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Steppe thugs pacified by the love of stone age women

'Can you take the bins out, Ugg?'

By Kat Hall, 4 Apr 2017

It happens to the best of us: one minute you're raiding and pillaging on the Pontic-Caspian steppe, the next you're settled down with a stone age woman, have a mortgage on the hut and 2.4 kids.

According to an article in the journal Antiquity, Steppe migrant thugs who came into Europe via Ukraine were pacified by Stone Age farming women.

Yamnaya warriors belonging to raiding parties married local Stone Age women in Neolithic Europe, settling and adopting an agrarian lifestyle. During this process a Proto-Germanic language and the Corded Ware Culture was formed.

The Yamnaya people originated on the Caspian steppe, where they lived as pastoralists and herders, using wagons as mobile homes.

The continent encountered by the Yamnaya people around 3000 BC had seen a decline in the agrarian Stone Age societies, thereby allowing space for incoming migrants. This decline was probably the result of a widespread plague from Siberia to the Baltic, the article suggested.

Professor Kristian Kristiansen, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said researchers had combined genetics, strontium isotopes on mobility and diet, and historical linguistics on language change, to demonstrate how the integration process unfolded.

"In our grand synthesis we argue that Yamnaya migrants were predominantly males, who married women who came from neighbouring Stone Age farming societies."

These Stone Age Neolithic societies were based on large farming communities reflected in their collective burial ritual, which often took place in big stone chambers – which were very different from the traditions of the incoming migrants.

The paper Re-theorising mobility and the formation of culture and language among the Corded Ware Culture in Europe by Kristiansen, Allentoft, Frei, Iversen, Johannsen, Kroonen, Pospiezny, Price, Rasmussen, Sjögren, Sikora and Willerslev has been accepted for publication in the journal Antiquity. ®

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