Being a young Yamnaya woman

On 27th of March 2020 professor Volker Heyd held a lecture titled "Being a Young Yamnaya Woman" for the Helsinki Archaeology Seminar.

Given the spring 2020 situation with the covid-19 pandemic, the HAS seminar was for the first time organised online and was thus accessible worldwide. This proved fruitful, and a diverse audience attended the seminar.

Professor Volker Heyd, PI of the YMPACT project, gave an an overview of the research conducted on a Yamnaya burial from Bojt, Hungary. He talked about how ancient DNA, stable isotopes, bio-anthropology and archaeology shed light on the life of a 4600 years old burial.

The ‘Bojt’ burial was excavated in 2014 in the course of large-scale rescue excavations in the Hajdu-Bihar county of Hungary. Immediately afterwards we started a scientific program to get as much information as possible out of this burial, who soon turned out to be a young woman aged 19-22. We conducted multiple stable isotope analyses, to test for her mobility and diet, and ancient DNA screening to grasp her ancestry, appearance, and biological properties, to which bio-anthropology also contributed with significant information. An archaeological assessment including radiocarbon dating of herself and of features around her, provides for the local and regional background in reconstructing her life and death. In a second part, we then want to put her in the context of other Yamnaya and Katacombnaya burials in southeast and east-central Europe, and thus highlight her importance for our understanding of the Yamnaya Impact on Prehistoric Europe as a whole.

Excavated burial of a young Yamnaya woman in Bojt, Hungary