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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 25;105(47):18226-31. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807592105. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Ancient DNA, Strontium isotopes, and osteological analyses shed light on social and kinship organization of the Later Stone Age.

Author information

  • 1Institut für Anthropologie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Saarstrasse 21, D-55099 Mainz, Germany. wolfgang.haak@adelaide.edu.au

Abstract

In 2005 four outstanding multiple burials were discovered near Eulau, Germany. The 4,600-year-old graves contained groups of adults and children buried facing each other. Skeletal and artifactual evidence and the simultaneous interment of the individuals suggest the supposed families fell victim to a violent event. In a multidisciplinary approach, archaeological, anthropological, geochemical (radiogenic isotopes), and molecular genetic (ancient DNA) methods were applied to these unique burials. Using autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosomal markers, we identified genetic kinship among the individuals. A direct child-parent relationship was detected in one burial, providing the oldest molecular genetic evidence of a nuclear family. Strontium isotope analyses point to different origins for males and children versus females. By this approach, we gain insight into a Late Stone Age society, which appears to have been exogamous and patrilocal, and in which genetic kinship seems to be a focal point of social organization.

PMID:
19015520
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2587582
Free PMC Article

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