Wednesday, October 9, 2019

More on Battle Axe Folk (Malmstrom et al, 2019)

Battle Axe Culture appears fully within the Corded Ware family system.  

This study clarifies earlier studied samples, and yet again, the two Swedish males from the Battle Axe Culture are R1a.

See also, "DNA study sheds new light on the people of the Neolithic Battle Axe Culture" at PHYS

In the media: 
"New DNA study gives researchers a fasinating look at the Neolithic Battle Axe culture" Ancient-code

The genomic ancestry of the Scandinavian Battle Axe Culture people and their relation to the broader Corded Ware horizon.  Helena Malmström, Torsten Günther, Emma M. Svensson, Anna Juras, Magdalena Fraser, Arielle R. Munters, Łukasz Pospieszny, Mari Tõrv, Jonathan Lindström, Anders Götherström, Jan Storå and Mattias Jakobsson
Published:09 October 2019

The Neolithic period is characterized by major cultural transformations and human migrations, with lasting effects across Europe. To understand the population dynamics in Neolithic Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea area, we investigate the genomes of individuals associated with the Battle Axe Culture (BAC), a Middle Neolithic complex in Scandinavia resembling the continental Corded Ware Culture (CWC). We sequenced 11 individuals (dated to 3330–1665 calibrated before common era (cal BCE)) from modern-day Sweden, Estonia, and Poland to 0.26–3.24× coverage. Three of the individuals were from CWC contexts and two from the central-Swedish BAC burial ‘Bergsgraven’. By analysing these genomes together with the previously published data, we show that the BAC represents a group different from other Neolithic populations in Scandinavia, revealing stratification among cultural groups. Similar to continental CWC, the BAC-associated individuals display ancestry from the Pontic–Caspian steppe herders, as well as smaller components originating from hunter–gatherers and Early Neolithic farmers. Thus, the steppe ancestry seen in these Scandinavian BAC individuals can be explained only by migration into Scandinavia. Furthermore, we highlight the reuse of megalithic tombs of the earlier Funnel Beaker Culture (FBC) by people related to BAC. The BAC groups likely mixed with resident middle Neolithic farmers (e.g. FBC) without substantial contributions from Neolithic foragers.


  1. If anyone has access to this Swiss paper, please send

  2. I read the genetic data a little differently, with Battle Axers looking most like a mix of people of Eastern and Southern provenance (Yamnayan/Balkanic/Beakerish/Iberian) that became more infused with core continental Corded Ware DNA over time. (The distinction is a subtle one.) Their Neolithic farmer component looks more like it came from the East and South as well, rather than being local, whereas I do pick up a reasonably significant contribution from local foragers.

    1. Quite honestly I didn't have time to dwell on the paper long enough to form a strong opinion. I was hoping to see what the contribution of Bell Beaker could have been in places like Western Sweden (however faint), but it would be interesting if what you say is true that some percentage could be attributable to Beaker. Hopefully we'll see some alternate analyses in the coming weeks.

  3. According to that Spanish clown Carlos Quiles, BAC were proto-saami/finnish speakers.