DNA increases our understanding of contact between Stone Age cultures


Impression: The gentleman in grave 54 from the Ajvide Pitted Ware burial floor on Gotland is buried flat on his back, which is common of Pitted Ware graves.
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Credit rating: Göran Burenhult

What variety of interactions did the a variety of Stone Age cultures have with a person a different? In a new interdisciplinary research, researchers have combined archaeological and genetic data to greater recognize Battle Axe cultural influences found out in graves of the Pitted Ware culture. The conclusions are released in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Archaeological stays have demonstrated that in the center part the Stone Age, there ended up at least three distinct but partially present-day cultural teams in Sweden. The teams are typically termed: Funnel Beaker culture, which is involved with Scandinavia’s initial farmers Pitted Ware culture, which is primarily connected to fishing and looking and Battle Axe culture, which signifies a blended culture of herding and farming.

In addition to sustaining themselves in distinct approaches, the three teams had distinct burial rituals and distinct varieties of objects. The analysis group at the rear of the new research has previously been ready to clearly show that folks in the three cultural teams also differed genetically.

The genetic mapping the researchers did at that time was invaluable as they investigated why some Pitted Ware graves appeared to be affected by the Battle Axe culture, even however the two cultures lived fairly otherwise all through their generations of co-existence.

Gotland has various huge, well-preserved cemeteries with common Pitted Ware culture graves. The lifeless ended up generally buried lying on their backs and with items, these types of as looking applications and bones from seals, among other points. Neither huge stone blocks nor mounds ended up placed on the graves.

“In addition to the common Pitted Ware graves, there ended up also various atypical graves with evident influences from Battle Axe culture. For instance, some folks ended up buried lying on their sides with their legs pulled up, and some had fight axes as burial items, which is generally involved with Battle Axe culture,” states Professor Jan Storå, archaeologist at Stockholm University and a person of the authors of the research.

The researchers have analysed DNA from 25 Stone Age folks from four Pitted Ware culture burial grounds on Gotland. About half of the folks ended up buried in common Pitted Ware culture graves and the other half of the graves showed influences from Battle Axe culture.

To their surprise, the researchers uncovered that none of the folks ended up genetically associated to folks from Battle Axe culture. On the opposite, all people appeared to belong to a very homogeneous team that demonstrated the most genetic similarity to the hunter-gatherer teams of earlier intervals.

“This is a unique research that contributes to our knowing of the interactions concerning the cultural teams of the Stone Age. We can conclude that folks in Pitted Ware culture ended up affected by, among other folks, Battle Axe culture, but simply because we uncovered no genetic connection concerning the teams, speak to was possible in the variety of trade and other usually means, rather than via migration,” states Helena Malmström, archaeogeneticist at Uppsala University and a person of the authors of the research.


The research is a part of the interdisciplinary Atlas Task, where by researchers are researching prehistoric population designs in Scandinavia and Eurasia via genetic information from prehistoric folks.

More about:

Funnel Beaker culture:
Scandinavia’s initial farming culture, which sustained by itself with farming and livestock.
Existed concerning 4,800 and six,000 decades ago.
Observed in southern and central Sweden and in northern parts of continental Europe.
Experienced attribute ceramics with funnel-shaped necks.
Made use of so-termed megalithic graves, stone monuments in which a huge quantity of folks ended up buried.
Megalithic graves ended up most prevalent in Scania, alongside the west coast and in Falbygden in Västergötland.
Men and women buried in Funnel Beaker graves ended up most genetically very similar to early farmers from Anatolia and continental Europe.
They vary genetically from earlier Stone Age hunter-gatherers.

Battle Axe culture:
Named following their attribute axes.
Came following Funnel Beaker culture and ended up contemporaries of the later on phase of Pitted Ware culture.
Often described as a blended herding and farming culture.
Existed concerning 4,300 and 4,800 decades ago.
Observed principally in southern and central Sweden.
Linked to continental European Corded Ware culture.
Generally had solitary or double graves in which the lifeless ended up placed lying on their sides, with their legs pulled up.
Men and women uncovered in Battle Axe culture graves clearly show a new genetic ingredient that is not current in the folks of the Funnel Beaker or Pitted Ware cultures. This will make them a new team of migrating folks in the location with connections to Japanese Steppe herders.

Pitted Ware culture:
Named following the attribute pitted ornamentation of their ceramics.
Existed concerning 4,four hundred and 5,four hundred decades ago.
Partly contemporaries initial with Funnel Beaker culture and then with Battle Axe culture.
Generally lived in coastal locations and on Gotland, Öland and Åland.
Lived on fishing and looking, which includes seal.
Often buried their lifeless lying on their backs in solitary or double graves.
Men and women buried in Pitted Ware culture graves ended up genetically very similar to earlier Scandinavian hunter-gatherers.

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