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.


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.


  1. Interesting. These individuals were not only human sacrifices, but were not "accompaniment" sacrifices such as subordinates or family members killed to accompany the dead in the afterworld.

    1. They use a Meso-American example of raiding outside the community for sacrificial victims.

  2. I'm thinking of The Golden Bough and the yearly sacrifice of the Sun King, a practice so diffused that should be a Neolithic belief in origin, though I have never seen an attempt to date it

  3. I'm not sure a Sun religion could have Neolithic roots. Sun worshippers were new in Europe.