If you're looking for some eye-poping graphics and a great story, see Haaretz's coverage "Prehistoric Downtown Abbey: Bronze Age Germans had Earliest Known Household Staff" (again Ruth Schuster)
The Lech Valley paper is an intimate, peering-through-the-window experience of Bell Beaker households in a way that borders time travel.
It observes the marriage network that certainly gave the Beaker cultural system access to distant resources and blood allegiance. These marriage patterns can partly explain the ubiquity of the M269 male lineage, especially outside of its own paternal families of origin.
|dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo via Newscientist|
The research group, which includes Krause and Stockhammer, examined the ancient ancestry in family cemeteries along the Lech River Valley in Southern Bavaria. They were able to recreate six family trees of about four to five generations (below).
These are country kinfolk with extended family and connections beyond their valley. We might imagine on several occasions of the year, people for hundreds of miles converged in one place for gambling, barn dancing, athletic contests and religious festivals. During this time introductions, negotiations, betrothals and weddings might have been arranged.
Sciencenews quotes Phillip Stockhammer, “We were absolutely surprised to find that social inequality was a phenomenon within households rather than between households”.
That inequality existed within Beaker households is not a new idea (Liesau et al, 2015), as many Bell Beaker grave plots or mounds give the impression that some people had greater status and some had less. In some situations the disparity was considerable enough to invite social degrees interpreted as tenants, servants or slaves.
One of the curious discoveries for the researchers was the well-decorated women who left no genetic descendants within these cemeteries.
The authors provide a solution that makes a lot of sense in light of Medieval customs and arrangements found in cultures across the world. That is, 'political' marriages required children born of these unions to eventually move back to their mother's family of origin. It means (potentially) that sons born to a political wife would grow up to be favored sons in another country, having land, rights and distant, yet trusted connections.
These particular Lech River sons would eventually head back to their mother's folks in Eastern Germany, Poland or Czechia, where they would be raised by their aunts and uncles. These boys were the maternal grandsons of landed farmers and craftsmen, particularly during the emerging proto-Unetice.
Hopefully I can find the complete paper and be able to post more soon...
In the news:
Kinship-based social inequality in Bronze Age Europe
Mittnik, A. et al. Science https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aax6219 (2019).