How the genocidal Yamnaya men loved to switch cultures

After some really interesting fantasy full of arrows, it seems Kristiansen & friends are coming back to their most original idea from 2015, now in New Scientist’s recent clickbait Story of most murderous people of all time revealed in ancient DNA (2019):

Teams led by David Reich at Harvard Medical School and Eske Willerslev at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark announced, independently, that occupants of Corded Ware graves in Germany could trace about three-quarters of their genetic ancestry to the Yamnaya. It seemed that Corded Ware people weren’t simply copying the Yamnaya; to a large degree they actually were Yamnayan in origin.

If you think you have seen that movie, it’s because you have. They are at it again, Corded Ware from Yamna, and more “steppe ancestry” = “more Indo-European. It seems we haven’t learnt anything about “Steppe ancestry” since 2015. But there’s more:

Genocidal peoples who “switch cultures”

Burial practices shifted dramatically, a warrior class appeared, and there seems to have been a sharp upsurge in lethal violence. “I’ve become increasingly convinced there must have been a kind of genocide,” says Kristian Kristiansen at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The collaboration revealed that the origin and initial spread of Bell Beaker culture had little to do – at least genetically – with the expansion of the Yamnaya or Corded Ware people into central Europe. “It started in It is in that region that the earliest Bell Beaker objects – including arrowheads, copper daggers and distinctive Bell-shaped pots – have been found, in archaeological sites carbon-dated to 4700 years ago. Then, Bell Beaker culture began to spread east, although the people more or less stayed put. By about 4600 years ago, it reached the most westerly Corded Ware people around where the Netherlands now lies. For reasons still unclear, the Corded Ware people fully embraced it. “They simply take on part of the Bell Beaker package and become Beaker people,” says Kristiansen.

The fact that the genetic analysis showed the Britons then all-but disappeared within a couple of generations might be significant. It suggests the capacity for violence that emerged when the Yamnaya lived on the Eurasia steppe remained even as these people moved into Europe, switched identity from Yamnaya to Corded Ware, and then switched again from Corded Ware to Bell Beaker.

Notice what Kristiansen did there? Yamnaya men “switched identities” into Corded Ware, then “switched identities” into Bell Beakers…So, the most aggresive peoples who have ever existed, exterminating all other Europeans, were actually not so violent when embracing wholly different cultures whose main connection is that they built kurgans (yes, Gimbutas lives on).

NOTE. By the way, just so we are clear, only Indo-Europeans are “genocidal”. Not like Neolithic farmers, or Palaeolithic or Mesolithic populations, or more recent Bronze Age or Iron Age peoples, who also replaced Y-DNA from many regions…

yamnaya-corded-ware-bell-beaker

In fact, there is much stronger evidence that these Yamnaya Beakers were ruthless. By about 4500 years ago, they had pushed westwards into the Iberian Peninsula, where the Bell Beaker culture originated a few centuries earlier. Within a few generations, about 40 per cent of the DNA of people in the region could be traced back to the incoming Yamnaya Beakers, according to research by a large team including Reich that was published this month. More strikingly, the ancient DNA analysis reveals that essentially all the men have Y chromosomes characteristic of the Yamnaya, suggesting only Yamnaya men had children.

“The collision of these two populations was not a friendly one, not an equal one, but one where the males from outside were displacing local males and did so almost completely,” Reich told New Scientist Live in September. This supports Kristiansen’s view of the Yamnaya and their descendants as an almost unimaginably violent people. Indeed, he is about to publish a paper in which he argues that they were responsible for the genocide of Neolithic Europe’s men. “It’s the only way to explain that no male Neolithic lines survived,” he says.

So these unimaginably violent Yamnaya men had children exclusively with their Y chromosomes…but not Dutch Single Grave peoples. These great great steppe-like northerners switched culture, cephalic index…and Y-chromosome from R1a (and others) to R1b-L151 to expand Italo-Celtic From The West™.

It’s hilarious how (exactly like their latest funny episode of PIE from south of the Caucasus) this new visionary idea copied by Copenhagen from amateur friends (or was it the other way around?) had been already rejected before this article came out, in Olalde et al. (2019), and that “Corded Ware=Indo-European” fans have become a parody of themselves.

What’s not to love about 2019 with all this back-and-forth hopping between old and new pet theories?

NOTE. I would complain (again) that the obsessive idea of the Danes is that Denmark CWC is (surprise!) the Pre-Germanic community, so it has nothing to do with “steppe ancestry = Indo-European” (or even with “Corded Ware = Indo-European”, for that matter), but then again you have Koch still arguing for Celtic from the West, Kortlandt still arguing for Balto-Slavic from the east, and – no doubt worst of all – “R1a=IE / R1b=Vasconic / N1c=Uralic” ethnonationalists arguing for whatever is necessary right now, in spite of genetic research.

So prepare for the next episode in the nativist and haplogroup fetishist comedy, now with western and eastern Europeans hand in hand: Samara -> Khvalynsk -> Yamnaya -> Bell Beaker spoke Vasconic-Tyrsenian, because R1b. Wait for it…

Vanguard Yamnaya groups

On a serious note, interesting comment by Heyd in the article:

A striking example of this distinction is a discovery made near the town of Valencina de la Concepción in southern Spain. Archaeologists working there found a Yamnaya-like kurgan, below which was the body of a man buried with a dagger and Yamnaya-like sandals, and decorated with red pigment just as Yamnaya dead were. But the burial is 4875 years old and genetic information suggests Yamnaya-related people didn’t reach that far west until perhaps 4500 years ago. “Genetically, I’m pretty sure this burial has nothing to do with the Yamnaya or the Corded Ware,” says Heyd. “But culturally – identity-wise – there is an aspect that can be clearly linked with them.” It would appear that the ideology, lifestyle and death rituals of the Yamnaya could sometimes run far ahead of the migrants.

NOTE. I have been trying to find which kurgan is this, reviewing this text on the archaeological site, but didn’t find anything beyond occasional ochre and votive sandals, which are usual. Does some reader know which one is it?

yamna-expansion-bell-beakers
Yamna expansion and succeeding East Bell Beaker expansion, without color on Bell Beaker territories. Notice vanguard Yamna groups in blue where East Bell Beakers later emerge. See original image with Bell Beaker territories.

Notice how, if you add all those vanguard Yamna findings of Central and Western Europe, including this one from southern Spain, you begin to get a good idea of the territories occupied by East Bell Beakers expanding later. More or less like vanguard Abashevo and Sintashta finds in the Zeravshan valley heralded the steppe-related Srubna-Andronovo expansions in Turan…

It doesn’t seem like Proto-Beaker and Yamna just “crossed paths” at some precise time around the Lower Danube, and Yamna men “switched cultures”. It seems that many Yamna vanguard groups, probably still in long-distance contact with Yamna settlers from the Carpathian Basin, were already settled in different European regions in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, before the explosive expansion of East Bell Beakers ca. 2500 BC. As Heyd says, there are potentially many Yamna settlements along the Middle and Lower Danube and tributaries not yet found, connecting the Carpathian Basin to Western and Northern Europe.

These vanguard groups would have more easily transformed their weakened eastern Yamna connections with the fashionable Proto-Beaker package expanding from the west (and surrounding all of these loosely connected settlements), just like the Yamna materials from Seville probably represent a close cultural contact of Chalcolithic Iberia with a Yamna settlement (the closest known site with Yamna traits is near Alsace, where high Yamna ancestry is probably going to be found in a Bell Beaker R1b-L151 individual).

This does not mean that there wasn’t a secondary full-scale migration from the Carpathian Basin and nearby settlements, just like Corded Ware shows a secondary (A-horizon?) migration to the east with R1a-Z645. It just means that there was a complex picture of contacts between Yamna and European Chalcolithic groups before the expansion of Bell Beakers. Doesn’t seem genocidal enough for a popular movie, tho.

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xdarkprince
xdarkprince

Given the developments around Basque, it is very unlikely that corded ware was “IE”. More likely to have been a relative of Uralic or Etruscan. There is lots of work done on the non-IE substratum in Germanic. Honestly, at this point, it seems that Celtic and even Germanic are projections of the later Roman era. Imitation of the Empire has always been an obsession in these regions. This would bring Yamnaya to be Circassian. And Slavonic would be derived from the Scythian expansion of Iranian, but even more likely from the Serbo-Croat region where the Iranian converges into Slavic. To… Read more »

xdarkprince
xdarkprince

Given the developments around Basque, it is very unlikely that corded ware was “IE”. More likely to have been a relative of Uralic or Etruscan. There is lots of work done on the non-IE substratum in Germanic. Honestly, at this point, it seems that Celtic and even Germanic are projections of the later Roman era. Imitation of the Empire has always been an obsession in these regions. This would bring Yamnaya to be Circassian. And Slavonic would be derived from the Scythian expansion of Iranian, but even more likely from the Serbo-Croat region where the Iranian converges into Slavic. To… Read more »

old europe
old europe

celtic was spoken in subalpine northern italy ( Lombardy and Piedmont, Tessin ) already in the 6/7h century BC when Rome was still under etruscan rule and was yet to conquer even a tiny bit of Latium itself.

xdarkprince
xdarkprince

The turnover in Europe in terms of genetics and languages and the lateness/transientness of IE in this scheme is the point. It was the Roman Empire and attendant Latinization that cemented the “IE”-ness of Europe. Even Greek would likely have been replaced by later Eastern migrations had it not been for the “stabilizing” effects of Rome.

Ivan Contreras
Ivan Contreras

So without Rome, Yamnaya’s western descendents would have been, mostly, “absorbed” by the pre/non Indo-European cultures of Western Europe? My apologies if I am misunderstanding your comment.

belfigue
belfigue

I think what xdarkprince was saying is that the western Yamnaya (and any other European group for that matter) would have likely been replaced by new invaders; just as the neolithic farmers replaced the hunter-gatherers, and then the Yamnaya replaced the neolithic farmers; something new would have replaced the Yamnaya descendants in Europe if it wasn’t for Rome, who basically stabilized Europe’s frontiers, imposibilitating new invasions. FYI – Not sure I agree with this.

xdarkprince
xdarkprince

Yamna was not IE. There is no basis for that. It is pretty clear that there was an agglutinative continuum across Northern Eurasia comprised of Basque, Etruscan, Uralic, Circassian, and Altaic. IE was intrusive into this continuum from the South, and without the chance cementing influence of Rome, would likely have been an ephemeral phenomenon in Europe.

Ivan Contreras
Ivan Contreras

What exactly do you mean from the “South”? Anatolia? Northwestern Iran? Levant? South Asia?

John Dague

I like that idea. The First Dynastic Sumerians were obviously from the Eurasian Steepe and it is said that they spoke an agglutinative language isolate, although there are good arguments that their language is related to, or borrowed from PIE.

Colin Shanahan
Colin Shanahan

I agree, it sounds like propaganda from both Kristiansen and Reich. Its sensationalist at best and spiteful at worst. I dont know why they use the word genocide for only the Indo Europeans but not the neolithic peoples who more fully replaced the previous mesolithic inhabitants.

On the yamnaya migrations there isnt even evidence of mass violence but rather population collapse in the late neolithic Europe followed by migration of yamnaya and yamnaya related folks.

Carlos Quiles

Doesn’t seem like Reich is in with this new adventure, though. It seems more like promotion for a new paper by Kristiansen and his “Viking-like Yamnayans” (complementing his idea of “Viking-like Bronze Age Europeans”)… Everything Indo-European in Europe always very (Danish) Viking-like, it seems.

I don’t know how he intends to represent a 1,000-year evolution of Yamna-Bell Beaker expansion (or, worse, a 2,000/4,000-year expansion of “R1a+R1b+Steppe ancestry” in Europe) as a genocide, but hey, we are not the “leading archaeologist” of the Copenhagen group, so what do we know…

Carlos Quiles

Doesn’t seem like Reich is in with this new adventure, though. It seems more like promotion for a new paper by Kristiansen and his “Viking-like Yamnayans” (complementing his idea of “Viking-like Bronze Age Europeans”)… Everything Indo-European in Europe always very (Danish) Viking-like, it seems.

I don’t know how he intends to represent a 1,000-year evolution of Yamna-Bell Beaker expansion (or, worse, a 2,000/4,000-year expansion of “R1a+R1b+Steppe ancestry” in Europe) as a genocide, but hey, we are not the “leading archaeologist” of the Copenhagen group, so what do we know…

Sam
Sam

@colin_shanahan:disqus I don’t believe it is propaganda. The process of replacement done by ‘Yamnaya’ & Neolithic farmers was different. For, Neolithic farmers the process took thousands of years. ‘indigenous’ hunter gatherers continued to exist for a long time after farmers arrived (Though, no doubt farmers pushed them out, killed them at times). By, the late Neolithic most farmers in Europe actually had hunter gatherer Y DNA/male lineage. After, Yamnaya migration most Europeans had Yamnaya Y DNA. In contrast, to long process of Neolithic replacement, ‘Yamnaya’ replacement took a a handful of generations or at he most several hundred years. The… Read more »

Ivan Contreras
Ivan Contreras

So were the East Bell Beakers that conquered Britain too gay for native neolithic British girls? But seriously what if its the case that Western Europe was not as densely populated as the Balkans and Anatolia? Clearly Yamnaya settled those areas yet we don’t see a huge replacement of male lineages.

Sam
Sam

I agree. I have wondered if that is why. Really, it’ll take lots of experts from lots of different fields to do lots of research to understand Kurgan migrations. I bet, there won’t be decent theories put out for like another 30 years. For now, all we can do is guess.

Ivan Contreras
Ivan Contreras

I think that may play a role on top of the agressive and warlike character of Yamnaya. But are there really no pre-Indo-European maternal lingeages in Britain?

Sam
Sam

There are pre-Beaker paternal lineages. All Neolithic Brits belonged to two subclades of I2a only found in British Isles today.

Mourad Sabri
Mourad Sabri

Only a few % of the male population and the associated Y haplogroups survived.

A few generations seem having been enough to replace “Megalithic” European Y lineages with Bell-beaker ones.

Ivan Contreras
Ivan Contreras

Still if most paternal lineages were replaced in Western because of low population density; then why were male lineages not replaced overwhelmingly in Scandinavia? I doubt Scandinavia was more populated then Western Europe. So the higher population density argument cannot explain male replacement. Maybe this was a violent conquest of some sort.

John Dague

Same thing occurred in North America when Europeans replaced Amerindians. The Native Americans were hunters and fighters, but the Neolithic Farmers were not, they didn’t have a chance against aggressive men with war axes. Character traits have not changed much in the last 15,000 years. Consider what the descendants of aggressive mammoth hunters were doing to Middleastern Farmers in 1945 in Central Europe. We need to figure out a way to become more like Neolithic Farmers and less like aggressive Steppe mammoth hunters in a way that does not involve carpet bombing.

Sam
Sam

y DNA I1 might descend from Neolithic Scandinavians and it might not. Middle Neolithic European farmers organized themselves in patrilineal clans just as Kurgan cultures did.

Ivan Contreras
Ivan Contreras

Well that is interesting, I thought I1 was of Mesolithic WHG origin. But I’ve read that WHGs already shared “Middle Eastern” ancestry with Anatolian Farmers/EEFs.

John Dague

Exactly.

Carlos Quiles

Doesn’t seem like Reich is in with this new adventure, though. It seems more like promotion for a new paper by Kristiansen and his “Viking-like Yamnayans” (complementing his idea of “Viking-like Bronze Age Europeans”)… Everything Indo-European in Europe always very (Danish) Viking-like, it seems.

I don’t know how he intends to represent a 1,000-year evolution of Yamna-Bell Beaker expansion (or, worse, a 2,000/4,000-year expansion of “R1a+R1b+Steppe ancestry” in Europe) as a genocide, but hey, we are not the “leading archaeologist” of the Copenhagen group, so what do we know…

John Dague

Check the beginning of the Y-chromosome bottleneck. It’s been a global genocidal conquest that began 10,000 years ago and is still continuing. There are only 2 groups in the world, aggressive mammoth hunters that began to spread out of the Eurasian Steppe 15,000 years ago, and everyone else. Humans are the only species to ever succeed through monumental attempts at self destruction.

umbre
umbre

” It’s been a global genocidal conquest that began 10,000 years ago”

LOL. It started WAY earlier than 10,000 years ago, kid.

Carlos Quiles

Doesn’t seem like Reich is in with this new adventure, though. It seems more like promotion for a new paper by Kristiansen and his “Viking-like Yamnayans” (complementing his idea of “Viking-like Bronze Age Europeans”)… Everything Indo-European in Europe always very (Danish) Viking-like, it seems.

I don’t know how he intends to represent a 1,000-year evolution of Yamna-Bell Beaker expansion (or, worse, a 2,000/4,000-year expansion of “R1a+R1b+Steppe ancestry” in Europe) as a genocide, but hey, we are not the “leading archaeologist” of the Copenhagen group, so what do we know…

John Dague

Look at the Y-chromosome bottleneck that began 10,000 years ago and study how and why this drastic reduction in the diversity of human males was occurring. Then study the violence and conflict that began to occur in Northern Europe, the massacres and mass graves that begin to appear during the Neolithic. Consider which haplotypes were being exterminated and which haplotypes were expanding their territory. The same extermination of the Native Americans by Europeans, the same extermination of farmer/shepherds by Nazi Germans, it began about 10,000 years ago, and it continues today with the displacement of aboriginal people by wealthy industrialist.… Read more »

Michel
Michel

Neolithic and Mesolithic peoples coexisted for a long time in Europe.

Neolithic cultures, on the other hand, rather quickly disappeared when the I-E arrived. The spread of patriarchal, whether I-E or Semitic, peoples inevitably involved massive slaughter of the overrun peoples.

The presence of a few very early I-E people in Spain and elsewhere without the concomitant disappearance of the Neolithics is simply due to the small numbers of I-E in the earliest migrations. But look what happens when the climate worsens in the steppes. The Old European cultures are gone.

old europe
old europe

I think the finding of the yamnaya like burial in Spain could be connected to this paper that speaks about an early diffusion of single grave /war like culture and anthropomorphic stelae in the western mediterranean ( focusing especially in Spain, southern France and Northern Italy).

https://www.academia.edu/35229773/JEUNESSE_C._2017_Emergence_of_the_Ideology_of_the_Warrior_in_the_Western_Mediterranean_during_the_second_Half_of_the_fourth_Millennium_BC_Eurasia_Antiqua._Zeitschrift_für_Archäologie_Eurasiens_14_2014_p._171-184

Carlos Quiles

I don’t know. I think this “steppe package” or warrior ideology expanding into western Europe is more or less known, and is older than Yamna vanguard groups. Corded Ware was part of this steppe package, like Chalcolithic groups from Iberia, Italy, or France, including the Proto-Beaker package. This specific burial with Yamna traits is another level of interesting. Probably not new, but new for me… Just like finding a burial with Yamna traits south of the Alps before the (East) Bell Beaker expansion, Yamna findings in Iberia would help complete the picture of early connections of Yamna settlers with succeeding… Read more »

John Dague

I agree with you, that the Steepe package is much older than the Yamnaya. I think you are absolutely correct. It’s only after human populations grew large enough to leave substantial archaeological evidence that we begin to see what was occurring using physical (archaeological) evidence. But the genetic record can be used to show what was occurring prior to cultural development of significant archaeological sites, prior to large settlements that are relatively easy to locate and identify.

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[…] NOTE. For known contacts between Yamna and Proto-Beakers just before the expansion of East Bell Beakers, see a recent post on Vanguard Yamna groups. […]

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[…] all his publications, to support some imaginary continuity with the Corded Ware culture (see e.g. here or […]

Peter LeCornu
Peter LeCornu

The notion of pottery types representing ethnicities, or “cultures”, as in “Bell Beaker”, “Funnel Beaker”, and so on, is being attacked by archaeologists.

And so the adoption of a new set of technological aspects, such as the “Bell Beaker” complex, need not represent an ethnic change any more than people in India adopting televisions made them Yanks.

The essential cultural components of the IE’s—individualism, class structure, etc.—did not change, did they?

Wayne Kennedy
Wayne Kennedy

Changing Y genes: Sadly for us mere males women mostly do not care who is the baby father [they know its theirs and only they might know who the real daddy was up to recent times]. You might wonder how women would support Muslim “male dominance” and harems. A harem with a wealthy owner can support them and they can bring up children with the support of the other wives. Many tribal groups encourage the young females to get pregnant as soon as possible to keep the group strong. Polygamy does have the unfortunate genetic defects from inbreeding consequences [they… Read more »

John Dague

Polygamy is an Indo-European trait. “Male dominance” and harems are Indo-European traits. Indo-Europeans and their ancestors would have many wives and concubines (during the Y-chromosome bottle neck there were an estimated 17 females for every breeding male because the R1a & R1b males were fighting, killing other men, and monopolizing women). Aggressive people of the Middle East inherited these traits from Indo-Europeans, just look at the migration path of the Indo-European languages, as well as R1a and R1b genetics. Everywhere they go, they spread aggressive traits of warfare, slavery, and genocide. The Indo-Europe Sumerians carried these traits into the Middle… Read more »

Dmitri Vasilyevich Tunic
Dmitri Vasilyevich Tunic

These are also the traits that helped them survive and prosper. Survival of the fittest.

John Dague

The Kurgan Culture still lives on. Even today, it is easy to recognize the personality traits of people who have steppe ancestry versus the people whose ancestors were Anatolian farmers. If you pay close attention to the way that people act, to how they treat others, you will notice Yamnaya traits in self-serving, irrational, aggressive, elitists.

Ivan Contreras
Ivan Contreras

Yeah, you will have to prove that ancestral component=behavior. Good luck!

John Dague

It’s pretty simple. You only have to look at the genomic record to see which groups were aggressive and which were not, then you have archaeological evidence, then early historical evidence, and even very recent historical evidence of where violence and aggression came to prominence. For rational people it is very easy to see if they look at the existing body of evidence. Reich and Kristianson see it, Marija Gimbutas saw it. But for irrational people, they will never be able to see it.

SaberEdge
SaberEdge

What a joke. I think what you’re experiencing is nothing more than confirmation bias. You only notice the things that fit your biased world view and ignore the things that don’t.

Michel
Michel

Oh no, he’s on to something. The patriarchal “might makes right” attitude does indeed trace to the Kurgan folks. Old Europe was cooperative, without abusive class distinctions, slavery, organized warfare, all of which are the result of self-serving, irrational, aggressive, etlitist attitudes.

John Dague

No joke. I am a very rational person, I began studying these ideas with very few preconceived ideas. My one bias was the idea that aggressive behavior may have evolved in people of E haplotype or J haplotype. But after studying all available evidence it became clear that aggression evolved in people of R haplotype and may have had it’s beginnings in people of Q haplotype, people who relied strictly upon hunting for their survival, people who were hunting mammoths in the Eurasian Steepe prior to the extinction of the mammoth.

Dmitri Vasilyevich Tunic
Dmitri Vasilyevich Tunic

I ask in regards to your classifying these European groups as being aggressive, what of native American groups which slayed one another mercilessly long before any European arrivals, or slavery and cast systems in pre-historic Philippines. How do you explain these forms of obvious traits of classicism and aggression? Is it not true that all of humanity is capable of these sort of actions? Violence was not created by Yamnaya…

Vince T.
Vince T.

Take a look at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867418314648 which posits Yersinia pestis (plague) as a probable cause to the Neolithic decline. If it, like COVID-19 (https://nypost.com/2020/02/13/men-appear-to-be-more-vulnerable-to-coronavirus-report/), affected men more-so than women, it paints a very plausible picture as to why and how men from the Yamnaya migrations filled a population void in Europe.

Dmitri Vasilyevich Tunic
Dmitri Vasilyevich Tunic

I read this article and all I can say is, this is Historic writing malpractice 101. Historic relativism should never be incorporated into historic works as well as condescending remarks toward any group of people. This only shows the biased beliefs of the writer and does not aid in the understanding of history whatsoever. There were a huge amount of ancient groups of people completely unrelated to the Yamnaya that also committed genocidal acts. Also, the Yamnaya adopted other cultures, they never “switched identity” we don’t even know what they actually called themselves. We call them Yamnaya but they could… Read more »