Ancient DNA, Strontium isotopes, and osteological analyses shed light on social and kinship organization of the Later Stone Age

Wolfgang Haak, Guido Brandt, Hylke N. de Jong, Christian Meyer, Robert Ganslmeier, Volker Heyd, Chris Hawkesworth, Alistair W. G. Pike, Harald Meller, Kurt W. Alt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    237 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In 2005 four outstanding multiple burials were discovered near Eulau, Germany. The 4,600-year-old graves contained groups of adults and children buried facing each other. Skeletal and artifactual evidence and the simultaneous interment of the individuals suggest the supposed families fell victim to a violent event. In a multidisciplinary approach, archaeological, anthropological, geochemical (radiogenic isotopes), and molecular genetic (ancient DNA) methods were applied to these unique burials. Using autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosomal markers, we identified genetic kinship among the individuals. A direct child-parent relationship was detected in one burial, providing the oldest molecular genetic evidence of a nuclear family. Strontium isotope analyses point to different origins for males and children versus females. By this approach, we gain insight into a Late Stone Age society, which appears to have been exogamous and patrilocal, and in which genetic kinship seems to be a focal point of social organization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18226-18231
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume105
    Issue number47
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2008

    Keywords

    • burial rites
    • Neolithic
    • violence
    • Corded Ware Culture
    • exogamy
    • EUROPE
    • SKELETONS
    • GENOCIDE

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