Saturday, February 8, 2020

Beaker Ghosts (Carlin, 2020)

The current issue of The Biochemist (Vol 42, Iss 1) covers a range of Ancient DNA topics, and of course, the featured article is "Haunted by the ghost of the Beaker folk?" by Neil Carlin.

One key question for Carlin and other archaeologists is why Bronze Age Britain retains many Neolithic cultural habits when the genetic turnover was so catastrophic.


Here's a quote:
"...it remains hard to understand how newcomers could have been so strongly influenced by the people of Neolithic Britain, if they had been rapidly and almost completely replaced during the introduction of the Beaker phenomenon."
Before posting any berserk comments, keep in mind the purpose of the article and the audience.  Hopefully we'll see another big swath of Neolithic and Beaker ancients from Britain and Ireland in the near future.

37 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This great. I love seeing articles like this about Bell beaker ancient DNA.

    An important missunderstanding they expressed in the article and which Harvard geneticists express: is Spain Bell beaker & Northwest European Bell Beaker were the same culture.

    When in fact they weren't. Their pottery was similar. But, their burial customs aren't. Northern Beaker burial customs appear in Spain the same time that Steppe ancestry does. So, really the fully fledged Bell Beaker culture is always associated with people who carry Y DNA R1b and Steppe ancestry.

    "Significantly, the Beaker genomics study also
    included analysis of the aDNA of 37 Beaker burials
    from Spain and Portugal."
    " aDNA from these Beaker burials contained
    very low levels of Steppe-related ancestry. Instead, their
    genetic pro le remained the same as the preceding
    Neolithic population in the area"
    " is serves as a useful
    reminder that the Beaker ‘culture’ was a human-made
    social phenomenon, not a biological condition"

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  3. Well, after reading this I'm a pretty disappointed in the article. This is basically a anti-migrationist archeaologist who is upset about ancient DNA.

    "Currently, the exact timing of the genetic changes
    that have been identi ed is quite unclear"
    "most of
    the aDNA samples in the study come from burials that
    post-date the earliest appearance of Beaker pottery on
    this island by at least 300 years. "
    " erefore, it has not
    yet been demonstrated that the arrival of people with
    Steppe genes in Britain occurred in tandem with the
    spread of Beaker-related material traits. ese changes
    may not have happened at the same time or been
    closely interconnected."
    "But yet, it has been claimed that there must have
    been a direct causal link between the demographic and
    cultural changes that happened in Britain during the
    3rd millennium BC. is is a curious assumption that
    seems to echo the highly problematic approaches that
    characterized early forms of archaeology and resulted in
    the construction of a mythical ‘Beaker folk’. "

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  4. Yeah, the Iberian Bb culture is not the same as the Northwest BB culture, but the key is not the different burial customs because the Bbs buried their dead in very different ways throughout Europe. There are BBs collective graves throughout Europe (France, Hungary, Italy, England, Spain, Ireland Portugal, Sicily etc)

    Sam Andrews said-"Northern Beaker burial customs appear in Spain the same time that Steppe ancestry"
    does.

    I can send you many cases of individual chalcolithic graves in Iberia before the BB culture, the Northwest BBs did not introduce that custom in Spain, but it was a logical cultural evolution mainly due to the hierarchy of societies thanks to the dominance of metallurgy- Do you get it?

    First the copper, and 500 years later the BB culture in the Tagus estuary and in those 500 years dozens of individual tombs with or without copper as grave goods- The Iberian Bbs took the copper to the north of France, the Netherlands and the British Isles- You have to try to forget your prejudices, learn Spanish and study the Iberian Chalcolithic to be able to comment on our prehistory, meanwhile your comments will always be funny but not interesting.

    So the fully fledged bb culture has absolutely nothing to do with R1b and steppe ancestry except in the imagination of some stubborn Kurganists like you

    The Iberian Bbs, whatever lineage they are and whatever their autosomal composition, made arsenic copper axes, halberds, daggers and punches, traded with salt and ivory, used wristguards and V perforated buttons, dominated the gold metallurgy and navigated through all western seas long before any Dutch or French R1b dreamed of doing so


    In our opinion there are only two explanations for P312 in Iberia,

    1-He was already at home and some isolated groups developed some variants of the BB culture in Iberia (Ciempozuelos style, Palmela spearheads)

    2- Crossed the Pyrenees in small groups (without women) and adapted immediately to local customs.

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    1. I'd vote for #2. At the archaeology level, BB-like culture arrived in what is now Basque territory quite late in the BB phenomena from what is now France. I'm also increasingly coming around to the view that Basque and it extinct sister languages were Neolithic holdovers which were rare exceptions in which BB genetic influx did not lead to language shift, rather than to the possibility that Corded Ware was IE, while BB while a Basque-like language of people who converted to IE in an Iron Age Celtic expansion (although that possibility isn't ruled out nearly as clearly as many papers in the field assume when discussing other topics).

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  5. Bell Beaker BloggerFebruary 9, 2020 at 12:55 PM

    My opinion is that Beaker Culture in Iberia is not adoption, nor is it wholly indigenous. I suspect the Spanish interior played a key role in influencing the Iberian civilizations, probably through elite infiltration. But it's important to remember that Iberia experienced a nearly complete y-chromosomal wipeout by the EMBA. So this is not a case of people impressed with other people's worldly stuff. This is not yet obvious in the early samples.

    Harvard started this meme that the Beaker phenomenon was totally people not pots, but they leave this big olive branch to the archaeological community by offering Iberia as an example of cultural imitation. Sorry everyone, but that nice idea will explode as well in time. What happened between the LN and MBA Iberia was not imitation.


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    1. There are genetic indicators of a possible spread of P312 Bell Beaker from Iberia via the Atlantic fringe to Germany.

      We have a read for a P312 SNP (Y17204) in Atapuerca Northern Spain dated c. 3,400 BC (ATP3).

      aDNA profiles demonstrate very close matches between 2,750 BC Beaker Portugal (Cova da Moura) and a contemporary Atapuerca sample (2,738 BC ATP2).

      2,671 BC Kyndelose Denmark has a significant ATP2 contribution in its best fit aDNA profile.

      The main cluster of P312 Bavarian Bell Beaker samples shows Kyndelose as its major aDNA best fit contributor.

      Not proof, of course, but this demonstrates a perfectly feasible route for R1b-P312 to have spread via Spain to the Rhine and Central Europe, taking Beaker culture with it.

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    2. In that sense, Olalde's paper was a disaster. He had to deny Iberian migrations but accept all the others to justify the steppe origin of R1b-M269, when the Bb culture lasted 1,000 years and dozens of migrations occurred in all directions. That is the true because we have irrefutable anthropological, archaeological and genetic evidence

      P312? it really doesn't matter that it is Iberian, French or German the important thing for me is that it is western

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    3. Bell Beaker BloggerFebruary 9, 2020 at 9:53 PM

      Whatever the ultimate origin of M269, we have a situation in which Harvard is placating the European archaeological community by giving them a safe 'out' or exit. In order to save face in the midst of a grossly incorrect view of peaceful acculturation of the 60's, Late Chalcolithic Iberia has become that 'out'.

      Both the Harvard crowd and the European archaeological community are claiming that 'while migration is surprisingly a factor in Britain and elsewhere', 'Iberia is an example of acculturation'. That is retarded.

      Clearly, we have a complete paternal wipeout in Iberia. Comically, it is more severe that practically everywhere except Britain by the Bronze Age. Certainly the mixture and history is very different in Iberia because it hosted several large civilizations, unlike most other places in Europe.

      When I read so many archaeologists trot out these meme's, I wonder what they really believe, or do they really believe in this stuff. It could be a modern cultural disconnect between modern Europe and the New World.
      Modern Europeans speak English, wear jeans, and so on. So peaceful acculturation makes sense, maybe.

      Those of us from the US, Mexico and elsewhere come from a history of migration and conquest. It wasn't a simple war, but a process that lasted hundreds of years involving marriage, wars and everything in between.

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    4. Most European archaeologists disagree with Harvard conclusions regarding mass migration, conquests etc. When Reich publicly presented his conclusions about Olalde's paper, more than 100 Portuguese, French and Spanish archaeologists, including the President of the European Archaeologists, signed a manifesto saying they disagreed because Dr Reich spoke of violence, mass migration, kidnapping of women etc ...In Iberia, this supposed violence is more frequent in the Neolithic, but in the Chalcolithic there is hardly any evidence of violent deaths, then it is obvious that they disagree with that simple explanation.

      Regarding acculturation- Imagine that Mexican archaeologists had to study the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards without having archeological evidence of the presence of Spaniards in that country (if there were not, iron weapons, armor, remains of horses or boats etc) - That is what happens in Spain regarding BB culture- BB pottery is native (Maritime, Ciempozuelos) and the entire BB package is documented in Pre-BB deposits, then I guess you'll agree with me that it's smarter to think of a gradual cultural evolution than to talk about a culture imposed by newcomers

      And then the genetic issue appears because the chalcolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age female markers are exactly the same as those of the Iberian Neolithic, then we have to rule out female migrations. Regarding P312, what could we expect if they were newcomers? - I suppose we would find AOC or AOO pottery in deposits related to this lineage and yet we found that all the Iberian-P312 (2.500-2.200 BC) were buried with Ciempozuelos pottery and I2a with Maritime style pottery

      Applying common sense, everything indicates a local origin of this lineage but since we are not stubborn nationalists (despite criticism) and Harvard tells us that this lineage brought the steppe ancestry to Spain and that it has its origin in Eastern Europe, we can only think that these men crossed the Pyrenees in small groups and that they adopted local customs immediately

      We have spoken with French colleagues because the Ciempozuelos style has also been found in Southern France and several Italian sites (same as the Palmela points), but the dates are much more recent than in Spain. We have even thought that it was a kind of modified European central pottery, because in that region there is also pottery where white paste is used as a filling for the decoration of the vessels, but the techniques do not match and in addition that decorative technique is also documented in the Spanish Neolithic.

      The last possibility is that the Iberian peninsula was much less populated than we think, and that P312 would enter establishing in poor and practically depopulated regions and that thanks to the influence of the Chalcolithic cultures of southern Portugal and Spain, they learned the metallurgical techniques and invent a pottery style unique and different from those of the rest of Europe. If this were so, we would have to advance the entry of that lineage in the Iberian Peninsula 150/200 years (2,650 BC)

      Then there is no disconnection between Europe and the New World, simply an interesting scientific discussion that we can solve if we all collaborate honestly- Here in Europe, people generally do not agree with these migrationist interpretations because of the problems we currently have, but whatever the truth everyone will end up accepting-

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    5. "but in the Chalcolithic there is hardly any evidence of violent deaths,"

      I'm not really solid on the exact timing of when it happens, but at some point (as detailed in the Portuguese Prehistoric Enclosures blog in the sidebar which is maddeningly reluctant to connect dots and provide narratives, even when they are obvious, forcing you to read between the lines), walled cities, castles, and moated palisades appear suddenly over wide swaths of Iberia, which certainly suggests a reaction to widespread military/organized large gangs of bandits level violence.

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    6. @Gaska

      " more than 100 Portuguese, French and Spanish archaeologists, including the President of the European Archaeologists, signed a manifesto saying they disagreed because Dr Reich spoke of violence, mass migration, kidnapping of women etc "

      This is the voice of the Marxist, anti-imperialist, anti-racism (and now, anti-sexism) pacifist academic orthodoxy. No matter how much evidence is given against them, then CANNOT change horses now - they are ideologically committed. Naive migrationism, with peoples marching across Europe in phalanxes, was worthy of a knock-down. These people took a reasonable correction and turned it into a collective identity. It is often said that generals are always fighting the last war. In fact, if anyone is flexible today, it is our current crop of military professionals. In academia, on the other hand, they can go on losing battles till they retire and never lose a drop of blood.

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    7. @Bell Beaker Blogger, Yeah, I think you explain it well. Harvard is totally miss interpreting Late Neolithic/BA Iberia as you said. The evidence is confusing so maybe in their next paper or speech or whatever they'll change their mind.

      Also, I think Harvard really needs to tell European archaeologist upfront "You guys were wrong in many cases."

      Archaeologists like Neil Carlin come off as basically thinking pots never equal people. Very stubborn about it. They need to open their eyes to the fact sometimes pots do equal people.

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    8. Yes, we have a paternal wipeout in Iberia, but how long did this take?

      Look at Atapuerca. R1b-M269 (ATP3) was already there c. 3,389 BC. But other paternal groups H2 (ATP2) and I2a (ATP12 and ATP17) were still there 500-650 years later, and ATP20 with a very Neolithic-looking autosomal profile was still there in 2,120 BC (1,270 years after M269 arrived) and at the tail end of Bell Beaker.

      We do not see the emergence of much more standard M269-looking profiles until ATP9 in 1,624 BC.

      If there were replacement, it took a long time coming. And if it were as a direct result of conflict, that conflict looks more like a civil war than a hostile invasion.

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    9. We are talking about many topics at once

      1-Nicolas, Obviously the process was neither fast nor total, the proof is that we have good percentages of I2a and G2a in the current Iberian population (6% I2a in Basques) who have been in Iberia for thousands of years, then they were never exterminated

      2-If violent conquests occurred as it is possible to find BB deposits with men I2a and R1b-P312 buried with the same type of grave goods? They simply all belonged to the same culture

      Many people have created in their imagination a kind of fairy tale with the narrative of glorious ancestors conquering Europe with their horses and their weapons of war, stealing destroying and capturing women. That may be the American vision of Europe's prehistory but it is far from hit on what really happened

      English archaeologists are great professionals and do not need a Harvard geneticist to tell them how to interpret their deposits. No one better than them knows what happened on the isles in the Chalcolithic and if they have a different vision, not only must it be respected, but it must be taken as true until the contrary is proven

      On the contrary, those who need to open their eyes are the geneticists who have tried to impose a vision that is increasingly weak and incongruous - Yamnaya culture has been destroyed as a reference, and only ashes remain from the old Gimbuta's theory. Harvard would do badly if they insisted on keeping this theory alive with biased interpretations of the genetic results obtained-

      It's funny that Sam says that Harvard really needs to tell European archaelogist-"you guys were wrong in many cases" because although it is true that archaeologist are not in possession of absolute truth, Harvard cannot boast too many successes in interpreting the results. Both disciplines are needed and must complement each other to reach a consensus that is acceptable to the international scientific community. Sam, Less advice and more humility, because Harvard has done it wrong many times.

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  6. the megalithic builders seem to have passed down knowledge of geometry and astronomy to the incoming beaker folk, and megalithic sites like Stonehenge continued to be cult centres well into the Bronze Age.

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  7. Yes, my reading of the DNA is that there were people in Bronze Age Britain adopting Neolithic culture who had an almost negligible genetic contribution from their Neolithic British predecessors, but it is mainly just the way in which this is described that makes it seem hard to understand.

    Firstly, the newcomers are identified as having 'Steppe DNA', giving the impression that they migrated to Britain directly from the Steppe, when they actually arrived in Britain after a long spell in Continental Europe. And they didn't just have Steppe DNA, but a mixed DNA that included major contributions from Neolithic people from other parts of Europe. As such, they would have been used to Neolithic culture and adopted it with relative ease.

    Secondly, the description of the arrival of the newcomers as 'rapid' gives the impression that the indigenous Neolithics were wiped out in a single violent military conquest, whereas the process of replacement could have occurred in waves that spread over several hundred years. My guess is that the newcomers participated in the local culture whilst keeping to their own tight-knit communities, and that their relative success led to conflict with (and the ultimate demise of) the indigenous people.

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    1. And don't forget that there are many mitochondrial markers in England that are typical of British Neolithic farmers associated with R1b-P312- At first I thought they were direct migrations of Iberia, but then we checked the markers and many of them (although exactly the same as the Iberians) had been in England for hundreds of years, then it is evident that the populations were mixed (there are also I2a in British BB burials)-Soon it will be known that the BBs arrived in England and Ireland from different regions in mainland Europe and (surprise surprise) some from Africa, which nobody should be surprised considering the cosmopolitan character of BB culture

      Archaeogenetics and Palaeogenetics of the British Isles-"My project highlights population turnover during the Neolithic to Bronze Age transition, in the Scottish Isles, identifies possible Near Eastern/North African ancestry in a Bell Beaker individual from Northeastern England"

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    2. My estimate for the indigenous Neolithic contribution to British Bronze Age P312 is 5%, and with a degree of resurgence subsequently. Small, but significant, I suppose, and might well be higher with a wider sample.

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    3. The resurgence also indicates that there were relict populations descended from the pre-BB population whose remains have not yet been discovered in prehistoric burials suitable for DNA analysis.

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    4. @Nicolas Paul

      "the description of the arrival of the newcomers as 'rapid' gives the impression that the indigenous Neolithics were wiped out in a single violent military conquest "

      That sounds like the straw man that archaeologists use to deny migration. I know of no one talking about slaughter-and-colonize events. Consistently I read suggestions of travelling male bands taking local wives and settling in place. Migration doesn't have to be Europeans coming to North America and driving the local peoples out.

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    5. To clarify, I'm not an archaeologist and I don't deny migration.

      I just don't see evidence to demonstrate that the the process of population replacement necessarily happened rapidly.

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    6. @Nicolas Paul, If in the archaeological record only Bell Beaker remains are found from 2300-2000 BC, that would suggest the replacement was rapid. If the Neolithic British survived, we should expect to see continuation of full-blown Neolithic British culture in Britain from 2300-2000 BC.

      If one were to argue British Neolithic descendants adopted Bell Beaker culture, that wouldn't work because all Bell Beaker burials so far come out as not descendants of British Neolithic (90% not 100%, generally speaking).

      That alone in my opinion, supports rapid replacement.

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    7. If, as seems likely, Beaker people had some sort of presence in the British Isles from at least 2,650 BC, I would not describe signs of population replacement between 2,300 BC and 2,000 BC as rapid outcomes of their arrival on the scene.

      Replacement might have been rapid, we cannot tell for sure. But if it were rapid, this doesn't look to be in immediate response to the arrival of Bell Beaker or R1b-M269 per se. I have a different lateral suggestion for it, which I will put forward later.

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  8. According to this blog post from Chad Rohlfson, it seems that the Beaker people who arrived in Britain were already partly descended from Megalithic people who migrated eastward from northwest Europe at an earlier date:

    https://populationgenomics.blog/2019/02/01/of-stone-blood-the-demography-of-the-megalithic-expansions-work-in-progress/

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    1. I think this might be Funnelbeaker, rather than Bell Beaker.

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    2. Bell Beaker or their ancestors mixed with them (Globular Amphora or Funnelbeaker) on their way westward.

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  9. Possibly, although I don't think the article or my data suggest that.
    I would agree though that Bell Beaker in Northern Europe would have picked up some megalithic DNA there, but probably as it travelled eastwards.

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  10. Whatever the merits of the analysis in the publication, it is asking an important and worthwhile question that should be front and center. Cultural continuity in a region in the face of genetic turnover is an important phenomena (and a very prominent one in American history over the last few hundred years).

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    1. But the thing is there is little cultural continuity between British Neolithic and British Bell Beaker. There might be a few borrowings, but overall these are two different cultures.

      This article was a waste of time. It is a stubborn archaeologists who for political reasons is opposed to the idea that in Bell Beaker culture and genes correlate.

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    2. It may just be that the level of population turnover in Britain is slightly overestimated, and more in the realms of 75-80% than 90-95%.

      What Olalde's paper tried to do was distinguish between a contribution from GAC_Poland and Britain MN using offsets in their hunter-gatherer ancestry.

      But these offsets are probably fairly slight. If you think about Chad Rohlfson's tree model for GAC (https://populationgenomics.blog/2019/02/01/of-stone-blood-the-demography-of-the-megalithic-expansions-work-in-progress/), he has GAC_P and England_N mostly branching from the same France_MLN ancestor, with GAC_P having 60% ancestry and England_N 100% ancestry. The remaining fluctuating difference in HG ancestry is then about 7% (which is similar to what the Extended Data Figure 4 from Olalde's paper shows). Then we're talking about halving and quartering proportions again, by admixture with incoming steppe migrants.

      That being the case, it seems to me probably quite plausible for the ancestor of "Kurgan Beaker" or "Northern Beaker" entering NW Europe to have small differences in accumulated HG ancestry from the Corded Ware Germany and Yamnaya Samara proxies they use, that throw off what they're trying to do.

      So if we're thinking about if it makes more sense for proportions of continuity to be slightly underestimated, rather than have these shared cultural elements with only 5% ish geneflow, we might come down on the former as still plausible.

      There could also be some slight homogenization of the farmer pool before the Beaker period.

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  11. In an earlier reply, I noted how Neolithic paternal haplogroups and autosomal profiles persisted in Iberia for at least 1,250 years after we know that R1b-M269 had a presence there. This indicates that M269’s arrival was not likely to be the initiator of rapid population replacement in Iberia; and over a period as lengthy as this, M269 people would almost certainly have participated in local cultures to some degree.

    In Atapuerca, it is not until after the Bell Beaker period ended (1,625 BC) that we see an autosomal profile that is more like those of M269 samples that we see in Central Europe. I have analysed this profile, and find it to be a mixture of three sources – 1. Old-style Portuguese Bell Beaker, 2. Early Iberian M269, and 3. A Bavarian Bell Beaker outlier that looks very similar to Southern Polish Corded Ware.

    My suggestion is that population replacement in Iberia was not due to M269 or Bell Beakers per se, but might have been triggered as a result of Corded Ware admixture into Central European Bell Beaker, which subsequently transferred into Bell Beaker populations elsewhere, perhaps through inter-marriage. Moreover, there are DNA signs in the British Isles and elsewhere of the same phenomenon.

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  12. In the migration/acculturation/replacement debate, is there anyone else who considers that all of these propositions can be reconciled?

    Data would seem to indicate that in the early phase of Bell Beaker, there was both substantial migration and some acculturation. My suggestion is then that in its later stages, perhaps c. 2,300 BC, BB faced opposition from/conflict with Corded Ware as it spread eastwards, resulting in:
    1. The collapse of CW and the wipe out of most of its Southern and Western paternal lineages, and substantial female CW admixture into BB.
    and 2. The ascendancy of a more aggressive, highly-militarised BB leadership that was determined to eliminate groups that opposed it, resulting in population replacements in the North (e.g. British Isles), and later the South (Spain and Italy).

    I see Bell Beaker as evolving and diversifying over time, both genetically and culturally, and not as a sharply-defined people/movement that remained exactly the same and then disappeared.

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  13. I have examined four ancient samples with positive reads from the same subclade of R1b-P312 - three from the British Isles (SNPs S192, S5488 and M529) and one from Iberia (Y17204).

    Despite having the same paternal line, these samples have autosomal profiles that are starkly different from each other - indeed, two have no Steppe DNA at all, and one has no WHG. Aside from their shared yDNA, their female and most of their male ancestors are likely to have sprung from different locations and cultures, and the two later British samples (75-300 years later) show no match at all to the earlier one.

    Carlin’s question of how Bronze Age Britain could have retained cultural habits from the genetically distinct Neolithic could also be asked about the Bronze Age Britons themselves. How could they have shared the same Bronze Age culture when their own internal genetics were so diverse? To me, the answer to both questions is that genetic ancestry probably had little or no effect on cultural practice.

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    1. Can you identify those samples? What is the subclade to which they belong?

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    2. The samples are Atapuerca 3, and Rathlin 1, 2 and 3; and the reads are all SNPs within L21.

      Although from a single location and with similar dates, the Rathlin samples are autosomally diverse - 1 is closest to NE Europe (with no Steppe component), 2 is typical of Corded Ware (with substantial Steppe component), 3 is a mix of 2 and Atapuerca.

      The early European Bronze Age looks to have been an era of substantial genetic and cultural exchange across a huge geographical area.

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