Tracing mobility patterns through the 6th-5th millennia BC in the Carpathian Basin with strontium and oxygen stable isotope analyses.
ABSTRACT: The complexity of Neolithic population movements and their interpretation through material culture have been the subject of archaeological research for decades. One of the dominant narratives proposes that groups from the Star?evo-Körös-Cri? complex spread from the central towards the northern Balkans in the Early Neolithic and eventually brought the Neolithic lifestyle into present-day Hungary. Broad geographical migrations were considered to shape the continuous expansion of Neolithic groups and individuals. However, recent archaeological research, aDNA, and isotope analyses challenged the synchronous appearance of specific material culture distributions and human movement dynamics through emphasizing communication networks and socio-cultural transformation processes. This paper seeks to retrace the complexity of Neolithic mobility patterns across Hungary by means of strontium and oxygen stable isotope analyses, which were performed on a total of 718 human dental enamel samples from 55 Neolithic sites spanning the period from the Star?evo to the Balaton-Lasinja culture in Transdanubia and from the Körös to the Tiszapolgár cultural groups on the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld). This study presents the largest strontium and oxygen isotope sample size for the Neolithic Carpathian Basin and discusses human mobility patterns on various geographical scales and throughout archaeological cultures, chronological periods, and sex and gender categories in a multiproxy analysis. Based on our results, we discuss the main stages of the Neolithisation processes and particularly trace individual movement behaviour such as exogamy patterns within extensive social networks. Furthermore, this paper presents an innovative differentiation between mobility patterns on small, micro-regional, and supra-regional scales, which provides new insights into the complex organisation of Neolithic communities.
Project description:Farming was established in Central Europe by the Linearbandkeramik culture (LBK), a well-investigated archaeological horizon, which emerged in the Carpathian Basin, in today's Hungary. However, the genetic background of the LBK genesis is yet unclear. Here we present 9 Y chromosomal and 84 mitochondrial DNA profiles from Mesolithic, Neolithic Star?evo and LBK sites (seventh/sixth millennia BC) from the Carpathian Basin and southeastern Europe. We detect genetic continuity of both maternal and paternal elements during the initial spread of agriculture, and confirm the substantial genetic impact of early southeastern European and Carpathian Basin farming cultures on Central European populations of the sixth-fourth millennia BC. Comprehensive Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA population genetic analyses demonstrate a clear affinity of the early farmers to the modern Near East and Caucasus, tracing the expansion from that region through southeastern Europe and the Carpathian Basin into Central Europe. However, our results also reveal contrasting patterns for male and female genetic diversity in the European Neolithic, suggesting a system of patrilineal descent and patrilocal residential rules among the early farmers.
Project description: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.
Project description:The inland area of southwestern Sweden is well known for its well-preserved archaeological animal and human remains dating back to the Mesolithic and Neolithic (10000-4000 and 4000-1700 BC). They allow application of multiple bioarchaeological methods, giving insights into various and complementary aspects of prehistoric human life, as well as economic and social structures. One important aspect concerns human mobility and its relation to social networks and to circulation of objects. Here, strontium isotope analysis plays a crucial role. The present study aims to construct a strontium isotope baseline of southwestern Sweden with considerably greater coverage and higher resolution than previously published data. As the region has been affected by glacial events, the relation between bedrock geology and isotope signals of the bioavailable strontium in such areas is given special attention. We determined strontium isotope ratios for 61 water and five archaeological animal samples, and combined the data with previous measurements of two water and 21 non-domestic faunal samples. The results reveal a complex pattern. Several areas with distinct baseline ranges can be distinguished, although with overlaps between some of them. Overall, the bioavailable strontium isotope signals mirror the basement geology of the region. The highest ratios occur in the geologically oldest eastern parts of the Precambrian terrain, while lower ratios are found in the western part, and the lowest ratios occur in the youngest Paleozoic areas. At the same time, there are minor deviations compared to the underlying bedrock, due to glacial transport, overlying sediments, and local intrusions of younger rocks. The background data set now available allows for more nuanced and detailed interpretations of human and animal mobility in the region, in particular by identification of subregions with differing strontium isotope ratios within the Precambrian province. Also, we can now identify long distance mobility with greater confidence.
Project description:The transition from mobile to sedentary life was one of the greatest social challenges of the human past. Yet little is known about the impact of this fundamental change on social interactions amongst early Neolithic communities, which are best recorded in the Near East. The importance of social processes associated with these economic and ecological changes has long been underestimated. However, ethnographic observations demonstrate that generalized reciprocity - such as open access to resources and land - had to be reduced to a circumscribed group before regular farming and herding could be successfully established. Our aim was thus to investigate the role of familial relationships as one possible factor within this process of segregation as recorded directly in the skeletal remains, rather than based on hypothetical correlations such as house types and social units. Here we present the revealing results of the systematically recorded epigenetic characteristics of teeth and skulls of the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic community of Basta in Southern Jordan (Figure S1). Additionally, mobility was reconstructed via a systematic strontium (Sr) isotope analysis of tooth enamel of the Basta individuals. The frequency of congenitally missing maxillary lateral incisors in the 9,000-year-old community of Basta is exceptionally high (35.7%). Genetic studies and a worldwide comparison of the general rate of this dental anomaly in modern and historic populations show that the enhanced frequency can only be explained by close familial relationships akin to endogamy. This is supported by strontium isotope analyses of teeth, indicating a local origin of almost all investigated individuals. Yet, the accompanying archaeological finds document far-reaching economic exchange with neighboring groups and a population density hitherto unparalleled. We thus conclude that endogamy in the early Neolithic village of Basta was not due to geographic isolation or a lack of exogamous mating partners but a socio-cultural choice.
Project description:This paper reports LA-ICP-MS 87Sr/86Sr isotopic data collected from archaeological human remains uncovered in Manzherok region, Altai Republic, Russian Federation ("Mobility of nomads in central Asia: chronology and 87Sr/86Sr isotope evidence from the Pazyryk barrows of northern Altai, Russia" . The skeletal remains derive from Scythian barrows dated to 6th - 3rd century BC located at Chultukov Log 1 cemetery. The Chultukov Log cemetery, located approximately 470km south of Novosibirsk, is considered the biggest nomadic burial ground in the Upper Altai and the Sayan Mountains. To enrich the information on prehistoric mobility of ancient nomadic populations in Central Asia, strontium isotopic data were collected using a Nu plasma (II) MC-ICP-MS equipped with ESI NWR193-based laser ablation system from premolar teeth of 8 adult individuals (4 males and 4 females), associated mainly with the Pazyryk culture. Additionally, we report bioavailable strontium data from single Equus caballus specimen (found at Chultukov Log 9 settlement) from Manzherok territory. In this study we have successfully applied and tested new in-depth decontamination protocol for total (<95%) removal of contaminants, necrotic tissue and dental calculus in archaeological materials based on a clinical irrigation procedure with NaOCl and EDTA. Strontium LA-ICP-MS 87Sr/86Sr isotopic data presented in this paper were obtained from prehistoric human teeth previously decontaminated according to this method. These data will provide valuable resources for isotopic analyses of prehistoric transportation systems in Central Asia, including residential mobility of ancient nomads inhabiting steppe zone, Mongolia and NW China.
Project description:Cremated human remains from Stonehenge provide direct evidence on the life of those few select individuals buried at this iconic Neolithic monument. The practice of cremation has, however, precluded the application of strontium isotope analysis of tooth enamel as the standard chemical approach to study their origin. New developments in strontium isotopic analysis of cremated bone reveal that at least 10 of the 25 cremated individuals analysed did not spend their lives on the Wessex chalk on which the monument is found. Combined with the archaeological evidence, we suggest that their most plausible origin lies in west Wales, the source of the bluestones erected in the early stage of the monument's construction. These results emphasise the importance of inter-regional connections involving the movement of both materials and people in the construction and use of Stonehenge.
Project description:The decline of the Roman rule caused significant political instability and led to the emergence of various 'Barbarian' powers. While the names of the involved groups appeared in written sources, it is largely unknown how these changes affected the daily lives of the people during the 5th century AD. Did late Roman traditions persist, did new customs emerge, and did both amalgamate into new cultural expressions? A prime area to investigate these population and settlement historical changes is the Carpathian Basin (Hungary). Particularly, we studied archaeological and anthropological evidence, as well as radiogenic and stable isotope ratios of strontium, carbon, and nitrogen of human remains from 96 graves at the cemetery of Mözs-Icsei d?l?. Integrated data analysis suggests that most members of the founder generation at the site exhibited burial practises of late Antique traditions, even though they were heterogeneous regarding their places of origin and dietary habits. Furthermore, the isotope data disclosed a nonlocal group of people with similar dietary habits. According to the archaeological evidence, they joined the community a few decades after the founder generation and followed mainly foreign traditions with artificial skull modification as their most prominent characteristic. Moreover, individuals with modified skulls and late Antique grave attributes attest to deliberate cultural amalgamation, whereas burials of largely different isotope ratios underline the recipient habitus of the community. The integration of archaeological and bioarchaeological information at the individual level discloses the complex coalescence of people and traditions during the 5th century.
Project description:During the Final Eneolithic the Corded Ware Complex (CWC) emerges, chiefly identified by its specific burial rites. This complex spanned most of central Europe and exhibits demographic and cultural associations to the Yamnaya culture. To study the genetic structure and kin relations in CWC communities, we sequenced the genomes of 19 individuals located in the heartland of the CWC complex region, south-eastern Poland. Whole genome sequence and strontium isotope data allowed us to investigate genetic ancestry, admixture, kinship and mobility. The analysis showed a unique pattern, not detected in other parts of Poland; maternally the individuals are linked to earlier Neolithic lineages, whereas on the paternal side a Steppe ancestry is clearly visible. We identified three cases of kinship. Of these two were between individuals buried in double graves. Interestingly, we identified kinship between a local and a non-local individual thus discovering a novel, previously unknown burial custom.
Project description:The analysis of the human remains from the megalithic tomb at Alto de Reinoso represents the widest integrative study of a Neolithic collective burial in Spain. Combining archaeology, osteology, molecular genetics and stable isotope analysis (87Sr/86Sr, ?15N, ?13C) it provides a wealth of information on the minimum number of individuals, age, sex, body height, pathologies, mitochondrial DNA profiles, kinship relations, mobility, and diet. The grave was in use for approximately one hundred years around 3700 cal BC, thus dating from the Late Neolithic of the Iberian chronology. At the bottom of the collective tomb, six complete and six partial skeletons lay in anatomically correct positions. Above them, further bodies represented a subsequent and different use of the tomb, with almost all of the skeletons exhibiting signs of manipulation such as missing skeletal parts, especially skulls. The megalithic monument comprised at least 47 individuals, including males, females, and subadults, although children aged 0-6 years were underrepresented. The skeletal remains exhibited a moderate number of pathologies, such as degenerative joint diseases, healed fractures, cranial trauma, and a low intensity of caries. The mitochondrial DNA profiles revealed a pattern pointing to a closely related local community with matrilineal kinship patterns. In some cases adjacent individuals in the bottom layer showed familial relationships. According to their strontium isotope ratios, only a few individuals were likely to have spent their early childhood in a different geological environment, whilst the majority of individuals grew up locally. Carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis, which was undertaken to reconstruct the dietary habits, indicated that this was a homogeneous group with egalitarian access to food. Cereals and small ruminants were the principal sources of nutrition. These data fit in well with a lifestyle typical of sedentary farming populations in the Spanish Meseta during this period of the Neolithic.
Project description:Establishing the age at which prehistoric individuals move away from their childhood residential location holds crucial information about the socio dynamics and mobility patterns in ancient societies. We present a novel combination of strontium isotope analyses performed on the over 3000 year old "Skrydstrup Woman" from Denmark, for whom we compiled a highly detailed month-scale model of her migration timeline. When combined with physical anthropological analyses this timeline can be related to the chronological age at which the residential location changed. We conducted a series of high-resolution strontium isotope analyses of hard and soft human tissues and combined these with anthropological investigations including CT-scanning and 3D visualizations. The Skrydstrup Woman lived during a pan-European period characterized by technical innovation and great social transformations stimulated by long-distance connections; consequently she represents an important part of both Danish and European prehistory. Our multidisciplinary study involves complementary biochemical, biomolecular and microscopy analyses of her scalp hair. Our results reveal that the Skrydstrup Woman was between 17-18 years old when she died, and that she moved from her place of origin -outside present day Denmark- to the Skrydstrup area in Denmark 47 to 42 months before she died. Hence, she was between 13 to 14 years old when she migrated to and resided in the area around Skrydstrup for the rest of her life. From an archaeological standpoint, this one-time and one-way movement of an elite female during the possible "age of marriageability" might suggest that she migrated with the aim of establishing an alliance between chiefdoms. Consequently, this detailed multidisciplinary investigation provides a novel tool to reconstruct high resolution chronology of individual mobility with the perspective of studying complex patterns of social and economic interaction in prehistory.