Over at BioRxiv at this LINK:
Abstract: Bell Beaker pottery spread across western and central Europe beginning around 2750 BCE before disappearing between 2200-1800 BCE. The mechanism of its expansion is a topic of long-standing debate, with support for both cultural diffusion and human migration. We present new genome-wide ancient DNA data from 170 Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Europeans, including 100 Beaker-associated individuals. In contrast to the Corded Ware Complex, which has previously been identified as arriving in central Europe following migration from the east, we observe limited genetic affinity between Iberian and central European Beaker Complex-associated individuals, and thus exclude migration as a significant mechanism of spread between these two regions. However, human migration did have an important role in the further dissemination of the Beaker Complex, which we document most clearly in Britain using data from 80 newly reported individuals dating to 3900-1200 BCE. British Neolithic farmers were genetically similar to contemporary populations in continental Europe and in particular to Neolithic Iberians, suggesting that a portion of the farmer ancestry in Britain came from the Mediterranean rather than the Danubian route of farming expansion. Beginning with the Beaker period, and continuing through the Bronze Age, all British individuals harboured high proportions of Steppe ancestry and were genetically closely related to Beaker-associated individuals from the Lower Rhine area. We use these observations to show that the spread of the Beaker Complex to Britain was mediated by migration from the continent that replaced >90% of Britain's Neolithic gene pool within a few hundred years, continuing the process that brought Steppe ancestry into central and northern Europe 400 years earlier.
Olalde et al., The Beaker Phenomenon And The Genomic Transformation Of Northwest Europe, bioRxiv, Posted May 9, 2017, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/135962
Beveled rim bowls are small, undecorated, mass-produced clay bowls most common in the 4th millennium B.C. They constitute roughly three quarters of all ceramics found in Uruk culture sites, are therefore a unique and reliable indicator of the presence of the Uruk culture in ancient Mesopotamia.
Beveled rim bowls are generally uniform in size standing roughly 10 cm tall with the mouth of the bowl being approximately 18 cm in diameter. The sides of the bowls have a straight steep angle down to a very defined base usually 9 cm in diameter. The bowls are made of low fired clay and have relatively thick walls compared to other forms of pottery of the time—making them surprisingly robust. The most unusual aspects of beveled rim bowls are that they are undecorated and found discarded in large quantities.
While the exact method for production of beveled rim bowls is unknown, the most widely accepted theory is the use of a mold. A lesser accepted theory is that the bowls were made by hand. Archeologists replicating beveled rim bowls have found it considerably difficult to achieve the straight sides and well defined base while only using their hands. The use of a mold has been found to be a significant advantage when replicating the bowls. The large numbers of beveled rim bowls found (often in a single site) seem to support the mold theory because mass production with a mold is far more feasible than making them by hand. A debate exists among advocates of the mold theory. Most impose the use of a mobile mold that could be made of a variety of materials including wood, metal, stone or even another beveled rim bowl. Others suggest that craftsmen would have used a ground mold wherein the bowls were formed in a conical depression created in the ground.
Beveled rim bowls are widely thought to be used for measurement of barley and oil as rations. The rations would be given as payment to laborers for services rendered. This idea is supported by the resemblance of the beveled rim bowls to the cuneiform sign for ration (NINDA). It is also supported by the fact that the bowls are often found whole and in large piles as if they were disposable. The bowls would have been used for rationing once or twice and then discarded in a central location. An alternate theory is that the bowls were used for baking bread, which also could have been rationed in its container.
Beveled rim bowls originated in the city state of Uruk in the mid-fourth millennium B.C. As the Uruk culture expanded so did the production and use of these bowls. According to Marc Van De Mieroop, “Examples have been excavated in the Zagros mountains (e.g., Godin Tepe, Choga Gavaneh), in northern (e.g., Tepe, Ozbeki, Tepe Sialk), central (e.g., Tepe Yahiya), and southern Iran (e.g., Nurabad). They were even found on the modern coast of Pakistan near the Gulf of Oman (Miri Qalat).”
Roughly 75% of all ceramics found with Uruk culture sites are bevel-rimmed bowls, so two major aspects make them historically significant to archeologists. First, they are one of the earliest signs of mass production of a single product in history. Second, their suspected use as a form of payment to workers is a milestone in history because there is no evidence of rationed payments before beveled rim bowls.
Cro-Magnons (the first anatomically modern humans in Europe) are believed to have arrived in Europe about 40,000 years ago. They are known to have had a presence in the geographical region that was to become Great Britain by 33,000 years before present (BP) due to the discovery of the skeletal remains of the "Red Lady of Paviland". This is actually the skeleton (lacking the skull) of a young man of the Aurignacian culture, and may be the oldest, modern, human remains yet discovered in Great Britain and Ireland.
A chapter in The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain states that the Last Glacial Maximum "saw an almost complete depopulation of England, Germany and the northern half of France, starting around 23,000 years ago, with the possible exception of rare ephemeral incursions into the southern half of Germany". Humans probably returned to the region of the British/Irish peninsula about 14,700 years ago as the Ice Age started to end. Eighty percent of the DNA of most Britons, according to modern research, has been passed down from a few thousand individuals who hunted in this region after the last Ice Age. Compared to this, subsequent migrations from mainland Europe had less genetic impact on the British.
Around 14,000 BC, rising sea levels due to ice melting caused Ireland to be separated from Great Britain. An abrupt cold spell in Northern Europe known as the Younger Dryas, which occurred between 10,900 BC and 9700 BC, may have depopulated Ireland.
Mesolithic and Neolithic
Around 5,600 BC, continuing rises in sea level led Great Britain to become separated from continental Europe. Doggerland is a name given to a former landmass in the southern North Sea that connected Great Britain to mainland Europe, surviving as an island at Dogger Bank until about 5,000 BC after gradually being flooded by rising sea levels. Doggerland was probably a rich human habitat in the Mesolithic period.
There have been several cold periods since the last ice age; the most severe were from about 12,800 to 11,500 years ago (Younger Dryas) and 6,200–5,800 BC (the "8.2 kilo year event"). Although these events are likely to have adversely affected population numbers, some settlements seem to have survived. During the Mesolithic period, there was a miniaturisation of flint artefacts, which has been attributed to differences in the prey of the hunters (this change in artefacts was at one time attributed to the arrival of a new people). About 4,000 BC, the Neolithic Revolution reached Britain and Ireland, with domestication of animals, arable farming and pottery. Again, a new invasion was previously postulated by archaeologists but this now seems to have had only a minor effect on the isles. A low estimate for the population of Britain around 9,000 BC is 1,100–1,200 people; in 8,000 BC, 1,200–2,400; in 7,000 BC, 2,500–5,000; and in 5,000 BC, 2,750–5,500. Another method gives a much higher estimate so that, by 4,000 BC, the population of Great Britain was around 100,000, while that of Ireland was some 40,000. By 2,000 BC, Great Britain and Ireland had populations around 250,000 and 50,000, respectively.
Defined by a style of pottery from the 3rd millennium BC, found in most of Europe in archaeological digs, the Beaker people have been considered to represent early immigration to the British Isles during the Bronze Age.
It was originally thought that there were settlers that came with these Beaker folk who also had other defining features that showed that they were distinct from earlier dwellers of the British Isles, such as the development of metalworking and the mode of burial of the dead that came into use at about this time. Analyses of the uptake of isotopes of the element strontium in teeth (younger) and bones (older) in individuals have found evidence of a great deal of mobility, particularly of females, within central and western Europe. It is generally accepted by archaeologists today that the spread of the artefacts of the Beaker people may be more indicative of the development of particular manufacturing skills that spread independent of population movement, rather than the migrations of particular peoples.