vila Nova de Sao Pedro. The dating of the white layer performed by De Wailly13, giving an age of about 3,200 BCE, has been disputed by most researchers. However, this date has been confirmed previously by thermoluminescence12 and by calibrated radiocarbon dating in this study (Table S1.1, Figure 1.4)."
I'm still puzzled by the presence of V88 in the Sahel.  I figured it'd be present among the Cardium/Impresso peoples, but that hasn't panned out so far.  Maybe it comes from Iberia with Beakers or MN Iberians?

"Background to Beakers" page 196

BTW, read the last four page of Background to Beakers beginning on page 196.  Pretty impressive.

Yussaef Bokpot previously did a translatable Arabic interview [here]

Neolithization of North Africa involved the migration of people from both the Levant and Europe

Rosa Fregel, Fernado L. Mendez, Youssef Bokbot, Dimas Martin-Socas, Maria D. Camalich-Massieu, Maria C. Avila-Arcos, Peter A. Underhill, Beth Shapiro, Genevieve L Wojcik, Morten Rasmussen, Andre E. R. Soares, Joshua Kapp, Alexandra Sockell, Francisco J. Rodriguez-Santos, Abdeslam Mikdad, Jonathan Santana, Aioze Trujillo-Mederos, Carlos D. Bustamante
Supplement 1
One of the greatest transitions in the human story was the change from hunter-gatherer to farmer. How farming traditions expanded from their birthplace in the Fertile Crescent has always been a matter of contention. Two models were proposed, one involving the movement of people and the other based on the transmission of ideas. Over the last decade, paleogenomics has been instrumental in settling long-disputed archaeological questions, including those surrounding the Neolithic revolution. Compared to the extensive genetic work done on Europe and the Near East, the Neolithic transition in North Africa, including the Maghreb, remains largely uncharacterized. Archaeological evidence suggests this process may have happened through an in situ development from Epipaleolithic communities, or by demic diffusion from the Eastern Mediterranean shores or Iberia. In fact, Neolithic pottery in North Africa strongly resembles that of European cultures like Cardial and Andalusian Early Neolithic, the southern-most early farmer culture from Iberia. Here, we present the first analysis of individuals' genome sequences from early and late Neolithic sites in Morocco, as well as Andalusian Early Neolithic individuals. We show that Early Neolithic Moroccans are distinct from any other reported ancient individuals and possess an endemic element retained in present-day Maghrebi populations, indicating long-term genetic continuity in the region. Among ancient populations, early Neolithic Moroccans share affinities with Levantine Natufian hunter-gatherers (~9,000 BCE) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic farmers (~6,500 BCE). Late Neolithic (~3,000 BCE) Moroccan remains, in comparison, share an Iberian component of a prominent European-wide demic expansion, supporting theories of trans-Gibraltar gene flow. Finally, the Andalusian Early Neolithic samples share the same genetic composition as the Cardial Mediterranean Neolithic culture that reached Iberia ~5,500 BCE. The cultural and genetic similarities of the Iberian Neolithic cultures with that of North African Neolithic sites further reinforce the model of an Iberian intrusion into the Maghreb.

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)