In the early Bronze Age nearly 4,000 years ago, European women travelled far from their home villages to start their families, bringing with them new cultural objects and ideas, while men usually remained in the region of their birth, a research has showed.
The findings, which shed light on the importance of female mobility for cultural exchange in the Bronze Age, showed that the practice persisted over a period of 800 years during the transition from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age.
This played a significant role in the exchange of cultural objects and ideas, which increased considerably in the Bronze Age, in turn promoting the development of new technologies, the researchers said.
For the study, published in the journal PNAS, the team examined the remains of 84 individuals buried between 2500 and 1650 BC, and found that at the end of the Stone Age and in the early Bronze Age, families were established in a surprising manner in the Lech, south of Augsburg, in present-day Germany.
The majority of women came from outside the area, probably from Bohemia or Central Germany, while men usually remained in the region of their birth.
“We see a great diversity of different female lineages, which would occur if over time many women relocated to the Lech Valley from somewhere else,” said Alissa Mittnik from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.
This so-called patrilocal pattern combined with individual female mobility was not a temporary phenomenon, but persisted over a period of 800 years, they said.
The study allowed researchers to view the immense extent of early human mobility in a new light.
“Individual mobility was a major feature characterising the lives of people in Central Europe even in the third and early second millennium,” said Philipp Stockhammer, from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen.