Ostrovul Corbului

Overarching period: Mesolithic, 15,000 - 5,500 BP
Carbon dating: 9,715 and 9,190 years old
Location: Ostrovul Corbului, 44.52° North, 22.72° East
Site location country: Romania
mtDNA haplogroups: U5a2, H, K
Y haplogroups: R, I2, R1b

Stone Scuplture Sandstone Sculpture from Lepenski Vir [18]

The Mesolithic and Neolithic in The Iron Gates Region:

In the 1960s and 1970s a series of major Mesolithic sites in both present-day Serbia and Romania were discovered and excavated [10]. There sites were relatively unknown to Western archaeology for many years due to the political isolation of the region during Soviet times and subsequent conflict in the Balkans during the 1990s. It used to be thought that the Mesolithic in the Balkans was a time of low population density when few scattered groups existed. These were people who were quickly over-run by farmers who arrived during the Neolithic [11]. The Iron Gates Mesolithic sites upended this notion with the presence of what appeared to be Mesolithic towns with buildings and evidence of complex architecture and monuments [12]. Studies of bone chemistry from skeletons at the site has revealed that these people relied heavily on river fish while also hunting game during different times of the year [13].

The individuals from Ostrovul Corbului:

The site of Ostrovul Corbului, located near the city of Drobeta-Turnu Severin in present-day Romania, was originally thought to be a Neolithic site but was later found to be Mesolithic through carbon dating of the skeletons which placed them between 9,715 and 9,190 years old [14]. It is a small site that that located around 100 kilometers downstream on the Danube of the cotemporaneous Iron Gates site of Lepenski Vir. The three individuals from this site were not buried with any grave goods that would have identified the period apart from some red ochre associated with one individual.

Genetic analysis has shown that these individuals were the direct descendants of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and fell within the Eastern Hunter-Gather gene pool, which is a distinct group from Western Hunter-Gatherers of Central and Western Europe [14]. Eastern Hunter-Gatherers were common in the Balkans through present-day Ukraine and Russia. This sample included two males and one female. Both of the males had the R1b Y chromosome haplogroup, which is a very ancient lineage thought to have arisen in Southeast Asia during the Paleolithic. It is widespread around throughout the world today [15]. Two of these individuals came from the K mitochondrial haplogroup lineage which is common in Europe today and is thought to have been derived from the U lineage, which was very common in the European Paleolithic [16]. The other individual had the H haplogroup, which is linked to Paleolithic hunter-gatherers in Europe and can has been found throughout Europe [17]. It still exists in Europe today.