General site information
The site is located in the southwestern part of the Baltic Sea island of Gotland in Eksta Pasrish and is an assemblage of Middle Neolithic hunter-gatherers. The humans belonged to the Pitted Ware Culture (PWC), one of the latest hunter-gatherers cultures in the North (ca 5,300-4,300 years BP). Interestingly, during the early period of this culture PWC hunter-gatherers and farmers from the Funnel Beaker Culture lived contemporaneously on Gotland and other site in Sweden. The site was inhabited from the Mesolithic to the Bronze age with a peak period during the Middle Neolithic. Gotland’s largest excavation site harbors a burial ground with approximately 80 graves including 89 skeletons, which are among the best preserved ones from this epoch due to the limestone environment. Aside from human remains a large variety of animal bones has been excavated (mostly seals but also hedgehog, hare, fox, birds).
Ancient humans from the site
The co-existence of two Neolithic cultures on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland (PWC and TRB) is an unprecedented opportunity to contrast representatives of these cultures and study fundamental differences in diet, genetics and morphology. Neolithic hunter-gatherers from Ajvide consumed for instance a high proportion of marine proteins while contemporaneous individuals from the TRB culture had a more terrestrial diet. Interestingly, marks at some human remains indicate bone marrow extraction and gave rise to speculation about the consumption of humans. Artifacts associated with the Ajvide site are typical that of hunter-gatherers living in a marine environment and are made from bone and flint. Thus far five Neolithic-hunter gatherer individuals, dated between 4,900-4,600 cal BP, have been genetically analyzed in extensive depth. Aside from the complete genomes of these individuals ranging in age between 7 and 60 years, an additional eight individuals have been inspected with regard to their respective mitochondrial DNA variation.