More on the Tollensee Valley battle site inc. genetics


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"Live Science reports that archaeologists are investigating a 3,250-year-old battlefield site in northern Germany’s Tollense Valley. They have recovered remains of some 140 people, most of them men between the ages of 20 and 40, in addition to the bones of horses and military artifacts. Some of the bones had been pierced with arrows. “We are very confident that the human remains are more or less lying in the position where they died,” said archaeologist Thomas Terberger of the Lower Saxony State Office for Cultural Heritage. He thinks as many as 2,000 may have been involved in the battle. Isotopic analysis of the bones suggests that some of the remains came from nonlocals, perhaps from southern Germany and central Europe. They may have brought the arrowheads and dress pins found on the battlefield, which resemble those found in Central Europe, and not those made in northern Germany. Terberger speculates the warriors may have been fighting for control of the Tollense River, an important north-south trade route, since the battle took place at a narrow part of the river, where there is evidence a wooden bridge may have stood in 1900 B.C. "

The longer live science article:

This is the Springer link, but I can't get access even to the Supplementary material.

If this is true, all the speculation that this was Southern Europeans against Northern Europeans was way off.
Is this the one you are trying to open, Angela?

Multi-isotope proveniencing of human remains from a Bronze Age battlefield in the Tollense Valley in northeast Germany
Is this the one you are trying to open, Angela?
Multi-isotope proveniencing of human remains from a Bronze Age battlefield in the Tollense Valley in northeast Germany

Yes, Wheal, that's the one.
I was able to pull it up but it's 14 pages, so somewhat long for a post
Strontium Isotopes in Enamel
Strontium isotope analysis provides a robust means for examining human mobility in the past and tracing first generations of migrants. The principle is straightforward. The strontium isotope ratio of 87Sr/86Sr varies among different kinds of rocks. Because the 87Sr forms through a radiogenic process as a product of decay from rubidium-87 over time, older rocks with more rubidium have a higher 87Sr/86Sr ratio, while younger rocks with less rubidium are at the opposite end of the range with low ratios (e.g., Montgomery et al. 2006). Sediments reflect the ratio of their parent material. The amount of 87S in nature varies but is roughly 7% of total strontium and 86Sr is 10% (87Sr/86Sr ⋍ 0.7). This ratio normally varies from about 0.704 in young rocks with low Rb to >0.730 in high-Rb rocks that are billions of years old.
Strontium moves into humans from rocks and sediment through the food chain (Price 1989, 2000, Sillen and Kavanagh 1982). Most measurements of human enamel fall in the range of 0.704 to 0.725. This ratio in enamel then generally reflects the underlying geology where one was born when the enamel formed. If an individual moves to a new location in a different geologic context, or is buried in a new place, the enamel isotopes will differ from those of the new location, allowing the designation of that individual as a non-local.
There are several published summaries of the method (e.g., Bentley 2006, Montgomery 2010, Price and Gestsdóttir 2006, Slovak and Paytan 2011). Analytical methods are described in detail in a number of publications (e.g., Frei and Price 2012, Price et al. 1994, Sjögren et al. 2009, Slovak and Paytan 2011). Numerous examples of the application of strontium isotope ratios to archaeological questions have been published (e.g., Benson et al. 2003, Hedman et al. 2009, Knudson et al. 2008, Montgomery et al. 2003, Price et al. 2011, Wright 2005).
An essential issue in strontium isotope analysis involves determination of the local strontium isotope signal for the area in which a burial is found. In fact, levels of strontium isotopes in human tissue may vary from the actual geological background for a number of reasons (e.g., Maurer et al. 2012, Price et al. 2002, Sillen et al. 1998). Factors include differential weathering of minerals in rock, atmospheric dust, the deposition of aeolian, alluvial, or glacial sediments on top of bedrock geology. Complex geological areas may have several different sources of 87Sr/86Sr contributing to human diets. Coastal populations are impacted by several phenomena. Marine foods, for example, have a constant strontium isotope ratio of 0.7092. The same ratio, 0.7092, may also be introduced by salt spray and rainfall in coastal areas. For these reasons, it is necessary to measure bioavailable levels of 87Sr/86Sr to ascertain local strontium isotope ratios.
Strontium Isotopes in Enamel

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Oxygen Isotopes in Apatite
Oxygen isotope ratios vary geographically in surface water and rainfall. The oxygen isotope ratio in the human skeleton reflects that of body water, and ultimately of drinking water (Kohn 1996, Luz et al. 1984, Luz and Kolodny 1985), which in turn predominantly reflects local rainfall. Isotopes in rainfall are greatly affected by enrichment or depletion of the heavy 18O isotope relative to 16O in water due to evaporation and precipitation (e.g. Dansgaard 1964). Major geographic factors affecting rainfall values then are latitude, elevation, amount of precipitation, and distance from the source (e.g., an ocean). Rainwater, H2O, can contain either isotope, and H218O has a greater mass than H216O, and requires more energy to evaporate and to stay in the atmosphere. As this moisture moves over land, the first precipitation contains more of the heavy isotope and as the clouds move inland (and to higher elevations) the rain becomes more depleted in the heavier isotope. Thus oxygen isotope ratios have some potential to vary geographically and provide information on past human movement.
Oxygen isotopes in ancient human skeletal remains are found in both tooth enamel and bone. Oxygen is incorporated into dental enamel during the early life of an individual and it remains unchanged through adulthood. Thus, oxygen isotopes have the potential to be used to investigate human mobility and provenience (Bowen and Revenaugh 2003). Oxygen has three isotopes, 16O (99.762% in nature), 17O (0.038%), and 18O (0.2%), all of which are stable and non-radiogenic. Oxygen isotopes are conventionally reported as the per mil difference in the ratio of 18O to 16O between a sample and a standard. This value is designated as 18O. This value can be measured in either carbonate (CO3)-2 or phosphate (PO4)-3 in apatite in tooth and bone. Less sample is needed for carbonate, preparation is less demanding, and results between laboratories are more comparable (e.g., Bryant et al. 1995, Sponheimer and Lee-Thorp 1999, Chenery et al. 2012). The standard used is commonly VSMOW (Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water) for phosphate, or PDB (PeeDee belemnite) for carbonate oxygen.
These 18O values for carbonate and phosphate oxygen using different standards are comparable though calculation. Chenery et al. (2012) defined the relationship between the 18O value of drinking water and 18O in enamel carbonate as 18OC = (18ODW + 48.634) /1.59 relative to standard mean ocean water (VSMOW). Measurements made using a Pee Dee Belemnite (PDB) standard must be further corrected: 18OC(VPDB) = (0.97 x 18OC(SMOW)) -29.98. Thus, as an example a drinking water value of -6.0‰ to -6.5‰(SMOW) yields an enamel carbonate 18OC(VPDB) value of approximately -4.0‰.
At the same time, there are difficulties in the application of oxygen isotope ratios to human proveniencing (e.g., White et al. 2004, Knudson and Price 2007). There are potential difficulties with diagenesis (e.g., Sharp et al. 2000). In addition, oxygen isotope ratios vary with latitude but variation is more pronounced in the polar regions. Many places in the temperate and tropical regions, however, have similar 18O values, ranging broadly from approximately -2.0‰ to -8.0‰, so that finding meaningful differences in these regions is difficult (Bowen and Revenaugh 2003). We have also observed unexplained variation on the order of ±1‰ in 18O values among individuals from the same location in our investigations (see also Huertas et al. 1995). Rainfall 18O levels vary from season to season, year to year, and over time in the same area (e.g., Rozanski et al. 1993). This variability is undoubtedly a major contributor to the broad range of 18O values seen at a given site.
I don't remember anyone claiming it was a battle between Northern and Southern Europeans

There is man who genetically places close to Sardinians and another that seems half Welzin and Sardinian like that seems out of place though. It's up to the imagination how the two ended up there. There is also the sample that is slightly corded ware or EHG shifted. Also all the samples seems hunter gatherer shifted compared to modern north Europeans. Closest modern populations are Poles and Austrians which makes sense in my mind.
F3 statistics show that they had a lot of shared drift with modern Poles, but on PCA graphs most of them don't cluster with Poles (only few individuals cluster close to Poles). What does it mean? A population ancestral to Poles but not the only one (modern Poles are a mix of Welzin-like people + other groups)?

F3 stats explained:

Welzin/Tollense samples:




They might represent Pre-Slavic substrate of modern Poles.

But on PCA graphs, Poles plot to the east of Welzin samples.
These ones have North-Eastern affinities and are similar to modern Poles:

Sample - GEDmatch kit (uploaded by mlukas):

WEZ15 - Z468191
WEZ58 - Z594501
WEZ83 - Z468191

WEZ51, WEZ56 and WEZ24 should also be North-Eastern (based on the other PCA).

Based on F3 statistics, these ones have the highest affinity to Poles:

WEZ15 (affinity to Poles confirmed by PCA)
WEZ58 (affinity to Poles confirmed by PCA)
WEZ51 (affinity to Poles confirmed by PCA)
WEZ56 (affinity to Poles confirmed by PCA)

WEZ64 (not confirmed by PCA)
WEZ74 (not confirmed by PCA)
WEZ53 (not confirmed by PCA)

WEZ24 - Finnish (so also North-Eastern but not Polish-like)

Why are these two PCAs so different from each other?:

The first PCA is in Figure 3.20. The 2nd PCA is in Figures 4.24 and A.48.

The 2nd PCA shows that WEZ56 and WEZ51 are relatively close to Poles.

The 1st PCA shows that WEZ15, WEZ58 and WEZ83 are close to Poles.


The 2nd PCA:


The 1st PCA:



WEZ56 is actually closer to Lithuanians than to Poles, if we take a look here (does it mean that Balts or Proto-Balts were present as far west as Mecklenburg-Vorpmmern during the Bronze Age?):

The Sardinian-shifted guy dates to 2900 BC not 1000 BC, so a "Neolithic farmer."
So the average of 21 warriors looks mixed Slavic-Germanic. But does it make sense to create one average from all warrios, considering that they were from 2 different, opposing armies? It makes sense to create one average only if it was a "civil war". But if each army consisted of people from a different ethnic group, then we should expect genetic differences between them. These 21 warriors should be plotted on a PCA and we will see if they form 2 distinct clusters - "western" and "eastern" - or one "central" cluster.

Something tells me that there will be 2 distinct cluster, because WEZ83 looks fully Germanic. If the average of 21 is Slavo-Germanic, but some look fully Germanic, then some must look fully Balto-Slavic.

Average in K36 Eurogenes for 21 WEZians (as I wrote above, I think there should be 2 averages, because those warriors were from two opposing armies and were killing each other):

Amerindian 0,11
Arabian 0,26
Armenian 0,00
Basque 3,20
Central_African 0,01
Central_Euro 6,01
East_African 0,20
East_Asian 0,00
East_Balkan 2,67
East_Central_Asian 0,09
East_Central_Euro 18,20
East_Med 0,38
Eastern_Euro 7,99
Fennoscandian 7,01
French 5,93
Iberian 11,21
Indo0Chinese 0,00
Italian 6,16
Malayan 0,00
Near_Eastern 0,05
North_African 0,31
North_Atlantic 9,91
North_Caucasian 0,45
North_Sea 11,52
Northeast_African 0,18
Oceanian 0,13
Omotic 0,09
Pygmy 0,04
Siberian 0,00
South_Asian 0,00
South_Central_Asian 0,01
South_Chinese 0,00
Volga0Ural 3,14
West_African 0,37
West_Caucasian 0,28
West_Med 4,11
You are too easily applying ethnic labels, like germanic and slavic, which showed up good 1 thousand years or more later. I bet there was a population in the middle or undiversified yet, that's why plots in the middle on pca. Do we have other samples from this area from same time to make comparison? Early Lusatian?
I bet there was a population in the middle or undiversified yet, that's why plots in the middle on pca.

That's not the case, because it is not one population, but two populations.

The average looks Slavic-German. But they were from 2 opposing armies.

Some of them look 100% Danish (like WEZ83), some look 100% Slavic.

It was a battle between two different ethnic groups, "western" and "eastern".
That's not the case, because it is not one population, but two populations.

The average looks Slavic-German. But they were from 2 opposing armies.

Some of them look 100% Danish (like WEZ83), some look 100% Slavic.

It was a battle between two different ethnic groups, "western" and "eastern".
What about quality of samples? Low quality ones might be misleading.
These ones have North-Eastern affinities and are similar to modern Poles:

Sample - GEDmatch kit (uploaded by mlukas):

WEZ15 - Z468191
WEZ58 - Z594501
WEZ83 - Z468191
First and third are the same. Probably a typo. The two I checked are not god quality, so it is impossible to say if they are were more like germanics or slavs. Too much DNA missing.
Can we get more samples with indication who was in which army? Perhaps we can average them better by their suppose "tribe"?
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Isotopes suggest, that there were two major groups of warriors, of different origin:


Although the Bronze Age is best known for its remarkable metal weapons, there is little evidence of conflict. Traumatic wounds in human skeletal remains are rare, and there have been few recognized scenes of warfare such as those known from later periods. Recent discoveries, however, have revealed evidence of a major battle in a small valley in the northeast of Germany, some 3250 years ago. Both military equipment and human and animal remains have been encountered in surveys and excavations along almost 3 km of the Tollense Valley. More than 130 human individuals have been recovered in the investigations, for the most, part young men between 20 and 40 years of age. In addition, horse bones have been found among the human remains in the riverbed and banks. This study reports on the isotopic proveniencing of the excavated remains utilizing strontium, lead, oxygen, and carbon isotopes to learn about place of origin and past diet. Two major groups can be distinguished in the isotope data, along with evidence for different homelands for some of the individuals who died in the Tollense Valley."

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