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Friday, February 1, 2019

The Boscombe Bowmen

I'm thinking that the Boscombe Bowmen site in Wiltshire, southern England, might be a valuable case study of how the Bell Beaker population, and thus also the present-day western European gene pool, came to be.

Dated to 2500–2140 BCE, this isn't an especially early Bell Beaker grave, but its inventory is intriguing. It includes seven All-Over-Cord (AOC) beakers and one Cord-Zoned-Maritime (CZM) beaker.

Maritime beakers are quintessential Bell Beaker gear, and they're named as such because most of them have been recovered from sites along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. However, strictly speaking, AOC beakers aren't Bell Beaker artifacts. Rather, their origin is said to be in the Single Grave culture, which is, of course, the northwestern European variant of the Corded Ware culture.

Genotype data for two samples from the Boscombe cemetery were analyzed in and published along with last year's Olalde et al. Beaker paper. In tune with the archeological data, one of these individuals came out very Corded Ware-like, with a lot of steppe ancestry, and the other rather southern, with among the lowest level of steppe ancestry for a Beaker dated to later than ~2500 BCE.

To take a closer look at their genetic affinities, I put together the graph below based on a couple of D-stats of the form D(Mbuti,X)(Yamnaya_Samara)/D(Mbuti,X)(Barcin_N,WHG). The bowmen are labeled I2416 and I2417, and the relevant datasheet is available here.

Considering these results, I2416 and I2417 may have been migrants, or the descendants of migrants, from such relatively far flung places as, say, what are now northern Germany and western France, respectively. [Edit: as per the comments below, these individuals are probably third-degree relatives, which makes it unlikely that they're migrants to the region, although it's still possible that their recent ancestors may have been migrants]

Note also that almost all of the populations are basically sitting between the two bowmen. This indeed suggests to me that the cultural processes and resulting population mixtures that took place at the Boscombe site also played out across the width and breadth of the Beaker realm, giving rise to heterogeneous Beaker groups almost everywhere within it and, eventually, the present-day western European gene pool.

Most of the Scandinavians, as well as the closely related British Anglo-Saxons, are slightly pulled above the red trend line by their excess genetic affinity to Western European Hunter-Gatherers (WHG). This phenomenon appears to date back to at least 2275-2032 BCE, because Nordic_LN:RISE98 is clearly affected by it and dated to this period.

My guess is that Single Grave populations from what is now Denmark and surrounds harbored much higher levels of WHG-related ancestry than the more easterly Corded Ware (aka Battle-Axe) Scandinavian groups, and they passed this onto present-day Scandinavians. Nordic_LN:RISE98, although from a burial site in what is now southern Sweden, might well be of Danish Single Grave origin.

See also...

Single Grave > Bell Beakers

Dutch Beakers: like no other Beakers

Hungarian Yamnaya > Bell Beakers?


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Ric Hern said...

Ric Hern said...

@ NeilB

I think the usefulness of this is the fact that we can not rely on Headshapes alone to classify what is or isn't Modern Human related.

Bastian Barx said...

I stopped reading Diego's posts a long time ago. He's realy nothing but a Troll, and it ruined a good thread.

Diego Arroyo de Lagasca Encinas said...

Mit-Haplogroup N* is present in Italy (Paglicci) and Spain (el Pirulejo) since the Paleolithic, so it did not arrive here with the Neolithic farmers.

Regarding conquests, violence, population substitutions, origin of the Basques, we have our own theories and we draw our own conclusions, which obviously are very different from those that apparently prevail in the Anglo-Saxon world. In general you have built a story adjusted to your preferences and I think we have made a more realistic interpretation fleeing from topics such as conquests etc ... But there is something obvious that no one can deny, none of the large calcolitic villages of southern Spain show signs of violence when they were abandoned. It was the exhaustion of the environment and the climatic event 4.2 that produced the changes.

Where is the violence? In the minds of geneticists, these interpretations are very good for selling interviews and getting more funds to continue investigating.

BB story can never be finished without studying our Chalcolithic sites (French too). There is work for many years so we can still expect many surprises

Matt said...

@Neil and Ric, the cool thing is that Salkhit sample has AMH mtdna, however those archaic features still need a lot of explanation. I'm guessing (hoping?) that they can NGS sample properly, and I would guess that we'll see a sample like an East Asian version of sample at Pestera cu Oase - lots of ancestry from outside AMH.

It'll be really cool if the Salkhit sample is related to people who actually contributed some low, low level of this to East Asians (though this may not happen, as in Oase2 case), especially if this looks like it can explain the signal of a diverged Denisovan related lineage contributing introgressive variants in East Asia.

Matt said...

We'll be able to make theories about R1b1a1a2 in Iberia better once we have access to all the burial context information for Olalde's samples. It is evidence that going by dating alone, some samples with non-R1b1a1a2 are about until at least about 1500 BCE, without steppe ancestry, and the co-existence of samples with R1b1a1a2 and steppe ancestry until this time. Until we have this information it will be too early to say.

It may be that groups with R1b1a1a2 and steppe ancestry and pure descendants of Chalcolithic Iberians coexisted in some way in Iberia until this time.

Dragos said...

@ Matt

“about until at least about 1500 BCE, ”

Where is that specific date deduced from ?

weure said...

I'm curios about the 'integration'' of the HG cluster in NW Europe.

In the overview we see the position of the Dutch and British Beakers and then we see the modern populations like Norwegians, Swedes and the early Anglo-Saxon, on the same height but turned to the HG side, like Rise 98.

So in the years after the SGC/BB there seems to be an integration of the HG, where there besides the TRB (neolithic) still some HG pockets around the North Sea??


Matt said...

@Dragos, Reich's presentations from late 2018. Go through my posts in other threads if you want to find a link to some graphics, or alternatively presentations in full are on Youtube.

Kristiina said...

I fully agree with you, and I also hope that we will get an autosomal analysis of Salkhit.

Supplementary Fifure 3 ( is very informative. We can see that there are many deep N lines, including R, in the Near East, West Asia, India, Southeast Asia, Australia and Northeast Asia. However, Salkhit is not under any of these lines that exist today and it has several private mutations.

Moreover, it can be seen that while Oase1 is one step further away from modern N lines, including Salkhit, the mtDNA of c. 34 kya years old Salkhit is further away from modern mtDNA when compared with the mtDNA of Ust’-Ishim (45 530-40 610 calBCE) and Tianyuan (c. 37 kya) which are both under R.

ambron said...

David, there are already GAC genomes from Koszyce. It's a good opportunity to check if the Poles are late GAC plus early CWC.

Dragos said...

Thanks Matt. Going so far, it seems the caesura is c. 2000 BC (g or t), with a ~ 500 year overlap. It all coincides with the BB era itself.
So far, no BB samples from Portugal

Matt said...

@Kristiina, thanks for that post - always very important to define the degree of basal divergence of uniparental lineages in these very ancient samples.

NeilB said...

Ahh.. Anatolia_N, so this sample is at least tangentially connected to your discussion, good.
Do you happen to know what N subclade(s) are in Anatolia_N? - there are quite a few.

@Them mee
You seem quite skeptical of Andrzejewski. Time travel, haha. But what reasons have you to be skeptical? Can you let me in the joke? No seriously, what evidence do you have that he is incorrect?

@Ric Hern
That I can see. This specimen certainly highlights that human, morphological variation in this era was wider than believed. It also makes David's new rule " do not discuss or cite any outdated physical anthropology work unless it's just the raw measurement data" etc. seem all the more reasonable.

By N* do you mean basal N - the specimen in question was said by Devi├Ęse's team to have no living descendents. Are they saying that the individual's branch of mtdna N did not contribute to any human population alive (or sampled?) today? Also what subclade(s) of N are in Italy and Spain and how do we know it didn't arrive with Neolithic farmers?

@Matt and Kristina thank you for your informative comments, I'm starting to get clarity!

@All, I have two questions left, before I stop asking questions irrelevant to this thread:
1. The yDNA. Does anyone know if Paabo's team have data on this?
2. What I meant by "can anyone tell me how useful this data may be?" was, seeking answers similar to the discussion about Tianyuan here:
what could this specimen (Salkhit), tell us about human migration, that feeds into the discussion about European origins so eloquently explored here?
Ps last thing (honest!) did they ever announce Tianyuan's ydna haplogroup?

Diego Arroyo de Lagasca Encinas said...


This is what the Spanish geneticists say of the excavation in the Magdalenian site of the Pirulejo cave (18,000-14,000 BC)- The 1PI sample, characterized by the combination of mutations A-C 16182, A-C 16183 and T-C 16189, it seems to be a very rare condition in current humanity and does not coincide with other Paleolitihic sequences. The cited sequences differ greatly from the sequences of Neanderthals studied to date. Thus, although
three mutated 1PI positions are also present in 6 of the 9 complete Neanderthal sequences,

Individual 2PI (Pirulejo, Magdalenian, 16.000 BC)-coincides with one of the Cro-Magnon sequences of the study by Caramelli et al., 2003 (Paglici-25) - Mitochondrial Haplogroup- HV

Paglicci-12 (Caramelli et al)-belong to haplogroup N*

Haplogroup HV has been documented later in Paternanbidea (6,100 BC) and then throughout the Neolithic and Chalcolithic to the present.

Haplogroup N has only been documented with his descendants

N1a1/a1-Spain-Els Trocs, Huesca, Neolithic-Troc5- 5.185 BC
N1a1/a1- Germany, Halberstadt, Neolithic-5.120 BC
N1a1/b- Germany, Halsberstadt, Neolithic 5.102 BC
N1a1/a1a/2-Germany, Halberstadt, Neolithic-5.087 BC
N1a1/a1- Hungary Hejokurt-Lidl-5.060 BC

Kuba Krchak said...

Imagine the type of conclusions if we only had the first or only the second individual (or couple like the first, and could like the second). We would probably come up with quite different opinions, that when we have them both...

Davidski said...

@Kuba Krchak

Imagine the type of conclusions if we only had the first or only the second individual (or couple like the first, and could like the second).

I'm not sure what you mean? My conclusions would be essentially the same, because there are many British Beaker samples available.

So compared to them, I2416 would still look admixed with southern ancestry, and I2417 would still look more Corded-Ware-like than the average.

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