How a Paleogenomic Approach Can Provide Details on Bioarchaeological Reconstruction: A Case Study from the Globular Amphorae Culture

Genes 2021, 12(6), 910;

Received: 28 April 2021 / Revised: 2 June 2021 / Accepted: 8 June 2021 / Published: 11 June 2021


Ancient human remains have the potential to explain a great deal about the prehistory of humankind. Due to recent technological and bioinformatics advances, their study, at the palaeogenomic level, can provide important information about population dynamics, culture changes, and the lifestyles of our ancestors. In this study, mitochondrial and nuclear genome data obtained from human bone remains associated with the Neolithic Globular Amphorae culture, which were recovered in the Megalithic barrow of Kierzkowo (Poland), were reanalysed to gain insight into the social organisation and use of the archaeological site and to provide information at the individual level. We were able to successfully estimate the minimum number of individuals, sex, kin relationships, and phenotypic traits of the buried individuals, despite the low level of preservation of the bone samples and the intricate taphonomic conditions. In addition, the evaluation of damage patterns allowed us to highlight the presence of “intruders”—that is, of more recent skeletal remains that did not belong to the original burial. Due to its characteristics, the study of the Kierzkowo barrow represented a challenge for the reconstruction of the biological profile of the human community who exploited it and an excellent example of the contribution that ancient genomic analysis can provide to archaeological reconstruction.