* Steppe cultures
* Bug-Dniester * Sredny Stog * Dnieper-Donets * Samara * Khvalynsk
* Usatovo * Cernavodă * Cucuteni
* Corded ware
* Baden * Middle Dnieper
------------------------- Bronze Age
* Chariot * Yamna * Catacomb * Multi-cordoned ware * Poltavka * Srubna
* Abashevo culture * Andronovo * Sintashta
* BMAC * Yaz * Gandhara grave
------------------------- Iron Age
* Thraco-Cimmerian * Hallstatt * Jastorf
* Painted Grey Ware
Northern Black Polished Ware
Peoples and societies Bronze Age
* Paleo-Balkans /Anatolia :
Religion and mythology Reconstructed
* Yazidism * Yarsanism
* Paleo-Balkans * Greek * Roman
* Irish * Scottish * Breton * Welsh * Cornish
* Anglo-Saxon * Continental * Norse
* Latvian * Lithuanian
* Slavic * Albanian
Indo-European studies Scholars
* v * t * e
The BELL-BEAKER CULTURE (sometimes shortened to BEAKER CULTURE,
BEAKER PEOPLE, or BEAKER FOLK), c. 2900 – 1800 BC is the term for
a widely scattered 'archaeological culture ' of prehistoric western
Europe starting in the late
Chalcolithic and running into
Bronze Age . The term was coined by John Abercromby , based
on the culture's distinctive pottery drinking beakers . The
* 1 Introduction * 2 Origins
* 3 Expansion and culture contact
* 3.1 Migration vs. acculturation
* 4 Extent and impact
* 5 Postulated linguistic connections
* 6 Physical and genetic anthropology
* 6.1 Skeletal studies * 6.2 Genetic studies
* 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 Sources * 10 Further reading * 11 External links
It is important to note that underlying the Bell beaker superstratum existed a wide diversity in local burial styles (including incidences of cremation rather than burial), housing styles, economic profile and local coarse ceramic wares which continued to persist.
There are two main international Bell Beaker styles: the "All Over Ornamented" (AOO), patterned all over with impressions, of which a sub-set is the "All Over Corded" (AOC), patterned with cord-impressions, and the "Maritime" type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later, characteristic regional styles developed.
It has been suggested that the beakers were designed for the
consumption of alcohol, and that the introduction of the substance to
Europe may have fuelled the beakers' spread.
There have been numerous proposals by archaeologists as to the origins of the Bell Beaker culture, and debates continued on for decades. Several regions of origin have been postulated, notably the Iberian peninsula, the Netherlands and Central Europe. Similarly, scholars have postulated various mechanisms of spread, including migrations of populations ("folk migrations"), smaller warrior groups, individuals (craftsmen), or a diffusion of ideas and object exchange.
Recent analyses have made significant inroads to understanding the Beaker phenomenon, mostly by analysing each of its components separately. They have concluded that the Bell Beaker phenomenon was a synthesis of elements, representing "an idea and style uniting different regions with different cultural traditions and background."
Radiocarbon dating seems to support that the earliest "Maritime" Bell
Beaker design style is encountered in Iberia, specifically in the
vibrant copper-using communities of the
The inspiration for the Maritime Bell Beaker is argued to have been
the small and earlier Copoz beakers that have impressed decoration and
which are found widely around the
AOO and AOC Beakers appear to have evolved continually from a pre-Beaker period in the lower Rhine and North Sea regions, at least for Northern and Central Europe.
Furthermore, the burial ritual which typified Bell Beaker sites was intrusive into Western Europe. Individual burials, often under tumuli burials, with the inclusion of weapons contrast markedly to the preceding Neolithic traditions of often collective, weaponless burials in Atlantic/Western Europe. Such an arrangement is rather derivative of Corded Ware traditions although, instead of 'battle-axes', Bell Beaker individuals used copper daggers.
EXPANSION AND CULTURE CONTACT
Generalised distribution and movements of Bell-Beaker cultures
The initial moves from the
Another pulse had brought Bell Beaker to Csepel Island in Hungary by
about 2500 BC. In the Carpathian Basin the Bell
The earliest copper production in Ireland, identified at Ross Island
in the period 2400–2200 BC, was associated with early Beaker
pottery. Here the local sulpharsenide ores were smelted to produce
the first copper axes used in Britain and Ireland. The same
technologies were used in the
MIGRATION VS. ACCULTURATION
Given the unusual form and fabric of Beaker pottery, and its abrupt
appearance in the archaeological record , along with a characteristic
group of other artifacts, known as the Bell Beaker "package", the
explanation for the
Under the "pots, not people" theory the
Investigations in the Mediterranean and
A Strontium isotope analysis of 86 people from Bell Beaker graves in Bavaria suggests that 18–25% of all graves were occupied by people who came from a considerable distance outside the area. This was true of children as well as adults, indicative of some significant migration wave. Given the similarities with readings from people living on loess soils, the general direction of the local movement according to Price et al., is from the northeast to the southwest.
EXTENT AND IMPACT
3,500 years old, 40 cm (16 in) high "Giant Beaker of
Pavenstädt", Gütersloh town museum ,
Bell Beaker people took advantage of transport by sea and rivers,
creating a cultural spread extending from Ireland to the Carpathian
Basin and south along the Atlantic coast and along the
to Portugal, North Africa and Sicily, even penetrating northern and
central Italy. Its remains have been found in what is now Portugal,
Beaker-type vessels remained in use longest in the British Isles;
late beakers in other areas are classified as early
Bronze Age (Barbed
Wire Beakers in the Netherlands, Giant Beakers (Riesenbecher). The new
international trade routes opened by the Beaker people became firmly
established and the culture was succeeded by a number of
The Bell Beaker phenomenon in the Iberian Peninsula defines the late phase of the local Chalcolithic and even intrudes in the earliest centuries of the Bronze Age . A review of radiocarbon dates for Bell Beaker across Europe found that some of the earliest were found in Portugal, where the range from Zambujal and Cerro de la Virgen (Spain) ran between 2900 BC and 2500 BC, in contrast to the rather later range for Andalusia (between 2500 BC to 2200 BC).
At present no internal chronology for the various Bell Beaker-related
styles has been achieved yet for Iberia. Peninsular corded Bell
Beakers are usually found in coastal or near coastal regions in three
main regions: the western Pyrenees, the lower
With some notable exceptions, most Iberian early Bell Beaker burials are at or near the coastal regions. As for the settlements and monuments within the Iberian context, Beaker pottery is generally found in association with local Chalcolithic material and appears most of all as an "intrusion" from the 3rd millennium in burial monuments whose origin may go back to the 4th or 5th millennium BC.
Very early dates for Bell Beakers were found in Castelo Velho de
Freixo de Numão in Guarda , northern Portugal. The site was located
on the summit of a spur. A short-lived first occupation of pre-Bell
Beaker building phase about 3000 BC revealed the remains of a tower,
some pavings and structures for burning. After a break of one or two
centuries, Bell Beaker pottery was introduced in a second building
phase that lasted to the Early
The second building phase was dominated by a highly coherent group of
pottery within the regional
Chalcolithic styles, representing Maritime
Bell Beakers of the local (northern Portuguese), penteada decoration
style in various patterns, using lines of points, incision or
impression. Three of them were carbon dated to the first half of the
3rd millennium BC. The site demonstrates a notable absence of more
common Bell Beaker pottery styles such as Maritime Herringbone and
Maritime Lined varieties found in nearby sites like Castanheiro do
Vento and Crasto de Palheiros. One non-local Bell Beaker sherd,
however, belonging to the upper part of a beaker with a curved neck
and thin walls, was found at the bedrock base of this second phase.
The technique and patterning are classic forms in the context of pure
European and Peninsular corded ware. In the
Iberian Peninsula this AOC
type was traditionally restricted to half a dozen scattered sites in
The lack or presence of Bell Beaker elements is the basis for the division of Los Millares and Vila Nova cultures into two periods: I and II.
Radiocarbon dating currently indicates a 1200-year duration for the
use of the Beaker pottery on the
Balearic Islands , between c. 2475 BC
and 1300 BC (Waldren and Van Strydonck 1996). There has been some
evidence of all-corded pottery in
The presence of perforated Beaker pottery, traditionally considered to be used for making cheese, at Son Ferrandell-Oleza (Waldren 1998: 95) and at Coval Simó (Coll 2000), confirms the introduction of production and conservation of dairy. Also, the presence of spindles at sites like Son Ferrandell-Oleza (Waldren 1998: 94) or Es Velar d’Aprop (Carreras y Covas 1984) point to knowledge of making thread and textiles from wool. However, more details on the strategies for tending and slaughtering the domestic animals involved are forthcoming.
Being traditionally associated with the introduction of metallurgy, the first traces of copper working in the Balearics was also clearly associated with Bell Beakers.
In their large-scale study on radiocarbon dating of the Bell Beakers, J. Müller and S. Willingen established that the Bell Beaker Culture in Central Europe started after 2500 BC.
Two great coexisting and separate Central European cultures – the
Corded Ware with its regional groups and the Eastern Group of the Bell
Beaker Culture – form the background to the Late
The Bell Beaker settlements are still little known, and have proved remarkably difficult for archaeologists to identify. This allows a modern view of Bell Beakers to contradict results of anthropologic research. The modern view is that the Bell Beaker people, far from being the "warlike invaders" as once described by Gordon Childe (1940), added rather than replaced local late Neolithic traditions into a cultural package and as such did not always and evenly abandon all local traditions. More recent extensive DNA evidence, however, suggests a significant replacement of earlier populations.
Bell Beaker domestic ware has no predecessors in
Bohemia and Southern
Germany, shows no genetic relation to the local Late
The relationship to the western Bell Beakers groups, and the
contemporary cultures of the Carpathian basin to the south east, is
much less. Research in Northern Poland shifted the north-eastern
frontier of this complex to the western parts of the Baltic with the
adjacent Northern European plain. Typical Bell Beaker fragments from
the site of Ostrikovac-Djura at the Serbian river Morava were
presented at the Riva del Garda conference in 1998, some hundred
kilometers south-east of the Hungarian Csepel-group. Bell Beaker
related material has now been uncovered in a line from the Baltic Sea
down to the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, including countries such as
Bielo-Russia, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia,
Albania, Macedonia and even Greece. An example of Beaker pottery
During the Bell Beaker period a border ran through southern Germany,
which culturally-divided a northern from a southern area. The northern
area was oriented around the
Rhine and the Bell Beaker West Group,
while the southern area occupied much of the
Previously some archeologist considered the Bell-beaker people to
have lived only within a limited territory of the Carpathian Basin and
for a short time, without mixing with the local population. Although
there are very few evaluable anthropological finds, the appearance of
the characteristic planoccipital (flattened back) Taurid type in the
populations of some later cultures (e.g. Kisapostag and
Gáta–Wieselburg cultures) suggested a mixture with the local
population contradicting such archaeological theories. According to
archaeology, the populational groups of the Bell-beakers also took
part in the formation of the Gáta-Wieselburg culture on the western
fringes of the Carpathian Basin, which could be confirmed with the
anthropological Bell Beaker series in
In accordance with anthropological evidence, it has been concluded
the Bell Beakers intruded in an already established form the southern
A modern reconstruction of the halberd from Carn, County Mayo, which was found with its oak handle intact. The shaft is just over one metre long.
Beakers arrived in Ireland around 2500 BC and fell out of use around
1700 BC (Needham 1996). The beaker pottery of Ireland was rarely used
as a grave good, but is often found in domestic assemblages from the
period. This stands in contrast to the rest of Europe where it
frequently found in both roles. The inhabitants of Ireland used food
vessels as a grave good instead. The large, communal passage tombs of
Neolithic were no longer being constructed during the Early
Bronze Age (although some, such as
The advent of the
Beakers are found in large numbers in Ireland, and the technical
innovation of ring-built pottery indicates that the makers were also
present. Classification of pottery in Ireland and Britain has
distinguished a total of seven intrusive beaker groups originating
from the continent and three groups of purely insular character having
evolved from them. Five out of seven of the intrusive Beaker groups
also appear in Ireland: the European bell group, the All-over cord
beakers, the Northern British/North
Rhine beakers, the Northern
Rhine beakers and the Wessex/Middle
However, many of the features or innovations of Beaker society in
Britain never reached Ireland. Instead, quite different customs
predominated in the Irish record that were apparently influenced by
the traditions of the earlier inhabitants. Some features that are
found elsewhere in association to later types of Earlier
In 1984, a Beaker period copper dagger blade was recovered from the Sillees River near Ross Lough, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The flat, triangular-shaped copper blade was 171 mm (6.73 in) long, with bevelled edges and a pointed tip, and featured an integral tang that accepted a riveted handle. Flint arrow-heads and copper-blade daggers with handle tangs, found in association with Beaker pottery in many other parts of Europe, have a date later than the initial phase of Beaker People activity in Ireland. Also the typical Beaker wristguards seem to have entered Ireland by cultural diffusion only, after the first intrusions, and unlike English and Continental Beaker burials never made it to the graves. The same lack of typical Beaker association applies to the about thirty found stone battle axes. A gold ornament found in County Down that closely resembles a pair of ear-rings from Ermegeira, Portugal, has a composition that suggests it was imported. Incidental finds suggest links to non-British Beaker territories, like a fragment of a bronze blade in County Londonderry that has been likened to the "palmella" points of Iberia, even though the relative scarcity of beakers, and Beaker-compatible material of any kind, in the south-west are regarded as an obstacle to any colonisation directly from Iberia, or even from France. Their greater concentration in the northern part of the country, which traditionally is regarded as the part of Ireland least blessed with sources of copper, has led many authorities to question the role of Beaker People in the introduction of metallurgy to Ireland. However, indications of their use of stream sediment copper, low in traces of lead and arsenic, and Beaker finds connected to mining and metalworking at Ross Island, County Kerry , provide an escape to such doubts.
The featured "food vessels " and cinerary urns (encrusted, collared and cordoned) of the Irish Earlier Bronze Age have strong roots in the western European Beaker tradition. Recently, the concept of these food vessels was discarded and replaced by a concept of two different traditions that rely on typology: the bowl tradition and the vase tradition, the bowl tradition being the oldest as it has been found inserted in existing Neolithic (pre-beaker) tombs, both court tombs and passage tombs. The bowl tradition occurs over the whole country except the south-west and feature a majority of pit graves, both in flat cemeteries and mounds, and a high incidence of uncremated skeletons, often in crouched position. The vase tradition has a general distribution and feature almost exclusively cremation. The flexed skeleton of a man 1.88 tall in a cist in a slightly oval round cairn with "food vessel" at Cornaclery, County Londonderry , was described in the 1942 excavation report as "typifying the race of Beaker Folk ", although the differences between Irish finds and e.g. the British combination of "round barrows with crouched, unburnt burials" make it difficult to establishes the exact nature of the Beaker People's colonization of Ireland.
In general, the early Irish Beaker intrusions don't attest the overall "Beaker package" of innovations that, once fully developed, swept Europe elsewhere, leaving Ireland behind. The Irish Beaker period is characterized by the earliness of Beaker intrusions, by isolation and by influences and surviving traditions of autochthons.
Ireland has the greatest concentration of gold lunulae and stone wrist-guards in Europe. However, neither of these items were deposited in graves and they tend to be found isolated and at random, making it difficult to draw conclusions about their use or role in society at the time.
One of the most important sites in Ireland during this period is Ross
Island. A series of copper mines from here are the earliest known in
Ireland, starting from around 2500 BC (O'Brien 2004). A comparison of
chemical traces and lead isotope analysis from these mines with copper
artifacts strongly suggests that Ross Island was the sole source of
copper in Ireland between the dates 2500–2200 BC. In addition, two
thirds of copper artifacts from Britain also display the same chemical
and isotopic signature, strongly suggesting that Irish copper was a
major export to Britain (Northover et al. 2001). Traces of Ross Island
copper can be found even further afield; in the Netherlands it makes
up 12% of analysed copper artifacts, and
As well as exporting raw copper/bronze, there were some technical and cultural developments in Ireland that had an important impact on other areas of Europe. Irish food vessels were adopted in northern Britain around 2200 BC and this roughly coincides with a decline in the use of beakers in Britain (Needham 1996). The ‘bronze halberd’ (not to be confused with the medieval halberd ) was a weapon in use in Ireland from around 2400–2000 BC They are essentially broad blades that were mounted horizontally on a meter long handle, giving greater reach and impact than any known contemporary weapon (O’Flaherty 2007). They were subsequently widely adopted in other parts of Europe (Schuhmacher 2002), possibly showing a change in the technology of warfare.
The Bronze Age Beaker period is noteworthy, since archeological finds seem to indicate a strong continuity with native Bronze Age traditions in Ireland as much as Britain. No evidence of other large-scale immigrations took place, and many scholars deny Celtic speech originated solely from La Tène culture , whose migrations started at about 400 BC. Instead, those scholars propose Celtic languages evolved gradually and simultaneously over a large area by way of a common heritage and close social, political and religious links. Although controversial, the theory fits (according to its proponents) the archeological evidence that provides little support for westward migrations of Celtic people matching the historically known movements south and west.
Beakers arrived in Britain around 2500 BC, declined in use around 2200–2100 BC with the emergence of food vessels and cinerary urns and finally fell out of use around 1700 BC (Needham 1996). The earliest British beakers were similar to those from the Rhine (Needham 2005), but later styles are most similar to those from Ireland (Case 1993). In Britain, domestic assemblages from this period are very rare, making it hard to draw conclusions about many aspects of society. Most British beakers come from funerary contexts.
Britain’s only unique export in this period is thought to be tin .
It was probably gathered in streams in
The most famous site in Britain from this period is
Bell Beaker sites in
Italian Peninsula 's most affected areas are the
Po Valley , in
particular the area of
Graves with Beaker artifacts have been discovered in the Brescia area, like that of Ca' di Marco ( Fiesse ), while in central Italy, bell-shaped glasses were found in the tomb of Fosso Conicchio (Viterbo ).
Sardinia has been in contact with extra-insular communities in
Like elsewhere in Europe and in the Mediterranean area, the Bell
The Beaker was introduced in
Sardinia and spread mainly
in the north-west and south-west of the island. In the northwest and
In Denmark, large areas of forested land were cleared to be used for pasture and the growing of cereals during the Single Grave culture and in the Late Neolithic Period. Faint traces of Bell Beaker influence can be recognized already in the pottery of the Upper Grave phase of the Single Grave period, and even of the late Ground Grave phase, such as occasional use of AOO-like or zoned decoration and other typical ornamentation, while Bell Beaker associated objects such as wristguards and small copper trinkets, also found their way into this northern territories of the Corded Ware Culture. Domestic sites with Beakers only appear 200–300 years after the first appearance of Bell Beakers in Europe, at the early part of the Danish Late Neolithic Period (LN I) starting at 2350 BC. These sites are concentrated in northern Jutland around the Limfjord and on the Djursland peninsula, largely contemporary to the local Upper Grave Period. In east central Sweden and western Sweden, barbed wire decoration characterised the period 2460–1990 BC, linked to another Beaker derivation of northwestern Europe.
Northern Jutland has abundant sources of high quality flint, which
had previously attracted industrious mining, large-scale production,
and the comprehensive exchange of flint objects : notably axes and
chisels. The Danish Beaker period, however, was characterized by the
manufacture of lanceolate flint daggers, described as a completely new
material form without local antecedents in flint and clearly related
to the style of daggers circulating elsewhere in Beaker dominated
Also, the spread of metallurgy in Denmark is intimately related to the Beaker representation in northern Jutland. The LN I metalwork is distributed throughout most of Denmark, but a concentration of early copper and gold coincides with this core region, hence suggesting a connection between Beakers and the introduction of metallurgy. Most LN I metal objects are distinctly influenced by the western European Beaker metal industry, gold sheet ornaments and copper flat axes being the predominant metal objects. The LN I copper flat axes divide into As-Sb-Ni copper, recalling so-called Dutch Bell Beaker copper and the As-Ni copper found occasionally in British and Irish Beaker contexts, the mining region of Dutch Bell Beaker copper being perhaps Brittany; and the Early Bronze Age Singen (As-Sb-Ag-Ni) and Ösenring (As-Sb-Ag) coppers having a central European – probably Alpine – origin.
The Beaker group in northern Jutland forms an integrated part of the western European Beaker Culture, while western Jutland provided a link between the Lower Rhine area and northern Jutland. The local fine-ware pottery of Beaker derivation reveal links with other Beaker regions in western Europe, most specifically the Veluwe group at the Lower Rhine. Concurrent introduction of metallurgy shows that some people must have crossed cultural boundaries. Danish Beakers are contemporary with the earliest Early Bronze Age (EBA) of the East Group of Bell Beakers in central Europe, and with the floruit of Beaker cultures of the West Group in western Europe. The latter comprise Veluwe and Epi-Maritime in Continental northwestern Europe and the Middle Style Beakers (Style 2) in insular western Europe. The interaction between the Beaker groups on the Veluwe Plain and in Jutland must, at least initially, have been quite intensive. All-over ornamented (AOO) and All-over-corded (AOC), and particularly Maritime style beakers are featured, although from a fairly late context and possibly rather of Epi-maritime style, equivalent to the situation in the north of the Netherlands, where Maritime ornamentation continued after it ceased in the central region of Veluwe and were succeeded c. 2300 BC by beakers of the Veluwe and Epi-Maritime style.
Clusters of Late
Neolithic Beaker presence similar to northern
Jutland appear as pockets or "islands" of Beaker Culture in northern
Europe, such as
In eastern Denmark and Scania one-person graves occur primarily in flat grave cemeteries. This is a continuation of the burial custom characterising the Scanian Battle-axe Culture, often to continue into the early Late Neolithic. Also in northern Jutland, the body of the deceased was normally arranged lying on its back in an extended position, but a typical Bell Beaker contracted position occurs occasionally. Typical to northern Jutland, however, cremations have been reported, also outside the Beaker core area, once within the context of an almost full Bell Beaker equipment.
The introductory phase of the manufacture and use of flint daggers, around 2350 BC, must all in all be characterised as a period of social change. Apel argued that an institutionalised apprenticeship system must have existed. Craftsmanship was transmitted by inheritance in certain families living in the vicinity of abundant resources of high-quality flint. Debbie Olausson’s (1997) examinations indicate that flint knapping activities, particularly the manufacture of daggers, reflect a relatively low degree of craft specialisation, probably in the form of a division of labour between households.
Noteworthy was the adoption of European-style woven wool clothes kept together by pins and buttons in contrast to the earlier usage of clothing made of leather and plant fibres. Two-aisled timber houses in Late Neolithic Denmark correspond to similar houses in southern Scandinavia and at least parts of central Scandinavia and lowland northern Germany. In Denmark, this mode of building houses is clearly rooted in a Middle Neolithic tradition. In general, Late Neolithic house building styles were shared over large areas of northern and central Europe. Towards the transition to LN II some farm houses became extraordinarily large.
The cultural concepts originally adopted from Beaker groups at the lower Rhine blended or integrated with local Late Neolithic Culture. For a while the region was set apart from central and eastern Denmark, that evidently related more closely to the early Únětice culture across the Baltic Sea. Before the turn of the millennium the typical Beaker features had gone, their total duration being 200–300 years at the most. A similar picture of cultural integration is featured among Bell Beakers in central Europe, thus challenging previous theories of Bell Beakers as an elitist or purely super-structural phenomenon. The connection with the East Group Beakers of Únětice had intensified considerably in LN II, thus triggering a new social transformation and innovations in metallurgy that would announce the actual beginning of the Northern Bronze Age .
POSTULATED LINGUISTIC CONNECTIONS
Bell Beaker has been suggested as a candidate for an early
Indo-European culture ; more specifically, an ancestral proto-Celtic .
Mallory has more recently suggested that the
PHYSICAL AND GENETIC ANTHROPOLOGY
Historical craniometric studies found that the Beaker people appeared
to be of a different physical type than those earlier populations in
the same geographic areas. They were described as tall, heavy boned
and brachycephalic . The early studies on the Beakers which were based
on the analysis of their skeletal remains, were craniometric . This
apparent evidence of migration was in line with archaeological
Non-metrical research concerning the Beaker people in Britain also cautiously pointed in the direction of immigration. Subsequent studies, such as one concerning the Carpathian Basin, and a non-metrical analysis of skeletons in central-southern Germany, have also identified marked typological differences with the pre-Beaker inhabitants.
Jocelyne Desideri examined the teeth in skeletons from Bell Beaker
sites in Northern Spain, Southern France, Switzerland, the Czech
Republic and Hungary. Examining dental characteristics that have been
independently shown to correlate with genetic relatedness, she found
that only in Northern
Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies , such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by anatomically modern humans (AMH). The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum . However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones.
More recently, data and calculations from Myres et al. (2011), Cruciani et al. (2011) Arredi et al. (2007), and Balaresque et al. (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.
These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence
from ancient DNA . R1b was detected in two male skeletons from a
German Bell Beaker site dated to 2600-2500 BC at Kromsdorf, one of
which tested positive for M269 but negative for its U106 subclade
(note that the P312 subclade was not tested for), while for the other
skeleton the M269 test was unclear. A later Bell Beaker male skeleton
Haak et al. (2015) concluded that R1b was very likely spread into
Europe from the
Pontic-Caspian steppe after 3,000 BC by the Yamna
Proto-Indo-Europeans under the
Kurgan hypothesis .
The authors noticed a paucity of haplogroup R1b in European population
samples predating the
The study also found, via autosomal analysis, that the majority of
Neolithic populations in Europe, including their ancient samples
From a mitochondrial DNA perspective, haplogroup H , which has high incidence (≈40%) throughout Europe, has received similar attention. Early studies by Richards et al (2000) suggested that it arose 28–23 kya (thousand years ago), spreading into Europe ≈20 kya, before then re-expanding from an Iberian glacial refuge ≈15 kya, calculations subsequently corroborated by Pereira et al. (2005). However, a larger study by Roostalu et al. (2007), incorporating more data from the Near East, suggested that whilst Hg H did begin to expand c. 20 kya, this was limited to the Near East, Caucasus and Southeastern Europe. Rather its subsequent spread further west occurred later, in the post-glacial period from a postulated South Caucasian refugium. This hypothesis has been supported by a recent ancient DNA analysis study, which links the expansion of mtDNA Hg H in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker phenomenon.
Whilst such studies are insightful, even if the dates postulated by authors are correct, they do not necessarily imply that the spread of a particular genetic marker represents a distinct population, 'tribe' or language group. Genetic studies have often been treated with suspicion not only by archaeologists and cultural anthropologists, but even by fellow population geneticists.
* Beaker (other) * Amesbury Archer * Prehistoric Britain * Prehistoric Iberia * Bronze Age Britain * Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
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