DF95 Do Over

I’m splitting these posts up in the hopes of keeping them short.

Between 600BC and 0AD (I never know whether to put AD or BC(E) on that one) we can say that some series of events whittled the Cumberland Cluster down to a single man. In that same time, some similar series of events seems to have taken the East Anglia cluster and the Swede cluster down to one man as well. Using the small amount of evidence we have for Cumberland and East Anglia, my last post ended with the idea that instead of looking at a group pushed into Scandinavia as I have in the past, I should look at groups that pushed out. Instead of focusing on the vikings as the sole distributors of our Y DNA, I have to go farther back in time to the end of the Nordic Bronze Age. This seems like the most likely time that our slates were wiped clean and we had to begin again.

Until someone comes in and breaks up these runs of 11 to 16 SNPs in our groups, we can’t really say much about the whereabouts or activities of the men who might have shared those SNPs with us. We are the descendants of a “do over”, so we start there.

The problem I always come to is, how do you get rid of 2000 years worth of people who might be spread over multiple cultures and locations? No one was Y DNA testing to get rid of Cumberlands…or East Anglians…so how does that come about?

The Nordic Bronze Age Setting the Stage

About 1700BC to 500BC. Here is the brief description from wikipedia, note the baltic references and cultural sphere: The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC. The Bronze Age culture of this era succeeded the Late Neolithic Stone Age culture and was followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The archaeological legacy of the Nordic Bronze Age culture is rich, but the ethnic and linguistic affinities of it are unknown, in the absence of written sources. Some scholars also include sites in what is now northern Germany, Pomerania and Estonia in the Baltic region, as part of its cultural sphere.

Scandinavia, but not exactly the Scandinavia we’re used to, it’s more of a regional culture.

Climate Change

The part of the wikipedia article on the Nordic Bronze Age that really grabs me is the bit about the climate: The Nordic Bronze Age was characterized first by a warm climate that began with a climate change around 2700 BC (comparable to that of present-day central Germany and northern France). The warm climate permitted a relatively dense population and good farming; for example, grapes were grown in Scandinavia at this time. A wetter, colder climate prevailed after a minor change in climate between 850 BC and 760 BC, and a more radical one around 650 BC.

Why I think this is so interesting is because of the scope. Right there in one climate report, we have the timing for the expansion of U106, Rise98 in Sweden, RZ18 with it’s many scandinavians and they go along with this warming climate and good farming farther north. Then at the end you have a wetter colder climate setting in until there is a radical shift around 650BC.

A changing climate is one way to get rid of a lot of people. Flooding, crop loss and famine are all familiar ways that entire large groups of people can die.

Large Scale Battles in the Bronze Age

I remember Troy as a mythical event..or maybe it was just semi mythical. Anyway, in my lifetime, it’s become accepted that Troy existed and that the story of the battle of Troy has a core of a historical event (although not exactly as it went down in the Iliad). One reason we have heard about the battle of Troy is the literacy of the people in the area. Norther Europe is a dead zone for literacy in the 1200s BC. This year though archaeology made up for our lack of the written word and a large Northern European battle is being brought to light in Tollense.

There are a lot of things that grabbed my attention in the article on the battle in Tollense from Science Magazine. The location for one. Here is a map with Tollense picked out just south of Sweden and Southeast of Denmark. So here is a picture of the people in this area in the 1200BC timeframe.

tollense river valley

The description of the size of the battle is in keeping with the total defeat of a large group of people. From the article in Science Magazine:

Northern Europe in the Bronze Age was long dismissed as a backwater, overshadowed by more sophisticated civilizations in the Near East and Greece. Bronze itself, created in the Near East around 3200 B.C.E., took 1000 years to arrive here. But Tollense’s scale suggests more organization—and more violence—than once thought.

Again taking a description of the region in the article, I’m reminded of Viking Age Iceland. It was not unorganized, but the base unit was a family farm, not a town. In Iceland disputes would be settled and decisions made at a Thing (a scheduled gathering for an area) where there would be a lawspeaker and various regional officials comprised mainly of wealthy farmers. I have to wonder if the society around Tollense was organized the same way:

At the time of the battle, northern Europe seems to have been devoid of towns or even small villages. As far as archaeologists can tell, people here were loosely connected culturally to Scandinavia and lived with their extended families on individual farmsteads, with a population density of fewer than five people per square kilometer. The closest known large settlement around this time is more than 350 kilometers to the southeast, in Watenstedt.

Although Viking Age Iceland was very definitely built surrounding the idea of warrior-farmers, the Tollense crew is different:

And yet chemical tracers in the remains suggest that most of the Tollense warriors came from hundreds of kilometers away.

Genetic analysis is just beginning, but so far it supports the notion of far-flung origins. DNA from teeth suggests some warriors are related to modern southern Europeans and others to people living in modern-day Poland and Scandinavia. “This is not a bunch of local idiots,” says University of Mainz geneticist Joachim Burger. “It’s a highly diverse population.” 

That suggests an unexpectedly widespread social organization, Jantzen says. “To organize a battle like this over tremendous distances and gather all these people in one place was a tremendous accomplishment,” he says.

It’s not necessarily that there weren’t locals but there was a big enough organization to pull participants from places farther afield. Near the end of the article they ask why would there be a big battle in Tollense (whose only real feature seems to be a bridge over the river that may have been contested). This part is important I think because it lays the groundwork for regional instability just before the period I’m interested in:

But why did so much military force converge on a narrow river valley in northern Germany? Kristiansen says this period seems to have been an era of significant upheaval from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. In Greece, the sophisticated Mycenaean civilization collapsed around the time of the Tollense battle; in Egypt, pharaohs boasted of besting the “Sea People,” marauders from far-off lands who toppled the neighboring Hittites. And not long after Tollense, the scattered farmsteads of northern Europe gave way to concentrated, heavily fortified settlements, once seen only to the south. “Around 1200 B.C.E. there’s a radical change in the direction societies and cultures are heading,” Vandkilde says. “Tollense fits into a period when we have increased warfare everywhere.” 

Constant conflict will also take it’s toll on the gene pool.

We Never Really had a Chance

R1b is a dominant haplogroup in Europe, but our branch of it, U106, is not. U106 is about 30% of the population of R1b. Even in the areas where you most likely find U106 it rarely reaches a level of 50% the male population. It’s not a majority. So from the outset, even in our “home” populations, U106 men are at a statistical disadvantage. Being a member of Z18 doesn’t help things. The majority of men in U106 fall under the monster group of Z381. I suspect that Z18 is about 15% of the population of U106. I’m horrible with math but I think tha puts Z18 men at about 4.5% of R1b. Cumberlands make up about 10% of Z18, but the comparison seems unfair because we know that we’re not full strength. Others sharing our SNPs may have brought us up to a higher percentage.

The point is, even at our best, with groups that don’t seem to have been depopulated to the extent that the Cumberlands were, we’re still a small percentage of the total of R1b. Considering that Haplogroup I and R1a are more prominent in Scandinavia, our market share of available Y DNA goes down significantly. Rise98 shows a U106 presence in Scandinavia, but in the context of other Y haplogroups in the region, it is likely a very small presence.

Being a small population can lead to being an endangered population pretty quickly.

Good Thing, Where Have You Gone?

It is easy to think of all U106 men as a “people” or all Z18 men as a culture, but the truth is that they probably spanned multiple peoples and cultures in the bronze age, just as they do today.

Given the factors explained in the Wikipedia article on the Nordic Bronze Age, I could see the descendants of Mr. U106 and Z18 making their way north and west into Scandinavia during that long period of warmer weather and good farming. Among them there may have been some few proto-Cumberlands. Maybe the real Mr. DF95 (or any of his 14 other counterparts in our particular line). I’m sure life was not easy and there would be the usual amount of die off in lines, but I can imagine the existence of other types of DF95 men. Maybe the warmer parts of the bronze age helped to account for the diversity of haplogroups we see in R1b, U106 and Z18 at the top levels.

I can imagine the DF95 group dispersing to become part of several populations over hundreds of years, just as they have done since 600BC.

As things progress through the Bronze Age though, I can also imagine those men, already fewer in number than others, facing large scale wars, radical climate change and cultural collapse. All of these things could conspire to destroy smaller populations and leave some wandering genetic remnants to stand alone. Larger Y groups may have been more resilient through their largeness.

Here are parts of the wikipedia article on Archaeology in Northern Europe that really informed this idea that we might be a part of a late bronze age decline and early iron age expansion:

Out of the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of the 12th century BCE developed the Early Iron Age Hallstatt culture of Central Europe from the eighth to sixth centuries BCE, which was followed by the La Tène culture of Central Europe (450 BCE to 1st century BCE). Albeit the metal iron came into wider use by metalsmiths in the Mediterranean as far back as c. 1300 BCE due to the Late Bronze Age collapse, the Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe started only as early as the 5th/4th to the 1st century BCE. 

The coincidence to the age estimates for Mr. ZP86 (the guy that lived) are very interesting as the Cumberland men…well man at that point faces climbing out of a genetic hole right at the point of the pre-roman iron age. Although not as close a fit, it does also contain the contraction and expansion of the men in East Anglia and the Swede Cluster (may have to squint a bit on the swede cluster though).

The Iron Age in northern Europe is markedly distinct from the Celtic La Tène culture south of it. The old long range trading networks south-north between the Mediterranean cultures and Northern Europe, had broken down at the end of the Nordic Bronze Age and caused a rapid and deep cultural change in Scandinavia.

The cultural change that ended the Nordic Bronze Age was affected by the expansion of Hallstatt culture from the south and accompanied by a changing climate, which caused a dramatic change in the flora and fauna. In Scandinavia, this period is often called the Findless Age due to the lack of archaeological finds. While the archaeological record from Scandinavia are consistent with an initial decline in population, the southern parts of the culture, the Jastorf culture, was in expansion southwards. It consequently appears that the climate change played an important role in this southward expansion into continental Europe.

Cultural change, climate change, population decline and southward expansion. Not everyone is going to pack up and leave but I imagine some population probably did. It could have been violent or it may have been a peaceful exchange, maybe gene flow through culture swapping, or maybe just the natural movement of farmers escaping south to better land. Either way, I think some of the descendants of Mr. ZP86 hung out in Scandinavia and others left and moved south in later ages, likely through Jutland, but also west by sea.

Here again from wikipedia:

The bearers of this northern Iron Age culture were likely speakers of Germanic languages. The stage of development of this Germanic is not known, although Proto-Germanic has been proposed. The late phase of this period sees the beginnings of the Migration Period, starting with the invasions of the Teutons and the Cimbri until their defeat at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BCE, presaging the more turbulent Roman Iron Age and Migration Period.

The Teutons and the Cimbri were tribes in Northern Jutland that ran south and caused a lot of trouble for Germanic and Celtic peoples along with the Romans who eventually defeated them around 100BC in South Eastern France. The story goes that those two groups were virtually wiped out by the Romans with thousands taken as slaves, including women and children. So it’s not a small war band, but entire moving tribes. I’m not saying that our Y DNA group had anything to do with the Cimbri or the Teutones, but it does give an example of a wandering group of various tribes from Jutland heading south in a hurry.

Here is a google map of the direct route. Of course, they did not take the direct route they battled all along the way both east and west.

denmark to aix

Having Jutlanders in the south of France fighting the Romans at their back door makes it easier to imagine the comparatively minor migrations and expansion of the Cumberland or East Anglia men out of Scandinavia after the disastrous (for us anyway) events of the late Bronze Age.


The Beginning

Here I’ll leave it for now, with Cumberland man (and likely East Anglia man and probably Swede man) having been pushed to the breaking point at the end of the Bronze age. It was the end for a thousand plus years of generations of men having been brought down to the offspring of a single man in each group. With their survival, it also marks the beginning of a new expansion for us, through the Iron age and the Migration period on up through the rise and fall of Rome and the middle ages. Sons have sons and men move on. Now, again, we are part of many cultures and peoples.

This is currently my best explanation for why we are very ancient haplogroups with very recent common ancestors.


And Then There Were Two



DF95 Not Alone in Being Alone


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