From around 2750 to 2500 bc, Bell Beaker pottery became widespread across western and central Europe, before it disappeared between 2200 and 1800 bc. The forces that propelled its expansion are a matter of long-standing debate, and there is support for both cultural diffusion and migration having a role in this process. Here we present genome-wide data from 400 Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Europeans, including 226 individuals associated with Beaker-complex artefacts. We detected limited genetic affinity between Beaker-complex-associated individuals from Iberia and central Europe, and thus exclude migration as an important mechanism of spread between these two regions. However, migration had a key role in the further dissemination of the Beaker complex. We document this phenomenon most clearly in Britain, where the spread of the Beaker complex introduced high levels of steppe-related ancestry and was associated with the replacement of approximately 90% of Britain’s gene pool within a few hundred years, continuing the east-to-west expansion that had brought steppe-related ancestry into central and northern Europe over the previous centuries.
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European Nucleotide Archive
We thank D. Anthony, J. Koch, I. Mathieson and C. Renfrew for comments; A. Cooper for support from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA; the Bristol Radiocarbon Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (BRAMS); A. C. Sousa, A. M. Cólliga, L. Loe, C. Roth, E. Carmona Ballesteros, M. Kunst, S.-A. Coupar, M. Giesen, T. Lord, M. Green, A. Chamberlain and G. Drinkall for assistance with samples; E. Willerslev for supporting several co-authors at the Centre for GeoGenetics; the Museo Arqueológico Regional de la Comunidad de Madrid, the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, the Orkney Museum, the Museu Municipal de Torres Vedras, the Great North Museum: Hancock, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, the Sunderland Museum, the National Museum of Wales, the Duckworth Laboratory, the Wiltshire Museum, the Wells Museum, the Brighton Museum, the Somerset Heritage Museum and the Museum of London for facilitating sample collection. Support for this project was provided by Czech Academy of Sciences grant RVO:67985912; by the Momentum Mobility Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; by the Wellcome Trust (100713/Z/12/Z); by Irish Research Council grant GOIPG/2013/36 to D.F.; by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (WIN project ‘Times of Upheaval’) to P.W.S., J.K. and A.Mi.; by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences grant M16-0455:1 to K.Kr.; by the National Science Centre, Poland grant DEC-2013/10/E/HS3/00141 to M.Fu.; by Obra Social La Caixa and by a Spanish MINECO grant BFU2015-64699-P to C.L.-F.; by a Spanish MINECO grant HAR2016-77600-P to C.L., P.R. and C.Bl.; by the NSF Archaeometry program BCS-1460369 to D.J.K.; by the NFS Archaeology program BCS-1725067 to D.J.K. and T.Ha.; and by an Allen Discovery Center grant from the Paul Allen Foundation, US National Science Foundation HOMINID grant BCS-1032255, US National Institutes of Health grant GM100233, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to D.R.
Extended data figures
This file contains Supplementary Tables 1-5. Supplementary Table 1 shows the ancient individuals included in this study. Supplementary Table 2 contains mitochondrial haplogroup calls for individuals with newly reported data. Supplementary Table 3 contains mitochondrial haplogroup frequencies for relevant ancient populations. Supplementary Table 4 contains Y-chromosome calls for males with newly reported data and Supplementary Table 5 contains the radiocarbon database.
About this article
Ancient human genome-wide data from a 3000-year interval in the Caucasus corresponds with eco-geographic regions
Nature Communications (2019)