Proto-Indo-European kinship system and patrilineality

Within months, it will be finally confirmed that both Late Repin offshoots – Early Yamnaya and Afanasievo – spread with clans that were dominated by R1b-L23 patrilineages. Succeeding migration events, likely coupled with internal founder effects under the most successful clans, left Indo-Tocharian-speaking clans as an almost uniform community in terms of Y-chromosome haplogroups, with their most recent common ancestor traceable to the 5th millennium BC.

Before that, it seems that the Indo-Anatolian-speaking Early Khvalynsk community was slightly more diverse. In particular, the success of R1b-V1636 lineages is apparent in the Khvalynsk-Novodanilovka expansion, since it is found in the chieftain with the richest assemblage of the Khvalynsk cemetery, as well as in the Caucasus Steppes and among a few Yamnaya individuals from the Caucasus. This lineage probably also formed part of the Proto-Anatolian spearhead through the Balkans and into Anatolia, because it is found later in Arslantepe.

proto-indo-european-y-dna-bottlenecks
R1b-L51 bottleneck among West Yamnaya-derived populations that migrated into Central Europe. Image inspired by Wallner et al. (2017)

There are some interesting aspects concerning the reconstructible family rules of Proto-Indo-Europeans, which can help us interpret their evolution.

NOTE. The following paragraphs are copied or adapted to illustrate the common discussions over the anthropological aspects of the Indo-European kinship system. This post is not concerned with the details of the potential linguistic reconstructions, dialectal evolution, and phonological variation. Emphasis is mine, some stylistic changes have been made for clarity.

Kinship systems

A nice summary of kinship systems and their relationship to the matter of kinship reconstruction among Proto-Indo-Europeans is found in Mallory & Adams (2006).

The systems by which people organize their kin vary across the world and anthropologists have long studied and defined a series of basic kinship types, generally named after various ethnic groups among whom they were first studied. Anthropologists have found that these systems of kinship terminology correlate, albeit imperfectly, with social and family organization within the group. Therefore, knowing how a reconstructed language handled kinship terminology suggests how its speakers may have organized certain social and family relationships.

A modern English speaker basically utilizes an Eskimo kinship system which provides separate words for each member of the nuclear family, ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘brother’, and ‘sister’, and uses none of these terms to refer to anyone outside the nuclear family. Thus there are different terms for ‘aunt’, ‘uncle’, ‘cousin’, etc.

eskimo-kinship-chart
Graphic of the Inuit kinship system. Modified from Wikipedia.

(…) the Eskimo kinship system is quite unlike the Hawaiian one where every term used for a nuclear family member is also used for kin outside of the nuclear family. Thus the term for ‘father’ includes, beside the ‘male parent’, all uncles whether paternal or maternal. Similarly ‘mother’ includes all aunts on both sides of the family and ‘brother’ includes all male cousins and ‘sister’ includes all female cousins.

hawaiian-kinship-chart
Graphic of the Hawaiian kinship system. Modified from Wikipedia.

Other kinship systems are in some sense intermediate between the Eskimo and the Hawaiian types, with tendencies to merge certain nuclear family kin types, but not all, with kin types outside the nuclear family. Of these ‘intermediate’ types, Indo-Europeanists have been most interested in the Omaha system, since some branches of the family at least show Omaha features and the Omaha system is often associated with strong patrilineal social organization, and it certainly is the case that early, historically attested, Indo-European groups show such a patrilineal tendency.

In the classic Omaha system (and not all Omaha systems, or any other system for that matter, show all the tendencies imputed to it) the father and paternal uncle have the same designation as do the mother and maternal aunt, while the children of the paternal uncle and maternal aunt (technically ‘parallel cousins’) are designated with the same terms as one’s brother and sister.

omaha-kinship-chart
Graphic of the Omaha kinship system. Modified from Wikipedia.

The Omaha system(s)

On the Omaha system, from the discussion in Indo-European Kinship Terminology in linguistics and Anthropology, by Hettrich (1985):

It has its name from the Omaha Indians, whose system of kinship terminology it describes; however, it is not only found in North America but also on the other continents. Its most remarkable characteristics are the following, which must, however, be described here in a rather simplified manner.

(a) Lineal relatives, for example parents or brothers and sisters, are identified terminologically with collateral relatives of the same generation, that is, uncles or cousins respectively. Thus, in the language of the Fox Indians of Iowa, no*hsA designates father as well as father’s brother.

(b) However, this principle of classification, which is frequent in other systems too, is broken through in a very peculiar manner in the case of the cross relatives, i.e., of mother’s brother, father’s sister and their descendants, and that in different subtypes of the Omaha system to a greater or lesser extent. In those parts of the system identical terms are used for members of different generations. A common feature of almost all Omaha systems is the terminological identification of mother’s brother, mother’s brother’s son, and mother’s brother’s son’s son (see Table 2, right side). For example, in Fox (subtype Omaha I) all these kinsmen are called nehcihsähA. In a further subtype of the Omaha system, the Omaha III variant, mother’s father is included in that identification too; thus in Shona (from Zimbabwe) for all four kin types the same term, sekuru, is used.

On the other side of the system (Table 2, left side), identifications of a similar kind are found, too: sister’s son, father’s sister’s son, and father’s father’s sister’s son are all called nenegwa•hA in Fox; in Shona, daughter’s son is included as well, and these four kin types are all designated by mu zukuru.

hettrich-1985-omaha-fox
Terminological identifications of members of different generations among the Cross Relatives. Image modified from Table 2 in Hettrich (1985).

Relevance of an Omaha system

Why this is traditionally considered important has to do with an ancestral link to patrilineages. From Omaha Terminologies: Global Distribution Patterns and How They May Have Come About, by Günther Schlee (2017), relative to similar rules among pastoralists:

Consideration of both Kyrgyz and Rendille kinship terminologies makes it clear that the distinction between kinds of cross-cousins (MBC and FZC) is closely connected to the marriage system. In fact, it is a distinction between those who have given women in marriage to ego’s patrilineage, and those to whom ego’s lineage have given women. In Omaha and also in Crow systems, as in kinship systems with prescriptive matrilateral cross-cousin marriage, generally, these two categories must be kept distinct. However, in Omaha and Crow systems, unlike in systems with matrilateral cross-cousin marriage, the designation of wife-givers and wife-takers rotates among several allied clans or lineages from one generation to the next.

To appreciate this fully, we must leave the ego-centered-kindred perspective expressed by genealogical diagrams and regard the matter in terms of groups. Ego is not allowed to marry a bride from in his own clan, nor one from the clan of his mother or the one of his father’s mother. Marriage with a girl who originates from ego’s FFM’s clan or lineage, a classificatory FFMBSSD (Figure 3), is, however, not only allowed but also preferred, especially in the case of first-born sons, who are those who matter ritually.

rendille-marriage-ideal
The Rendille marriage ideal. Modified from Figure 3 in Schlee (2017).

Our diagram (Figure 4) depicts the overlapping loops that result if this rule is put into practice. It depicts the marriages of members of one patriline, namely, A (ego’s clan). Of course, recurring marriages between men from A and their classificatory FFMBSSD does not require a brother–sister link in the third ascending generation, as the rule is not about marrying a FFMBSSD in the strict sense but, simply, a girl from the FFM’s patrilineage. A FFMFFBSSSSD or a FFMFFFBSSSSSD, to cite only two of many possible examples, would do just as well. Also the number of generations up to the “sibling” link does not need to be the same as that down again. A FFMFFBSSSD would also do, if of approximately the right age. The rule is simply to marry a girl from the FFM’s people.

rendille-patrilineage
Cyclical marriages of the Patriline A with the Patrilines B, C, and D. Modified from Figure 4 in Schlee (2017).

Even allowing for these variations, however, this diagram is still an oversimplification of what actually happens. If we were to include the marriages of all male members of B, C, and D, we would get many more such overlapping loops, and, if we drew them all, the resulting image would look like spaghetti. Furthermore, among the Rendille, a given patriline can intermarry with more than three other clans, and the different patrilines of a clan, with their different histories of intermarriage, have such relationships with almost all other Rendille clans. One of the best attempts at capturing this complexity on paper can be found in Adam Kuper’s (1982) representation of the nearly identical Tsonga system.

tsonga-kinship-system-kuper
A model of the Tsonga system. (H is necessary to assume closure of the system). Modified from Kuper (1982).

In the Rendille system, as in other Omaha systems, the marriage rule is not formulated in a positive way but in a negative way. The Rendille forbid the marriage in one’s own clan, and with the clans of the mother and father’s mother. Beyond that, there are no hard rules, and, usually, after prohibitions have been respected, more than one clan remains with which marriage is possible.

Even across ethnic boundaries, clan brothers are clan brothers, whether you have ever seen them or not. They may speak a language you do not understand, and they may even be at war with you. Nevertheless, the sisters of your brothers are your sisters, so you cannot marry them. If your mother’s or father’s mother’s clan has an equivalent in another ethnic group, the male members of those clans are your maternal uncles, and the females are forbidden to you as marriage partners.

Interethnic clan relationships have implications not only for marriage exchange among clans represented in different ethnic groups but also for politics. (…) Among the Rendille, inheritance of livestock is strictly male and patrilineal. (…) In the absence of a son, a brother’s son inherits, and if there is no brother’s son, a father’s brother’s son or a father’s brother’s son’s son is next in line. If an entire lineage were to die out, the senior male in the next lineage one up in the seniority order encompassing the entire Rendille society would inherit (…).

The nepо̄ts/awos question

From Mallory & Adams (2006):

The word for ‘grandson’ (*népо̄ts which, in a derivative, *neptiyos, gives a more general word for ‘descendant’) is one of the most controversial words in the reconstructed lexicon. Formally, the word is attested in Celtic, Germanic, Italic, Baltic, Slavic, Albanian, Greek, and Indo-Iranian; there is no problem reconstructing the shape of the word to Proto-Indo-European. The problem arises when one finds that, in addition to the meaning ‘grandson’, the word also means ‘sister’s son (i.e. nephew)’ in Celtic (e.g. OIr nia ‘sister’s son, grandson, descendant’), Lat nepо̄s ‘grandson, descendant’ and in later Imperial Latin also ‘nephew’, Germanic (e.g. OE nefa ‘sister’s son, grandson’), Baltic (Lith nepuotìs ‘grandson’), Slavic (OCS netijĭ ‘nephew’), and Alb nip ‘grandson, nephew’. Thus some would argue that both meanings, ‘grandson’ and ‘sister’s son’, should be ascribed to Proto-Indo-European. Others argue that ‘sister’s son’ is a secondary development among some and not all the North-Western Indo-European languages and, therefore, this second meaning cannot be ascribed to Proto-Indo-European itself, since in the east of the Indo-European world only ‘grandson’ or the like is attested (e.g. Grk népodes ‘descendants’, OPers napā ‘grandson, descendant’, Skt nápāt ‘grandson, descendant’). Also arguing for a meaning ‘grandson’ are NWels kefnder ‘male cousin’ (< *kom-nepо̄t-) and Grk anepsiós ‘(male) cousin’ (< *sm̥-neptiyo-). Why should anyone care?

mallory-adams-kinship-tree-omaha
Reconstructucted PIE Kinship Terms for Blood Relatives. Modified from Mallory & Adams (2006) to include the dubious names given to the children of Ego’s brother and sister, and to add visual aids for male vs. female members. In squares of light color, possible (dashed line) or dubious (dotted line) names compatible with an Omaha kinship system, corresponding to (certain) PIE names within squares of the same darker color.

There is also a tendency in Omaha systems towards a ‘skewing of generations’ whereby the maternal uncle is equated with the maternal grandfather and the maternal uncle’s children with the maternal grandfather’s children, and conversely one’s ‘grandson’ will be called by the same term as one’s ‘sister’s son’, i.e. ‘nephew’. If one ascribes both meanings ‘grandson’ and ‘sister’s son’ to Proto-Indo-European *népо̄ts, then this particular conflation of kin types would support the identification of the Proto-Indo-European kinship system as of the Omaha type.

However, if the Proto-Indo-European word meant only ‘grandson’, then much of the evidence for considering Proto-Indo-European’s kinship terminology to have been of the Omaha type disappears. The Omaha type would be a regional, post-Indo-European, type of the North-West.

From Hettrich (1985):

Friedrich (1966, 1980), Wordick (1970), and Gates (1971) [] tried to demonstrate that the kinship terminology of PIE belonged to the Omaha III type as well, i.e., to that type which is represented in the above example which is represented in the above example by the Shona system. As main indications of this type, the authors adduced terminological identifications for sister’s son and daughter’s son on the one hand, as well as for the reciprocal kin types mother’s brother and mother’s father on the other hand.

*népо̄ts as “nephew”

As far as Latin goes, the essential point is that the meaning grandson can be found from the beginning of our preserved texts, but the meaning nephew – as Beekes (1976:49ff) has shown – at the earliest from the end of the second century A.D. It is therefore obvious that the meaning nephew has to be considered as a secondary development in historical times.(…)

In Germanic, the situation is comparable. To be sure, Old English nefa has both meanings, but, as Szemerényi (1977:182, fn. 639) and Ruipérez (1984:53ff, 69ff) have pointed out, in the Old High German texts, nevo and the feminine forms nift, niftila are documented exclusively as grandson, granddaughter, descendant.

Furthermore, Celtic gives at least some indirect indications of a former meaning grandson, descendant: for example, in Middle Welsh law texts a word keifn appears with the meaning third cousin (in the same generation as Ego). (…)

Thus, finally only Slavic remains as a dialect group in which the meaning grandson, descendant for the continuants of PIE *nepots is not to be found.

*awos as “uncle”

The other hypothesis, according to which PIE *h₂ewhos designated not only mother’s father, but also her brother and even her brother’s son, but abandoned the meanings mother’s brother and mother’s brother’s son in the ancient dialects or transferred these meanings to derivations (…)

From Mallory & Adams (2006)

There is an abundance of regionally attested kinship terms although few are specifically from the North-West. Here we find *seno-mehₐtḗr ‘grandmother’ (literally ‘old mother’) in Celtic and Baltic (OIr senmāthair, Lith senmotė— possibly independent creations) and *swesrihₓnos ‘sister’s son’ (Lat cōnsobrīnus ‘mother’s sister’s son; (any) cousin’, Lith seserėnas ‘sister’s son’) probably originally meant ‘pertaining to the sister’; and the *h₂éuh₂- which certainly indicates the ‘grandfather’ also underlies a number of derivations in the North-West that indicate also the ‘mother’s brother’, e.g. Lat avunculus. Words spanning the West Central region are far more numerous: a feminized form of the word for ‘grandfather’, *h₂euh₂iha- ‘grandmother’, is found in Italic (Lat avia), Alb joshë, and Grk αἶα.

NOTE. The meaning in Tocharian B āwe is dubious, as it could (also) mean “uncle”.

Basic Proto-Indo-European kinship system

From Hettrich (1985):

(…) kinship terms belong to the basic vocabulary and do not tend to be quickly abandoned. Thus, it is not very likely that the Proto-Indo-Europeans knew specific terms for the cross relatives, of which we are not able to reconstruct a single one. Rather we should assume that there existed no such terms, that the cross relatives were designated descriptively. (…). If we accept this assumption, the PIE system corresponds to no one of Murdock’s ideal types completely; however, it nevertheless has some similarity to the descriptive type.

hettrich-1985-pie-kinship-system
The PIE terms for consanguineals. Modified from Table 3 in Hettrich (1985).

As can be seen in Table 3, especially the cross relatives, being particularly important in typological classifications, are presumably designated by descriptions; but on the other hand, this table also makes clear the deviations of the PIE system from the ideal descriptive type, i.e., the elementary terms also for some relatives not belonging to the nuclear family. Furthermore it can be seen that such elementary terms outside the nuclear family are used predominantly for paternal relatives and remain in the scope of the PIE joint family (or extended family) in most cases.

This result indeed harmonizes well with the patrilineal character of the PIE joint family, which has already been known to us from other and independent sources for a long time. In Table 3 its members, with the paternal grandfather of Ego as head of the family, can be seen within the double lines. Accordingly, the married sons and grandsons of the head, together with their children, belonged to this joint family, but not the cross relatives of Ego; and that is why specific terms for these relatives presumably didn’t exist.

The in-laws

More insight into the original system and its evolution can be inferred from the vocabulary used for the in-laws. From Mallory & Adams (2006):

The words for both ‘father-in-law’ (*swékʲuros) and ‘mother-in-law’ (*swekʲrúhₐs) are widely attested (…) The word for ‘mother-in-law’ is clearly derived from the masculine. There is an interesting problem in reconstructing the original semantics of the words. For example, a number of Indo-European groups (Balto-Slavic, Greek, Armenian) use this Proto-Indo-European word for ‘father-in-law’ to indicate exclusively the ‘husband’s mother’, i.e. the word is used solely from the perspective of the wife and not from that of the husband. (…) other Indo-European groups utilize the word from both the husband’s and wife’s perspective and it has been suggested that this more general meaning was the original meaning which became more specific in some central Indo-European groups.

in-law-terminology-mallory-husband
In-Law Terminology (for the husband). Modified from Mallory & Adams (2006) to add colors and symbols for male vs. female members.

Traditionally, this disbalance of names found in some dialects has been posited to stem from the parent Proto-Indo-European language, as the other dialects would have levelled the original situation by transposing the same names for the wife’s parents. This simplistic proposal was criticized early on. From Hettrich (1985):

(…) as early as 1959 the English anthropologist Goody (1959b) criticized this view. As he pointed out, no system is known among the actually existing patrilineal systems in which terms for affines in the wife’s family, particularly for her father, are totally lacking. Furthermore, the results of the research done by Lévi Strausss are important for this problem. As this author emphasizes, marriage originally was considered an alliance, a contract between two groups, which had the aim of binding these groups together more closely and, above all, of avoiding mutual hostility. Therefore, it scarcely can be assumed that in PIE times contacts between single groups were so weak that relations of affinity going beyond the boundaries of one’s own group had no terminological consequences at all.

in-law-terminology-mallory-wife
In-Law Terminology (for the wife). Modified from Mallory & Adams (2006) to add colors and symbols for male vs. female members.

There is, nevertheless, an attested lack of equilibrium in the parent language, regarding certain additional names specifically used for the husband’s relatives; from Mallory & Adams (2006):

Cognates in Albanian and Indo-Iranian suggest the existence of *gʲomhₓ-ter- ‘son-in-law’ [] which derives from *gʲemhₓ- ‘marry’ or, perhaps more specifically, ‘to pay the bride-price’. Other relations by marriage include the ‘daughter-in-law’, *snusós (…) and the ‘sister-in-law’, *gʲl̥h₃-wos- (e.g. Lat glōs ‘sister-in-law’, OCS zŭlŭva ‘husband’s sister’, Grk gálōs ‘sister-in-law’, Arm tal ‘husband’s sister’, Skt girí- ‘brother’s wife’), here more specifically the ‘husband’s sister’ (the wife’s sister is attested in a more restrictedly distributed form).

A Proto-Indo-European *h₁yenhₐ-ter- appears to refer to the ‘husband’s brother’s wife’ (e.g. Lat ianitrīcēs ‘brothers’ wives’, Lith jéntė ‘husband’s brother’s wife’, OCS jętry ‘husband’s brother’s wife’, Grk enátēr ‘husband’s brother’s wife’, Arm ner ‘husband’s brother’s wife’, Skt yātár- ‘husband’s brother’s wife’). So apparently specific a word makes sense if the usual social unit was an extended family of parents and married sons. The daughter-in-law in such a situation would be in need of a term to refer to her husband’s brothers’ wives.

Wives for cattle

The book Wives for cattle: bridewealth and marriage in Southern Africa, by Adam Kuper (1982), explains how a system of exchanging cattle for wives is common in pastoralist societies of Southern Africa, which might well be comparable to that existing among sedentary Bronze Age Indo-Europeans. From Brusgaard (2016):

The concept bridewealth (in earlier works brideprice) is a form of marriage transaction whereby goods are transferred from the kin of the groom to the kin of the bride (see fig. 1) (Goody 1973, 1-2). Bridewealth is common in, although not limited to, patrilineal and pastoralist and mixed farming societies (Goody 1973; Kuper 1982; Russell 2012). It is especially frequent in such societies where the organisation of labour is based on female cultivation and male herding (Goody 1973). Women contribute most to agriculture so the departure of a woman means a loss in terms of labour and this labour is the main factor limiting production (Goody 1973). According to Goody (1973, 12-13), bridewealth has, in economic terms, a levelling function for society because standard payments tend to fluctuate in relation to the size of the cattle population; a larger herd means a larger marriage payment. However, Kuper (1982, 168-169) disagrees with this, arguing that marriage payments are an investment and the rich rely on them to maintain their position.

marriage-transactions-goody
Schematic description of the different forms of marriage transactions (after Goody 1973, 1, fig. 1).

Either way, it is within the herders’ interests to keep a large number of cattle to be able to meet the bridewealth payments of their sons, while still having a viable herd (Russell 2012, 314), at least until they receive payments for their daughters or sisters. Moreover, in all societies where bridewealth is used, if it is a fully established system, having livestock becomes necessary for the survival of the family (Russell 2012, 320). Without livestock, the men of the family cannot marry.

The bridewealth system of giving and receiving cattle can also lead to a large network of exchanging cattle because even the wealthiest herders often need help from kin to pay bridewealth (Russell 2012, 313). Therefore, once a man receives bridewealth for his sisters or daughters, he often needs to distribute this again among those he borrowed from (Russell 2012, 313). This leads to a system of receiving, giving, and distributing cattle among many herders, even more so when women marry outside of their community. The larger the bridewealth payment, the more widely the cattle are spread through different herds and the wider the area from which they will be drawn (Russell 2012, 314).

tsonga-hierarchical-transactions
Hierarchical transactions among the Tsonga (who follow a Kinship pattern akin to the Omaha). Modified from Kuper (1982).

Terms related to this practice can be found in the parent Proto-Indo-European language, or at least in some of its dialects. From Mallory & Adams (2006)

There are two possible words for ‘marry’, both from the male point of view. As a verb, *gʲemhₓ- only indicates ‘marry’ in Grk gaméō but derivatives indicate ‘son-in-law’ (Lat gener, Grk gambrós, Av zāmātar-, Skt jāmātar-) and ‘suitor’ (Alb dhëndër, Skt jārá-). In later Greek, and perhaps already in earlier Greek, this word was used also of the sexual act by which a marriage was consummated. More solidly attested is *h₂wed(h₂)- which means ‘marry’ in the North-Western group (NWels dyweddïo ‘marry’, NE wed, OPrus weddē ‘marry’, Lith vedù ‘lead, marry [of a man]’) and generally ‘bride’ in Indo-Iranian (Av vaɗū-, Skt vadhū́ -). It is a special use of the verb ‘lead’, indicating that the male led away the woman in the early Indo-European system of marriage, a system whose vocabulary might be later recreated, e.g. Lat uxōrem dūcere ‘to lead away a wife’, i.e. ‘marry’.

A word for ‘marry’ (*sneubh-) seen from the wife’s point of view is attested in Italic (Lat nūbere) with derivatives in Slavic (OCS snubiti ‘to pander’) and Grk númphē ‘bride’ while a Germanic-Slavic-Greek isogloss (OE witumo, OCS věno, Grk hédnon [< *wedmon]) gives us *wedmo/ehₐ- ‘bride-price’ (i.e. the price paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s to compensate the latter for the loss of a worker).

On the basis of both our Proto-Indo-European terms and some of our regional terms, Eric Hamp has suggested that we can reconstruct terms for four stages or events in the Indo-European marriage. It begins with the *perkʲ- ‘ask, propose a marriage’ which is then followed by the *wedmo/ehₐ-, the exchange of the bride-price. The newly wed wife would be literally ‘led away’, i.e. *h₂wed(h₂)- ‘wed’, and *gʲemhₓ- would indicate the consummation of the marriage (…)

This later cultural reconstruction seems the most likely one present during the European Early Bronze Age.

Evolution of kinship among Indo-Europeans

The traditional image of a common ancestor or founding member, around which prehistoric clans usually built their society and mythology, did coincide – if only during a specific period – with the reality of the vast majority of the paradigmatic horse-riding semi-nomadic cattle-herding Yamnaya clans from the steppes. This was likely due to (1) more than a millennium of following strict kinship rules based on patrilineality, (2) the success of their subsistence economy in a context of aridization and increasing steppe biomes taking over the previous forest-steppes, and – probably – (3) the plague decimating Neolithic town-dwellers to the west.

The consequences of the gradual adoption of different kinship systems in post-Yamnaya contexts, in particular among Bell Beakers and their descendants, is now visible in population genomics, too.

1. Firstly, in the wider exogamy practices of Yamnaya settlers from the Carpathian Basin, as they formed sedentary groups and admixed with locals during their evolution into the Proto-East Bell Beaker population. A good example of this – lacking a precise context for the samples hinted in Szécsényi-Nagy’s EAA Keynote lecture – is still found in Olalde et al. (2017-2018): Samples from the Szigetszentmiklós-Üdülősor site (ca. 2350 BC) include two intrusive Bell Beakers of hg. R1b-Z2103, one of them showing the highest Yamnaya ancestry anywhere in Central or Western Europe, another one among the lowest. This Csepel group is supposed to be formed by recent incomers from Moravia, whereas two local individuals of the proto-Nagyrév culture (a continuation of the late Yamnaya in the region) show basal hg. R1b-L151* and a more intermediate ca. 40% Yamnaya ancestry, similar to most East Bell Beaker groups.

It will be soon confirmed that this ancestry pattern reflects a situation similar to the one found some centuries earlier among the late Yamnaya from the Carpathian Basin, while the elevated “Steppe” ancestry of some late Bell Beaker groups likely reflects their admixture with Corded Ware locals through exogamy. A similar example to those late cases from the Carpathian Basin is found in Maros individuals from the Mokrin Necropolis, supposedly formed by incomers from the Upper Danube, showing intense admixture with locals in terms of ancestry and Y-DNA, apart from Yamnaya-related ancestry and R1b-Z2103 lineages.

basal-haplogroup-r1b-l51-z2103-yamnaya-bell-beaker
Distribution of R1b-Z2103 and early or ‘archaic’ R1b-L51 subclades in ancient Yamnaya-related samples from Europe, overlaid over a map of Yamnaya and Bell Beaker migrations. In dark blue, R1b-Z2103. In blue, early R1b-L51 or R1b-L51(xP310). In slate blue, basal R1b-P310*. In violet, early R1b-P310 or R1b-L51(xP312,xU106). In maroon, basal R1b-L151*. Earliest samples are bigger, latest samples are more transparent.

2. Secondly, this phenomenon is nicely seen in a widespread pattern of long-distance EBA marriage alliances best (and first) described combining archaeology and genetics by Mittnik et al. (2019). This supports the proposed secondary evolution of an Omaha-like kinship system in post-Yamnaya contexts, and the gradual establishment of long-distance exchange systems, likely associated already with expanding East Bell Beakers, but most intensely developed during the European Early Bronze Age. In their samples from the Upper Danube and in their alliances with Central European groups there is an overwhelming prevalence of R1b-L23 lineages, stemming from the expansion of Bell Beakers.

Nevertheless, it is very likely that the same kinship system that allowed for intense commercial and cultural exchanges with the wife’s mother’s family eventually facilitated the spread of Indo-European dialects beyond the borders of the North-West Indo-European-speaking Bell Beaker territory of Southern Scandinavia and Central-East Europe, in a model similar to the one described in Lansing et al. PNAS (2017). This phenomenon is already visible in population genomics in the resurgence events and bottlenecks under “local” Y-chromosome haplogroups during the EEBA, such as J2 lineages from South-East Europe, or R1a lineages in the Nordic LN, Únětice, Trzciniec, or Nitra.

Paradoxically, the same widespread pattern of increasing societal complexity and marriage rules that allowed for the rise of local lineages in the east and in the north at the same time as Indo-European dialects spread can also account for the spread of non-Indo-European languages – despite the marked replacement of local haplogroups by R1b-L23 lines – in the west and south, such as in Western Europe, Iberia, or Italy

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