SCI Why are adult daughters missing from ancient German cemeteries?

Melodi

Disaster Cat
Why are adult daughters missing from ancient German cemeteries?
DNA and artifacts reveal marriage and inheritance patterns among Bronze Age farmers
Illustration of an Early Bronze Age woman
In Bronze Age Germany, women traveled far from their family of origin to marry; adult sons stayed at home.© TOM BJÖRKLUND

Four thousand years ago, the Early Bronze Age farmers of southern Germany had no Homer to chronicle their marriages, travails, and family fortunes. But a detailed picture of their social structure has now emerged from a remarkable new study. By combining evidence from DNA, artifacts, and chemical clues in teeth, an interdisciplinary team unraveled relationships and inheritance patterns in several generations of high-ranking families buried in cemeteries on their farmsteads.

Among the most striking of the findings, reported online this week in Science, was an absence: "We were totally missing adult daughters," says team member Alissa Mittnik, a postdoc at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Sons, in contrast, put down roots on their parents' land and kept wealth in the family.

"What shocked me was that you have to give away all your daughters at some moment," says co-author Philipp Stockhammer, an archaeologist at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for the Science of Human History in Jena, both in Germany. That poignant glimpse into an ancient culture "could not possibly be recovered … through any one of these methodologies" alone, says historian Patrick Geary of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, who was not part of the team.

The researchers worked with remains and grave goods excavated more than 20 years ago, when land along the Lech River south of Augsburg was dug up to build a housing development. Radiocarbon dates showed the farmers lived between 4750 years ago and 3300 years ago. Mittnik was working in the lab of Johannes Krause at MPI, and she and her colleagues analyzed DNA across the genomes of 104 people buried on the farmsteads. The team sought clues to the farmers' sex and how they were related to one another. The researchers recalibrated the radiocarbon dates, constraining them to within 200 years in some cases, and identifying four to five generations of ancestors and descendants who lived in that time window.

Some of the early farmers studied were part of the Neolithic Bell Beaker culture, named for the shape of their pots. Later generations of Bronze Age men who retained Bell Beaker DNA were high-ranking, buried with bronze and copper daggers, axes, and chisels. Those men carried a Y chromosome variant that is still common today in Europe. In contrast, low-ranking men without grave goods had different Y chromosomes, showing a different ancestry on their fathers' side, and suggesting that men with Bell Beaker ancestry were richer and had more sons, whose genes persist to the present.

One-third of the women were also buried with great wealth—elaborate copper head-dresses, thick bronze leg rings, and decorated copper pins. They were outsiders, however. Their DNA set them apart from others in the burials, and strontium isotopes in their teeth, which reflect minerals in the water they drank, show they were born and lived until adolescence far from the Lech River. Some of their grave goods—perhaps keepsakes from their early lives—link them to the Únětice culture, known for distinctive metal objects, at least 350 kilometers east in what is now eastern Germany and the Czech Republic.

There was no sign of these women's daughters in the burials, suggesting they, too, were sent away for marriage, in a pattern that persisted for 700 years. The only local women were girls from high-status families who died before ages 15 to 17, and poor, unrelated women without grave goods, probably servants, Mittnik says. Strontium levels from three men, in contrast, showed that although they had left the valley as teens, they returned as adults. That "opens a new window into male life cycles," Geary says.

Bronze Age princely burials have long signaled social inequality. But the organization of these societies remained "rather vague," Stockhammer says. By combining archaeology with DNA data on family ties, the new study sharpened the picture. The data show, for example, that brothers were buried with equally rich grave goods, indicating that all sons, not just the eldest, inherited wealth. Related men kept wealth in the family for four to five generations.

The burials of poor, unrelated people on the same plot suggested inequality thrived within these households. Such complex social structure in these rather modest farmsteads surprised Stockhammer, who says the archaeological record in Europe first shows servants or enslaved people living under the same roof as higher-ranking people 1500 years later, in classical Greece.

Some researchers hope the same barrage of methods will be applied to other sites. Archaeologist Eszter Bánffy, director of the Romano-Germanic Commission of the German Archaeological Institute in Frankfurt, is excited about the results but notes they only provide "narratives for one region and one period. If similar analyses happen widely in time and space," researchers can draw more general conclusions, she says.
"While archaeology has provided the bone structure, archaeogenetics has added the flesh," adds archaeologist Detlef Gronenborn of the Central Museum for Roman and Germanic Art in Mainz, Germany. "The full fascination only emerges when both disciplines are combined."
*Correction, 15 October, 4 p.m.: An earlier version of this story misstated Patrick Geary's and Detlef Gronenborn's affiliations.
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
A guess on my part.

By having the daughters travel and mate with someone farther away, it helped broaden the gene pool. Kept the genetic lines more robust and avoided depression inbreeding.

Probably the net result of generations of experience. Help avoid any negative genetic defects from becoming common.

Especially in an era when there were not that many humans to begin with.
 

CaryC

Veteran Member
Could be that they were taken in raids.

I just don't think the men were thinking about, and probably didn't know about, DNA. It was more like, You mine, you come.

Lots of folks around here without raiders, married 1st cousins.

And not just toothless red necks either. The King and Queen of.....Sweden, Netherlands one of those places were first cousins, and that was in the early 1900's. Cuz like all those Kings and Queens were first cousins, Grandmother was Queen Victoria.

I mean once all the women were taken in a village you had to go somewhere and get one.

The premise that they left on their own is somewhat skeptical.
 

Tex88

Veteran Member
You got yourself a bride from out of town, and young males did travel a lot either to learn trades from masters in other areas or for warring purposes, and came back when you mastered your trade or came back from war or made your fortune otherwise.
Doesn’t seem that mysterious and has been the custom in Germany until a few decades ago.
 

BadMedicine

Would *I* Lie???
no mention of raiding for brides. wild. This is why in conservative societies the girls/ women are very well protected, stay near home, go out with chaperones or protection. Marriages are arranged, or at least within the cultural group/society (which were usually pretty small.)
 

CaryC

Veteran Member
You got yourself a bride from out of town, and young males did travel a lot either to learn trades from masters in other areas or for warring purposes, and came back when you mastered your trade or came back from war or made your fortune otherwise.
Doesn’t seem that mysterious and has been the custom in Germany until a few decades ago.
I do know of one German woman that is buried right down the road from me in MS. My mom. 'Course the dates don't go back as far as the article, but my dad met my mom in Berlin after the war they married and she came home with him. It does happen.
 

Tex88

Veteran Member
I do know of one German woman that is buried right down the road from me in MS. My mom. 'Course the dates don't go back as far as the article, but my dad met my mom in Berlin after the war they married and she came home with him. It does happen.
Beats getting raped and starved to death in Berlin, even if it is MS.
 
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CaryC

Veteran Member
Beats getting raped and starved to death in Berlin, even it is MS.
What makes you think that didn't happen?

They met in Berlin AFTER the war. Dad got stationed in the American sector of Berlin. Mom had been there since '44, fleeing the Russians all the way from East Prussia, they caught her in Berlin.

Like I said time table doesn't fit the op, but it is something that has been going on for thousands of years.
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
What makes you think that didn't happen?

They met in Berlin AFTER the war. Dad got stationed in the American sector of Berlin. Mom had been there since '44, fleeing the Russians all the way from East Prussia, they caught her in Berlin.

Like I said time table doesn't fit the op, but it is something that has been going on for thousands of years.
The retreat of Germans from Ost Prußia was the largest movement of people during WWII.
 
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von Koehler

Veteran Member
no mention of raiding for brides. wild. This is why in conservative societies the girls/ women are very well protected, stay near home, go out with chaperones or protection. Marriages are arranged, or at least within the cultural group/society (which were usually pretty small.)
Still goes on today. Any North Korean woman escaping to China is trafficked to Chinese men desperate for a wife.
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
As was said earlier women were traded as a commodity. IIRC back in the day a healthy of age daughter, read brood mare, could fetch a family a nice milk cow or an oxen. Those days are not all that far from us once this golden age is over.
 

bethshaya

God has a plan, Trust it!
It isnt necessarily a "sell off" of a daughter. It is how marriage has worked for centuries. TWO become ONE. When your daughter married, they were no longer your responsibility, to was the grooms responsibility to protect and provide for the woman. She now is one with HIM, not her family, but his. They were buried with the grooms family. That is why a dowry was paid, for two reasons - one to compensate the brides family for the loss of a worker, and two to assure that if the husband died, that she had something to survive on as a widow.
 

MinnesotaSmith

TB Fanatic
A guess on my part.

By having the daughters travel and mate with someone farther away, it helped broaden the gene pool. Kept the genetic lines more robust and avoided depression inbreeding.

Probably the net result of generations of experience. Help avoid any negative genetic defects from becoming common.

Especially in an era when there were not that many humans to begin with.
Exactly. Germans, Nordics, Brits, Celts, etc., are genetically intellectually superior on average to Arabs and the like in part due to less negative eugenics from inbreeding.
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
Obliously people back then had no knowledge of DNA but over time might have noticed bad offspring happened when closely related people mated.
 

MinnesotaSmith

TB Fanatic
Obliously people back then had no knowledge of DNA but over time might have noticed bad offspring happened when closely related people mated.
Of course they did. Same with even telegony, and selective breeding in general, both for humans and in domestic animals. Widely distributed taboos against incest go back a LONG way, almost certainly pre-civilizational (5000+ years).
Melanie might want to weigh in here.
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
The incest taboo is fairly universal except for "special people" like some ruling families or special situations like the Ancient Egyptian Middle to Upper classes but very often those were really half-brother half-sister or even really first cousin marriages.

But an amazing recent study that took genetic samples from tiny tribes and villages all over the world showed that while most people were totally unaware of the connection, large numbers of people had inadvertently married a half-sibling. This was turning out to be so common one of the scientists said they might have to reevaluate the effect of hidden sibling matings.

Or as the old Pastor, from the somewhere back in the Mississippi Piny woods, taught us in his Biblical History course at my junior college:

"What happens is that some local feller whose maybe wealthy by local standards charming in other ways manages to get together with every married woman in the County willing to join him for a roll in the hay behind the barn. Next thing you know, nearly every one of a certain generation is married their half-brother or sister, but they have no idea they are doing it."

He ended by talking about what he would (in theory) say to such a couple showing them the story of Abraham and Sarah (who were half-siblings) and gently suggest they might want to talk privately to their doctor if they wanted to have more children (this was in 1974).

That said, near as we can tell from the archeology before genetics could be used, ancient Europeans - especially the stone age and the bronze age had two marriage patterns.

Some like the East Coast Native Americans at the time of European contact were matrilineal with longhouses. The women of the family stayed with the tribe and the husbands were the ones that married out - women technically owned the longhouse and the fields, but the men worked them. Similar long-houses with multiple hearths (many women under one roof, each with a kitchen) have been found all over Old Europe.

This new genetic study shows that at least by the Bronze Age, in this area of Germany and parts of Eastern Europe this was no longer the case, that instead young women were almost always not just married outside their extended family but totally outside of the local community.

There are actually echoes of both systems in the surviving lore and mythic cycles amount the Germans, Celts, and other people.

Part of the story behind the German Nebuligun League is where does a women's ultimate loyalty lie? To her birth family and her brothers or to her husband the outsider and his kin? The earliest forms of the story which take place around the 5th century suggest she owes it to her brothers, later versions see her conflicted and some points supporting husbands but ultimately ending up the last of her family and leading her birth tribe (the Burgundians) to safety.

Nightwolf and I talked about this "two-track" marriage/inheritance thing a lot, and it seems that at a certain point both systems kind of merged, with the husband's clan becoming more important, but Mom's brothers still play a big role in the lives of their nephews and even some inherited positions.

I'll stop now, I know this is clear as mud but that's because history isn't usually all one way or all another - and what we now think of as both Germanic Peoples and the Celts, themselves met and married in and/or conquered took over earlier populations and the various customs for marriage, war and inheritance sort of all blended together.

The genetic information can give us a snapshot of what was REALLY happening rather than what people believe "should" happen, at least for a 300 or so mile area around Eastern Germany during the Bronze Age.
 

bw

Fringe Ranger
I'll suggest an alternate view for the distant relocation of marriageable upper-class women. For a chief, marrying a woman off to another monarch is a way to cement alliances, first by the act of the gift (if you will) and second by creating long-term good relations from the fact of shared family. For upper classes, this same strategy would more likely involve other upper-class families in the same tribe where local alliances would be more immediately useful. But it could be encouraged among more-distant families either in mimicry of the chief or in support of the chief. That is, either to claim status (we're so important our daughter married off four days' travel away) or to reinforce tribe-level alliances (the next five brides go to the X tribe).

Just a thought.
 

AlaskaSue

North to the Future
Very interesting! I can trace Mom’s family only to 1632 Jamestown arrival from Liverpool. But Daddy’s family goes back to ancient Bohemia, so same area ~ Several castles were built with the family name around there but I only know of the ruins of one of them. I would surely love to go there!
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
I'll suggest an alternate view for the distant relocation of marriageable upper-class women. For a chief, marrying a woman off to another monarch is a way to cement alliances, first by the act of the gift (if you will) and second by creating long-term good relations from the fact of shared family. For upper classes, this same strategy would more likely involve other upper-class families in the same tribe where local alliances would be more immediately useful. But it could be encouraged among more-distant families either in mimicry of the chief or in support of the chief. That is, either to claim status (we're so important our daughter married off four days' travel away) or to reinforce tribe-level alliances (the next five brides go to the X tribe).

Just a thought.
Oh this most definitely happened, even amongst Native American nations, creating alliances increased one's "army", resources such as meat, grains, seeds, spices, access to fibers for clothing, metals for tools, and the like.

As for the OP non wealthy daughters that were traded off were often "pretty", of good health and stock which reinforced a weakened gene pool, or came from a family with skills like leather work, dyeing, weaving, spinning, handwork, metal smithing, and the like. Were they often brood mares, of course, even wealthy women were considered brood mares and if she couldn't provide heirs she often faced expulsion from the community or worse death.
 

Grumphau

Senior Member
You got yourself a bride from out of town, and young males did travel a lot either to learn trades from masters in other areas or for warring purposes, and came back when you mastered your trade or came back from war or made your fortune otherwise.
Doesn’t seem that mysterious and has been the custom in Germany until a few decades ago.
This was pretty far back though and we don't necessarily know that this culture was "Germanic" as we would recognize it. Back then, this area could have been ruled by Celts or another culture, and as far as I know ancient Germans were limited to what we would call Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway & Sweden) during this period.
 

Tex88

Veteran Member
This was pretty far back though and we don't necessarily know that this culture was "Germanic" as we would recognize it. Back then, this area could have been ruled by Celts or another culture, and as far as I know ancient Germans were limited to what we would call Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway & Sweden) during this period.
Celts, Slavic, Germanic tribes and who lived when and where and intermingled, separated or assimilated back then and where they came from and where they went, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax and we won’t touch that here LOL. It’s literally an entire field of scientific study.
 

Hi-D

Senior Member
Maybe it was a two child policy and neither were females. I don't feel a need to trust a science that can not tell you the truth on the here and now, to tell you the truth on what happened 3300 years ago. They seem to make it up as they see fit.
 

CaryC

Veteran Member
The retreat of Germans from Ost Prußia was the largest movement of people during WWII.
Momma, lost contact with Opa and Oma, cuz they were on the move too. Running before the Russians. Mom was a nurses aid with the Wehrmacht and not at home when they left, and only around 17 YO. She ended up in Berlin about '44 (20), and didn't have a clue where her parents were.

Found an Uncle in Berlin and he knew where they had relocated. Her 1st cousin and her would steal potatoes so they would have something to eat. Eventually the Russians made it to Berlin in 45.

After the war they re-established contact.

For those who may not know the movement of people out of East Prussia was not voluntary. Some ran ahead, sure, like my grandparents, but eventually all Germans were forced to leave by the Russians.
 

CaryC

Veteran Member
Very interesting! I can trace Mom’s family only to 1632 Jamestown arrival from Liverpool. But Daddy’s family goes back to ancient Bohemia, so same area ~ Several castles were built with the family name around there but I only know of the ruins of one of them. I would surely love to go there!
That is very interesting. Grandfather came in 1634 on the Bonaventure sailed from London. However the families residence was east of Liverpool in Lancashire County. One with the same last name was born in Knowlingsly Manor to a servant there. Another was a pastor in Huyton. Because of gaps in resources it's unknown if those are related.

The men married some interesting women with very long lines, but the men have been hard to track. Anyway, was wondering the castle names belong to grandfather, or mother?

And did you just run out of resources, which happens, meaning the line comes to a dead end. Or just run into difficulty what with most resources not being online?

Just a note if it has been more than a few months, they may be up online now. Ton's of material is being uploaded monthly.

Even on my mothers side from east Prussia, but still need some help with that.
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
Momma, lost contact with Opa and Oma, cuz they were on the move too. Running before the Russians. Mom was a nurses aid with the Wehrmacht and not at home when they left, and only around 17 YO. She ended up in Berlin about '44 (20), and didn't have a clue where her parents were.

Found an Uncle in Berlin and he knew where they had relocated. Her 1st cousin and her would steal potatoes so they would have something to eat. Eventually the Russians made it to Berlin in 45.

After the war they re-established contact.

For those who may not know the movement of people out of East Prussia was not voluntary. Some ran ahead, sure, like my grandparents, but eventually all Germans were forced to leave by the Russians.
The British, lead by Churchill, made a deal with Stalin concerning Poland.

He was in a bind. England had declared war on Germany because of its invasion of Poland. Yet Stalin was in no mood to give up the section of Poland it had conquered.

So Churchill offered to let the Polish boundaries shift to the west, to lands that always been German territory. Ost Prußia was divided into two, the southern half becoming part of the new post war Poland. The northern half wás under Soviet "administration" and Russia continues to occupy it to this day.

The native German people were completely forced out, often under aerial attack by both Soviet and Allied planes.

A Soviet submarine sunk an unarmed converted cruise ship, loaded with refugees (civilians and wounded soldiers) causing the greatest loss of life for any maritime accident in history.
 
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Melodi

Disaster Cat
Bronze age Is a combination of Celtic and Germanic tribes, living side by side and often intermarrying, earlier than that (and some of this is earlier) you had Bell Beaker and other folks who mostly seem to have come from the East in various waves.

We don't know everything and I'm not an expert on this period, though I have studied it some, especially the textiles.
 

AlaskaSue

North to the Future
That is very interesting. Grandfather came in 1634 on the Bonaventure sailed from London. However the families residence was east of Liverpool in Lancashire County. One with the same last name was born in Knowlingsly Manor to a servant there. Another was a pastor in Huyton. Because of gaps in resources it's unknown if those are related.

The men married some interesting women with very long lines, but the men have been hard to track. Anyway, was wondering the castle names belong to grandfather, or mother?

And did you just run out of resources, which happens, meaning the line comes to a dead end. Or just run into difficulty what with most resources not being online?

Just a note if it has been more than a few months, they may be up online now. Ton's of material is being uploaded monthly.

Even on my mothers side from east Prussia, but still need some help with that.
My grandfather‘s name - the castle ruins are in Plesnice, Czech Republic (Czechia). And as there are very few people with my maiden name, research gets pretty cumbersome. My married name is even rarer; in fact I’m the only one in this whole state! Bonus side is anyone with either my maiden or married name is bound to be a relative! :)
6DC77381-C73C-43AA-A19B-5AF31E1DA98D.jpeg
 

Dozdoats

On TB every waking moment
Shoot. All you people with royal bloodlines. I don't even have anyone who ranked higher than sergeant in the Confederacy. :D
 

CaryC

Veteran Member
Shoot. All you people with royal bloodlines. I don't even have anyone who ranked higher than sergeant in the Confederacy. :D
LOL we can say he was the Illegitimate son of Gen. Lee's son by his 1st cousin who was a Custis, and you'll be right in there with the rest of us.

Welcome to the club.:D
 
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