Kinship practices in the early state El Argar society from Bronze Age Iberia

Vanessa Villalba-Mouco*, Camila Oliart, Cristina Rihuete-Herrada, Adam B. Rohrlach, María Inés Fregeiro, Ainash Childebayeva, Harald Ringbauer, Iñigo Olalde, Eva Celdrán Beltrán, Catherine Puello-Mora, Miguel Valério, Johannes Krause, Vicente Lull, Rafael Micó, Roberto Risch, Wolfgang Haak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The Early Bronze Age in Europe is characterized by social and genetic transformations, starting in the early 3rd millennium BCE. New settlement and funerary structures, artifacts and techniques indicate times of change with increasing economic asymmetries and political hierarchization. Technological advances in metallurgy also played an important role, facilitating trade and exchange networks, which became tangible in higher levels of mobility and connectedness. Archeogenetic studies have revealed a substantial transformation of the genetic ancestry around this time, ultimately linked to the expansion of steppe- and forest steppe pastoralists from Eastern Europe. Evidence for emerging infectious diseases such as Yersinia pestis adds further complexity to these tumultuous and transformative times. The El Argar complex in southern Iberia marks the genetic turnover in southwestern Europe ~ 2200 BCE that accompanies profound changes in the socio-economic structure of the region. To answer the question of who was buried in the emblematic double burials of the El Argar site La Almoloya, we integrated results from biological relatedness analyses and archaeological funerary contexts and refined radiocarbon-based chronologies from 68 individuals. We find that the El Argar society was virilocally and patrilineally organized and practiced reciprocal female exogamy, supported by pedigrees that extend up to five generations along the paternal line. Synchronously dated adult males and females from double tombs were found to be unrelated mating partners, whereby the incoming females reflect socio-political alliances among El Argar groups. In three cases these unions had common offspring, while paternal half-siblings also indicate serial monogamy or polygyny.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22415
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2022


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