Thursday, February 25, 2021

Beaker in Southern Russia - A Thing? (Mimokhod, 2018)

Continuing the discussion on very long distance Beaker mobility...

After the previous post "Iberians in Suprasl?", someone sent me this recent paper, "Paleoclimate and Cultural Genesis in Eastern Europe at the End of the 3rd Millennium B.C." 2018 by Roman Mimokhod.

The question is, if Beaker influences in the SW Baltic now have the option of transmission from actual immigrants rather than chain transmission through intermediary cultures, should we more carefully consider that other peripheries expressing Beaker characteristics may have also recieved direct immigration?  

To put another way, given that we have ample proof that Beakers travelled very long distances in a single lifetime (perhaps even within a few weeks), and given their lack of respect for any sort of boundary (geographic, tribal, climatic, linguistic, moral), and given their propensity to dot regions with outposts in the backyards of native cultures, is it not simpler to assume peripheries with Beaker influences had local Beaker settlers, or at least traders, prospectors, marriage partners?

How about the Middle Volga?  How about early Abashevo?

This is not to suggest any part of the Abashevo Complex should have any significant Beaker ancestry.  If it did, it would surely be a fraction.  Rather, the point here is identifying those attributes that remind us of the Beaker Culture and trying to understand how these elements surfaced in such a far away place.  

Beaker settlements in the Ukraine/Southern Russia should not seem too absurd; as I have suggested before, their migration does not appear to have been a mindless process, like a liquid spreading equally in the absence of resistance, seeping into every crevice along the way.  Their earliest presence in any area appears to target raw materials or favorable positions.

There is no doubt that migrations from Central Europe laid the foundational layers for the rise of Abashevo.  Did cultural Beakers migrate?


РАМимоход, 2018

РОССИЙСКАЯ АРХЕОЛОГИЯ, 2018, No 2, с. 3348


At the end of the 3rd millennium, a block of post-catacomb cultural formations was formed in Eastern Europe on the genetic basis of catacomb cultures. It consists of the Babino cultural circle and the Lola cultural circle. The first of them was formed due to the migration impulse from Central Europe and the Carpathian-Danube region, the emergence of the second was stimulated by the migration of pastoralists of the North-Eastern Caucasus to the Ciscaucasian steppe. In turn, the movement of population groups from Europe led to the emergence of a bright, distinctive Middle Volgian Abashev culture of a Central European appearance. Large-scale migrations in Eastern Europe XXIII / XXII centuries. BC. coincided with the peak of aridization in the Old World. These two phenomena are in a causal relationship.


  1. Beaker in Russia - possibly two things?

    1. Early Beaker influences through the Baltic Vistula waterways (Vistula>Narew>Surprasl and Vistula>San>Zlota), as identified in the previous article. Look pre-Yamnayan and ancestral to the Bronze Agers that later moved into Western Europe, and there are traces of the genetics in Central Russia - the Poltavka outlier and Sintashta (I don't detect any significant input in Abashevo or Timber Grave).
    2. Much heavier Southern Beakerish genetic influence in Southern Russia (especially Circassia, Ossetia and Chechnya) - possibly emanating from a prime maritime spot like the Taman peninsula via the Bosphorus?

    Much as with Beakerish influence in North Africa, there is little or no surviving trace of R1b-L51 lineages remaining in these places now.

    1. True, and it may not have been any significant or permanent settlement. Or, perhaps some styles rubbed off on the Central European Corded Ware groups, which certainly did migrate East. However, yet another possibility, is that patrilocality, or at least the tendency for some paternal haplogroups to smother everything else, might also be an explanation for minority Y-lineages disappearing, whatever their small frequency.

      I think that is a possibility in North Africa. We know that in the MLNA, Europeans migrated into North Africa, and yet their is zero vestige of distinctly European lineages (unless of course you consider V88, which was probably part of a different or earlier migration).

      In any case, I don't think there would be much expectation to see any large numbers of L51 in the area, but the Late Beaker and Unetice influences would seem to suggest the possibility of at least some. Given the territorial size of Abashevo, and their propensity to war with each other, probably only a few high-status lineages came to dominate. This process must have been at play even with the typical Corded Ware lineages, from all this look what was left standing in Sintashta.

  2. Yes, when conditions for probing Beakers were found to be or became unfavourable or unsafe, they could simply up sticks and retreat or move somewhere else. In patrilineal culture, it would be the males that moved, sometimes leaving DNA behind with females, as in the Maghreb and I suspect the North Eastern Pontic.

    I think the contribution of Atlanto-Baltic genetic profiles in this region is too heavy for the people not to have settled there for some time before their males migrated away or were wiped out. In Circassia, I estimate that 40% of their DNA is Atlanto-Baltic, and that it spread South East and diluted from there. Whether its origin is Beaker or later (e.g. Sea Peoples), I don't know.

    I'm not sure there is a clear understanding of the megalithic dolmens in this region. One possible explanation is that people intrusive to the Atlantean megalithic culture (e.g. Beakers) adopted aspects of megalithism and spread them to other regions like the Eastern Pontic.

    Perhaps Abashevo was mainly Corded Ware-descendant, but with a Beakerish contribution that is not proportionately reflected in the genetics, much as was the case with Beakerish elites in ancient Egypt whose genetic contributions ultimately withered away.

    1. By 'beakerish' do you mean pre-steppe Iberian or post-steppe?

    2. I'm not sure I really recognise this dichotomy. There was always a bit of 'steppe' in pre-Steppe Iberian, although the 'steppe' was probably actually Balkan. And the 'post-steppe' (in Iberia at least) was probably of Czech/Polish/Belarussian (not really of recent Steppe) origin.

      By Beakerish, I mean Beaker at its zenith (i.e. with a fair amount of 'steppe', but before the mass infusion of Eastern DNA that arrived during the subsequent Bronze Age).

  3. Oh yeah, R1b V88 in Africa is from Neolithic Spain. I don't know if you are disagreeing with this. But, there's R1b V88 in Early Neolithic Spain as well as ancient Sardinia (which came from the same farmers as in Spain).

    " We know that in the MLNA, Europeans migrated into North Africa, and yet their is zero vestige of distinctly European lineages (unless of course you consider V88, which was probably part of a different or earlier migration)."

    1. I like the channel. Stay with it!

      Your comment made me think of a future blog topic.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Thanks. I'm going to make several videos down the road on Bell Beaker. I will probably ask you for an interview in those videos to get your insight into Bell Beaker. But, that would be a while from now. I want to Beaker videos to be good. I'll do them when I think I know enough about Bell Beaker from an archaeological perspective.

    4. Cool, I'm down. Just let me know

    5. There was definitely R1b-M269 in NA too at one point as it was found in several guanche samples, likely stemming from Iberian beaker migrants who were capable seafarers.
      There is some speculation that Tutankhamun may have been R1b-DF27 as well.

  4. Beaker nation was everywhere!

    Beakers in Baltic is interesting possibility. I would presume they would be immigrants probably women not men with R1b P312. As we know in DNA, LNBA Europe was patrilocal and female migration even across long distances was not rare. I would be surprised if there was full fledged Beaker settlement that far east.

    But I don't know anything about archaeology. I'll look at the paper.

  5. I've just noticed from Wang's Caucasus paper that the Beaker-like DNA present in significant contributions today just North of the Caucasus was already there in the early 3,000's BC, labelled as 'outliers' (SA6013 & IV3002). Predictably, as for nearly all other interesting samples, the specific yDNA is unreported.

    Most significantly, these samples have sizeable chunks of both Western Neolithic and Eastern Baltic-like Mesolithic EHG that are each almost completely absent from Yamnaya, suggesting a possible contribution from pre- or proto-Beaker populations of maritime Western and Northern Europe.

    1. IV3002 (Ipatovo 3):

      Y-DNA: T1-CTS6004 (xT1a1a-CTS484, T1a1b-Y6031, T1a2b-FGC37316) Probably: T1a2a-Y8614

      mtDNA: X1'2'3

    2. Thanks.

      It's curious how haplogroup T crops up for several of the most significant samples - Ain Ghazal's I1707, this one and the Varna King. I suspect some of its bearers might have origins in an early international elite, somehow later usurped by R.

      Other mysteries are:
      1. How Eastern Baltic aDNA appears in Steppe Maykop, having largely bypassed intermediate populations like Yamnayans and Ukrainian Neolithics.
      2. How the earliest British Beakers also had some Levantine aDNA (Boscombe R1b-L21) and some Eastern Baltic aDNA (a female buried with him).
      3. How both Levantine and Eastern Baltic aDNA were found in significant quantities in the Varna King.

    3. R1b-V88 was found in another male sample from the Varna necropolis.

      haplogroup T migrated into northwest Africa from Iberia between c. 5000-3700 BC (Kelif el Boroud). R1b-V88 probably did too around the same time.

      T and R1b-V88 are found together in sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. in the Fulani and Toubou).

      Mysteries within mysteries.

  6. Mmm.

    I doubt the Beakerish DNA of these South Russian Steppe Maykop outliers completely left the region, as there are substantial chunks of it still there. The only other Wang samples that have some similarity to it are the North Caucasus Kabardinkas of 2,100 BC, the male of which was (you guessed it) R1b-V88.

    So we have T and V88 together in Chalcolithic Bulgaria, Neolithic Iberia, Neolithic West Africa, Neolithic Northern Western Europe and Bronze Age Southern Russia. We can also see that L51 or equivalent was also highly likely to have been present in Chalcolithic Iberia (ATP3 L21), Chalcolithic Bulgaria (Smyadovo M269xZ2103), Chalcolithic North Western Europe (P312 Beaker), ancient Egypt (Tutankhamun) and Chalcolithic Southern Russia (I0443).

    My guess in Southern Russia is that the Steppe Maykop outlier DNA retreated into the North Caucasus, probably in the face of Yamnayan expansion, and perhaps also even fled back to Europe on the other side of the Pontic.

  7. Wang models the Steppe Maykop outliers as Eneolithic Steppe + Siberian + Armenian Chalcolithic. The fit is not especially close. Add in EHG and Bulgarian/Greek Neolithic and it gets considerably closer.

    The Bulgarian/Greek Neolithic mix is the same as that found in the earliest Iberian Atapuerca sample, and Wang notes that the same derived EDAR allele that he attributes to Siberians is also found in Baltic hunter gatherers. I would suggest that a mix of early Iberian and Surprasl Beaker populations would be a very good candidate for a substantial (perhaps even a majority) contributor to the outliers, and if so that this was a proto-Beaker adventure that probably backfired. I think Eurogenes suggested Steppe Maykop might have been a buffer recruited by Maykop chiefs to protect themselves from Yamnaya; and if so, this appears to have failed, as it seems to have suffered total population replacement at the hands of Yamnaya.

    1. Important if true. Put your theory+data on somewhere like Anthrogenica for exposure and debate.

    2. The lion seems content where it is. I wouldn't want to rattle its cage.

    3. Besides, this wasn't a theory - just an observation that it provides a better fit than Wang's. On closer inspection, there are other even better fits, and the only clear feature is the presence of aDNA that looks Eastern Baltic more than it does Siberian. I'm not sure how this got into Steppe Maykop, or whether it has anything to do with Bell Beaker.