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Genetic data reveal contrasting sex bias in Neolithic and Bronze Age Eurasian migrations

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Republication from PNAS

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Amy Goldberg, Torsten Günther, Noah A. Rosenberg, and Mattias Jakobsson
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Significance

Studies of differing female and male demographic histories on the basis of ancient genomes can provide insight into the social structures and cultural interactions during major events in human prehistory. We consider the sex-specific demography of two of the largest migrations in recent European prehistory. Using genome-wide ancient genetic data from multiple Eurasian populations spanning the last 10,000 years, we find no evidence of sex-biased migrations from Anatolia, despite the shift to patrilocality associated with the spread of farming. In contrast, we infer a massive male-biased migration from the steppe during the late Neolithic and Bronze Age. The contrasting patterns of sex-specific migration during these two migrations suggest that different sociocultural processes drove the two events.

Abstract

Dramatic events in human prehistory, such as the spread of agriculture to Europe from Anatolia and the late Neolithic/Bronze Age migration from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, can be investigated using patterns of genetic variation among the people who lived in those times. In particular, studies of differing female and male demographic histories on the basis of ancient genomes can provide information about complexities of social structures and cultural interactions in prehistoric populations.

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Post-Hittite “Little empires” in Asia Minor: Phrygia and Lydia

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These are some political maps of the Phrygian and Lydian kingdoms at their greatest extent in the 8th and 6th centuries BC respectively. These two kdms were a kind of “Little empires” of the Anatolian Iron Age that appeared some centuries after the fall of the main Bronze Age empire of Asia Minor that is the Hittite Empire (the last map). The Phrygians were actually invaders from the Balkan Peninsula, kinsmen of the Thracians, the Greeks and possibly the Homeric Trojans. In the Balkans they were known as ‘Brygae’. They were actually a group of tribes, one of which was probably the Proto-Armenians. The main body of the Phrygians settled in an area that included the old Hittite heartland. Gordion and Midas city were their capital cities, and their main sanctuary was at Pessinus.

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The Sea Peoples and the end of the Bronze Age

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Republication from newscientist.com

The Trojan War was a grander event than even Homer would have us believe. The famous conflict may have been one of the final acts in what one archaeologist has controversially dubbed “World War Zero” – an event he claims brought the eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age world crashing down 3200 years ago.

And the catalyst for the war? A mysterious and arguably powerful civilisation almost entirely overlooked by archaeologists: the Luwians.

By the second millennium BC, civilisation had taken hold throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The Egyptian New Kingdom coexisted with the Hittites of central Anatolia and the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece, among others.

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Slaughter at the bridge: Discussion on a colossal Bronze Age battle

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Republication from  www.sciencemag.org

 

How warriors were equipped for battle.

About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can’t be found in any history books—the written word didn’t become common in these parts for another 2000 years—but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology.

Struggling to find solid footing on the banks of the Tollense River, a narrow ribbon of water that flows through the marshes of northern Germany toward the Baltic Sea, the armies fought hand-to-hand, maiming and killing with war clubs, spears, swords, and knives. Bronze- and flint-tipped arrows were loosed at close range, piercing skulls and lodging deep into the bones of young men. Horses belonging to high-ranking warriors crumpled into the muck, fatally speared. Not everyone stood their ground in the melee: Some warriors broke and ran, and were struck down from behind.

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Andronovo culture heavy charioteer warrior c. 1500 BC

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Image copyright: A.I. Solovyev

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This is another rare representation by the Russian archaeologist A.I. Solovyev, of a heavy charioteer warrior of the Indoeuropean Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BC) which flourished mainly in western Siberia and Kazakhstan, although the first archaeological evidence of this civilisation comes from a small area southwest of Krasnoyarsk. Its southern varieties were extended to modern Uzbekistan, Kirghizistan and Turkmenistan. Minusinsk Basin is specifically a region were the Andronovo culture evolved considerably.

The Andronovo culture, named after the homonymous modern village, was the cradle of the Proto-Indo-Iranian IE group which later was divided to the Indo-Aryan and the Iranian subgroup. The Proto-Indo-Aryans gradually invaded and settled in the larger part of the Indian subcontinent although some of their tribes moved to the west, to the Zagros Mountains and the Black Sea steppes. The Proto-Iranians were divided into two branches. The southern branch – archaeologically represented along with the Indo-Aryans by Neo-Andronovo varieties and the Srubnaya culture – gradually invaded and settled in the regions of modern Iran, Afghanistan, western Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Zagros Mountains area, becoming the ancestors of the Sogdians, Medes, Persians, Bactrians and many other ancient peoples. The northern Iranian branch – archaeologically represented by the Karasuk culture being a local variety of the Andronovo– became the ancestors of the numerous Saka, Scythian and Sarmatian tribes.

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Karasuk culture warrior (2nd half of 2nd millenn. BC)

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Image copyright: A.I. Solovyev

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This is a rather rare representation by A.I. Solovyev, of a warrior of the Indoeuropean Karasuk culture (c. 1500–700 BC) which flourished in South Siberia and Central Asia. Its core region was located in the Minusinsk Basin, on the Yenisey River and on the upper reaches of the Ob River. This culture was probably the cradle of the northern branch of the Proto-Iranians who became the ancestors of the Sakas, Scythians, Sarmatians, Dahae, Parni (Proto-Parthians), Alans and other nomad Iranian peoples.  Karasuk culture came from local varieties of the older Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BC) that was ancestral to the Proto-Indo-Iranian group.

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