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Thread: The Copper - bronze Age transition in Iberia. Genetic & demographic implicaitons

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    The Copper - bronze Age transition in Iberia. Genetic & demographic implicaitons

    We have heard recently that a Spanish team from Barcelona, with the Reich lab, will begin a massive programme of sampling Iberia from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. This will take some time for results to come. In the meantime, it might be interesting to recap on some aspects of the expected genetic shifts in Iberia.

    As we have seen from the observable dataset so far (most recently summarized in Mathieson 2015), Iberia still looks very middle Neolithic as late as 2000 BC, with the earliest sample – ATP9 from Gunther at al – having steppe-like admixture being from ~ 1700 BC. It is also noteworthy that this shift might not have been the only one, as from the early Neolithic to the Late Neolithic/ Copper Age we see a rise in ‘WHG’ type Y lineages – most notably I2a2

    If this pattern is corroborated by further studies, then it would seem that eastern European admixture, and likely P312 lineages, only arrived after 2000 BC in Iberia (possibly similar story in Italy).
    What can archaeological data point to so far, whilst we wait for more aDNA ?

    One inescapable conclusion so far is that there was a definite 'crisis' at the end of the third millennium BC, c. 2200 BC. Here ‘crisis’ is a catch-all term for 'we’re not quite sure what happened, but it was significant'.

    Some basics of periodization:

    • Neolithic till 3500 BC
    • Copper Age: 3500 – 2200 BC
    • Early bronze Age: 2200 – 1500 BC.

    Whilst the Copper – Bronze Age transition is a complex, regionally and temporally varied affair, some generalization is possible for the Iberian peninsula: (of course, we are talking about a spectrum, not absolutes)

    • Disappearance of Copper Age enclosures (some existed only for short periods, some had existed for centuries. They had first appeared in southern aspects of the Peninsula, but then spread north).
    image.jpg
    • Temporary collapse of wide-ranging exchange networks, previously enjoyed. When they re-emerge, they appear to be restricted to within defined communities/ cultures, rather than across the entire breadth of Iberia
    • Change to open, scattered settlements on plains/ valleys instead of elevated sites.
    • Change in old, or appearance of new, forms of ceramic repertoire, including Beaker forms.
    • Ending of Neolithic cosmology and idol worship: Neolithic animal forms constructed from clay, marble and other exotic materials.
    • Funerary changes: from diverse but collective forms, to a more homogenized individual burial rite.
    • Appearance of weapons and agriculture tools in inventory, albeit not particularly frequent. Although Copper Age mines continued to be used, there was an introduction of newer processing technologies, and higher quality products made.

    It is important to note that the Beaker period falls exactly during this beginning of such a transition, c. 2500 BC. Overall, there is a shift from communal to the individual and heirarchicization, and from the cosmological to the concrete.

    What could have been the causes ?

    • A fissioning of previous communities
    • Development of stratified heriarchies
    • Soil erosion (Costa & martinez) and/ or climate change, notably the “4.2 kya event” ? Possibly, drier conditions would explain the shift away from highland settlements (as such a preferred in wetter, marshier conditions).
    • A possible demographic drop: but this could be due to nature of evidence. Ie a shift from large enclosed settlements and collective tombs to smaller, ephemeral settlements, single tombs.
    • Change in economy ? Pastoralism was already evidently intensified in Chalcolithic Iberia, but their appears to have been an intensification of agriculture and pastoralism, with greater clearing of lowland areas, with cereal growing showing great importance.
    • Overall, the reasons are not clear to Valera. Of course, we need to entertain invasions/ colonization from west-central Europe

    It is also interesting to note that one of the Bronze Age successors is the Argaric state, which shows all the above hallmarks of change compared to its predecessor – the Millares culture. It was located in the southernmost tip of Iberia, and appears to have been expansionist in character, dominating much of the peninsula c. 2200 – 1700 BC. It was characterized by a Mediterranean form of polyculture and appears to have rejected previous elaborate Beaker pottery (instead using plain pottery- Diaz-Andreu). It emerged as a stratified and densely populated culture. By contrast, in the western aspect of the Peninsula, there appears to have been a drastic population demise. In the central –north, the shift away from preceding Copper Age systems was less abrupt, with ongoing use of collective burial and societies which were still more or less egalitarian. However, an interesting ubiquity of metal working mines (eg Asturias).

    image.jpg
    1= El Argar 2: La mancha 3: Ibero-Levantine BA 4: Dolmenic phase 5: Proto-Cogotas style 6: Vilavella / Atios 7: BA of southwest.

    IMO: the shift from communal to segmented but heriarchicized society led to the prerequisite conditions enabling monopolization of power, and attendant genetic impact of a dominant clan, whose origins might have laid outside the Peninsula before 2200 BC. If so, P312 would have been but one of the players in the late M3/ early M2, which rose to prominence. But the route of its arrival, and the pace with which it elevated to pre-eminence can only be solved with aDNA, as from the above evidence, there seems to be no clear invasion route – although intuitively we should look to the north. If anything, the expansionist and demographic edge appears to have come from the deep south.

    Lastly, we should note that by c. 1500 BC, the dominance of the southern Argaric culture ends precipitously, with abandonement of many settlements in its core zone, and – interestingly – economic change, with greater prominence of horse and cattle. Now, the central zone – especially around the middle Duero and Tagus valleys, assume primary role (eg spread of Cogotas I pottery style, which temporarily coexisted with late Beaker forms). Again, the Atlantic littoral appears to have been only sparsely occupied.

    This is a simplistic and brief overview. So see:

    • Bronze Age Iberia. Lull, Mico, Herrada & Risch. In Oxford handbook of European bronze Age
    • Environmental changes in NW Iberia around the BB period (Lourdes, Merino et al). In; The Bell Beaker Transition in Europe.
    • Social change in later 3rd millennium Portugal. Twilight of Enclosures. Valera. In 2200 BC – A climactic breakdown as a cause for the collapse of the old world ?
    • Factionalism and Collective Labour in Copper Age Iberia .Del Rio
    • Complex Societies in Copper & Bronze Age Iberia: A Reappraisal. Diaz-Andreu
    Last edited by Gravetto-Danubian; 03-31-2016 at 01:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gravetto-Danubian View Post
    ...
    If this pattern is corroborated by further studies, then it would seem that eastern European admixture, and likely P312 lineages, only arrived after 2000 BC in Iberia (possibly similar story in Italy).
    What can archaeological data point to so far, whilst we wait for more aDNA ? ..
    Does the timing of these findings fit with a 2500-2000 BC entrance of new lineages, or is there no change occurring in Iberia before 2000 BC?

    The timing of the MRCAs for all P312, for U152 and DF27 are not much different with L21 not far behind (more recent). Given that, I don't see how would have been any kind of clean separation (or parachuting in as some say) of DF27 into Iberia at early time to be associated with early Beakers in the Iberian Peninsula.

    The other factor is that P312 is not that much different of an MRCA than U106 so there is a definite inclination towards a Central (or even Eastern) European launching for the P311 subclades that prevail throughout Western and Central Europe.

    For some time, my suspicion is that what some see as a reflux of early Western Beakers back towards Iberia is really just the new Yamanized Beakers (or at least the male lineages of such) expanding westward.

    We have L21 up in Ireland by about 2000 BC and the Wessex Culture in England a little earlier, and they traded with the Unetice folks. The Unetice and parts of the Corded Ware and Eastern Bell Beakers had some overlap in time and space. L21 is not as old as P312, U152 and DF27 so I would expect DF27 to reach Iberia before 2000 BC. If this transition in Iberia fit the 2500-2000 BC timeframe my speculation would align nicely.

    We also have Amzallag saying that new metalworking was brought into Iberia in this timeframe, albeit he is disputed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikewww View Post
    Does the timing of these findings fit with a 2500-2000 BC entrance of new lineages, or is there no change occurring in Iberia before 2000 BC?
    It's hard to say currently. None of the Copper Age samples form the same paper showed steppe/ eastern admixture, including one which dated as late as 23/2000 BC ("ATP 20" -supple table S1)

    So we have 2 samples form the crucial period of 2500 - 1500 BC. But it's definitely looking like after 2500 BC, and possibly after 2000 BC. Of course, early infiltration of eastern elements could have happened as early as 2500 BC, but then its a bi of a lucky dip in finding them, before such admixture expanded throughout a more broader population.


    We also have Amzallag saying that new metalworking was brought into Iberia in this timeframe, albeit he is disputed.
    I don't think anything too revolutionary happened in terms of metal work, either in Iberia c. 2000 BC, or by Bell -Beaker people in general, apart form general improvement and advancement one would see 'as time goes by'. I.e. I don't think BB introduced a magic new metal form, or uncovered / monopolized new metal ores.

    Instead, what perhaps might have changed is the way metal was consumed - becoming part of ostentatious display, the preserve of elites, and something competed for. Perhaps those who managed to acquire and control it most, benefitted best.

    The timing of the MRCAs for all P312, for U152 and DF27 are not much different with L21 not far behind (more recent). Given that, I don't see how would have been any kind of clean separation (or parachuting in as some say) of DF27 into Iberia at early time to be associated with early Beakers in the Iberian Peninsula.

    The other factor is that P312 is not that much different of an MRCA than U106 so there is a definite inclination towards a Central (or even Eastern) European launching for the P311 subclades that prevail throughout Western and Central Europe.

    For some time, my suspicion is that what some see as a reflux of early Western Beakers back towards Iberia is really just the new Yamanized Beakers (or at least the male lineages of such) expanding westward.

    We have L21 up in Ireland by about 2000 BC and the Wessex Culture in England a little earlier, and they traded with the Unetice folks. The Unetice and parts of the Corded Ware and Eastern Bell Beakers had some overlap in time and space. L21 is not as old as P312, U152 and DF27 so I would expect DF27 to reach Iberia before 2000 BC. If this transition in Iberia fit the 2500-2000 BC timeframe my speculation would align nicely.
    Quite possibly. Maybe P312 arrived as early as 2200 BC, then DF 27 expanded later ?
    But I'll leave this question to the resident R1b experts. Let me know what is concluded
    Last edited by Gravetto-Danubian; 03-31-2016 at 04:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gravetto-Danubian View Post
    ... I don't think anything too revolutionary happened in terms of metal work, either in Iberia c. 2000 BC, or by Bell -Beaker people in general, apart form general improvement and advancement one would see 'as time goes by'. I.e. I don't think BB introduced a magic new metal form, or uncovered / monopolized new metal ores.
    I wasn't try to indicate there was huge advantage conferred, just that Amzallag claims there was a change. He thought it was quite advanced and it originated in the Near East. I think that is where he draws fire but it is still quite reasonable that the Yamnaya received new technologies from the Maykop and this was carried westward as the Circumpontic Metallurgy Province overtook the Carpatho-Balkan Metallurgy Province in Europe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gravetto-Danubian View Post
    ...
    Quite possibly. Maybe P312 arrived as early as 2200 BC, then DF 27 expanded later ?
    But I'll leave this question to the resident R1b experts. Let me know what is concluded
    I don't think P312* originated in Iberia or arrived early there because of its close relationship with U106, which appears no where close to Iberia. It's quite possible that DF27 was akin to being early colonists or scouts for the early P312 tribes.
    Last edited by TigerMW; 03-31-2016 at 05:54 AM.

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    There's nothing in history to support DF27 arising in Iberia, then expanding as far as Armenia and Ukraine. I'd expect P312/DF27 to show up around 2000-1800BCE.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikewww View Post
    I wasn't try to indicate there was huge advantage conferred, just that Amzallag claims there was a change. He thought it was quite advanced and it originated in the Near East. I think that is where he draws fire but it is still quite reasonable that the Yamnaya received new technologies from the Maykop and this was carried westward as the Circumpontic Metallurgy Province overtook the Carpatho-Balkan Metallurgy Province in Europe.
    I understand. Quite probable, although I've not read any detailed metallographic studies on Iberia. (And the metallurgical shifts were more complex than a simple take-over. From what I recall, the Carpathian (ie Hungarian) metallurgical centres continued, it was their southern counterparts - in Serbia / Bulgaria which collapsed. )

    From what I have read on BB in general - at least for central Europe - it appears they used several types of metallurgical traditions - incl. the Arsenic -Copper type from the Caucasus, as well as the old pure Copper types.
    So all I was stating is that there wasn't an exclusive type of 'BB metal'. I think Alan has previously commented to same effect.

    See: "Bell beaker copper use in central Europe: a distinctive tradition? A re-evaluation of the composition of copper artefacts and its effects on the properties of the metal". Matthias Merkl.

    I don't think P312* originated in Iberia or arrived early there because of its close relationship with U106, which appears no where close to Iberia. It's quite possible that DF27 was akin to being early colonists or scouts for the early P312 tribes.
    Neither do I
    What I was suggesting was something like a 2 - wave migration into Iberia. First P312* (? with B.B.) , then DF 27 (?Halstatt). But really, I'm just speculating.
    Last edited by Gravetto-Danubian; 03-31-2016 at 06:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gravetto-Danubian View Post
    We have heard recently that a Spanish team from Barcelona, with the Reich lab, will begin a massive programme of sampling Iberia from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. This will take some time for results to come. In the meantime, it might be interesting to recap on some aspects of the expected genetic shifts in Iberia.

    As we have seen from the observable dataset so far (most recently summarized in Mathieson 2015), Iberia still looks very middle Neolithic as late as 2000 BC, with the earliest sample – ATP9 from Gunther at al – having steppe-like admixture being from ~ 1700 BC. It is also noteworthy that this shift might not have been the only one, as from the early Neolithic to the Late Neolithic/ Copper Age we see a rise in ‘WHG’ type Y lineages – most notably I2a2
    The reason why we need more aDNA is that the present dataset cannot reveal the genetic background to the earliest arrival of metallurgy in Iberia, or of the different phases of Bell Beaker that Iberian archaeologists detect, or the transition from Copper to Bronze, nor of what appears to be three separate Late Bronze Age arrivals in Iberia from different source populations. This is because results have not yet been published from the relevant sites, or (in the case of the El Argar Culture, for example) only mtDNA results.

    Iberia is a big region, varied in terms of terrain, climate and metal sources. It is open to influences via both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It is no surprise that it is a patchwork of archaeological cultures during the period in which you are interested. It will take a massive programme of sampling to get the full genetic picture.

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    Given that large parts of Iberia were non-Indo-European speaking into antiquity (Iberian's) isn't it possible that low levels of Steppe input in some samples is due to linguistic divisions in Iberia?

    Even when it comes to Proto-IE languages we see both Celtic and non-Celtic (Lusitanian), so there's definetly a picture of linguistic diversity during the Iron age (and I'm assuming going back to Bronze age)



    There's definitely divisions when it comes to origins of place names etc.


    Figure 6. Basic division between Indo-European and Iberian linguistic areas in the Iberian Peninsula, with Late Iron Age-Roman epigraphic evidence for different indigenous languages (After Villar 2001).

    Figure 10. Celtic deity names in the Iberian Peninsula (After Olivares 2002).
    Taken from:
    http://www4.uwm.edu/celtic/ekeltoi/v...atero_6_4.html
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    Will we get any new insights from the third book in the Celtic from the West series?

    Celtic from the West 3 : Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages - Questions of Shared Language

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Celtic...?ref=grid-view

    We might also get some hints about Iberia from aDNA from the Isles, as it happened already with Rathlin, especially if DF27 is found there. Actually I bet the first DF27 will be found outside Iberia and probably in the Isles.

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    Is it possible that DF27 older than U152 and L21. The link between BB and the descendants of P312 is hard to deny. The fact that its carriers were steppe people with horses like wise. Most Bell beakers were made where they were found 50-100%. I think that it would follow that they were storage vessels not for transport, by horse or cart they'd break. So they are evidence of settlement not presence. With the introduction of horse transport came the possibility of long distance trade commerce as opposed to gifting. At this pack horses may have been the most common as routes suitable for wheeled vehicles may not have been extensive enough.This kind of transport and trade might be low level and not leave much evidence but laid the foundations for the BB network. I'm thinking this half-way between Mikes scouting and full BB might be when DF27 spread. From this I think U152 expanded(?) around the E and S Alps and connected with the Mediterranean. I think L21 was around the W and N Alps and spread along the Rhine and possibly the Westerly river network culminating in cross channel traffic. I think this could explain the comparative density of L21 and U152 compared to the wide spread of DF27.

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