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Authors: Zedda, Nicoletta
Meheux, Katie
Blöcher, Jens
Diekmann, Yoan
Gorelik, Alexander V.
Kalle, Martin
Klein, Kevin
Titze, Anna-Lena
Winkelbach, Laura
Naish, Elise
Brou, Laurent
Valotteau, François
Le Brun-Ricalens, Foni
Burger, Joachim
Brami, Maxime
Title: Biological and substitute parents in Beaker period adult–child graves
Online publication date: 15-Dec-2023
Year of first publication: 2023
Language: english
Abstract: Joint inhumations of adults and children are an intriguing aspect of the shift from collective to single burial rites in third millennium BC Western Eurasia. Here, we revisit two exceptional Beaker period adult–child graves using ancient DNA: Altwies in Luxembourg and Dunstable Downs in Britain. Ancestry modelling and patterns of shared IBD segments between the individuals examined, and contemporary genomes from Central and Northwest Europe, highlight the continental connections of British Beakers. Although simultaneous burials may involve individuals with no social or biological ties, we present evidence that close blood relations played a role in shaping third millennium BC social systems and burial practices, for example a biological mother and her son buried together at Altwies. Extended family, such as a paternal aunt at Dunstable Downs, could also act as ‘substitute parents’ in the grave. Hypotheses are explored to explain such simultaneous inhumations. Whilst intercommunity violence, infectious disease and epidemics may be considered as explanations, they fail to account for both the specific, codified nature of this particular form of inhumation, and its pervasiveness, as evidenced by a representative sample of 131 adult–child graves from 88 sites across Eurasia, all dating to the third and second millennia BC.
DDC: 570 Biowissenschaften
570 Life sciences
930 Alte Geschichte
930 History of ancient world
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 07 Geschichts- u. Kulturwissensch.
FB 10 Biologie
Place: Mainz
Version: Published version
Publication type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz
License: CC BY
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Journal: Scientific reports
Pages or article number: 18765
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
Publisher place: London
Issue date: 2023
ISSN: 2045-2322
Publisher DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-45612-3
Appears in collections:DFG-491381577-G

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