Were Europes megalithic societies patrilineal

first_img Email Archaeologists have long been fascinated by the megalithic burial grounds scattered across northern Europe, including those at the most famous site, Stonehenge. But although these stone monuments have yielded scores of ancient remains, they aren’t good at giving up another secret: how the people buried there were related. Now, a controversial study using new DNA sequencing technology has revealed that, in at least four sites in Ireland, Scotland, and Sweden, the interred men were closely related, suggesting to some a patrilineal society.“It is without any doubt an interesting paper,” says Bettina Schulz Paulsson, a prehistoric archaeologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden who specializes in megalith origins. But, she adds, the numbers of sites and bodies “are far too little” to know the social structures of these early communities.For decades, archaeologists have exhumed ancient remains at megalithic sites, from Carnac in the Brittany region of France to Sweden’s Ale’s Stones. In recent years, researchers have managed to coax mitochondrial DNA from some skeletons, revealing links down the female line that shed light—not on familial relations—but on early migration patterns. (Mitochondrial DNA is passed only from mothers to their children.) Recent improvements to DNA sequencing technology and statistical and collection methods have made it possible to sequence ancient nuclear DNA, which can also reveal relationships between male relations. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Archaeologists excavate stone tombs at Ireland’s Primrose Grange. By Michael PriceApr. 15, 2019 , 3:15 PM Göran Burenhult center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Were Europe’s megalithic societies patrilineal? Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Paleogenomicist Federico Sánchez-Quinto from Uppsala University in Sweden used these techniques on dozens of remains from four megalithic tombs in Ireland, Scotland, and Sweden that were first uncovered years ago. He and his team sequenced the nuclear genomes of those remains—most of which have been dated to between 4500 B.C.E. and 3000 B.C.E.The remains represented 18 men and six women. When the researchers looked for strings of genetic code that would indicate how closely the buried individuals were related, they found close kinships among men at the Scottish and Swedish sites. And at one of two Irish sites, Primrose Grange on the country’s northwestern coast, at least six of the nine men, who spanned up to 12 generations, shared a genetic variant, suggesting they descended from the same paternal line. One man is likely the father of a 5500-year-old body found at another megalithic site just 2 kilometers to the west.Some anthropologists think burial in these monumental sites was likely a mark of high social status. The authors argue that, taken together, those results suggest European megalithic societies at the time were patrilineal, with social power invested in the male line across multiple generations, they report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The findings are intriguing, says Thomas Kador, an archaeologist at University College London. He notes that even though men were more commonly interred in these sites, the women there seem to have been given identical burials. That suggests to him that even if these societies were patrilineal, women still played significant roles. Kador’s team has also done a separate genome-wide analysis of ancient individuals at a different megalithic site in Ireland and found a notable lack of close kinship among the buried. It’s possible that different megalithic societies on the island had very different social structures and funerary practices, he says.Indeed, Robert Hensey, an archaeologist at the National University of Ireland in Galway, warns against drawing such sweeping conclusions about the many and varied Neolithic societies of northern and western Europe from a handful of sites and a few dozen people. “It strains credulity.”last_img

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