September 29, 2011

The Neolithic colonization of the Valencian Country

The excellent blog in Spanish Language Neolítico de la Península Ibérica discusses today the following paper (freely accesible and in English language):

The paper is indeed interesting even if I am not sure how good the Valencian case is as example, because this area is rather exceptional in the intensity of the apparent colonization. In any case it is very informative for the particulars of this area. 

Briefly: they describe three phases:
  1. Pre-cardial (impressed pottery or "sillon d'impresion", similar to that of Côte d'Azur) pioneering sites in the 55th century BCE (C14 calibrated).
  2. Cardial phase: increase in density through the area of the southern Valencian Country in the 54th and 53rd centuries; change to Cardium style, possibly related to that of Provence and Languedoc and to the local Macroschematic rock art.
  3. Further expansion both in density and towards the interior (Murcia and Albacete provinces) along the Segura river in the late 6th millennium BCE.

Modified from fig. 6 (superimposing as red dots fig. 4): phases 1 and 2

Comparison between pottery (Cardial) and rock (Macroschematic) art

The authors argue that the process of settlement by the first farming groups in these areas was not as rapid as it was thought, nor as constant as researchers had previously proposed.

If the authors of the paper make a critical read of Zilhao's fast colonization hypothesis, the always sharp authors of Neolítico en la Península Ibérica make also a critical read of the paper's colonizationist conclusions which they consider preconceptions, deja vú and a mere repetition of the 'official hypothesis' of the 'Valencian school'. Their main criticisms are that it fails to account for the destiny of the dense pre-existent Epipaleolithic colonization of the area, that it relies too much only on pottery styles, and that the 'theory' is a case of the cart before the horses, lacking data that could support the colonization model. 

Phase 3: expansion to the rich interior's vegas

Said that, I do think that the Southern Valencian Country was one of the areas of the Iberian Peninsula most strongly affected by Neolithic colonization as Y-DNA and other scattered data do suggest. Y-DNA could support a maximum 50% Y-DNA input from beyond the Mediterranean Sea and autosomal DNA might suggest 15% maybe (the Spanish sample in Bauchet 2007 is Valencian and shows variable East Mediterranean admixture ranging from nearly zero to 40%). While not all the Transmediterranean genetic input needs to be of Neolithic age, this one offers an ideal window for a 'settler founder effect', though not a replacement, as proposed by some.

______________________ . ______________________

Appendix: graphs on Iberian genetics:

Y-DNA of Iberia per Adams 2008
G, J, K*, E, and maybe even some I could be of Neolithic arrival

Autsomal DNA structure at K=5 (Bauchet 2007, fig. 4)

The red component may indicate Neolithic input from the Aegean

Spanish are from Valencia


  1. "While not all the Transmediterranean genetic input needs to be of Neolithic age..."

    I agree - I think that much "foreign" input in Iberia occurred during Roman times (and after), and especially West Asian autosomal genes had a sharp cline through the Balkans and pretty much stopped dead in Italy, before then.

  2. I see no particular reason to think of "Roman times (and after)" for the arrival of Eastern Mediterranean lineages but there's some window in the Bronze Age (Greece, Cyprus) and maybe even the Chalcolithic (Cyprus?) for some further Eastern inputs.

  3. Btw, that I have been chewing on my previous comment a bit today and I think it's not really correct for the Valencian Country but more adequate for SE Andalusia and Murcia if anything (Almerian-Los Millares-El Argar cultural vector). It does not seem to me that the Valencian Country had any more inputs distinct from nearby regions since Neolithic. If anything the religious struggles period may be a candidate for some secondary change, otherwise I see no marked change nor invasion since Neolithic, much less one that could justify Eastern Mediterranean inputs from the Balcans or beyond.

  4. Maju,

    Did you see this:

    Basque derived from Cucuteni

  5. No. In fact I did not know Jean Manco had begun a blog.

    What can I say? It's beating a dead horse. But for instance the Basque word for silver (and probably a cognate of Germanic silver itself) is zilar and does not derive from gold (urre).

    The word that derives from gold might be copper but it might have been a neologism but Sabin Arana (who invented a lot of words 100 years ago) and nowadays Spanish-derived kobre is used instead (the original word is lost).

    Urre, possibly a cognate of lat. aurum, has some interest for its possible relation with words like 'urri' (scarce).

    Burdin (iron) may be a loanword from Phoenician.

    On the other hand I suspect that Greek argyros is derived somehow (via Ligur or Iberian) from Basque argi: light, brightness, shine.

    But well, whatever, Jean sees a lot of "commonalities" and "correlations", always from East to West (seems an obsession) that are hard to swallow. I don't like at all the sloppiness she uses when dealing with European prehistory. However her compilation work of aDNA is very much worth of praise.

  6. The words for metals in Irish Gaelic are as follows:

    gold = óir (pronounced "ore")
    silver = airgid
    copper = copar
    bronze = cré-umha (clay = cré)
    iron = iarann
    money = airgead

    So silver and money are almost the same word, reflecting the fact that silver in lieu of a currency for millenia.

  7. In PIE, gold and silver seem to have similar origins.

    aurum, aurora <-- PIE *aus (to shine & gold)

    The Basque argi light/ shine seems quite silmilar to PIE (Latin, Greek, etc.) origin of silver: *arg- "to shine; white,", PIE *arg-ent --> the white, shiny "thing."

  8. For what it's worth, I think to demonstrate ancient relation as opposed to loan words, one should probably stay away from trade and technology terms. It would be best to concentrate on words that are very frequently used (at least daily), because we know those change the least over time. Here are some examples I came up with (translations by google, so I have no idea if correct):

    hand -- eskuko
    Lithuanian "ranka", Latvian "rokas", Finnish/Estonian "käsi"
    The "s" sound could have been a "k" or "x" sound originally.

    mouth -- ahoa
    Turkish "ağız", Albanian "gojë", Lithuanian "nagų"

    rain -- euri
    PIE *reg- "moist, wet,", German "Regen"

    wind -- haize
    German "Hauch, hauchen" (soft breeze, soft blowing)
    Arab/Turk hawa/hava "air"

    So, perhaps the connection goes further back, perhaps when PIE and Uralic split (if they ever did).

  9. They all have IE cognates, specially Latin (but also Germanic and Greek), excepted, of course, the peculiar composite word for "bronze". The use of silver as word for money is not peculiar of Ireland, in the Southern Cone they always say "plata" (silver) for "money" (instead of the "dinero" of European Castilian).

  10. That was in response to the first comment on Irish words (I did not see the other at first).

    hand -- eskuko...

    NO! Hand is "esku". "Eskuko" would be a declension meaning 'from (born in, original from) the hand' (which makes no sense as the -ko declension always applies to places, being a locative: Bilboko = from Bilbao).

    mouth -- ahoa
    Turkish "ağız"

    That's a curious coincidence, maybe a substrate retention in modern Turkish?

    It is "aho" anyhow, "ahoa" is a nominative declension ('the mouth'). It's potentially interesting because all Turkic languages seem to share the same term for mouth. Not enough to prove anything on its own, of course.

    ... Albanian "gojë", Lithuanian "nagų".

    IDK, "nagų" looks potentially legit but "gojë" not really and might be more related to Romanian "gura" instead.

    But anyhow, according to Wikitionary the Lithuanian word for mouth is 'burna'. So...

    rain -- euri
    PIE *reg- "moist, wet,", German "Regen"

    And English "rain", of course. Potential cognate, yes.

    "wind -- haize"

    This is one is borrowing from Latin aire. There's no retained genuinely Basque word for air or wind.

    Anyhow, we are extremely off-topic. The correct place to debate this is in this topic (for example).

  11. Anyhow, we are extremely off-topic. The correct place to debate this is in this topic ...

    No problem. My goals here were two-fold:

    (i) to demonstrate that indeed a Basque - PIE/Uralic connection is highly likely, with at least some Afro-semitic influence, and
    (ii)this connection is deep down. I.e., if PIE is almost 10,000 ya - as modern linguistic studies indicate - then the Basque divergence is much, much older.

  12. Is Latin aurum < *auz- < *aus- cognate with German Eisen, English iron, etc.?

    However, air seems to have its etymological origin in Greek rather than Latin. As far as I know, Greek /r/ does not result from rhoticization of */s/ > */z/ as it does in many cases in Latin, so I do not see how Basque haize "wind" might be related to English air, which ultimately seems to be descended from Greek aer-.

  13. ... "air seems to have its etymological origin in Greek rather than Latin".

    Latin does not derive from Greek, so if anything it'd be a matter of cognates.

    It'd be interesting if haize would not be derived from IE air. The initial /h/ (presumably derived from /k/ or /g/ *kaize > haize) could suggest otherwise but the similitude in pronunciation and meaning, specially with Spanish aire (Southern Basque aize, the 'h' is not pronounced) is way too blatant not to think that phonetic rules may be amiss. Who knows.

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  15. Maju said,

    "Latin does not derive from Greek, so if anything it'd be a matter of cognates."

    A plethora of Latin words (including the word in question, namely aer) are loanwords from Greek. (Let me say it again, more clearly: Latin aer is not a cognate of Greek aer, but rather a loanword.) Unlike Latin, Greek does not exhibit traces of a */s/ > */z/ > /r/ sound change, so it would be difficult to explain why a word ultimately descended from Greek aer should have been borrowed into Basque as haize. I think my previous comment was quite clear about this, so I don't know where your misunderstanding has arisen.

  16. With all respect I must disagree: it'd be quite odd that neither Latin nor its relative, Celtic, would have word for air other than those borrowed ultimately from Greek, via Latin. Unlike other more specialized words, air is quite basic, part of the daily vocabulary and a word that tends to be retained. That Romans would borrow that term from Greeks is odd but that also Celts would is even more strange.

    There's something strange in this word but the Greek etymology should be put in question, IMO.


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