Overarching period: Bronze Age, 5,200 - 2,500 BP
Specific period: Late Bronze Age, 3,000 to 2,000 BP
Carbon dating: 2,230 and 2,810 years old
Location:Kivutkalns - 56.85° North, 24.27° East
Site location country: Latvia
mtDNA haplogroups: U, H, J, T
Y haplogroups: R

Axe Heads Example of a bronze age axe head found in a hoard [17].

The Late Bronze Age in Latvia:

While the Early Bronze Age had been characterized by small settlements, the Late Bronze Age in the Eastern Baltic began with the appearance of large hillforts across much of Europe [6], not unlike what would become common across the continent during the subsequent Iron Age [7-8]. While on the edge of many of the major European Bronze Age cultures, which were mostly found to the south, many parallels can be drawn in the aritfacts from this area and the Lusatian Culture, which have also been found in Sweden and other areas of the Baltic [9]. In many of these hillforts large hoards have been found [10].

The site of Ķivutkalns is located on the outskirts of Riga, the capital of present-day Latvia. The site was a large hillfort settlement and there were burials within it that included the ten individuals in this sample. These individuals were carbon-dated to between 2,230 and 2,810 years old [11]. The site was found on an island in the 1960s nearby a hydroelectric plant that was being constructed. It is believed that the fort also served as a residence for the inhabitants. The bronze hoard in the fort contained neck rings, bracelets, and socketed axe heads. Other objects made of bone, antler, and stone were also found [8]. Most of the individuals at this site were buried within hollowed oak logs, and had bone pins placed on top of them. A few were found in other wooden coffins. They ranged in age from late teenage years to around seventy years old [11].

Genetic analysis has shown that while there was a strong replacement of local hunter-gatherers in other regions of Europe with incoming Neolithic farmers, there was much more continuity in the Eastern Baltic with earlier hunter-gatherers. This pattern remained consistent through the Yamnaya migrations that began in the Early Bronze age and represent the populations present at the Hillfort. These people had ancestry from both earlier Anatolian farmers and more recent Yamnaya migrants, but retained strong components of earlier hunter-gatherers [11].

Three individuals in this sample belonged to mitochondrial haplogroup U, which was the most common haplogroup among European hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic and still exists in Europe, although at lower frequencies due to the genetic contribution of incoming European farmers [12]. Five individuals belonged to mitochondrial haplogroup H, which is commonly found in Europe today and is known to have Middle Eastern origins. It has also been found in Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, and exist in Europe prior to the arrival of agriculture. Common in Europe, Middle Eastern Origin, tracked out of Franco-Cantabrian region, so around in Europe during the Paleolithic [13]. One individual each belonged to haplogroup J and haplogroup T, which are found in Europeans today and is also the Middle East and North East Africa. They are also found in Central Asia where the Yamnaya migrated from [14-15]. All of the males belonged to Y chromosome haplogroup R, which is a very ancient lineage thought to have arisen in southeast Asia during the Paleolithic. It is widespread around the world today [16].