Vittrup Man–The life-history of a genetic foreigner in Neolithic Denmark

Anders Fischer, Karl Göran Sjögren, Theis Zetner Trolle Jensen, Marie Louise Jørkov, Per Lysdahl, Tharsika Vimala, Alba Refoyo-Martínez, Gabriele Scorrano, T. Douglas Price, Darren R. Gröcke, Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen, Lasse Sørensen, Verner Alexandersen, Sidsel Wåhlin, Jesper Stenderup, Ole Bennike, Andrés Ingason, Rune Iversen, Martin Sikora, Fernando RacimoEske Willerslev, Morten E. Allentoft, Kristian Kristiansen

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The lethally maltreated body of Vittrup Man was deposited in a Danish bog, probably as part of a ritualised sacrifice. It happened between c. 3300 and 3100 cal years BC, i.e., during the period of the local farming-based Funnel Beaker Culture. In terms of skull morphological features, he differs from the majority of the contemporaneous farmers found in Denmark, and associates with hunter-gatherers, who inhabited Scandinavia during the previous millennia. His skeletal remains were selected for transdisciplinary analysis to reveal his life-history in terms of a population historical perspective. We report the combined results of an integrated set of genetic, isotopic, physical anthropological and archaeological analytical approaches. Strontium signature suggests a foreign birthplace that could be in Norway or Sweden. In addition, enamel oxygen isotope values indicate that as a child he lived in a colder climate, i.e., to the north of the regions inhabited by farmers. Genomic data in fact demonstrates that he is closely related to Mesolithic humans known from Norway and Sweden. Moreover, dietary stable isotope analyses on enamel and bone collagen demonstrate a fisher-hunter way of life in his childhood and a diet typical of farmers later on. Such a variable life-history is also reflected by proteomic analysis of hardened organic deposits on his teeth, indicating the consumption of forager food (seal, whale and marine fish) as well as farmer food (sheep/goat). From a dietary isotopic transect of one of his teeth it is shown that his transfer between societies of foragers and farmers took place near to the end of his teenage years.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0297032
Number of pages27
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2024

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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