Poster Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

Signs of mobility and migration in the megalithic graves of Western Sweden? (#311)

Emma M Svensson 1 , Malou Blank Bäcklund 2 , Arielle Munters 1 , Luciana Simoes 1 , Jan Storå 3 , Mattias Jakobsson 1
  1. Uppsala University, Uppsala, UPPLAND, Sweden
  2. Department of Historical Studies, Göteborgs Universitet, Göteborg, Sverige
  3. The Osteo-archaeology Research Laboratory, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

During the Neolithic period in Scandinavia the Funnel Beaker complex gave way to the Battle Axe complex, which was later replaced by the more homogeneous Late Neolithic complex. This culture produced the finest flint work in Scandinavian Prehistory and the last megalithic tombs.

Immigration from various regions has been proposed as an explanation for the geographic distribution of megalithic burials in western Sweden, another alternative is that the tombs were used by populations from large areas. However, osteological and archaeological research suggests that the graves were used by local family groups. Earlier research suggests that 25% of the middle Neolithic population buried in the megalithic tombs were of non-local birth. However, in the Late Neolithic there was an increase in human mobility and about 60% of the buried individuals were non- locals. It is interesting to investigate the genetics over time in this area. Are there any traces of population shifts while still maintaining the same burial practices?

We use the gallery grave at Torbjörnstorp as a model site for investigation of mobility. Here the individuals analysed all date to around 1800 BC cal, the second half of the Late Neolithic period in Scandinavia. However, the megalithic graves have been used for successive burials over a long time and even though the skeletal remains are fairly well preserved, the bones have been moved to make way for new burials and the bone material is often fragmented. The aDNA analyses can in this case be important for disentangling the demography of the individuals buried here, and coupled to isotopic results this can be used for discussing mobility patterns.

Using the combined knowledge gained from archaeology, isotope analysis and ancient genomes we can address questions of migration and mobility in the late Scandinavian Neolithic.