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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Bell Beaker Behemoth (Olalde et al. 2017 preprint)

Update 20/02/2018: Finally, the paper and dataset are out. See here.


Over at BioRxiv at this LINK:

Abstract: Bell Beaker pottery spread across western and central Europe beginning around 2750 BCE before disappearing between 2200-1800 BCE. The mechanism of its expansion is a topic of long-standing debate, with support for both cultural diffusion and human migration. We present new genome-wide ancient DNA data from 170 Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Europeans, including 100 Beaker-associated individuals. In contrast to the Corded Ware Complex, which has previously been identified as arriving in central Europe following migration from the east, we observe limited genetic affinity between Iberian and central European Beaker Complex-associated individuals, and thus exclude migration as a significant mechanism of spread between these two regions. However, human migration did have an important role in the further dissemination of the Beaker Complex, which we document most clearly in Britain using data from 80 newly reported individuals dating to 3900-1200 BCE. British Neolithic farmers were genetically similar to contemporary populations in continental Europe and in particular to Neolithic Iberians, suggesting that a portion of the farmer ancestry in Britain came from the Mediterranean rather than the Danubian route of farming expansion. Beginning with the Beaker period, and continuing through the Bronze Age, all British individuals harboured high proportions of Steppe ancestry and were genetically closely related to Beaker-associated individuals from the Lower Rhine area. We use these observations to show that the spread of the Beaker Complex to Britain was mediated by migration from the continent that replaced >90% of Britain's Neolithic gene pool within a few hundred years, continuing the process that brought Steppe ancestry into central and northern Europe 400 years earlier.

Olalde et al., The Beaker Phenomenon And The Genomic Transformation Of Northwest Europe, bioRxiv, Posted May 9, 2017, doi:

See also...

Who's your (proto) daddy Western Europeans?


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capra internetensis said...

@Anthro Survey

See genetiker's Y SNP calls for Motala genomes:

Shockingly, it seems they weren't actually CTS10228 in Sweden 8000 years ago, but some distant relative like Loschbour was.

Grey said...

"Last call for pre-publication predictions."

BB originally from same source
- small group R1b via maritime route to iberia, merged with atlantic megalith culture(I2)
- larger group(s) R1b by land via danube-rhine or baltic-north sea routes

1st group expanded out of Iberia first (including to parts of Britain/Ireland/Brittany with extractable resources or limited viable farmland), steam rollered by 2nd group(s) later

Grey said...

apols for spam - updated metal worker theory

1) native metals - soft metals (gold, silver, copper, tin) naturally occurring *in some places* on the ground or in rivers which don't need mining

2) metallurgy 101 - heating found native soft metals in a camp fire and then hammering into simple shapes with a rock

3) metallurgy 201 - mining and smelting (nb both need lots of wood)

4) some group (say ydna I2a) in a region with native gold or silver develop metallurgy 101 and spread via trade and via prospecting for other sites

5) at some point this group develop metallurgy 201

6) separate group (say R1b) in a region with a source of native copper also develop metallurgy 101 - spread as traders and prospectors

7) second group bump into 1st group - say in the Balkans - pick up metallurgy 201 from them and spread along the same trade routes but looking for new sources of copper rather than gold/silver

this would require I2a to correlate with gold/silver sources.

Chad Rohlfsen said...


Do you not even read the papers? There's no connection between R1b and Iberian beakers.

AWood said...


You must be an I2-M223 guy. 1 out of 9 Bronze Age males was I2-M223 in Britain during this re-population event. I wouldn't exactly call this a rebound, although he does carry L1195 which suggests he was a local rather than immigrant from Germany's variant of I2-M223. I believe we have enough tangible evidence now to suggest I2-M223 spread with megalithism and to some extent farming, and was of course present in mesolithic Europe.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there's a comprehensive version of the ADMIXTURE runs available? They show a portion of it in the paper, but I don't see the full version anywhere.

Matt said...

@ Grey, y dna haplogroups in Iberia from EN through to Bell Beaker -

Data is from Olalde's supplement, which has gathered together all the NGS y-dna results. I'll probably do another version after Martiniano is properly resubmitted to bioRxiv with its supplements, to cover its mid­-late Bronze Age.

Comparing Beaker to Chalcolithic, absolutely clear connection with increasing R1b1 with the Beaker (29%) but a) this is not the right R1b for Bell Beakers in Central Europe, plus also b) these R1b1 males do *not* have any steppe ancestry.

May well be Chalcolithic populations in Iberia who were unsampled with even higher frequencies of some R1b than the Beaker set (but again, this would apparently not be the R1b we are looking for).

Sample sizes are pretty pathetic before Chalcolithic and Beaker era.

Roy King said...

Finally, with all the new data, I've had a chance to look at the Bell-Beaker paper. What I noticed, since my archaeological expertise is in Southern France, around Marseilles, was that I2a1b-M423 dominates the Late Neolithic of the region--samples from Martigues (a few km from Chateauneuf les Martigues, the fossil center for the Castelnovian epipaleolithic and Baume. Then the Bell beakers bring in R1b. Fascinating stuff!

Gioiello said...

@ Roy King
"Then the Bell beakers bring in R1b. Fascinating stuff!"

But coming from North or from South-East: i.e. Italy?

Roy King said...

I don't know from which direction the BB of France come. I was more interested in the return of the Mesolithic in Provence during the Late Neolithic characterized by I2a1b, like the Neolithic of the British Isles.

Roger Lewis said...

A Fascinating Paper and also a very interesting discussion.
Ian Andersons Album Home Eraticus particularly the opening Track Dogger Land might hold some clues to the close relationship to Dutch and British Peoples.
My interest is less academic and more Literary. My New Novel Conquest of Dough
Examines The Development of Cereal Farming and Monetary Measures and the science of Metrology.
Bevel Rimmed Bowls will figure, Baking of with Rationed or Status Bread and so will The Beakers Peoples.
Sherrats work on Ancient Trade Routes has proved most useful to me.
I was very Struck with BATmans comment on Oral Histories

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