Female mobility during the final phase of the Stone Age and start of the Bronze Age was a key element in cultural interchange between regions, according to a new study.
The study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) magazine, shows how 4,000 years ago European women left their birth settlements and travelled far to form families, taking with them new objects and cultural ideas, Germany’s Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History said.
The report is based on the graves found in the Lech valley, south of the city of Augsburg, reports Efe news.
In the families living in the settlements in the region at that time, the majority of women came from other areas, probably from Bohemia or central Germany several hundred kilometres away, while the men normally remained in or very near their birth location.
According to the researchers, this “patrilocal” type of social pattern, in which new couples live in the territory of the man’s family, combined with individual female mobility, was not a temporary phenomenon but rather lasted for some 800 years during the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age.
Participating in the study headed by Philipp Stockhammer, of Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians University, were Corina Knipper of the Curt-Engelhorn-Centre for Archaeometry, along with Alissa Mittnik and Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute and the University of Tuebingen.
“Individual mobility was a major feature characterising the lives of people in Central Europe even in the third and early second millennium,” said Stockhammer regarding a phenomenon that the researchers believe fostered the development of new technologies in the Bronze Age.
The scientific team used genetic and isotope analysis along with archaeological evaluations to research the remains of 84 individuals buried between 2,500 and 1,650 B.C. in cemeteries belonging to individual homesteads and containing up to several dozen burials made over several generations.