Boleraz-Baden from the North and West.


By way of preparation for a project and for comparanda, I began re-visiting aspects of the Copper Age in Central Europe. As far as this region goes, the broad picture of Neolithic and steppe migrations has been sketched out, although some aspects of the ‘received wisdom’ for both of these large topics require serious re-attention. Whatsmore, the growing dataset can be used to look into more specific topics and questions.

I thought I’d begin with an ‘archaeological block’ which has attracted considerable attention by scholars – the Boleraz -Baden culture which spans from ~ 3700 to 2500 BCE. Early perspectives viewed the Baden culture as a manifestation of ‘Trojan refugees’, a theory which is obviously chronologically incompatible. Marija Gimbutas perceived the Boleraz-Baden complexes to be ‘semi-kurganized’. Indeed, the material culture features begin to depart from the earlier Neolithic model, with a more dispersed settlement pattern, emphasis on pastoralism and other aspects of the ‘Secondary Product Revolution’, appearance of wagons, and new forms of funerary ritual such as the use of barrows.

Boleraz is seen to have evolved from local late Middle Chalcolithic groups and spread out over much of the Carpathian basin (in place of the myriad of Late Neolithic groups). It is often divided into proto-Boleraz (Furchenstichkeramik), Boleraz/ early Baden, classic Baden and late Baden phases (Sachße 2008). The proto-Boleraz phase is most represented at the Danube bend, modern northern Transdanubia and western Slovakia, but some finds also in the Upper tizsa valley and Bukk foothills. This phase is characterised by extra-mural urn-cremation burials, either isolated or in larger cemetries, often under barrows. Funerary gifts include ceramics, stone axes & hammers, occasional copper tools and animal offerings. However, isolated inhumations did occur within settlements, sometimes as disarticulated remains (perhaps ancestral omens). By the developed Boleraz phase, sites had spread south to Lake Balaton.

By the Baden phase, sites can also be found in the Drava-Sava region. Extramural inhumations became predominant, suggesting a profound transformation in funerary behaviour. However, a variety of burials can be found, with regionalization and social stratification becoming more evident. The presence of human sacrifice pits suggests that there were internal conflicts, vandettas and/or extreme stratification.

The material elements and influences of the Boleraz-Baden complex appear as far as northern Europe and even in Late Tripolje millieu beyond the Carpathians. To the south, elements of the B-B-Complex (such as Bratislava bowls) appear in the eastern Serbia, Macedonia, northern Greece, the Rhodopes, and even western Anatolia (Kumtepe) (Coleman & Facorellis 2018). However by 2500 BC the Baden complex had dissolved, not least due to the pressure exerted by the expansion of Yamnaya groups.


The first Baden genome was published in Gamba (2014), then several additional Baden & Boleraz individuals were analysed in Lipson et al (2017). These were shown to lack ‘steppe ancestry’, and instead appeared to be fairly typical of the profile seen in Middle Neolithic and Copper Age ‘Farmers’ across central & western Europe. In regions beyond the Balkans, late hunter-gatherers (HG) mixed with Balkan-Anatolian Farmers after the ‘Early Farmer’/ LBK horizon. Lipson et al observed that the amount of HG admixture in the LN-Chlc. Carpathian basin was modest (~ 10%) when compared to levels seen in northern or western Europe, most likely due to larger HG population sizes in the latter regions.

Fig. 1: Epicentre of early Boleraz, infuences, and location of analysed samples.

To begin, a PCA visualization shows that B-B individuals are expectedly situated on a cline connecting Balkan-Anatolian Farmers to WHG. One Boleraz individual appears pulled toward the northeast.

PCA of Selected neolithic - Copper Age individuals, using G25/ Vahaduo
Figure 2. PCA

I then analysed more closely with qpADM using a ”rotating strategy”. I kept Neolithic source fairly constant (e.g. Bulgaria_N or Vinca_N) and ‘auditioned’ the preferred HG admixture (table 1). In terms of broad patterns, levels of HG do not exceed 10% before 4000 BCE, and groups from the northeastern Carpathian basin (i.e. ALPc) tend to have higher HG admixture than those in Pannonia (table 2). The source of HG admixture also showed an interesting pattern – ‘eastern’ sources such as Dnieper-HG or ‘steppe Eneolithic’ are rejected. Iron Gates were satisfactory for earlier groups, however ‘Copper Age’ groups increasingly required trans-Carpathian admixture, represented by the Mesolithic individual from Bottendorf (Saxony, Germany). As an example:

qpADM admixutre analysis
Table 1. qpADM output for Boleraz individuals from Abony.

This is not to say that these individuals came from Saxony, but certainly does point to extensive social networks which might very well extended that far.

Admixture analysis of main groups using qpADM.

Many would also have noticed the individual from Gura Baciului from Romania ~ 3300 BC (Gonzales-Fortes 2017), with some ~ 50% WHG admixture. Although I will not go into it now, she will no longer be lonely.

Looking to male uniparentals, Boleraz male individuals from Abony fall under Y-hg G2a2b, a typical Anatolian-early European Farmer lineage. Two others at Abony belong within what was known as ‘Y-hg I2c’, specifically I-PF3923 (which is also found in later Unetice-related individuals) and I-BY136048 (defining a Carpathian cluster with links to central Germany) (as per ftDNA). Curiously, I2c is missing in hunter-gatherers from Iron Gates region but has been found in hunter-gatherers from Motala (Sweden) & Łojewo, (Poland).

Baden phase individuals predominantly belong to Y-hg G2a2b, but there is also an individual with Y-hg H, and at least three with I2a1-M26-CTS595 from Balatonelle. The latter lineage is that found in the Remedello trio, an elite Bell Beaker individual from Szigetszentmiklós, late TRB/ Wartberg burials from southern Germany, and pre-Beaker tholoi tombs in Iberia. It seems these were an elite clan linking across Alpine Europe in the Chalcolithic era. Nowadays, M26 lineage is Y-hg I lineage found in ~ 40% of Sardinians. The more distantly related M423 is prevalent in Neolithic & Chalcolithic individuals from western Europe but is now relatively uncommon there. One specific lineage within M423 (CTS10228) is now common across central-eastern Europe, but that’s another era and another story.


We can draw several conclusions from this brief look. Within broad terms, the B-B people can be modelled as two-way admixtures between Anatolian Farmers (~ 85 – 90 %) and European hunter-gatherers (10-15%). However, these percentage should not be taken at face value because of the different population sizes expected between Neolithic tells and villages, on the one hand, and bands of late hunter-gatherers, probably in the order of a magnitude. From a male uniparental perspective, the introgression of ‘Mesollithic’ lineages is more significant- closer to the order of 30%. In fact, the Carpathian – East Alpine was a ‘hotbed’ of uniparental diversity, as we also see instances of H2, J2a, C1a, E-M78 and R1b-V88 throughout the Neolithic, Copper, Bronze Ages.

As outlined in Lipson (2017), the admixture of HGs was progressive and occurred over several hundred years, beginning ca. 5000 BC. This pattern is observed throughout temperate Europe and corresponds to the phase immediately after the ‘dissolution’ of the LBK horizon, although the regional successors (e.g. Rossen, Gatarsleben, BKG, Lengyel) still maintain ‘Danubian Neolithic’ traditions of the LBK. In other words, the agency of admixing late HGs should not to be overlooked, but in simple terms they were assimilating into Neolithic societies, rather than taking over as seen later in western France and northern TRB/ GAC zones.

Another WHG rise is observable in Boleraz phase individuals. Levels do not continue to rise in Baden period samples but in fact plataeu, consistent with its propagation further south. Aside from one outlier, these groups lack eastern affinities, suggesting that the “kurgan” traits observed in these groups ocurred as a hallmarks of engaging in Secondary Products economy and its ideological sequalae. The Boleraz fineware probably represents a material veneer, perhaps associated with feasting, which crystalized amongst communities in Lower Austria and southwestern Slovakia (Furholt 2007). This behaviour then diffused further afield by various means.

Whether the instances of Boleraz and Baden pottery further south were translated by migrating groups, or represents an ‘accompanying pottery’ phenomenon remains to be clarified. I suspect the latter might be the case, at least as far as its presence in pre-Yamnaya and Yamnaya related contexts from the western Black Sea region.

This is a snippet of what I’ll be looking at over the next few years, occasionally here and hopefully formally in due course.


Pottery, cultures, people? The European Baden material re-examined. Furholt 2007

Baden Cultural Identities? Late Copper Age Funerals Reviewed. Claudia Sachße 2008

The shadowy “proto-Earlyt Bronze Age” in the Aegean. Coleman & Facorellis 2018

Parallel paleogenomic transects reveal complex genetic history of early European farmers. Lipson et al 2017

Genome flux and stasis in a five millennium transect of European prehistory/ Gamba et al 2014

Paleogenomic Evidence for Multi-generational Mixing between Neolithic Farmers and Mesolithic Hunter-Gatherers in the Lower Danube Basin. Gonzales-Fortes et al. 2017

ftDNA ‘Time Tree’.

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