The clearest prehistorical natural division in the region is marked by the wide river areas of the Rhine, Meuse and Ijssel, constituting a permanent border between a Nordic network to the north and east, and an Atlantic network to the south and west. In the early Neolithic, loess soils were inhabited by farmers of the Linearbandkeramik culture and related groups, while the delta was occupied by farmer-hunter-fishers of the Swifterbant culture, and later the late Vlaardingen culture. The Single Grave culture was widely distributed as successor to the Funnel Beaker culture, and its barrows are seen from ca. 2900 BC onwards, replacing the earlier megalithic tradition. Until 2500 BC, the Stein group dominated the areas of the Meuse region down to the Belgian border (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
Shortly after 2500 BC the first Bell Beaker traits appeared in the north, possibly through the south-western German province along the Rhine, with influence under the early Mittelelbe–Saale province—closely related, like the Danubian EBA and North Italian province, to the early expanding East Bell Beaker group—with a core development in the Lower Rhine / Low Lands area. The earliest use of metal in the region date to the late phase of the Bell Beaker culture (ca. 2300–2000 BC), with evidence of local metalworking replacing stone as the dominant material for the production of axes (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
The Rhenish / Dutch Bell Beaker province, although not part of the East Bell Beaker core, had an important role as transmitter of impulses for the north, similar to the role that the North Italian core had for the south. Although Bell Beakers and their immediate cultural successor EBA Barbed Wire Beaker groups appear as a coherent tradition, this homogeneity is only apparent from similarities in building monumental barrows (lasting until ca. 1400 BC), and by the common developments, like the addition of tin–bronzes to metalworking ca. 2000–1800 BC, in common with adjacent western Germany and northern France. Traditional cultural divisions marked by geography probably persisted, though (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
The Riesenbecher group appears between the lower Rhine and the Elbe, with their twisted cord-decorated pottery (Wickelschnurkeramik), in the transition to the Middle Bronze Age. The region shows leaf-shaped flint daggers, like those of the Nordic Bronze Age, and imports from other neighbouring regions, and especially from the British Isles, which puts the lower Rhine region together with the Low Lands as intermediaries between Atlantic and central European traditions (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
At the end of the EBA (ca. 1850 BC), this division becomes evident in archaeology again: north and east of the rivers Ijssel and Vecht, the Elp tradition shows plain, undecorated pottery tempered with broken quartz. Longhouses, typical of the lowlands and Scandinavia since the Late Neolithic, must have gradually increased during the EBA, and are dominant since ca. 1500 BC over a much larger area in north-west Europe (in low-lying areas).
This house type was probably related to the expansion of mixed farming combined with cattle-stalling and collecting of manure, and may have inhabited by extended families. Settlements appear to be formed by one or two farmsteads, and repeated use of settlements and periods of abandonment can be seen. Outbuildings probably show granaries, and circular ditches and pit circles probably functioned as grain-storage facilities, similar to low-lying areas of Denmark. In north-west Germany, the typical settlement consisted of a long Wohnstallhaus (house-and-barn) with small ancillary buildings, protected by simple fences. They represent largely self-sufficient farmsteads, with five to eight families, which lasted maximum three or four generations. No fortified settlements are found in the area (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
The subsistence economy includes stock rearing and arable farming, with the system of ‘Celtic’ fields being developed from the MBA, and probably reaching full development during the LBA, although probably only during the Iron Age were large continuous fields present around farms. Wide banks around the fields have been explained as evidence of mixing depleted topsoil from the fields approximately every five years with dung from stables, and then bringing the enriched soil back onto the field. Bronze production increases during this period, with axes, spearheads, arrowheads, knives and ornaments locally made, while flint remained in use (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
The tradition during the Bronze Age (until ca. 1200 BC) is inhumation, with dead laid out stretched on their back, sometimes accompanied by grave gifts, rarely bronzes and pottery. Bronze Age barrows are more modest than those of the Nordic Bronze Age (ca. 15 m) —their size not representing the status of the dead—and they are occasionally surrounded by wooden posts. Chieftain burials show a set of weapons and standardised tools, and may represent an idealised way to bury important ancestors, with barrows often built on older ones. Imports from the Atlantic region show maritime connections linking the Channel coasts to north German and Danish areas. Occasional Nordic imports also support these trade connections. Atlantic and continental contacts shift during the Middle and Late Bronze Age, probably representing shifts in the main centres of trade (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
After 1200 BC, Urnfield pottery appears in the Ems group north and east of the Ijssel, while the southern regions are under the influence of the Lower Rhine Urnfield culture, in contact with the Rhin–Suisse–France Oriental tradition and their marked forms and incised decoration. Cremation becomes the dominant treatment of the dead, and urnfields develop first with monumental barrows on the same spots (which points to long traditions of intermittent use), with pottery featuring prominently in cemeteries. After 1000 BC all urnfield barrows show the same form, small barrows surrounded by a shallow ditch and a causeway in the south-east (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
During the Late Bronze Age (1000–800 BC), the longhouse disappears, and a new, smaller type dominates during the Early Iron Age, possibly connected to a change in social structure into single family groups, also seen in the transition from barrows to urnfields. More people are buried visibly in this period. Based on the small number of families represented in urnfields, communities probably consisted usually of three or four farmsteads (Fokkens and Fontijn 2013).
In Scandinavia, farming communities had already abandoned their subsistence strategy for the development of transhumance (Jensen 2003). With the latest Middle Neolithic phase (ca. 2800–2400 BC), Corded Ware/Battle Axe groups appear in Norway, but the extent of their influence is unclear, and seems constrained to some limited “islands” or groups in the east, probably interacting with late Funnel Beaker and hunter-gatherer groups (Prescott 2012).
The Corded Ware migration was the result of small-scale immigration, which brought about changes in subsistence economy in the new small settlement patches mainly concentrated in southern Scandinavia. The arrival of Corded Ware settlers did not represent a significant change from older traditions, with migrants having a more pronounced terrestrial bearing, targeting pastures and hunting grounds rather than waterways. They did not trigger any substantial regional change (Prescott, Sand-Eriksen, and Austvoll 2018).
A migration of Bell Beaker groups to Jutland during the mid–3rd millennium BC seems to have brought skills in mining and sailing, introducing mass production of flint daggers, as well as the first metal daggers (an imitation of copper and bronze prototypes). This Dagger Period of the Late Nordic Neolithic also represents the introduction of a more ranked social organisation, and a new ideology, with a farm institution (longhouses and fields), and an economy based on agropastoralism, integrating the diverse previous cultural traditions into a single south Scandinavian cultural sphere (Kristiansen 2009).
Bell Beaker settlers, probably from northern Jutland, migrated thus to western Scandinavia, evidenced by the appearance of bifacial tanged–and–barbed points (“Bell Beaker points”) in the early Bell Beaker period ca. 2400 BC. Their coastal distribution in northern Scandinavia and limited inland expansion underscores the maritime nature of the initial Bell Beaker expansion. The new settlers were probably attracted by hunting products, political power, pastures, and most especially metals (Prescott, Sand-Eriksen, and Austvoll 2018).
A massive transfer of knowledge, institutions and practices—accompanied by a massive movement of peoples—happened thus ca. 2400–2350 BC in the coasts of northern Scandinavia, with some of the first migrants probably disembarking at or near the harbour discovered in Slettabø. Southern immigrants occupied environments similar to their territories in Jutland. Metal prospecting would explain the initial exploration along the western coast and the fjords, reaching as far north as Mjeltehaugen, possibly as ‘scouts’ (Anthony 1990). These prospectors eventually established permanent settlements on the coast, and long-term links with neighbouring indigenous groups, opening thus new territories, and having a significant transformative impact during the following generations by controlling the maritime network (Prescott, Sand-Eriksen, and Austvoll 2018). They eventually established a new coastal elite (Sand-Eriksen 2017).
The rapid adaptation of new practices to such hostile environments indicate the active participation of people with long traditions in the region. Such migratory movements “were probably related to the inherently expansive pastoral ideology, bolstered by a male warrior ideal, wanderlust, ideologically encouraged travelling/knowledge seeking, but also resource prospecting in a world rapidly embracing metallurgy and trade in exotica” (Prescott 2012).
A long transition follows the arrival of Bell Beakers, from around 2200 BC to 1700–1600 BC, which continues in part Late Neolithic traditions—such as longhouses, flintwork, metalwork and burial rites—and incorporates them to the new culture (Figure 63). The Dagger Period integrated the diverse cultural traditions of the previous period into a single south Scandinavian cultural sphere under the influence of Bell Beakers (Prescott 2009), which suggests the formation of “a shared Nordic language based upon the frequent interaction that followed from the distribution of flint daggers” (Kristiansen 2009).
Figure 63. Left: Hoards of type 1 flint daggers and sources of flint, coinciding with the concentration of Beaker material in northern Jutland (Prescott 2009). Right: Beaker burials from northern Jutland including type I flint daggers. Images from (Vandkilde 2005).
This regional continuity is seen in the thousands of flint daggers (hence the ‘Dagger Period’), while the European connection is evident from metal finds, particularly flat axes and flanged axes, first imported from central and western Europe (Anglo-Irish axes), but gradually increasing in native forms with a different craft tradition; metal supply was dependent on central European ores; and rich metal hoards show close contact zones between the Únětice culture of central Germany and the EBA in Mecklenburg. (Jockenhövel 2013).
Such a direct strong cultural connection was possible thanks to communications through the strait of Skagerrak between northern Jutland and southern Norway. This, and the superior attractiveness of the Bell Beaker culture—apart from its military expansiveness—provided the necessary unifying conditions and infrastructure for the expansion and linguistic unification of Scandinavia quickly during the following Late Neolithic and early Bronze Age period (Prescott 2012).
To a certain extent, taking the example mentioned by Prescott (2012), the previous Corded Ware and the following Bell Beaker cultures could be compared with explorations of Sparta and Athens: Sparta and Corded Ware represent terrestrial brutal force, while Athens and Bell Beaker represent maritime mobility and trade, and an appealing ideology.
During the Bronze Age, at least two social spheres can be described in Scandinavia: one of agriculture and husbandry related to the inland; and one of maritime nature, forming a decentralised social organisation led by warriors focused on seaborne transport, trade, and raids, related to the sea and the coastal rocks (as well as to rock art, barrows, and burial cairns). Unlike in the previous Neolithic period, certain parts of the elite invested in the maritime forces of production and controlling long-distance trade, establishing chiefdoms from coastal settlements close to agropastoral production areas (Earle et al. 2015; Ling, Cornell, and Kristiansen 2017; Prøsch-Danielsen, Prescott , and Holst 2018).
Geography defines long-lasting cultural divisions: southern Scandinavia (Jutland and southern and western Swedish coasts) shows best conditions for agriculture; central parts of Sweden and southern Norway (as far north as Trondheim) show arable zones along the sea and near Swedish lakes, but with pine forest dominant to the north; the north and the inland mountain zone shows limited potential for agriculture, and thus continuing Mesolithic economy with hunting and fishing as main components (Thrane 2013).
Southern Scandinavia, with its participation in the larger European network of bronze exchange, may have acted as the periphery of European Bronze Age societies. A more complex distinction may be more precisely made on a regional scale between southern, central and northern Scandinavia, with centre–periphery relationships based on the dynamics of regional cycles of production and alliances. Rock carvings define a common culture concentrated especially in western Sweden and south Norway, and help at the same time determine influence zones. A northern Neolithic tradition of hunters shows big game and fish motifs, located on rocks in the north and along inland rivers; a farmers’ or southern tradition is mainly represented by ship depictions, but cattle and other domestic motifs also occur (Thrane 2013).
The longhouse, which continues a Neolithic tradition as two-aisled, changes to a three-aisled structure, an innovation that connected the region with the south and the western Baltic. The orientation is nearly always west–east, with entrance on the long side, and living quarters in the west. In central Scandinavia and the northern coasts, small huts—resulting from seasonal settlements—are also seen. Subsistence economy included cereal cultivation (mainly barley, also emmer and spelt), cattle and sheep herding, with farms described as mobile, evidenced by shifting settlements over small territories (Thrane 2013).
Hemispherical burial mounds predominate as funerary rituals, with turves in the south and cairns formed of boulders in the north. Both tend to form lines along land routes and coasts, with clusters indicating centres of population (Johansen, Laursen, and Holst 2004). Initially conceived for single burials, barrows could be subsequently enlarged to accommodate more burials. Their relative number (a hundred thousand mounds in the south, thirty thousand cairns in the north) may give an approximate idea of the relative population density of those who shared a similar culture (Thrane 2013).
Burials show wooden coffins, with the body extended on its back, head to the west (changing in the MBA to a north–south orientation). Pottery shows scarce decoration and continuity with Late Neolithic Kummerkeramik. Tumulus and Lusatian pottery influences local pottery with new types—small amphorae with two small handles—and a smoother appearance (Thrane 2013).
At the beginning of the central European MBA (ca. 1450 BC), tin–bronze becomes established initially marked by widely distributed flanged axes, early spearheads, and pins with perforated spherical head, from south German and Swiss culture areas. Influences from central Europe are seen in all Bronze Age stages: early in Apa-type swords, the first spearheads, and the spiral ornamentation, together with local forms. Bronzes were often cast with little reforging. Some assemblages are reminiscent of Mycenaean, Near Eastern, and Egyptian models, with findings of Baltic amber in the eastern Mediterranean pointing to indirect connections with the region via land or sea (Jockenhövel 2013).
Swords become the emblem of the Bronze Age, and are especially numerous in south Scandinavia. Imported Apa-type swords from south-east and central Europe reach as far as Uppland (eastern Sweden). To the south, in north Germany, short swords of the Sögel–Wohlde culture (ca. 1450–1100 BC), apparent heir of the earliest Nordic Bronze Age in southern Jutland, are found in the eastern lowlands, from the Rhine in the west to the Elbe in the east, and to Jutland to the north. It features inhumations in large burial mounds—unlike the contemporaneous Tumulus culture of central Europe—with male-only stone cist graves (Jockenhövel 2013). In the north, the Valsømagle long sword represents the start of solid-hilted swords in few regional workshops. Octogonal-hilted and flage-hilted swords of the type of the Tumulus culture are also imported. Spearheads are also characteristic of the whole Nordic BA, as are different axe types. Flintwork remains in sue but gradually decreases in quality (Thrane 2013).
Southern groups can be identified by specific weapon combinations: the West Holstein group (sword, spearhead), the Segeberg group (sword, plastave, like the Stade group), and the West Mecklenburg group (sword, palstave, dagger). In central Scandinavia, groups are defined by local environment, such as the segmented fjord landscapes of Norway, along the big rivers and lakes of Sweden, inland and coastal settlements of Sweden. Male burials show an emphasis on fighting, and settlements are isolated farmsteads—formed by house–and–barn buildings, and a byre provided for cattle—near the burial mounds. Hence chiefs and warriors represented a prosperous rural community. Population density seems to have been limited, and settlements unstable, compared to other European regions (Jockenhövel 2013).
Figure 64. The gilded side of the Trundholm sun chariot, possibly of Danubian influence because of its early date (ca. 1400 BC). Image modified from original of Nationalmusset at <http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/2613>.
Mounds may contain several graves, often a man and a woman placed together, and possibly successively showing a distinction between generations. Graves are identified by their goods: short swords or daggers, flanged axes, heart-shaped flint arrowheads, pins, and occasionally small spiral-shaped gold rings. The mound can thus be viewed as a family burial site of an egalitarian society, belonging to an agriculturally-orientated single farm (Jockenhövel 2013). Annual imports of metal in the region—that began during the EBA—require regular and well-organised long-distance trade expeditions. Similarly, woollen textiles, whether finished or semi-finished, were also imported, with a market of Baltic amber (as found in Iberia, especially concentrated in Catalonia) cited as one potential north–south trade network established that justifies the presence of Iberian metals in Scandinavia from at least ca. 1200 BC (Radivojević et al. 2018).
During the late phase of the Central European MBA, other regions are incorporated into the Nordic BA, especially Mecklenburg–Vorpommern, in an expansion that remains unclear in archaeological terms, with the first imports from the Danube–Moravia–Bohemia region appearing and giving rise to local imitations (Figure 64). The new central European religious movement reaches the north, bringing cauldron–wagons, bird symbolism, and a change from inhumation to cremation (which becomes the only burial rite in the LBA). Cemeteries contain up to several hundred urn burials (urnfields), as in central Europe (Jockenhövel 2013).
The Nordic LBA (from ca. 1100 BC) brings thus pots used as containers for cremated remains more often than before, but without reaching the variety of central Europe or the Lusatian culture. The region north of the Mittelgebirge zone, between the lower Rhine and the Saale and Elbe, which already showed pottery and bronzes with less differentiation during the Urnfield period, become increasingly influenced by the later Nordic Bronze Age from around 1000 BC (Jockenhövel 2013).
Cultural and political influences characteristic of the north—single-bladed razor-knives, often with boat decoration, tweezers, brooches, and cast bronze bowls—are spread in burials and hoards across the European lowlands from the Rhine to Pomerania, with certain richly equipped graves among the common modest graves showing a social evolution similar to contemporaneous central European trends. The Urnfield Vogelsonnenbark (bird-sun-boat) is copied from imported bronze vessels (Thrane 2013).
Graves become smaller because of the cremation rite, and large artefacts are no longer found in assemblages. During this period, urns take over as containers of the dead, although stone cists and cremation pits are also found. Most cremation burials do not show metal objects. The decline in swords used as grave goods coincides with a more limited import of swords from the Urnfield culture, and a development of local types with kidney and horned pommels, and a monotype with reinforced tip. Socketed axes dominate during the whole LBA, in increasingly small versions (Thrane 2013).
In the early phase (ca. 900–700 BC), cross-regional communication becomes evident between the Danube region and the Elbe and Oder, with cultural links reaching as far as the Pyrenées. Herzsprung-type round shields appear probably first as wooden shields in Ireland, and then expand as leather or bronze shields to the Nordic Bronze Age and up to the eastern Mediterranean (Thrane 2013).
The transition to the Iron Age shows continuity (e.g. longhouses and hoard deposition) with new Hallstatt elements (such as new types of pin, razors, and absence of native weapons) marking a break with the previous period. The appearance of the Jastorf culture (ca. 600–550 BC) east of the Rhine signals the end of the Bronze Age in the region. It contrasts in material culture, especially metal ornaments and pottery, with the La Tène style to the south and west, and shows the clearest connection to Germanic tribes mentioned in ancient sources during the first century BC (Jockenhövel 2013).
The Pre-Roman Iron Age in Scandinavia spans the period ca. 500–1 BC, when bronze was replaced by iron in most tools and weapons. While the technology was introduced from central Europe, iron ores were readily available as raw materials in Scandinavian territory, and efficient techniques were developed to extract serviceable iron from the many impurities contained in local sources. The society was organised by ranks, and neck rings were a marker of elite status. Bog offerings continue during this period, while human sacrifice becomes widespread only from ca. 1st century BC (Perdikaris 2004).
The Pre-Roman Iron Age is considered a regression period, with continuity in settlement patterns—with site types correlated with soil types—but materials evidencing a decline in the population, possibly due in part to a wetter and colder climate that caused deciduous trees to disappear and glaciers to re-form on high grounds. This trend lasted 260 years, starting ca. 600 BC, with further fluctuations seen ca. 300 BC and then close to 1 AD. This affected farming, with woodlands expanding at the expense of pastures and arable land, possibly also due to a concentration of settlements in permanent farms and villages. In Jutland, longhouses become much smaller, with room for one family household, but many clustering together to form villages (Perdikaris 2004).
During the period ca. 200 BC – AD 200, a generally warm, dry climate was favourable for cereal cultivation, which marked the development of the agricultural landscape (with coexisting intensive and extensive strategies), and also the economic and social landscape. ‘Mobile villages’ point to the formation of so-called Celtic fields—in common with central Europe—and evidence of fences from ca. 300 BC, to protect villages and cattle, eventually surrounding each farmstead or building complex. Economic activities included cattle breeding, crop raising, and some blacksmithing, pottery making, weaving, and spinning (Perdikaris 2004).
During the 3rd to mid–2nd c. BC, the last enclaves of the Lusatian culture and mainstream Pomeranian culture disappeared under cultural influences in their western territories. Along the Oder river, Pomeranian societies were replaced by so-called Pit Grave groups under the influence of expanding Proto-Germanic Jastorf culture, probably from migrations from its cradle in Jutland and northern Germany. The Przeworsk culture emerged in central Poland (see §VIII.8.5. Pomeranian and West Baltic Kurgans culture), while the strongest impact was seen in the north, where the Oksywie culture formed in the lower Vistula region. Women and men were buried according to distinct rites. Cremated female bones were put in simple pits, males were buried in urns. Stone covers or standing stelae are characteristic of these graves. This culture gave rise eventually to the Wielbark culture, identified with the Goths (Perdikaris 2004).
The Bell Beaker period is the only reasonable candidate for the spread and final entrenchment of a common Indo-European language throughout Scandinavia, and particularly Norway (Prescott and Walderhaug 1995). The best candidate for an original homeland of the Pre-Germanic dialect of North-West Indo-European migrating into Scandinavia is the Beaker culture of the Low Countries and the western part of the Northern European Plain (Kristiansen 2009). Samples of Bell Beakers and Barbed Wire Beakers from Oostwoud in the Netherlands (ca. 2500–1900 BC) show elevated Steppe ancestry (ca. 58%) and R1b1a1b1a1a2-P312 lineages, compatible with the admixture of Yamna lineages with local Corded Ware peoples.
Dutch–German lowland areas share cultural roots with the southern Scandinavian area (Butler, Arnoldussen, and Steegstra 2011/2012), which predate technological and economic exchanges between Urnfield and Northern Bronze Age Scandinavia (Kristiansen and Suchowska-Ducke 2015). Samples of the Bronze Age Elp culture from Oostwoud (ca. 1900–1600 BC) show Steppe ancestry (ca. 51%), and hg. R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106, which is consistent with the apparent Y-chromosome bottleneck of Scandinavian Bell Beakers, and thus with the development of a Pre-Germanic community first around Jutland.
Nordic Middle Neolithic samples include an individual from Kyndelöse (ca. 2900–2500 BC), of hg. R1a1a1b1a3a-Z284, subclade R1a1a1b1a3a2a1-Z281/CTS2243+ (Allentoft et al. 2015), and a Late Neolithic sample from Ölsund, central-east Sweden (ca. 2600–2150 BC) shows hg R1a1a1b-Z645 (Mittnik, Wang, et al. 2018), both lineages related to Corded Ware settlers. A replacement of male lines is observed already during the Dagger Period, with two samples reported from Skåne, one from Lilla Bedinge (ca. 2150 BC) of hg. R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106+, typical of incoming Bell Beakers, and another from Abbekås (ca. 1900 BC) of hg. I1-M253, proper of Neolithic Scandinavia. Dubious is the subclade of a sample from Marbjerg, Denmark (ca. 2080 BC), of hg. R1-M173 (Allentoft et al. 2015), although—based on later samples—probably also R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106.
There is continuity in southern Scandinavia during the Bronze Age (ca. 1500–1100 BC), with three samples from Skåne showing hg. I-M170 (probably all I1-M253), and one from Denmark showing hg. R1b1a1b-M269 (xR1b1a1b1a1a2-P312), i.e. likely R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 (Allentoft et al. 2015). An LBA sample from Trundholm also shows hg. R1b1a1b1a1a-L151, clustering closer to central European BA compared to the previous samples from Scandinavia, which clustered between central European Corded Ware and Bell Beaker samples (Mittnik, Wang, et al. 2018).
These scarce samples probably reflect thus the expansion of Pre-Germanic-speaking R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 lineages from the Northern European Lowlands into southern Scandinavia, replacing previous Corded Ware/Battle Axe R1a1a1b1a3a-Z284 lineages in Jutland and the northern Scandinavian coastal areas around the Skagerrak strait, or displacing them to the inland. The close interaction of the newcomers with the Battle Axe culture in Scandinavia (characterised by the Y-chromosome bottleneck of R1a1a1b1a3a-Z284 lineages), connected with the eastern Baltic (see §viii.16. Saami and Baltic Finns), is evidenced by the evolution of a North-West Indo-European-like Pre-Germanic phonology to a Proto-Germanic stage with strong phonetic Uralisms, which is compatible with long-term Finno-Samic–Germanic bilingualism and with Finno-Samic bilingual speakers eventually becoming monolingual speakers of Germanic (Kallio 2001; Schrijver 2014).
Haplogroup I1-M253 was reported previously only in a hunter-gatherer (ca. 7000 BC) from Gotland (Günther et al. 2017), and it is not clear the extent of its expansion when migrants occupied Scandinavia, first with the Corded Ware culture, and later with the Bell Beaker culture. TRB and Pitted Ware (PWC) cultures coexisted ca. 3300–2800 BC in Gotland (Fraser, Sanchez-Quinto, et al. 2018), while CWC migrated into the PWC area around 2800 BC, and both CWC and PWC lasted until their replacement by the Late Neolithic ca. 2300 BC (Vanhanen et al. 2019). A replacement of ca. 50% mtDNA haplogroups by steppe lineages during the EBA (ca. 1700–1100 BC) has been reported (Fraser, Sjödin, et al. 2018). Both facts suggest that I1-M253 lineages had a strong presence in southern Sweden at least before the arrival of Bell Beakers, and thrived once integrated into the new emerging Scandinavian Late Neolithic social structure, probably spreading to Jutland through the Kattegat sea area already mixed in different tribes with R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 lineages, before the migration period.
During the migration period, the Baiuvarii, Alamannic peoples who settled in modern-day Bavaria, show in two sampled sites (AD 460–530) that men resembled closely modern northern and central Europeans, whereas women exhibited a high genetic heterogeneity, including signals of genetic ancestry ranging from Europe to East Asia, among them women with artificial skull deformations, whose genetic ancestry suggests an origin in south-eastern Europe (Veeramah et al. 2018). The Y-chromosome haplogroup reported for six individuals is R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106+, including two R1b1a1b1a1a1c1-S264+ subclades (formed ca. 2700 BC, TMRCA ca. 2200 BC), which suggests an overwhelming majority of R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 subclades among the Alemanni.
Longobard migrants from Szólád (AD 412–604) and from the Longobard Kingdom in Collegno (AD 580–630) also show typical northern/central European ancestry (Amorim et al. 2018), compatible with their described origin in southern Scandinavia. Among reported haplogroups clearly associated with Scandinavia, there are two I1a3-Z63 (formed ca. 2600 BC, TMRCA ca. 2500 BC), one I1a1b1-L22 (formed ca. 2000 BC, TMRCA ca. 1800 BC), one R1a1a1b1a3a-Z284, and five R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106, one of them R1b1a1b1a1a1b-Z19 (TMRCA ca. 1600 BC) and the other four R1b1a1b1a1a1c-S263 (TMRCA ca. 2700 BC), including one R1b1a1b1a1a1c2b2a1b1a-Z8 (formed ca. 1800 BC, TMRCA ca. 1000 BC), and another R1b1a1b1a1a1c2b2a1b1a1-Z11 (formed ca. 1400 BC, TMRCA ca. 1400 BC).
Wielbark culture cemeteries east (Kowalewko) and west (Masłomęcz) of the Vistula have been reported as showing changes consistent with migrations during the 3rd–6th centuries AD, in terms of mtDNA (Stolarek et al. 2018), and in terms of their small genetic distance with Jutland Iron Age individuals, supporting the arrival of Goths from Scandinavia. The presence of varied haplogroups, including one I1a3a1a1-Y6626, one I2a1b1a2b1-L801, and two G2a2b-L30, compared to the uniform genetic structure of West Germanic tribes, supports the multi-ethnic nature of the East Germanic expansion (Stolarek et al. 2019).
In the north Pontic steppe, the transition from Scythian domination to the Chernyakhiv culture (ca. 200 BC – AD 300) shows a clear genetic shift to Bronze Age / Iron Age Europeans, lacking the Altaian component entirely and showing an increase in Near Eastern ancestry, which is compatible with the Ostrogothic origin of the culture. Its multi-ethnic mix may be seen in the wide cluster formed by the three reported females (ca. AD 250–550), which cluster among eastern Europeans, central Europeans, and south-eastern Europeans respectively, showing a ‘central European’ shift relative to the wide cluster formed by western Scythians (Järve et al. 2019).
In Iberia, samples from the Visigothic site of Pla de l’Horta in the north-east (ca. AD 500–600) are shifted to the northern and central Europe, bringing Asian mtDNA C4a1a also found in Early Medieval Bavaria. Haplogroups related to the arrival of Visigoths likely include one I-M170, R1b1a1b1a1a-L151, and a later R1b1a1b1a1a1c1a-U106 sample of a Christian interred in Sant Julià de Ramis (around the 9th c.), likely a remnant of the previous incursion. Interestingly, one sample is of E1b1b1a1b1-L618 lineage, a haplogroup also found in one Scythian from Glinoe, in a Longobard sample from Szólád, and later among early Slavs (see §viii.8. Balto-Slavs), and subclade E1b1b1a1b1a-L540 is found in two medieval samples from south-east Iberia (ca. AD 1000–1300). Another Visigoth is of hg. J2a1-PF4610, whose origin is difficut to classify as Mediterranean or East Germanic without further subclades (Olalde et al. 2019).
Vikings from Iceland (AD 10th–11th century) and later Icelandic individuals show six samples of hg. R1a1a1b1a3a-Z284, one of them R1a1a1b1a3a2-Z287 (formed ca. 2300 BC, TMRCA ca. 2100 BC), three of hg. R1a1a1b1a3a1-L448 (formed ca. 1200 BC, TMRCA ca 800 BC), one of which shows R1a1a1b1a3a1a-CTS4179 (TMRCA ca. 300 BC); six samples of hg. I1-M253, one of them I1b-Z131 (formed ca. 2400 BC, TMRCA ca. 2000 BC), two I1a1b1-L22, one I1a2a1a-Z62 (formed ca. 2300 BC, TMRCA ca. 2300 BC); and nine samples of hg. R1b1a1b1a-L51, at least one of them R1b1a1b1a1a1b-Z19, three unclear, and five of hg. R1b1a1b1a1a2-P312, one showing the rare subclade R1b1a1b1a1a2d-L238 (TMRCA ca. 2500 BC), found mainly among modern Scandinavian peoples, and four R1b1a1b1a1a2c1-L21, with an ancestry close to modern Welsh peoples, probably related to slaves imported from Britain (Ebenesersdóttir et al. 2018).
Late Vikings from the town of Sigtuna, in east–central Sweden (AD 10th–12th century), show varied Y-chromosome haplogroups and high genetic diversity, compatible with the intense international contacts and the Christian character of the culture (Krzewińska, Kjellström, et al. 2018). This particular sampling also shows the first haplogroup N1a1a1a1a-L392 in Sweden, found in an individual of local origin based on strontium isotope analysis and genetic structure, hence probably an integrated Proto-Germanic lineage related to earlier migrations of Iron Age Akozino warior-traders (see §VIII.15.3. Ananyino and Akozino and §viii.16.2. Baltic Finns).
While it is clear that the Y-chromosome bottleneck of R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 lineages in northern Europe—and thus their successful expansion with certain clans into Scandinavia—is responsible for the creation of a Pre-Germanic community at the turn of the 2nd–1st millennium BC, it is unclear where exactly the Proto-Germanic community expanded from: i.e. whether it was a recent expansion of certain tribes over the whole Nordic Bronze Age territory (unifying their language before the Iron Age), or their evolution can be described as one of divergence and convergence trends between related dialects, similar to the history of the Modern German language.
Figure 65. Distribution map of ‘Wedel’ toponyms in Europe. This is one of the traditional reasons adduced to propose an expansion from Jutland to the south. This must be rejected, though, because of its younger distribution north of the Elbe, which supports a south–north expansion direction. Modified from Karte 71 in Udolph (1994).
The Jastorf culture can be directly connected to previous groups of southern Jutland and Northern European Lowlands, and its expansion to the spread of Germanic groups, but it is unclear to what extent this influence reached northern Scandinavia, which speaks in favour of at least some degree of long-term convergence of closely related dialects in north Scandinavia. Nevertheless, onomastic data points to the Northern European Plains between the Weser and the Oder (particularly the Weser–Elbe interfluve) as the most likely Common Germanic homeland (Figure 65), with Scandinavia as a region of late expansion with a clear non-Indo-European substrate (Udolph 1994; Kuhn, Hachmann, and Kossack 1986), which is consistent with the traditional description of Fennoscandia as Uralic-speaking (Dolukhanov 1989; Wiik 1997; Künnap 1997; Schrijver 2014).
The available data from the Barbarian invasions suggest an overwhelming majority of R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 subclades among Elbe Germanic tribes, like the Alemanni, and probably even more so among Weser–Rhine Germanic tribes, like the Franks, based on modern populations from the western Germanic-speaking areas. North Sea Germanic tribes, like Longobards, were possibly more admixed with I1-M253 lineages in Jutland, although the mixture of Longobards with Goths incoming from the east makes the original situation less clear. North Germanic tribes, based on data from Vikings, show I1-M253 and also R1a1a1b1a3a-Z284 lineages, apart from R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106, which is probably to be expected among East Germanic tribes, too, deemed to have migrated from northern Scandinavian territories.
The association of West Germanic tribes with hg. R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 is further supported by samples during and after the medieval Ostsiedlung, showing a west–east cline of R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 (including also I1-M253) vs. R1a1a1b-Z645 (xR1a1a1b1a3a-Z284) compatible with the Germanisation of Slavs to the east of the Elbe. Although modern population samples from eastern Europe are difficult to assess without genealogical information, due to the expulsion of Germans after World War II, medieval samples from Podlažice (ca. 1180 AD) in Bohemia, as well as Nicolaus Copernicus’ family origin from Koperniki near Nysa in Silesia before the 14th century (Bogdanowicz et al. 2009), seem to support the expansion of R1b1a1b1a1a1-U106 lineages associated with German settlers of the Holy Roman Empire east of the Elbe.