Archaeological studies have revealed that human migration played a huge role in Central Europe’s progress after scientists identified at least three new major events that shaped the continent’s prehistory.
Recent studies published by an international team of researchers on 25th August showed that human movement had a huge effect on the spread of cultures and genes in ancient Europe.
After analysing genomes of 271 individuals who lived in the region of Bohemia in the Czech Republic between 7,000 and 3,500 years ago, scientists from the Max Planck Institute identified at least another three migratory events that occurred from the Stone Age to the Early Bronze Age in Europe.
As well as the Max Planck Institute departments of Science of Human History and Evolutionary Anthropology from the German cities of Jena and Leipzig respectively, the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in the city of Prague was also involved in the study.
Evidence showed that the region of Bohemia attracted many different cultures through the millennia and that the period between agricultural arrival and steppe-related ancestry was more dynamic than previously believed.
Genetic profiles of people of the Funnelbeaker and Globular Amphora cultures showed evidence of being recent migrants to the region.
In addition, the Corded Ware culture expanded from Eastern Europe and assimilated preferentially Central European women into their culture by giving them the same burial rites as members of the migration group.
Senior author and principal investigator of the study, Wolfgang Haak, said: “We were finally able to fill key temporal gaps, especially in the transition period around 5,000 years ago, when we see the genetic landscape changing drastically.”
The Max Planck researcher added: “Intriguingly, in this early horizon we find individuals with high amounts of ‘steppe’ ancestry next to others with little or none, all buried according to the same customs.”
People of the Corded Ware culture (4,900 to 4,400 years ago) changed genetically through time, the scientists said.
One significant change was the sharp decline in Y-chromosome lineage diversity which according to the scientists dropped from five different Y-lineages to only one.
First author of the study and Max Planck researcher, Luca Papac, reported that the single lineage meant the individuals were descendants of the same man in their recent past, and added: “This pattern may reflect the emergence of a new social structure or regulation of mating in which only a subset of men fathered the majority of offspring.”
Meanwhile, this particular social structure seemed to have been even stricter in the following Bell Beaker society (4,500 to 4,200 years ago) where every single male sample belonged to a single, newly introduced Y-lineage.
The Bell Beaker Y-lineage was never seen in Bohemia before, indicating that a new clan arrived in the region and almost immediately replaced all pre-existing Y-lineages without leaving lineage traces of the Corded Ware or any previous societies among Bell Beaker males.
Moreover, another culture called the Unetice culture, which existed in the Early Bronze Age, was believed to descend from Bell Beaker people, and some limited input from the Carpathian Basin.
However, new data suggests another genetic turnover originating from the northeast as 80 percent of the early Unetice Y-lineages were found to be new to Bohemia and were previously detected in individuals from north-eastern Europe.
Co-author and co-PI Michal Ernee from the Czech Academy of Sciences said: “This finding was very surprising to us archaeologists as we did not expect to see such clear patterns, even though the region has played a critical role, e.g. in the emerging trade of amber from the Baltic, and became an important trading hub during the Bronze and Iron Ages.”
The study was published in the peer-reviewed multidisciplinary open-access scientific journal ‘Science Advances’.
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