4000 Years ago women walked hundreds of kilometers

4000 years ago women walked hundreds of kilometers

About 4000 years ago, women in germany were extremely mobile and probably walked hundreds of kilometers to find their future husbands. This is the assumption of german researchers from several institutes.

They write about their research results in the "proceedings" of the US national academy of sciences (PNAS). They had taken a closer look at 84 skeletons from the bavarian lechtal. The corpses were buried between 2500 and 1700 BC – during the transition from the stone age to the bronze age.

"It was probably not the men but the women who played an important, perhaps decisive role in the exchange of knowledge," said project leader philipp stockhammer of the ludwig maximilians university in munich.

According to the researchers, about two-thirds of the women studied came to the scattered farmsteads in the lech valley at an age of about 17 years, presumably from the area between halle and leipzig or from bohemia, in order to found a family there. "Everything points to the fact that in the bronze age women were extremely mobile. We have no comparable evidence for men," said stockhammer.

In the early bronze age, the people in the area between the elbe and saale rivers had developed metalworking techniques to a particularly high degree. "The women were wandering places of knowledge and probably helped to pass on the knowledge."

According to the analyses, the examined skeletons show a rough genetic diversity. This indicates that over time many women came from abroad. "Based on the analysis of strontium isotope contents in molars, which allow conclusions to be drawn about the origin of the individuals, we were able to determine that the majority of the women did not come from the region," said corina knipper from the curt engelhorn center in mannheim, who was also involved in the study.

The researchers had examined bones and teeth from seven sites. They date from a time when southern germany was home to arable farmers and cattle breeders. The wandering of the women can be proven by this study alone over about 800 years. "It was obviously a tradition that lasted for many centuries," stockhammer said.

According to stockhammer, the findings raise many new questions. The women of this age had hardly simply run off on their own to look for a man. "How were they on the road, were there treks? How did the men get the women from so far away?? How were the people networked?" Said stockhammer. "They couldn’t call and ask: do you have someone for me??"The researchers are also puzzled by the fact that no descendants of the immigrant women were found in the lechtal. It is unlikely that the women did not have children at all, but were only taken to work and had a lower status, he said. The way they were buried was no different from that of the local population. The women were integrated into the community, knipper said. It is unclear where their offspring could have migrated to, they said. "There was probably a cruder system behind it," stockhammer said.

In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2016, swedish researchers had already shown, on the basis of finds from several excavation sites in bavaria and baden-wurttemberg from the period 2800 to 2200 BC, that even in this period a high proportion of the buried had not been born there.


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