Female exogamy and gene pool diversification at the transition from the Final Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age in central Europe [Anthropology]
Human mobility has been vigorously debated as a key factor for the spread of bronze technology and profound changes in burial practices as well as material culture in central Europe at the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. However, the relevance of individual residential changes and their importance among specific age and sex groups are still poorly understood. Here, we present ancient DNA analysis, stable isotope data of oxygen, and radiogenic isotope ratios of strontium for 84 radiocarbon-dated skeletons from seven archaeological sites of the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker Complex and the Early Bronze Age from the Lech River valley in southern Bavaria, Germany. Complete mitochondrial genomes documented a diversification of maternal lineages over time. The isotope ratios disclosed the majority of the females to be nonlocal, while this is the case for only a few males and subadults. Most nonlocal females arrived in the study area as adults, but we do not detect their offspring among the sampled individuals. The striking patterns of patrilocality and female exogamy prevailed over at least 800 y between about 2500 and 1700 BC. The persisting residential rules and even a direct kinship relation across the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age add to the archaeological evidence of continuing traditions from the Bell Beaker Complex to the Early Bronze Age. The results also attest to female mobility as a driving force for regional and supraregional communication and exchange at the dawn of the European metal ages.
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