May 24, 2014

A genetic legacy of North Africa: mtDNA U6 under the microscope

An excellent new study on mtDNA haplogroup U6 has been published this week:

Bernard Sechel et al., The history of the North African mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U6 gene flow into the African, Eurasian and American continents. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2014. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-109]
Abstract (provisional)


Complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome analyses have greatly improved the phylogeny and phylogeography of human mtDNA. Human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U6 has been considered as a molecular signal of a Paleolithic return to North Africa of modern humans from southwestern Asia.


Using 230 complete sequences we have refined the U6 phylogeny, and improved the phylogeographic information by the analysis of 761 partial sequences. This approach provides chronological limits for its arrival to Africa, followed by its spreads there according to climatic fluctuations, and its secondary prehistoric and historic migrations out of Africa colonizing Europe, the Canary Islands and the American Continent.


The U6 expansions and contractions inside Africa faithfully reflect the climatic fluctuations that occurred in this Continent affecting also the Canary Islands. Mediterranean contacts drove these lineages to Europe, at least since the Neolithic. In turn, the European colonization brought different U6 lineages throughout the American Continent leaving the specific sign of the colonizers origin.

Figure 1 Surface maps, based on HVI frequencies (in o/oo), for total U6 (U6), total U6a
(Tot U6a), U6a without 16189 (U6a), U6a with 16189 (U6a-189), U6b'd, U6c, U6b and U6d.
U6 can be considered a somewhat strange haplogroup. While it is derived from U (and hence from R and N), which has an Asian origin, it seems to have expanded from NW Africa, more specifically from the Northern mountainous areas of the Moroccan state, a country known as Rif or in the native Tamazigh language Arif (of which Rif is an Arabized version), not the usual place one tends to imagine as the origin of any human expansion wave. 

Actually there is at least one important cultural expansion from that area: the Oranian or Iberomaurusian culture of the Mid-to-Late Upper Paleolithic. To some extent at least the expansion of this lineage is probably associated to this ancient culture. 

Whatever the case, U6 is not a common haplogroup: its highest peak in frequency is in the Canary Islands (16%), followed by North-West Africa (5-9%). Then come Portugal and its insular colonies, as well as Cape Verde and Ethiopia (~3%) and then there is some scatter in Spain, West Africa, NE Africa and peninsular Arabia (~1%), as well as in some other parts of Europe, Africa and West Asia (<1%). 

On the other hand it is one of the four basal branches of the major West Eurasian haplogroup U (U5 and U2'3'4'7'8'9 are more common, while U1 is even rarer and less studied), so understanding U6 seems important to better understand its parent lineage. 

Therefore this new study with its great wealth of detail and care is much welcome.

Chronological estimates and expansion patterns of U6

It may surprise you that I am even in tentative agreement with the chronological estimates for U6 and its subclades, listed in tables 2 and 3. But it is for a good reason: they make sense (assuming a reasonable CI). And the fact that they seem to make sense is probably because the authors took great care to calibrate the ages for this lineage, using as main (but not only) reference a Canadian derived lineage that seems to be a colonial founder effect. 

Anyhow all these dates should be considered as center-points of a variably wider range of possibilities, the so-called confidence interval (CI) or error margin (em). If we do that, as we should, we get the "power" to stretch the figures forth and back as need be to some extent without losing consistency, and that alone should be enough to get the estimates fit better with the material evidence (archaeology mostly). 

The authors actually mention some of those CIs in a lengthy section dedicated to explore the possible patterns of U6 spread in Africa and elsewhere.

Interestingly they suggest that the first radiation of U6 took place from NW Africa in largely eastwards direction, belonging almost necessarily to the Iberomaurusian (Oranian) culture:
This first African expansion of U6a in the Maghreb was suggested in a previous analysis [6]. This radiation inside Africa occurred in Morocco around 26 kya (Table 2) and, ruling out the earlier Aterian, we suggested the Iberomaurusian as the most probable archaeological and anthropological correlate of this spread in the Maghreb [6]. Others have pointed to the Dabban industry in North Africa and its supposed source in the Levant, the Ahmarian, as the archaeological footprints of U6 coming back to Africa [7,9]. However, we disagree for several reasons: firstly, they most probably evolved in situ from previous cultures, not being intrusive in their respective areas [42-44]; second, their chronologies are out of phase with U6 and third, Dabban is a local industry in Cyrenaica not showing the whole coastal expansion of U6. In addition, recent archaeological evidence, based on securely dated layers, also points to the Maghreb as the place with the oldest implantation of the Iberomaurusian culture [45], which is coincidental with the U6 radiation from this region proposed in this and previous studies [6].

Some millennia later, U62 appears to expand in Ethiopia, while, as mentioned, U6a1 does the same in Europe (mostly Western Iberia) and other sister lineages do the same in NW Africa itself.

A second wave of radiation corresponds to the early Holocene:
Basic clusters like U6b, U6c and U6d also emerged within a window between 13 to 10 kya (Table 2). U6b lineages spread from the Maghreb, through the Sahel, to West Africa and the Canary Islands (U6b1a), and are also present from the Sudan to Arabia, but not detected in Ethiopia. In contrast, U6c and U6d are more localized in the Maghreb. Further spreads of secondary U6a branches are also apparent, going southwards to Sahel countries and  reaching West Africa (U6a5a). Autochthonous clusters in sub-Saharan Africa first appeared at around 7 kya (U6a5b), coinciding with a period of gradual desiccation that would have obliged pastoralists to abandon many desert areas [52]. Consequently, no more U6 lineages in the Sahel are detected, while later expansions continued in West Africa (U6a3f, U6a3c, and U6b3) and the Maghreb with an additional spread to the Mediterranean shores of Europe involving U6b2, U6a3e, U6a1b and U6a3b1.

For easier understanding of the U6 phylogeny and its sometimes hard to interpret migration patterns, I made up the following graph, based on the supplemental material of this study:

U6 phylogeny, color coded by regions:
  • North Africa
  • Europe
  • Tropical Africa
  • West Asia
  • intermediate colors: equal weight between two regions, black: undecided
  • italic type: unnamed lineages
I must say that, I have some doubts about the exact origins of several subhaplogroups, notably:
  • U6a is so diverse in some branches that it is difficult to identify it as unmistakably of NW African origin. NW Africa still gets the greatest weight (3/7) but not a clear majority.
  • In U6b Tropical African lineages weight 4.5/10, while NW African ones weight only 3/10. It is a good candidate for expansion from the "Wet Sahara" indeed.
  • In U6c1 European and NW African lineages weight exactly the same, although I guess that it may be reasonable to imagine Andalusian U6c1c as derived from North Africa.
However overall U6, as well as its derived lineages U6b'd and U6c clearly originated in NW Africa, so I understand that, when unclear, NW Africa gets the benefit of doubt for the derived origins.


  1. interesting history and results , since the U6 expanded Eastward from the Rif, it is plausible that the carriers of its parent haplogroup U* followed a northern migratory route via Europe (from Asia), and ending up on African shores ?

    1. Yes in principle: it's a matter of archaeological order and while there is no evidence of arrival of early Upper Paleolithic cultures to North Africa before the Oranian/Iberomaurusian (continuity of Aterian instead) this should be the logical conclusion.

      However U6 (as such primary node) should be older than Oranian, not just because their chronological estimate says so but because it's stem from U is way to short to be otherwise (one control region and one HVS-1 mutations). And by geographic scatter logic U6 must have expanded from the Rif or somewhere nearby, while its "mother" U should have expanded from West Asia.

      Whatever the case the pre-U6 carrier line must have migrated pretty fast from West Asia to Arif (or somewhere nearby). It is possible that there was some small group of Aurignacian affinity that arrived over there and has yet to be located but that only really expanded with Oranian culture, much later. It is not 100% impossible either that both the founders of U6a'b'd and a pre-U6c carrier arrived together at the Oranian genesis but only U6a expanded strongly at that time. But here I'm pushing the logical possibilities of our genetic knowledge to the very limit, because there's no other U6* that marks the trail in any way.

      In any case, together with mtDNA H1, H3, H4, H7 and V, as well as Y-DNA E1b-M81 underline that there has been genetic flow across Gibraltar Strait in the Upper Paleolithic and that this happened in both directions. The most likely candidate for this flow is the Solutrean-Oranian interaction, probably with important arrival of people from SW Europe to North Africa first, followed by backflow affecting mostly West Iberia (Portugal and Asturias initially).

      Later North West Africa was probably overrun by the Afroasiatic-speaking populations associated with the Capsian (Gafsa) culture, which brought genetic elements from the Nile basin such as Y-DNA J1 and E1b-M78, creating some clinality between Tunisia (more affected) and the Atlantic areas (more refugium-like). Some interaction between the NW Africa and the Nile region probably existed earlier anyhow, with some minor epi-Oranian flow to the Nile from NW Africa at the very least.

  2. "Later North West Africa was probably overrun by the Afroasiatic-speaking populations associated with the Capsian (Gafsa) culture, which brought genetic elements from the Nile basin such as Y-DNA J1 and E1b-M78,"
    as if Northwest African populations were not Afro-Asiatic speakers ? " Afroasiatic is basically an African language family with a Near Eastern offshoot"..

    anyhow,I hope they could in the near future get some genetics from the 16,000 y old Ibero-Maurusian remains from Ifri n Amar..

    1. as if Northwest African populations were not Afro-Asiatic speakers ? " Afroasiatic is basically an African language family with a Near Eastern offshoot"..

      Absolutely but it originates by the Nile, probably in today's Sudan or nearby. The pattern of expansion is similar to that of E1b-M78 (map: and of the cultural elements that give rise to Capsian in the NW and Harifian in the NE (Palestine), both with Egyptian roots apparently.

      So that Epipaleolithic or Mesolithic wave (with clear Neolithic extension) almost certainly spread the Afroasiatic languages in the Southern Mediterranean, as well as lineages associated with it as said J1 (African branch) and E1b-M78, plus whatever mtDNA that looks like coming from the Nile region.

      The estimated age of Afroasiatic, one of the oldest recognizable linguistic families, is of around 10 Ka, so everything seems to converge here.

      Tamazigh (Berber) as such would probably coalesce much more recently, according to linguists (it's too homogeneous), plausibly with the formation of the Iron Age realms that we know from early History: Mauretania and Numidia. But proto-Berber surely dates to Capsian era.

      I also hope for LOTS of aDNA evidence, even if it has to break our, always provisional, interpretative schemes.

  3. "The estimated age of Afroasiatic, one of the oldest recognizable linguistic families, is of around 10 Ka, so everything seems to converge here."

    from Louisa Pereira's paper " The time frame for the migration of the Tuareg towards the African Sahel belt overlaps that of early Holocene climatic changes across the Sahara (from the optimal greening ~10 000 YBP to the extant aridity beginning at ~6000 YBP) and the migrations of other African nomadic peoples in the area."

    10 ka could be the estimated divergence between the original Tamazight(s) of the North, and the break away Tamacheqt speaking groups (Touaregs)....I will be very happy if I understood just 20% of what a Touareg person was saying...the.Berber speaking world is a huge territory, where regional languages evolved and diverged from each other over a long period of time , one needs to speak the language to appreciate the huge linguistic diversity within the Berber linguistic group...for me learning French and some Dutch was a lot much easier than understanding Tachelhit of Southern Morocco or much for a supposedly "homogeneous language"..

    1. I'm founding my opinion only on what linguists say. My direct knowledge is near zero, so I can't say much more.

      From Wikipedia: Proto-Berber:

      Proto-Berber shows features which clearly distinguish it from all other branches of Afroasiatic, but modern Berber languages are relatively homogeneous, suggesting that whereas the split from the other known Afroasiatic branches was very ancient, on the order of 10000~9000 BP, according to glottochronological studies,[2] Proto-Berber might be as recent as 3000 BP. Louali & Philippson (2003) propose, on the basis of the lexical reconstruction of livestock-herding, a Proto-Berber 1 (PB1) stage around 7000 BP and a Proto-Berber 2 (PB2) stage as the direct ancestor of contemporary Berber languages.[3]

    2. Anyhow, think that a 2 Ka divergence is like French, Spanish and Italian, while the divergence between Germanic, Celtic Italic and Balto-Slavic may be of 4 or 4.5 Ka age. These families are not mutually intelligible: for me German or Russian sound (on surface at least) as alien as Arab or Chinese, which are much more distantly related if at all. Of course deeper analysis shows they are closer relatives but I'm talking about spontaneous mutual intelligibility.

    3. I don't know for sure but I do not think that it is sustainable that the Tuareg main migration is as old as you say. Maybe some of the genetic elements and a proto-Tuareg substrate is as old (or not) but for all I know the Tuaregs are generally believed to have migrated across the Sahara only more recently in relation with chariot riders across the Sahara of the proto-historical era. They are just too white in most cases to have been there for so many millennia as you suggest, rather looking intrusive in the Sahel and a desert-specialist Northern population (as there are others, although these have been Arabized: Sahrawis, Mauritanians, unlike Tuaregs).

      Again from the Wikipedia: The Tuareg expanded southward from the Tafilalt region into the Sahel under their legendary queen Tin Hinan, who is assumed to have lived in the 4th or 5th century.[8] (Not sure how real it is: it may represent a second layer rather than the early Tuareg one).

    4. I wonder if high mobility allowed them to maintain linguistic unity longer than more sedentary groups. 3000 BP would correspond to roughly when the domesticated camel arrived in North Africa too wouldn't it?

      This paper on the development of Berber languages may be of interest:

      Agricultural terminology mostly derives from Latin apparently.

      This is a pretty good overview too, and mentions the lack of any mysterious substrate of the sort we find in languages like Greek or German.

    5. I'm not too surprised about Latin influences in language, Basque has many of those too (several month names like Apirila, Maiatza, Abuztua and even the name of the most common tree over here: the beech, which is now "pago" ← Lat. fagus). The "surprise" is that, like Basque and Brythonic, Berber survived Latin domination, not just in the southern periphery (where Roman rule never existed) but in the North as well. Only these three pre-Roman language groups survived the Empire wherever Latin was the main language: most Celtic, Iberian, Etruscan and even the remote Dacian succumbed instead. So it would be unlikely that Latin would have left no legacy, be it farming-related or whatever.

      Still I do not like much the tone of Fournet's article, which seems unsystematic to my eyes and a bit "militant".

      As for the second paper:

      "... it must have split from Afroasiatic at quite some time-depth, a hypothesis for which
      archaeological or linguistic support is lacking".

      If we accept Capsian (which has Egyptian precursors) as the origin of Berber this should be no problem, as Capsian is Early Epipaleolithic (sometimes even described as Late UP, although IMO this is not correct).

      The example of English is very good IMO: when there are socio-economic and political reasons for homogenization, this happens also in the linguistic aspect, when these ties become weaker, languages and dialects tend to diverge. However I must say that the strongest force in favor of divergence is expansion (creolization, substrate influences and such) and that, if Berber has not expanded much, then the languages will also tend to remain relatively static and even to converge in their area by sprachbund.

      While the author rejects "establishment of central political authority" among Berbers, historically we know that they were organized in two main realms: Mauritania and Numidia, so they also had political centrality and IMO this centralization must have played a role in linguistic homogenization, as usually happens.

      As the author suggests, the Roman conquest would also help with this linguistic homogenization even beyond their area of direct control. On the other hand, the fact that many Berbers remained outside Roman direct rule surely helped to keep the language alive.

    6. Any thoughts on the origin of their megalithism?

      Honestly, I'm just a little surprised that Berber seems so free off influences other than other Afroasiatic languages and Latin. You'd think things would have been more heterogeneous.

    7. Megalithism in the Mediterranean area (North Africa, Italy although probably excepting Malta, Corsica, etc.) is generally more recent than in the Atlantic and should be of the Late Chalcolithic chronology. The origin should be Iberia but in this case I do think it is a merely cultural (and possibly political, commercial) influence rather than the partly demographic process we see in some Atlantic areas, because of the Neolithic-Megalithism association in them.

      As for influences, I recall a mostly rubbish list of alleged Basque-Berber cognates which was quite obviously useless in 90% of its content but that had a small group of alleged cognates that were quite plausible. Considering that Basque itself was for sure not the influential actor but that it'd be something more like Iberian or Tartessian, it's not impossible that there are some connections, just that totally unresearched - at least in any serious manner I know of.

      Back in the day, when I read it I imagined the link corresponding to Oranian but today I think more likely that it is a Chalcolithic connection if at all.

      Also notice that, along with Berber script, there is some evidence of Iberian script in the Canary Islands and also a minority of the Guanche mummies carried Y-DNA I, which is nearly non-existent in North Africa. Either it is a fossil of a long gone era or, more probably, represents migration from Europe.

      Guanche ancient DNA:

      These inscriptions seem real but the transcriptions and specially "translation" I don't trust much:

      Anyhow in 10,000 years things can get very homogeneous, barring external influences (such as Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs) and allowing for political unification, even if partial (which happened), as well as some literacy (Tifinagh is a very ancient and unique script).

    8. It's really a pity that we don't have more texts in Tartessian and Iberian. Or Aquitainian for that matter and ancient Berber for that matter. I wonder how much knowledge was stored in Carthage that was lost when the Romans looted their library.

      One thing from that first paper mentions is that Berber is still not very well studied (and I definitely agree with your overall assessment of the paper). Hopefully that improves over time. You'd think that at least something from the Iberomaurusian would be preserved in Berber.

    9. "You'd think that at least something from the Iberomaurusian would be preserved in Berber."

      Almost certainly but the same that happens with the Magdalenian hypothetical elements in Basque (or other languages), we cannot discern that easily because we lack a reference to compare with and also because so much time has passed since then...

    10. Unlike with Basque though, we do have other Afroasiatic languages to compare to. Maybe with enough study a few roots can be teased out one day.

  4. "Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo."

    The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)
    Fournet is not just a bit militant , he is clueless as well ,for instance...the word murdous in Kabyle or Riffian Zenat, is used for a "state of a decaying body" and not the act of killing (kill = nnegh)...Bs (bech) to urinate is not a loanword ,because the female genitalia in Berber is called "a-bech-un" ...the Kabyle and Riffian word for the door is Tawwurt ,the Kabyle tabburt is just a local accent and has nothing to do with the french la porte ....this guy is a real joke ! I can go on ..but I won't waste my time on a loser..

    1. Sadly that is very common among linguists: many don't know well enough the languages they attempt to study. Here I find myself telling linguists that every single one of them should get at least a basic course of Basque, because otherwise, thinking all the time in Indoeuropean, they will see Indoeuropean everywhere, even where it is not. I guess that the same applies elsewhere.

      For that reason I think it is very important that local linguists with an independent mindset and real knowledge of the languages they study, be it Basque-Iberian, be it Berber, be it Caucasian languages, etc. Alternatively the "foreign" linguists should get immersed at least a bit with the languages they pretend to study.

  5. Maju...the problem with your scenario-theory , is that when the bundle of haplogroups (M-78 , J1) who spread Berber crossed to Iberia...somehow they suddenly ...stopped spreading Berber !
    so, in order for your theory to work , you must produce some tangible evidence (such as tifinagh script) to prove that Berber was widely spoken at least in the western third of Iberia .....of course there is no such evidence, therefore, you should stop insisting that certain haplogroups main mission in life, is spreading languages !

    1. I don't think from your words that you understood my model, which for North Africa is:

      1. Aterian (African origins rel. to OoA, very distinct and nowadays only found at significant frequencies in South Morocco).
      2. Oranian (European origins, rel. mtDNA H1, H3, H4, H7, possibly also V and maybe U6, which may also have arrived in some older but unknown wave). Y-DNA E-M81 looks also related to this UP wave(s), although I can't figure exactly how (maybe there was actually a wave via Egypt after all, although so far undocumented).
      3. Capsian (Nile origins, rel. Y-DNA E-M78, J1), which would have spread Afroasiatic (proto-Berber specifically).
      4. Later homogenization and secondary minor flows such as Phoenician, Roman, Arab.

      Berber has nothing to do Iberia as far as I can discern. The Upper Paleolithic ethno-cultural layers both sides of the Strait were largely replaced by the Epipaleolithic/Neolithic waves that affected both regions decisively. In Europe, Neolithic farmers probably brought Vasconic (proto-Basque, proto-Iberian, etc.), while in NW Africa the Epipaleolithic (and later also Neolithic) Capsian peoples brought Afroasiatic (proto-Berber) instead. Former layers may have left some genetic legacy but not a discernible linguistic one it seems (there can be some elements but not easy to find).

      So, just in case, you understood correctly, what is wrong here?

    2. If the Berbers settled the Canary Islands, the Strait of Gibraltar wouldn't have been a huge barrier to them. I wouldn't be surprised if at certain times Berber influences had bled into Iberia a bit, or if Vasconic influences had bled into North Africa too for that matter. We're only talking about 14 km - even a pretty makeshift raft would do (though I do realize the currents there complicate things).

      I don't think anyone has to have "suddenly" stopped speaking Berber (or any other language, like whatever they were speaking in the Aterian and Oranian). Gradual assimilation is a pretty normal and common process the world over. Arabic didn't replace Berber in many parts of North Africa overnight.

    3. Judging on Archaeology, Canary Islands settlement is very recent, from c. 3000 years ago or some centuries earlier. Their colonization may have been hindered not just by the sea but also by the Sahara: they lay in front of the West Sahara, understood as it was historically: from wadi Draa southwards, so their colonization was surely not older than the arrival of ancient Berbers to West Sahara. Meanwhile the only somewhat more remote island of Madeira remained desert until the Portuguese colonization (so people were not sailing the North African Atlantic beyond the coasts a lot until Modern Age).

      Naturally crossing Gibraltar Strait of the surrounding narrow seas is no big deal. Immigrants do it every other day in their clumsy boats (at some risk if bad weather) and I've watched a sportsman crossing the Strait swimming on a surfing board. But the question is how many people crossed each time and what significant effect they had in the long run, after both coasts were inhabited. It was a passable strait but it was not crossed by huge numbers of people capable of making a meaningful genetic impact except in certain periods.

      Judging on DNA, there is more European influence in NW Africa (and maybe even as far as in Egypt) than North African influence, not just in Europe in general but in the most affected areas of Iberia (the Western Third). However this influence is almost totally concentrated on the mtDNA and autosomal aspects and the Y-DNA influence is quite small instead (signal of later layers of sex-biased immigration).

      An interesting detail I just noticed is that the apportion of U6 in the various Canary Islands closely correlates with the apportion of NW African autosomal legacy (modern Canarians are very europeanized) by island:

      The L apportion must be thought as dual, partly Berber and partly from Modern Age (slavery and such).

  6. "3. Capsian (Nile origins, rel. Y-DNA E-M78, J1), which would have spread Afroasiatic (proto-Berber specifically). "
    you are basically saying that Berber originated in the Sudanese Nubia,but,linguistically in relation to Berber, the Nubian language is as strange as the Chadic or the Cuchitic languages.....your model can not work , because, its most important ingredient (the language) is lacking ...Berber or anything close to it , was never spoken in Nubia....

    1. I know that Nubian is not Afroasiatic (Nilo-Saharan instead) but also that Egyptian and many other languages of the Nile area are Afroasiatic and that the distribution of both families is pretty much patchy and, I'd dare say, has probably changed somewhat in the last millennia.


      Probably both Afroasiatic and Nilo-Saharan coalesced in the Nile basin but, I guess, in different geographies. Without being able to determine the exact geographies of such formations, I guess that Afroasiatic had a more NE core area (Blue Nile?) while Nilo-Saharan one more to the SW (White Nile?) It is probable that the expansions of both families in the central Sahel are related, although otherwise AA seems to have expanded more dynamically northwards and NS southwards.

      I can't judge whether the Nubian linguistic family expanded northwards in one of the various cultural changes that the region experienced in late Prehistory but I guess that it is plausible and that originally an Afroasiatic language was spoken there instead.

  7. it was M-81 haplogroup all along...and lets leave it there..

    1. Not sure what you mean. E-M81 is clearly exclusive of NW Africa (and some spillover to West Iberia) and in my understanding it must have been there for quite a long time.

      Initially I thought it arrived with mtDNA U6 and the supposed North African Aurignacoid wave but there is no trace of this wave in the archaeological record other than the Dabban industries of Cyrenaica, way to the East, while Aterian persisted instead. So I can't really explain it but IMO it is pre-Capsian and also should not have arrived from Europe nor can be as old as Aterian, so... open ending mystery here.

      For me it would be a lot simpler if an Aurignacoid or LSA-like wave would have arrived to NW Africa, carrying both E1b-M81 and mtDNA U6 but there is no archaeological evidence in support of that idea.

    2. Or are you suggesting that E-M81 arrived with Capsian. I really don't understand what you are implying.

  8. I meant that Berber languages originated with the M-81..the Capsian Neolithics were linguistically assimilated , like any newcomers before or after them...Northwest Africa is where Berber languages originated and evolved...the one thing that the Afro-asiatic languages have in common , is their old relation to the early dispersal of the E1B1 haplogroup....their linguistic split must be very old,each language group evolved separately in its own corner..

    1. I see what you mean now but, in my humble opinion, it is not tool likely: new immigrant layers with this kind of major impact almost necessarily impose their language and culture.

      Also if Berber would be so old in NW Africa, it would be a practical impossibility to recognize it as Afroasiatic or in any other wider family: it would be an isolated family.

      There were probably two or more pre-Berber layers in NW Africa.

    2. I think it would be reasonable to say that Berber originated and evolved in NW Africa or thereabouts. It's Afroasiatic ancestors did not.

  9. "There were probably two or more pre-Berber layers in NW Africa."
    Berber could well be a fusion between the pre-existing Aterian languages and the Eurasian back to Africa migrants (E1B1) is that African autochthonous linguistic layer , the prolonged isolation and local evolution(s) that contributed to the creation of the Afro-Asiatic "hybrid" languages....the same hybridization processes may have happened with the IE languages and others..

    1. What exactly is a fusion? English for instance has only ~25% Anglosaxon vocabulary but this one is central, including the most common words, as well as the grammar. It has >50% of Latin-derived vocabulary (mostly via French or directly from Latin) but it is clearly not a Romance language.

      Is that what you have in mind?

  10. I have no particular interest in European languages , but , whatever I have in mind is way better that your wild speculation about the spread of the Berber languages from an area that was never "the autochthonous home" of Tamazight..
    there is not a trace or a shred of evidence that the Afro-Asiatic languages originated in Nubia some 10 ky ago...
    where is your proof ?

    1. "I have no particular interest in European languages"...

      Languages are languages and the examples above were mentioned for comparison purposes. Another well known non-European example of similar "ambiguous" nature as English is Brahui, whose vocabulary is only ~15% Dravidian (lots of IE influences) but is still recognizable as such Dravidian language because of its core features. Berber languages themselves have lots of Arabic (and seemingly also Latin) loans.

      I'm just trying to figure out what you might mean for a "hybrid" language because, even if vocabulary admixture is common, essential features usually fall to this or that family. I guess that there may be more complex cases but you are not exposing your claims in any way I can understand, really.

      "there is not a trace or a shred of evidence that the Afro-Asiatic languages originated in Nubia some 10 ky ago..."

      Actually, judging on top-level diversity, AA languages are probably from further South than the modern region of Nubia, in the Sudan-Ethiopia area. That is also the area of origin of E-M78, while the African branch of J1 seems quite older and more diverse over the Nile than in NW Africa as well.

      What originated in Nubia/Egypt was the Northern branch of AA languages most likely, i.e. Egyptian, Semitic and Berber. Ancient Egyptian (and its modern derivate: Coptic) would be the branch that remained at home, so to say, while Semitic coalesced in the Meso-/Neolithic Levant (via Harifian and the Circum-Arabian Pastoralist Complex) and proto-Berber did the same in NW Africa.

      "where is your proof ?"

      I do not have a time machine to go back in time and check but, barring this impossible definitive evidence, all the available evidence points to that Sudan-Ethiopia area for the origin of Afroasiatic and the E1b-M78 expansion, and for what I understand also for the expansion of the African branch of J1.

      Another piece of indirect evidence is that NW African mtDNA of SW European origin (25% only counting H, 30% counting also V, etc.) does not have a correlate of SW European Y-DNA but at very low frequencies, strongly suggesting that a sex-biased partial replacement took place after the European wave, which should be identified with Oranian/Iberomaurusian.

      It is a narrative frame that fits well with almost all the data, the more difficult to discern are Y-DNA E-M81 and mtDNA U6, which may still be tentatively attributed to some mystery flow from West Asia/Egypt in the Early UP (but which lacks archaeological evidence so far).

      What do you have as evidence for your claims?


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