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Unetice Culture (c. 2300-1600 BCE)

Quick Facts

  • Associated with the diffusion of Proto-Germanic and Proto-Celto-Italic speakers.
  • Emergence of chiefdoms. Long-distance trade in bronze, amber, faience and gold prestige goods.
  • Widespread use of bronze. Gold, copper and bronze objects include torcs, flat axes, halberds, flat triangular daggers, bracelets with spiral-ends, disk- and paddle-headed pins and curl rings.
  • Coarse pottery typically decorated with twisted cord impressions, and sometimes with other types of impressions or incisions.
  • The dead were inhumed in flat graves or in barrows/tumuli for richer burials. Corpses were accompanied by ceramic vessels, jewellery, personal items made of bronze or bone, and occasionally flint tools. Coffins were sometimes used.
Distribution of the Unetice Culture

Historical context of the Unetice culture

Map of early to middle Bronze Age cultures in Europe between 2500 and 2000 BCE - Eupedia


Genetic Analysis

Y-DNA & mtDNA

MtDNA samples from the East Bell Beaker (Proto-Unetice) and Unetice cultures
Hg R/HV H V J T1 T2 U2 U4 U5 U8 K I W X
East Bell Beaker (Proto-Unetice) (n=47) 1 20 0 1 2 2 1 3 9 0 4 1 3 0
% 2% 42.5% 0% 2% 4.5% 4.5% 2% 6.5% 19% 0% 8.5% 2% 6.5% 0%
Unetice (n=87) 2 18 3 6 2 7 7 2 13 2 9 8 4 4
% 2.5% 20.5% 3.5% 7% 2.5% 8% 8% 2.5% 15% 2.5% 10.5% 9% 4.5% 4.5%

The following mtDNA and Y-DNA samples were tested by Allentoft et al. (2015).

Sample Y-DNA mtDNA Location Date
RISE109 - U4 Wojkowice, Poland 1850 BCE
RISE139 - U2e1f1 Chociwel, Poland 2050 BCE
RISE145 - H6a1b Polwica, Poland 2100 BCE
RISE150 - U5a1b1 Przeclawice, Poland 1750 BCE
RISE154 - K1a4a1 Szczepankowice, Poland 1850 BCE
RISE577 - T2b Velke Prilepy, Czech Republic ?
RISE577 - K1b1a Moravska Nova Vez, Czech Republic ?

The following mtDNA and Y-DNA samples were tested by Haak et al. (2015).

Sample Y-DNA mtDNA Location Date
I0047 - V9 Halberstadt-Sonntagsfeld, Germany 1950 BCE
I0114 I2a2 I3a Esperstedt, Germany 2050 BCE
I0115 - U5a1i Esperstedt, Germany 1850 BCE
I0116 I2c2 W3a1 Esperstedt, Germany 2050 BCE
I0117 - I3a Esperstedt, Germany 2130 BCE
I0164 - U5b2a1b Quedlinburg VIII, Germany 1950 BCE
I0803 - H4a1a1 Eulau, Germany 2050 BCE
I0804 I2 H3 Eulau, Germany 2050 BCE

The following mtDNA and Y-DNA samples were tested by Adler, C.J. (2012), Lee et al. (2012), Brandt et al. (2013) and Brotherton et al. (2013). Some samples were reported as belonging to the Bell Beaker culture, which could be considered Proto-Unetice.

Samples from Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

  • HV6
  • H (x7)
  • H2a1a3
  • H4a1a1a
  • H5 (x2)
  • H6a1b3
  • H7h
  • H11a
  • H82a
  • I (x2)
  • I1
  • I1a1 (x2)
  • I3a
  • K (x3)
  • K1a (x2)
  • K1a24a
  • K2
  • J (x2)
  • J1b1a1
  • J1c2e
  • J1c3f
  • J2b1a
  • T1
  • T1a
  • T2 (x2)
  • T2b (x3)
  • T2c
  • R
  • U2
  • U2e1
  • U2e1f (x2)
  • U2e2 (x2)
  • U4
  • U5
  • U5a (x2)
  • U5a1 (x3)
  • U5a1a'g
  • U5a2a
  • U5b1a'b
  • U5b2b3a1a
  • U8a1a
  • U8b1a1
  • V (x2)
  • W
  • W3a1 (x2)
  • X (x4)

Dodecad K12b admixtures of Unetice people

Y-chromosomal DNA and mitochondrial DNA are useful tools to follow prehistoric population migrations. However, as uniparental markers, they have their limitations and do not inform us about the whole genome composition of individuals, which can evolve very differently due to the randomness of chromosomal recombination, natural selection for specific genes, and of course to the fact that some men can have more children with multiple women, especially in the context of highly unequal prehistoric societies. The Dodecad K12b admixture calculator used here gives estimates of the ultimate region of origin of chromosomal segments outside of the X and Y chromosomes. This page provides a description of each K12b component with a distribution map among the present-day population. Average values for various ancient European populations can be found here.

Sample ID Gedrosia Siberia NW Africa SE Asia Atlantic Med North Europe South Asia East Africa SW Asia East Asia Caucasus Sub-Saharan Africa
I0047 8.51 0.00 0.00 0.00 35.23 49.60 0.00 0.09 0.00 0.00 6.56 0.00
I0114 11.94 0.05 0.60 0.00 34.36 43.87 0.06 0.21 3.68 0.00 5.24 0.00
I0115_ESP3 8.53 0.12 0 0.58 24.34 50.44 2.51 0 0 1.13 10.94 1.39
I0116_ESP4 13.09 1.03 0 0.51 32.55 50.7 0 1.4 0 0 0.72 0
I0117_ESP29 6.55 1.9 0.64 0.07 33.97 46.42 0.18 0 1.61 0 7.87 0.79
I0047_HAL16 11.47 0.00 0.00 0.00 32.02 46.57 0.00 0.40 0.00 0.00 9.25 0.35
I0164 12.37 1.91 0 0 26.31 53.62 0 0 0 0 5.14 0.66
I0803 7.97 2.63 0 0.00 29.21 48.80 0.00 1.95 0.00 0.00 9.44 0.00
I0804 7.22 0 0 0 34.53 53.23 1.7 0 0 1.43 1.89 0
RISE577 8.22 0 0 0 37.41 47.46 0 0.03 0 0 6.6 0.28
RISE586 5.1 0 0 0 47.08 45.72 0 0 0 0 1.5 0.61
RISE109 3.35 0.00 0.00 0.00 31.56 65.09 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
RISE139 0.56 3.78 0.00 0 22.47 70.41 2.78 0 0 0 0 0
RISE145 0 0 9.67 0 9.93 66.99 0 0 0 0 13.42 0
RISE1 9.53 2.23 0 0 20.52 67.27 0 0 0 0 0.46 0
RISE150 13.55 0 0.00 0.50 33.51 50.20 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.75 0.50
RISE154 17.57 0 0 0.00 34.72 47.71 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
RISE431 0.12 0 0.00 0.00 35.39 58.83 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 5.67 0.00
Unetice culture 8.09 0.76 0.61 0.09 30.84 53.50 0.40 0.23 0.29 0.14 4.80 0.25

Comparison with modern populations

Using the average values for each era above and comparing it with the Dodecad K12b averages for modern populations on Vahaduo, the genetic distance between populations can be compared. The smaller the value for the genetic distance, the most similar the population (1 being a perfect match). Under 5 is considered very close, 5 to 10 moderately similar, while over 10 is not genetically similar. Unetice people were genetically most similar to modern Scandinavians and Germans.

  • Swedes : 4.2
  • Danes : 6.4
  • Germans : 7.0
  • Norwegians : 7.1
  • Northeast Poles : 7.6
  • Sorbs from Lusatia : 8.0
  • Icelanders : 8.0
  • Czechs : 9.6

Another way to go, instead of comparing ancient averages with modern averages, is to look at the closest individual matches between modern people and ancient Gauls. This analysis was done using MyTrueAncestry.com to compare the genomes of the Unetice people (mostly from present-day Czechia) with those of modern Europeans. It showed that the closest match in term of genetic distance were the Belgians and Irish, followed by the North French and Dutch. Here is the full list of modern Europeans having a genetic distance smaller than 10 to the Unetice people.

  • Belgians : 4.1
  • Irish : 4.3
  • North French : 5.0
  • North Dutch : 5.0
  • Scottish : 5.2
  • West Germans : 5.5
  • East Germans : 5.8
  • English : 5.9
  • Welsh : 6.7
  • South Dutch : 6.7
  • Czechs : 6.8
  • South French : 6.8
  • Finnish : 7.0
  • Norwegians : 8.0
  • Austrians : 9.7
  • Hungarians : 9.7
  • Swiss : 10.0

Follow-up

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