Women may have headed Stone Age migration, study reports

Women regularly migrated during the Stone Age and early Bronze age, spreading culture and new ideas across Europe, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
By Jackie Flores | Sep 08, 2017
Women regularly migrated during the Stone Age and early Bronze age, spreading culture and new ideas across Europe, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A team of researchers in Germany found this trend by looking at the ancient DNA of people who died in the Lechtal, a valley that runs through both southern Germany and western Austria. After analyzing the remains of 84 people buried in the area between 2500 and 1650 BCE, the team found that many of the women were not originally from the valley. In fact, most grew up in other regions of the world before migrating to the Lechtal as adults.

Past genetic analysis has shown a great diversity of different female lineages from that time, which would only occur if many women relocated to the Lech Valley from somewhere else. Most of the women looked at in the study likely came from either central Germany or Bohemia before being integrated into new societies.

"Individual mobility was a major feature characterizing the lives of people in Central Europe even in the third and early second millennium," said lead researcher Philipp Stockhammer, a researcher at the Ludwig- Maximilian University of Munich in Germany, according to International Business Times. "It appears that at least part of what was previously believed to be migration by groups is based on an institutionalized form of individual mobility."

In contrast, the men typically stayed at the place they were born in. The pattern of men staying put and women migrating into the Lechtal continued for hundreds of years in the villages along the fertile valley.

Such movement may have played a significant role in the exchange of cultural objects and ideas, which may have then prompted the development of new technologies. As a result, study of those patterns could help scientists build a better picture of ancient Europe. The findings may also help researchers get a better idea of how humans moved around Stone Age Europe.

"We all know these stories about warrior men out fighting and bringing home food while the women and children stayed at home but it appears things were quite different," added Stockhammer, according to Telegraph UK. "Our study suggests that almost none of the men had traveled, while two thirds of the women had."

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