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Wed Oct 9, 2019, 10:32 PM

DNA study sheds new light on the people of the Neolithic Battle Axe Culture

OCTOBER 9, 2019
by Uppsala University

In an interdisciplinary study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, an international research team has combined archaeological, genetic and stable isotope data to understand the demographic processes associated with the iconic Battle Axe Culture and its introduction in Scandinavia.

In 1953, a significant burial site belonging to the Battle Axe Culture was found when constructing a roundabout in Linköping. 4,500 years ago, a man and a woman were buried together with a child, a dog and a rich set of grave goods including one of the eponymous battle axes. "Today, we call this site 'Bergsgraven'. I have been curious about this particular burial for a long time. The collaboration of archaeologists with geneticists allows us to understand more about these people as individuals as well as where their ancestors came from," says archaeogeneticist Helena Malmström of Uppsala University, lead author of the study.

The Scandinavian Battle Axe Culture appears in the archaeological record about 5,000 years ago and archaeologically it resembles the continental European Corded Ware Culture. "The appearance and development of the culture complex has been debated for a long time, especially whether it was a regional phenomenon or whether it was associated with migratory processes of human groups, and – if the latter – from where," says osteoarchaeologist Jan Storå of Stockholm University, one of the senior authors of the study.

By sequencing the genomes of prehistoric individuals from present-day Sweden, Estonia and Poland, the research team showed that the Scandinavian Battle Axe Culture and continental Corded Ware Culture share a common genetic ancestry, which had not been present in Scandinavia or central Europe before 5,000 years ago. "This suggests that the introduction of this new cultural manifestation was associated with movements of people. These groups have a history which we ultimately can trace back to the Pontic Steppe north of the Black Sea," says population geneticist Torsten Günther of Uppsala University, co-lead author of the study.

More:
https://phys.org/news/2019-10-dna-people-neolithic-axe-culture.html

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