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Linear Pottery (LBK) culture (c. 5600-4250 BCE)

Quick Facts

  • The culture is also known under the names of Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture. It is commonly abbreviated as LBK, from the German Linearbandkeramik.
  • Represents the advance of Early Neolithic farmers from the Starčevo-Körös culture across central Europe, starting from what is now Hungary and spreading north to the Czech Republic and Poland, west across Germany to Belgium and northern France, and east to western Ukraine, northern Moldova and north-eastern Romania.
  • Their Neolithic agricultural economy was based primarily on the cultivation of crops from the Fertile Crescent, such as Emmer wheat, Einkorn wheat, peas and lentils, and to a lower extent barley, millet, rye, and broad beans. The LBK people settled on fluvial terraces and in the proximities of rivers, especially in regions rich in fertile loess. Stockbreeding was also practised, of cattle in particular, but also of goats and pigs. The LBK farmers supplemented their diets by hunting deer and wild boar in the open forests.
  • People lived in trapezoidal or rectangular wooden longhouses built with massive timber posts. They had thatched roofs and were chinked with wattle and daub mortar. The longhouses measured from 7 to 45 meters in length and 5 to 7 meters in width. Villages were composed of five to eight longhouses, about 20 metres apart. Some villages were fortified for some time with a palisade and outer ditch.
  • Flint and obsidian were the main materials used for points and cutting edges. LBK farmers harvested with sickles manufactured by inserting flint blades into the inside of curved pieces of wood. Trees were felled and carved using shoe-last celt, which consists of a ground stone chisel blade tied to a handle.
  • Like other early Neolithic cultures in Europe, the Linear Pottery featured burials of women and children under the floors of personal residences - a practice that continued until 4000 BCE. Cemeteries containing from 20 to 200 graves make their appearance from 5000 BCE and included both male and female skeletons, apparently arranged in groups based on kinship. Both cremation and inhumation were practiced. The inhumed were placed in a flexed position in pits lined with stones, plaster, or clay. Graves typically contained goods like flint implements or jewelry of Spondylus shells, but pottery was found almost exclusively in female graves.
  • The fast expansion of the LBK culture did not leave much time for Near Eastern farmers to intermingle with Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers - a fact now confirmed by the analysis of several LBK genomes that show only about 5 to 10% of indigenous European admixture. However, Mesolithic Europeans continued to live side by side with LBK farmers and progressively interbred with them during the later Rössen (4600-4300 BCE) and Schöningen (4200-3950 BCE) periods. The only exception is northern France, where the LBK-derived RRBP (French acronym standing for Recent Linear Pottery of the Parisian Basin) immediately shows high levels of indigenous European admixture.
  • LBK people had an average body height of 166.6 cm for men (ranging from 156.5 to 175.5 cm) and 158 cm for women, considerably shorter than Mesolithic Europeans of the same period. Ancient DNA tests have shown that LBK people had fair skin, brown eyes and dark hair, while Mesolithic Europeans had darker skin, dark hair, but blue eyes. Both groups were lactose intolerant.

Extent of the Linear Pottery culture (LBK, c. 5600-4250 BCE)

Extent of the LBK culture (c. 5600-4250 BCE BCE)

Historical context of the Early Linear Pottery culture circa 5000 to 4500 BCE

Map of Neolithic cultures from c. 6,500 to 7,500 years ago - Eupedia

Genetic Analysis

Y-DNA

  • Linear Pottery Culture
    • Early Neolithic France (c. 7,200 to 6,700 ybp): C1a2 (x1), C1a2b (x1), G2a (x1), H2 (x2), I2a1a2 (x4), I2a1b (x1), I2a1b1a1b (x2) => Rivollat (2020) & Brunel (2020)
    • Early Neolithic Baden-Württenberg (c. 7,300 to 6,700 ybp): CT (x2), C1a2b (x1), F (x2), H2 (x10), I2a2a1b (x1)=> Rivollat (2020)
    • Early Neolithic Saxony-Anhalt (c. 7,250 to 6,850 ybp): F (x2), G2 (x1), G2a2a (x7), G2a2b (x3), G2a2b2a1 (x2), T1a (x2) => Brandt (2013), Mathieson (2015) & Rivollat (2020)
    • Early Neolithic Austria (c. 7,500 to 6,500 ybp): C1a2 (x1), G2a2b2a3 (x1), J2 (x1) => Mathieson (2017)
    • Early Neolithic Hungary (c. 7,300 to 6,900 ybp): C1a2 (x1), F (x1), G2a2a1 (x1), G2a2b (x2), G2a2b2a (x1), G2a2b2b1 (x1), I1 (x1) => Szécsényi-Nagy (2015) & Lipson (2017)

    mtDNA

    The following mtDNA samples were tested by Adler (2012), Zvelebil and Pettitt (2012), Lazaridis et al. (2013), Brandt et al. (2013), Brotherton et al. (2013), Gamba et al. (2014), Szécsényi-Nagy (2014), Haak et al. (2015), Rivolat et al. (2015), and Mathieson et al. (2015).

  • Linear Pottery Culture (aka LBK, c. 8,000 to 6,500 ybp ; Central Europe): H (x12), H1, H1j, H5 (x2), H26b, HV (x2), J (x7), J1c17, K (x10), K1a (x8), K1a2, K1a3a3, K2a5, N1a1a (x3), N1a1a1, N1a1a1a, N1a1a1a1, N1a1a1a2, N1a1a1a3 (x5), N1a1a3, T (x3), T1a, T2 (x3), T2b (x9), T2b23 (x2), T2b23a, T2c (x2), T2c1, T2c1b, T2e (x4), U2, U3, U5a1, U5a1a'g, U5b, U5b2c, V, W (x2), X2d1
    • Alföld Linear Pottery Culture (c. 7,850 to 7,350 ybp : Hungary): H, J1c1, N1a
    • Rubané récent du Bassin parisien (aka RRBP, c. 7,500 to 6,300 ybp : northern France): H (x5), H1 (x8), H3 (x2), J (x3), J1, J2, K (x8), N1a (x3), T (x2), U, U4, U5 (x5), U5b, U5b2b1a, V (x2), X, X2b
    • Neolithic Alsace (c. 7,500 to 6,300 ybp : northern France): H, H1, HV, J1 (x2), K, K1a, K1a4a1e, N1a1a1a (x2), U5, V, X
    • Rössen Culture (c. 6,600 to 6,300 ybp ; Germany, Low Countries, France, Switzerland): H1, H5, H5b, H16, H89, HV0 (x2), K (x2), N1a1a, T2e, T2f7, U5b, V, X2c
    • Schöningen group (c. 6,200 to 5,950 ybp ; Germany): H (x2), H1e7, H10i, HV, J, J1c, J2b1a, K (x3), K1a (x3), N1a1a1a3, T2b, T2c, T2f, U5b3, U5b2a2c, U8b1b, W1c (x2), X2b1'2'3'4'5'6
    • Other samples from Middle Neolithic Germany (c. 5,900 to 5,000 ybp): H1c3, H2 (x2), H5 (x3), H11a, HV0 (x2), J, T2b, U3a1, U5b2a2 (x2), U5b2a5, X2
    mtDNA samples from the Linear Pottery & derived cultures
    Haplogroups N1a R0/HV H V J T U2+U8 U3 U4 U5 K W X
    Linear Pottery (n=98) 13 2 17 1 8 27 1 1 0 4 21 2 1
    Frequency 13% 2% 17% 1% 8% 27.5% 1% 1% 0% 4% 21.5% 2% 1%
    RRBP (n=45) 3 0 15 2 5 2 0 0 1 7 8 0 2
    Frequency 6.5% 0% 33.5% 4.5% 11% 4.5% 0% 0% 2% 15.5% 17.5% 0% 4.5%
    Rössen & Schöningen (n=36) 2 1 9 3 3 5 1 0 0 3 5 2 2
    Frequency 5.5% 3% 25% 8.5% 8.5% 14% 3% 0% 0% 8.5% 14% 5.5% 5.5%
    Other LBK related* (n=36) 4 1 10 3 4 3 0 1 0 5 3 0 2
    TOTAL (n=215) 22 4 51 9 20 37 2 2 1 19 37 4 7
    Frequency 10% 2% 23.5% 4% 9.5% 17% 1% 1% 0.5% 9% 17% 2% 3%

    * includes Alföld Linear Pottery Culture, Early Neolithic Alsace and unspecified Middle Neolithic Germany.

    Dodecad K12b admixtures of LBK farmers

    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
    I5068 0.00 0.00 5.10 0.00 49.83 1.12 0.00 0.00 12.58 0.00 31.37 0.00
    I5069 0.00 0.00 3.78 0.02 52.10 0.00 0.00 0.27 13.66 0.00 30.17 0.00
    I5070 0 0 3.84 0 52.85 0.1 0.07 0 12.23 0 30.91 0
    I5204 0 0 1.46 0 53.41 0.67 0 1.05 12.06 0.76 30.59 0
    I5205 0 0 3.71 0 51.92 1.74 0 0 15.27 0 27.19 0.16
    I5206 0 0 4.06 0 54.86 0 0 0 12.25 0 28.82 0
    I5207 0 0 3.25 0 57.61 0 0 0 11.61 0.33 27.21 0
    I5208 0 0 2.41 0.00 53.96 0.00 0.00 0.00 14.34 0.00 29.23 0.06
    I0022_LBK1976 0 0 0 0 49.91 5.5 0 1.94 13.22 0 29.44 0
    I0025_LBK1992 0 0 6.23 0 53.62 0 0 0 13.3 0.48 25.34 1.03
    I0026_LBK2155 0.00 0.00 5.23 0.00 48.47 1.59 0.00 0.00 10.90 0.00 33.70 0.13
    I0046_HAL5 0 0 4.33 0 56.82 0 0 0 13.62 0 25.23 0
    I0176_SZEH4 0 0.00 0 3.21 48.6 0 0 0 13.41 0 34.78 0
    I0048_HAL25 0 0 2.58 0 51.16 2.25 0 0.17 10.03 0 33.81 0
    I0054_UWS4 0 0 5.23 0 48.47 1.59 0 0 10.9 0 33.7 0.13
    I0056_HAL14 0 0 0.37 0.00 53.18 2.82 0.00 0.00 16.16 0.00 27.47 0.00
    I0057_HAL34 0 0 4.59 0.00 53.71 0.00 0.00 0.56 11.48 0.00 29.65 0.00
    Linear Pottery culture 0.00 0.00 3.30 0.19 52.38 1.02 0.00 0.23 12.77 0.09 29.92 0.09

    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. The genetic landscape of Europe has changed drastically since the Neolithic and hardly any modern population resembles Early farmers anymore. The only exception are the Sardinians, who have lived in relative isolation for the last 4000 years. Although they are more similar to West Mediterranean Neolithic farmers, they still get a genetic distance score of 11.7 to LBK farmers, much closer than the next populations, Corsicans, who score 22.

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