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Monday, January 9, 2017

Forager country

The findings in this new paper at the Journal of Archaeological Science might help to explain the unusually high levels of Mesolithic ancestry amongst present-day Northeast Europeans.

Abstract: Pottery was adopted by hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Baltic at the end of the 6th millennium cal BC. To examine the motivations for this cultural and technological shift, here we report the organic residue analysis of ceramic vessels from the earliest pottery horizon (Narva) in this region. A combined approach using GC-MS, GC-C-IRMS and bulk IRMS of residues absorbed into the ceramic and charred surface deposits was employed. The results show that despite variable preservation, Narva ceramic vessels were preferentially used for processing aquatic products. We argue that pottery was part of a new Late Mesolithic subsistence strategy which included more intensive exploitation of aquatic foods and may have had important implications, such as increased sedentism and population growth.

Oras et al., The adoption of pottery by north-east European hunter-gatherers: Evidence from lipid residue analysis, Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 78, February 2017, Pages 112–119

Related stuff...

Recent studies of ancient genomes have revealed two large-scale prehistoric population movements into Europe after the initial settlement by modern humans: A first expansion from the Near East that brought agricultural practices, also known as the Neolithic revolution; and a second migration from the East that was seen in a genetic component related to the Yamnaya pastoralists of the Pontic Steppe, which appears in Central Europe in people of the Late Neolithic Corded Ware and has been present in Europeans since then in a decreasing North-East to South-West gradient. This migration has been proposed to be the source of the majority of today’s Indo-European languages within Europe.

In this paper we aim to show how these processes affected the Eastern Baltic region where the archeological record shows a drastically different picture than Central and Southern Europe. While agricultural subsistence strategies were commonplace in most of the latter by the Middle Neolithic, ceramic-producing hunter-gatherer cultures still persisted in the Eastern Baltic up until around 4000 BP and only adopted domesticated plants and animals at a late stage after which they disappeared into the widespread Corded Ware culture.

We present the results of ancient DNA analyses of 81 individuals from the territory of today’s Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that span from the Mesolithic to Bronze Age. Through study of the uniparentally inherited mtDNA and Y-chromosome as well as positions across the entire genome that are informative about ancient ancestry we reveal the dynamics of prehistoric population continuity and change within this understudied region and how they are reflected in today’s Baltic populations.

Mittnik et al., A genetic perspective on population dynamics of the pre-historic Eastern Baltic region, EAA 2016 presentation, TH4-11 Abstract 06


rozenfag said...

When are they going to publish this Baltic Mesolithic aDNA? Are they waiting for Bell Beakers or what?

bellbeakerblogger said...

The conclusion of the first paper fits with the theory that ceramics were developed for, and most used by, early cultures that exploited small water creatures.

I'd bet the spread of ceramics among cereal exploiters is likely the result of the spread of early cereal beer. Brewed wort is the only thing farmers would make that needed a hard, rolling boil. Everything else could be pounded with a mortar and pestle.

Ceramics Before Farming: The Dispersal of Pottery Among Prehistoric Eurasia Hunter-Gatherers. Left Coast Press. Jordan, Zvelebil (2009)

Mike K said...

Do we have any Y DNA from the Narva culture? My understanding is that Narva pottery was influenced by Comb Ceramic ceramic pottery and I am wondering if they may have had any influence on Narva people's DNA.

Romulus said...

Neolithic farmers on the other hand were using their pots to hold dairy, going back to the earliest phases in Anatolia.

MOCKBA said...

In more recent times, wooden barrels and salt were used to preserve herring and salmon. My own Northern European ancestors lived off fish without any agriculture as recently as 5 generations back. Does the ceramic-jar technology indicate that the Mesolithic fishermen didn't have access to salt?

Romulus said...

They probably kept the fish alive in water in the pots, like this :

MOCKBA said...

If the fishes were happily alive than how did their oils seep into the ceramic layer?

capra internetensis said...


I wouldn't care to try making a barrel using sharp rocks. ;)

MOCKBA said...

I know, we city-folk are notoriously unskilled with axes. Woodcraft folk up North were famous for making *anything* out of wood with the help of an ax without any other tools. Having witnessed their amazing feats, I'm ready to believe that even stone axes could do the trick.

capra internetensis said...


I'm sure a sufficiently skilled craftsman *could* make a barrel with stone tools and non-metal hoops - but I really don't think it would be worth the time and effort. And as far as I know there is no evidence that this was ever done, anywhere.

Huck Finn said...

People having fish but no salt used a technique called fermentation in the past. The most well known product based on this approach nowadays is surströmming, "sour herring". Icelanders, incredible enough, sometimes even eat fermented testicles of a ram.

All edible, still divide opinions. Better than starving though, I'd guess.

Grey said...

"People having fish but no salt used a technique called fermentation in the past."

I was reading about that recently.

"the traditional Eskimo practice of allowing animal products such as whole fish, fish heads, walrus, sea lion, and whale flippers, beaver tails, seal oil, birds, etc., to ferment for an extended period of time before being consumed...instead of the old-fashioned, traditional method, a grass-lined hole"

although if these Baltic people buried pots of fish to ferment as a variation on this preservation technique you'd think it might have survived into historical times?

(this is assuming that somehow improving fish preservation is what caused the population increase - maybe it wasn't)

Grey said...

apparently fermentation pots for preservation are actually a thing - in Korea anyway

"The kimchi is allowed to ferment for a period of time, usually outdoors in a large kimchi pot. It is also quite common for these pots to be buried under ground. Kimchi can be kept for a long time and does not go bad. Koreans make kimchi with their families in December."

Grey said...

sorry for spam but it's funny when this happens

i wonder if the Baltic pots look anything like Korean Kimchi pots?

MOCKBA said...

East Asia has an incredibly old and rich salt-fermentation tradition, to the extent that traditional cuisine never uses salt "straight" but only in the form of various "pickles", and fish sauce too. Yes, clay jars there.
Europe is no stranger too, with Rome prizing garum (liquefied fermented fish sauce, the mainstay of the Sea of Galilee econoy in Jesus's times). Garum was prepared in stone vats and transported in amphorae.

It's true that in the absence of stone basins, fermentation can be achieved in turf-lined basins. And in Iceland, sone thick-skinned sharks are fermented in their own skin (bury a shark in the beach sand and it becomes prized hakarl in a short time - ever tried it?)

Shaikorth said...

Mesolithic fish fermentation was practised in Sweden.

Huck Finn said...

@Mockba and re :"And in Iceland, sone thick-skinned sharks are fermented in their own skin (bury a shark in the beach sand and it becomes prized hakarl in a short time - ever tried it?)"

Yes,a couple of times. Greasy and smelly. I'd say that testicles were better, though only in relative terms. Salmon smoked with horse shit, on the other hand, was really good, even for a foreigner.

Grey said...

i recall reading on Maju's blog about a pottery using HG culture along the west shore of the Black Sea. if pottery spread from east Asia connected to fermentation preservation it's easy to imagine it hopping across the steppe from lake to lake - which makes me wonder if the trace of east Asian dna found in unexpected populations might come from the potters themselves?

jv said...

I wonder if some of the mtDNA's associated with the Yamnaya Culture in Samara Russia arrived with the much earlier pottery producing women of the Elshanka Culture(?) jv

Davidski said...

Yeah, maybe, but it looks like pottery spread into the East Baltic without much gene flow from the east, because there wasn't much, if any, EHG in the East Baltic right up until the Corded Ware people got there.

MOCKBA said...

Could the early potters have formed a quasi-endogamous guild? If the practitioners of different professional skills didn't intermarry then it will be difficult to find their genetic traces in a few randomly sampled bones?

Yes, I found the fermented shark very hard to wash off my palate :)

Chad Rohlfsen said...

New paper out. It looks like my claim that MA1 is Asian admixed rather than Asians being MA1 admixed is now backed by Reich. Hate to boast, but I do have an idea of what I'm doing.

Chad Rohlfsen said...

Bi-directional gene flow is not ruled out, but the east to west flow is statistically better.

Matt said...

Hmmm... So comment here or on another post?

Chad Rohlfsen said...

I'm sure David will have a post about it within a day or so. I may come up with some more models to work on some of their questions.

Matt said...

Ok, preliminary comments, and I'll probably repost on any new thread:

Not expected: In addition to the previously documented Denisova-related introgression into Australasians (here 3.5% into the common ancestor of New Guinea, Australia, and Mamanwa), we find suggestive new evidence for Denisova-related ancestry in MA1, which we believe may explain the preliminary residual statistic f4(MA1, Ami; Denisova, Dinka) mentioned above. A consistent signal of excess allele sharing between MA1 and archaic humans can be observed when using any of Denisova, Altai Neanderthal, or the Vindija and Mezmaiskaya Neanderthals (Green et al., 2010) (Table 2). We also used an ancient ingroup in place of Ami to ensure that this pattern does not reflect an ancient DNA artifact (Table 2, bottom half).
While the differences between the rows in Table 2 are not statistically significant, MA1 appears to share the most drift with Denisova; the excess shared drift with Neanderthals would also be expected in a scenario of Denisova-related introgression on the basis of the sister relationship between Neanderthals and Denisova

East Asian and MA1 geneflow: To support our inference of the directionality of gene flow between eastern Eurasians and MA1 (which was not addressed in Fu et al. (2016)), we compared the two statistics (1) f4(MA1, K14; Ami, Ust’-Ishim) = 1.89 (Z = 2.76) and (2) f4(Ust’-Ishim, MA1; Onge, Ami) = 0.23 (Z = 0.52) (computed on all available Human Origins SNPs).... We also repeated the computation with other western Eurasian populations in place of MA1 and found the same signal of eastern Eurasian relatedness, including the same preferred directionality, in WHG (defined as in Table 2; Z = 2.04 for the difference), Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHG (Jones et al., 2015); Z = 1.77), and Afontova Gora 3 (AG3, a 17 kya individual from Siberia closely related to MA1 (Fu et al., 2016); Z = 2.17).

There's still a problem here of considering the (3) f4(MA1, K14; Onge, Ust’-Ishim), as to whether MA1 flow went to a Basal ENA clade. Need ancient dna from East Eurasia to check.

Note also there's a shading of difference from Laz in this whole section. Laz built its findings around Ancient North Eurasian geneflow to East Asians primarily around EHG related statistics, not MA1 statistics.

f4 (EHG MA1 Han Onge) = 0.00121 3.5

f4 (EHG Kostenki14 Han Onge) = 0.00140 3.9

The words EHG are conspicuously absent from this paper. How does this affect their models? I haven't really been able to consider any possible angles yet.

Laz also noted "AG2 appears to be a valid source for populations across the Eastern Eurasian cline, but MA1 is not, especially for populations with the lowest levels of Onge ancestry".

So this seems like a peculiar lacuna if they're addressing Lazaridis's models...

I would also say re their retesting of their model with WHG, they've used La Brana and Loschbour. Given Fu's "The affinity of pre-Neolithic Europeans to Near Easterners beginning around 14,000 years ago is distinct from the affinity to East Asians in Mesolithic Europeans", why not also test with Villabruna and Chaudardes1? And GoyetQ116-1, which is within the Loschbour-LaBrana range in affinities to East Asian?

(Genome quality? I assume.)

Chad Rohlfsen said...

Han being a bi-directional group with EHG admixture, plus Onge and MA1 having a little extra archaic admixture would do that. When you replace the Onge with an African they're virtually identical.

Chad Rohlfsen said...

Even a little extra later E Asian into EHG is possible too, with both Han and EHG exchanging together. I've had plenty of stats show some later Asian and WHG into EHG. I can dig up or re-run some of that.

Rob said...

Well done Chad
But I said it even earlier (though observation based on haploid lineages only). Let's recall: the real "Altai" admixture came with Y hg Q and mtdna C

Matt said...

If you have any significant extra edge of East Eurasian->EHG (to explain any significant EHG stats), it seems like you should have:

f4(WHG,EHG;Onge,Ust Ishim) and f4(SHG,EHG;Onge,Ust Ishim) to some degree.

Can't remember if I ever saw how those stats turn out. Offhand, I only know the f3(Mbuti,Onge,Test) is flat for SHG, WHG, EHG, AG2 (not MA1) -

When you replace the Onge with an African they're virtually identical.

Sorry, in which stat? :)

Rob said...

Ah good . They also clarified Oase's position:

"Oase 1 was inferred to diverge from the western Eurasian (K14) lineage, slightly later than Ust’-Ishim (shared drift 1.6), but still close to the split of the eastern and western clades."

Chad Rohlfsen said...

EHG MA1 Han Onge

Chad Rohlfsen said...

This should about cover what I'm talking about.

result: WHG EHG Onge Yoruba -0.0083 -2.483 26355 26797 581691
result: WHG EHG Onge Chimp -0.0067 -1.837 47896 48538 856671
result: WHG EHG Onge Ju_hoan_North -0.0080 -2.204 26721 27154 581690
result: WHG EHG Onge Neandertal -0.0060 -1.414 33976 34389 652681
result: WHG EHG Onge Denisovan -0.0061 -1.573 49470 50075 888465
result: WHG Motala_HG Onge Yoruba -0.0032 -1.273 25197 25356 587068
result: WHG Motala_HG Onge Chimp -0.0040 -1.533 45925 46292 869919
result: WHG Motala_HG Onge Ju_hoan_North -0.0027 -1.023 25516 25653 587067
result: WHG Motala_HG Onge Neandertal -0.0032 -1.070 32463 32669 661249
result: WHG Motala_HG Onge Denisovan -0.0034 -1.244 47414 47739 902522
result: WHG MA1 Onge Yoruba -0.0187 -4.528 20909 21705 442573
result: WHG MA1 Onge Chimp -0.0074 -1.602 39814 40405 671616
result: WHG MA1 Onge Ju_hoan_North -0.0180 -4.086 21170 21944 442573
result: WHG MA1 Onge Neandertal -0.0064 -1.152 27842 28199 505989
result: WHG MA1 Onge Denisovan -0.0044 -0.914 41268 41635 697021
result: EHG MA1 Han Yoruba 0.0034 0.870 19245 19114 418890
result: EHG MA1 Han Chimp 0.0089 1.609 19584 19238 409322
result: EHG MA1 Han Ju_hoan_North 0.0038 0.885 19463 19316 418889
result: EHG MA1 Han Neandertal 0.0137 2.167 16874 16419 360975
result: EHG MA1 Han Denisovan 0.0136 2.269 19934 19400 418721
result: Onge Han Denisovan Yoruba 0.0040 1.514 25334 25130 616397
result: Onge Han Neandertal Yoruba 0.0046 1.548 21828 21628 531196
result: MA1 Han Denisovan Yoruba 0.0187 4.095 19260 18553 442359
result: MA1 Han Neandertal Yoruba 0.0180 3.426 16577 15991 381921

Chad Rohlfsen said...

WHG is Loschbour, LaBrana, Villabruna, Bichon, and KO1. EHG is Karelia and Samara. Motala is, of course, all Motala samples.

Alberto said...

Interesting paper, though I think that the East Eurasian admixture in MA1 is taken a bit out of context.

If I understand correctly, this is not East Eurasian admixture into MA1 specifically, but rather East Eurasian admixture into all post 25K y.a. West Eurasians (though it's probably a bit higher in MA1, especially Onge-like ENA, but they didn't measure the differences specifically, just took MA1 as a "modern" West Eurasian sample and confirmed with Loschbour, AG3 and CHG).

Grey said...

"but it looks like pottery spread into the East Baltic without much gene flow from the east"

that's the thing about technology changes though - *if* they were spread by artisanal groups the genetic influence might generally be very small except in exceptional circumstances

someone should test Bjork's pottery skills

Unknown said...

So ADMIXTURE results showing ENA admixture in MA1, AG3 and WHGs seem to be right after all. I doubt ANE gene flow was bidirectional because NE Asians don't display any west eurasian admixture components unlike ANE admixed Amerindians.

Davidski said...

I doubt ANE gene flow was bidirectional because NE Asians don't display any west eurasian admixture components.

Sure they do. Read that paper you linked to more carefully.

Unknown said...

Could you link pdf or copypaste a revelant part as I don't have access to that article and just read comments here. Are they suggesting that east asians have Villabruna-like or Vestonice-like admixture? By west eurasian admixture elements I meant that some amerindian samples I seen are showing up to 20% North or East European admixture but no South European admixture so it can't be from recent colonists. It could be from ANE admixture in North and East Europeans but it still suggests West Eurasian ancestry in Indians as MA1 is West+ENA(most likely Siberian-like which isn't exactly like modern East Asians because they only have small Siberian admixture and a small Onge/australoid-like component around 6%) and AG3 which is supposed to fit better as the ancestor of Amerindians has even more West Eurasian than MA1.

Davidski said...

It's a working model, not fact. It might turn out to be mostly wrong.

The last Lazaridis et al. paper argued that there was ANE admixture across much of East Asia.

These two models from the two papers will now have to be reconciled somehow, and the best way to do that is with Paleolithic samples from across Asia.

That's basically what the Lipson paper says. So now we wait for more ancient genomes from Asia.

Unknown said...

While we did not carefully model present-day Europeans in our main admixture graph, we did build an extended graph with French added (25 individuals). A good fit was obtained with four ancestry components, related to western (K14), northern (near the base of the MA1 lineage), and eastern (specified as the same source as for MA1) Eurasians, plus Basal Eurasian (specified without Neanderthal introgression (Lazaridis et al., 2016)). The inferred proportions were 27.7%, 34.9%, 23.2%, and 14.2%, respectively , with essentially no change in the list of residuals. We note that these sources do not represent the proximal ancestral populations of present-day Europeans (Lazaridis et al., 2014; Haak et al., 2015), and this fit also may not be the optimal one, but it does provide a sense of the relationships of Europeans to the major lineages defined in our model.