January 3, 2016

Irish ancient DNA

This study was published just a few days ago but is already from the previous year, tricks of the calendar. It is a scheme-breaker in several aspects, so I hope to be able to reflect here the most important aspects of it.

Lara M. Cassidy, Rui Martiniano et al., Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome. PNAS 2015. Freely accessibleLINK [doi: 10.1073/pnas.1518445113]


The Neolithic and Bronze Age transitions were profound cultural shifts catalyzed in parts of Europe by migrations, first of early farmers from the Near East and then Bronze Age herders from the Pontic Steppe. However, a decades-long, unresolved controversy is whether population change or cultural adoption occurred at the Atlantic edge, within the British Isles. We address this issue by using the first whole genome data from prehistoric Irish individuals. A Neolithic woman (3343–3020 cal BC) from a megalithic burial (10.3× coverage) possessed a genome of predominantly Near Eastern origin. She had some hunter–gatherer ancestry but belonged to a population of large effective size, suggesting a substantial influx of early farmers to the island. Three Bronze Age individuals from Rathlin Island (2026–1534 cal BC), including one high coverage (10.5×) genome, showed substantial Steppe genetic heritage indicating that the European population upheavals of the third millennium manifested all of the way from southern Siberia to the western ocean. This turnover invites the possibility of accompanying introduction of Indo-European, perhaps early Celtic, language. Irish Bronze Age haplotypic similarity is strongest within modern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh populations, and several important genetic variants that today show maximal or very high frequencies in Ireland appear at this horizon. These include those coding for lactase persistence, blue eye color, Y chromosome R1b haplotypes, and the hemochromatosis C282Y allele; to our knowledge, the first detection of a known Mendelian disease variant in prehistory. These findings together suggest the establishment of central attributes of the Irish genome 4,000 y ago.

The two sample sites are from North Ireland, being the so-called Neolithic one from the interior (Co. Down, c. 3200 BCE) and the so-called Bronze Age ones are from a small island (Rathlin) north of the main island (Rathlin 1 and 2 from c. 1900 BCE, Rathlin 3 from c. 1600 BCE). 

I say "so-called" because I'm not really confident that the terms "Neolithic" and "Bronze Age" apply in fact to most of them (I'd rather use Chalcolithic, shorthand for "advanced Neolithic with social complexity, regardless of metals", for all but Rathlin 3). I think in any case that the divider here is not metallurgy as such but actually the Bell Beaker divide: before and after Bell Beaker.

Bell Beaker is becoming a key element to our understanding of the demographic changes in Northern Europe, more than I would have expected admittedly. In the case of Ireland (and to a lesser extent parts of Britain) the arrival of the Bell Beaker phenomenon is accompanied with striking demographic growth, which may (or not) imply new settlement from outside. For Ireland, it seems growingly clear now, it probably does, unless Rathlin is a very unusual site, what is not parsimonious as we will see. 

Enough with the intro, let's get to the substance.

Haploid genetics

Ballanyhatty (Co. Down), a woman, carried the mitochondrial haplogroup (matrilineage) HV0. Rathlin 1 carried U5a1b1e, Rathlin 2 U5b2a2 and Rathlin 3 carried J2b1a. The only thing remarkable here is the lack of haplogroup H, the most common one in Europe today and detected since the Magdalenian era in Iberia, but more commonly later on within Neolithic. It can be a fluke of course but the shallow impression is that the mtDNA pool is "pre-modern". However all the rest is very "modern" in Rathlin Island, so... let's assume it's a mere fluke.

The three Rathlin individuals are all men, and their Y-DNA haplogroup has been successfully sequenced: they all belong to R1b-M529, the most common patrilineage in Ireland (and much of Britain and also Brittany) to this day. There's some hints that some of them could belong to downstream subhaplogroups but, if you read the fine print (the supp. materials) this is quite unclear, so let's leave it at this. 

R1b-S116 structure per Valverde 2015
The implications of this data point are important: it clearly defines a terminus ante quem for all possible R1b-M529 and upstream haplogroups' chronologies. Whoever defended a shorter chronology was clearly wrong. Together with a German Bell Beaker individual, these are the oldest R1b-S116 known so far, what is hardly surprising considering the huge blank in aDNA sampling in Western Europe but also suggests that, at least in some areas, Bell Beaker was implicated in the expansion of this most important European patrilineage and in general in the formation of modern-like Western European populations.

There are many open questions here yet because we lack ancient DNA data from France, West Germany, Belgium, Britain, much of Iberia, etcetera. But, with these new data points, I am beginning to believe that Bell Beaker was, if not a general cause, at least a key pivot around which these demographic changes leading to modern populations took place. It was probably a cause in Ireland but it's truly hard to extrapolate to other regions, where aDNA information is missing and archaeological one suggests different patterns of change or continuity. 

Autosomal DNA

The most striking implication of the autosomal DNA of these two Irish sites is that Rathlin men are almost identical to modern Irish (also Scots, Welsh and Cornish), while the much older Ballanyhatty woman is only slightly similar to modern Irish (and Scots), being much more like Sardinians and some South Iberians (what is congruent with what happens to all other Neolithic samples through much of Europe). 

Selection from fig. 3
So we are before a clear-cut demographic change in Ireland (and maybe other regions) at some point in the third millennium BCE. The most plausible date for the beginning of this change is probably around 2500 BCE, when we see the start of significant demographic growth in Ireland and is also the approx. date for Bell Beaker arrival to the island and other parts of Northern Europe (several centuries older in the South however).

Putting these samples in the wider context the authors get this:

Fig. 1. Genetic affinities of ancient Irish individuals. (A and B) Genotypes from 82 ancient samples are projected onto the first two principal components defined by a set of 354,212 SNPs from Eurasian populations in the Human Origins dataset (29) (SI Appendix, Section S9.1 and S10). (A) This PCA projects ancient Eurasian Hunter–Gatherers and Neolithic Farmers, where they separate clearly into Early Neolithic, MN (including the Irish Ballynahatty genome), and several hunter–gatherer groups. (B) PCA projection of Late Neolithic, Copper, and Bronze Age individuals where the three Rathlin genomes adopt a central position within a large clustering of European Bronze Age individuals. (C) A plot of ADMIXTURE ancestry components (K = 11) of these same ancient genomes. In West and Central Europe, ancient individuals are composed almost entirely of two dominant strands of ancestry, linked to hunter–gatherer (red) and early farmer (orange) populations, until the Late Neolithic. At this point, a third (green) Caucasus component features. Previously, this component was only seen in ancient Steppe and Siberian populations such as the Yamnaya. The three Rathlin genomes each display this Caucasus strand of ancestry whereas the Irish Neolithic does not.

Sure: a key element here is the "teal" Caucasus-related component, which is a tell-tale signature of the Indoeuropean or Kurgan expansion into Europe. As exercise to get a rough estimate of how much Indoeuropean (Yamna-like) ancestry there is in each sample, I propose you to get a ruler and a calculator, measure it for each sample and find the resulting fraction. You can also do the same for the early Neolithic (EEF) ancestry, using the "orange" component. There is an interesting substantial leftover fraction that can only be extra "hunter-gatherer" (HG), wherever it comes from. 

My own estimates are as follows:
  • Late Neolithic (LN) samples: 80% EEF + 20% extra HG.
  • German LN (early Kurgans) = 23% IE + 40% EEF + 37% HG → 27% extra HG relative to LN
  • Corded Ware = 64% IE + 21% EEF + 15 HG → 10% extra HG rel. to LN
  • Elbe Bell Beaker (avg.) = 13% IE + 44% EEF + 43% HG} → 32% extra HG rel. to LN
  • Irish BA = 25% IE + 34% EEF + 41% HG} → 32% extra HG rel. to LN
There is some data in the supp. materials (S12.2.2) which is roughly consistent with this, although their fraction of extra HG (using Lochsbour as reference) is smaller than mine, while their Yamna or IE one is larger instead (no idea why this lesser contradiction, honestly, although they almost overlap once we include error margins). 

Where does this extra HG fraction comes from? It is quite apparent that the currently available samples do not include its source. As I have mentioned many times, there is a huge "Atlantic" blank in the autosomal samples, including nearly all France and many areas around it: Switzerland, West Germany, Low Countries, Britain and about 3/4 of the Iberian Peninsula. 

In this study however we get a hint in the supp. materials: KO1, an Epi-Magdalenian sample from Hungary, stands out like a sore thumb in the f3 analyses of all three Rathlin samples:

Figure S12.1. Outgroup f3-Statistics for each ancient Irish Individual. Tests in the form f3(Mbuti; IA, X), where IA is an Irish ancient genome and X is any other ancient individual or population. Data points are coloured by archaeological context.

Obviously the origin of the extra HG cannot be KO1 as such but there must be one or several populations, as of yet unsampled, in which this extra HG (most akin to KO1) was notorious. My best candidates as of now are the following cultures:
  • Michelsberg, which replaced LBK in most of Germany, North France, Belgium, Switzerland, etc. prior to the Corded Ware shockwave. It's part of the wider Funnelbeaker and Megalithic phenomena and one of the ancient cultures I really want to see sampled in some depth. 
  • Artenac, which replaced previous layers in all West France and Belgium and is part of the wider Megalithic and Bell Beaker phenomena. It originated around Dordogne and is usually considered proto-Aquitanian, i.e. proto-Basque.
  • The major civilization of Zambujal or Vila Nova de Sao Pedro in Portuguese Estremadura, which was a key pivot in the Megalithic and particularly the Bell Beaker phenomenon.
And in general I'd complement these with samples from all the Atlantic facade of Europe, including Britain, the Basque Country (a lot was going on in the Chalcolithic here in spite of the small size), West France, Belgium, the Rhône valley and Switzerland, etc. If we'd have data points for all these areas in the Chalcolithic period, we'd surely have a much more clear picture of what was going on in Europe in this critical period of demographic change. Definitely it's not just Corded Ware and the Elbe basin can only give us so much information anyhow. 

This is also important regarding the origins and spread of R1b-S116 and its "brother" haplogroup U106, no kidding. Let's sample the West, it's about time.


  1. Given the pattern for the Rathlin Island samples, I would suggest that Funnelbeaker, Ertebolle, Narva and Kongemose would be important cultures to sample (in addition to the ones you mention.)

    I guess we have Baalberge (Funnelbeaker), but I'm having trouble seeing that on the D stats plot. I guess I'll have to have a closer look in the next few days.

    Yes, Rathlin3 comes up close to Yamnaya in D stats, but the other Rathin samples do not.

    So there is definitely something very bogus in saying that "The Irish" hail in large part from Bronze Age herders of the "Pontic steppe of southern Russia, who knew how to mine for copper and work with gold".

    That's a completely unsupportable statement of the highest order. Their own (very limited) data doesn't even support this.

    1. Yamnaya is distant from Ireland in time and space. What the Raithlin guys look is IE-influenced (Yamna is reference but not true origin, much less direct one), much as happens with German samples since the Baalberge times apparently. It's much less intense than the Corded Ware kind of "indoeuropeanness". And I see it mostly in the ADMIXTURE data anyhow, D-stats are confusing to me (X is closer to Y, than Z is to W but who is who? - f3 is much more straightforward: X is more or less similar to Y compared to outgroup: one on one direct comparisons).

      "So there is definitely something very bogus in saying that "The Irish" hail in large part from Bronze Age herders of the "Pontic steppe of southern Russia, who knew how to mine for copper and work with gold"".

      Written that way certainly. As if the steppe herders were the first miners/metallurgists ever, ha! Nearly everybody in Europe was involved in soft metallurgy in the Chalcolithic, claiming that such techniques originated in the steppe is plainly wrong.

      In addition to that there were some peoples of the Balcans (pre-Kurgan) who were the first bronze metallurgists of Earth, quite apparently. They were conquered but the less advanced Kurgan peoples nevertheless. So it's not about technological level but about something else: probably effective hierarchical organization and militarization. Similarly, much later, Romans were good at nothing except making war: they won.

  2. Just going through Jean Manco's database.

    It would be good to see these Rathin samples run against the following known samples:

    Kyndelose [RISE61] - Denmark Middle Neolithic

    Kowal, Kuyavia region - Globular Amphora

    Viby [RISE94] - Battle Axe Sweden

    There are very few samples currently available from Funnelbeaker or Ertebolle. Very peculiar.

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  4. Luis, I realize that you will probably delete this, but seeing Jean suggest that this paper should be rushed toward having a TV show made out of it, I am going to comment here:

    Here is Jean Manco's comment about this paper, which she just posted on the Anthrogenica Forum (www.anthrogenica.com)

    "Actually Dan Bradley was involved in that series. The new paper represents a complete U-turn by him, based on his samples from ancient DNA, and knowledge of the data coming from aDNA elsewhere in Europe. He is a good scientist. He follows the data. Perhaps there will be a new TV series eventually to set the record straight, but what I was expecting now was coverage in the news, chat shows etc."

    Since I can't respond to Jean Manco directly (I have been banned from the anthrogenica forum for stating that the Mesolithic of Southern Europe has been insufficiently sampled), I will respond to Jean here.

    Dear Jean,

    It is about time that you stopped prognosticating to people curious about their ancestry, handing them preliminary information as if it was fact. Your statements are made far beyond the limits of the data and methods used in these papers. Bradley's paper and data do not support *Middle Eastern* Neolithic ancestry *or* Bronze Age Russian herder Steppe ancestry for the Irish. It will require many more samples and analysis before definitive statements like yours can be supported. It would be completely premature and irresponsible to create a TV show from Bradley's paper.

    You are completely out of line in your statements. It is unethical.

    Moreover, perhaps you should consider that you are disseminating your *theories* on a forum where any dissent is immediately banned. [As I, Gioiello Tognini, and German Dziebel (all banned from Anthrogenica.com] can attest.

    While I do not share the theories of German, he is entirely professional in his conduct, and has published and presented work at important conferences. He should not have been banned from the Anthrogenica Forum for his admittedly unorthodox theories.

    Some of your compatriots on the Anthrogenica forum are highly unprofessional. For instance, "Chad" has told Roy King, Professor Emeritus at Stanford, that "You need to look at stats and not some bullshit". Was "Chad" banned for this? No.

    "Chad" has also libeled me on Anthrogenica.com, before I even knew it existed. I followed the link back from all the hits I was getting on my blog, only to discover that I was being libeled by "Chad" on the anthrogenica.com forum.

    Oh, and how about the "Tamil Tiger" holding an automatic weapon in his personal logo. That passes as legit on the anthrogenica forum.

    So go ahead, Jean, and continue disseminating your unscientific ideas and public relations campaign for the Steppe Hypothesis on anthrogenica.com.

    Surely none of us will see through this.


    Marnie Dunsmore

    1. People is entitled to establish boundaries in their turf as they consider best. I understand that perfectly and you should as well, particularly since you have disabled all comments in your own blog. I'm not going to ally with you in this battle: freedom of speech does not mean that I have to allow every single person inside my home or office or blog (or forum), particularly when they come yelling as mad, obsessed with most unlikely pet-theories or throwing around personal accusations without any evidence (and often against the evidence I may have). So the people at Anthrogenica (with whom I have no relation whatsoever and have no particular interest in defending) are entitled to manage their forum however they think best. I've been in many forums before and I reckon that this task is a difficult one: errors will happen unavoidably. However I have never been kicked out of a forum: I always leave first on my own initiative. And that's why I began blogging in fact, nine years ago. Been there, done that...

      Also what's wrong with the right to bear arms applied to Tamils? Is that maybe a privilege of white US-Americans or is a general Human Right? Particularly when Southern Tamils are being subject to mass genocide under the nose of Humankind and almost nobody even bothers reporting.

      I dislike Dziebel as much as Manco: both are pseudoscientific IMO. I can't see how one is better than the other. Both are just operating on faith motivations. Whether one or the other manages to deceive more people with their absurdities is a social complexity problem I'd rather not care about.

      In any case, you should use your own blog if you want to discuss people. I'd rather discuss ideas, concepts. This personalization of the debate is not interesting, it's what most people would call "bitching" or destructive gossip. I'd rather keep the debate in terms of the subject matter.

      Thank you in advance.

    2. Yes, people are entitled to establish their boundaries as they see fit.

      Once material from these forums consistently over a period of years starts to turn up in PNAS and Nature, then it is way beyond a few private forums setting their own rules.

      You decide about the Tamil Tiger and the automatic weapon. The victims of automatic weapon assaults in the public space are not the privileged American white people of your imagination. I've been to Bilbao. It's a town full of privileged white people. Not diverse at all compared to the neighbourhood in San Francisco, California, where I live.

      As to German, as I've said, his views are unorthodox, and perhaps pseudoscientific. But many of the people on anthrogenica hold marginal/pseudoscientific views, so who is to say? Why specifically is a fatwa leveled against German, and Gioello, and not against the highly unethical, pseudoscientific and rude "Chad"?

      I stopped taking comments on my blog because I don't have time to moderate them. There's no public welfare system here in San Francisco, Luis. If you don't work, you starve. (Unless you have one of those increasingly hard to get academic tenured positions.) Or, like Razib, are funded by VC Ron Unz. Nope, I make my money in the real economy. I can't afford the time to moderate the endless stream of comments (mostly from academic researchers with pensions and tenure) that I was getting on my blog when comments were open.

      I'd rather discuss concepts too. Like I said, where's the data for Funnelbeaker?

      Funnelbeaker and Ertebolle are totally missing in Jean Manco's ancient DNA database, Wolfgang Haak's, Bradley's, Pinhasi's, Reich's, Krause's publications. It's been two years now, and no Funnelbeaker.

    3. The people here is, sadly enough (always IMO), not entitled to bear weapons, and that's why we are under foreign occupation. But the Tamil situation is no doubt much worse: http://www.tamilsagainstgenocide.org/

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  8. Dear Marnie

    One might disagree with results of studies, but it’s another thing to engage in outlandish theories of conspiracy, pseudonymity and bribery.

    You claim there is a pseudoscience being perpetrated, but you actually have little understanding of the material, and offer no formal models yourself. In fact, your posts are often irrelevant, tangential and show clear signs of thought disorder. Above all, you post rampant abuse on other peoples’ blogs, and hide on yours behind a ‘comments not allowed’ cover like a coward.

    So from Everyone - Pipe Down. It's becoming boring, and worrying

  9. Dear Pete,

    What outlandish theories of conspiracy do you refer?

    The one, as noted above also by Maju, that Western and Northern Europe (pre-Bell Beaker) are completely undersampled?

    "but you actually have little understanding of the material"

    Sorry, Pete, but as a highly experienced electrical engineer, with an undergraduate degree in Math and Physics, with a very good idea of sampling, how Admixture works (it's based on the Moment Method on which I did my Master's Degree Thesis), and with classes in Bayesian statistics and other statistical methods (Dstats, fstats), I beg to differ about my ability to understand the weaknesses in this paper (and the weaknesses in the WHG-EEF-CHG model.)

    Like Maju, I have an extensive amateur background in archaeology and anthropology.

    "and offer no formal models yourself. In fact, your posts are often irrelevant, tangential and show clear signs of thought disorder."

    So that's how you operate. But, we already knew that, didn't we. Just attack someone's intelligence and person, rather than address the weaknesses, such as severe undersampling of critical archaeological horizons in Europe for the WHG-EEF-CHG model.

    I do have some thoughts on an alternative model, which you can read about on my blog. Feel free to email me.

    "Above all, you post rampant abuse on other peoples’ blogs"

    You mean, like the blog session yesterday on "eurogenes"? This one:


    Other's can read the full discussion for themselves and decide just who is being abusive and hiding something.

    "and hide on yours behind a ‘comments not allowed’ cover like a coward."

    That must be really frustrating for you, having someone publish a blog (under their real name mind you) where they don't take comments. That's such a crime compared to publishing with grand assertions in Nature and PNAS with datasets that have gaping holes, and using anthrogenica.com (which arbitrarily blocks dissenters) to promote it.

    If my blog was such a piece of junk, then no one would read it. (I make no bones about the fact that I am not a professional archaeologist or anthropologist.) But people do read my blog quite consistently, so it can't be the irrelevant, tangential and thought disordered tar pit that you suggest it is.

    Oh, and its all under my own name, not like other blogs and forums out there, which will remain nameless.

    A lot of people are wondering where the pre Bell Beaker ancient DNA data is from western and northern Europe. A lot of people are wondering where the ancient DNA data is from Greece, the Balkans, Italy and North Africa (Neolithic and Earlier).

    Requests for this type of data really should not be a scandal, being banned from a forum or blog, or cause for being called a "thought disordered" person, "irrelevant", "tangential" or being told that "you actually have little understanding of the material."

    Eagerly awaiting more ancient DNA data (not cherry picked),

    Marnie Dunsmore

    1. "What outlandish theories of conspiracy do you refer?"

      We all know what he means: you have been throwing around, without a single piece of evidence (and in fact contradicting evidence we do have, as we have already discussed by email), personal accusations against Internet users and researchers, conflating them into imaginary single individualities, which at least in most cases only exist in your mind (or so it seems, as the evidence for your claims is lacking). This naturally puts everybody against you, not because they hate you but because they don't want your paranoia to disrupt their normal debate and online existence in general. As people gets more or less angry at you, you probably inflate your own paranoia. But for the rest of the world the issue is simple: Marnie is saying awful falsehoods (or probable falsehoods) about people and we don't want to be part of that. So "Marnie is out" is the most straightforward development of that situation that you have fed with your own paranoid thoughts (and the sharing of them in public particularly).

      I'm in that situation too. And it breaks my heart because I have some appreciation for you but your behavior of the last year has been very much unacceptable. That's how it is: you can't throw personal accusations without evidence (much less contradicting every piece of evidence we can gather on our own). It's like when Jehova Witnesses' ring the bell and you slam the door on their faces, just like that. Why do you have to put up with some madman or mad woman who has a crazy speculative faith? Not you, not me, not anyone. There's a point when you slam the door and that's it. And that's it: the one on the other side should get the message and not insist. It's clear that the recipient of your "profound message" is not interested and it's their right.

      They can always write a book, a blog, make a movie, rent a place to give a conference to the spiderwebs... whatever. Freedom of speech is not infringed upon just because people want some peace in their turf.

      Your behavior disturbs them, and me too. Sorry but I think that the good friend is not the one who embraces flattery and tells you what you want to hear, but the one who embraces truth and tells you what you don't want to hear. I reckon that it's harder to appreciate, so I can offer you a hug but definitely not concessions to your paranoia, that would be betrayal of trust, even if you don't realize it.

    2. I would also like to give my comment to Marnie. You should not blame people and be so angry with them. You will only harm yourself as it all turns against you and people start to hate you. If we - me, you or anybody else - disagree with somebody, we just have to defend our point of view with facts and try to be as logical as possible.

      We all love our pet theories, and most of us really need overwhelming evidence, which we do not currently have, in order to change our mind or, conversely, overwhelming evidence is needed in order to change certain ways of thinking. We just have to be patient and wait for more research to be done. At the moment, many very divergent theories can be upheld. Maybe a more balanced view will emerge with time.

  10. Replies
    1. I'm glad (and admittedly a bit surprised) that you liked it. Thank you.

  11. It looks like British and Basque have recent common ancestry.


    It probably has to do with R1b-P312. The paper "The Geography of Recent Genetic Ancestry across Europe" though didn't find evidence of recent ancestry between France or Iberia with Britain. aDNA from France and Spain dating 2500-15000 BC I think will come out R1b-DF27.

    1. Some minor recent shared ancestry was already detected in 2004 in STRUCTURE runs, if I recall correctly. Not sure exactly where it comes from but my speculation back in the day was to connect it to cod fishing Medieval activities (before going to Newfoundland, Basque fishermen mostly operated near Ireland and its probably there or in Bristol where they found out about the overseas fisheries). There can be other connections however but I don't see it related to R1b-S116/P312 because this is a much much more widespread lineage and too old to be meaningful (see how Rathlin are not close to Basques in any way). Only if it is some day demonstrated that the Basque and Irish R-S116* paragroup is or includes a shared subhaplogroup, then we'd be maybe before some more recent patrilineage connection of the kind you seem to speculate about.

      I discussed the paper you mention back in the day (http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-less-homogeneous-european.html) and I proposed (and confirmed in the update, after Davidski's protests) that age estimates should be roughly double than those proposed in the study, therefore the "recent" ancestry is quite less recent than what is proposed in that paper, always in my opinion.

      "aDNA from France and Spain dating 2500-15000 BC I think will come out R1b-DF27".

      We'll see. On one side, I expect France, roughly speaking, to be the origin of R1b-S116 and show therefore diversity in subclades within this haplogroup. In Iberia it should be mostly DF27 but I'm still very intrigued by whatever happened in Portugal particularly because the mtDNA pool in the Neolithic (or also Epipaleolithic but more clearly in the Neolithic) was very different than it is today. So at some point Portugal (and maybe other Iberian areas) should have gone through a massive demic replacement. A candidate is Celtic invasions of c. 700 BCE but another one could be the changes that happened in the Chalcolithic. I'm very intrigued but I know that we cannot extrapolate from Northern European data: we need much better distributed data points to understand the changes properly.

    2. BTW, I don't see any Irish in your spreadsheet, Krefter. Only Basques having some alleged affinities with French, Italian and Orcadian. Uh?

    3. The genetic connection between Basques and the British [more specifically western British Isles] in my opinion likely predates medieval cod fishing. Possibly megalithic culture? As I mentioned before, there is an HLA haplotype [A*29:02-B*44:03-C*16:02-DRB1*07:01-DQB1*02:02] which peaks in Europe in Cantabria (Pas Valley), Basque Country (Gipuzkoa), Catalonia (Girona), Balearic Islands (Ibiza), Murcia Region, Andalusia (Sevilla), Balearic Islands (Minorca), and Basque Country (Arratia Valley). The haplotype's spread northwards to the western British Isles is very pronounced, with particulary notable frequencies in Orkney and Cornwall - however the overall distribution fits quite well with the spread of megalithism. The haplotype is also found in Maghreb and west Africa.

    4. But Megalithic culture is something that is not "recent", not in the sense mentioned above at least, and also is way too pan-European and definitely not something only Basque and Irish, not at all. Even within Megalithism, there's no sub-group specifically Basque-and-Irish, nor within Bell Beaker either or anything else I can consider except cod fishing. Even the issue of snails does not specifically links Basques and Irish but rather involves other populations such as Catalans or whatever.

      Even your own HLA haplotype conjecture includes a lot of peoples who are not Basques.

    5. Ah, I was meaning a connection between eastern Iberia/western France and the western British Isles generally, which encompasses Irish and Basques among these groups. These parts of Europe are where the haplotype is enriched, however it mirrors the spread of megalithism in that it also occurs at reasonable frequency in Portugal, Corsica, Brittany, and lower frequeny in Low Countries/N.Germany/Denmark.

    6. But we don't see it in the few Megalithic samples we have, Gökhem for instance nor in any other pre-Kurgan sample in fact. EEF and LN peoples are all very close to Sardinians but not in this aspect, so this element probably arrived later to the island as well.

      I'm rather inclined to think that the Sardinian extra-Caucasus component, which is indeed there AFAIK, is instead related to the Sicilian type of distinctiveness and that is another Bronze Age input: not Indoeuropean but "Pelasgian" so to say: something coming from Anatolia (roughly) via the Aegean most likely.

  12. Hey Maju, Since being a Portuguese I am all for promoting Zambujal or Vila Nova de Sao Pedro.  Thanks for so often mention it and also Perdigões site.

    Regarding R1b and how it came about to be the W.europe haplogroup, bell beaker from Zambujal and Tagus river banks being the oldest sites, etc… let me tell you about two “anecdote evidence” from Portugal:

    *First – There is a some noise In Portugal about the origin of the wine making culture not being in the Caucasus after all but here in Portugal. Apart from freak allegation every country likes to make is just that they found out that our oldest Vitis vinifera (grapvines) are actually oldest then the ones found in the Caucasus having the same 5000 year old timeframe as those … and about the same species. Curious, right? How those same vitis vinifera from Caucasus came about to show up in Portugal at about the same time as the dawn of the R1b in Europe, and the “exact” time prior to the bell beaker onset .
    Second – We truly only have one autochthone Dog species in Portugal so old we cannot trace its origins. The Serra da Estrela sheppard dog… Funny it’s a DNA closest match to the Caucasus sheppard dog. Right? Being that the region where dogs have been domesticated.

    So, Bell beakers are R1b and show up here in Portugal out of “nowhere” with their Caucasus Sheppard dogs and producing their wine from their own Vitis vinífera. It makes a nitty story. Maybe be truth or just a fable.

    I know its just anecdote but time will tell… 

    1. Thank you. I truly think that VNSP/Zambujal civilization deserves a good in depth research, much better than done till now, because it is definitely a pivot civilization in Western European Chalcolithic and Bronze. It also fits way too well Plato's description of Atlantis incidentally and we have growing archaeological data supporting W-E Mediterranean interactions, intense at times, in the Bronze Age (late 2nd millennium BCE especially), which could well fit with the "core truth" of that legend and also other Greek legends that place Herakles in the Far West (Geryon, Hesperides). There is a lot to say about this but I'll cut it here for convenience.

      As for grapes, I have no idea: can you provide any evidence. Same for dogs. What I know is that olives are found very early in Iberia and therefore either originated here or arrived with the core "Neolithic package". I also know that Iberia was an independent center of horse domestication, what is confirmed by very early archaeological presence of this animal remains (horse meat is delicious, I don't understand all that fuzz about rejection of horse meat, really) and crucially also by genetic evidence. However it's not all about Portugal, the archaeological evidence I'm mentioning re. olives and horse remains is from Andalusia, while the horse genetic evidence points rather towards North Iberia and Southern France than towards the South (although of course it may have been modified by historical breeding).

      Even when we consider civilizations, we do have that major one of Zambujal/VNSP but also a very comparable one in SE Spain (Los Millares, later El Argar) and less developed but still quite interesting cultural centers elsewhere (for example Languedoc, Sardinia, SE Britain...) But I do agree that VNSP is pivotal and it is very likely that they controlled the naval route to the tin sources, that they were key in the spread of Bell Beaker (if not the ultimate origin) and must have played a regional super-power role of some sort.

      I'm not sure right now how this relates to R1b spread anyhow. I have hunches and conjectures but the really intriguing bit is in France quite apparently, even if this part of Europe had no relevant civilizations back in the day (the ones it did have like Armorican Megalithism or Treilles seem unrelated so far).

      As you say well, time will tell.

    2. Sorry, Olympus, I accidentally and unreversibly deleted your comment which read as follows:

      Yes. I didn't wnat to post until having the genetic proofs sent from the PORVID association but coudn't actually resist. Will follow up on that and relay info back here as soon as I get those sent.

      My deepest apologies. :(

    3. Very interesting data points. Also Maju's comments about the Neolithic package that arrives in Iberia reminds me of something that was quite surprising when I was doing research on the early Neolithic in Iberia.

      It turns out that there is considerable variation regionally within Iberia regarding which Neolithic package arrived when. It was not the case, as I had previously assumed that the CP Neolithic arrived in Iberia as first farmers and swept the entire peninsula. I am a bit fuzzy on the details and will have to look again, but I recall that parts of Iberia didn't experience that Neolithic revolution until much later than the first regions within Iberia to experience it, and that another region of Iberia (probably in Portugal or far Southern Spain) received only part of the full Neolithic package with the rest only arriving centuries later.

    4. Davidski found an excess of CHG ancestry in Sardinians that I think is worth considering. I wouldn't assume all CHG in Bell Beakers is from IE, even though the authors of this paper do. I think there's a good chance that there were parallel expansions of CHG that affected both the steppe and Europe / the Mediterrean writ large which makes this difficult to unravel.

      The HG component seems to have pretty eastern tendencies, though they don't seem to disentangle it into different constituents, which may be pretty difficult if Europe's HG structure was a set of disordered clines rather than hard and fast lines.

    5. As far as I can tell now, there's indeed a lot of variation on the typology of the first Neolithic, not just in Iberia but also France, Belgium (Limburg) and even SW Germany (La Hoguette). However the chronology of the expansion is still very fast for most areas. Only when the time comes to make the jump across the Channel to Britain and other Nordic areas (Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands and Low Germany) is where the rhythm really stops, probably because of climate, which includes the humidity of the West and the cold of the North, a combo definitely not good for crops and livestock evolved near the Syrian Desert.

      In Iberia it seems to be just the Northwest corner the one chronologically delayed, not sure about France but most of it seems to have been "neolithized" very fas as well. The problem is not what happens in chronological terms (a lot of things can happen in just few centuries) but in ethno-cultural and genetic terms. And my impression from the scarce data we have is that there was increased admixture with the aborigines. Some of these admixed populations may have later re-expanded, as we see in the genetic data, and that's where the issue gets really tricky: which ones, where, why and how? The complexity of Western or "Atlantic" Neolithic really demands plenty of data points, as we can expect to find a good deal of diversity.

    6. I read a paper recently (which unfortunately I don't have handy) that suggested soil quality would have been very poor in much of Europe due to glaciers, and that the most fertile (perhaps only fertile) sites would be along streams and rivers that are fed by glacial loess left behind by retreating alpine glaciers. Does this match what you know of the spread of the neolithic? Did it take hold very quickly along glacier fed streams and rivers, but more slowly elsewhere?

      If so it would provide a plausible location for excess WHG/UHG to hide out (around the Alps?) and for later expansions from a few specific river basins - there would have been big boom/bust cycles in areas where soil nutrients became depleted, but not in a few lucky river basins around the Alps and Pyrenees.

    7. The Alps remained outside the settlement patterns until quite late. What you say about glaciers and loess does not make any sense to me.

      Although I don't know for sure, I wouldn't search for the missing HG in too marginal areas, but rather in areas that the early settlers found rather undesirable but others (mixed populations with both cultural backgrounds) may have managed to gradually adapt farming to. The most obvious case is Oceanic climate areas: too humid for many of the crops brought from West Asia initially, but that were later adapted for.

      Maps for European climate:
      → http://www.reformrivers.eu/system/files/images-inline/QMUL02.jpg
      → https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Europe_Koppen_Map.png

    8. Continuing where I just left...

      Those areas of the Atlantic basin had rather large initial HG populations in most cases, were not intensely penetrated by the early Neolithic waves or, where they were, we witness interesting transformations of the cultures they brought: from sudden Megalithism in Cardium-derived Portuguese Neolithic to the scattering of habitat and regular presence of weaponry in LBK-derived German Neolithic. All what lays in between these two "frontiers" is full of distinctive cultures and groups of unclear affiliation, what clearly indicate a step further in the redefinition of Neolithic in order to adapt to Atlantic conditions. What is to the NW initially remained strictly hunter-gatherer.

    9. Re: loess - a great deal of nutrients build up in/on glaciers and are then released when the glacier melts. These nutrients are then deposited in the flooded river basins carrying the glacial meltwater away. The Alps got an especially good amount of nutrients from Saharan dust getting trapped during the Wurm glaciation, which played a big role in making the Rhine and Danube so fertile. The LBK spread primarily through areas rich in loess soil. Here's a map of loess in Europe: https://www.ufz.de/export/data/1/28154_European_Loess_Map_hires.jpg

      I'm not necessarily talking about within the Alps, but rather adjacent to them - along rivers that are fed by glaciers in the Alps. In particular, that small band of land just north of the Alps where the Danube, Rhine and Rhone all have their sources.

      I'm just wondering out loud if an area with rich and fertile soil like that could have been home to greater densities of hunter gatherers too.

      I'm not talking about the Atlantic Neolithic necessarily - I agree with everything you said there, but the Atlantic Neolithic doesn't seem to have had a sufficiently eastern-like HG component, which is what I'm struggling to explain.

      I suppose we could have R1b insert itself into the spread of the Neolithic somewhere along the lower reaches of the Danube, with bottlenecks where the Neolithic crossed from the Danube to the Rhine and the Rhone. Then during a later expansion of the Bell Beaker people, one branch of this expansion (perhaps the main branch) admixes with early IE, and that IE-mixed branch spreads to Ireland?

      Would that make sense to you?

    10. I don't see any similitude between the map and settlement patterns but feel free to think otherwise. Some areas may correspond, others are clearly out of the loess area, notably all those with Mediterranean climate. I think people liked alluvial areas with or without loess, but there are other terrains that they occupied as well.

      "Would that make sense to you?"

      No because:

      1. The Neolithic expansion from Greece had two routes, not one. The only Neolithic R1b we know so far is from the southern route.

      2. Bell Beaker expanded from south to north.

      3. R1b-S116 seems to expand from somewhere in South France.

    11. It's relevant to the LBK culture and the spread of agriculture in northern Europe. I imagine further south soil quality would have been better. Tundra makes for rather bad soil from what I understand.

      And yah, alluvial areas in general are best of course.

    12. Mediterranean soil is, in general terms, not too good but the climate is ideal for Neolithic package crops. Anyhow the concept "soil quality" is probably very nuanced, because it's not the same in Antiquity, when plows reached only a small depth, than in the Late Middle Ages and Modernity, when the heavy plow allowed for a much better exploitation of the deep non-Mediterranean soils, with the result that the effective quality was greatly improved, allowing for the development of Northern Europe, something that was previously quite hard. Thank the Chinese for the invention, because it seems the technology came from the Far East, brought by the Mongols, as so many other stuff that has made Europe great, like gunpowder, printing press, paper, etc. A few other stuff has to be attributed to the Indians, particularly properly usable numbers.

    13. I don't think the importance of loess in Northern Europe is under dispute. A quick google scholar of "lbk loess" reveals numerous sources stating that the LBK seemed to almost exclusively colonize sites with loess soils.

      I agree with you re: the relative order of the arrival of Danubian vs Cardial Pottery Neolithic, but I don't think one can attribute R1b-S116 to a southern route given the distribution of its closest relatives. R1b-V88 on the other hand I do totally agree on.

    14. "I agree with you re: the relative order of the arrival of Danubian vs Cardial Pottery Neolithic, but I don't think one can attribute R1b-S116 to a southern route given the distribution of its closest relatives".

      Which relatives? U106? U106 could perfectly have arrived to NW Europe from the South at various times... unless it is pre-Neolithic. In fact the only good explanation for a possible Central European route for BOTH lineages would be pre-Neolithic. If they are Neolithic, then either both arrived via the South or each arrived via a different route.

    15. "In fact the only good explanation for a possible Central European route for BOTH lineages would be pre-Neolithic."

      Why is that? The distribution of U106, S116 and their predecessors matches the drainage basins of Europe almost perfectly.


      It's pretty suggestive of an east-to-west spread from up the Danube and then jumping from river basin to river basin. That seems more likely for the Neolithic than the Mesolithic to me. Even if it's Mesolithic or Paleolithic, the direction of expansion is generally the same - from the Black Sea and then West.

      A Neolithic expansion would match your suggestion though that the origin of the Basque language lies in the Danubian Neolithic.

    16. Why is that? Because Archaeology.

      And allow me to ignore your drainage basins pseudo-argument because Archaeology comes first. You may want to explain the archaeological facts with environmental explanations but that comes only after the archaeological facts.

      The other facts I'm considering here are genetic, naturally.

      Archaeology + Population genetics = X

      No drainage basins, no soil quality, no climate gradation, no whatever else that are not observable facts in the basic equation.

    17. The trouble is the archaeology and genetics do not match. If S116 was Meditteranean in origin P312 would have a Meditteranean distribution. I doesn't.

    18. It has an "Atlanto-Mediterranean" distribution, certainly not a "Nordic" one (that could be U106).

      What I mean is that distribution is half-Mediterranean (Western Med to be precise) and half Atlantic. There are processes in the late Prehistory that follow that pattern such as (second phase) Dolmenic Megalithism and Bell Beaker (part of it at least), the match may be better in some cases when combined with U106 (first phase of international Dolmenism and Bell Beaker). The West Mediterranean is clearly involved, from Tuscany to Andalusia at the very least.

      We can track a sequence Cardium Pottery → Dolmenism → Bell Beaker. We cannot track any such sequence beginning in Central or North Europe. You'd have to involve the Celts but what about Basques, Tartessians, Iberians, Etruscans, Ligurians? No way to insert all them in the equation without assuming a pre-IE origin.

    19. We can also track Dolmenism and Bell Beaker going back to the West Mediterranean, BTW. This was probably a key flow at some point but awaiting for more ancient DNA to be able to be more precise.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. All comments by Heathen Darkness or his alter-egos have been and will be deleted. This individual is the kind of pest we all want to avoid.

  14. This is a great summary! There's a new paper out Quaternary (Galindo-Pellicena et al 2015) about Iberian Bell Beaker horses, or at least the abundance of equid remains at certain sites and possibly or probably before this as well. Haven't been able to read it yet.

    1. Thank you. It'll be interesting to read about those horse findings but I'm not at all surprised by them.

  15. I'm no expert, but I think the Sahara is holding out on many secrets from our past, and the desertification of the Sahara caused abrupt migrations into new areas of the old world, which falls right into the dates discussed above. Too much of a stretch?


    1. Too much of a stretch to me indeed. Particularly if you have no archaeological or otherwise meaningful connection to make.

  16. Megalithism and Bell beaker in North Africa? I know it's not directly in the Sahara, but what are the sands of time hiding, I guess we'll never know.

    1. There is a necessary waypoint in North Africa, which is by no means under the sands. Bell Beaker in North Africa is almost non-existent and obviously derived from Europe. As for Megalithism it may be a generic label, so I'll focus on Dolmenism first: again North African Dolmenism derives from Europe (it's late in time and correlates with the second, Bronze Age, phase that has a more Mediterranean orientation, expanding also to parts of Italy and even beyond (eventually slipping into Asia via Caucasus, the Levant and Yemen and later reaching to India and Korea).

      The only "Megalithic" element that might have gone in the opposite direction would be stone rings, the oldest known one (if we ignore Göbekli Tepe's similitudes in concept) is Nabta Playa (Nubia) and does have some possible stepping stones in Morocco. But it is a very specific type of monument that is found only here and there (although they are admittedly very common in Britain) and is hard to associate to coherent cultures. This one could indeed be a concept that migrated directly from Africa to Western Europe but what else can be associated with it? Nothing AFAIK.

    2. Anyhow, for the record, the vast majority of the Sahara is not sandy but rocky and there's a dearth of known Neolithic sites, best known for their rock art (which spans almost a whole millennium) but also by other artifacts such as grinding stones, pottery fragments, etc., which are found easily on the surface often (hard to date maybe but no obvious relation with Europe).

    3. The link I wanted to include is this one in fact: http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2012/10/periodization-of-saharan-rock-art.html

  17. I have a hard time believing in a one way direction.

  18. "the much older Ballanyhatty woman is only slightly similar to modern Irish (and Scots), being much more like Sardinians and some South Iberians (what is congruent with what happens to all other Neolithic samples through much of Europe)."

    I hope that we get some ancient DNA from Egypt. These 'Early European Farmer' genomes are described as being 'Sardinian-like' and therefore "near-eastern" in origin. But the HLA haplotypes in modern-day Sardinians, based on linkage equilibrium, are ancient, very distinctive, and several of them are more Egyptian- and Sudanese-like [distinct from the Near Eastern- and Caucasus-like ones which are also present].

  19. Don't want to press nor dwell on the same subject, but there's too many other people who think differently.

    Contrary to Montelius and his many followers, the French antiquarian Solomon Reinach (1858-1932) advocated the Nordic Theory, according to which megalithic culture spread not from East to West, but from North to South, its origins being in Scandinavia. (Sound familiar?)

    Another scholar, the Scottish Duncan Mackenzie(1861-1934), held a different opinion from the rest. He was of the idea that the presence of the megalithic phenomenon in Europe was owed to a north ward spread of the megalithic culture whose origins were in North Africa.

    Furthermore, frequent updates and literature reviews such as that published by Le Quellec in 2008 (Le Quellec 2008), continue to make the dataset of the Sahara not only complete, but also more accurate and fine-tuned. Although not to the same degree, one must say that some degree of effort is being made to include the Maghreb more within Mediterranean prehistoric research. As recently as 2006, for instance, North Africa had an entire chapter devoted to it, particularly to the typology of the megaliths of Henchir Midid and Makhtar, Tunisia (Tanda et al. 2008: 43-57). Such new initiatives, however, remain few and far between, and the study of the megalithic monuments in the Maghreb has yet to grow in present scholarship. Progress still has to be made on the inclusion of North Africa within studies of the Mediterranean, especially when it comes to discussing key-issues such as megalithism. North Africa still tends to be largely neglected and left out of the wider context within which it should indisputably play a role. This evident in various sources, such as a recent collection of essays:
    The Archaeology of Mediterranean Prehistory edited by Emma Blake and A. Bernard Knapp (2005). One particular chapter in this collection,
    The Genesis of Monuments among the Mediterranean Islands (Kolb 2005), deals with Mediterranean megalithic monuments, but for some reason, the author leaves the megalithic funerary monuments of North Africa completely out of the picture. This is also the case in a number of other studies, where authors embark on admittedly effortful tasks of discussing the megalithic phenomenon in the Mediterranean context but, somehow (deliberately or accidentally) fail to include the monuments of Mediterranean North Africa.


    1. I have not the slightest idea why you mention authors from a century ago; we are in the 21st century and we have quite a better understanding today therefore.

      The oldest Dolmenism is from Southern Portugal, barely generations after the arrival of Neolithic, c. 5000 BCE. Then it spread mostly in Northward direction along the Atlantic (but also to some Western Mediterranean regions like SE France, SE Iberia, etc.) After the loss of Central and North Europe to the Corded Ware (IE) invasion, Dolmenism expanded mostly in the Mediterranean, to North Africa (Algeria and Tunisia mostly), Italy (some areas only) and beyond (recently Montenegro came to the forelight, also some instances in the Aegean, from memory). Then the "Middle Eastern arch" (scattered) and from there to India and Korea (Iron Age).

      If you read more modern materials you will come to accept this chronological pattern. The only exception to this chronology in the Mediterranean is probably Malta, whose Dolmenism and elaborate and distinctive Megalithism is probably quite older (but not older than the Atlantic one) and worth a separate discussion. I reckon I do not have a clear picture of how Malta fits in.

    2. Maju, the study is from May 2012. they quoted old ideas from old authors who were against anything North African. It actually has some nice pics and comparisons. Since you mentioned Malta, I think Torre d'en Galmés in Menorca has a very close resemblance to Malta.

    3. The two individuals you mention first died in the 1930s. The paper you quote is recent indeed but your quote is lacking in any sort of probatory weight: it's all speculation as far as I can see.

  20. I think we've had enough of this beaker vs pre-beaker R-M269 debate. Evidence clearly hints that it's diffusion started earlier than that of the bell beaker culture, as it could be dated to AT LEAST 6,000 ybp. A better approximation would be 7,000 or 7,500 ybp. In any case, the expansion is clearly pre-beaker. However, I'm not denying that the culture was also partially involved in further spreading the clade within Europe.

    As for atlantic megalithism, it is of north african derivation no doubt. At least, north african people were partially involved in its spread. Linguistic and genetic evidence is in complete agreement with my claim. First we have the well known ''hamitic'' substrat in celtic languages and then Y-DNA E-M81 is the final nail in the coffin. And of course we have the megalithic skulls showing east african affinities, clearly pointing toward their berber-like identity.

    1. Why is Dolmenism "of north african derivation no doubt"? Where is your evidence?

      How is " Linguistic and genetic evidence is in complete agreement with [your] claim"? And anyhow dolmens are archaeological artifacts, usually with C-14 dates, and these do not match your claims at all.

      "First we have the well known ''hamitic'' substrat in celtic languages and then Y-DNA E-M81 is the final nail in the coffin".

      Nope. The "well known" Afroasiatic (you say "hamitic" others say "semitic") alleged substrate in Celtic languages is only based on one grammatical peculiarity of insular celtic, shared with Semitic, Turkish and other West Asian languages. We don't know how it reached insular celts: maybe it evolved independently (it has happened in other parts of the world) or maybe is a fossil of some subgroup in the Neolithic expansion or whatever else.

      E1b-M81 in Europe pivots around West Iberia (and in this sense it might indeed be related with Megalithism but from Iberia in any case). It's quite plausible that the lineage crossed the strait in the Solutrean-Oranian interaction process. Even if it did in the early Neolithic (less likely IMO), there's nothing specific linking it with Megalithism as such.

      "And of course we have the megalithic skulls showing east african affinities"...

      I'm not privy to this data, first time I hear of it, honestly. Can you point me to a source? Also how does "East African" relate to "NW African" in any direct way that is not the same that relates with West Asia and the Thessalian Neolithic?

    2. Megalithic remains were noted for their marked dolichocephaly, their slender built and their elevated stature. In that and some other features, they resemble the so-called ''caucasoid'' component in East Africans, which I think is somewhat exemplified by Moroccans, who probably got it from their east african ancestors. They were also compared to the elmenteitan skulls from Kenya.

      E-M81 is of course more common in Iberia than in the rest of Europe but that just plain logic given that Iberia was the point of entrance. However, it has been clearly demonstrated that within the peninsula, we observe higher frequencies for that haplogroup in the western half and this is reminescent of megalithism. But Iberia comes as no surprise as its proximity to North Africa inevitably implies genetic exchanges between the two regions. What is striking is the fact that E-M81's distribution in the rest of Europe also perfectly mirrors the distribution of megalithic sites but of course that was not easy to spot because one needs to be familiar with very extensive data from all over Europe to figure it out. The similarity is so striking that it'd be foolish not to assume a megalithic diffusion of E-M81 in Europe. Two pieces of evidence I happen to remember right now are the second highest frequency after Iberia being found in the Channel Islands and the lack in Belgium/Netherlands in contrast to the strong presence in Normandy and Britanny.

    3. Source please. Notice that in European contexts "dolicocephaly" often stands for "mesocephaly". Very few Europeans, past or present, are truly dolicocephalic for global standards.

      E1b-M81 is not more common in all Iberia, it has a peculiar distribution, being almost exclusive of West Iberia, the Western third of the peninsula, with little to zero presence in the rest. The same happens with mtDNA U6 and largely with the minor L(xM,N) mtDNA as well. This peculiar distribution is interesting of course and has not yet been satisfactorily understood for lack of research on ancient West Iberian DNA. My pet theory is that it is a Paleolithic element from a backflow at the Oranian (Iberomaurusian) genesis, which is quite clearly derived from Iberian Solutrean, and is probably the cause behind so much mtDNA H and V in NW Africa. The presence of minor African-like (~ "Basal Eurasian") component in the only studied Epipaleolithic Iberian samples (the La Braña brothers, whose geography is north-westerner) seems to support this but it's admittedly not enough.

      The other possibility would be something Neolithic, maybe adopted when Cardium Pottery "bounced" in North Morocco on their way to the Atlantic, but there's no further empirical support for this either. In any case it has no direct correlation with anything we can call Megalithic: Dolmenism had not yet evolved and other Megalithic architecture is not related in any obvious way either.

      "What is striking is the fact that E-M81's distribution in the rest of Europe also perfectly mirrors the distribution of megalithic sites"...

      That would make perfect sense if we just accept that Megalithism (Dolmenism) expanded from Portugal (as it actually happened) and that the frequency of E1b-M81 back in the day was similar or greater to the one we see today. It does not automatically imply a direct African origin of Megalithism itself. Notice anyhow that R1b-M412 also mirrors very well the spread of Megalithism anyhow (and it is a much more important haplogroup in Europe).

    4. I was requesting source for the alleged "dolicocephaly" of the Megalithic skulls. I can't find anything other than freaky UFO sites.

    5. The megalithic skulls were noted for their extreme dolichocephaly and their general east african tendency by 20th century anthropologists such as Coon in The races of Europe :

      ''(3) Megalithic: Tall stature, means 167-171 cm., slender build; skull length over 190 mm.; cranial index 68-72 means, individual range below 78; vault moderate in height, less than breadth; forehead modrately sloping, browridges often of moderate heaviness, muscular markings stronger, skull base wider, face medium to long, nose leptorrhine, mandible often deep and moderately wide. The East African Elmenteitans represent an individual and extreme form of this. It represents a gerontomorphic or sexually differentiated Mediterranean or Galley Hill form, and in cranial features is closer to Galley Hill itself than any other branch.''

      This is why I think they ultimately have to hail, at least partly, from North Africa which is wholly different from Europe from an anthropological standpoint in a same direction as these megalithic remains.

      E-M81's expansion is very likely not paleolithic because its internal diversity is pretty low. I would personally place it at roughly 7,000 ybp given what we know about megalithism in Europe and its diffusion in Scandinavia in the late neolithic because, like I said it, the distribution of M81 in Europe is extremely similar. But you won't notice it if you haven't dealt with literally thousands of samples from all around Europe. What is paleolithic in North Africa though is E-L19 as a whole but that's another subject...

    6. I never liked Coon, so I'd rather see a more proper research paper admittedly, preferably a modern one.

      I know from Basque-specific and much more recent materials (Xabier Peñalver) that the craniometric record is much less extreme, being mesocephalic all the time (Megalithic remains included) until the Bronze Age, when the first brachycephalous people are found (~30%) in mining contexts (Irun if I recall correctly).

      Similarly the Spanish anthropometric record is split basically between pre-Neolithic "robust Mediterraneans" (variant of the Cro-Magnon type, "meso") and Neolithic-onwards "gracile Mediterraneans" ("meso" again). A mix of these Med types are also found in the southern reaches of the Basque Country (Ebro Valley).

      "E-M81's expansion is very likely not paleolithic because its internal diversity is pretty low".

      I don't know where you get that from, really. I am not familiar with any such in depth studies of E1b-M81, particularly not for Europe, but I do recall that the basal diversity is unusually high in Asturias, what would match well the Paleolithic scenario and very bad with the Neolithic one.

      I am more familiar with the diversity of, parallelly distributed, mtDNA haplogroup U6. This one has highest basal diversity in Iberia, after Morocco (even the rare U6c is now known to exist in Western Andalusia). Canary Islands also has very high diversity. These patterns fit well with a Paleolithic distribution.

      The most perplexing issue to me for a Neolithic or post Neolithic spread of these lineages (Y-DNA E-M81, mtDNA U6 and L(xM,N)) is that Asturias and nearby mountain areas of León province score very high in them. These are areas that do not show any particularly intense Neolithic colonization.

      Also, in order to correlate these lineages with Dolmenism, one would have to include the Basque Country, where these lineages do not exist for all substantive purposes. There is a clear-cut E-W divide somewhere within Cantabria that cannot be easily explained by Neolithic or post-Neolithic migrations but can easily be explained by Paleolithic ones (Asturian Solutrean facies is derived from Portugal's, unlike further East; in the Magdalenian the Asturian facies extends to West-Central Cantabria).

      Add to that the African-like minor autosomal element in La Braña (near Asturias) and the presence of mtDNA L(xM,N) in Epipaleolithic Portugal (Chandler et al. 2005, reclassified by me following PhyloTree). For me it's quite clear that in Epipaleolithic West Iberia there was some African genetic influence already, this one is also apparent in West Asian earliest Neolithic (but of course with a more eastern origin).

      I can't say for sure but it makes sense to me, judging on the available data.

    7. PS- Even if all that North African stuff would be Neolithic, it'd be still mediated by West Iberia re. the rest of Europe. It is in SW Iberia where the first Dolmenic Megalithism appears, so...

    8. Why does it necessarily have to be only one carrier of a certain haplogroup running around? I don't understand all the fixation on only one carrier. Supposedly R1b carriers were already in Africa 10K yrs ago mingling with others. I have a hard time also believing in "one" single haplogroup running around, building and creating things, cultures only evolve when there's diverse people coming together.

    9. Yeah, absolutely, Menendiz. Real populations almost invariably carry several haplogroups. Not always because of various forms of fixation (drift in small populations and long terms, founder effects in cases of colonization) but in most cases it is that way. Well spotted!

    10. I'll try to find some other source then if you don't like Coon, a thing I would never understand because in terms of actual methodology, he was pretty rigorous. It is only his beliefs that somewhat biased his interprétations. But the data is still valid and what he thinks becomes irrelevant. Furthermore, these were not his own measurements.

      About the mesocephalic thing, keep in mind that this was the reason I insisted on the dolichocephalic nature of the Megalithians (let's call them like that, because they're one of the very few true dolichocephalic remains in Europe. What's more is the pretty consistent type they show everywhere, in Sweden as well as in England, Spain and Sicily, apprarently. If this is actually true, it would mean that their maritime spread was very quick.

      If you're not familiar with in depth studies about E-M81, I, for one, am. It is undeniable that the haplogroup is of low diversity. However, it does not necessarily imply that it has to be recent as for all we know, it might just be that it underwent an early and big star-like expansion. Think of it like that : if the statement regarding E-M81's diversity is true, then, if no major and devastating demographic event occurs, it will never attain high diversity because it's already too numerous so that no particular males could make his own haplotype explode ; its too late. This is why I'd expect Europe, especially outside Iberia, to show a somewhat high STR diverity for E-M81, because it's rarer, which means that haplotypes deviant from the modal have more chances to explode. And it seems to effectively be the case according to my own observations, french E-M81 looks diverse enough. But in all, the haplogroup lacks internal diversity no doubt. Also, Asturias have eastern Spain level of M81, about 2-3%, while in the basque country, it is still significant enough, unless 1-2% is not according to you. Cantabrian M81 has the lowest, or one of the lowest, diversity within Iberia, strongly suggesting a founder effect , nothing more. Plus, from what I know, basque country is not very rich in megaliths. Like I said, megalithic spread corresponds fully to M81's distribution, with the exception of Ireland where the haplogroup is underrepresented but that would easily be explained by double insularity which probably made the new incomers (R1b) more able to have the upper hand over the previous and likely not so numerous settlers.

      And R-V88 in Africa is not the best case you would use to show off the mixed composition of migrations as we're not aware of any haplogroup that came with it.

    11. I say I don't like Coon for reasons different than this one, basically because he finds a miriad of Nordic subtypes but then he's totally blind to the brutal variation in other areas, which he oversymplifies in way too few types. There are better anthropometrists than Coon, even if I don't like the discipline too much.

      My real qualm is that I would like a proper source: an archaeological one with specifics of the sites, not a generic claim on a book that is not about prehistory. It contradicts everything I know, sincerely, so now I have another reason to distrust Coon.

      "If you're not familiar with in depth studies about E-M81, I, for one, am".

      Would you care to provide a link? I'm not sure if I'm familiar or not with the one(s) you have in mind specifically.

      "It is undeniable that the haplogroup is of low diversity" [in Europe, I presume].

      Raw diversity is not a too useful tool. Haplotype networks (or even better: SNP-defined phylogenies, when available) are much more informative.

      "And it seems to effectively be the case according to my own observations, french E-M81 looks diverse enough".

      I'm actually not familiar with any in-depth Y-DNA studies of France, an over-zealous state re. genetic research, unfortunately, so I'm even more interested on any links you can share (or if PPV, send me a copy to my email, please - in my profile, remove the "DELETETHIS" anti-spam protection inset).

      "Asturias have eastern Spain level of M81, about 2-3%"...

      That's not the data I'm managing: http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2011/04/guest-post-by-argiedude-west-east-y-dna.html

      On Argiedude's data, Asturias has some 4% but Cantabria has 14% (!!!). I doubt the last figure can be sustained with more evenly spread data but at least some districts seem to have very high E1b-M81 scores in areas that don't seem "logical", requiring convoluted explanations like the Solutrean hypothesis I manage.

      "Cantabrian M81 has the lowest, or one of the lowest, diversity within Iberia, strongly suggesting a founder effect"...

      Sure: founder effect but when? Can't the low diversity be attributed to the relatively late Magdalenian date that I tentatively assign for that region's North African/West Iberian genetics? I can't say for sure sincerely but I don't think you can either.

      Particularly: why does M81 stops suddenly in Cantabria (nearly zero in the Basque Country)?

      "Like I said, megalithic spread corresponds fully to M81's distribution, with the exception of Ireland"...

      LOL, with the exception of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Britain, etc. Eupedia's E-M81 map:

      → http://www.eupedia.com/images/content/Haplogroup-E-M81.gif

      It would seem that in many cases it totally skips Megalithic areas. Notice that I know that the map is not quite right because I know that there are some places in Wales where E1b-M81 is present and in some specific cases even notoriously high but can you show me (and the world) a better map? Particularly one that fits your hypothesis?

      Document your claims, please.

      "And R-V88 in Africa is not the best case you would use to show off the mixed composition of migrations as we're not aware of any haplogroup that came with it".

      I don't think I was using it in that way but IMO R1b (mostly V88) in Africa is linked to J1, both having probably Sudan as main distribution center within the continent. That in North Cameroon it had a founder effect without much J1 is not the end of the story, rather the beginning. Sadly we don't know yet enough of the abundant R1b of the Nile Valley.

    12. I correct: the Welsh M81 area is roughly depicted in the Eupedia map.

    13. But the measurements of megalithic remains were not done by Coon and it's pretty well known that they belonged to a different type than today's west Europeans.

      Regarding E-M81, it appears lacking in diversity in respect to everything. From what we know, its internal diversity is low in that it doesn't appear to have a well-defined geographical structure beside a few clusters here and then which would suggest that it did not do multiple small moves but was rather always moving in significant enough numbers.

      About the diversity in France, that's actually based on the haplotypes I managed to collect a couple of samples (some 20-30) from various commercial databases with ancestry from all regions of France and I remember they had a rather high diversity with many different haplotypes present, totally unlike what I observed in say, Sicily.

      As for Asturias, I can give you three separate sources with a combined sample size of 230 and which yielded an E-M81 frequecny of 2.17% or 5/230. Cruciani et al 2004 (2/90), Adams et al 2008 (0/20) and an exclusively Y-STR forensic paper which had 3/120 (http://www.isfg.org/files/31f9316afbc584bc0befd4454d6cd38c4f064f3a.02004867_215202701273.pdf). Also, Cantabria does have very high frequencies of above 10% even excluding the anomalous Pasiegos, but it can't be magdalenian that's just too old forget about it. Even E-M81 itself as a whole can't be magdalenian,let alone before like you are suggesting (solutrean). Just like you realized the impossibility of a paleolithic expansion of R-M269, you'll someday be able to do the same for E-M81. Modern populations were really formed only in the few past thousands years : look at how many C-V20 we found in ancient remians while we struggled to even be aware of its existence not even five years ago. The haplogroup clearly has almost disapeared showing that Europe was heavily impacted from somewhat recent migrations and expansions but yet, it is still found everywhere at extremely low frequencies.

      About the tight megalithic-E-M81 connection, this is exactly why I told you that you can't be aware of it unless you've dealt with THOUSANDS OF SAMPLES FROM ALL OVER EUROPE. I'll have to dig everything up and come up with a map to show it to the world like you said. Very, very striking I tell you. Keep in mind that I said Ireland on purpose, which means that I've considered all the other areas, that was not a random claim.

      And why do you think R-V88 would be connected to J1 in Africa? I don't see anything that would remotely suggest so. J1 in Sudan is wholly of arab extraction or almost so, but I guess you're still not willing to accept it. You guys are being fooled by the ethiopian case, where J1 is not arab but yemeni and more diverse and this is why researchers and others are thinking that it came through the levant, because they are not aware that yemeni J1 is different from ''desert'' J1 which caused them to assume that it didn't enter Ethiopia from Bab-el-Mandeb. Even today the arab version of J1, that is L222.2 mostly, is not very common in Yemen so let alone in pre-islamic times. So naaaah, no connection between the two haplogroups could be drawn based on what we know so far. And why would you think V88 to be west asian rather than european? Why would you say about El Trocs, an erratic?

      It's not very clever to say that V88's center is in Sudan because we would at least have some trace frequencies in Ethiopia and the rest of the Horn if that is the case, yet we don't. Or is it that you're suggesting it managed to expand all over the place but not in the region just south of it? And what do you mean with Nile Valley R1b, it has nothing special and is all V88 with some probable M269 cases which would be easily traced to migrations from the north...

      I know it starts to be complicated but we are forced to take everything into account.

    14. And why would Eupedia be a valuable source if Coon is not? The map only seems accurate for Iberia, since the clade is much more abundant over there, and even here you can see the low, eastern Spain level frequency of Asturias I was talking about. And with amap that stops at a 1% resolution, or so to speak, won't be able to tell you anything about the peculiarities I'm talking about : it's not because the frequencies are below 1% that there's not a much more precise distribution. The difference between 1/5000 and 1/200, although extremely huge, wouldnt'be visible here and that's why I really insist on very large samples.

    15. I made a mistake about E-M81 in Asturias, it's a total of 7/230 = 3.04%...

    16. "And why would Eupedia be a valuable source if Coon is not?"

      I don't know how valuable is Eupedia (it's prehistory reconstruction maps are junk but there are better at mere genetic accountancy tasks) but they are 21st century, Coon is a dust, Coon is from the time when Franco, De Gaulle and Eisenhower were alive, from the time the liberation parade in Paris was forced to exclude African troops because it made KKK feel uncomfortable. It's so old that he can be stored with the mummies in museums, really!

      It's not just pre-Punk, he's even pre-Hippy!

      Excuse my ranting but that's how I feel when faced with a claim that is not in the archaeological literature of any sort. He probably was smeared or had a single skull with post-mortem deformation (that does happen: remember Lagar Velho, which was only recently clarified).

    17. "About the diversity in France, that's actually based on the haplotypes I managed to collect a couple of samples (some 20-30) from various commercial databases with ancestry from all regions of France and I remember they had a rather high diversity with many different haplotypes present, totally unlike what I observed in say, Sicily".

      Sounds interesting. What about Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland?

      "As for Asturias, I can give you three separate sources with a combined sample size of 230 and which yielded an E-M81 frequecny of 2.17%".

      Vale, I take notice. Cruciani 2004 was unable to detect the West Iberian slant on the distribution pattern of this haplogroup, so I understand that his analysis was somehow poor (good for his time but clearly insufficient). He was still arguing for "Moorish" E1b, go figure!

      "Also, Cantabria does have very high frequencies of above 10% even excluding the anomalous Pasiegos".

      Gotcha. I'm reasonably certain that some more recent data watered down the figures but whatever (I'd have to search for the paper and it's nightmarish, really).

      "... but it can't be magdalenian that's just too old forget about it".

      That's the kind of argument I never fall for. Most of the time "too old" claims are based on "too recentist", horribly calibrated molecular-clock-o-logoy, which I consider pseudoscience (when used as "evidence" of anything, taken alone is as good or bad as any other educated guess but not "evidence").

      In most cases I am forced to revise those estimates to x2. And x2 Neolithic is Magdalenian, x2 Magdalenian is Gravettian, x2 early UP is Out-of-Africa. Sometimes they seem better and x1.5 suffices but most often x2.

      The rule of thumb I use is age(CF)=100 Ka, most such systems produce age(CF)=50-60 Ka, what is ridiculously recent (it's so ridiculous that they normally hide this datum). You can also calibrate with ancient known haplotypes such as Mal'ta or whatever. This reminds me that I have one such Y-DNA molecular-clock-o-logic paper to review since months ago. Ah, lazy me!

    18. "And why do you think R-V88 would be connected to J1 in Africa?"

      Because both are interestingly common in Sudan (to lesser extent also Egypt) and both seem intensely connected with the Afroasiatic expansion. Sadly we need more detailed data for Sudan (particularly re. R1b) before we can go further in this research but for J1 it is clear that the Nile Valley diversity is very high, while NW African one is very low (so the arrow has a clear direction). Etyohelix has much better info on all this, I'm not so knowledgeable re. African Y-DNA genetics, although I do have great interest.

      "You guys are being fooled by the ethiopian case, where J1 is not arab but yemeni and more diverse and this is why researchers and others are thinking that it came through the levant, because they are not aware that yemeni J1 is different from ''desert'' J1 which caused them to assume that it didn't enter Ethiopia from Bab-el-Mandeb".

      I think that Nile Valley J1 is possibly of LSA genesis times (50-40 Ka BP, maybe a bit more recent but not less than 30 Ka probably), as is probably East African T. J1 almost certainly originated in West Asia but loooong ago, I envision a triple "Aurignacian" juncture for IJ, producing I, J1 and J2, each one with a distinct center: Europe, Levant and Zagros. J1 quite obviously penetrated into NE Africa and kept interacting with West Asian J1 at certain times (so there is bidirectional derived flow). Later (Capsian culture) affected NW Africa, along with E1b-M78, bringing with them the ancestor of Berber languages.

      You mention that Ethiopian J1 is much more diverse than Yemeni J1. How can then you imagine that it flowed Yemen → Ethiopia exclusively? Isn't it much more likely that it did Ethiopia → Yemen at least in part? Or at the very least that it did not arrive from Yemen primarily but from somewhere else such as Sudan? Semitic expansion in Ethiopia is relatively recent and its most distinctive (albeit minor) marker is J2. J1 is much much older.

      "It's not very clever to say that V88's center is in Sudan because we would at least have some trace frequencies in Ethiopia and the rest of the Horn if that is the case, yet we don't".

      That makes only superficial sense. Sudan and Ethiopia are largely distinct regions and all depends on the specific patterns of distribution of R1b, also its date of arrival. I can't know yet the timing of R1b-V88 expansion but, regardless, it could perfectly have spread via Sudan (ultimate origin seems to be again West Asia) without necessarily affecting The Horn, regardless of whether it is Neolithic or pre-Neolithic. Of course we have to assume that there is no perfect overlap R1b-V88 and J1 in Africa but that comes with the data. There is some overlap however and a clear Afroasiatic expansion connection for both, as well as for E1b-M78. Then come founder effects and other random factors we don't fully understand nor can hope to understand in full detail.

      "And what do you mean with Nile Valley R1b, it has nothing special and is all V88 with some probable M269 cases which would be easily traced to migrations from the north..."

      That's what I do not know. I don't know of any paper studying the structure of R1b in Sudan (and Egypt), so it's possible that there is more than one clade there. Also I don't yet understand if it can be said with certainty that Sudanese R1b-V88 is ancestral to Chadic R1b-V88 (or vice versa, what would force me to alter the theory).

    19. Where would you fit haplogroup G into things?

    20. That's a very generic question. A subclade, G2a, was clearly important in Europe's Neolithic, and still has a significant presence, particularly in the SW, where the Neolithic genetic legacy is strongest. However as of now I don't know where its precursors came from, Turkey has ~10% G (mostly G2a), Cypriots have ~13% G (subclades not known), Palestinians ~9% G (subclades not known). Yemenis have low G but it's known that all them are G2a, suggesting that the arch of this haplogroup in Asia corresponds to the Westernmost fringes (what makes good sense for a major European Neolithic founder haplogroup).

      The Caucasus has the highest densities of G2a, with frequencies above 30% in many regions and never below 10%. But this doesn't mean it's at the origin. However it can be contemplated the possibility that hap. G in general could be related to the "Basal Eurasian" component which apparently scored the highest among Caucasian hunter-gatherers. This is because the divergence of pre-G from F is the oldest known, so maybe this lineage stayed behind in West Asia, rather than going to India and beyond as the rest of F did no doubt (next branch to diverge is H).

      Otherwise I don't know what to say about patri-haplogroup G. Is that enough? :)

  21. Hi Maju, Just an update on that R1b and Wine stuff.
    Guys at the Agronomy University say that most of their studies in for Intraverietal diversity and those point exactly to the point that the casts we have in Portugal are extremely old and point to very local and ancient domestification of vitis vinfera for wine production. Currently they are engaging with molecular investigators to get more precise readings. However they point to a countrywoman of yours, Rosa Arroyo Garcia, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agricola in Madrid, which is already engaging in Molecular studies and here studies in chloroplast microsattilites, cleary show that the domestication occurred in the east and also on the west and then moved from both sides to the center… see,  R1b did it in Armenia 6,000 years ago and no longer those same R1b where in Portugal domesticating those astonishing variety of savages of grape cast to produce wine… that is why we still have the best wine in the world and that is the reason they stayed in the Iberian peninsula so long… it’s the wine gentlemen, it’s the wine!

    Maju, should you ever drop by Lisbon I will drive you the Zambujal castro. Not to see the dam rocks but to go then to the estuary of the sizandro river where those R1b sailed the wine and Copper and go the a great restaurant there. Best fish ever and we can have watching those pillars of Hercules, which are the two massive scarps from each side of the beach and that open up the atlantic as described by plato!

    1. Looks interesting but I'll wait till there are formal studies published to make up my mind. I would not think it has anything to do with R1b anyhow (it just doesn't make any sense, no matter how you look at it).

      As for your invitation, thank you very much but I'm poor like rats, so I can't afford a hotel. Really everything involved in traveling are extra costs that I can hardly face: I could probably buy a ticket but then eating out of home, renting a place to sleep, etc. would just bankrupt me. It's the main reason I haven't visited the place so far: every out-of-home activity is extra costs, even paying for the dentist or getting a new battery for the laptop are stuff I tend to leave in the to-do list until it just can't wait anymore. That's how life on welfare is - not complaining: at least there's a modicum of welfare here, else I'd probably be dead by now.

    2. Hey, sorry for your predicaments. Hope all gets better. Offer still stands! One can get a Lisbon hostel for 15 euros and driving and lunch there would be my pleasure.

    3. I can't but thank you for your generosity, Olympus. If I manage to gather some coin, I'll email you (I'll need an email address for that however, not in your profile).

  22. Maju, you can always contact me at OLimpusmons@gmail.com. I truly am all for a great lunch and conversation. But lets follow that over email, not here.

    I know it is all too circumstantial this R1b and Dogs and so forth…and it just serves as a mind feed.
    What I don’t get is you saying that it makes no sense. Any link I can follow? Because it makes perfectly sense to me.
    For some reason some subset of the Shulaveri culture or Kura-Araxes culture got in troubles with guys up north more Kurgan like and flee with horses, dogs and wine making knowledge and end up in Iberian peninsula going through, who knows, north African route and even leaving some R1b to those ancient Egypt fellows.

    Can you point me to the “not likely because…” ?

  23. And Maju…
    See this about the Serra da Estrela dog and it fits very well into what I’ve said. Maybe R1b came and brought those horses, dogs and wine making? Anyway see this

    http://bmcgenet.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2156-6-37 - Serra da estrela dog, like the horse studies you mentioned, it says the same thing about the Serra da Estrela dog. See in this paper the huge genetic diversity of Mtdna ST dog which we know is the oldest breed in Iberia peninsula and actually which is part of all references in pre-history in Portugal, (even prior to Viriatus and part of the oestreminios and coinos culture).

    Is it not likely with what we know about R1b coming from Caucasus and funny enough these studies keep poping up about genetic diversity of horses (refugia or brought by R1b), genetic diversity of ancient dog breeds (refugia or r1b) and genetic diversity of wine making grapes(refugia or R1b).
    What did the Caucasus cultures such as Shulaveri culture had? Maju, no shit, it was horses, dogs (sheppards) and wine making!
    Is it a coincidence that that same serra da estrela dog has a closest match to the Caucasus sheppard dog, the Anatolian sheppard and the Sparlinac dog?!

    1. I'm not familiar with that data, so I will need some time to digest it.

      In any case: http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2013/03/33000-years-old-dog-from-altai-is.html

      ... dog domestication is extremely old, unlike (probably) that of horses. Of course I do have some doubts re. the issue of possible very early horse domestication in Magdalenian (some horse art suggests bridles) but it'd be still much more recent than that of dogs.

      "What did the Caucasus cultures such as Shulaveri culture had? Maju, no shit, it was horses, dogs (sheppards) and wine making!"

      I fail to make any clear connection: I'd need clear documentation and anyhow, as I told you below, I don't see any Caucasus-Western Europe direct connection of any sort, really. Those dogs could well have been brought by the Alans, for example - I just can't judge at this point.

    2. Nowhere in that article is the Caucasus mentioned at all: they mention Turkey, they mention Norther Europe and they mention a greater general diversity of Asian dogs, what is consistent with all we know.

      So where is the Caucasus connection? That they had dogs? Well: everybody had!

  24. Not sure what was the issue with dogs. AFAIK dogs have been domesticated since probably the early Upper Paleolithic and I don't see how this allows for an specific connection with R1b. In any case I don't think there was ever any "R1b people" but rather various "peoples with R1b", except maybe at some forgotten very ancient Paleolithic period (or earliest Neolithic at the latest but not supported by aDNA so far).

    I don't see either how can you make any sort of connection between Kura-Araxes (most likely Anatolian IE and Hurro-Urartean speakers) or the older Shulaveri culture of Georgia, and Iberia. What's the connection between Georgia and Iberia? None that I can see. If anything the wider haplogroup Y-DNA G, which is clearly linked with mainline Neolithic of Thessalian roots (EEFs) in the case of Europe, and even this one most likely came from somewhere else, be it Palestine or Anatolia.

    I just don't see the connection in any reasonable way. Basques are the less Caucasian-like thing in Europe (genetically speaking, notably autosomal DNA) and other Iberians are way too similar to Basques anyhow.

    I'll send you an email to make sure that you're properly listed in my contacts and that you have mine (in my profile anyhow, just delete the "DELETETHIS" anti-spam protection).

  25. Maju right… those bridges are what I am talking about. Maybe I got it wrong. But surely van there be a bridge between ancient Georgia and ancient Iberia…
    a. Are R1b originally from the Caucasus or am I wrong?
    b. Do we have any proof that people in Iberian Peninsula had dogs in the Neolithic, prior to the emergence of bell beakers?... “our” dogs are pretty Caucasian!
    c. Is there a way to prove that the genetic diversity of the Iberian horses doesn’t derive from a large population of R1b bringing lots of horses but is from a local refugia instead?
    d. Is there a way counter the studies that show wine making grapvines moved from two diferent directions, meaning the Caucasus and Iberia peninsula to the center of the Mediterranean? Because all points to it.
    e. What we are autosomal derives from the fact that a pretty girl is a pretty girl and men are (were?) not picky. Kill those guys but lets keep the girls around. So not all can be inferred from current autosomal now…
    But maybe I am wrong.

    1. "a. Are R1b originally from the Caucasus or am I wrong?"

      IMO wrong although I know why you may be confused as some papers have over-emphasized the R1b diversity of Armenians. Armenians are rather from further South, Indoeuropean speakers and formed only after the beginning of the Iron Age, by means of Phrygian colonization or Urartean lands. Phrygians in turn originated in the Balcans (possibly the Bryges, others say that Thracians). As result Armenians carry a mix of West Asian R1b pool and European R1b pool, what makes them "more diverse" but only on shallow look. When we look at the haplotypes, they are invariably very much derived, so they are not at the origin.

      The real origin of R1b is surely in West Asia, somewhere between Turkey and Jordan probably. Its younger "brother" (or "great-grandnephew") R1a seems to stem from somewhere between Kurdistan and Iran instead. From there we see several branches spawning in all directions: Africa, Central Asia, the Volga basin and Western Europe, each one should be considered on their own merits, separately. We don't know yet exactly when this scatter happened with any certainty, at least I do not.

      "b. Do we have any proof that people in Iberian Peninsula had dogs in the Neolithic, prior to the emergence of bell beakers?... “our” dogs are pretty Caucasian!"

      Haven't looked at the matter, honestly. But I'm certain that there were dogs in Gravettian Belgium, so... Unless dogs were buried or eaten, both rare events, it's hard to find their remains - much as happened with humans ourselves in some cultures, for example Aurignacian, which probably exposed the bodies, much like some historical Native Americans did (or Zoroastrians still do to this day), leaving no detectable remains.

      "c. Is there a way to prove that the genetic diversity of the Iberian horses doesn’t derive from a large population of R1b bringing lots of horses but is from a local refugia instead?"

      Is there any way to know that R1b people "came" rather than were here all the time? So far this issue remains unsolved. But in any case I don't see how your question may be satisfactorily answered. Maybe horses were brought by some "E1b-M81 people" or "G2a people" or just were here all the time. Only further extensive research can maybe clarify some of all this. Too complicated, especially as you want to establish an specific link between horses and people, and that's quite harder.

      "d. Is there a way counter the studies that show wine making grapvines moved from two diferent directions, meaning the Caucasus and Iberia peninsula to the center of the Mediterranean? Because all points to it".

      I don't know much about the origin of grapes and wine. I can't address this matter. Maybe you can shed some light yourself?

      "e. What we are autosomal derives from the fact that a pretty girl is a pretty girl and men are (were?) not picky. Kill those guys but lets keep the girls around. So not all can be inferred from current autosomal now…"

      If we are talking of only one such slavery event, then the autosomal apportion provided by each gender is 50%. In order to associate mtDNA and autosomal DNA more strictly, you'd need to repeat the same violent episode many times. In most cases however the invader guys will bring at least some of the women with them, so there will be also an immigrant mtDNA trail, even if smaller.

      It's a complicated issue and in any case speculative. In many cases we can see that happen by mere regular patrilocal exchange of brides: the smaller group involved becomes soon like the larger one in all but Y-DNA. This probably happened in the formation of proto-Amerinds or later also in that of European Uralic peoples.

      In other cases I can't say. What I'd like is more direct evidence: many more and better located ancient DNA samples. That should clarify everything in due time. No point to speculate until all the data is available.

    2. I would think that whatever brought excess CHG to Sardinia probably brought some to the Iberian coast though. Just not your side of Iberia. Maybe something from the early Bronze Age?

    3. Yeah, in agreement. However it's not clear what and when. Some options:

      1. Possible civilization founders from the Near East (Cyprus and Syria connections) in the Chalcolithic. Cyprus is not particularly high in the Caucasus component however.

      2. Middle Bronze Age Aegean incursions: Atlantis and Heraklean legends and the related factual influence from Mycenaean Greece. Doesn't seem enough.

      3. My pet hypothesis about the Shekelesh being some sort of mercenary Semites (they were circumcised, shekel means money in Hebrew, Aramaic, etc.), which may have arrived to Italy together with the proto-Etruscans (Teresh). This would explain at least the Caucasus-Near East anomaly in Sicily, which is the main one to be explained. It could well have splashed around.

      3. Phoenician colonization: a poor candidate but we can't exclude that they relocated Sicilians at some point.

      4. Roman colonization: maybe a better candidate, because it's known that they redistributed settlers (mostly veteran soldiers) all around. It may also explain for example the presence of Y-DNA J2 in Iberia, at least to some extent (Asturias is again a counter-intuitive anomaly, with too high frequencies of J2 for any simple explanation, vide Adams 2008).

      The question remains open but these are the main options I can consider.

    4. There are also some Iberia-Sicily direct contacts, particularly in the Bronze Age (some BB and Megalithism too previously). These however took place largely with the Western regions of the Elimni, which were plausibly a Vasconic people. But worth considering as yet another possible source.

    5. Shekel is a unit of weight too. I'm not sure we can know for sure that it isn't a wanderwort. It's 1/50 of a mina, which makes 1 shekel equivalent to 2 drachma in weight. I'm not sure we can put too much weight on what the Egyptians called these peoples either. Exonyms aren't exactly the most reliable. The word Welsh is a cognate of Walloon for example, and both just mean "foreigner." The word "Gael" seems to come from Welsh for "wild people" or "forest people."

      I do think the Aegean / East Med is a good source to look to though.

    6. Of course that shekel was also a unit of weight, just like pound. I don't see how that makes any difference. I was just speculating about what the name might have meant, their ethnic identity as Semites (most probably) is determined by something else: that they were circumcised.

      As for "Gael" it can't be from Welsh because it's a widespread word in variants such as Lat. Gallus (Gaul, Gallic). We know this was an endonym, i.e. that most Celts self-identified with this word, which may still mean "forest people", after all ancient Celts were very proud of their sacred forests and stemmed from an area that was considered a vast forest (the Hercynian Forest). Gauls incidentally spoke dialects closer to Brythonic than to Gaelic, at least going by the P/Q divide. What has to be asked is if Brythonics considered themselves to be Gaels/Gauls. I'd think they did and that the modern dual nomenclature is just something out of the hat of linguists, who need to label every subgroup.

      On the other hand I think Celt (originally Greek "keltos") was a Vasconic-given exonym: a despective one on line with all kel- beginning words such as keldo (miserable, ruin, hobo), which is a plausible root. Massilian Greeks quite apparently got along much better with Vasconic peoples (Iberians, Ligurians, Aquitanians) than with Celts and it is under clear Massilian influence that Catalonia, Languedoc and nearby areas fell (again) in the Vasco-Iberian ethno-cultural fold. Latins instead knew Celts first-hand for a long time, not just in Italy but surely also prior to the Italic migration across the Alps, so they called them by their endonym: Galli (Gauls or Gaels).

    7. Not disputing that Gael and Gaul are cognates - but yes, by Welsh I mean Brythonic. Oddly enough gallaibh is the Irish word for foreigner - unfortunately I couldn't find an etymology for it. It's pronounced awfully close "Gaul-ah".

      My point was just that these names aren't reliable, and that particularly units of measure and of currency are prone to jump from culture to culture. The shekel is a division of the mina and is first attested in Akkadian. The term mina is used both in Greek and Semitic cultures, and is ultimately of Sumerian origin. So if mina can jump from Sumerian to Semitic and Indo-European, I wouldn't count on shekel not doing the same.

      I don't think we can 100% rely on circumcision as evidence, but it is suggestive of at least an Afro-Asiatic origin. Especially given Phoenicians' maritime prowess too.

    8. Circumcision is not just "suggestive" but a most clear marker of Afroasiatic ethnic affiliation in the Mediterranean before the spread of Judaism in its various sub-sects (incl. Christianity and Islam). Egyptians practiced circumcision (and quite apparently also female ablation, as they still do largely in spite of being a pre-Islamic practice) but also did Semitic and Berber peoples (the Meshwesh = Mazyes = Tamazigh were also circumcised). So either they were Semitic or Berber. But Berbers are represented by Libu and Meshwesh, could not be carriers of Caucasus/Northern West Asian component to Sicily and would not be involved in an area (West Asia) where the word shekel meant anything.

      On the other hand we know that Greeks despised the practice (a mutilation after all) and that in Hellenism it suffered a decline. Circumcision is and was widespread in Africa, including most ethnicities, but, with the Semitic (and Semitic religions') exception, unheard of in Eurasia.

    9. As for the name "shekel", all I say is that it was a common word (and concept) in West Asia, apparently only among Semites. The key evidence would be circumcision but this would also allow for a Berber affiliation, so I'm resorting to other evidence such as linguistic (shekel) or genetic (more speculative because it already implies Shekelesh=Sicels identity but plausible anyhow). I don't think there were other Berbers involved than the Libu and Meshwesh but there is some uncertainty, of course.

  26. Maju. great. it was helpfull. Cheers.

  27. Note: I've been marking as spam the messages by certain Korbin who uses the same avatar as the stalker "Heathen Darkness". If that cowardly person really wants to meet me, he just has to post address, telephone number, real name, ID card or passport number and work place address (if any). I'll see what can be done... after careful investigation.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Maju, Thank you, now I'll share something you might like, they say it might be "Celtic" I say it might be Megalithic, why? IMO, because of the style, It's on a stream that separates Galicia with northern Portugal.


    1. Beautiful but definitely not Megalithic in any classical sense of the word.

  29. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_4EDaiEewIB0/SxAgRM4-RcI/AAAAAAAAA2Y/PVuG8zB5Xq4/s1600/portos+de+cima++ponte+celta.JPG

  30. Great post, Maju. Another good candidate for the rebounding of 'old Europe', to use an outdated term, may be the Schönfelder culture, a late offshoot of Funnelbeaker in Northern Germany. Unfortunately they practiced cremation on very large scale using intricate cinerary urns to bury their dead on so called urn fields ('Urnenfelder'), large aggregations of urns protected by dolmen-like stone chests. I found this particularly interesting since cremation in Europe is usually ascribed to Urnfield or even parts of the general IE horizon in English literature.

    Apparently the Schönfeld people also weren't too intimidated by the incoming Easterns. The skeletons in this Corded Ware mass grave show clear signs of lethal trauma inflicted by weapons typical of the Schönfeld culture:


    Unfortunately I cannot seem to find an English source. The gist of the research is essentially that they found that the wounds fit the arrowheads typical of the Schönfield culture, along with the actually arrowheads accompanying the bodies of the deceased.

    1. Unsure about what is Schonefelder culture, I know that Baalberge culture, which seems to be the very first Kurgans in Central Europe are also included in the diffuse Funnelbeaker group and seem to have some sort of cultural admixture with these. I also know that this culture, after maybe being defeated by Baden at Moravia (brief incorporation of the North of this region), splat in two centers: one at the Elbe and another at the Vistula. They have several archaeological names that are usually not worth remembering (some are quite hard to remember in fact). It was the Vistula one which later grew again powerful (Luboń → Globular Amphorae) and, after some sort of Catacomb culture intrusion, became the Corded Ware.

      So it seems to me that there are two layers of early IEs in Central Europe: the Baalberge-derived one, more mixed with Megalithic-Funnelbeaker and Danubian substrate peoples, and another later one that is a mix of the Eastern branch of Baalberge and inputs from Catacombs (Ukraine, Don), which seems more strictly IE (Yamna-like) in the genetic aspect.

      CW seems to consolidate the Indoeuropeanization of the NE of Central Europe (East Germany and Poland, also West Ukraine, Belarus, etc.) and to expand it to the Western parts of it and to Scandinavia. But it also seems flower of one day, so to say, lasting only a few centuries and being clearly countered by what becomes the Eastern or NE Bell Beaker phenomenon, which recovers Baalberge and derived burial positions, reversed by CW, in what I read as a clear sign of defiance and "restoration" after the CW interlude. It was probably an Indoeuropeanized "restoration", with the the pre-IE cultural (ethno-linguistic) element already erased or nearing extinction

      I don't have to read the paper right now but I'll take a look later.

  31. I interpreted the Schönfield culture as being not yet Indo-Europeanized and quite distinct from the nearby CW. There are some remarkable cultural traits like the widespread cremation and characteristic items like the urns adorned with face motifs that had quite some continuity in the area. The later Lausitz culture in Poland and even some early Germanic tribes would later adopt this tradition. This combined with the successful armed resistance against the intruding Corded Ware made think that the aforementioned area could perhaps be another locus of a hidden population that contributed to the genes of modern European, even if their descendants should adopt IE speech later on.

    Do you think that the mysterious HG component could perhaps also have a loose association with the paternal haplogroup I, or Northern European I2a2 specifically? I've long been wondering how to predominance of this haplogroup in Scandinavia came to be.

    I'd also be thrilled to read about your thoughts regarding Catacomb culture some day. I've long held that what people think of as a stereotypical IE culture first appears when Catacomb emerges in the steppe. But I guess the gaps in the sampling of ancient remains are still too large to get a clear picture.

    1. → http://www.lda-lsa.de/en/state_museum_of_prehistory/permanent_exhibition/neolithic_period/

      I don't know the exact origins of Schönfeld but, judging on the dates and what I know about the previous period, maybe it's derived from Bernburg culture or similar, which is derived ultimately from Baalberge. Funnelbeaker in that area of the Elbe is clearly mixed at the origin with Kurgans, not further West however.

    2. Re. Catacombs I have no clear idea but either it's Yamna-derived or Maykop-derived (or a mix) by most accounts. My impression is that the Catacomb influence in Cujavia at the beginning of Corded Ware (otherwise Globular Amphorae-derived) may explain things like satemism in Balto-Slavic, and also maybe the stronger steppe-like genetics of CW remains found so far (although this maybe is more related to Cujavia as center than to Catacomb influence).

  32. Any thoughts on @FrankN's comments on Hungary on Davidski's latest post? I think he may be on to something there in identifying a wave of EHG independent of CHG (and therefor likely independent of IE as well). May be relevant to the Bell Beakers?

    1. I haven't read that yet. You go faster than I can keep pace. But what you say may make some sense because there's something like that going on in for example Basque genetics: something that looks EHG or SHG (affected by ANE/Paleosiberian but not affected by the Caucasus component and therefore not the Indoeuropean signature). However how this actually played out is still a mystery to me, mostly because we have so little ancient Western European DNA. I'll look it up but I do feel that speculating too much (the typical endless discussions based on personal preferences) before the actual empirical data is available is largely a waste of time. So I'd rather wait another decade if that's what we need: the dead people involved will remain dead, worry not.

    2. I found the comment. That's a very obscure analysis based on Davidski's spreadsheets:

      We have the following trend there (always ANE/WHG/EHG/CHG according to your K8):

      LBKT_EN: 95.4/ 00.0/ 00.0/ 04.6
      Hung_EN: 89.2/ 06.3/ 01.8/ 00.7
      Hung_CA: 76.8/ 13.8/ 01.6/ 03.3
      HungEBA: 47.1/ 30.9/ 16.1/ 03.3
      HungLBA: 47.8/ 23.2/ 16.2/ 11.2
      Hung_IA: ?/?/?/?
      Hungary: 29.2/ 24.0/ 13.9/ 27.7

      There is something very weird: ANE is too high in LBK and derived pops and EEF/EN component or alternatively a a West Asian reference like Palestinian Bedouins is not visible. So I don't know how to manage this: is it a typo?

    3. I'm pretty sure he means Anatolian Neolithic by ANE. I was confused too.

    4. OK. I have no idea, honestly. I'm having trouble finding a decent periodization of Hungary's Bronze Age and not even sure how these categories are used in the scheme above (Hungary being between the Balcans and the rest of Europe can well be said to have got into the BA much earlier than 2000 BCE, depending how you consider the issue). Could I at least get each sample's cultural affiliation and date?

  33. He's going from K8, but this K10 model shows similar results:

    I think those are the samples from Gamba's paper. So that would mean EBA is:

    BR1 E. Bronze, Makó Culture Site: Kompolt-Kigyósér Date: 1,980–2,190 BCE

    And LBA would be:

    BR2 L. Bronze, Kyjatice Culture Site: Ludas-Varjú-dűlő Date: 1,110–1,270 BCE.


    Not sure how to interpret these transitions. Is the EBA->LBA transition early Illyrians showing up?

    1. OK, trying to understand it myself. Makó c. is the local name of Ottomány c., which luckily has an interesting Wikipedia entry. It does not include the whole of Hungary but only the East, being rather "Dacian" in extension (probably not ethnicity, not yet). Most interesting to me is the final section "collapse and legacy":

      The end of the Ottomány culture is connected with turbulent events at the end of Old Bronze Age in Central Europe, where there was a collapse of the whole "Old Bronze Age world" with its highly advanced culture of mighty hill-forts, rich burials, and trade over wast distances.

      Later it mentions that the new cultures, after this collapse involved burial mounds or barrows, what seems to connect to Southern Central Europe, i.e. with the Tumuli culture of mainline early Western IEs.

      As for the Kyjatice culture, I found this paper that also suggests Central European influence of the Urnfield culture type. So I would think that you are quite possibly right about "early Illyrians" or in general peoples of the Italo-Celto-Illyrian complex (maybe also including proto-Germanics and proto-Balto-Slavs) spilling over the Middle Danube and Western Balcans. I would certainly associate that with Tumuli and Urnfield cultures.

  34. Hrm. I'd figured Illyrian would have been on a different branch of IE with Daco-Thracian, with Germanic corresponding to the Nordic Bronze Age and Italo-Celtic corresponding to Únětice.

    1. I've always been accustomed to associate Illyrian with the eastern branch of "macro-Celtic" migrations, sharing with these Urnfields and Hallstatt cultural layers plausibly (but not La Tène, which seems strictly Celtic, Urnfield would also include proto-Italics and probably also others in the northern branches).

      To me Western IEs (centered in the Hercynian Forest) reach the Bronze Age in a very divided pattern of cultures (and dialects), that then unify culturally (politically but not linguistically) under Tumuli, expand with Urnfield, consolidate with Hallstatt and get dominated by the Celtic branch only with La Tène, which expands again to the West. Else it's difficult to explain the various languages, which may be even more than mentioned, and even layers within Celtic, maybe also the so-called "Italoid" that show up as result in the various destinations.

      BTW, I recently read something about Albanian (Illyrian probably) being maybe most closely related to Germanic. Make a search if interested because I don't recall where but makes sense to me.

    2. BTW, Unetice is just one of that puzzle of cultures in Central Europe in the early BA. There are others. I used to imagine that proto-Celtic is optimally associate with Adleberg or nearby groups, proto-Italic maybe with Straubing, Unetice maybe with Illyrian, etc. But it is a very complex puzzle with many small cultures and I don't know them in sufficient depth to issue a clear judgment. It should be something like that but with unclear details: in that map it is probably implicitly sketched the complex Western IE post-Beaker dialect continuum that expands and consolidates as different languages since Urnfield culture.

    3. I assume a relationship between Illiryan and Daco-Thracian mainly because of the cognates between Romanian and Albanian, but there are a lot of assumptions underlying that. Illyrian, Dacian and Thracian are so poorly attested who knows really.

      I don't know if this table of reconstructed Dacian terms is any good - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reconstructed_Dacian_words - but if it is, there's an interestingly high number of Baltic cognates.

      The tree model also doesn't seem to describe Indo-European particularly well, with a wave model almost as important. I wouldn't be surprised if this is actually a false dichotomy between us, and if Illyrians were actually a bit intermediate between Daco-Thracians and more western IE groups.

    4. My notion is based on the presence of Hallstatt (and related?) culture(s) in the would-be Illyrian area. I haven't studied the matter much on linguistic terms.

    5. Based on Kristiina's comments I'm coming around to your view for what it's worth, though for Thraco-Illyrian as a whole. The stuff about iron is pretty interesting though - it suggests that Italic had crossed the Alps and split from Celtic before the Iron Age reached Central Europe. That matches up pretty well with the archaeology too I think - with proto-Celts already present south of the Alps by ~1200 BCE?

    6. "... it suggests that Italic had crossed the Alps and split from Celtic before the Iron Age reached Central Europe".

      That's correct according to the model I manage: Italic should be derived from the Canegranate culture, which is an offshoot of Urnfield, and most of Urnfield is still within the Bronze Age.

      I don't think we can visualize Celts or proto-Celts (unless by this you mean proto-Italics) south of the Alps before La Tène culture. On the other hand it's very possible that they did reach Iberia with core Urnfield culture, later getting further mainland influences within Hallstatt, before they were cut off by the Vasco-Iberian conquest/liberation of the Eastern Pyreneean lands. In any case we do not know which word for "iron" they used (do we?) and they might have also borrowed it from Phoenicians, much as Latins and Basques did, instead of using a continental word for it (uncertain).

    7. Canegrate shows continuity with Golasecca and Lepontic people, does it not? I'd suggest that it was probably Italo-Celtic rather than specifically Celtic or Italic that crossed the Alps, and that Italic was simply cut off from later innovations from La Tène by Villanovans/Etruscans to the north. Though I realize iron age Northern Italy starts to stretch the definition of Celtic.

    8. Golasecca is not yet Celtic: only the latest phases show growing Celtic influence but once they take over c. 390 BCE it's not anymore that culture but La Tène.

    9. Right. The Lepontic inscriptions date from 575 BCE until the Roman conquest. There are Celtic inscriptions in Golasecca before the Gauls invade the Po valley and bring Gaulish with them.


    10. Well, unsure. Lepontic is not Gaulish but probably some sort of early Celtic and its distribution is limited (mostly within today's Switzerland, i.e. a very specific piedmont area (a small fraction of the Golasecca area), so not sure where you want to reach. Maybe Lepontic arrived with Urnfield or Hallstatt influences, just like Celtiberian did to Iberia, and is therefore more closely related in time and culture (not linguistically) to Italic languages, whose stem in Urnfield is most clear also.

    11. I think they were initially part of the same cis-alpine branch of Italo-Celtic, but that with the expansion of the Etruscans, Italic languages fell out of contact with the Celtic world as a whole and diverged. Celtic seems to be better described by a wave model than a tree one (the whole P/Q division vs the Insular/Continental division) - so it's more like waves of innovation spreading out from different points in my view. Italics stopped receiving these waves when Estruscans cut them off from the core.

      Keep in mind that there are 0 historically attested Italic languages native to the Golasecca by the way.

    12. Whatever you want to believe. I just happen to disagree...

  35. Hi Maju,

    just gave this great post another reading. I've been wondering, what do you think is the mechanism by which Yamnaya affinity becomes inflated in D-Stats and ADMIXTURE. Is it an as yet unsampled population that gets eaten up by EHG/CHG?

    Also, in your opinion, why is there such a blatant bias when it comes to the testing of ancient remains? Are researchers still too intent to make sensationalist headlines? Or is it ethnic nationalisms that lead to the asymmetric sampling of genomes? Ethnic/racial pride seems to be really strong in amateur archeology/population genetics circles as well.

    1. In this particular case, my impression is that there is indeed Yamna-like ("Kurgan" or Indoeuropean) input, as evidenced by the Caucasus (teal) component. But there is also a sizable "other" thing that we do not understand well yet and is generally HG, looking WHG in this study.

      This is something we already see in German LN (early Kurgans) but less in Corded Ware (the most Yamna-like of all) and more in German Bell Beaker (post-CW reshuffling with maybe extra Western/SW influence).

      When I first began considering these Western extra-HG anomalies, I think I was concerned mostly about the modern Basque case which appears to have extra EHG (or maybe SHG, i.e. WHG+ANE) from an unknown not IE/Kurgan source. This case, mutatis mutandi is similar: more HG but not more "Yamna" than LN, although the reference is not EHG but KO1, which is within the WHG or "Magdalenian" cluster.

      In truth I don't think we will have a clear picture until we have a good sequence of samples in the Atlantic fringes. The process may be different in each sub-region (or not) but all them seem to get extra HG, much more than either Neolithic or Kurgan peoples can provide. So it's like an extension of the process of re-aboriginalization (extra HG) that we see in Late Neolithic samples and the main doubt is where exactly does it come from and how, if at all, it is related to the distribution of modern dominant haplogroups, Y-DNA R1b-western and mtDNA H (particularly H1, H3, some H* too).

      I don't have any clear opinion as of now, but for what I've been reading and discussing in the last months and years, it seems that SHG and Pitted Ware influences may be discarded (correct me if wrong), being the issue between "pure" WHG and EHG, although the WHG now seems more like KO1 (Hungary) than like Lochsbour (Luxemburg) but does this mean an East→West flow (if so, where from?, how?) or rather it is something already present in the West (France/Aquitaine for instance, or Portugal maybe) and yet unsampled?

      The problem is that we have many lacuna in our knowledge, especially of Western European shifts and in general of the fine detail. Our knowledge is therefore a bit coarse, rough, crude, and also too dependent on data from a very small region: East Germany's Elbe basin, which is no doubt very interesting but not good enough to solve the problem we are facing.

      So I say: want refined, more precise, answers? Sample Atlantic France, sample Portugal (a key civilizational hub in the period, central to both Megalithism and Bell Beaker, and a place where mtDNA H seems to have been very abundant in the past), sample the Basque Country (where we have lots of mtDNA and interesting LCT data but no autosomal DNA yet), sample England and of course, as this study does providing key evidence, sample Ireland as well.

    2. As for the second question, I do think that some individuals do have a clear bias, not just bias, but rather an obsession. In the case of blogger Davidski, whom I have known online for maybe a decade already, long before he had any blog, this is clear and absolutely unsurprising: ten years ago (approx.) he was Nordic-centric and Polish-centric to extremes. He should polish that (word-play silly joke, OK, still true) and I think he does try but that he has limitations that belong to his personality and ideology, which are hard to tackle. Said that, we all have biases but there are normal biases that you try to keep at bay and exacerbated biases that take over your work, seriously diminishing its utility.

      Another extremely biased influential personality I've found is Jean Manco. She's made a very good work with that ancient DNA database but she has her own theories, extremely hard to believe, absolutely not mainstream, largely based on her own subjective appreciation of artwork (as the art historian she is) and ultimately affected by monetary issues, as she published at least one book which was contradicted by actual novel data (mtDNA H confirmed among Magdalenian peoples), which she made a huge effort to deny and hide. That was the moment I fell out with her because that's not science but lack of respect: for the rest and for herself.

      As for actual academic researchers, I haven't dealt with many. I don't look for them and they don't look for me, with the rare exception of a few people who send me copies of costly papers they have free access to (thank you again, guys) but that otherwise tend to keep to their own. I just assume that most academics are that way: fearful of controversy and of unsanctioned limelight. I can understand that, although it may well not be the optimal approach. I criticize them (positively or negatively) on the merits or demerits of their published work, unavoidably through my point of view, i.e. I judge the papers rather than the authors.

      (And if some academics like to take part in online debates under pseudonym, I'm perfectly fine with that, at least in principle: it may be useful for everyone even).


    3. ...

      As for assymetrical sampling I think it has to do with, primarily, economic resources; Germany and Sweden are rather affluent countries with good quality universities and they naturally tend to focus on the data they have at hand. But that also applies to other countries like, say, Netherlands, Belgium, Britain or France and we do not get almost any research from them, so there is more going on: interest or lack of it, also legal issues in the case of France (fearful probably of realizing its own internal diversity that may shatter the exacerbated "equality" under French nationalist "civic" mythology). The British seem to be rather shallow and mercantile: most studies are not just pay-per-view but also not good enough in the quality of the data provided. The Spanish are a bit like the French (most studies come from Basque and Catalan universities, although they also collaborate occasionally with the Germans, luckily) and also have limited resources (always lagging many years behind the Germans) and a very hierarchical academic setting that does not help at all. The Italians not sure what to say: they haven't produced much either in terms of ancient DNA, so probably similar to what I just said about Spain.

      I think that the Germans and Swedes are doing quite a good pioneering, revolutionary, job, although they do have some limitations (in this sense the irruption of the Swedes was very helpful because they provided key counterpoints that may have taken too long to be evidenced otherwise within the Elbe-focused paradigm of the Germans).

      I don't think it's so much about "ethnic pride" (although it can play a role in some cases, especially exaggerating a bit the Indoeuropean impact and downplaying the Atlanto-Mediterranean one) but about data availability and that has to do with budget, laws (France notably) and interest (both of researchers and society at large). And there is another thing too: visibility and availability of ancient remains - if all this extra HG stuff owes to "archaeologically invisible" HG-derived groups in the margins of Neolithic society for example, we can blame no one. But there should be an effort to sample the areas that can provide clues and may have been ignored in the preliminary analyses done so far. I mentioned a list in the previous comment but I must add the "continental Nordic" area between Netherlands (or even Belgium) and Denmark, which may be a box full of surprises and also remains unsampled to this day.

  36. Maju you stated that the Sardinian culture was less "advanced" than Los Millares.

    I assume that you were referring to the Nuragic civilization, I personally would argue that although the Nuragic culture developed later than Los Millares, architecturally the Nuragics were much more advanced, just look at any major Nuraghe like Santu Antine, Barumini or Arrubiu, with their multiple tholoi and their large corridors, in Santu Antine's case we have corridors superimosed on two floors which is an astonishing feat of engineering for the time.
    Look at the Nuragics sacred wells and their complexity: http://www.academia.edu/2336031/The_nuragic_well_of_Santa_Cristina_Paulilatino_Oristano_Sardinia._A_verification_of_the_astronomical_hypothesis

    And I'm just mentioning a few monuments, since the Nuragics left behind several thousands Nuraghes and hundreds of temples, so they were much more "active" than Bronze age Iberian cultures and than other European cultures at the time in general.

    Even artistically the Nuragics produced a lot, you may not know this but they actually made the first human sized statues in Europe:

    So sorry, but when you just put aside the Nuragic civilization as a "less advanced" culture I can't let that pass.

  37. Hola Maju,

    in the supplementary information of the recent publication on the Baltic Hunter Gatherers I've noticed that in the ADMIXTURE run at K = 20 a new component (here 'dark blue') appears, making up as much as 60% of the ancestry of modern Basques. This component seems to subsume much of the components that at lower K get lumped into 'West Asian', 'Western Hunter Gatherer' and 'EEF'. With the exception of a single 'WHG' and a Latvian Corded Ware individual, this component doesn't appear at high frequencies in ancient the samples gathered to date.

    It's interesting that the inclusion of this component reduces the 'West Asian' in Basques & Sardinians to almost nil, which seems to be congruent with the behaviour of those populations on the PCA and, more speculatively, the linguistic evidence. What might also be of note is that secondary peaks appear in Morocco, Libya & Tunisia - populations that don't appear to have much affinity to the 'WHG' cluster.

    What do you make of this? A ghost component or perhaps a rough equivalent to an as yet unsampled population of HGs?

    Link: http://www.cell.com/cms/attachment/2082666371/2072883532/mmc1.pdf

    1. First, thank for mentioning that study because I'm a bit "out of the loop" as of late, mostly because I don't seem to use the RSS anymore (too much info to process).

      Anyhow, hard to say, because ADMIXTURE is an statistical analysis tool, so it's quite sensible to what you are analyzing, i.e. the overall sample, in this case a global one. If we are analyzing Europe (or same with any other region, mutatis mutandi), I would only include a few "control" samples from outside (say, a few Chinese, a few Indians, a few Yoruba and a few Khoisan, for instance, plus some West Asians and North Africans but not all of them). For whatever reason a lot of people do it the other way around, what can alter the results: it's not anymore an analysis of Europe but of Humankind and Europeans are rather homogeneous relative to other populations no matter what.

      So my first impression, without any further analysis, is that it should be a secondary blend component: something that was forged by millennia of admixture between more basic components in Europe. This is what we see often in some other populations like Ethiopians and it becomes more clear if you get to see the Fst distances between the components.

      Then again it could be something more meaningful, but the real test is to repeat the analysis at home (all the tools and samples are readily and freely available, it just requires some time, especially at the beginning because of the learning curve, and a half-decent computer with Linux OS) with a better selection of the populations, such as what I suggested above.

      But, judging on other data I've seen in many previous studies (the results do vary but they don't produce this "blended" component anyhow, at least not at the K-levels shown), my impression is that it most likely is just a pan-European admixed component because of long term "homogenization" of the genomes. However it is indeed possible that it may also represent the kind of admixture that could well be present in the cryptic Atlantic population(s) that seem to be behind the modern genetic pools.

      It's very difficult to approach these issues only or primarily from autosomal DNA, more so when not including ancient samples which are apparently "ancestral", or even with those ancient samples, when there is a bias on which ancient populations are represented (known) and which are not.


    2. ...

      "It's interesting that the inclusion of this component reduces the 'West Asian' in Basques & Sardinians to almost nil"...

      That can be used as "filter" to discern between ancient (Neolithic) West Asian admixture and more recent one I guess, but on its own it does not seem to contradict the previous findings on early European farmers and their similitude to modern Sardinians particularly.

      A key question is how those EEFs became more "aboriginal European" (WHG and such), a process that seems already to be happening in Anatolia for some reason but that increases once and again as they move west, and also in most places, later on. It'd be also interesting to learn something about the genetics of HGs in the Balcans and Italy, where much of that early admixture must have occurred. Recently, in the Sardinian Y-DNA study, the authors argued very strongly for the pick-up or incorporation of aboriginal European lineages, such as I2 but they also insisted on treating R1b as such (which is consistent with Villabruna at the very least), into the genetic pool of early European farmers. Their argument was: the triangular model is probably correct on the fundamentals but it is also missing a lot of detail and nuances, and there seems to be a significant "contradiction" between what autosomal DNA seems to say and what haploid DNA does.

      There are no easy answers, even if some insist on hammering them as religious fanatic preachers, and that is something that is becoming very apparent as we do learn on our ancestors from ancient DNA. I guess it's the nature of science: each answer we find brings to more questions, but anyhow in the case or European origins we haven't got most of the answers yet, largely because we have not studied, or almost, many of the areas and periods where these may lay. We have a sketch but we are still quite far from a finished drawing.

      I'll now take a look at the paper as such, thanks again for mentioning it.

    3. Thanks for the reply!

      My first impression too was that the component arose from the pan-Euro broth, if we may call it that. What made me curious is the extra-European peaks in Africa, esp. Algeria as it seems. Then again, Algeria also has the standard European hunter signal and a small West Asian (~Caucasus) input both of whom 'dark blue' seems to be related to. In Central Asia however the same mix exists, yet the 'dark blue' component doesn't have show a very strong signal at K = 20.

      I guess ancient DNA from Western Europe & North Africa would be required to see if it's something meaningful. Time will tell - I might run a few analyses of my own to test this further. Anyway, thanks for your work!

    4. What is clear is that NW Africa has a very strong European component, which gets eventually diluted in the local "broth" (to use your term) in targeted analyses but never fully disappears and in any case it is clearly distinct from the West Asian one, also present in a similar way. What I don't know is how that might work if done with WHG samples, etc.

      I really can't say but I'm a bit surprised that Algeria (and not Morocco) is the sample that gets most of it.


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