Women moved about Europe during the Stone and Bronze Ages, spreading culture, while men stayed put, the International Business Times reports.
A team of German researchers examined 84 ancient skeletons dating back to 2500 BC to 1650 BC that were unearthed in the Lech River valley in Bavaria using a combination of genetic and isotopic analyses. As the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History-led team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it found that the mitochondrial genomes they uncovered were diverse and that the isotope profiles of the majority of female skeletons suggested that they weren't originally from the region.
"[W]e see a great diversity of different female lineages, which would occur if over time many women relocated to the Lech Valley from somewhere else," Alissa Mittnik from Max Planck says in a statement.
IBT adds that the women likely came from central Germany or Bohemia and became integrated into the Lech River valley population.
Most of the men, though, appeared to remain in the region they where they were born, the researchers add.
In a statement, the Max Planck Institute adds the movement of these women "played a significant role in the exchange of cultural objects and ideas."