Who lived on the Swiss Plateau around 3300 BCE? Analyses of commingled human skeletal remains from the dolmen of Oberbipp

Siebke, Inga; Steuri, Noah; Furtwängler, Anja; Ramstein, Marianne; Arenz, Gabriele; Hafner, Albert; Krause, Johannes; Lösch, Sandra (2019). Who lived on the Swiss Plateau around 3300 BCE? Analyses of commingled human skeletal remains from the dolmen of Oberbipp. International journal of osteoarchaeology, 29(5), pp. 786-796. John Wiley & Sons 10.1002/oa.2791

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Nowadays, the discovery and excavation of an almost intact Late Neolithic dolmen is rare, as those monuments were often visible in the landscape and have been investigated or destroyed in earlier times; therefore, information about the buried individuals has often been lost. The excavation of the dolmen, a stone grave chamber, from Oberbipp, Switzerland, in 2012 provided a unique opportunity to study human skeletal remains from a Late Neolithic collective burial (3350–2650 BCE). Over 2,000 fragmented and commingled skeletal elements were recovered and form the basis of this morphological study. Established morphological methods were employed to evaluate the minimum number of individuals, age at death, sex, stature, and the presence of pathological alterations and trauma. Sex was determined additionally by aDNA analysis. Elements of the entire human skeleton were recovered indicating a primary burial site. At least 42 individuals (femora) from all age classes (57%:43% adults to subadults) were buried in the dolmen. Based on aDNA analysis (n = 23, partes petrosae) slightly more males than females (44%:35% males to females, 22% indeterminate) were recovered. Stature was estimated from complete femora (n = 3) indicating an average body height between 154–157 cm. Pathological alterations and trauma could be observed on several bones, however, without indications for major interpersonal violence. The caries intensity of Swiss samples seems to be higher compared with other Neolithic European sites. A possible separation of burial areas for males and females based on the recovery of skeletal elements within the dolmen along with aDNA results is postulated. In addition, this article contributes to a better understanding of Late Neolithic populations in Central Europe.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Siebke, Inga; Steuri, Noah; Arenz, Gabriele; Hafner, Albert and Lösch, Sandra


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
900 History > 940 History of Europe




John Wiley & Sons


[42] Schweizerischer Nationalfonds




Antoinette Angehrn

Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2019 11:52

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2020 02:30

Publisher DOI:






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