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Mapping human mobility during the third and second millennia BC in present-day Denmark

Journal article
Authors Karin M Frei
Sophie Bergerbrant
Karl-Göran Sjögren
Marie Louise Jörkov
Niels Lynnerup
Lise Harvig
Morten Allentoft
Martin Sikora
T Douglas Price
Robert Frei
Kristian Kristiansen
Published in PLoS ONE
Volume 14
Issue 8
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Language en
Keywords Bronze Age, Neolithic, Denmark, Mobility, Strontium isotopes
Subject categories Archaeology, North European


We present results of the largest multidisciplinary human mobility investigation to date of skeletal remains from present-day Denmark encompassing the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. Through a multi-analytical approach based on 88 individuals from 37 different archaeological localities in which we combine strontium isotope and radiocarbon analyses together with anthropological investigations, we explore whether there are significant changes in human mobility patterns during this period. Overall, our data suggest that mobility of people seems to have been continuous throughout the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. However, our data also indicate a clear shift in mobility patterns from around 1600 BC onwards, with a larger variation in the geographical origin of the migrants, and potentially including more distant regions. This shift occurred during a transition period at the beginning of the Nordic Bronze Age at a time when society flourished, expanded and experienced an unprecedented economic growth, suggesting that these aspects were closely related.

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