Female exogamy and gene pool diversification at the transition from the Final Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age in central Europe

Edited by T. Douglas Price, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, and accepted by Editorial Board Member Elsa M. Redmond July 26, 2017 (received for review April 19, 2017)
September 5, 2017
114 (38) 10083-10088

Significance

Paleogenetic and isotope data from human remains shed new light on residential rules revealing patrilocality and high female mobility in European prehistory. We show the crucial role of this institution and its impact on the transformation of population compositions over several hundred years. Evidence for an epoch-transgressing maternal relationship between two individuals demonstrates long-debated population continuity from the central European Neolithic to the Bronze Age. We demonstrate that a simple notion of “migration” cannot explain the complex human mobility of third millennium BCE societies in Eurasia. On the contrary, it appears that part of what archaeologists understand as migration is the result of large-scale institutionalized and possibly sex- and age-related individual mobility.

Abstract

Human mobility has been vigorously debated as a key factor for the spread of bronze technology and profound changes in burial practices as well as material culture in central Europe at the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. However, the relevance of individual residential changes and their importance among specific age and sex groups are still poorly understood. Here, we present ancient DNA analysis, stable isotope data of oxygen, and radiogenic isotope ratios of strontium for 84 radiocarbon-dated skeletons from seven archaeological sites of the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker Complex and the Early Bronze Age from the Lech River valley in southern Bavaria, Germany. Complete mitochondrial genomes documented a diversification of maternal lineages over time. The isotope ratios disclosed the majority of the females to be nonlocal, while this is the case for only a few males and subadults. Most nonlocal females arrived in the study area as adults, but we do not detect their offspring among the sampled individuals. The striking patterns of patrilocality and female exogamy prevailed over at least 800 y between about 2500 and 1700 BC. The persisting residential rules and even a direct kinship relation across the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age add to the archaeological evidence of continuing traditions from the Bell Beaker Complex to the Early Bronze Age. The results also attest to female mobility as a driving force for regional and supraregional communication and exchange at the dawn of the European metal ages.

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Data Availability

Data deposition: The mtDNA sequences are deposited in GenBank (accession nos. MF498658–MF498737).

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to M. Hermann and S. Gairhos (Stadtarchäologie Augsburg), H. Dietrich (Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Bayern), and R. Linke (Arbeitskreis für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Augsburg Süd) for access to the skeletons; to E. Nelson for anthropological age and sex determinations; to G. Borngässer, M. Gottschalk, S. Klaus, B. Höppner, and S. Pagacs (Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry Mannheim) for sample preparation and isotope analysis; to F. Göhringer for photography and 3D scanning; and to J. Peters, M. Harbeck, W. Haak, A. Peltzer, M. Spyrou, and C. Posth for suggestions and discussions. Comments by anonymous reviewers and the editor, as well as language editing by Anne Gibson, improved the manuscript. Financial support by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (project “Times of Upheaval: Changes of Society and Landscape at the Beginning of the Bronze Age”), by the German Research Foundation [KR 4015/1-1 (to J.K. and A.M.)], and by the Crocallis–Stiftung (to A.S.) is highly acknowledged.

Supporting Information

Appendix (PDF)
Dataset_S01 (XLSX)

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Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 114 | No. 38
September 19, 2017
PubMed: 28874531

Classifications

Data Availability

Data deposition: The mtDNA sequences are deposited in GenBank (accession nos. MF498658–MF498737).

Submission history

Published online: September 5, 2017
Published in issue: September 19, 2017

Keywords

  1. mtDNA
  2. strontium
  3. oxygen
  4. kinship
  5. human mobility

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to M. Hermann and S. Gairhos (Stadtarchäologie Augsburg), H. Dietrich (Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Bayern), and R. Linke (Arbeitskreis für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Augsburg Süd) for access to the skeletons; to E. Nelson for anthropological age and sex determinations; to G. Borngässer, M. Gottschalk, S. Klaus, B. Höppner, and S. Pagacs (Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry Mannheim) for sample preparation and isotope analysis; to F. Göhringer for photography and 3D scanning; and to J. Peters, M. Harbeck, W. Haak, A. Peltzer, M. Spyrou, and C. Posth for suggestions and discussions. Comments by anonymous reviewers and the editor, as well as language editing by Anne Gibson, improved the manuscript. Financial support by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (project “Times of Upheaval: Changes of Society and Landscape at the Beginning of the Bronze Age”), by the German Research Foundation [KR 4015/1-1 (to J.K. and A.M.)], and by the Crocallis–Stiftung (to A.S.) is highly acknowledged.

Notes

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. T.D.P. is a Guest Editor invited by the Editorial Board.

Authors

Affiliations

Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry gGmbH, 68159 Mannheim, Germany;
Alissa Mittnik1
Institute for Archaeological Sciences, Eberhardt Karls University Tübingen, 72070 Tübingen, Germany;
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, 07745 Jena, Germany;
Ken Massy
Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology and Archaeology of the Roman Provinces, Ludwig–Maximilians University Munich, 80799 Munich, Germany;
Catharina Kociumaka
Private address, 86672 Thierhaupten, Germany;
Isil Kucukkalipci
Institute for Archaeological Sciences, Eberhardt Karls University Tübingen, 72070 Tübingen, Germany;
Michael Maus
Applied and Analytical Paleontology, Institute of Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 55128 Mainz, Germany;
Fabian Wittenborn
Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany;
Stephanie E. Metz
Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany;
Anja Staskiewicz
Private address, 81247 München, Germany
Johannes Krause2 [email protected]
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, 07745 Jena, Germany;
Philipp W. Stockhammer2 [email protected]
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, 07745 Jena, Germany;
Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology and Archaeology of the Roman Provinces, Ludwig–Maximilians University Munich, 80799 Munich, Germany;

Notes

2
To whom correspondence may be addressed. Email: [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].
Author contributions: C. Knipper, A.M., J.K., and P.W.S. designed research; C. Knipper, A.M., K.M., I.K., M.M., S.E.M., A.S., and P.W.S. performed research; C. Kociumaka and F.W. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; C. Knipper, A.M., K.M., J.K., and P.W.S. analyzed data; and C. Knipper, A.M., K.M., J.K., and P.W.S. wrote the paper.
1
C. Knipper and A.M. contributed equally.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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    Female exogamy and gene pool diversification at the transition from the Final Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age in central Europe
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 114
    • No. 38
    • pp. 9991-E8130

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