Ancient DNA insights from the Middle Neolithic in Germany

  • Esther J. Lee
  • Ben Krause-Kyora
  • Christoph Rinne
  • Rebecca Schütt
  • Melanie Harder
  • Johannes Müller
  • Nicole von Wurmb-Schwark
  • Almut NebelEmail author
Original Paper


Genetic studies of Neolithic groups in central Europe have provided insights into the demographic processes that have occurred during the initial transition to agriculture as well as in later Neolithic contexts. While distinct genetic patterns between indigenous hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers in Europe have been observed, it is still under discussion how the genetic diversity changed during the 5,000-year span of the Neolithic period. In order to investigate genetic patterns after the earliest farming communities, we carried out an ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis of 34 individuals from Wittmar, Germany representing three different Neolithic farming groups (ca. 5,200–4,300 cal bc) including Rössen societies. Ancient DNA analysis was successful for six individuals associated with the Middle Neolithic Rössen and observed haplotypes were assigned to mtDNA haplogroups H5, HV0, U5, and K. Our results offer perspectives on the genetic composition of individuals associated with the Rössen culture at Wittmar and permit insights into genetic landscapes in central Europe at a time when regional groups first emerged during the Middle Neolithic.


Neolithic Europe Ancient DNA Rössen Mitochondrial DNA 



This study was supported by the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” at Kiel University and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) under the Priority Program 1400 “Early monumentality and social differentiation: on the origin and development of Neolithic large-scale buildings and the emergence of early complex societies in Northern Central Europe” (Project No. RE 3001/1-1). We thank Wolf-Dieter Steinmetz (Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum) for handling of the skeletal materials. The authors also thank Ines Reese and Holger Dietrich for their assistance with the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esther J. Lee
    • 1
    • 5
  • Ben Krause-Kyora
    • 2
  • Christoph Rinne
    • 3
  • Rebecca Schütt
    • 1
  • Melanie Harder
    • 1
  • Johannes Müller
    • 3
  • Nicole von Wurmb-Schwark
    • 4
  • Almut Nebel
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes”Kiel UniversityKielGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Clinical Molecular BiologyKiel UniversityKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Pre-and ProtohistoryKiel UniversityKielGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Legal MedicineKiel UniversityKielGermany
  5. 5.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social WorkTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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