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Ancient DNA, strontium isotopes and osteological analyses shed light on social and kinship organization of the later stone age

Haak, W., Brandt, G., de Jong, H., Meyer, C., Ganslmeier, R., Heyd, V., Hawkesworth, C., Pike, A.W.G., Meller, H. and Alt, K. (2008) Ancient DNA, strontium isotopes and osteological analyses shed light on social and kinship organization of the later stone age Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, (47), pp. 18226-18231. (doi:10.1073/pnas.0807592105).

Record type: Article


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.

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Published date: 17 November 2008
Keywords: burial rites, neolithic, violence, corded ware culture, exogamy
Organisations: Archaeology


Local EPrints ID: 343243
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: 14255bd4-edae-45bf-846c-6df61cd30cb7

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Date deposited: 02 Oct 2012 13:56
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 05:23

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Author: W. Haak
Author: G. Brandt
Author: H. de Jong
Author: C. Meyer
Author: R. Ganslmeier
Author: V. Heyd
Author: C. Hawkesworth
Author: A.W.G. Pike
Author: H. Meller
Author: K. Alt

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