Genetic Study Reveals Bohemia’s Dynamic Prehistory

Czech Republic BurialJENA, GERMANY—According to a statement released by the Max Planck Society, analysis of the genomes of 271 people who lived in the area of the western Czech Republic known as Bohemia between 3,500 and 7,000 years ago has identified three migration events in central Europe. Wolfgang Haak of the Max Planck Society said the region’s genetic landscape changed drastically some 5,000 years ago. People who had ancestors from the Eurasian Steppe were found buried in cemeteries with people who had little to no “steppe” ancestry, yet all of them had been buried according to the same customs of the Corded Ware culture, he explained. Fewer Y-chromosome lineages were detected in Corded Ware males over time, however, which suggests that only a few men fathered a majority of offspring, perhaps because a new social structure had emerged, added Luka Papac of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. When the Bell Baker society emerged some 4,500 years ago, all of the men in the study belonged to a Y-lineage that was new to Bohemia, indicating that a new clan had arrived. The Bell Beaker culture had been previously thought to have given rise to the Early Bronze Age Unetice culture, but the new genetic data suggests that these people came from an area northeast of Bohemia, added Michal Ernée of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Such turnover may have been a result of the trade in amber from the Baltic as centrally located Bohemia became an important trade hub, Ernée said. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Science Advances. To read about Bell Beaker burials at the site of Pömmelte in central Germany, go to “Letter from Woodhenge: Stonehenge’s Continental Cousin.”


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