I have a fascination with early marks. The first of the kind, around the world and during time. The early marks that become images, sounds, then letters, meaning in shapes and design. How visuals helped create and define a culture. This one is new to me, the Beaker People (2800–1800 BC) named after the found artifacts.
Ancient DNA shows that the culture that brought Bronze Age technology to Britain was connected to a migration that almost completely replaced the island's earlier inhabitants.
Museum scientists were part of an international team that examined DNA from over 400 prehistoric skeletons, drawn from sites across western and central Europe. The study looked at people buried before and after the arrival of the Beaker culture, which spread across Europe and can be tracked through its distinctive pottery.
Prof Ian Barnes, Research Leader in Ancient DNA at the Museum, explains, 'We found that the skeletal remains of individuals from Britain who lived shortly after this time have a very different DNA profile to those who came before. It seems that there is a large population turnover.'
In continental Europe, however, the story is different. The new ideas and technologies appear to have spread among different peoples without large-scale migration.
What Beaker pottery can tell us
Pottery is an example of how studying artefacts opens windows into past cultures. Around 4,500 years ago, a new, bell-shaped pottery style appeared in Iberia, in present-day Spain and Portugal. These 'bell-beakers' quickly spread across Europe, reaching Britain fewer than 100 years later.
Archaeologists have been unsure whether the spread of Beaker pottery - and the culture associated with it - represented a large-scale migration of people, or was simply due to the exchange of new cultures and ideas.
The study helps resolves this century-old debate, says Museum archaeologist Dr Tom Booth: 'The question of whether new things spread by the movement of people or ideas has been one of the most important and long-running questions in archaeology, and it's fascinating to see that both are the case for the Beaker culture.'
Who were the Beaker people?
The people who were part of the Beaker culture can be identified as they were buried with distinctive artefacts such as their pottery. The researchers compared the DNA from skeletons buried around Europe from two different periods: before the Beaker culture arrived there and afterwards.
The study shows that the Beaker culture spread into central Europe from Iberia without a significant movement of people. Skeletons from Beaker burials in Iberia are not genetically close to central European Beaker skeletons.
Original story here at The Natural History Museum >>
The Bell Beaker culture (or, in short, Beaker culture) is an archaeological culture named after the inverted-bell beaker drinking vessel used at the very beginning of the European Bronze Age. Arising from around 2800 BC, it lasted in Britain until as late as 1800 BC but in continental Europe only until 2300 BC, when it was succeeded by the Unetice culture. The culture was widely dispersed throughout Western Europe, from various regions in Iberia and spots facing northern Africa to the Danubian plains, the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and also the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
The Bell Beaker culture was partly preceded by and contemporaneous with the Corded Ware culture, and in north-central Europe preceded by the Funnelbeaker culture. The name Glockenbecher was coined for its distinctive style of beakers by Paul Reinecke in 1900. The term's English translation Bell Beaker was introduced by John Abercromby in 1904.