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Later European Prehistory Group Special Lecture

Prof. Philipp Stockhammer, (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich) - Genetic history vs. cultural history? Writing the history of the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age in a Bavarian river valley
When Feb 22, 2017
from 03:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Where McDonald Institute Seminar Room, Courtyard Building, Downing Street
Contact Name
Attendees All welcome
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At the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age, the process of bronzization (Vandkilde 2016) deeply transformed Central European societies. The new bronze technology was appropriated along with the development of ritual practices of innovation management (Stockhammer 2016), long-distance trade networks were established and human individuals as well as groups were marked by an astonishing mobility. The newly-gained intensity of interconnection also supported the spread of the Black Death through Eurasia, which reached Bavaria in the late 3rd millennium BC (Andrades Valtueña et al. 2016). However, all these transformative processes have not sufficiently been understood on the local level. Our multidisciplinary research project provides an improved understanding of the transformative dynamics at the onset of the Bronze Age by shifting from the global scale and overall narratives to the local scale.

My results are based on an interdisciplinary study of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age burials in the Lech Valley in southern Bavaria, Germany. This region offers an enormous archaeological record with more than 400 graves and several settlements of the Late Neolithic until the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age. We integrated archaeological investigations, radiocarbon dating, XRD and lead isotope analyses of metal finds, as well as stable isotope and ancient DNA data of the human remains to study continuity and changes from the Corded Ware Complex via the Bell Beaker Complex and the Early Bronze Age into the Middle Bronze Age. The results do not only shed new light on the chronological issues and the origin of raw materials. The human genomic patterns also indicate a complex sequence of segregation and sexual entanglement between the different hamlets, and maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA suggests both local genetic continuity spanning the cultural transition and a major influx of mitochondrial DNA types previously not found in this region. Strontium and oxygen isotope data indicate largely local communities, a strong patrilocal rule of residency and – together with stable isotope data – a hamlet-specific cuisine. These developments were accompanied by the Black Death, which persisted in the Lech valley during the Bell Beaker Complex and the Early Bronze Age. The archaeological and scientific data will finally be combinded to create an overall narrative for the bronzization of the Lech Valley and beyond.

Andrades Valtueña, A./A. Mittnik/K. Massy/R. Allmäe/M. Daubaras/R. Jankauskas/M. Tõrv/S. Pfrengle/M. A. Spyrou/M. Feldman/W. Haak/K. I. Bos/P. W. Stockhammer/A. Herbig/J. Krause (2016), The Stone Age Plague: 1000 Years of Persistence in Eurasia. bioRxiv preprint; doi:

Stockhammer, P. W. (2016), Die Wirkungsmacht des Identischen: Zur Wahrnehmung von Metallobjekten am Beginn der Bronzezeit. Germania 93, 77–96.

Vandkilde, H. (2016) Bronzization. The Bronze Age as Pre-Modern Globalization. Prähistorische Zeitschrift 91.1, 103–123.


Prof. Dr. Philipp W. Stockhammer

Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie und Provinzialrömische Archäologie (München, Germany)


Co-Director at the Max-Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean, (Jena, Germany)


Showcasing research highlights and outreach for the academic year 2016-2017

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