March 31, 2018

Iberian genetic clusters

I've been the last two weeks or so chewing on this pre-pub and there's a point when no more chewing seems to be useful. So let's get to discuss it as well as possible.

Clare Bycroft et al. Patterns of genetic differentiation and the footprints of historical migrations in the Iberian Peninsula. BioRxiv 2018 (pre-pub. DOI:10.1101/250191

The key finding is clustering of the populations of the Iberian Peninsula as in this map (locations for the Spanish state are precise, for Portugal unknown and located at random, also shadowing for Portugal is uniform for all the country):

Supp. Figure 1a

The weirdest thing for me is that the Catalan-Alacant and Seville-León-Asturias cluster are strongly related in the cladogram. I'll discuss this below.

Another very weird feature is the presence of a group in Pontevedra province (Galicia) that is the most different of all, even more distinct than Basques. It is composed of many small highly endogamous subgroups. I do not have at the moment any explanation for this, honestly.

External influences: mostly "French"

When factored as made up external populations, Iberians are mostly French (or something that approaches that label), although "mostly" varies from c. 60% in the West to c. 90% in Gipuzkoa. This pattern of "Frenchness" reminds that of the distribution R1b-S116. Correlation is not causation but it is still correlation and when R1b-S116 seems to stem from somewhere France and arrive to the Peninsula at least as early as the Bronze Age (or maybe before but still undetected, terminus ante quem at Los Lagos, as discussed recently). 

Supp. Fig 5a

The most affected population by this French influence are Basque1, which show no significant contribution from any other source (only very small from Italy1 and very tiny from North Morocco, see supp. fig. 7) but the authors say that (supp. info.):

Notably, the Basque-centred cluster has a markedly different profile from the rest. Firstly, it has much lower, or zero contributions from donor groups that contribute to all other clusters: Italy, NorthMorocco, and WesternSahara, and a very large contributionof 91% (88-93) from France. Additionally, the model fit for this cluster is strikingly less good than that for the other clusters (Supplementary Figure 4d), suggesting that Basque-like DNA is less well captured by the mixture of donor groups in this data set. Specifically the Basque share even more DNA with the French group than predicted by their mixture representation, which might reflect, for example, that the DNA the Basque share with present-day French is only a subset of modern French ancestry. This pattern is seen for other Spanish groups also, but to a much lesser extent.

Area that demands urgent genetic research

So it seems we may be dealing with some sort of "paleo-French" rather than modern Indoeuropeanized French. 

All genetic roads lead to France, at least in Western Europe: it also happens in Great Britain and Ireland, and it is very apparent in the geographically sorted phylogeny of R1b-S116. And is also this area where we see the earliest signs of mitochondrial DNA "modernity": in Paternabidea (Navarre) and Gurgy (Burgundy), an area that demands much greater attention from genetic and archaeogenetic research than has received to this day. 

The other major contributors are: Italy (mostly Italy1), with peaks of c. 20% and influencing mostly the South and Center, North Morocco, with peak of c. 10% in Portugal and a West and South distribution, and Ireland, with peak of c. 6% in Eastern Asturias and a broadly Western distribution. 

Italian contribution (Italy1)

North Morocco contribution
Ireland contribution

What do exactly these contributor components mean? Hard to say, although part of the Italian and North Moroccan elements could well be related to historical episodes such as Roman and Muslim conquests. But only partly so,because the North African in Galicia just cannot be that high only from a Muslim conquest that was very limited in time, nor should we expect to be that much "Muslim" nor "Roman" in the remote and largely ignored area of modern Portugal: there must be more ancient origins, probably dating to the Neolithic, Chalcolithic or Bronze Age. 

minor West Sahara contribution
And in the case of the North African component we may have a guide in a minor West Saharan contribution (at right), which may well reflect an older and "purer" form of North Africanness and which is againcon centrated in Portugal and Galicia, with extension to parts of the Central Plateau but does not affect the South, the area where we should expect most of the Muslim period's genetic influence. 

We cannot trace a line in Portugal because of the uncertainty of the geographic origins of the samples but we can do it within the boundaries of Spain and that line suggests that the Muslim genetic influence could be intense by the Southern third and maybe all the way to Zamora by the Western part but should not be relevant in Galicia nor Asturias nor (inferred, uncertain) much of Portugal. That in these areas, the North African element is peculiar and looks older than the Emirate/Caliphate of Cordoba. 

Speculating on the possible origins of the Iberian clusters

This part has given me a true headache. It is very hard to understand how these clusters formed and I will not pretend here that I have all the answers. The most strange of all is the affiliation of the Central-West and Eastern clusters. 

The problem is not only the highly implausible relation between Asturias-León and West Andalusia, which the authors seem to believe product of historical colonization at the time of the Reconquista (13th century) but which makes no sense whatsoever because the Kingdom of Seville was never part of the barely autonomous Kindgom of León but an administrative division of Castile (of which León was by then just a dependency) and we should thus see at least some important influence of the Central (yellow triangles) cluster, which is dominant in Valladolid, Madrid and even the city (but not the countryside) of Burgos, and we do not see anything like that. 

One possibility is of course that the components or some of them are not that real but I do not see any indication of that in the study, so, in wait of independent replication, I'll take them at face value. 

So why then? I've been scratching my head until I could not think any further, I swear. 

And this is my hypothesis, risky as it may be:

1. The essence of the split between the related Spanish components (excluding Galicians and Basques) and the Portuguese-Galician component could be at the Early Neolithic. When I mask the areas not or weakly affected by the Earliest Neolithic in the components map I get this:

... what seems to correspond odly too well to the first major split in the cladogram between the Portuguese-Galician (purple) component and the rest.

2. The expansion inwards may correlate with Chalcolithic and Bronze Age processes, which seem to be way too important everywhere and also in Iberia. So I used the Bell Beaker map I copied from Harrison (see here) as cutoff for another mask (radius are relative to Bell Beaker density circles in the reference map):

If so the split between the Central (yellow) and East (orange) groups (to which the brown and red and other groups are closely affiliated) could be related to this Bell Beaker period and derived Bronze Age cultures. The yellow or Central component could originate in Los Millares (Almería province) and spread northwards to Ciempozuelos (Madrid province) and from there to other areas with the Cogotas I culture of the Bronze Age. 

The Purple (Western) component should be somehow related to Zambujal or Vila Nova de Sao Pedro (VNSP) culture of Portuguese Estremadura and spread northwards to tin-rich Galicia with the group of Montelavar already in the Bronze Age maybe.

The mysterious Red (Central-West) component could be related to some colonization of that area from the Bell Beaker dense area of Catalonia or the Denia district, or maybe even an older colonization, hard to say. What I know of that area in the late Prehistory is that it is ill-defined, partly for lack of research in the heavily farmed alluvial plain, and that it correlates with Southern Portugal but not fully, always showing a distinct personality, until it grows a clearly distinct personality in the Tartessian period, already in the Iron Age. It is also clear that the so-called Silver Road runs straight through that cluster and that it was important, and growingly so, in the Late Prehistory, having both commercial and religious significance and being clearly the main path of penetration of Phoenician influences inland, already in the proto-historical period. 

While still caught with feeble pins, this Silver Road speculative explanation seems to make much better sense than the Reconquista hypothesis the paper appears to spouse and which I see nonsensical because the patterns observed are not as we could expect. 

But of course it is always up to you to make up your own mind, I'm just offering some variant considerations that for me make some sense but that are by no means a well finished theory either, just better than the simplistic historical interpretation, which does not fit the facts too well.


  1. Ah, again the same problem, they apparently don´t show from where the Portuguese samples come from and some villages in remote places, could have shown interesting results (but I doubt that those places have been studied or sampled).

    I wonder if Valencians were represented (still have to check the study more carefully), because I have read some people suggesting that a good part of Valencians maybe arrived from Western Iberia, and therefore bore a stronger resemblance, genetically speaking, to Western Iberians.
    Maybe I´m also remembering your detailed analysis on Iberian Y-DNA, that presented that possible connection, so that´s maybe bringing some bias into my thoughts. But well, Y-DNA isn´t everything...

    Interesting overall, nevertheless.

    Well done!

    1. Valencians do seem rather well represented and they seem to fall into three areas, corresponding roughly to the three provinces: (1) Castelló: with both Catalan (orange) and Aragon (blue circles) components, (2) Valencia: genetically central (bright and dark yellows), (3) Alacant: with Catalan (north) and a local Catalan-related component (south, cyan squares).

      So not sure what you're talking about but no purple and only one red dot in an urban area (Alacant City). Nothing "Western" but indeed some strong "Central" influence in Valencia province. Or alternatively very strong Valencia province influence in Central Spain...

      It's odd but the yellow (central) component exists defined in an Valencia-Almería-Valladolid "V-shaped" pattern, and I would think this may well be the order of founder effects: (1) Valencia (Neolithic?) (2) Almería (Neolithic or Chalcolithic?) and (3) Central wedge northwards with possible center at Ciempozuelos Bell Beaker.

  2. Maju, go to check the new Central Asian paper at
    It will make you happy, in particular the Excel file with the sample data.

    1. What's so good in the excel file? Other than a suprising group of Y-DNA A in ancient Turkmenistan, which I wonder if it is somehow related to "Basal Eurasian", I don't see anything (but I may well be just not paying enough attention and getting lost by the haplogroup labels, which in spite of being into this for so long still taste way too arid and "meaningless").

  3. You have argued that R1b is from Iran area and now you have one Neolithic R1 from Ganj Dareh, 8241-7962 calBCE (I1949). Moreover, to everybody's surprise, there is one Calcolithic R1b1a1a2a2 (R1b-M269) from Hajji_Firuz_C I2327 (5900-5500 BCE).

    1. That R1b is from West Asia is I believe an established fact. I'm not aware of anyone strongly denying that, although we do seem some occasional deviations they seldom go as far as challenging this basic notion because R1b overall is way to dispersede into Africa (critically) and also into Central Asia (branch distinct from those in Europe) and there are minor basal branches known to exist only or almost only in West Asia.

      Now R1b-M269 is another story and I have indeed said that it looks as if it was from either the Balcans (where it is low in frequency but high in "basality") or from Iran (same thing) or even somewhere in between (Turkey, Kurdistan). And this has indeed been challenged by neo-nordicists claiming a "Siberian" or "Eastern European" origin and a spread via Indoeuropean expansion, based on nothing but circumstantial archaeo-evidence.

      I would agree that the occurrence of M269 in Iran so early does support the Neolithic spread model or at the very least the presence of this haplogroup in Iran-Kurdistan in those ancient times (that's roughly the date of Neolithic arrival to the Western Mediterranean coasts) but it seems insufficient to reconstruct its pathways and overall chronology and I would not dare to take it as proof of anything but the most basic andmiage of the models I support.

      Also, I was hoping for some ancient R1a in southern Asia and I do not see it. This is troubling for my model in regard to this haplogroup and could well support the neo-nordicist stand on this particular aspect. It's a lesser issue for me but it's something they always bring around.

    2. Hi Kristiina, I send you what I sent Dr Narasimhan:
      Dr Narasimhan, why all these mistakes in attributing an haplogroup and above all a subclade? First of all the best I know are YFull for the .BAM files, and Genetiker for the SNPs calls. Those of yours, scholars with a little knowledge of haplogroups, lack in the interpretation. Not all the possible positve SNPs are terminal ones. Many may be fake per se, but above all many may be private SNPs and not terminal ones. The attribution of an haplogroup has to be coherent with all the upstream positve calls, as Genetiker does (or, better, many times I corrected him too...).

    3. Maju, also mt H32 was found in aDNA in Iran, with hurras of some stupid blogger, but I demonstrated that it came to Iran from Italy of course, very likely after the Younger Dryas, where there are all the upstream subclades. Ahahahahaah

    4. Gioello: you are absolutely one-sided and that detracts weight from your opinions. You always claim Italian origins for everything, which may or not be true but you have no valid model for:

      1. Explaining the fact that Ötzi (and thus presumably all or most pre-IE Italians) were at least significantly replaced in the Bronze Age by new waves arriving from Central Europe (Italics) and the Eastern Mediterranean (Etruscans, Siculi & Sicels).

      In spite of this evidence of drastic genetic change in the Bronze Age (mostly) you still claim everything existing in Italy being original from Italy.

      2. No single expansive culture other than maybe the Nuraghic Sardinians (Sherden) to a limited extent and definitely the Romans stems from Italy. So how do you explain "Italian ancestry" in Iran, Chad and everywhere around?

    5. Maju, I have many problems with my PC and am using an old notebook very slow. Of course my analyses were done upon the mt-s and Y-s of to-day, what many reproached me, but:
      1) Villabruna 14000 years ago R1b1
      2) Les Iboussiéres 12000 years ago very likley R1* against the analysis of Genetiker
      has been found.
      About mt H32 I demonstaed that al the upstream subclades are in Italy to day.
      My R1b1a2-L23-Z2110-FGC24408, massively present in Italy (also in Salerno province where Etruscans lived: see Pontecagnano etc) has close links in a French Basque, an Englishman and now people from Caucasus and also an Arab, thus no wonder if that sample R-Z2103 found in Iran may be linked to me.
      Of course I am waiting that Mr Reich tests all these Palaeolithic and Mesolithic samples from Italy he got.
      Anyway your delusion about R1a in Iran was largely foreseen from me when I criticized the papers of Underhill when they were published.

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

    1. This person, who goes by a varied range of pseudonyms is absolutely banned in all my Internet space because he is a psychopathic stalker and the main reason I have the pre-moderation barrier up.

  5. Maju

    Could you clarify me why you don't think middle neolithic europe ( square mouthed pottery, chassean, michelsberg, GAC, funnel beaker) could be the vector of the IEzation of the steppe peoples given the substantial amount of their presence in andronovo?
    Don't want to provoke anyone by the way but what do you think of the theories of basque being IE.

    1. Because: in terms genetic at least this Atlantic Neolithic derives from the Early Neolithic and appears to be totally "Basque" (Basque-like) or sometimes still close to Neolithic 1 (Sardinian-like). Also because both references of pre-IE Neolithic, Sardinians for Neolithic 1-2 and Basques for Atlantic Neolithic (and also ancient Iberians for something intermediate) spoke Vasconic languages. The Sardinian linguistic findings, which are overwhelming (cf. JM Elexpuru's "Euskararen aztarnak Sardinian?", Pamiela 2017, so far only published in Basque) and similar parallel developments in the understanding of ancient Iberian makes clear that the language of all types of Neolithic, at least in Southern Europe and at least in the late period, were Vasconic.

      Basque is not IE, definitely not but it does seem to share some core vocabutlary with PIE, what suggests a partially common orgin or an ancient influence of the same substrate on both families.

      My very limited work on linguistics seems to confirm that Basque (and this probably Vasconic) has some shared core vocabulary with Proto-Indoeuropean (PIE) but also with Nubian (part of East Sudanic) and in similar proportion with both. This may well be related to Anatolian Neolithic being roughly 50-50 Palestine-Zagros in composition (pre-PIE Neolithic is only Zagros + EHG) or maybe to European HG substrate, surely of the Easterh kind. Alternatively Vasconic expansion into Ukraine (Cucuteni-Tripolje) was somehow very influential into early IE, but I lean towards the West Asian Neolithic model as likely source, because Paleoeuropean HGs influenced both Neolithics in very different ways and should have got very diverged languages by region at the time of Neolithic arrival.

      See here:


  6. Shi Huang (as to the Narasimhan 2018 paper)

    Why no discussion at all on Y and mtDNA data? May be something inconvenient? Why were Y chr haplotype A and BT so commonly found in ancient Turkmenistan (in supplementary table), when only CT are thought to have left Africa in the OOA model?

    1. We know that B is present in Horzmuzgan and Afghanistan but A is a novelty. In any case it seems related to the "Basal Eurasian" ghostly thing, stronger towards Neolithic Iran than towards Palestine, even if these had more African Y-DNA.

      Anyway, in due time because I want to discuss three papers on ancient African first.

  7. Hi Maju,

    I think this North-Moroccan/Western-Saharan concentration in Galicia/Asturia might've finally nailed the proverbial coffin on the multiple detection of L3x2b in Northwestern Iberia.

    So far in all of Eurasia (excluding Palestine), L3x2b has only been detected in the Iberian peninsula (Asturia, Galicia, N. Portugal). Conversely, although scantly surveyed, it's detection in Africa has only been an Algerian (Arab) and my maternal line from the Ugandan West-Nile region (C/E.Sudanic speakers).

    Regarding a plausible time-period, here's an abstract from a pertinent mtDNA paper. It corroborates your assumption for an ancient vs. post-Islamic reasoning of this permeating N.African layer in NW Iberia:

    "..The most relevant results are the following: (1) North African sequences (haplogroup U6) present an overall frequency of 2.39%, and sub-Saharan sequences reach 3.83%, values that are, in both cases, much higher than those generally observed in Europe; and (2) there is a substantial geographic heterogeneity in the distribution of these lineages (haplogroup L being the most frequent in the south, whereas haplogroup U6 is generally more common in the north). The analysis of the observed diversity within each haplogroup strongly suggests that both were recently introduced (in historical times). Although for haplogroup U6 the documented event that is demographically compatible is the Islamic period (beginning of the 8th century to the end of the 15th century), for haplogroup L the most probable origin is the modern slave trade (mid 15th century to the end of the 18th century). ***However, the observed geographic structuring for one of the haplogroups does not fit the expected distribution provided by simplistic historical considerations. In fact, although for haplogroup L the north-south increasing frequency is corroborated by historical data, the opposite trend, observed for haplogroup U6, is more difficult to reconcile with the magnitude and time span of the Islamic political and cultural influence, which lasted longer and was more intense in the south. To clarify this conundrum, we need not only a substantial increase in the amount of mtDNA data (particularly for North Africa) but also new historical data and interpretations."

    African female heritage in Iberia: a reassessment of mtDNA lineage distribution in present times (Pereira, 2005)

    Given the overlapping concentration of U6 with these N.African clusters in NW Iberia, wouldn't it be fair to assume L3x2b's detection in Asturia/Galacia/N.Portugal means it's carriers were likely among these ancient migrations? Alternatively, as the paper mentions, the majority of other L lineages would be from more recent periods.

    Now I know you're not a fan of molecular-age estimates, and it probably doesn't help that I'm not qualified to argue this source but according
    to it, L3x2b's age is 26744.0000 +/- 6686.0000.

    Could that at least propose a possible time-ceiling for this migration? ....

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Anyway, I just posted another entry on Morocco and Andalusia Neolithic ancient DNA, which basically shows that the European (not West Eurasian though) genetic influence in NW Africa is from the Neolithic perior. Previously they were like the purest Mozabites and afterwards they show European genetic ancestry of the Neolithic (Sardinian-like) type.


      The paper also has some data in mtDNA U6 and other North African genetic markers.

      IMO this strongly suggests that the North African influence in (mostly) West Iberia is a "bounce" from the Neolithic, i.e. European Farmers coming from the Aegean region, mostly by ship, upon arriving to Southern Iberia also crossed to NW Africa, where they had a sizable genetic impact, but they must also have incorporated some NW African genetics and brought them along to their next colonization leg: Portugal and West Iberia in general.

    3. I read "24515.2219 +/- 6303.5608" at your link for L3x2b but whatever. In any case it's old enough to have been in NW Africa by the time of Neolithic contact.

      Anyway, in a previous analysis I made almost a decade ago, it seemed to me that L3x could be an Aterian marker and have been in North Africa since maybe some 125.000 years ago. Unsure if this stands scrutiny but on the data available back then it looked like that.

    4. Thank you for clarifying, this interpretation makes a lot more sense -- I read the link.

      In hindsight, I should've crosschecked pertinent sources before sputtering unfounded theories - pardon the blind speculation, I think it was just a wild running spark of euphoria from finding that NW-Iberian U6/L3x2b correlation with North-Africa.

    5. It's interesting you mention the possibility of L3x being an Aterian marker. I recently found an unsupervised K15 ADMIX calc which identified a "Mozabite" cluster. The E.Sudanic samples I ran had a Mozabite affinity of 4-5% which was their highest Non-SSA affinity. This Mozabite cluster seemed like a revelation because previously this ancient layer of non-SSA ancestry would broadly appear in various ADMIX calcs as "Natufian"/"SW-Asian/Farmer".

      As you've best stated, "autosomal genetics are not an exact science", but the results did correlate with recent anthropology. The North African samples (S_Morrocans, Saharawis, Algerians etc) all had Bedouin and Mozabite as their highest affinities while Southern-Sahelian samples (Hausa, E.Sudanics) had the highest ratio of Mozabite sans Bedouin.

      Is this because prior to the Neolithic Subpluvial, South-Sahelian pops had contact with "purer" Mozabite populations who hadn't yet mixed with Bedouin-like populations?

      That's my tentative guess anyway based on admittedly scanty data. If it merits a look though, here's a spreadsheet of the K15 Admix Results (14 pops - 39 Samples):

    6. I have to correct, I was thinking in L3k, not L3x. Because L3x, per Behar 2008's data, has presence in Ethiopia, while L3k was apparently restricted to North Africa.

      All what I'm saying here is from work I did 8 years ago and based on data published 10 years ago, so feel free to revise and improve.



    7. As for the rest IDK but it seems (see the paper I linked to in a previous reply) that Iberomaurusian/Oranian populations, similar to modern-day Afars and thus partly ancient-African and partly Asian-African, spread into some parts of Tropical Africa (East). They are probably also responsible for the African influences into West Asia, be them "Basal Eurasian" or not (this "ghost" seems quite elusive to me and could well represent various waves of African backflow into West Asia).

  8. If so, that would allot enough time for the last drying of the Sahara (~26kya). If we consider this, could the Galician concentration of small highly endogamous subgroups be the relic of survived N.African populations who funneled OoA? That's my wild bottleneck theory anyway.

    It would explain the concentration of those seemingly "peculiar" subgroups. Maybe their counterparts didn't survive the last drying of the Sahara and the few that did were easily overrun by subsequent migrations. This could also explain the extreme overall lack of L3x2b detection. Imagine, within all of SSA, had I not taken a commercial test years back, there still wouldn't be an L3x2b detection anywhere south of Algeria!

    Let me know your thoughts, if it doesn't jive, I hope I've at least entertained you :)

    L3x2b Age Estimate:
    (http://xn--c1acc6aafa1c.xn--p1ai/data/mtdna/the_tree/hg/ages.htm) - (Zaporozhchenko, 2013 build)

    L3x2b detection cited specifically in N.Portugal:
    Diversity of mtDNA lineages in Portugal: not a genetic edge of European variation(PEREIRA, 2000) Pg 14

    1. Not sure why you consider 26 Ka BP to be "the last drying of the Sahara". I know that the pluvial periods (i.e. those in which the Sahara and the Arabian deserts were largely green and inhabitable) were as follows:

      1. Abbassia Pluvial c. 125-90 Ka BP >>

      2. Mousterian Pluvial c. 50-30 Ka BP (? I would have thought it shorter):

      3. Neolithic Subpluvial c. 10-5 Ka BP:

      These periods allow for easier trans-Saharan interaction but they do not guarantee it. In any case the matter seems to be solved now, as mentiond before, by a Neolithic and only Neolithic interaction between Iberia and NW Africa, not earlier.

      There are other papers that I want to discuss this week (if possible) on African (incl. NW African) genetics, one is behind paywall and deals on Iberomaurusian not being Iberian at all but rather West Asian-like, with African elements too, resulting in something like modern Afar People, and the other (open access) deals with a hoard of African ancient genetics, including West Asian genetic influence of the same type as we see in Iberomaurusian (or should we recover the "Oranian" alternative label?, I kinda like "Taforaltian" though).

      Link for the latter paper (I don't have the former at hand right now, but have a copy, will find):

    2. I was basing the 26 Ka BP calculation off the 41,000 cycle year of precession, the next being cycle being in 17,000 AD. At any rate, I wrongly reversed the climatic condition for that 26kya theory *face-palm*

      Kindly disregard,
      Thank you for the references.

      Looking forward to see you address those two papers, you have a way of synthesizing the data nicely. The latter paper has been discussed at length on a forum I frequent, I haven't delved into it though yet.

    3. Interesting paper, Maju.

      Regarding L3, recently there was this publication:

      Very interesting that mention (spoken on the comments above) on the L3x2b.
      And probably there are more...

      Aren´t L mtDNA in Iberia mostly derived from pre-neolithic movements? I do remember about this study:
      And that´s what seems to be suggested there.

      Regarding mtDNA U6, from where do you think that it arrived in Northwest Africa, Maju?
      Some U6 seem to have a pre-neolithic presence in Iberia, right?

      Do you think that these last findings, still support a very old connection between Northwest Africa and Iberia, that ended (mostly) during pre-roman times?

    4. Wow, Cabrera et al. make a major earth-shattering claim that goes against all I know. I have yet to read it but I must say I am very skeptic because all L3(xM,N) are found in Africa and are most basally diverse there. They would really need very very strong evidence to counter that other extremely heavy one.

      "Aren´t L mtDNA in Iberia mostly derived from pre-neolithic movements?"

      There have been some claims but we have no direct (aDNA) evidence for that other than one of the (sometimes disputed) Chandler et al 2005 individuals from Epipaleolithic Portugal, which in my review resulted to be likely L3d2 (but may be wrong, HVS-I haplogroup assignment is very uncertain). The other L3(xR) should be some sort of N but again undefined. A problem here is that without coding region analysis you can't discern N(xR) from L3(xN), unless it clearly falls in a well defined sublineage.

      The key paper is

      It's pay-per-view but I got a copy from a generous donor and hopefully will discuss it today, along with a related open-access paper. The result is that no WHG exists in Iberomaurusian/Oranian and thus pre-Neolithic interaction across Gibraltar seems discarded. Instead it seems to result in migration from West Asian Upper Paleolithic and an ancient North African and at times also East African population similar to modern day Afars (and also close to Naqab Bedouins and Mozabites).

      Monkeys don't like water... :D

    5. Reading the Cabrera pre-pub: it seems ideological shit.

      "So, we confront a dilemma; it seems that two gravity
      centers of L3 expansion exist, one in Africa and the other in
      southeastern Asia. A geographic equidistant midpoint would situate the primitive radiation of L3 in India if a southern route were chosen by the African colonizers or above the Himalayas, between Tibet and Pamir, if the northern route was preferred".

      This is the kind of logic I'd consider "flat earther". There does not seem to be anything new in the paper: just an Eurasian-centric rant.

  9. Maju, thanks for the all the effort you put into this. I believe P312/S116 originates west of the Rhine (which I interpret as France). I'm not so sure about DF27 originating in-situ in Iberia. I do believe SRY2627/M167 originates in the Eastern Pyrenees. Thoughts on the latter?

    1. I never said that DF27 originated in Iberia so I think we are on the same page.

      No idea about M167: too highly derived for my knowledge.

  10. Only found the abstract, but this paper can be interesting:

    1. It's pay-per-view, so only for academics and the well off. The worker class will have to day without, it seems. Just another case of class apartheid based on purchasing power.

  11. About Pontevedra province (where I'm from) Usually this results are explained by two factors (I read people like Anxo Carracedo use these arguments). First,a traditional absence of mobility beyond the local (village) area. For example, almost all my mother's ancestors had lived in Campo Lameiro since at least XVI-XVII century, but probably goes way back. And my father is from the next village northwards. The effects of this are enhanced by the fact that Galicia experimented a huge emigrant movement (we are talking of millions of people) since late XIX century until 2-3 decades ago. Heck, a recent study discovered that 99% Galician population are eleventh cousins.
    Endogamy is very palpable at rural Galicia. There´re many cases of very geographic localized genetic diseases. (Once more I can use my mother's family as example, because part of them carry an atypical form of multiple sclerosis)
    Second, North Morocco and west Saharian contribution are explained as an indication that Galicia was a "safe haven" for moorish and jewish population expelled by the Catholic Kings. This seems...dubious to me, to say the least. But the presence of a very permeable political border with Portugal could had favored this.

  12. Thanks Maju for this rigorous analysis. I'd have two questions that I'd be very grateful you could give me your opinion:
    a) Where do you think is the suebian / gothic influence in Spain? Y-DNA Analysis show that there is a bigger predominance of supposedly germanic haplogroups in Galicia (I1a, I2a2a, R1b-U106...)... that together may reach or slightly exceed 10%in this area. Or maybe are subsumed in the "French-like" DNA? It seems odd to me that even though there is not even 0,1% of affinity with any area of central / eastern Europe and that only France, Italy and Ireland show matches for Iberian DNA
    b) As Alejandro Barreiro pointed out, one possible explanation for the high incidence of Northwestern African haplogroups in Galicia could be the Moorish expulsion from Castille, Valencia, Aragon & Granada Kingdoms in the XVII century. It seems that Leon & Galicia might have had a more tolerant policy regarding these minorities. There seems to be a higher presence of Jewish in these areas aswell. Interestingly, there are lots of folktales in Galicia about "mouros" that are said to dwell beneath old Castros and dolmens where they stored their treasuries... maybe this is the memory of semi-clandestine moorish population arriving in the NW with their wealth and living somehow appart from the rest of the population.

    1. a) If there is no R1a (and there is very little R1a in Iberia) it's "nothing to see here, move along". All those other lineages you mention could have arrived at any earlier time. In any case the Germanics were a very small warrior elite, if anything you'd have to look for Celtic origins.

      You do find "peaks" (?? if 3-4% is a "peak") of R1a1 in areas like North Portugal, which can be attributed partly to Germanics but actually the other "peaks" are in areas with no clear history of Germanic nor Celtic presence such as Minorca and Valencia, although in the case of Aragon it can be tentatively assigned to Celts.

      Ref. Adams 2008:

      I2 is Paleolithic in any case and, if anything, the Sardinian subclade, common among Basques, should be attributed to the Neolithic migration. I1 and R1b-U106 sound a bit more intriguing but my first take would be to consider them offshoots of a pre-Indoeuropean expansion from somewhere in Atlantic Europe, just because I1 is common in Sweden doesn't make it Swedish by origin (further research is needed), as for U106 IMO its presence in Iberia strongly suggests it being pre-Germanic and maybe even pre-Indoeuropean (very likely to be associated with Northern Corded Ware instead).

      b) I stand skeptic. I am not particularly versed on the whereabouts of Medieval racism but what I do know is that everybody except Navarre sang the same tune: if Castile-Aragon expelled the Jews and Moors, Portugal did the same, etc. Notice anyhow that "Moor" is a religious concept and not a racial one: by 1212, after 500 years of Muslim hegemony in the peninsula, most "Moors" (Muslims) were of native Iberian stock (even the Caliphs were essentially Basque by blood in most cases, even if patrilineally they did descende from the Ummayads). We do see some extra North African of the right kind in the South, not only in autosomal DNA but also on Y-DNA: J1 "peaks" (3%) in East Andalusia, Valencia and South Portugal and this is the kind of clear North African "Moorish" signature we are looking for (it could also be Phoenician though but less likely to be prehistoric North African), lesser "peaks" (2%) exist in Majorca, Castile-La Mancha and North Portugal, except this one, they all are consistent with late Muslim and Morisco presence.

      There are significant discordances between where E1b-M81 and J1 are found in Iberia, what IMO is very striking and strongly suggestive of two different waves of North African genetic influence, only the latter one being the Muslim ona (associated to J1 and autosomal North African without the Sahrawi tendency).

      The "mouros" of Galicia are more likely to be the "mairu" of the Basque mythology. Critically "La Mora" of Asturian and Aragonese legends is very clearly the same as Basque Mari, the supreme goddess of the pre-Indoeuropean religion. Both Asturian and Aragonese mythologies are extremely similar to Basque, however the Galician one is more distinct, although there are some overlaps as well. IMO this indicates a strong Celtic influence in Galicia that was absent in Asturias and Upper Aragon (core of later expanded Aragon and of clear Basque ethnolinguistic identity until at least the 14th century, when Basque is forbidden in the market of Huesca).

      So there seems to be a medieval "moorization" of ancient legends for loss of the pre-IE ethnolinguistic support they existed on and vague similitude of names.

    2. Thanks for your reply, Maju. So, these are the things that still sound unclear to me:

      a) if I understand well, it's R1a is the real germanic marker, and not I2a2 (I am talking about this particular subclade of I2, considered by some to be associated to continental germanic peoples, as goths etc), I1a, R1b-U106... etc. Now, for me it's strange that those particular haplogroups seem to match quite well germanic expansion elsewhere in Europe... It would be odd that Iberia was an exception, specially when those haplogroups seem to "peak" (you know, I mean in relation to even smaller results) in the areas settled by germanic peoples... Majorca and levant R1a could be Vandalic or Slavic (it seems that they were a significant number of slavic muslims in eastern Iberia)

      b) In your opinion, appart from the chances that germanic haplogroups could be celtic or pre-IE, would it be possible or not that germanic DNA was masked behind the french like admixture that appears in the study? (which, of course, doesn't mean "french like admixture" is not mainly pre-IE or "celtic" (western IE) admixture)

      c) What do you think of Pasiegos genetics? they seem an strange mix of North-African (E-M81) and IE (R1a)... traditionally they were associated with moriscos or jewish... there is historical record that king Sancho of Castile gave them rights to shepherd on Pas Valley area in XI century.. I wonder where they came from and how to explain that extrange admixture of R1a / E-M81 on them. On the other hand, I read somewhere than old Cantabrian leader, Corocota, could be related to berbers brought to northern Iberia by Anibal; you know the Berberian-Basque alleged relationship, I'd like to know what do you think about it

      d) You say Galicia was more celtic than Asturias or Aragon... I don't know which criteria you are using to define celticity. Appart from celtic toponimy in Galicia (that appears in Asturias also), toponimy that some authors think that was partly brought by roman celtic mercenaries (or romans themselves, as could be the case of place names ending in -briga, which could be a loan word present already in latin (how to explain otherwise names that mix latin and celtic as "Iuliobriga"?); and appart from some tribes that could be indeed celtic (namely, Celticos supertamaricosi and paestamaricos; Nerios, maybe Brigantes..), there isn't that big celtic footprint in Galicia... it seems that most of the tribes could be closer to lusitanians, pre-IE or even "greek" (maybe eastern mediterranean?) as Eleni and Grovi, according with Pomponius Mela and Pliny. Archeology doesn't show much of Hallstatt and nothing of Urnfield or La Tene. Genetics show only a slightly higher presence of R1b-L21, the only sign of celticity I can find, that probably in fact could be derived from the Bronze Age (pre-celtic) contacts with British Isles..

      e) You say J1 occurence shows a different pattern in Iberia that E-M81. I don't know which map you are using, but according to this: J1 presence is higher in western Iberia, Valencia and Cadiz, in a very similar fashion as E-M81 and the "Northwest african admixture" of the study you commented above.

    3. R1a1 is a more clear marker of any possible immigration from the Corded Ware area in general. It needs not to be "Germanic" but can be "Celtic" or some other unknown but in general it is a very clear marker of (patrilineal) Indoeuropean demographic influence in Western Europe and Italy (probably in much of the Balcans too).

      The subtlety is on how you interpret it: do you compare with the core Corded area of approx. Poland, where it's 50%, or do you compare with a more "watered down" area like Western Germany, where it's around 25%? This changes the result from x2 to x4 (always considered males only, female migration was surely much smaller). So, based on that we get around 4% at most of "Celtic" (Western Germany based) in Iberia, although in some areas it is near 0% and in others it can be as much as 12%. This "Celtic" male influence does not need to be Celtic, secondary Italic (Roman) and Germanic waves may have contributed to it as well, but IMO it's safe to assume that most of it represents Celtic input in the Corded Ware and Hallstatt period (later Celts were cut off from Central Europe by Iberian re-expansion).

      I would say that "high" R1a1 in Aragon and North Portugal is consistent with the Celtic model but that in Valencia and Minorca isn't at all and that it seems to require some sort of other founder effect, which could be "Frankish" colonization or even the "Saqaliya" (Slavic, Circassian?) Muslim dynasties that ruled in Eastern Iberia, Slavic slave input, etc.

      Or it may be just a fluke in the data of course, hard to say without having more and more extensive research.

    4. (b) Surely the "French" autosomal component might be subsuming German origins but that is hard to discern. In any case, if the overall IE male input is around 4%, then the overall autosomal input should be 2% or less (because no significant female immigration and female ancestry tends to weight more in the autosomal DNA overall, at least as far as I can discern), so it'd be a quite hard to detect "component". For that is better to use other studies that discern the Caucasus component, which is clearly non-native (not present in Basques nor Sardinians) and that it should have arrived with Indoeuropeans in general (although maybe also with lesser Mediterranean flows of post-Neolithic West Asian origin).

      When you do that, you find maybe 15-20% of Indoeuropean or otherwise Caucasus-admixed ancestry in Iberia, quite homogeneously distributed among areas (Basques excepted).

    5. (c) I don't have a strong opinion on Pasiegos, sorry. They are within the pattern of that West Iberian E1b-strong area, which seems to penentrate into Cantabria (and not only into the Pas Valley).

      My historical (proto-historical almost) reconstruction for Cantabria goes along the lines of:

      1. They were Basque-like (although maybe somewhat distinct, with more NW African influence?), as were Astures in the pre-Roman and Roman period. This is consistent with archaeology, history and mythology.

      2. In the Suabian and Gothic period, Asturias was probably somewhat colonized by Hispano-Romans (and the occasional Germanic warlord), while Cantabria clearly remains independent in the wider "free zone" that is the seed of the Basque Country.

      3. However in the early 7th century this "free zone", hereafter Vasconia, is invaded by the Franks, Cantabria probably fell to the Goths instead. Vasconia became independent soon after again (independent Duchy of Vasconia) but Cantabria seems to remain under the Goths, even later when the Asurias rebel kingdom is created. It's possible that there were demographic changes associated to these political changes and in fact there are some notices of repopulations in Cantabria in the early Asturian period, all the way to Karrantza.

      "how to explain that extrange admixture of R1a / E-M81 on them"

      To me it says: "León" (or somewhere in that NW Iberian area, North Portugal would do even better) plus random founder effects. Educated guess anyhow.

      "you know the Berberian-Basque alleged relationship"

      I know it's a fantasy. There are some words that can be related in the context of a much wider ancient "sprachbund" of the Bronze and Copper ages, i.e. via Iberian language, etc., but that most of the alleged "connections" are totally untenable, totally amateurish "wishful thinking".

    6. "You say Galicia was more celtic than Asturias or Aragon..."

      Upper Aragon to be clear, an area known to have spoken Basque until recently (Basque was forbidden in the market of Huesca in the 14th century for instance) but that has been since romanized, first with Navarro-Aragonese language (probably originated in the Rioja/Tudela area) and then with Castilian ("Spanish").

      One of the reasons is the fact that the mythologies of Aragon (Upper Aragon, Lower Aragon and the Ebro banks were heavily islamized and later maybe resettled to some extent and thus little to no native mythology remains AFAIK) and Asturias are extremely similar to the Basque ones, just that some names change: Mari (the Goddess) becomes "La Mora" (the Moorish woman), etc. But the content of the legends overlaps extremely well.

      Instead in Galicia that overlap is more limited. It does exist though: our jentilak (gentiles or primeval giants) become their moros (Moors), maybe by switch of name from "mairu", to whom the stone rings of the Pyrenees are sometimes attributed (also called "intxisuak"). But much of their mythology is different, like the "Santa Compaña", a squad of ghosts that terrorizes the country with similitudes to Halloween or its Celtic precursor, something that has no equivalent at all in Basque mythology. Just a couple of days ago I had to state the same in a You Tube discussion on the origins of ghosts, which like creation or the "universal" flood do not exist in Basque mythology. There are no ghosts and certainly not scary ones in Basque tradition, it's almost as if there was no belief in afterlife at all of at least not that anyone could return.

      I'd say the belief in ghosts is Indoeuropean, at least in our region, and that it probably derives from PSTD caused by war and its horrors. Basques were not an expansionist people, our wars were always just (defensive, no cheating), so this extreme alienation of war-derived mental damage does not seem to have been a major problem. At least it's not reflected in popular traditions, while the Indoeuropean world seems plagued by them instead as if they were accursed.

      " it seems that most of the tribes could be closer to lusitanians, pre-IE or even "greek" "

      I consider, even if only for simplicity, the Lusitanians to be "Celtic". I actually think they were P-Celtic and that Iberian Celts were both Q-Celtic and P-Celtic, we see abundant evidence for P-Celticness in Iberia IMO. But even if Lusitani were something else, they are part of the wider Celtic migration/invasion and thus I see no particular reason to make a strong distinction. As for the "Greek" Eleni, it's obviously just a reformulation based on coincidence of name, AFAIK it seems to be Celtic for "deer" or something like that.

      But in any case Indoeuropean and not Vasconic or otherwise pre-Indoeuropean. There must have been some mestizaje and complexity anyhow but overall they look Celts, Gaels, Galli, Galicians, the Romans had no doubts about that.

    7. "Archeology doesn't show much of Hallstatt and nothing of Urnfield or La Tene."

      I don't feel prepared to discuss the Galician archaeology in detail but:

      1. Urnfields got "exhausted" at the Upper Ebro, then they conquered the Plateau and created the unmistakably Celtic culture of Cogotas II (not related to Cogotas I, which was native and had already been fragmented). It is in the Northern Plateau (approx. modern Castile and León region) where the CU arrives, gets those Hallstatt influences before the connection is severed by Iberian expansion and sets its sight into the West. This Celtization of the Plateau happened between 900 and 700 BCE.

      2. C. 700, barely completed the conquest of the Northern Plateau (and much of the Southern one), we see the appearance of the derived Lusitanian Castros culture in Central Portugal. Between 600 and 500 BCE an offshoot of this group takes over Galicia, which remained until then in the Bronze Age, being the last Atlantic Bronze culture of Iberia.

      According to some historical references I've read (uncertain how accurate they might be), the Celtici (again the name "Celts") and their probably pre-Indoeuropean associates, the Turduli (arguably the same as the Turdetani of Southern Iberia) set to conquer Gallaecia (i.e modern Northern Portugal and Galicia). So there's some pre-IE complexity in all the process, both from whatever survived of the aboriginal Bronze Age layer (subjugated but not exterminated) and from the new arrivals, which may have been not just Celts but also "Tartessians". In any case, as happens with Celtiberi, etc., who also show signs of complexity and admixture, the dominant cultural element was almost certainly the Celtic one, and thus we are not that confused when we say "Celts", we may be at worst simplifying things just enough not to have to write a whole book each time we speak.

    8. "You say J1 occurence shows a different pattern in Iberia that E-M81. I don't know which map you are using"...

      I'm not using any "map" but the only academic study I am aware of on the matter, which I have already linked to above (Adams 2008). If you know of some other ACADEMIC STUDY, please cite it.

    9. Thanks for your answers Maju, I like your argumentation… So you think in your opinion there were no IE peoples in western Iberia before 700 BCE? Atlantic Bronze Age peoples were entirely pre-IE? vasconic?what do you think about Jean Manco’s hypothesis on Stellae People (Ligurians, Illyrians… widely pre- or proto-celtic peoples) being the first IE to arrive in Iberia at the times of Bell Beakers… and remaining since Bronze Age in Western Iberia to give rise to Lusitanian, Gallaecians, Vettones, Astures… ?

      I though the higher presence of R1b-L21in Northwestern Iberia could be derived from Atlantic Bronze Age contacts with the British Isles… do you think R1b-L21 / Bronze Age peoples were IE in the British Isles?

      I still don’t understand why you state that R1a, R1b-U106 and I1a arrived in Iberia from a different source than Germanic peoples… I don’t think that's the only possibility, but it seems the most probable, and there are historical records of Germanic peoples arriving to the peninsula.. This doesn’t imply they were many, but giving their social position, their Y-DNA haplogroups would have had more to persist even in higher proportions than the original proportion of germanics -vs- native iberians.

      I found very interesting what you say about ghosts being absent from Basque folklore… I didn’t know that and your theory of this being IE, because of the ideology of these peoples and their relationship with war and interpersonal violence is very suggestive. But I would like to point out that in Asturias there is an equivalent of Galician “Santa Compaña”: The “Güestia” is exactly the same thing. I think also in Old Castile there is the “Hostilla” which correspond to the same concept. I wouldn’t exclude a roman origin for this kind of believing in ghosts and spirits returned from the underworld.

      There is a curiosity that I find in the Galician folklore, and that is the scarcity of legends about “little people”, “pixies” or tiny fairies, that live in the barrows. In Galicia you find the “mouras” associated to these places (not “mouros", that are more often linked to hillfort ruins), but they appear as single beings, not in groups; and are humanlike in height (as “mouros" are). Small fairies are typical from the British Isles, and are often are considered the most representative mythical beings of (post-Christianization) Celtic folklore.

      On the other hand, there are other affinities between Galician and Vasco-Cantabrian myths: In Galicia there was the believing on “Demachiños”: small imps that appeared over the ferns after Midsummer night. If captured, stored in a small box and feeded with blood, they became the servants of the person that had catched them, but this person should give always things to do to these small imps, or they would kill him/her otherwise. These “demachiños" are the same thing as basque galtxagorriak. Another example of coincidence is the “busgoso”, a kind of wild man that lives in the woods. This figure exists in Asturias and Cantabria as musgosu or busgosu, and corresponds with Basque Basajaun.

    10. I have just made a tiny donation to your tip jar, because I appreciate the time you took to answer my doubts. Thank you

    11. Thanks for the tip, sir.

      Yes, I do think that the population of most of Europe in the Mid-Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic was Vasconic by language, just as the population of much of Tropical Africa is Niger-Congo or the population of all Northern African and much of West Asia was and still is Afroasiatic by language. My understanding is that Vasconic is the linguistic family of the mainline European Neolithic and that, while we may want at some point of the analysis to try to make distinctions between different subgroups, they should all be considered Vasconic, from ancient Tartessians in Iberia to Karanovo-Gumelnita culture in Bulgaria and Megalithic farmers in southern Sweden.

      Were there pockets of other groups? Maybe, but the only ones I can discern are the Vinca-Dimini group in Serbia and Northern Greece, which was intrusive from West Asia. You can imagine the occasional pocket of Paleoeuropean continuty here and there but they are hard to spot with archaeogenetics. What we do see is some increase of local Paleoeuropean admixture in many areas by the Late Neolithic but still within the "Stuttgart type" or "Sardinian type", no major changes, except probably in the Basque-France-Rhineland zone, where a more modern (i.e. more admixed with Paleoeuropean) genome seems to appear, although still waiting for autosomal research, this is based on mtDNA and very specific autosomal markes like the lactose tolerance gene. The South Swedish (and thus maybe Danish, Low German, Dutch and overall Northwestern area after the Michelsberg/Funnelbeaker expansion) appear to also fall in this more modern or "Basque" type. In the Late Chalcolithic and Bronze Age we do see, at least in Iberia, how this "Basque type" expands and seems to replace the previous "Sardinian type", something that probably happened earlier in West Germany and North France (Funnelbeaker and such) but we lack clear data for all this huge and most important region.

      You can see that discussed to some extent in these entries:


      The first link is short but crucial: it shows how (studied) Iberian populations changed over time:

      1/2. Neolithic: like Sardinians or EEF (clusters 1 and 2, the second one slightly more admixed with Paleoeuropeans).

      3. Chalcolithic (partial) and Bronze Age (total): like Basques or Gökhem (Southern Swedish Neolithic-Megalithic). This is the base for the current "Spanish", which add to it some French (Celtic) and/or Italian (Roman).

    12. Hi Maju. Thanks a lot for your answers. I'd be very interested on reading the discussion you mentioned about the origin of ghosts in Youtube... could you post a link to it? thank you!

    13. I'd ask you some advanced bibliography / webliography on Basque mythology... I am very interested on it... eskerrik asko!

    14. The video is this one:

      ... and my comment, not really a discussion, is still the last reply to the first comment (by Stefan Milo), sorted by date (my default).

      It's not long, so I may well quote it here: "Basque mythology has no ghost stories (nor universal deluge, nor creation), so they belong to some later cultural layer, in our case clearly the Indoeuropeans. It is amazing to study the legends of Northern Spain and see how all are very similar but when it comes to Galicia, famed for being a Celtic country in pre-Roman times (hence the name), even if some details may overlap, the overall set of legends and beliefs is clearly different, and they, the Galicians, do have such fears about the dead coming back, fears that are not known in the other regions of Basque-like mythology, in which the magic world is fundamentally benevolent (except for Gaueko, "the one of the night")."

    15. Re. Basque mythology, most of what I've read is either in Spanish or Basque. I'd recommend you to start with en.Wikipedia (just search for Basque mythology and follow the links, I guess), where there used to be last time I checked some decent basic articles, many of which I initiated my self years ago (but have been of course ammended and hopefully improved through the years, I don't collaborate with Wikpedia anymore).

      BTW, my user name in en.Wikipedia was Sugaar (I later switched to Maju, a synonym, because of confusion in English with "sugar", someone even called me "a hooker" once for just that reason, when it actually means either "male snake" (suge-ar) or "fire flame" (su-gar). The alternative name Maju seems to come from Arabic "madju" or "maju", which in turn comes from the Zoroastrian "magi", and was how the Arabs apparently called Iberian Pagans back in the day, but also non-Iberian ones like Vikings (unclear because the main source for that is a later work in Romance, where the word "almachuces" is used instead, also for ancient peoples like Celtiberians).

      My user name in YT is my "real" name: Luis Aldamiz (I also go by my own name in Facebook but there I write almost only in Spanish).

    16. Most Basque legends were compiled by José Miguel Barandiaran, a priest and ethnographer, in the early 20th century. The main motif is struggle between Paganism and Christiany in various ways and the main character is typically some random farmer or priest, but not always. Your typical Basque legend is like "a farmer from X village had some sort of magical encounter and was taught a lesson or something like that". You have thus the farmer who became owner of a box of galtzagorriak ("red pants", some sort of imps) and had them working for him, but when all work was done and he had no more commands to issue, the galtzagorriak did not stop and undo everything. Or you have a variant of the Mermaid tale, in which a farmer falls in love with a lamia (Basque variant of nymphs, often said to have bird feet, and typically associated with golden combs that greedy farmers may covet, and lush manes) but he is Christian and thus is advised not to date her anymore, he soon dies of broken heart and a funeral is held, the lamia arrives to bid farewell to her beloved but does not enter the church. As you can see these are relatively simple and vaguely familiar stories in many cases, not totally different from other European ones. However there are other stories like where withches (sorginak = creators) met and what happened in certain occasion with them, these witches or sorginak are in some stories said to be like the court of Mari (the chief goddess) and thus are half-way between the human and magical sphere, they were probably in reality some sort of priestess of the ancient religion. In one instance they punished some petty lord for not sharing his cider (tax evasion, sorta) with the community, what leads Juan Ignacio Hartsuaga to conclude in his (Basque language) work "Euskal Mitologi Konparatua" (Compared Basque Mythology) that the Basque religion was, unlike the Indoeuropean one, community-focused, anti-individualist to at least some extent. This is of course arguable but his comparison is very interesting in any case (cthonic vs celestial, community values vs warrior values, etc.)

      What is most interesting anyhow are those legends that have Mari and her partner Sugaar as main characters, notably in those cases when they are associated with the Lords of Biscay: the mythological first Lord of Biscay was son of a Scottish princess and the god Sugaar, goddess Mari was said to be married to a later historical Lord, Diego López de Haro, but when he, shocked by finding her foot was shaped like a goat's hoof, made the sign of the cross inside the home, she run out never to return because he had broken the oath of not bringing his religion to the home.

      Mari and Sugaar are often associated with "fireballs" a mystery metereological phenomenon (ball lightning) not scientifically clarified to this day. Sugaar is always associated with the snake, Mari with the black he-goat (a lucky charm and protector of the farmhouse, you could still see them chained in that role until recently), but also reddish animals (cow, horse or ram), in human form she dresses in red. If you're lost in the mountain you should call her name thrice loudly and she then "gets over your head" and leads the way to safety.

    17. In one story, a priest is enticed by local legends about a cave holding treasuries (caves are the homes of Mari and Sugaar) and goes there to explore holding the Christian sacrament (the host) to fence off any possible magic challenges. He then finds a black he-goat and a snake along with some unspecific treasure. He tries to approach holding the host as "protection" but as he does so the snake grows bigger and bigger until he finally runs away. When he's running he hears a warning: thanks to that charm that you brought, else you would not have escaped.

      As you can see Christianity and Paganism are intermingled and often in conflicting situations. That's also the case of the legendary jentilak (gentiles, sort of Basque giants or jotun), which are often depicted throwing huge boulders against churches. There's one legend in which the jentilak are startled by the appearance of a brigh light in the sky and rush to ask their elder wiseman, this one fatefully says that it means the arrival of Kixmi (seemingly Christ) and that it means the end of the Basque race. Then the jentilak variedly jump off a cliff or go to live in hiding in a cave or a dolmen. Only Olentzero, who converted to Christianity and is like the Basque Santa Claus, a rustic fat drunkard coal-maker, survived, so says the legend (or a version of it).

      There are few heroes in Basque legends and these are mostly trickster figures, typically Martin Txiki (Little Martin) but also one of the sons of Mari, Atxular, who had to work for the Devil at the University of Salamanca with a sieve ("baia" in Basque) that had holes way too large for any practical use. He was ordered to sieve through the Devil's immense granary and now and then the Devil asked him: "Atxular, are you there", to what Atxular had to reply, making sure he had no way to escape. But Atxular taught the sieve to speak and say "omen nago" (which is a playword meaning both "here I am", standard Basque: "hemen nago", and "maybe I am", standard: "omen nago". And thus he could escape. This led Jakue Pascual to argue for his theory of the power of negation because "baia" means not just sieve but "the yes", "affirmation" (bai = yes, ez = no, much like in Greek "nai" and "okhi", which I suspect distant cognates, clearly not Indoeuropean in any case), and for Pascual this meant that acquiescence is weak, because it tends to be acritical, letting too much to pass through.


    18. ...

      A quite unsual "hero" and with this I close my informal introduction, is the Navarrese knight or gentleman Teodosio de Goñi, who murdered his father and mother and was making penance as hermit in Aralar mountain with his feet chained and a promise not to leave until they were broken. This is about the only explicit dragon and dragonslayer story in Basque mythology and thus is clearly influenced by Indoeurope and Christian recycling of such legend, but, anyway, the story goes that there was a dragon ("herensuge" = "final snake") living in Aralar an demanding a tribute of young ladies to be devoured or something. So Goñi found one such damsel in distress and offered himself to take her place. When the drago arrived he prayed in desperation to St. Michael (Michael the Archangel, very much venerated in the Basque Country and tightly associated somehow with the local Christianization, quite possibly via the Templars). God heard his prayer and told Michael: "they call you down on Earth". Michael replied: "I do not dare to go without you", and thus Michael with God on/over his head (notice the similitude to how Mari gets on one's head when invoked), went down to Aralar to slay the dragon. This one was already trying to eat Goñi but had luckily begun by the chains, so when Michael cut the dragon's head the chain was broken and Goñi's deadly double crime expiated miraculously. Of course that's probably what Goñi told everyone after breaking the chains himself with a rock but that realistic part and the eyebrows that were no doubt raised are not part of the legend itself. What matters to me here is the profound "Freudian" sublimation of the wider generic crime of betraying one's ancestors, not just via parricide, but by getting the dragon (who can't be otherwise identified but with Sugaar, the male aspect of the ancient Divinity) killed with all the Christian blessings. Surely Goñi had some powerful friends in the Church and among the Templars, who then used that legend to their advantage.

      After all what Indoeurope and Christian Europe very particularly considers "demonic" and "evil" is way too often ancient Basque sacred stuff, from the black he-goat (Mari) to the dragon (Sugaar), going through witches (their priesthood), etc. There is a very deep ideological and religious battle going on there but for that very same reason it is sidelined and not well known, even if it's obviously central to European ethnography.

    19. Wow, thanks a lot Maju for all this info that I will chew slowly next days... I am very interested in everything related to ancient cultures, including population genetics (as a way to know their migration history and cultural influences), languages and mythology, and I am gathering info from different sources. I have already created a tag called "Maju" within this database where I am backing up your quotes, obviously mentioning you / your blog as a source and / or those authors you are quoting.
      Last week, looking for bibliography about Basque mythology, I found a very interesting book which probably you already know: "La religión en Euskal Herria" from Félix Placer Ugarte. As Barandiaran, he is also a priest, but I found very interesting his views about the role that church has played within the Basque people, continuing an ancient spirituality already present in the Pyrenean cromlechs. Also, I found another text by Juan Inazio Hartsuaga "Mitología Vasca Comparada" that sounds interesting.

    20. Besides, I found a very interesting reflection about Basque ancient church here: (I am aware you have written extensively about Iruña-Veleia case)

    21. Finally, about what you said that pagan Basques didn't believe in the afterlife... I remembered that I had read that moon's name in Basque (Illargi) means "The Ligth of the Dead"... can't be interpreted this as if dead souls where somehow alive/awake in the "dark world" or something like that?

    22. My pleasure, as you seem an interested reader.

      I didn't say that ancient Basques didn't believe in the afterlife, just that there are no ghosts in the known legends, although there is one word for ghost in Basque "mamu", which seems to appear over and over in relation with some characters typical of what seem to be a pre-Indoeuropean carnival who are sometimes called "mamarrachos" in Spanish and "mamutzones" in Sardinian, although in Basque the common name is "zampanzarrak" (it may vary from village to village though). Mamarratxo is clearly Basque (mamarro = bug, monster, -txo diminutive suffix) and mamutzon sounds similar but links to mamu = ghost instead. Hard to say because those carnivals were heavily harmed by Fascist persecution and restoration is never the same as the original, you lose cultural clues.

      There are no legends I know of about any afterlife in Basque mythology, not even when the main character is Christian. There is no creation either but I would read the Mari-Sugaar friday meetings at the locally holy mountain, and the related friday night akelarreak (withches' meeting) as a formula of perpetual creation in what we could call a fertility cult. One of the sons (varied per legend) of Mari and Sugaar is Odei, Storm Cloud (idle clouds are called laino, which is also used for mist), who is sometimes called Eate (plausibly synchretism with Celtic Teutates) or even gets confused with Mikelatz (literally "Finger of Michael", although I found translated also as "Breath of Michael"), which is also said to be son of Mari and the "evil" brother of Atxular (the guy of the sieve I mentioned before). Anyhow Odei or the storm is surely understood as the one who brings fertility to Earth (so the eternal rebirth cycle is completed, farmer mentality) but it's known also to have been subject of "spells", which the farmers recited asking the hail to fall somewhere else. This is a very rainy country and rains and storms are very important to farmers, so it makes good sense.

      But I digress...

    23. Your question was about Ilargi, the Moon. She* is known as Ilargi or Ile. A common interpretation is that it means "light of the dead": argi = light, hil = dead, and thus some write the names as Hilargi and Hile, with "h", which is silent in Southern Basque but aspired in Northern Basque. But it can be intepreted in other ways, for example "hile" or "hila" means just "the dead one" but then there is also the word "ilun" (dark) and thus it could be originally "il(un)argi" meaning light of dark(ness), i.e. "of the night". "Hil" (surely cognate of Germanic "kill" and English-specific "ill", non-IE words) does not only mean "dead", with the suffix -du or otherwise conjugated it means "to die" (intransitive) or "to kill" (transitive)**, so it could be read as "the dead light" or even "the killer light" (not that I've ever seen such interpretations but are quite reasonable).

      So it's rather a matter of interpretation of a name that itself may be a nickname because there was a taboo on speaking her real name (some have argued for that).

      In any case it's clear per the archaeology that ancient Basques gave strong importance to death and almost certainly "ancestor veneration", from dolmens to stone rings, depending on period, the dead were often buried with great respect and community work. Even it's known that many communities traditionally gathered by a local such monument, which acted as community center or town hall of sorts (this is not at all unlike what some studies on dolmenic sites elsewhere, for example in Portugal, suggest of people regularly gathering nearby them).

      So I'd say that the ancient Basques believed in some form of afterlife but just the same they seem to have got no strong fear of the magical and divine world, which is almost invariably benevolent, they did not fear the return of the dead, and thus no ghosts (much less zombies, vampires, etc.) That's essentially alien to what we know of ancient Basque beliefs.


      * Both Sun and Moon are said to be daughters of Earth, to whom they return daily, in one short story but they are not characters in Basque mythology otherwise.

      ** Basque grammar strongly differentiates between transitive and intransitive, including using the ergative for the subject, if explicit. So "Aitor hil da" = Aitor has died/is dead, but "Aitorrek Mikel hil du" or "Mikel Aitorrek hil du" or... variants, means Aitor killed Mikel.

  13. The impossible map of Portugal.

    The impossible 100% homogeneity of Portugal, because this homogenetity not even in Iceland (the most homogenous country in Europe) exists, is only a product of the ignorance of "researchers" (at least in relation to Portugal) who did this. Look guys, if you're not sure about the genetic data for a particular country, please do not invent it! Thank you very much for your attention.

    1. That's because the authors did not know where exactly their Portuguese samples came from, so Portugal is treated as a single unity all the time, unlike Spain, where precise geolocation was used instead. It's explicit in the paper and I believe I did mention that in this entry, so it's ignorance re. the origin of the Portuguese samples not generic ignorance in the way you mean.


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