Stephan Schiffels

Population Genetics – Computational Methods - Human History

Gretzinger et al. 2024

Lead Evidence for dynastic succession among early Celtic elites in Central Europe. Nature Human Behaviour. Published June 3, 2024.

Authors: Joscha Gretzinger, Felicitas Schmitt, Angela Mötsch, Selina Carlhoff, Thiseas Christos Lamnidis, Yilei Huang, Harald Ringbauer, Corina Knipper, Michael Francken, Franziska Mandt, Leif Hansen, Cäcilia Freund, Hannes Rathmann, Katerina Harvati, Günther Wieland, Lena Granehäll, Frank Maixner, Albert Zink, Wolfram Schier, Dirk Krausse, Johannes Krause and Stephan Schiffels

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Abstract: The early Iron Age (800 to 450 BCE) in France, Germany and Switzerland, known as the `West-Hallstattkreis', stands out as featuring the earliest evidence for supra-regional organization north of the Alps. Often referred to as `early Celtic', suggesting tentative connections to later cultural phenomena, its societal and population structure remain enigmatic. Here we present genomic and isotope data from 31 individuals from this context in southern Germany, dating between 616 and 200 BCE. We identify multiple biologically related groups spanning three elite burials as far as 100 km apart, supported by trans-regional individual mobility inferred from isotope data. These include a close biological relationship between two of the richest burial mounds of the Hallstatt culture. Bayesian modelling points to an avuncular relationship between the two individuals, which may suggest a practice of matrilineal dynastic succession in early Celtic elites. We show that their ancestry is shared on a broad geographic scale from Iberia throughout Central-Eastern Europe, undergoing a decline after the late Iron Age (450 BCE to ~50 CE). Gretzinger et al. examine genetic evidence from 31 Iron Age individuals in southern Germany and find that this early Celtic society probably had a dynastic system of matrilineal inheritance, with a network of well-connected elites covering a broad territory.