Thursday, May 25, 2017

Anthropological Background of Danubian Budakalász, Szigetszentmiklós, and Surrounds

There is a new archaeogenetic study of Mesolithic Danubian Basin located around Romania.  Significant are the affinity to WHG of Iberia, the greater presence of WHG in the Neolithic, and again Mesolithic R1b Y-lineages, which taken with the Iron Gates and other peninsular sites may be relevant later.

This post, which was written earlier today, is a little further upstream on another part of the Danube around Budapest and the surrounds.  For my own knowledge, I'm reading the anthropological background of this area, which is critical for understanding the personal genetics of specific individuals from  "The Beaker Phenomenon: The genomic transformation of Nortwestern Europe"

So before looking at those specific individuals, here's a little about the anthropology of the Budapest-Csepel area and Lake Balaton to the Southwest.  One of the sites investigated by Olalde et al, 2017 were Beaker individuals from Szigetszentmiklós, Budakalász and Békásmegyer.  Here's a background on the area from "The Copper Age cemetery of Budakalász" edited by Bondar and Raczky, 2009 and cited by Kitti Kohler.

"The anthropology of the Baden culture was first discussed by Nemeskéri in the 1950s, based on the skeletal remains from the Alsónémedi cemetery. His study provided the foundations for the culture’s anthropological characterisation for a very long time.  Nemeskéri distinguished three main groups according to the traditional typology: (a) a meso-hypsicranic group with Mediterranean variants and some Negroid and brachymorph elements arriving from the southwest, (b) a meso-dolicho-hypsicranic, Mediterranean + proto-European (Cro-Magnoid) groups arriving from the north-west, from the Linear Pottery and Corded Ware distribution, and (c) a brachy-hypsicranic, Alpine-Dinaric group reflecting eastern and western ethnic impacts.  The two child burials uncovered at Budapest–Békásmegyer were analysed at roughly the same time.  Together with these finds and the human remains from Budapest–Andor Street, Palotabozsok, Szentes–Nagyhegy and the already analysed burials from Budakalász, Nemeskéri again attempted a characterisation of the culture’s population.  The mean sizes and mean indices of the forty-seven skulls available for study suggested that in addition to the three components distinguished at Alsónémedi (the meso-dolichohypsicranic Mediterranean and the brachy-hypsicranic Alpine element, as well as the meso-hypsicranic element reflecting a local population mix between the two), a fourth, dolicho-hypsicranic group could be identified at Budakalász. Nemeskéri linked this latter to the Atlanto-Mediterranean type. In his view, the culture’s population was dominated by gracile and classical Mediterranean types, which could in part be derived from the local Neolithic Tisza population and in part from new immigrants from the south-east.  Regarding the brachycephalic component, he derived the so-called eastern Alpine type with planoccipital nape profile from the east and the so-called western Alpine type with curvoccipital nape profile from the west.  Nemeskéri published one other study on the anthropology of the Baden population, in which he emphasized that in addition to the dominance of dolichomorphic elements, the proportion of brachymorphic elements was quite significant compared to the preceding Bodrogkeresztúr period.  In his view, the striking presence of brachycephalic components (estimated at 30 to 35 per cent) reflected a change in the anthropological spectrum during the Late Copper Age."

There's more there concerning later studies
Kohler again from the same paper:

"The welcome increase in the Late Copper Age anthropological material enabled a new Penrose distance analysis using three Boleráz/Baden series based on samples from the Budapest area, the Balatonregion, and various other areas. The results of this analysis confirmed earlier findings, according to which the Baden groups differed markedly from other Neolithic and Copper Age series in the Carpathian Basin and exhibited a significant relationship with the early populations of Anatolia, Greece and the eastern Balkans."
"The proportion of brachycranial individuals was relatively high in the Budakalász cemetery (17 per cent)and even higher at Alsónémedi (25 percent)...This suggests a significantchange in the Baden culture’s anthropological composition or the arrival of a new population to the Carpathian Basin."
"Nemeskéri identified four individuals with a planoccipital nape profile at Alsónémedi, but his attribution has been seriously challenged.73 The appearance of this type in the Carpathian Basin is generally dated to a later period and associated with the the appearance of the Beaker population in the Early Bronze Age"

From "Life and Death: Mortuary Rituals of the Baden Culture at Lake Balaton (Transdanubia)" by Tunde Horvath and Kitti Kohler:
"Considering the entirety of the Baden culture, the population is defined by the dolichocran Mediterranean element, more closely by the dominancy of the gracile-Mediterranean type component. At the same time, the proportion of the Nordoids and Cro-magnoids, which were determinative beside the Mediterranean types in the earlier era, is negligible. This change in the anthropological features in the Late Copper Age, with the increased presence of the brachycran individuals (so-called Alpine type) may denote the arrival of a new population into the Carpathian Basin. While in the preceding Bodrogkeresztúr culture (Middle Copper Age) the proportion of this component was below 5% (Zoffmann 1992), in the Late Copper Age it approaches 20% (in the Budakalász cemetery it is 17%, at Alsónémedi [Kom. Pest] it is 25%), demonstrable – in a much smaller proportion – in the series of the Lake Balaton region (Nemeskéri 1951a; 1951b; 1956; Zoffmann 1992; 2004b; 2006; Köhler 2008)"
"...This modification of types and type-variants also marks the arrival of a new ethnical component in the Carpathian Basin (Zoffmann 2006)."

Köhler, Kitti.  Anthrop. Közl. 52; 55 76. (2011)  [Link]

"Köhler, K.: Anthropological examination of the Bell Beaker cemetery at Szigetszentmiklós-Felső-Ürge-hegyi dűlő. The archaeological remains of the Early Bronze Age Bell Beaker culture, known from all around West-Europe, are present in Hungary along the Danube down to the Csepel Island. In this paper we present the results of the physical anthropological analysis of the cemetery found at Szigetszentmiklós, excavated by Róbert Patay, between 2006 and 2007. During
the examination 100 inhumation and 74 cremations were analysed. Based on the results of the metrical and morphological examination we may establish that we can for the first time demonstrate the presence of the brachycranial, so called (“Glockenbecher”) Taurid type in the Bell Beaker populations from the Carpathian Basin. Previously, the presence of this anthropological component in this region could be demonstrated only indirectly, through its appearance among human remains of somewhat later Bronze Age cultures.
Keywords: Early Bronze Age; Bell Beaker cemetery; Demographical, metrical, morphological and pathological analysis."

This post from a crappy Android app on a phone.  Formatting is probably trash, will be updated later.

To summarize, the 'Alpine' headed Beakers are intrusive from the East or West, probably the West.  Baden and it's groups, or part of it from the Southeast.  Corded WareLBK-esque influence from the Northeast.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Beakers of "Another Island"

A quick study of the nearly 50 kilometer-long Csepel Island (shay-pell) has helped me understand its significance in the Beaker Universe.  Conversely, the island and the adjacent banks say a lot about Bell Beakers.

Whether a natural fortress or a canalizing feature, it is the most significant terrain in the region and of the Danube.  The county of Pest lie on either side of its northern convergence and form a choke point with opportunities for fording [Endrodi, 2011]; this location having been a reoccurring strategic objective of invading and occupying militaries since time immemorial.  [See The battle of Budapest]

Although the graphic doesn't show it, the large purple area (Budapest) is bounded by another split in the Danube above the metro area that forms another large island.  So the fording zone limits east-west movement while north-south navigation can be controlled in a very large area.

Csepel Island (pronounced "Shaypell") commons
Control of Csepel Island area has historically amounted to operational and economic control on the region.  Leaving north on the river and around the bend, boatsmen will find themselves near the sources of the Beaker highways:  Rhine, Rhone and Danube. Leaving to the south, they'll pass through Serbia, the Iron Gates, through Romania and to the Black Sea.

I'll continue with some profiles, and while there is a lot of material, I'm having trouble finding a few things so I may jump around a bit with posts in between posts.  All this continuing from "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genetic Transformation of Northwest Europe" by Olalde et al, 2107

The cemeteries in from this paper are Budakalász, Békásmegyer, and Szigetszentmiklós on the northern and opposite banks although there are other significant sites further down. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"A Bell Beaker textile from the Czech Republic" (Grömer, Fojtík, Rudelics, Kroh, 2017)

Here is an extremely rare find of tabby linen presented in "Offering with textile wrapping from a Bell Beaker sanctuary in Brodek u Prostějova, Czech Republic".

While the Czechs have been improving their highway system, a number of spectacular archaeological finds have surfaced, particularly of the Bell Beaker culture.  One of the motorway sites discovered was in Prostějov County, in which are very bizarre ritual center was discovered.  Two parallel rows of pits had 'offerings' of exotic and status items of the beaker culture including the beaker containers themselves.  These offerings appear to have been part of foundation rituals for the placement of gigantic wooden columns that would have supported some kind of ritual center.

Among the beaker globlets in these pits was a large amphora and two jugs.  The amphora was wrapped in this medium fine linen which was about 15 cm thread count.  I don't know what this comes out to in Imperial, but just note that the image below is highly magnified.

The thread is a spliced linen which the authors believe would have been white at the time and that the reddish hue is only from the iron content of the local soil.  In fact they appear to eliminate the possibility that the fabric was red-dyed based on their analysis.

Generally the find seems congruent with other fabric counts and techniques in Central Europe from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age.  They make a compelling case that the wrapping of the amphora was part of a broader religious habit that persisted in Europe and the Near East up until the historical era and beyond.

More research into Central European textiles -Katherine Gromer [Link]

"Offering with textile wrapping from a Bell Beaker sanctuary in Brodek u Prostějova, Czech Republic" Karina Grömer, Pavel Fojtík, Angelika Rudelics & Andreas Kroh
Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien, Serie A, 119 47–67 Wien, 15 Feb. 2017 [Link]


"A group of four rectangular pits in front of a large building (possibly a sanctuary) supported by two rows of nine massive wooden posts excavated near the town Brodek u Prostějova (Prostějov County, Moravia, Czech Republic) delivered a number of vessels, wristguards and stone arrow heads dated to the Bell Beaker Culture (c. 2500–2200 BC). The goods appear to have been intentionally deposited, possibly as a ritual offering, as indicated by the lack of human remains in the pits and signs of intentional breakage of some objects. One of the vessels, an amphora, differed from the others (mainly Bell Beakers) in its coarser material and lack of ornament. Textile fragments adhering to the outside of the amphora indicate that it was wrapped in cloth at time of deposition. This wrapping could possibly have served as decorative element, enhancing the appearance of the – compared to the others – rather crude vessel. An alternative explanation could be wrapping as part of ritual activities – such as inferred for the common practice of wrapping of grave goods in Bronze and Iron Age burials.

The textile remains themselves, albeit fragmentary, are astonishingly well preserved. SEM analysis of the fibres identified the material as crudely processed flax, which exhibits incompletely separated fibres. The technique used for fibre processing was splicing, which is well known from contemporary sites in the Eastern Mediterranean and Ancient Egypt. Compared with other (rare) finds of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age textiles it is relatively fine."

Friday, May 19, 2017

Maritime Style Observation

It appears Beakers associated with the more conservative Maritime derived styles tend to have less or zero of the East European steppe ancestry in and out of Iberia.  This is true of the Boscombe representative (1/7 pots), Paris Street (more on this later), Maritime Mama of Central Europe, Meseta Mama (ciempozuelos).  I suspect this is true in two or three other places with derived styles but can't look now (Netherlands may be an exception). In Iberia, the only two individuals with steppe ancestry thus far are in an area of relative proximity to where Peninsular Cord beakers are sometimes found.  Hopefully I can put up some more profiles this weekend, and BTW, the blogger app is total trash.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Les archers d'alsace" (I1390) & (I1389)

Two Beaker brothers and well-equipped archers, or as I call them, "Les archers d'alsace", are the next two profiles.  Since they are brothers, they are both R1b1a1a2a1a2 and both X2b4a.

P312 is as far as we can go with these brother archers, but X2b4a is rather specific to the Atlantic Neolithic, so we may surmise a maternal history that is more Atlantic-like, but a cultural history that is clearly Central European.  Also, I1390 may align slightly closer to the heterogeneous cluster of Central Europeans.

After examining the bodies, Vergnaud wrote that "...the two men shared a discrete trait whose origin may be genetic", which is now confirmed by their brotherhood.

Grave 68 (I1390) and Grave 69 (I1389), male (L. Vergnaud), Antea Archéologie, "Current researches on Bell Beakers"
These brothers probably didn't die at the same time.  The archer on the left may have outlived his brother by a decade or so before he was buried in a wooden casket.  The calibrated averages seem to support this conclusion, so they may have been close in age during their adolescence.  Above the mound would have been a small timber circle to enclose the grave and then these sorts of structures were topped with a small shrine or maybe a totem to commemorate the dead.  The post holes give some indication of a super-structure.

Both bodies were laid facing the sunrise, however their orientation is looking very slightly to the Northeast, so we might guess that both had died in the summer, or possibly there is a religious significance attached to the summer solstice in their mythology.

The brother on the right (I1389) appears to have had a quiver attached to his belt on the left hip, which of course means that he was right-handed.  A peculiar oddity is that four arrowheads were concave bases and three were barb-and-tangs.  Despite the view that this is an East-West lithic tradition, I suspect this could also be a functional distinction.  Vergnaud comments on a lone weirdo arrowhead as well - javelin head?  Not enough information on it.  Beaker brother I1390 seems to have had a full quiver like his brother, but at least in the paper below the position is not discussed.

Both have some interesting personal gear, much of it and the burial manners suggestive of a more Central European direction, as Vergnaud writes, particularly "Bavaria, Moravia, Bohemia and Austria..." but "...links with the Western area, however, are noticeable, especially through the presence of barbed and tanged arrowheads."

Now contrast "Les archers d'alsace" with the much more ancient "Maritime Mama" (I1392) from the same Alsace region.  She's the first orange from the top.
Fig S1 of Olalde et al, 2017
Check out Bernard's blog entries on the Alsace cemetery.

And here's their biographies from "The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genetic Transformation of Northwest Europe" by Olalde et al, 2107.  The archaeology paper is at the bottom.

Sierentz - Les Villas d'Aurèle 232 (Haut-Rhin, France)

Contact person: Luc Vergnaud

"Villas d’Aurèle site is located in the municipality of Sierentz, on the left bank of the Rhine, 14 km away from the town of Mulhouse. The site is located on the summit of the Rhine river upper terrace. It was the subject of an emergency excavation in 2010, when the remnants of numerous structures from the Neolithic to the early Iron Age were uncovered. Four Bell Beaker burials, comprising a small funerary area of 55 m of length in a northwest-to-southeast axis were excavated 26,27.
Burial 68 (I1390): This well-preserved burial had a quadrangular shape with rounded corners, measuring 2.30 meters long by 1.80 meters wide. The walls were sub-vertical and the bottom was flat. Traces of lines of dark material and fragments of wood stakes, indicate that it originally contained wood, probably a structure around the body. The individual is an adult male, aged 30-59 years. He was lying of his left side, in a hyper-flexed position following a northwest-southwest axis (the head facing northwest). The body was accompanied with two decorated vessels, eight flint elements (three of them arrow points of concave base), a grooved sandstone, a stone wristguard, and a fragment of a wild boar tusk. The two vessels are beakers with an S-profile, of a beige colour and decorated with geometric, horizontal lines produced by a comb and with a cord. One vessel alternates bands of short horizontal and vertical lines with bands of incised diamonds while the other alternates oblique incised bands with herringbone patterns.  The style of the pottery indicates a medium Bell Beaker phase, although the arrow points seem to suggest an Oriental tradition of the European Bell Beakers. There are two radiocarbon dates from this skeleton and we used the union for analyses:
I1390/11-Grave68: 2566–2299 calBCE [2566–2524 calBCE (3910±35 BP, Poz-41227); 2489–2299 calBCE (3875±35 BP, Poz-41226)]
Burial 69 (I1389): This burial is well preserved, similar to burial 68. The shape of the grave is quadrangular with rounded corners, and measures 2.25 m long by 1.70 m wide.  The remnants indicate a now-missing wooden structure around the body. The individual is a male with an age around 17-19 years. He was left lying at the center of the pit, in a flexed position over the left side of the body, along a northwest-to-southeast axis (the head facing northwest). Genetic data indicate that this individual is a first degree relative of individual I1390. They share both mitochondrial and Y-chromosome haplogroups, which points to a sibling relationship 264 (brothers). The funerary goods consist of two decorated vessels, thirteen flint elements (eight of them arrow points), a grooved sandstone, a fragment of marcasite and a pendant made of bone. The two beakers are very similar to those from burial 68, although the decorations are different. The style of
the pottery also indicates a medium Bell Beaker phase. There are two radiocarbon dates from this skeleton and we used the union for analyses:
I1389/10-Grave69: 2468–2278 calBCE [2481–2289 calBCE (3935±35 BP, Poz-41229); 2468–2278 calBCE (3925±30 BP, Poz-41228)]"

Here's the original archaeology paper:

 "The Bell Beaker funeral group from Sierentz "Les Villas d’Aurèle" (Haut-Rhin, France)"
Vergnaud, Luc (from "Current Researches on Bell Beakers") [Link]

"The site of Sierentz, Les Villas d’Aurèle Alsace, France, excavated within the framework of a salvage archeology project in 2010, is part of the recent data renewal on Bell Beaker culture in the south of the Upper Rhine plain. Four graves were found, each containing at least two decorated bell beakers. In one of these graves, which was uncommonly well preserved, some signs of a wooden structure were discovered.  This element makes this site one of the richest burial assemblages of the region."