Autosomal analysis of Unetice and Urnfield genomes


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I have just noticed that Genetiker ran the admixtures for a Unetice genome and an Urnfield genome. Here is a comparison with the Yamna and Bell Beaker genomes. There doesn't seem to be a big difference between Bell Beaker, Unetice and Urnfield. Let's keep in mind that these are individual genomes, not average of several genomes for one period. I expect that the averages should be even closer.

YamnaBell BeakerUnetice
West European49.08%61.53%53.45%53.36%
East European20.88%8.94%12.79%10.23%
West Asian17.42%2.61%4.77%11.04%
Southwest Asian0%5.29%2.68%0%
South Asian8.42%0.01%0.89%0.47%
Southeast Asian0%0%0%0%
Northeast Asian3.74%0%0.02%1.45%
Northwest African
East African
Neo African

The considerably higher West Asian admixture in the Urnfield sample piqued my interest. The Urnfield culture marks an unprecedented break in the funerary practices of Indo-European peoples. From the Early Bronze Age (Yamna) and until the Late Iron Age, Indo-European speakers always buried their leaders in tumuli (aka kurgan or burial mounds) with prized possessions (just like the Pharaohs of Egypt). The only exceptions were the ancient Greeks (except the Mycenaeans) and Romans (although Roman tumuli have been found in Gaul), who cremated their dead. This was also the case of the short-lived Urnfield culture (1300-1200 BCE), which spanned across most of Central Europe, Italy, eastern France and Catalonia. Urnfield succeeded to the Tumulus culture, itself descended from Unetice, and preceded the Hallstatt culture.

What is fascinating is that the Urnfield culture existed at the time when all the great East Mediterranean civilizations collapsed around 1200 BCE, and that cremation was at the time an East Mediterranean practice, which spread to Greece then to Italy, probably with J2 people and the West Asian admixture.

So the fact that the Urnfield sample had twice more West Asian than the Unetice, and four times more than the Bell Beaker, is intriguing to say the least.

The Gedrosian admixture is stable at 12% in Unetice and Urnfield, so it is not related to a higher Yamna or R1b ancestry.

The MDLP K=15 admixtures show that the West Asian component may actually have come from the Balkans. The Urnfield sample has 13.77% of Balkanic-1, against 7.70% for Unetice, and 0.00% for the Yamna sample.

This all suggests that the cremation practice of the Unrfiled systems could have originated in the Balkans, possibly with an presently unknown migration of J2 people ultimately from Anatolia. The oldest J2 sample found in Europe to date was a J2a1 from Hungary dated 1270-1110 BCE, i.e. exactly during the Urnfield period. Hungary was at the time part of the Urnfield culture too.
I am used to comparing the different genomes with Harappa, I know that is not an European project, but I find the results very interesting, more telling than Dodecad, but it's maybe an idea!

The level of Baloch ( or gedrosian)in Eastern Europe is certainly higher than on the spreadsheet, I have compared with individual kits from these countries.

this means that the gedrosien has not disappeared, but only decreased
many new IE people arrived from the Balkans right after the Sea Peoples :
to the Agean Dorians, Ionians
to Anatolia Phrygians, Muschki
to the Levant Filistines
question is where did they come from before arrival in the Balkans
Plenty of the Haak genomes and their GEDmatch kit #s are here including the Urnfield one. Bell Beaker, Unetice, and Urnfield all fit very closely with modern North sea and north European people in general. The other bronze age genomes are a bit differnt, with much more ANE and much less WHG.

We can mark genetic continuation in Northwest Europe starting with Bell Beaker genomes from around 2,200BC, to Unetice from I think 1800-2000BC, to Urnfield from just over 1,000BC, to the Hinxton Celts at around 0AD, to the Medieval Anglo-Saxons at around 700AD, and then finally to the modern inhabitants 1300 years after that.

Bell Beaker+Middle Neolithic=Most of west European's ancestry.
I have heard that the urnfield culture did was in fact culturally influenced by trade with the Balkans and SE Europe.

almost similar to how part of the later Halstatt culture was too

this genetic find supports that to some extant

but also what peaked my interest was how the Yamna genome was as much as nearly 50% matched for western European admixture

just like how the Y-DNA from specimens from early Yamna Kurgans had R1b and R1b-ht35 types
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Very intriguing comparison of these ancient samples. I wonder if we might actually be on the trail of some of the J2 in Europe, and certainly in Italy, considering the big impact of Urnfield on Northern Italy.


It might go some way toward explaining the kind of West Asian numbers we see even in northern Italy.

Since the comparison was made with the dv3 calculator, here are the numbers for North Italians from the same calculator.

West European: 32.8
East European: 3.7
Mediterranean: 49.6
West Asian: 11.5
S.W.Asian: 1.8
South Asian: .2
Southeast Asian:0
Northeast Asian:0
N.W.African: .2
Neo African: 0
Paleo African: 0
East African: 0

They have almost exactly the same amount of West Asian as the Urnfield sample, and there is definitely J2 in northern Italy. The high numbers given by Boattini et al for eastern central Italy, although they may be problematical because of the small sample sizes, certainly make some sense given the map and the closeness to the Balkans that it highlights. Perhaps if a comparison were made between, say, Oetzi (or any MN samples from Italy if they are ever tested) and Urnfield samples , and/or Beaker and Hallstatt samples, for that matter, we'd get a better idea of population turnover at least in northern and central Italy than by looking at Yamnaya or Corded Ware versus Oetzi, and certainly better than just estimating it based on what was going on in central Europe.

I think we should also keep in mind that Haak et al were very careful to say that the samples they analyzed don't tell the whole story of the spread of Indo-European languages into Europe. I also don't think they tell the whole story of the genetic changes.

The genesis of the ancient Greeks may be more complicated than has so far been assumed, and I certainly wouldn't rule out a movement of people from Anatolia directly to Greece or the Balkans in the Bronze Age, whether or not it is connected with Urnfield, and from there a spread into into Italy, which might partly explain J2 levels and perhaps even E-V13 levels. The Mycenaeans or at least the Dorians might have come from the north but until we get samples from both pre and post Mycenae, we won't know for sure.

A discussion of related issues (minus the haplogroup discussions) can be found in The Coming of the Greeks, by Robert Drews of Princeton. I'm in the midst of reading it, so I haven't yet gotten around to checking how much of it may be contradicted by more recent archaeological findings. Also be advised that he sees a source for some of the Indo-European languages in the, dare I say it, Armenian highlands a la Ivanov and Gramkrelidze, so if it's going to raise anybody's blood pressure, don't read it.:)

You can find excerpts from Google Books here:

Parenthetically, looking at the breakdown for the ancient samples, the SWAsian seems to be connected to the EEF farmers, and the S.Asian, S.E.Asian, and N.E.Asian to Yamnaya.
That map is wrong.

This is the real expansion of the Urnfield culture.


Interesting. What is the source for this particular map? Was it part of an academic paper? Upon reflection I need to check the source of the Wiki map which I posted as well. I think we all need to be reminded that anyone can put up a map showing anything at all.
ad I'm not 'urnfieldologist' so... but I red here and there:
Urnfields in Czechosovakia came from South, across S-W Bohemia and (I'm less sure here) from S-Moravia, before pass across Moravia to S-W Poland where they found a Celtic-like tumuli preceding culture -
it could have had a religious support in its spreading
Others think it had corresponded to a big network of populations exchanges towards every side and to a global demographic increase (concerning demic, in France some rare places show new intrusive types akin to the Corded initial population of Germany (Coon definition) - the religious aspect linked to cremation is surely of some worth but is would not be the only one -
I say: the apparent participation of Y-R1b-U152 people and the cultural links between Lusace with proto-Villanova culture and Adriatic toponymy seem supporting exchanges with some people moves on long distances, generated in South-central Europe (Hungary? but Hungary is on everybody road in Europe since the Creation or almost!) - a contact between West-Central Europeans dominated by Y-R-U152 with more Eastern or South-Eastern ones, newly arrived from where?
That doesn't exclude the new population would be strong of Y-J2, but anthropology spoke of newcomers in Eastern Italy came from North-East with Chalcolithic, and whose origin would be in Balkans, concerning types... were they Y-Eb1-V13, Y-J2? I don't know - But in Poland J2 and E1b seems weaker yet than R1b -
difficult to estimate the ethnic constitution of some small tribes at these times when the most of the population stay on its ground during young male people were rambling here an there and could associate themselves with warriors of other ethnies if some leadership emerged based on weapons and why not new believings and geographic "edens"?
Wikipedia says the Gàva culture in Hungary is the only one showing specific artefacts in correlation with Urnfields sepultures with neat borders to others surrounding cultures what could very well signify Urnfields began there - when we see their expansion in Austria, and Czechocslovakia and Poland through southern passes - the Gàva specificity ceases when we speak of weapons: are we in front of a phenomenon close to the BBs one? an ethnic group spreading in more than a direction and passing some of its productions (here: weapons, surely swords for the most)? and too its believings or religion, but loosing ethnic demic density?
I suppose Lusacian culture is not a pure first Urnfields one, nor is the Urnfield culture we see also in the Tumuli lands of Southern Germany or Thuringen not the Proto-Villanovian culture of Italy where I suppose some Y-R-U152 were present -
but Gàva in Hungary is not far from the Balkans and this SMALL excess of the West-Asian in Urnfield man (or people?) studied for a-DNA and the presence of a Y-J2 in Hungary at this time could confirm a movement from South into central Europe with crossings so admixture drowning the initial imput?
I think the later developments are the fact of well mixed tribes or sets of tribes settled more northernly taking advantage from new better weapons? it 's very possible that Iron Hallstatt in only the continuation of a process already started in Urnfield times. Hungary seems having been the place of a very variated choice of swords forms and people because at iron times these swords types were found in remote parts of Europe but in homogenous distributions of types, and not this "bunch" of types found in Hungary - (for I red long enough time ago now) - Wiki says too the density of settlements became bigger at Unrfield times compared to Tumuli time in Germany -
what would be decisive would be to have more data from Hungary Urnfields people beacuse they are surely closer to the origins than the Lusace or Villanova people. That said, the big density of Y-J2 EVEN in Northern Italy could be due for a part to these Urnfields moves which were less ephemere than Maciamo said.

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