The peoples of the steppes barely reached the Iberian Peninsula in the Bronze Age

The migrations of peoples from the steppes from Eastern Europe and Asia barely reached the Iberian Peninsula. This is what a study published in genetics by Daniel Bradley and Rui Martiniano (from Trinity College Dublin) and Ana Maria Silva, from the University of Coimbra.

According to the study, the genome of the individuals who lived in the Iberian Peninsula during the Bronze Age have a minimal influence from the invaders of the steppes, which suggests that these migrations played a small role in the genetic configuration and culture of the peoples. Iberians compared to other parts of Europe.

From the Middle Neolithic (4200-3500 BC) to the Middle Bronze Age (1740-1430 BC) central and northern Europe received massive waves of these peoples originating from Eastern Europe and the Asian steppes.

Indo-European expansion / photo Dbachmann on Wikimedia Commons

Archaeological excavations in the Iberian Peninsula discovered changes in cultural aspects such as funeral rituals associated with this period, but until now the genetic impact that these migrations could have had had not been studied.

The researchers sequenced the genome of 14 individuals who inhabited present-day Portugal during the Neolithic and Bronze Age, comparing it with older and more modern genomes. The results, in contrast to other European areas, detected only minimal changes.

However, these small changes were found to be more pronounced in the paternal line, with a Y-chromosome discontinuity between Neolithic and Bronze Age populations, suggesting small-scale migration.

Photo Rui Parreira

At the same time, they found that this new genetic influence caused a decrease in the height of the individuals, only recovered after several generations.

All this would indicate that the migrations of the steppe peoples in the Iberian Peninsula would have occurred on a much smaller scale than in northern, central and northwestern Europe, which would have had implications for the diffusion of language, culture and technology.

These findings may offer an explanation for the existence in the peninsula of a pre-Indo-European language such as Euskera, since Indo-European, spread by these peoples of the Steppes, would have hardly made a dent in the area, allowing its coexistence with the languages primitives of the peninsula.


The population genomics of archaeological transition in west Iberia: Investigation of ancient substructure using imputation and haplotype-based methods / Eurekalert / Wikipedia.