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The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Chris Fowler



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. From around 2750 to 2500 bc, Bell Beaker pottery became widespread across western and central Europe, before it disappeared between 2200 and 1800 bc. The forces that propelled its expansion are a matter of long-standing debate, and there is support for both cultural diffusion and migration having a role in this process. Here we present genome-wide data from 400 Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Europeans, including 226 individuals associated with Beaker-complex artefacts. We detected limited genetic affinity between Beaker-complex-associated individuals from Iberia and central Europe, and thus exclude migration as an important mechanism of spread between these two regions. However, migration had a key role in the further dissemination of the Beaker complex. We document this phenomenon most clearly in Britain, where the spread of the Beaker complex introduced high levels of steppe-related ancestry and was associated with the replacement of approximately 90% of Britain's gene pool within a few hundred years, continuing the east-to-west expansion that had brought steppe-related ancestry into central and northern Europe over the previous centuries.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Olalde I, Brace S, Allentoft ME, Armit I, Kristiansen K, Booth T, Rohland N, Mallick S, Szecsenyi-Nagy A, Mittnik A, Altena E, Lipson M, Lazaridis I, Harper TK, Patterson N, Broomandkhoshbacht N, Diekmann Y, Faltyskova Z, Fernandes D, Ferry M, Harney E, De Knijff P, Michel M, Oppenheimer J, Stewardson K, Barclay A, Alt KW, Liesau C, Rios P, Blasco C, Miguel JV, Garcia RM, Fernandez AA, Banffy E, Bernabo-Brea M, Billoin D, Bonsall C, Bonsall L, Allen T, Buster L, Carver S, Navarro LC, Craig OE, Cook GT, Cunliffe B, Denaire A, Dinwiddy KE, Dodwell N, Ernee M, Evans C, Kucharik M, Farre JF, Fowler C, Gazenbeek M, Pena RG, Haber-Uriarte M, Haduch E, Hey G, Jowett N, Knowles T, Massy K, Pfrengle S, Lefranc P, Lemercier O, Lefebvre A, Martinez CH, Olmo VG, Ramirez AB, Maurandi JL, Majo T, McKinley JI, McSweeney K, Mende BG, Mod A, Kulcsar G, Kiss V, Czene A, Patay R, Endrodi A, Kohler K, Hajdu T, Szeniczey T, Dani J, Bernert Z, Hoole M, Cheronet O, Keating D, Veleminsky P, Dobe M, Candilio F, Brown F, Fernandez RF, Herrero-Corral A-M, Tusa S, Carnieri E, Lentini L, Valenti A, Zanini A, Waddington C, Delibes G, Guerra-Doce E, Neil B, Brittain M, Luke M, Mortimer R, Desideri J, Besse M, Brucken G, Furmanek M, Hauszko A, Mackiewicz M, Rapinski A, Leach S, Soriano I, Lillios KT, Cardoso JL, Pearson MP, Wodarczak P, Price TD, Prieto P, Rey P-J, Risch R, Guerra MAR, Schmitt A, Serralongue J, Silva AM, Smrcka V, Vergnaud L, Zilhao J, Caramelli D, Higham T, Thomas MG, Kennett DJ, Fokkens H, Heyd V, Sheridan A, Sjogren K-G, Stockhammer PW, Krause J, Pinhasi R, Haak W, Barnes I, Lalueza-Fox C, Reich D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature

Year: 2018

Volume: 555

Issue: 7695

Pages: 190-196

Print publication date: 08/03/2018

Online publication date: 21/02/2018

Acceptance date: 04/01/2018

Date deposited: 27/03/2018

ISSN (print): 0028-0836

ISSN (electronic): 1476-4687

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/nature25738


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