Sunday, April 30, 2017

Awesome Experiments - Primative Technology Youtube

If you've never seen this Australian guy on Youtube, you may want to hit the subscribe button.  This is awesome stuff.

This guy makes a Neolithic celt axe and goes to chopping.

Here's the hard link if embed isn't working [Link]

Here's the link the Primitive Technology channel.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Poking Bear with Stick (Tsuneki, Nieuwenhuyse, Campbell, 2017)

I haven't been able to read through the full, unwashed-masses, free section of this book "The Emergence of Pottery in West Asia", but from what I've read so far, the general theme appears to be exploding the lazy and uncourageous notion of 'independent' pottery invention in the West Asia (although they write modestly with careful statements)

It seemed pretty obvious after reading Jordan and Zvelebil's book "Ceramics Before Farming:  The Dispersal of Pottery Among Prehistoric Eurasia Hunter-Gatherers" that vitrified ceramic technology diffused, at least, from the Far East where it was exceptionally refined and old (as pottery).  I've personally witnessed this in museums of East Asia and there is no doubt in my mind, that all vitrified pots used by humans originate there.

I continue to believe that this diffusion was mediated by population movements or networks across Central Asia and I think that that picture is slowly fleshing out in the archaeogenetic record of the Baltic and Volga regions as early ceramics seem herald migration to some degree.

Several interesting facts regarding West Asian pottery is that its incipient phase is often fine, sometime painted, and functionally non-essential.  It spreads quickly over a very large area with almost no experimentation phase.  It doesn't cook new foods, it doesn't store things, it doesn't do old things better, it's not easier to make.  In many early places it appears imported, if only a short distance.  After this early ceramic phase, it is replaced by technical "crap" before evolving again and then surpassing its origin.

Ancient Baltic Sea Shores (Muru, 2017)

This dissertation by Merle Muru re-creates the coasts of the Estonian shores using various data, including archaeological, but it's built on a succession of his studies into the Baltic shorelines.

It confirms that the succession of cultures in this area (Kunda, Narva, Corded Ware) preferred settlement locations that were quite different.  In fact, it could be inferred that the changing landscape of the Baltic attracted different cultural life-ways at different times. 

Wild Cabbage (Brassica Oleracea) by the Sea (Microfarmgardens)
The Kunda folk lived along the rivers in the Baltic region until they are succeeded by the Narva Culture around 5,000 B.C.  Modern archaeological opinion is that the Narva Culture is basically Kunda 2.0 with pottery.  Probably more complex than this.  Already we have seen what appears to be genetic enrichment in this area from the Volgan woodsmen cultures that were expanding North and West during this time.

Narva folk may have been attracted to the changing landscape that created large brackish lagoons.  Their point-based pottery is a low-fire, heat tolerant pottery that likely cooked seafood and pork fat in.  Their diet seems to have consisted more of sea critters and pork.  Some temporary settlements on open shorelines suggests they periodically went out to sea to club baby seals to death.

There is a question as to the purpose of their point-based pottery, but it probably relates to seafood preparation or how it was set in the campfire.  Also, if the pottery was used for fermenting fish and cabbage, or alcohols, then maybe it is possible that point-based pottery is advantageous for concentrating the surface area of the trub?  The kinds of fatty, brackish water fish fished out of the lagoons and deltas may have needed preservation by fermentation, such as modern surströmming, since many of these fish are not well suited for drying or smoking preservation.

The Narva Culture is joined, rather than directly superseded, by the Corded Ware culture that preferred the fertile river bottoms created by the lower water levels, such as in graphic D of Northeast Estonia.  The fertile grassland would be readily tillable and very suitable for cattle.

It's interesting that modern Baltic cuisine, fish, krauts, pork is basically unchanged for so long.  Also, it may be possible to overlay genetic results to see how different peoples migrate to familiar biomes.

GIS-based palaeogeographical reconstructions of the Baltic Sea shores in Estonia and adjoining areas during the Stone Age.  Merle Muru (2017)  DISSERTATIONES GEOGRAPHICAE UNIVERSITATIS TARTUENSIS [Link]

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Iberian Dogster Phenomenon (Arantxa Daza Perea, 2017)

Beginning sometime between the LN and Early Iberian Chalcolithic, dog remains start appearing in notable arrangements: in people burials, in pits and apparently near ditch entrances of ditched enclosures.  These dog depositions are significant enough and strange enough to say that there exists an 'Iberian Dogster Phenomenon'.

This paper by Daza begins looking at Peninsular dogs from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age beginning with, at least in this preliminary paper, grading on osteometric traits against other populations.  Already the results are surprising as all Neolithic dogs are tightly clustered.  However with the apparent emergence of the Bell Beaker phenomenon, it is possible to see greater morphological diversity that begins moving toward modern improved breeds.

Castilian Galgo Español (Omar Curros Simon)
There are several interesting formats in which dogs are found, but one that sticks out begins in the Iberian Bronze Age when dogs often appear in child burials.  Within the context of Bronze Age beliefs about the sequence of events following death, these dogs may have been intended to help shepherd children through the underworld.  Dog #7 is one such child-shepherd.

But the most interesting dog in this set is dog #1 as seen below in the Canonical Variate Analysis below.  This dog was buried with a Bell Beaker man in the Meseta (plateau) region of Spain.  If I am reading this correctly, it appears that the dog clusters with a morphology consistent with a sighthound.

For this body-type to be found within the pseudo-steppe ecology of the Spanish grasslands is fairly significant, since it strongly suggests that this was a working dog.  Dog #1 appears between the physical dimensions of a greyhound and the pre-Columbian viringo (being that the modern dog reference set was limited to only a few major types).

Fig 7. Canonical Variate Analysis on Dog Groups.  #1 is Bell Beaker

#6 was a ditch dog and is kind of hovering out there by itself.  In any case, this is the preliminary paper, a thesis will follow, and then apparently a larger study.

Fig 2. Camino de las Yeseras.  Beaker dog.  (Area Consultores S.L.)  

On that note, I pasted this from the Perdigoes research blog last year.  This is the presentation, publishing may follow:
"...a synthesis about the Bell Beaker phenomena at Perdigões will be presented at a meeting to be held in the University of Lisbon next May."
This will be interesting because Perdigoes is large and old, but also because it is within a geological region that likely supplied copper ingot or works to the castillos on the coast.  So something interesting may have gone on at this location.  Also from the Perdigoes research blog, there will also be before long a very large archaeogenetic study on ancient Iberian aurochs and cattle.   

Daza Perea, A., (2017). Preliminary Studies of Late Prehistoric Dog (Canis lupus f. Familiaris Linnaeus, 1758) Remains from the Iberian Peninsula: Osteometric and 2D Geometric Morphometric Approaches. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. 27(1), p.Art. 12. DOI:

This paper aims to highlight developments in archaeological knowledge relating to dog remains found in deposits from Late Prehistoric contexts at sites along the Iberian Peninsula. Preliminary results from ongoing osteometric and 2D Geometric Morphometric studies applied to these remains are here presented and discussed to contextualize future studies by the author.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Dents in Our Confidence" (Horn and von Holstein, 2017)

Use-wear analysis bolstered a now erroneous perception that early copper weaponry were little more than male status symbols.  For whatever importance conferred to the owners of metal weapons, the over-interest in the social significance has apparently distracted archaeology from a critical analysis of emerging use-wear studies.

This paper by Horn and von Holstein looks at the study of use-wear and finds a need to honestly acknowledge what can be known with the limited study areas.  In fact, it could be reasonably surmised, base on the state of the current data, that most copper weapons were used regularly, sometimes forcefully, and then continually repaired, re-shaped, re-riveted and edge-hardened throughout the objects' lifetime.

They focus on two areas that obscure what can be known.  One is the maintenance of copper weapons, the other is the disparate corrosion associated with different styles of burial and deposition.  Here they consider attributes of copper to reconstruct the life of the object and they show that the presence of a decomposing body significantly alters the material over other burial methods.
"It has been argued that they were less important in warfare and served a more ceremonial purpose because in Scandinavian rock art they are usually depicted sheathed, i.e. in a passive role, and because researchers perceive real Early Bronze Age weaponry as lacking any usability in combat...However, at least 26% (18) swords from the Early Nordic Bronze Age possess notches..and 48% exhibit very strong (5) or extreme (6) corrosion, obscuring use-wear traces.  Thus, though only 26% can be directly shown to have use-wear damage, [but] up to 74% might have done so."
If looking at re-riveting of Unetice halberds, they raise the prospect that current typologies based on hafts could be totally false. 
"Being unaware of the possibility of repairs may cause researchers to assume that the reduced form was the original design.  This is problematic for the construction of typologies. For example, Wüstemann (1995) defined several variants of Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age halberds belonging to the Unetice complex according to the shape of their hafting plates. However, from the pieces with complete rivet holes, we can construct a continuous line of more and more damaged hafting plates with broken rivet holes and repairs such as secondary rivet holes."
Fig 3.  Rework halberd hafts of copper knives.

As a footnote, I've suggested previously that the small "jeweler's" cushion stones and whetstones found in some Bell Beaker burials were not the tools of a smith, but rather maintenance tools of a dagger owner, similar to a butt stock gun cleaning kit or an integrated whetstone on a survival knife.

Free version [here]

"Dents in our confidence: The interaction of damage and material properties in interpreting use-wear on copper-alloy weaponry" Horn and vonHolstein.  Journal of Archaeological Science
Volume 81, May 2017, Pages 90–100

The presence or absence of use-wear marks on copper (Cu)-alloy weaponry has been used since the late 1990s to investigate the balance between functional (combat) and symbolic (value, status, religious) use of these objects, and thus explore their social and economic context. In this paper, we suggest that this work has not taken sufficient account of the material properties of Cu-alloys. We discuss mechanisms of plastic deformation, incremental repairs and corrosion in detail to show how these can obscure use-wear traces. In a survey of Cu-alloy weaponry from the Nordic Bronze Age (1800/1700e550 BCE) from Denmark, Sweden and Germany, we show that corrosion of Cu-alloy objects is strongly linked to depositional context, being greater in burials (both inhumations and cremations) than hoards or as single objects. A relative paucity of use-wear marks on burial weapons should therefore not be used to argue that these were purely symbolic objects, e.g. in contrast to the better preserved hoard material. We
propose that use-wear traces on Cu-alloy weaponry, particularly on blade edges, is significantly more elusive than previously realised, and that undamaged objects have been over-identified.

Monday, April 17, 2017

"Anthropology of a Prospector" Melheim and Prescott - part 2

Returning again to the chapter "Exploring new territories - Expanding Frontiers..." which seeks to understand the exploration of Scandinavia by Bell Beakers if interpreting their activity in this region as prospecting.

A Klondike Prospector with Chilkoot (?) Indian packers. (University of Washington)
Melheim and Prescott look to the memoirs of a Klondike prospector, Bill Jones, to gain insight into the high-risk and often unproductive world of prospectors.  They believe the dynamics of exploration, exploitation and relationship-building as a useful guide for the 2nd millennium.
"A striking feature in Jones's account is the often friendly encounters with the local sea mammal- and reindeer-hunting semi-nomadic Chutchki population.  The Chutchki were themselves uninterested in the mineral resources, but provided the prospectors with food, shelter and local clothing (Jones 1927:100-2).  They were already familiar with the English language, guns and alcohol.  Although Jones was a stranger in a new land, the many traders, prospectors and adventurers who had traveled this landscape before him had prepared his way, through information that flowed in the networks between prospectors.  Although not temporally and spatially related, there are shared environmental and material challenges which legitimise using this recent narrative as an analogy for how a BBC prospector on the Scandinavian Peninsula may have gone about his business."
The authors delve into the phases of prospecting, emphasizing that much of actual work is front-loaded into preparatory tasks, such as exploration and surveying.  Makes sense when you compare the time and resources to drill an oil well.  Much of the time is spent in the exploration and geological survey phase.  Even more time is spent firmly establishing legalities such as legal conveyances, easement and mineral rights and sometimes - security.

Bell Beakers traveling outside their core settlements into the distant reaches would have been confronted with similar primitive realities.  At least initially:  easement privileges, permissions to exploit resources, right to trade, logistical support, security.  Remember that Beakers, despite their prowess and pioneering spirit, are throughout their cultural existence numerically disadvantaged and unfamiliar with the territories they enter.  

Like the Chutchki, North Sea farming and fishing societies may have welcomed, or at least tolerated, adventurous foreigners eager to exploit resources and establish better trade.  At least for metal resources, Melheim and Prescott emphasize that Scandinavian metal prospecting didn't require success, and in fact, like the story of Bill Jones and so many Klondike adventurers, it appears that these ores were not fully exploited.

Here's some of the key points that the authors believe would have been important for these explorers.  I've shorten these, but each one is expanded upon in the text.

(1) To look for colourful bedrock typical of copper deposits...
(2) To follow river valleys and river beds
(3) To read the vegetation (for evidence of heavy metals)
(4) To read the geology
(5) The ability to relocate resources after their discovery
This takes us beyond the retarded, two-dimensional understanding of 'priest-kings' digging scary metal out of the ground.  These were highly specialized and time-consuming tasks that required considerable negotiations with the local nations, probably through interpreters.  Many of these efforts proved fruitless, at least the intended industry.
Melheim, Anne Lene & Prescott, Christopher (2016). Exploring New Territories – Expanding Frontiers: Bowmen and Prospectors on the Scandinavia Peninsula in the 3rd–2nd Millennia BC, In Anne Lene Melheim; Håkon Glørstad & Ann Zanette Tsigaridas Glørstad (ed.),  Comparative Perspectives on Past Colonisation, Maritime Interaction and Cultural Integration.  Equinox Publishing.  ISBN 9781781790489.  10.  [Link]

See also "Slettabo: Europe's northernmost beaker.  The BBC in Norway - from black box to historical watershed" 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Anthropology of a Prospector" (Melheim & Prescott, 2016)

This chapter on Scandinavian Beakers starts with a modern witness to the graves of adventurers in the Alaskan frontier:
"In our travels along the coast we saw several graves of white men, sailors or prospectors no doubt, buried by their companions miles from home, on the shores of the Behring Sea (Jones 1927:162)"
So begins Melheim and Prescott's exploration into the "Anthropology of a Prospector".  They argue "that readily exploitable ore sources may well have been one of the factors which attracted skilled metalworkers to the Scandinavian Peninsula, spurred by a drive to locate new sources of copper ore".

They have two premises, one "that copper was an intrinsic element in the dynamics of this period, and that prospecting was the single force of BBC expansion across Europe or even Scandinavia..."

A Norse Beaker. From "Slettabo: Europe's northernmost Beaker" Precott (Kristiana Steen)
Concerning the magnet that brought Beakers into the quietest and most distant pockets of Europe, they describe 'pull factors' that might attract metal prospectors.  If framing an economic argument, the rising value of commodities (metals especially) would attract the attention of those knowledgeable in their extraction. 

Melheim and Prescott believe that it is crucial to understand the motive and model of migration to properly understand the Beaker Age.  Why would the Beakers so quickly end up in so many vastly different ecozones?  The engine of Beaker migration does not appear to have been population or ecological pressure, rather it appears to have been motivated by opportunism.

The "Anthropology of a Prospector" to be continued in the next post...

Melheim, Anne Lene & Prescott, Christopher (2016). Exploring New Territories – Expanding Frontiers: Bowmen and Prospectors on the Scandinavia Peninsula in the 3rd–2nd Millennia BC, In Anne Lene Melheim; Håkon Glørstad & Ann Zanette Tsigaridas Glørstad (ed.),  Comparative Perspectives on Past Colonisation, Maritime Interaction and Cultural Integration.  Equinox Publishing.  ISBN 9781781790489.  10.  [Link]

See also "Slettabo: Europe's northernmost beaker.  The BBC in Norway - from black box to historical watershed"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Perspectives (Furholt, 2016) (Iversen, 2016)

Here's something relevant to the previous paper by Kristiansen et al, 2017

"Introduction: New Perspectives on the 3rd Millenium" by Martin Furholt & "Was there ever a single Grave Culture in East Denmark?  Traditions and Transformations in the 3rd Millennium BC"  by Rune Iversen.

Both papers are about half-way down on the PDF.

An older paper I'm reading is "On the Outskirts of the European Bell Beaker Phenomenon - the Danish Case" by Torben Sarauw, 2007.  Given that R1b is the second largest Dane lineage, maybe the outskirtishness and "borrowing of technologies" has been a bit oversold by Danish archaeology.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cemetery of Glockenbechers Discovered (Bavaria)

A cemetery of Beakerfolk suprise archaeologists in the area of Franconia, Bavaria.  (Franconia, by the way, has the world's highest concentration of breweries)

From the regional paper, Nordbayern

The earliest Kersbacher (Bayerischen Landesamt für Denkmalpfleg)

Several sandstone boxes are associated with these graves.  They sound somewhat reminiscent of the fulachtai fiadh of Ireland, which might have been used by furriers. 

The archaeologist, Matthias Tschuch, describes ditches associated with the burial, which I interpret as ring ditches, however the translation is a bit garbled.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fence Post Rings from EBA Switzerland

This awesome story "Prehistoric alphine farming in the Bernese Oberland" is from  It references a paper just released from Quarternary International.

The melting Alpine Ice fields are exposing lots of Neolithic stuff.  These fence rings are among the most recent finds.
2,100 B.C. EBA Fence Post Rings (Photo: Badri Redha)
Not changing what works.  Fences were constructed like this up until a few generations ago in Switzerland.

The Swiss man is holding a fence ring, identical to the EBA rings above (Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde)

Hafner, Schworer (2017) Quarternary Internationl

"Vertical mobility around the high-alpine Schnidejoch Pass. Indications of Neolithic and Bronze Age pastoralism in the Swiss Alps from paleoecological and archaeological sources"


Since 2003 a melting ice field on the Schnidejoch Pass (2756 m a.s.l.) has yielded several hundred objects from the Neolithic period, the Bronze and Iron Ages and from Roman and early medieval times. The oldest finds date from the beginning of the 5th millennium BC, whilst the most recent artefacts date from around AD 1000. Most of the objects belong to the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age and are of organic origin. A series of over 70 radiocarbon dates confirm that the Schnidejoch Pass, which linked the Bernese Oberland with the Rhône Valley, was frequented from no later than 4800–4500 BCE onwards. The pass was easily accessible when the glaciers descending from the nearby Wildhorn mountain range (summit at 3248 m a.s.l.) were in a retreating phase. On the other hand, the area was impassable during periods of glacial advances. A recent palaeoecological study of sediment cores from nearby Lake Iffigsee (2065 m a.s.l.) provides clear indications of early human impact in this Alpine area. Linking archaeological finds from the Schnidejoch Pass and the Rhône Valley with the palaeoecological data provides results that can be interpreted as early indications of Alpine pastoralism and transhumance. The combined archaeological and paleoecological research allows us to explain vertical mobility in the Swiss Alps.

Woman with a Wolf-tooth Necklace (Włodarcczak et al, 2016)

This is a revisit of a Corded Ware Culture grave discovered in 1994,Wilczyce, Southwestern Poland.  The second half of the paper is in English.

Fig 11.  Some of the wolf-teeth pendants

The grave contained a large, tubby amphora, S-shaped beakers which include a complete and loosely patterned herringbone beaker, smaller but undecorated beaker fragments and two miniature vessels along with animal teeth pendants and shell beads.  The skull is apparently missing and the body was 'strongly disturbed'.

From Fig 9.  S-profile beaker, loose herringbone
Determining the gender of the occupant is impossible based on traditional methods.  An admittedly very shaky determination is female, and the authors note that wolf-tooth and bead necklaces are generally found with female-gendered burials. 

The flint fragments (17) may come from the filling of the grave, however this is also not determined.  There was a Carpathian grindstone made of sandstone.

41 wolf-tooth pendants were included of at least six adult wolves, drilled using different tools, perhaps at different times or by different people.  Along with the shell beads, the teeth and beads may have formed a single necklace and/or bracelets.

Fig 12.  Examples of shell beads
The grave dates to around 2500 or so and the authors remark it is rather conservative given its date, especially in this part of Poland.

Przegląd Archeologiczny, Vol. 64, 2016, pp. 29-57, PL ISSN 0079-7138, DOI 10.23858/PA64.2016.002.  Piotr Włodarczak , Tomas z Boro ń, Aldona Kurzawska ,
Marta Osypińska , Anita Szczepanek , Małgorzata Winiarska-Kabacińska  [Link]

The grave of the Corded Ware culture from the site 10 in Wilczyce, Sandomierz County

The authors of the paper present the results of research, the subject of which was the inhumation burial of the Corded Ware culture from Wilczyce. The site is located on the culmination of the southern slope of a loess hill, rising directly above the valley of the Opatówka River. The grave goods consisted of: an amphora, three cups, two miniature vessels, 41 wolf tooth pendants and disc-shaped shell beads. Radiocarbon dating result on bones from the burial is 3960 ± 30 BP (Poz-80189).
KEY WORDS: southern Poland, Wilczyce, the Neolithic, The Corded Ware culture, inhumation burial

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Corded Ware Language, Culture (Kristiansen et al, 2017)

No lengthy overture.  The papers are here.  See also the summary on Kossinna's Smile.

Many of the bold assertions made in "Re-theorising mobility and the formation of culture and language among the Corded Ware Culture in Europe" are going to be broadly close to truth.  But it will be controversial due to the 'matter of fact' spirit of the piece and the name recognition of the authors.  Academically, it is tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet.

In a way, the hysteria generated in archaeological and linguistic circles as a result of this paper and the two 2015 papers will be good for the genetics community.  Controversy will spawn rebuttals built on additional evidences, which will eventually illuminate more dark areas of history.


1.  The Kristiansen authors refer to the so-far tested Yamnaya as a "best known proxy" for incoming populations into Europe.  Given genetic, economic and cultural similarities between these cultures, they believe a donor ancestor of CWC lived somewhere close to the regions tested thus far.

2.  Crisis in the European Neolithic?  New diseases?  Was Europe weakened in such a way that it became a magnet for immigration?

3.  A cultural and economic framework of Yamnaya is given which explains the unique similarities it has with the highly mobile Corded Ware.

4. Corded Ware males married outsider​ women; abduction is singled out as a contributing factor to male based exogamy.  (I'm guessing abduction becomes more common when doweries or bride price become excessive as is often the case in primative societies.  I'm not sure the economics of abduction make it a good fit for the observed exogamy.)

Nordic Bronze Age

5.  They suggest that pre-proto-Germanic developed out of a late Funnelbeaker presence in Western Jutland and the Danish Islands. (No idea whatsoever)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Kossinna's Smile" (Heyd, 2017)

Today I'll focus on a paper by Volker Heyd entitled "Kossinna's Smile".  This paper and this other paper, are meant to be read together.

Because this subject is just too dense to work left to right, I'll offer a condensed version.

"Pots are people you idiots!" -Kossinna

1.  Pots or people?  Kossinna had the ridged view that archaeological culture = ethnicity.  Then a younger generation of archaeologists lurched to the opposite extreme, discounting the validity of the ethnic question, but even the conceptual basis of a unifying 'culture' or its components, such as language.   (More on Kossinna -Roberts, VanderLinden, page 51)

Every generation is rewarded with teenagers.  At some point there is an acknowledgement that the older generation 'may have got a few things right'.  Now that ancient DNA is demonstrating clear genetic boundaries and migratory change, "culture-history and ethnic interpretations are back on the dinner table" as Heyd states.

2.  While Heyd acknowledges the genetic turnovers, he is also much more cautious than the authors of "Re-theorising mobility and the formation of culture and language among the Corded Ware Culture in Europe"

He points to a number of archaeological discrepancies and logical errors that the Nature crowd seem to be making.  I've combined several things here to save space and time.  Here's a few examples, parentheses are mine:
  • No where is the Globular Amphora Culture considered in any genetic study.  Yet, GAC has more direct contact and overlap with Yamnaya and influences from the North Black Sea are more direct.  Heyd gives the example of the Mikhaylovka Culture of the Dneiper (also mentioned is the Maikop by Mallory and Adams.  Also, see Woidich on GAC contact with the Northern Funnel-beaker Culture as one explanation for the formation of the Northern Single Grave Culture.  Woidich, 2014
  • Other evidence of earlier intrusion - Baalberge round pit barrows 
  • Seemingly domestic horses are earlier than expected, Salzmünde Group, Central Europe.
  • Suggests the possibility that Salzmünde-Eperstedt may have already been steppified, long before the CWC and BBC.
He also makes these arguments:
  • There is still very limited sampling of vast regions.  Not ready for simple conclusions.
  • CWC is not descended from Yamnaya, not directly and not partly.  The Kristensen authors (2017) admit they are using Yamnaya as a proxy, even though their own arrow maps (Nature) make this association quite clear.  There are similarities between the two, but the two cultures are nearly contemporary which is problematic. 
  • Yamnaya expanded into familiar steppe ecozones.  CWC expanded into familiar temperate forest ecozones.  The two never overlap.
  • The burials are more different than similar.  And conversely, more similar burials from other cultures offer more convincing fits.
Fig 4 (steppe sandals in pre-Beaker Iberia)

3. The emergence of the Corded Ware Culture and the Bell Beaker Culture at roughly the same time is not coincidental.  He seems to suggest the steppe component had already spread all over Europe as an incubating Neolithic elite (my interpretation) and then both cultures are born on a Neolithic substrate (again, my interpretation), one in Iberia and the other in Northern Europe.

Finally, it's important to emphasis the point Heyd reiterates.  On the facts, there is no doubt.  Eastern European Steppe influences clobbered Europe, all of it.  The Corded Ware and Beaker Cultures were born of this upheaval.  After all, that is the point of calling the paper "Kossinna's Smile". 

The real question is the specifics of social change, which will continue to come into focus with a "new archaeology", as he calls it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Disentangling "H" (Dulias et al, 2017)

This week at UCL, a group of authors will present a hypothesis for the expansion of haplogroup H in Continental Europe.  Which is good, because the current understanding is scrambled eggs.

A personal observation is that the young clades appear reach peak frequencies in various littoral zones, excluding Central Europe which obviously a product of the Bronze Age.

Of course any haplogroup will have a peak frequency near water, after all, that's where people live.  But if you break this down further to include the island nations in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and North Sea, it seems there could be a maritime element.

If I can get a copy of the presentation or paper, I'll put it up.
Álvarez-Iglesias et al, 2009

"Disentangling the expansion of major European mitochondrial DNA lineages"
Dulias, Fichera, Silva, Gandini, Rito, Edwards, Pala, Soares, Richards.  University of Hutterfield, 2017

 "Phylogenetics aims to investigate the evolutionary history within or between species by identifying relationships between DNA sequences comparing multiple genomes. Looking at the female line of descent, the majority of the modern-day European population (~40%) belongs to mitochondrial (mt)DNA haplogroup H. However, its sister clades within HV(xH,V) are observed at higher frequencies in Southern Europe and the Near East and most of these show a post-glacial expansion, suggestive of a Near Eastern origin and subsequent Mesolithic spread into Europe. On the other hand, analysis of ancient DNA infers that haplogroup H first appeared in the Early Neolithic, with the lineages that subsequently came to dominate across Europe becoming established during the Middle Neolithic period. H reached higher frequencies again during the appearance of the Bell Beaker culture in the Copper Age, but its complex evolutionary history makes it still uncertain when and how H became the dominant European haplogroup. Its most common subclades in Western Europe are H1 and H3, which peak in their abundance in modern Iberia. Using phylogenetic and founder analysis, we estimate arrival times of HV(xH,V), H1 and H3 in Central Europe and the British Isles, thus disentangling population movements out of Iberia at different times. Our results show differences in the arrival times of H1 and H3 to Central Europe and the British Isles, with H1 having been involved in more expansions than H3."