Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Michelsberg-Pfahlbaukultur, Alpine Cattle & CWC

Rick Hern just posted this interesting [link] in an old Beakerblog post concerning bos longifrons.  Although the studied animal only represents what Basal researchers call 'small cattle', it is worth pointing out that longifrons/brachyceros is dated earliest in the Swiss lakeside pile dwellings.  Though this is only a mitochondrial study, it could foreshadow increasing validity of those early archaeozoological observations.  They do notice that the size of the cattle is coincidentally similar to Swiss Rhaetian Greys, Tyroleans long considered longifrons since Adamtz (NPI).  I'll pause here momentarily..

Let's continue peeling the onion from two posts ago and revisit a recent genetics paper that involved a mysterious folk and then pivot from there: "Multi-scale ancient DNA analyses confirm the western origin of Michelsberg farmers and document probable practices of human sacrifice" by Beau et al, 2017

In that paper the MN Gougenheim (Alsace) burial site contained two different peoples, those who were sacrificed and tumbled into a pit (NCV), and those with a high status pit burial (CV), like the Beaurieux warrior below.  They are isotopically identical.  This is what Beau et al observed:
"Whereas all "H-G lineages" (of potential western origin) were found concentrated in the NCV group, the CV group contained a strong proportion of haplogroups H (H, H1 and H3) and X, which were more common in southern European and Paris Basin farmers"
Basically, you have typical farmers on one hand, and then the H1, H3 and X folks on the other.
Michelsberg Warrior (Manolakakis, Colas, Thevenet, 2007)

We've already seen a few Michelsberg derived or influenced groups with the male signature of, surprisingly, R1 or R1b (Baalberge and Blatterhohle I1594 & I1593), and they also oddly enough distinguish themselves for considerable WHG ancestry (Lipson et al, 2017, Supp Info).  Up to this point, the re-emergence of WHG in the MN has been, fairly reasonably, viewed as the consolidation of farmer majorities with hillbilly hunters in the margins of Europe.  If gory Gougenheim represents a larger phenomenon, perhaps simple gene flow is a weak explanation.

With regard to the rapid increase of H clades in Central Europe during the LN, two different hypotheses have been put forward.  Brotherton et al, 2013 proposed that H1 and H3 came from SW Europe during the LN.  Hervella et al, 2015 proposed this rise to a second Neolithic wave originating in NW Anatolia and transmitting to Central Europe via the Central Balkan Peninsula.  Comically, Michelsberg has 'heritage' it seems from both directions, but it is more plausible that at least its maternal basis originates in the South of France.  Still waiting Dulias et al, 2017...

Michelsberg emerges at a time when morphologically domestic horses (very large and very small) are becoming established in Continental Europe among several different cultures, 4k to 3k B.C.  "Horse size and domestication: Early equid bones from the Czech Republic in the European context" (Kysely and Peske, 2016) 

Michelsberg was a drinking culture that, like Beakers, also made bothroi sacrifices, "Un dépôt de céramiques Michelsberg à Obernai « Parc d’activités économiques intercommunal" by Lefranc and Feliu, 2015

For the first time there is deep flint mines, which is where brachycephalic "Rijckholt I" died.  Point-based pottery is a strange regression, potentially a indication of new mobility.  Salzmundians seem to have had a dogster phenomenon like CA Iberia, where I believe hunter ancestry also spikes.

Fig 30 Rijckholt I skull
Who knows what Horgen DNA looks like; it probably doesn't matter much anyway.  But if pockets of elite hunter-farmers established themselves in pockets of the Western Alps and the Upper Rhine, and if those elites were R1b, then those LN pile dwelling cattle just might make sense after all. 

Full circle again - one of Maju's posts
Rhaetian Grey (Swiss Info)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dogs and Donuts in the CWC

Last week I read a fascinating paper by Kyselý, Dobeš, Svoboda, 2017 - abstract below.  I'll briefly share some of their pay-per-view findings, but my interest is the meaning behind this phenomenon.  Related to this previous post:  "Woman with a Wolf-Toothed Necklace"

In a cemetery at Březiněves, Czech Republic, Kyselý, Dobeš, Svoboda examine what they believe is the largest collection of tooth and shell necklaces in the whole of Europe.  The distribution of shell and teeth are mostly necklaces, but in many cases the placement of shell beads or teeth also suggest decoration on certain garments, like women's hobbit cloaks, hoods, capes and purses.

Stuff and fake stuff. Fig. 7 (Kyselý, Dobeš, Svoboda, 2017)
What's interesting about Březiněves, like another recent Corded Ware site in Germany, is that the overwhelming majority of teeth are from domestic dog canines, mostly not wolves, but in a few other cases the canines or incisors of other animals, even canine imitations (above).  The shell beads are all from imported freshwater bivalves, which I imagine gave them the nacre luster of their day.

In the CWC it appears that only women wore a necklaces of canis canines separated by beads of freshwater bi-valve shells.  Although pearly buttons and solar emblems sometimes appear alone, and although dog teeth adorn certain women's accessories, the fashioning of the materials in the tooth-shell necklace is rather specific.  The tooth-shell necklace is so common and its construction is so prescribed that it would seem reasonable to think that it has a deeper meaning to the wearers than a simple fashion trend.  This is what I commented to JV in that first post, paraphrasing a few points from Theoi:
Modern Bi-vavles are called "naiads" [18th century taxonomy] after the nymphs of the springs, creeks and wetlands. Within the context of Greek religion, these nymphs of the springs are servants to Artemis (similar to Frigg), wetnurses of babies and overseers of girls. Conversely, boys are shepherded by the sun god "Apollo" [associated with wolves], as in the Roman myth of Romulus and Remus.  When a child reached a certain age, they would return to a spring for some sort of ceremony and sacrifice for thanks and passing into independence.  [Theoi, 2017]
And just to clarify after re-reading that statement, calling pearly mussels 'naiads' is only a modern-English taxonomical convention, nothing to suggest a concrete association between naidads and bivalves in ancient times that I am aware of.  Quite a few freshwater plant and animal species incorporate the mythological name in its taxonomical name.

But the point I was clumsily trying to make is that the association between these two species could be explained as a metaphor in Indo-European religion, specifically the relationship between Apollo and Artemis and their divine responsibilities, being suitable proxies for most Indo-European religions.  (And it is interesting to note the exclusivity mentioned in Kyselý et al between these necklaces and the solar crosses, and that they are generally worn by women, not men)

Romulus and Remus saved

So again, why would dog teeth be associated with wolves, wolves with a Sun god, and a Sun god with (generally child-bearing age) Corded Ware women?  Let me attempt to connect fifty thousand dots just for the heck of it.

The name of one of Apollo's epithets, Lyceius, is itself very likely a homophonic metaphor of the Proto-Indo-European names for wolf (*wĺ̥kʷos ) (or Lykeios -wolf slayer) and shining light (*lewkós).  Similar constructions can be made in the other religions as well, certainly Germanic and Celtic religions.  So how does that relate to dogs?

Indo-Europeanists Gamkrelidze and Ivanov have made the case that dogs and wolves were conflated in Indo-European speech and religion (1995, page 505).  Perhaps PIE dogs were more wolf-like and a lot less like Neolithic village dogs.  Regardless, I'd venture to bet that dog canines were suitable substitutes for a preference of rarer wolf teeth and that the hypothesis might testable by looking at the most elite CWC female burials or the oldest burials.  It's also possible that CWC folks saw no functional distinction between teeth of the two sub-species whatsoever.

Another possibility is that the canines of shepherd dogs were incorporated into these amulet necklaces for protection against wolves in addition to general misfortune.  A paper by Jean-Marc Moriceau (2014) relates a sad reality once common in wolf-infested Europe; from a small village in France, 1749:
“Marie, aged approximately 7 years, daughter of Jacques Prudent and his first wife, Tiennette Maroyer, was snatched from her doorway by a wolf and devoured in a field. Only her head, one arm and her stomach were found, and nothing besides. These pitiful remains were buried in the cemetery of this church the following day, fifth October, before my entire parish, who had gathered for Sunday Mass.”
Ironic that such a dark animal subject to local bounties and tributes, a terror of children's stories, an epithet of raiders and berserkers, and a real-life menace to children and livestock would be so venerated in IE folklore and religion.  Could it be that the purpose of the teeth and shell is not so much a fashion, but the fact that women of a certain belief system have male and female children?

Dance of the Naiades (Adolphe Lalyre)

Drilled teeth and shell artefacts from a grave at Prague-Březiněves and a review of decorative artefacts made from animal material from Corded Ware culture in the Czech Republic
Kyselý, R., Dobeš, M. & Svoboda, K. Archaeol Anthropol Sci (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-017-0514-5 [Link]
Necklaces or other decorations made from drilled animal teeth and small perforated shell beads are typical burial objects of graves from the Late Eneolithic Corded Ware culture (c. 2900–2300 bc) in the territories of the Czech Republic, based on local data, central Germany, and to lesser degree in some other European regions. The richest collection of tooth pendants and shell beads so far discovered in Bohemia, and potentially the whole of Europe, derives from the recent excavation at Prague-Březiněves (595 tooth finds; 2801 complete shell beads and their 5586 fragments). A detailed analysis of this find forms the first part of the paper. The second, comparative section reviews all available graves (134 graves) of this culture from the territories of the Czech Republic that contain decorative items made from animal material: drilled teeth and imitation teeth, small beads of shell or bone and larger discs made of shell (or sometimes bone) called “solar” discs because of the decoration based on the symbol of a cross. Altogether, over 4000 teeth finds (from 88 graves) and over 30,000 finds of shell ring (68 graves), serving as beads or pendants, were recorded. Furthermore, 58 solar discs in 37 graves were recorded. The graves discussed here are mostly of women, either young or older; but children also appear. The frequent co-occurrence of teeth and shell beads (small decorative items) and their tendency to be mutually exclusive with larger solar discs (possibly brooches with a variety of functions) attest to two phenomena. Dog teeth, especially canines and incisors, clearly predominate in the collections of drilled teeth (in Březiněves min. 502 tooth finds representing at least 403 teeth and at least 73 dogs). Teeth of wild carnivores—wolf (Canis lupus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), wild cat (Felis silvestris), badger (Meles meles), otter (Lutra lutra), smaller mustelids, and brown bear (Ursus arctos)—and deer (Cervus elaphus) provide clear evidence of their presence in the environment. Two drilled human premolars are highly exceptional finds. Decorated discs made from the shells of the non-autochthonous freshwater mussel Margaritifera auricularia found at Prague-Březiněves and other Czech sites suggest importation from western or southern Europe. Despite there being significant inter-grave differences in the composition of the collections, the regular appearance of the phenomena described in this research in c. 10% of all graves of this culture, together with the uniformities in the manufacture of the items, suggests relatively strict rules with respect to Corded Ware funeral customs. Nevertheless, differences in the proportions of artefacts within the region were observed, such as a shift to a relatively higher frequency of discs, a greater specialisation on dog canines and incisors and the exclusion of imitation teeth between typological (and probably chronological) groups of this culture. The role of dogs, the meaning of these phenomena and their relation to the broader temporo-spatial context are widely discussed.

See also:
"The Structure and Complexity of Corded Ware Mortuary Practices; a bi-ritual communal burial at Slany (Bohemia) and its social significance" (Jan Turek)

"Dog tooth studded purse" (National Geographic)

"A Reader in Comparative Indo-European Religion"  Ranko Matasović, 2016

"Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans. A Reconstruction and Historical Analysis of a Proto-Language and a Proto-Culture by Th.V.Gamkrelidze & V.V. Ivanov (page 505)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Alpine Savages, Valencia de Vucedol, Westphalian Weirdos

"Piece of Cake!"

Maybe a soul or two will remember this odd paper by Beau et al, 2017.  It's significance seems lost so far, so here's a simplified narrative: A predatory and expansive ethnic emerged in the MN Michelsberg, apparently a lightly-footed, pit-burying, hunter-heavy Atlantic with short heads.  Either the savages 'hunted' farmers beyond their borders or they represent a localized ethnic stratum, either way they appear genetically distinct from the people they ritually victimized.  Is this genetic apartheid also visible at Blatterhole in Westphalia? (Blätterhof, Blätterhohle)

This culture bleeds influences into a few other successor cultures; important ones with so-far uninteresting genetic anomalies you might recall.  The Michelsberg mito-profiles are interesting in that light.  A paper by Katrina Dulias et al was due to be published already this month and it will be interesting to see their analysis on the expansion of H1 and H3 from the Southwest.  More on Christina Roth, 2016 with mito-turnover in the Mesetas below. 

Before moving on to Baalbergers, Blatterhohleans and Barcelonans, it might be helpful or not helpful to look back on how American anthropologists viewed the origin of big-bodied brachycephals of the Late Neolithic during this last century.  Earnest Hooton and his students viewed the rugged 'Alpine' racial type to likely be a Mesolithic relict from small pockets of Western Europe that slowly re-emerged through a combination of selection and miscegenation.  Of course they understood that brachycephals were also lightly represented in pockets of the Near East and recognized a general brachycephalization trend, but they also understood that the Late Neolithic saw massive migration from the East into the West of Europe.  Despite this, Hooton preferred the view that this massive physique was more likely a re-emergence of the savage in the horridly barbaric Middle Neolithic.

While modern osteologists working in Central and Eastern Europe are dodgy about the directional origin of the Beaker 'Alpine ethnic', from what I've read of the six or so leading experts in Central Europe, I'd bet they prefer a Western origin of the Beaker physique.  To make the matter more complex is the fact that most ethnic Bell Beakers very likely have substantial Corded Ware ancestry and cultural heritage (if not a majority) even if the communities didn't exactly overlap spatially or chronologically.  And for extra credit to this problem, it's also likely that later ethnic Beakers of the Eastern group intermingled with unrelated Steppe groups (to both themselves or a separate Corded Ware); personally I would point to Szigetszentmiklós (I2787) as direct evidence of a potential Beaker-Yamna hybrid.

The nearly certain Corded Ware ancestry of the North Central Beakers, and really almost all non-Iberian Beakers, is problematic when looking at the Bell Beaker racial type because not many of their distinct features could be attributable to the more slightly built CWC.  OTOH, Beakers clearly have a larger amount of what looks like WHG ancestry and it would necessarily have to be this specific ancestry that accounts for some of their unique features if Corded Ware ancestry represents the entirety of their recent Steppe heritage.  Clearly the Meseta underwent a large change about the time of the Beakers, and these bulbous-headed giants lack a significant Steppe component.  So what the heck does that mean?

Anyhow, when you look at the Baalbergers from Salzmünde or the Blatterhohle Westphalians such as Bla16 I1593, something interesting becomes a possibility.  So for fun, let's pretend for a moment that the so-called Steppe migration did in fact happen in multiple waves instead of a single wave as currently understood by the Allentoft, Haack and Olalde papers.  Would the earliest waves have comparable amounts of CHG compared to the last wave, assuming the Corded Ware represents the last wave?  And what was the make up of the Northwest and Western Black Sea if that was an area that the initial wave formed?

Finally, we go to the Barcelonan Bell Beakers.  The current view is that Iberian Beakers contributed almost nothing to the Continental Beaker ethnic.  This is put forth in "The Bell Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwestern Europe".  That must be a false dichotomy because it is inconceivable on multiple grounds.  Iberian Beakers expanded powerfully into Europe.  That is not the same as 'Iberians expanded powerfully into Europe'.  So like Heyd has written, in broad strokes a picture is forming, but the details might be different than expected.  Right now there is a simple narrative, but by this time next year, we might find ourselves again passing the same tree.

It might be a good idea to, once again, re-read "Kossinna's Smile".

Monday, August 7, 2017

"Death by Combat" Page 2. (Needham et al, 2017)

This is page 2 of "Death by Combat" by Needham et al, 2017.
Having now read the paper in its entirety, some interesting questions...

Racton's Dagger.  Fig 17  (Needham et al, 2017, photograph Stuart Needham)

We might carefully assume that the dagger buried with Racton Man (above) was on his person when he died, Racton apparently having lost a dagger fight.  If that were true, it'd be interesting that the victor and his company did not take Racton's dagger having the power to do so, an item that would be very highly coveted for the time.  This potentially tells us about the nature of the encounter.

In his book "Feud in the Icelandic Saga", Jesse Byock (1984) makes a case that certain fundamentals of conflict resolution are woven into the themes of Icelandic (and by extension, IE) sagas.  Every story has woven within it a blood feud, a holmgang or einvigi.

Needham et al seem to view this death in that light, as an einvigi (single combat dual) and they further propose that this was because of a leadership contest.  That may be the case, but it could be as something stupid as a foul remark and a challenge to dual.  Either way, it is reasonable to think that this fight was mano-to-mano.

Milston Hill Dagger of similar riveted style.  From Fig 22 (Needham et al, 2017)

Like most Beakers, Racton Man was buried in a wooden enclosure or container with his head resting on a pillow.  When his body decomposed, his head rolled off the pillow giving its position in the grave.  There was also no perceivable rodent activity, so it would seem the container was fairly well constructed.

In addition to this, it can't be ruled out that he was also beheaded at death.  The attacker very forcefully made a succession of blows, any of which could have caused death.

And finally, to add something concerning high status dagger burials...

"It is intriguing that among these injuries, a high proportion are arm injuries: for example, a forearm parry fracture at Chilbolton, Hampshire; a healed upper arm fracture at Liffs Low (Beaker burial), Derbyshire; healed forearm fractures at Pyecombe, East Sussex, Barnack, Cambridgeshire, and Fordington Farm, Dorset; an extensive wound to the left wrist at Callis Wold 23, East Yorkshire, which the recipient survived; and a possible upper arm injury at Tallington, Lincolnshire. At Court Hill, Somerset, a left humerus chopped right through was interpreted as the probable cause of death, and a burial at Amesbury, Wiltshire, had suffered the same fate, but also lacked its right arm, skull and mandible. Burial 11 at Staxton Beacon, East Yorkshire, had a major weapon injury to the left shoulder.103 Taken together, these begin to look significant, particularly since leg injuries seem to be negligible by comparison. There are also several skull injuries of varied kinds. All but one of the skeletons is sexed and all are males. Thorpe saw such injuries as evidence that recipients were ‘killed in the course of small-scale conflicts, whose bravery was then recognised by a prestigious burial’.104 It may now be possible to venture more on the particular social context of some conflicts."

With all the engraved daggers, what went on at Stonehenge and Mont Bego anyway?
And hat tip to Andrew, see part 1

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mother Lode

Beakerblog found the mother lode of all flint mothers this week.  Some of the nodules are huge, Danish dagger worthy.  This particular lot lode is weirdly like 90% flint, different colors, different qualities.  Not exaggerating.  There is literally several TONS (tons!) of it is this particular parking lot.

The best place to find flint is actually in the parking lots of offices and businesses that have decorative rock beds.  A lot of time they truck in river stone.  The best way to know for sure you've got flint is to strike it and it'll smell like a cigarette lighter.

Always ask permission to hunt for rocks, very especially on private lands, and probably the same for doctor's offices, banks and small businesses.  My advice for the buy-n-large box stores is, well, that's for another blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Death By Combat (Needham et al, 2017)

Racton Man died in a dagger fight, possibly from a knife to the armpit or from a slash to the elbow.  And what a dagger he had, one of a kind, the earliest detected bronze in Britain.

He was a big ole dude for his day.  If not a local king or village chief, some kind of honcho that made a few enemies along the way.  His opponent wielded a razor-sharp, metal knife, probably a rival Beaker.

PA via Daily Mail UK
The authors consider, buried in this Pay-per-no-view, that leadership was contested through combat trials, which brings to mind the locations in which dagger representations occur in abundance, such as  Stone Henge and Mont Bego.  The supplement is free and contains quite a bit of technical data.  Supplement1

"Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft superman" Dailymail

"Revealed:  Racton Man was a Bronze Age Warrior chief"  HistoryExtra

Needham, Kenny, Cole, Montgomery, Jay, Davis, Marshall (2017) The Antiquities Journal, Cambridge [Link]

"A previously unresearched Early Bronze Age dagger-grave found in 1989 at Racton, West Sussex, is profiled here through a range of studies. The dagger, the only grave accompaniment, is of the ‘transitional’ Ferry Fryston type, this example being of bronze rather than copper. Bayesian analysis of relevant radiocarbon dates is used to refine the chronology of the earliest bronze in Britain. While the Ferry Fryston type was current in the earlier half of the twenty-second century bc, the first butt-riveted bronze daggers did not emerge until the second half. The Racton dagger is also distinguished by its elaborate rivet-studded hilt, an insular innovation with few parallels.
The excavated skeleton was that of a senior male, buried according to the appropriate rites of the time. Isotopic profiling shows an animal-protein rich diet that is typical for the period, but also the likelihood that he was brought up in a region of older silicate sedimentary rocks well to the west or north west of Racton. He had suffered injury at or close to the time of death; a slice through the distal end of his left humerus would have been caused by a fine-edged blade, probably a dagger. Death as a result of combat-contested leadership is explored in the light of other injuries documented among Early Bronze Age burials. Codified elite-level combat could help to explain the apparent incongruity between the limited efficacy of early dagger forms and their evident weapon-status."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Danish Halberds (Horn, 2017)

This is a study specific to Denmark, and it looks at the functional use and maintenance history of halberds. The results of these personal halberd 'histories' reveals that these items were regularly and powerfully used against creatures, not the decorations of strutting roosters. Christian Horn looks at each weapon to reveal its maintenance history and the result is this: for the Cimbrian Peninsula and the Danish Isles, Halberds were used, repeatedly repaired, but very powerfully used by their wielders.
Now there is a viewpoint by Skak-Neilsen 2009, mentioned here, that halberds were basically used for pithingor essentially that or something, and a case could be made that Medieval slaughter techniques generally pithed with poleaxes, at least in the far West. But viewing the Bronze Age weapon within that functional sphere is problematic for a host of reasons, one being the decline of the halberd in relation to the ascendancy of the sword as a 'beyond-arm's-length weapon' is fairly correlated.

You'll notice on this weapon below and the other halberds in this series that repairs aren't just impact damage to the tip.  There are damages of different sorts along the weapon, suggesting a wide range of movements, hooking and defenses.  Clearly, the weapon below was involved in combat.

There's actually a long and varied list of reasons to view the halberd as a human-only weapon, and if pithing is excluded, quite possibly the very first weapon created by humans with the expressed and exclusive purpose of killing, often and efficiently, humans very specifically. Take all other weapons, remove its hunting value, and see what remains.  Basically nothing.

For the moment, I'll stop here and return later to Horn's thorough research on a continental scale. It's very extensive, and very damning. There is another paper penned by him and Kristensen concerning Early Bronze Age warfare forthcoming.

"Combat and ritual — Wear analysis on metal halberds from the Danish Isles and the Cimbrian Peninsula"
Christian Horn.  Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Leibnizstr. 3, 24118 Kiel, Germany


Use wear analysis was carried out on fourteen halberds from the Danish Isles and the Cimbrian Peninsula. Rather than presenting a summary of the results, each analysis will be described in detail to give a sense of the complexity of the use wear present on each halberd. This way a sense of the scale of combat they were involved in can be conveyed. This challenges older ideas that see in halberds only ritual implements or signifiers of status. The analysis of the wear traces indicates their use in both, combat and ritual.

Slovak, Czech Bell Beaker Osteology (Hukelova, 2017)

Does anyone have access to this paper? [here - Edinburgh Research Archive]

Zuzana Hukelova apparently builds on other osteological comparisons of other researchers, and interestingly mentions the disparity, not dimophism, of the Chalcolithic individuals (noted several posts ago by Kitti Kohler).  This appears to be a larger regional study and includes Slovakian Beakers in the analysis the first time that I can see.  Spread the wealth.

"Despite the potential of a biocultural methodology, osteology and archaeology are often approached separately in some parts of Central Europe. This osteoarchaeological thesis presents a rare comparative study of populations occupying modern-day Slovakia, Moravia, and Bohemia from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (EBA). By examining skeletal indicators of health and lifestyle, it aims to contribute to bioarchaeological research within the study region. It also provides new insights into a series of important sites where no osteological evaluation of skeletal remains have previously been performed. Human remains from thirty-four sites in Slovakia, Moravia and Bohemia, 152 adults and 136 subadults, were analysed. Demographic, pathological and metric data were recorded and evaluated, and compared with previously published data for contemporaneous populations in order to create a more comprehensive representation of the populations in the area. The results suggest several differences between the Neolithic and the following periods, mostly as regards health status. Higher dietary and environmental stress was indicated in the Neolithic period, as suggested by lower mortality peak (especially of females and subadults) and about 5cm shorter stature, and generally worse health status of Neolithic population when compared to the Chalcolithic and EBA individuals. The Neolithic is also the only period where females were more numerous than males. Such a trend is quite common in the Neolithic of the study region. This may be a result of increased migration of Neolithic females, as raids for wives are suggested to have been practiced. As indicated by both the osteological and archaeological record, one of the sites examined, Svodín, could have been a site of contemporary elites and their family members. Chalcolithic populations revealed differences in cranial shape, being mesocephalic (medium-headed) or brachycephalic (short-headed), whereas both the Neolithic and the EBA populations were dolichocephalic (long-headed). Differences in male and female cranial features suggest a possible mixing of indigenous and incoming populations. Such results may contribute to the ongoing discussion about the ‘foreignness‘ of Chalcolithic Bell Beaker people in the area. Traumatic lesions suggest that males were more physically active than females in all three periods, including violent encounters. Even though violence was recorded in all three periods, especially in the western part of the region, and the intensity and brutality of the assaults appears to increase in the Chalcolithic and culminating in the EBA. In addition, poorer health status of EBA children was recorded, possibly related to more marked social differentiation in the period. In general, poorer health was implied for the prehistoric populations of today’s Slovakia. The results of this study can serve as the basis for future research and contribute to a more comprehensive image of lifestyle and development of prehistoric populations in the study area."

Friday, July 21, 2017

DNA - Protocogotas (Esparza et al, 2017)

Hat tip Bernard and Davidski

This triple burial dates to early Proto-Cogotas, sometime between 1918 and 1772 B.C.  The two women and unborn baby were buried atop a mattress, pillows or other organic material that decomposed, allowing rotation of the bones.

LTB-03 was a young woman who died while she was at full-term pregnancy or in labor with LTB-01, also a girl.  The nuclear and mitochondrial DNA further demonstrate this relationship beyond all doubt.  The older woman was not maternally related, but considering the nuclear DNA, the possibility of a paternal aunt or grandmother was not excluded.  (surprising that it's inconclusive)

Esparza et al highlight the importance of DNA in determining relationships of the past.  Before DNA was conducted, it had been thought that the elder woman was a man due to the robustness of the cranium and to the (seemingly) diagnostic posture; and that this was a small nuclear family that died under unfortunate and contemporary settings.  However, further osteological analysis of the cranial and post-cranial remains started to sow doubt about the 'man', and DNA finally revealed that she was a woman of uncertain relationship.

Triple burial from Fig 2.  (Esparza et al, 2017)
In past generations, many touching assumptions seemed reasonable of Early Bronze Age burials:  A man and woman in a pit grave were husband and wife.  A woman embracing a small child was the child's biological mother.  They weren't bad assumptions, most are likely correct; but they are not facts.  Obviously, DNA has excluded certain relationships in this burial.

Before getting to the gender identity of LTB-02, quick background. Esparza et al, 2012b previously came up with a theory for the gross lack of Cogotas Horizon burials in Central Spain, attributing them to exposure or something.  For the few discovered burials, when they did occur, they were exceedingly those of females.  They essentially make a case that Cogotas people dealt with taboo deaths, such as a woman dying in labor, differently from the general population.  In other words, this burial from Los Tolmas might have had been associated with a taboo death.  They make a compelling comparison to the treatment of taboo deaths of pregnant women in colonial Ghana.

Next, they offer some alternative scenarios for the relationship between these women from discussions at a recent workshop.  One proposal was that the elder woman was a mid-wife, who for whatever reason, was volunteered into this situation.  Given the lateness of the pregnancy, and obviously the poor outcome, it seems possible the mid-wife found herself in an inescapable cloud of superstition.  It's also possible that the pregger died before labor and some unfortunate, lower-class soul got the honor to deliver her lady's child in the next world. 

Given the manliness of the elder woman and the orientation of the burial, the conversation drifted toward 'gender identity'.  But in my view the circumstances surrounding this burial make more sense when focused on the tragedy of a very pregnant woman dying unexpectedly. 

Protocogotas is the tail end of Bell Beaker in this region, so their genomes might offer a fuller picture of the Mesetan ethnicies from the previous period.

"Familiar Kinship?  Palaeogenetic and Isotopic Evidence from a Triple Burial of the Cogotas I Archaeological Culture (Bronze Age, Iberian Peninsula)"
"Summary. This paper examines the identification of kinship relations in
archaeological multiple burials and advocates the application of different
methods and lines of research to clarify such issues in relation to funerary
practices. Recognizing family relationships – an important task in research on
prehistoric societies – is especially complicated and interpretations have often
been made without an adequate empirical basis. Bioarchaeological, isotopic
and DNA analyses applied to the triple burial of Los Tolmos (Cogotas I
archaeological culture, Iberian Bronze Age) have provided direct information
on this issue. In this respect, the new results also imply the need to consider gender
constructs in greater depth and to be more open-minded towards other forms of
relationship in the past beyond the traditional heteronormative nuclear family." 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

DNA - Cogotas I

If anyone has access to this paper, spread the wealth:

"Familiar Kinship?  Palaeogenetic and Isotopic Evidence from a Triple Burial of the Cogotas I Archaeological Culture (Bronze Age, Iberian Peninsula)"

Cogotas I is the product of the sophisticated El Argar hegmon expanding its influence deeper into the Iberian Peninsula.  But for all intents and purposes, Cogotas folk are likely, in the greater part, the progeny of Mesetan Beakers - we shall see.  Much of that older culture is remember in the schemes of Cogotas pottery throughout the period.

White paste infill on Cogotas II pottery at Museum of Valladolid (Benito-Alvarez - commons)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Barcelona Beakers (Olalde et al, 2017)

Continuing with narratives from  "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwest Europe" by Olalde et al, 2017.

The Paris Street Beakers in Catalonia were mostly buried with Maritime and epi-Maritime ceramics, and two of the later Pyrenees Group.  Unfortunately, there isn't any specific information on which layer the ten individuals come from or with which ceramics they were associated with.  There was also an eleventh individual that did not make it into the study.

In a previous post, I noted that Beakers associated with the old school Maritime-inspired pottery, the best I can so far tell, appear to lack or have a reduced Steppe component.  This appears true in at least two other regions outside of Iberia [Hégenheim], and maybe a third.

The Cerdanyola newspaper reports that two of the women were first degree relatives.  If I am reading correctly, all of them were lactase persistent except for one woman.  
"Individual 5 from Level II"  Fig 1 of (Gomez-Merino et al, 2011)
Interesting are the paternal and maternal markers.  50% of the men are R1b of sorts, but essentially lack the East European ancestry.  The maternal profiles are 50% haplogroup H, 40% are H1.  No two are the same, so I'll assume the eleventh individual was a sister excluded from further analysis.

Looking on a continental scale, the Olalde authors concluded "...we could significantly exclude Iberian sources [for the Beaker complex]...These results support largely different origins for Beaker Complex individuals, with no discernible Iberia-related ancestry outside Iberia."

By "Significantly exclude", we might assume they have excluded from the continental ethnic a component directly attributable to early Iberian Bell Beakers, not just Iberians.  When the genomes are public, we might have more confidence or we might have more questions!  The unequal resurgence of hunter ancestry in the Middle Neolithic may give us some pause.

Fig. 7 of (Frances et al, 2006)
And the Harvard Team seems to be pausing in releasing the genomes.  Fine tuning?  Probably not, but the Middle Neolithic seems like it might have a few more surprises.

The narrative from Olalde et al:

"Paris Street (Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Contact person: Joan Francès Farré

During urban construction work at Paris Street in Cerdanyola del Vallès (Vallès Occidental, Barcelona province) in 2003, a large amount of skeletal material and associated pottery was unearthed. Follow-up excavation uncovered a Chalcolithic hypogeum with more than 9,000 human remains as well as lithic and ceramic material, the latter assigned to the Bell Beaker tradition.  The hypogeum displays several occupational phases. The 59 oldest one presented an ash layer underlying the first inhumations that could have a ritualistic significance. Charcoal from that basal layer was dated to 2878-2496 calBCE (4110±60 BP, UBAR-817). The first funerary phase (UE-15) shows a large number of successive inhumations (minimal number of individuals 36) that are still in anatomical position, placed in lateral decubitus and with flexed knees. Seven arrow points were retrieved from this layer. A thin, upper layer (UE-5) probably represents a re-organization of the existing funerary space, prior to the second funerary phase (UE-2). At UE-5, two Bell Beaker vessels of maritime style were retrieved. The UE-2 layer comprises fewer inhumations, and all of them were accompanied by typical Bell Beaker vessels: three in Maritime style, and two in epi-Maritime style. There were also numerous additional pieces of diverse typology. Over this layer, a final one, labelled UE-3, contained two more skeletons arranged over riverbed pebbles with a Bell Beaker vessel of a regional style known as "Pyrenaic". A bone from this layer yielded the youngest date in the hypogeum of 2469-2206 calBCE (3870±45 BP, UBAR-860). We recovered ancient DNA data from 10 individuals:
I0257/10362A: 2571–2350 calBCE [R1b1 + H1ax]

I0258/10367A: 2850–2250 BCE [H1q]
I0260/10370A: 2850–2250 BCE [I2a2a + K1a2a]
I0261/10378A: 2850–2250 BCE [R1b1a(xR1b1a1a2a) +U5b1i]
I0262/10381A: 2850–2250 BCE [U5b3]
I0263/10385A: 2850–2250 BCE [X2b+226]
I0823/10360A: 2850–2250 BCE [H1]
I0825/10394A: 2474–2300 calBCE (3915±29 BP, MAMS-25939)  [G2 + K1a4a1]                                                                  I0826/10400A: 2833–2480 calBCE (4051±28 BP, MAMS-25940) [H1t]
I1553/10388A: 2850–2250 BCE" [pre-H103]

From Fig S1, Olalde et al, 2017

The article concerning the testing of DNA

L’hipogeu calcolític del carrer París de Cerdanyola del Vallès, 2006 [Link]

Gibaja, J. F., Palomo, A., Francés, J., Majó, T., 2006 – Les puntes de sageta de l’hipogeu calcolític del carrer Paris (Cerdanyola): caracterització tecnomorfològica i funcional. Cypsela, 16: 127-133. [Link]

G. Gómez-Merino, T. Majó, C. Lorenzo, F. Gispert-Guirado, M. Stankova  et J. Francés, « Identification of Cinnabar by non-Destructive Techniques on a Human Mandible from Carrer Paris Chalcolithic Hypogeum (Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain) », ArcheoSciences, 35 | 2011, 241-247. [Link]

"Els grups del neolitic final, calcolitic i bronze antic.  Els inicis de la metal-lurgia"
Araceli Martin Colliga.  Cota Zero n. 18, 2003. Vic, p. 76-105 ISSN 0213-4640 [Link]

Monday, July 17, 2017

Liff's Low Beaker Reconstruction

Here's a facial construction of a man burial in a 'bowl barrow' at Liff's Low in Derbyshire, England.
The story from LiveScience 'Striking Face' of 4500-Year-Old English Man Revealed.

"Beaker reconstruction" Face Lab/Liverpool John Moores University

When Liff's Low was originally excavated, the first body included an unusual pot that Stuart Piggott believed might have been Peterborough Ware related (L.V. Grisnell, 1936 page 17).  The site was excavated years later revealing another cist containing a bell beaker pot and a skeleton [Historic England].  This individual appears to have been from the second excavation.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Békásmegyer Begleitkeramik Beakers (I2364) and (I2365)

These next two Begleitkeramikers were excavated by Rózsa Kalicz-Schreiber, [page 2 in German] who defined the "Csepel Group" in 1973.  If you're interested in the anthropological background of Békásmegyer, Budakalasz is essentially several bars down [Link] and where in the world is Csepel Island? [Link], also two weird guys from Szigetszentmiklós  [Link] and how one of those might be directly 1/2 from these guys [Link].

Today, two more Beaker profiles from  "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwest Europe" by Olalde et al, 2017.

The first individual of the double burial (I2364) had uni-parental markers H2 + U5a2b and a single grave burial tested individual (I2365) is R1b1a1a2a1a2b1 + V3 (R1b is specifically U152 > L2).  The first subject has little very little steppe-related ancestry in Table S1 of Olalde, but the second individual's personal paternity is located within the orbit of where his subclade has its greatest diversity and frequency (Eastern Group), which in archaeological terms probably also reflects the immediate origin of his paternal ancestry within Central Europe.  (see R. Rocca comments on L2 in the Po Valley)

With that are these contexts, the fact that the I2364 double burial lacked grave goods and both individuals were placed on their right sides.  On the other hand, I2365 was buried in a more diagnostic setting for the Beaker culture, has a more familiar ratio of steppe ancestry, but also culturally synthesizes local elements that define the Csepel Group.

"Old and New Narratives for Hungary around 2200 BC" Pusztainé Fischl et al, 2015 7th Archaeological Conference of Central Germany 
In the table below, notice the middle column of the Danube river region where Beaker is concentrated.  Before examining the most recently discovered Beaker individuals at Szigetszentmiklós, Kitti Köhler noted in 2011 that previous to this the stereotypical short-headed Beaker 'ethnic' had only been observed in subsequent or peripheral cultures, Kisapostag and Gata-Wieselburg.  Previously studied Beaker cemeteries showed a great deal of heterogeneity in cranial measurements, especially between the sexes (translation from Hungarian is a bit garbled).  With that, note that the only Gata individual tested to date is tested to R1b (Szecsenyi-Nagy, 2015)  Also in that study was one Vučedol period individual from Lánycsók in Southern Hungary as R1b which was directly dated to around 2800-2600

Fig 1b "
"overview of Late Copper Age, Early and Middle Bronze Age chronology, and cultures/groups in Hungary."
"Old and New Narratives for Hungary around 2200 BC" Pusztainé Fischl et al, 2015 7th Archaeological Conference of Central Germany 
Based on the recent Mesolithic study on Romania and the origin of the Cernavodă culture, it is a safe bet that within the period including Kostolac, Vucedol and Yamnaya Cultures of this region, there is already heavy paternal influence from the Western Black Sea as reflected in cultural trends, but it's also important to point out that the male ancestry of I2365 probably came from the West!

The degree of heterogeneity in this area (including I2364 and I2365) demonstrate that apparent influences from Somogyvár–Vinkovci/proto-Nagyrév are genetically and culturally associated with the spread of the accompanying ware which attenuates going west.  It would seem the association of Begleitkeramik with Central European Beakerfolk is one solution to the comparative reduction of steppe-related ancestry, or at least to a more mixed nature of the Eastern Group compared to those in the West and the Northwest (excluding Iberia).  So the social organization of the East Group must have been much more cosmopolitan than those of the Northwest Atlantic, the latter being in a genetic sense, more insulated in its late phase.
"Old and New Narratives for Hungary around 2200 BC" 
Pusztainé Fischl et al, 2015 7th Archaeological Conference of Central Germany
It's tempting to draw straight lines between points, but if it was that simple then all of this would have been figured out long ago.  There is a very complicate mess of interacting cultures in this area and to be honest, I understand less than 1% of it.

In the next posts, I'd like to move back to the Alpine area and Spain.
Fig S1 (a) from Olalde et al, 2017

Budapest-Békásmegyer, Királyok útja (former Vöröshadsereg útja) (Hungary)
Contact person: Anna Endrődi, Gabriella Kulcsár

"The site is situated in northern part of Budapest, on the western bank of the Danube
River. Rózsa Kalicz-Schreiber uncovered 154 burials of the cemetery between 1960 and
1983, at Budapest, Békásmegyer–Királyok útja. The cemetery, according to her
estimates, had originally contained between 200-300 hundred graves. Inurned burials
dominated in the investigated cemetery section covering an area of 7700 m2. The
inhumation burials of the Békásmegyer cemetery contained jugs of the southern type
rather than the Bell Beakers type. No more than four of the 30 inhumation graves
yielded genuine Bell Beakers, while five contained various elements of the Beaker
package such as stone wrist-guards, stone arrow-heads and bone buttons with V-shaped
perforation. Jugs of the southern, Somogyvár–Vinkovci/proto-Nagyrév type were
deposited in 15 inhumation burials; nine inhumation graves did not contain any grave
goods. Eighteen of the 28 scattered cremation burials contained genuine Bell Beakers,
while three yielded locally made copies or bowls with a stamped rim. New radiocarbon
dates were generated for three burials of the Budapest–Békásmegyer cemetery. The
individuals taken from inhumation burials yielded 1752 roughly similar dates for the
cemetery section: 3845±36 BP (Grave 193; DeA-2875), 3831±35 BP (Grave 432a;
DeA-2876), 3874±33 BP (Grave 445; DeA-2877). A Bayesian analysis of the three
AMS dates from the cemetery dates its use to approximately 2410–2220 calBCE"
"Grave 219/B (I2364, GEN 10a): Double burial excavated in 1966. Two individuals
were lying on their right side in contracted position, without grave goods. Individual B
is an adult male. The radiocarbon date for this individual is:
I2364/GEN_10a, Grave 219/B: 2470–2060 calBCE [2295–2060 calBCE (3779±28
BP, DeA-6749); 2470–2285 calBCE (3883±29 BP, DeA-7216)]"  [H2 - U5a2b]
"Grave 452 (I2365, GEN 11a): Burial of an adult male lying of his left side, in contracted
position, excavated in 1982. The skeleton was incomplete, and oriented north-northwest
to south-southeast, with hyper-flexed legs. Pottery grave goods (a Bell Beaker, an urn, a
bowl, and a jug) were situated beside the lower leg, at the southern part of the grave pit.
Other grave goods include an arrowhead, and two stone tools.
I2365/GEN_11a/Grave452: 2465-2205 calBCE [2465-2205 calBCE (3858±32 BP,
1767 DeA-6762); 2465-2213 calBCE (3858±32 BP, DeA-7220)]"
"Funerary Rituals Social Relations and Diffusion of Bell Beaker Csepel-Group" from Current researches on Bell Beakers Proceedings of the 15th International Bell Beaker Conference: From Atlantic to Ural.5th 9th May 2011 Poio Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain [Link]

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Michelsberg Thanksgiving (Beau et al, 2017)

Michelsberg folk sacrificed other people unlike themselves.  The results look pretty straightforward.

from Fig 1. "(mtDNA) haplogroups within the Gougenheim site"  Beau et al, 2017.
The Michelsberg expansion may be the largest involving H1 and H3 folk from the West into the Alpine, Central European area.  This may be the solution to the Brotherton paper. 

Bernard's comments on this new paper on the Michelsberg folk [here].
..and a leaf for latter, a possible similar racial segregation in Treilles, France with similar actors?

"Multi-scale ancient DNA analyses confirm the western origin of Michelsberg farmers and document probable practices of human sacrifice" by Beau et al, 2017.  Beau A, Rivollat M, Réveillas H, Pemonge M-H, Mendisco F, Thomas Y, et al. (2017) Multi-scale ancient DNA analyses confirm the western origin of Michelsberg farmers and document probable practices of human sacrifice. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0179742. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179742


In Europe, the Middle Neolithic is characterized by an important diversification of cultures. In northeastern France, the appearance of the Michelsberg culture has been correlated with major cultural changes and interpreted as the result of the settlement of new groups originating from the Paris Basin. This cultural transition has been accompanied by the expansion of particular funerary practices involving inhumations within circular pits and individuals in “non-conventional” positions (deposited in the pits without any particular treatment). If the status of such individuals has been highly debated, the sacrifice hypothesis has been retained for the site of Gougenheim (Alsace). At the regional level, the analysis of the Gougenheim mitochondrial gene pool (SNPs and HVR-I sequence analyses) permitted us to highlight a major genetic break associated with the emergence of the Michelsberg in the region. This genetic discontinuity appeared to be linked to new affinities with farmers from the Paris Basin, correlated to a noticeable hunter-gatherer legacy. All of the evidence gathered supports (i) the occidental origin of the Michelsberg groups and (ii) the potential implication of this migration in the progression of the hunter-gatherer legacy from the Paris Basin to Alsace / Western Germany at the beginning of the Late Neolithic. At the local level, we noted some differences in the maternal gene pool of individuals in "conventional" vs. "non-conventional" positions. The relative genetic isolation of these sub-groups nicely echoes both their social distinction and the hypothesis of sacrifices retained for the site. Our investigation demonstrates that a multi-scale aDNA study of ancient communities offers a unique opportunity to disentangle the complex relationships between cultural and biological evolution.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Szigetszentmiklós Cemetery (Santa's Six Foot Elves)

Next up is a gigantic cemetery in Szigetszentmiklós township on Csepel Island (Shea-pel). In Hungarian, "Santa Claus Island" (I believe) is broken down: Sziget (Island) Szent (Saint) Miklos (Nicholas). Like the previous Neolithic, the Eastern Domain of Beakers preferred enormous cemeteries to which they grafted themselves.

The first Beaker immigrants were largely buried in the N-S gender differentiated format deriving from further west on the Danube. Over time Beaker graves in this area trend toward cremation urns, which is viewed as regression to native habits.  This cemetery at Szigetszentmiklós is noteworthy for a larger percentage of inhumations than other Csepel Beaker cemeteries.  It also has its fair share of bodiless burials, which is a freaky Beaker thing.

Like the Małopolskan Beakers from the previous post, the initial Beaker ethnic is wholly alien to this region, being characterized as a tall, Alpine, wide-faced, strongly-built people with pronounced brachycephaly.   The prominent noses, cheeks and mastoid processes are often remarked upon, including from the Köhler paper below.

The cemetery described in these three papers is "Felső Ürge-hegyi dűlő", which is a motorway site unrelated to a previous one at Szigetszentmiklós.  This part was excavated in 2006-2007 by Robert Patay (paper below).  These profiles are from "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwest Europe" by Olalde et al, 2017.

Köhler, K   Anthrop. Közl. 52; 5576. (2011) [Link]

The Szigetszentmiklós occupants are considered by the osteologist to be highly heterogeneous and that may be evident in the craniometrics of the four individuals genetic tested here, 49, 133, 552, 688 (table 4 of Köhler). This cemetery is also, according to Kitti Köhler, the first time in the history of this Carpathian region that the Bell Beaker ethnic type is determined.

As we look to the Olalde paper, the Szigetszentmiklós individuals are in a genetic sense, a society of mixed ancestries. The individual pictured above (I2787) has the highest concentration of the Steppe-like ancestry of any individual within the Beaker world, and probably Western Europe for that matter. At the same rate, Szigetszentmiklós has an individual (I2741) who exhibits nearly zero Steppe-like ancestry.

It may be tempting to over-interpret the heterogeneity from Szigetszentmiklós, especially having an individual with such elevated Steppe-related ancestry, buried in the Beaker format. But there are several different narratives for these four individuals that can't yet be excluded.

When you look at grave 688 (I2787), you will see below his Y-chromosome haplogroup is identified as R1b1a1a2a2 (Z2103) which is unlike almost all Bell Beakers (that can be discerned) but absolutely like many of the Yamnaya sequenced to date. This can mean several things, but one reasonable possibility is that I2787 was ethnically half Bell Beaker and half Tisza Yamnaya. I could imagine his father as a relatively unmixed Yamnaya pastoralist from across the Tisza River and that his mother was an ethnic Central European Bell Beaker, which is why he was entitled to Beaker rites at Szigetszentmiklós.

It could also be viewed as fray from a region that in some past time sent out founder lineages; but whether true or not, I don't think that would really describe this man's personal history, not on Csepel Island. Some sites on the island have ridiculous quantities of horse remains. I2787's family history may reflect the horse trade and networks that connected different peoples in this area. Maybe his parents were some of those different peoples.

(graphic 1 only) from Robert Patay, 2007  [Link]
Fig. 13. Szigetszentmiklós-Felső Ürge-hegyi dűlő – 1–6: bell beaker examples in the cemetery 

The individual of these four that is most intriguing is the Bell Beaker man buried in grave 49 (The guy with zero steppe ancestry).  His grave is rather close to number 10, so he's reasonably early.  He has a good Central European ring ditch and has a good send-off.  Patay doesn't mention the decoration of his bowl and beaker in his 2007 paper, but I am curious if it is of a plain or epi-Maritime variety.  I wonder if this guy is a Spaniard.

Robert Patay comments on an early western-like halberd which is one of a great many things that connect these people to Central Europe and beyond.  (I've linked Patay's paper below)

Here's the Olalde narratives:

Szigetszentmiklós, Felső Ürge-hegyi dűlő (Hungary)
Contact person: Róbert Patay
The cemetery is located in the northwestern part of Csepel Island near Budapest. The
archaeological investigation of the site was conducted between 2006 and 2007. A total
of 716 features were uncovered, amongst them 218 burials of the Bell Beaker period.
One remarkable feature of this burial ground is the unusually high proportion of
inhumation burials: 102 graves of the 218 excavated graves were inhumations. Another
element of the central European funerary tradition could also be documented in the
Szigetszentmiklós cemetery, namely inhumation performed according to strict rites. The
proportion of the deceased laid on the right and the left side was roughly equal and they
were oriented either northeast-southwest or southwest-northeast. Anthropological
analysis of the skeletal remains indicated that men were always interred on their left
side, while women were laid to rest on their right side, with the face turned toward the
east in the case of both male and female burials. A comparable burial practice was
observed in cemeteries of the Bell Beaker East Group in central Europe.  A series of five AMS radiocarbon dates from the cemetery can be subjected to Bayesian analysis. If we assume that the graves represent a single phase, the time span of the use of the cemetery can be placed to approximately 2420–2190 calBCE
Grave 49 (I2741, GEN 20): Male individual lying of his left side, in contracted position.
The rectangular shaped grave pit, oriented northeast–southwest, was enclosed by a
round ditch. Grave goods include a Bell Beaker, a bowl, a stone wrist-guard and a
dagger. The radiocarbon date for this individual is:
I2741/GEN_20, Grave 49: 2458–2154 calBCE (3835±35 BP, Poz-83641) [I2a1a1 + H1+16189]
Grave 133 (I2786, GEN 56): Male individual lying of his left side, in contracted
position. The rectangular shaped grave pit, oriented northeast–southwest, was enclosed
by a round ditch. Grave goods include a bowl, a jug, and a stone silex. The radiocarbon
date for this individual is:
I2786/GEN_56, Grave 133: 2459–2206 calBCE (3850±35 BP, Poz-83639)  [I2a2a + I1]
Grave 552 (I4178, GEN 58): Male individual lying on his left side, in contracted
position. The rectangular shaped grave pit, oriented northeast–southwest, was enclosed
by a round ditch. Grave goods include a Bell Beaker, and a bowl.
I4178/GEN_58/Grave552: 2500-2200 BCE [R1b1a1a2 + J1c1b1a]
Grave 688 (I2787, GEN 59): Male individual lying of his left side, in contracted
position. The rectangular shaped grave pit, oriented northeast–southwest, was enclosed
by a round ditch. Grave good include a small jar. The radiocarbon date is:
I2787/GEN_59/Grave 688: 2458–2202 calBCE (3840±35 BP, Poz-83640) [R1b1a1a2a2 (Z2103) + T2b]

From S1 of Olalde et al, 2017

Köhler, K.: A Harang alakú edények népe Szigetszentmiklós-Felső-ürge Hegyi dűlő lelőhelyen feltárt temetőjének...  Anthrop. Közl. 52; 5576. (2011) [Link]

Bell Beaker Cemetery and Settlement at Szigetszentmiklós: First Results

This paper is a preliminary report on the excavation and evaluation of the Bell Beaker cemetery investigated in the outskirts of Szigetszentmiklós. A total of 219 Bell Beaker burials were uncovered. The cemetery contained a surprisingly high proportion of inhumation burials compared to the burial grounds earlier investigated in the Budapest area. The burial rites and the grave goods show strong ties with the Central European cemeteries of the culture, with the Bell Beaker East Group. The nds from the cemetery also bespeak the cultural impact of the local Early Bronze Age cultures. The halberd from one of the burials is a unique nd in the Bell Beaker heritage of the Carpathian Basin. The radiocarbon dates indicate that the cemetery was used between 2500–2200 cal BC.

"Anthropological examination of the Bell Beaker cemetery at SzigetszentmiklósFelső-Ürge-hegyi dűlő"

Anthrop. Közl. 52; 5576. (2011) [Link]
Köhler, K.: Anthropological examination of the Bell Beaker cemetery at SzigetszentmiklósFelső-Ürge-hegyi dűlő. The archaeological remains of the Early Bronze Age Bell Beaker culture, known from all around West-Europe, are present in Hungary along the Danube down to the Csepel Island. In this paper we present the results of the physical anthropological analysis of the cemetery found at Szigetszentmiklós, excavated by Róbert Patay, between 2006 and 2007. During the examination 100 inhumation and 74 cremations were analysed. Based on the results of the metrical and morphological examination we may establish that we can for the first time demonstrate the presence of the brachycranial, so called (“Glockenbecher”) Taurid type in the Bell Bea ker popula tions fr om the Ca r pa thia n Ba sin. P r eviously, the pr esence of this anthropological component in this region could be demonstrated only indirectly, through its appearance among human remains of somewhat later Bronze Age cultures. 

See also:

"Funerary Rituals Social Relations and Diffusion of Bell Beaker Csepel-Group" from Current researches on Bell Beakers Proceedings of the 15th International Bell Beaker Conference: From Atlantic to Ural.5th 9th May 2011 Poio Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain [Link]