Yabalkovo, Ohoden, and Krepost

Overarching period: European Neolithic, 9,000 - 3,700 BP
Specific period: Starčevo Cultures 8,200 - 6,500 BP
Carbon dating: 7,726 - 7,575 years old
Yabalkovo - 42.10° North, 25.75° East
Ohoden - 43.37° North, 23.73° East
Krepost - 42.02° North, 25.60° East
Site location country: Bulgaria
mtDNA haplogroups: T, H, K, U
Y haplogroups: I

Starcevo Pot Transdanubian Linear Pottery from Hungary [22] Neolithic Stone Tools Neolithic Stone Tools from the Starčevo Culture of Hungary [23]

The Starčevo Cultures:

The Starčevo Culture of between 8,200 and 6,500 years ago [9-10] developed in an area that now includes Hungary and the Balkans. At least 66 Starčevo archaeological sites have been found, with many often situated near rivers and lakes [11]. The culture developed slightly earlier than the linear band pottery cultures which became a dominant culture of early farmers across Europe, and remained distinct for over 1,000 years. The people of Starčevo produced polished flint stone tools, bone spoons, V-shaped ceramic vessels, and art objects such as ceramic animal-shaped altarpieces [12]. It is thought that the incised pots made by these people were made at a household level [13] and would have represented shared family traditions.

The first major discoveries of the Starčevo Culture were made in the 1930s along the banks of the Danube near the town of Starčevo, from which the culture gets its name [11]. The site had multiple round dugouts that were likely the foundations of buildings. Within them stone masonry was discovered, as well as artifacts such as beads and weapons. Burials were also found at the site with bodies in a crouched position.

The Individuals from Yabalkovo, Ohoden, and Krepost:

Of the three sites in this sample, two were close together, these being Yabalkovo and Krepost, both of which are around 100 kilometres East of the city of Plovdiv in present-day Bulgaria in the Maritsa River valley. The other, Ohoden, was found further to the north some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the city of Montana. These individuals were carbon-dated to between 7,726 and 7,575 years old [14].

The site of Krepost, which is 13 kilometres (8 miles) from Yabalkovo included a pit and ceramic remains from a Neolithic burial. The site of Yabalkovo is a large site that has been excavated over many years and has produced evidence of intricate house structures and a larger number of flint tools including disc-shaped tools that have a strong resemblance to those found in Anatolia [15]. One of the two individuals from Yabalkovo was a male that met a perhaps untimely death. His feet and hands had been bound and he had received a blow to the head from what a sharp object, which was interpreted to be one of the axes from the site [14]. He was buried without grave goods and was found in an unusual position. The site of Ohoden included the remains of a small number of houses and also included five burials, including both adults and children [14].

Genetic analysis has shown that these individuals were most closely-related to Anatolian farmers who had moved into the region beginning around 8,200 years ago [15]. The individual from Yabalkovo had a small contribution of Eastern Hunter-Gatherer genes to his ancestry. This was not uncommon for Neolithic farmer from this region, where there was noted interactions between Anatolian migrants and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

Of the two male individuals from Yabalkovo, one came from mitochondrial haplogroup T, which is a haplogroup of Middle Eastern origin. It is relatively rare in Europe today and likely arrived with the influx of farming cultures [16-17]. His Y chromosome was part of the I haplogroup, which is a very ancient lineage found in Europe and West Asia, particularly towards the Caucuses. It likely originated in European Paleolithic and is still common today among Europeans [18]. The other male belonged to the mitochondrial T haplogroup which exists at low frequencies in Europe today and is thought to be from the Middle East, possibly brought by Neolithic farmers. It is also found throughout Central Asia [16, 19]. His Y chromosome belonged to the I lineage, which is an ancient lineage found today in Europe and West Asia, particularly towards caucuses. It likely originated in the European Paleolithic [18].

The individual from Krepost was found to be genetically female and her mitochondrial DNA came from the H haplogroup which is also commonly found in Europe today and is known to have Middle Eastern origins. This lineage has also been found in Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, and existed in Europe prior to the arrival of agriculture [20]. The individual from Ohoden, who was a young girl, belonged to the mitochondrial K haplogroup, which is common in Europe today and is also thought to be of Middle Eastern Origin, being recently derived from U [21].