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


  1. Great post.
    The "closure" of older megaliths during BB period occurs commonly.
    So there are 3 males with no steppe ancestry (presumably I2a- is have to check) and two females with steppe, one of which was stratigraphically later.
    So BB ceramics were brought by women from Central Europe (& BB really dose derive from an PFB - AOC sequence on the Rhine from 2800 BC)?

    1. I think the situation is complex, but I do think that a number of archaeologists have conceptual understandings that make a lot of sense to me. Turek gives a working scenario that's plausible and I'll add to it with some of Heyd's suggestions and few hypothetical scenarios of my own...
      Two complex worlds grew together, one that was communication (and migration now it seems) between SW Iberia and Morocco. The other world was in the lower Rhine and formed with the Corded Ware moving into areas populated by Western Funnelbeaker groups that were piled on older traditions, like the pit graver Baalbergers and Salzmund and other Michelsberg groups, they came to have influences from Baden with its flat cemeteries that were previously layered on even older German Rossen traditions.

      So in this area, although some of these are very old traditions maybe surviving in pockets valley to village, at some point (in the Beaker period after PFB) you end up with sexed burials such as the CWC, that face East (like Rossen), that sit sometimes in flat cemeteries with paste encrusted pottery (like Baden), and warrior pit graves with beakers behind the head like Michelsberg. By this I mean that a jumble of things find their way into the Maritime trade-marriage pipeline.

      From the SW of Europe with Maritime, possibly the main cross pollinator-consolidator, this is added to by the character and build of Iberian pottery with its thin-walled, shell tempered pottery with the red color and Moroccan character. Then from this you end up with Bell Beaker, although the nucleus of each of these zones (Rhine and Iberia) seem to be the greater part of one or the other for most of the Beaker period.

      But even then, the genetic situation might be really bizarre. I think the focus will move to the MN, but who knows.

      Anyhow, I'm not really invested in any particular idea. (I've learned that much!)

    2. Yes essentially that's how I understood it too, although more clues on local MNE are worthwhile. I knew that the sexed burials are a 'MNE' features, as are the side crouched positioning (extended supine being the initial steppe - Mesolithic form). Need to dig up some old literature on Rossen, TRb. Much of it is probably in German

  2. Aren't Arroyal and Ubierna Valley in the heart of Burgos that is in the heart of Castille and proper to the Basque Country?

  3. Arroyal I is in Burgos (Castilla), not in Catalonia! :)

    1. Ha ha, oh crap! Cesar tried to correct me and I didn't understand. I appreciate it