September 23, 2015

Negligible genetic flow in Slavic expansion to the Balcans

A new genetic study comes to confirm what most of us already knew: that Southern Slavs don't show any significant signature of immigration from the core Slavic area North and NE of the Carpathian Mountains that can be attributed to the so-called Slavic migrations of the Dark Age.

Alena Kushniarevich et al., Genetic Heritage of the Balto-Slavic Speaking Populations: A Synthesis of Autosomal, Mitochondrial and Y-Chromosomal Data. PLoS ONE 2015. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135820]


The Slavic branch of the Balto-Slavic sub-family of Indo-European languages underwent rapid divergence as a result of the spatial expansion of its speakers from Central-East Europe, in early medieval times. This expansion–mainly to East Europe and the northern Balkans–resulted in the incorporation of genetic components from numerous autochthonous populations into the Slavic gene pools. Here, we characterize genetic variation in all extant ethnic groups speaking Balto-Slavic languages by analyzing mitochondrial DNA (n = 6,876), Y-chromosomes (n = 6,079) and genome-wide SNP profiles (n = 296), within the context of other European populations. We also reassess the phylogeny of Slavic languages within the Balto-Slavic branch of Indo-European. We find that genetic distances among Balto-Slavic populations, based on autosomal and Y-chromosomal loci, show a high correlation (0.9) both with each other and with geography, but a slightly lower correlation (0.7) with mitochondrial DNA and linguistic affiliation. The data suggest that genetic diversity of the present-day Slavs was predominantly shaped in situ, and we detect two different substrata: ‘central-east European’ for West and East Slavs, and ‘south-east European’ for South Slavs. A pattern of distribution of segments identical by descent between groups of East-West and South Slavs suggests shared ancestry or a modest gene flow between those two groups, which might derive from the historic spread of Slavic people.

This is most evident in the identity-by-descent (IBD) analysis:

Fig 4. Distribution of the average number of IBD segments between groups of East-West Slavs (a), South Slavs (b), and their respective geographic neighbors.
The x-axis indicates ten classes of IBD segment length (in cM); the y-axis indicates the average number of shared IBD segments per pair of individuals within each length class.

For non-acquainted: shorter segments (left) indicates older relatedness, now very fragmented by repeated chromosome recombination, while longer segments (right) indicate more recent one, which had less time to be chopped into pieces.

The authors explain:
The presence of two distinct genetic substrata in the genomes of East-West and South Slavs would imply cultural assimilation of indigenous populations by bearers of Slavic languages as a major mechanism of the spread of Slavic languages to the Balkan Peninsula. Yet, it is worthwhile to add here evidence from the analysis of IBD segments: the majority of Slavs from Central-East Europe (West and East) share as many IBD segments with the South Slavs in the Balkan Peninsula as they share with non-Slavic populations residing nowadays between Slavs (Fig 4A and 4B; Table G in S1 File). This even mode of IBD sharing might suggest shared ancestry/gene flow across the wide area and physical boundaries such as the Carpathian Mountains, including the present-day Finno-Ugric-speaking Hungarians, Romance-speaking Romanians and Turkic-speaking Gagauz. A slight peak at 2–3 cM in the distribution of shared IBD segments between East-West and South Slavs (Fig 4A and 4B) might hint at shared “Slavonic-time” ancestry, but this question requires further investigation.

Another graph of interest is surely the Principal Component Analyses of the three types of genetic markers:

Fig 2. Genetic structure of the Balto-Slavic populations within a European context according to the three genetic systems.
a) PC1vsPC3 plot based on autosomal SNPs (PC1 = 0.53; PC3 = 0.26); b) MDS based on NRY data (stress = 0.13); c) MDS based on mtDNA data (stress = 0.20). We focus on PC1vsPC3 because PC2 (S1 Fig) whilst differentiating the Volga region populations from the rest of Europeans had a low efficiency in detecting differences among the Balto-Slavic populations–the primary focus of this work.

In the mtDNA graph (c) it is hard to discern any pattern, as the various studied populations seems to form rings of eccentricity around the Balcans, probably because no Western Europeans are present in this particular PCA. 

However in the autosomal (a) and Y-DNA (b) figures more defined patterns do emerge. Quite apparently in all three graphs, South Slavs appear as strictly Balcanic. 

More interesting is probably the relative position of Russian and Baltic speakers: the first showing very notable diversity almost representative of the whole East European region and again indicative of assimilation rather than replacement being the main drive in Russian ethnic expansion, at least in the North. 

Balto-Slavic peoples appear intermediate between Russians and Finns (and overlapping Estonians) in the Y-DNA graph and somewhat extreme in the autosomal graph, something that comes as no surprise, as they seem the best preserved vessel of Eastern Paleoeuropeans. Curiously a few Sorbian individuals also tend to that same extreme, what may well be a reason to increase interest on the study of this forgotten and neglected Slavic minority of Eastern Germany. Their Y-DNA is, also intriguingly, most similar to that of Swedes, rather than to their geographic neighbors or ethno-linguistic relatives.

Other Western Slavs, form two clear distinct sub-clusters: with Czechs being notably more Western than Poles and Slovaks, who tend to cluster with mainline Russians and Ukrainians instead. One can of course think that this Polish-Slovak-Ukranian-Russian cluster could be the demic or genetic core of the Slavic cluster. However I can't but wonder how much of that clustering, as well as the differences shown by Czechs and Sorbians should be attributed to older periods like those of Corded Ware Culture, Eastern Bell Beaker, etc.


  1. This study didn't have any samples from the ethnic Polish core (Greater Poland in West-Central Poland).

    The only western Polish sample is from Wroclaw, which was mostly settled by migrants what is now western Ukraine after WWII. Other Polish samples are from Warsaw, which is actually in what was originally Masovia, and even Estonia, which was a Polish colony a couple of hundred years ago. Yes, they actually used people from the Polish diaspora in Estonia, where there was a lot of mixing between Poles, Estonians and Russians.

    So I don't really know what this paper says about Poland's genetic structure? Probably not much.

    1. Fair enough, David. Still the overall study is rather informative, right?

    2. Anyway it seems a bit far fetched that you say that Estonia "was a Polish colony a couple of hundred years ago". Even at the maximum extent of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth only southern Estonia was incorporated to it, and I doubt there was any time for Polish genetic mingling. Another thing may be the Teutonic Order, whose hold in the region was much longer and violent.

    3. Well, just checked and even the Teutonic Order never held control of Northern Estonia, which was all the time under Danish control, later Swedish. However they did initially control Western Estonia but this part went to Denmark first and later to Sweden before Livonia went to Poland-Lithuania. Livonia was all the time a Finnic speaking country in any case, except for the aristocrats, who surely spoke German first and Polish later on.

      Also the dates are from the 16th and 17th, century, so not 200 years but rather 400 (most of Livonia went to Sweden in 1629).


    above is the Only Estonian paper I found.

    but I was also given these Ydna numbers from elswhere:
    Y-DNA (paternal) haplogroup among Estonian men is N, found among 34 percent of those tested, followed by R1a, found in about 32 percent.
    I1 is found in 15%,
    R1b in 8%,
    T in 3.5%,
    I2* and/or I2a in 3%,
    E1b1b in 2.5%,
    J2 in 1%,
    I2b in 0.5%,
    and Q in 0.5%.

    I don't think any reference to Poles from Estonia makes sense.........not even Poles from old-prussia

  3. héy! Luis
    this is a new Genetic study about Algeria
    can you analyze this data ?


  4. hey Luis !! pls chek this new study

    Genetic Heterogeneity in Algerian Human Populations


    1. Will do... or die trying. (That's the attitude, right?)

      Looks rather interesting: first Algeria-specific study I recall, X chromosome side by side with autosomal data. Yeah, that's my thing. Thank you, Amin.

    2. Oops, Tamin. (Just woke up and a bit sleepy, sorry).

  5. I really wonder who could have seriously thought that south Slavs trace their genetical origin to the early medieval slavic expansion... If we go by looks alone they are nothing alike and to say that I2a in the dinaric region is the result of a recent founder effect is pretty unfounded I'd say.

    1. @Squad: Oddly enough there is people saying that around the web, based on alleged low diversity of Dinaric I2a. However, if there's something real about that, it is almost certainly much older than Slavic, either Kurgan or even older (for example Eastern Epigravettian flows, which are clearly documented in Romania and probably also correspond with Lepenski Vir, whose anthropometry seems eastern).

    2. Of course it's much older than what they're saying as this haplogroup is clearly centered in Herzegovina and fades away as one moves away from there, and is also very frequent in non-slavic nations of southeastern Europe. So it appears to have expanded from the very nucleus of the dinaric alps. Note that the exact same thing is observed for stature, which, in Europe, peaks in Herzegovina.

    3. In Herzegovina? I know that Croats are quite tall, but my data suggests that the absolute peak of height it Europe is in the Netherlands, both for men and women.


      The data includes Bosnia-Herzegovina but no regional data within it (goes by states, except in Britain).

      Notice that North Slavs (Poles, Slovaks) are not noticeably tall (rather average), and while some South Slavs (Slovenes, Croats) are clearly in the tallest segment, others (Bulgarians) are in the shortest one.

    4. Stature is very difficult to compare so we must use calibration points from historical data. Netherlands's apparent high stature is the product of multiple generations of secular trend, while balkanic countries just started to increase. And of course, stature is highly influenced by nutrition and I reckon animal proteins are known to have a high correlation with an increased stature, and the Dutch are a dairy-based nation with also a heavy meat component. Using historical data shows that Dutch would, in terms of optimal stature, not be significantly taller than their Neighbors. Plus Herzegovinians are already taller than the Dutch, as they would average about 187.2 cm, that's according to a study about 17 years old herzegovinians Young men, to which I added 2cm for unfinished growth (using some other data, I've observed that at 17 years of age, an european male would grow on average by 2cm and not by 1cm like the study itself added).

    5. My personal experience from Croatia is that they basically eat sausages and cheese, so they are not in the protein-low section, unless in times or economic hardship maybe. Another very different thing could be Sicilians and their vegetarian pasta dishes.

      Something you mention that would be nice to study, but difficult to, is growth with age. For example my family (not Basques in general) is characterized by almost stopping growth at the age of 14. I have only growth a centimeter since then (noticed in my late 20s) and my siblings and my father's record is totally within these parameters. So I used to be taller than average when kid but just average now (this is the same for some of my relatives, or average when kids and short as adults for others). This looks genetic to me.

      On the other hand I know of populations like Galicians, who used to be very short but now are in the tall end, at least for the Iberian average. And in this case nutrition seems to be key (Basque nutrition hasn't varied that much but Galicia used to be a very poor country).

    6. But Croatia's milk and meat consumption is still significantly lower than that of the Dutch and they're at the same height. Furthermore, the Netherlands is a top tier nation and they have been growing (not just in stature) for the last 150 years or so while Croatia's case is very different. And the dutch milk consumption per capita is much higher than that of neighboring countries (Germany, England, Belgium, Denmark, France), which would partly explain the height differences. Then we have prenatal and postnatal care, for which the Dutch are known to handle really well... Anyway, Croatia is not Herzegovina, and the thing that brought us to this whole discussion is I2a in the first place and what I wanted to say is that as you move out of Herzegovina into near areas, stature decreases as sharply as I2a's frequency, hinting that the haplogroup truly represents some ancient population layer. With 187.2cm while still being poor (for european standards of course) and just starting its secular trend, Herzegovina is truly the tallest area of Europe in terms of potential height, by far. Infact, they're one of the tallest populations on Earth, being exceeded only by some (rather many) african populations. And call it a coincidence if you want, but these guys have the highest haplogroup I frequency in Europe, at about 75%.

      For growth with age, the added values for unfinished growth is based on averages of representative sample sizes. An European (and I put emphasis on ''European'' because some populations, like Negroes for instance, hit puberty earlier and thus finish their growth earlier) 14 years old boy has about 15cm to go on average, but since the standard deviation (SD) decreases as you move toward adulthood, it means that on average already tall kids would grow less than the short ones, although I doubt you had grown only by 1cm since you're 14.

      And hmm, Galicians still seem to be shorter than other Iberians to me, in fact I'd say them and the balearic Islanders are the shortest. The tallest have to be the Canarians.
      One thing I'd like to clarify is that Iberians's alleged shortness relative to other Europeans is exaggerated. In fact, I have estimated that their average optimal height would slightly exceed that of the French and possibly even that of the british Isles.

    7. Ah and yeah, for Sicilians, they also would not be significantly shorter than the rest. So really, this ''northern Europe is taller than southern Europe'' thing is unfounded at best. If anything, they would be only slightly taller if at all...

    8. I cannot provide a source but from memory young Galicians were already a decade ago the tallest of Spain, however older people may be biasing the average in your source or maybe my original (now forgotten source) was wrong.

      I've been looking for references and all I found were general all-Spain ones, all of which confirm massive growth in the last century (men: +11 cm, women: +8 cm). Curiously there is a long period of weak growth between the 1920s and 1950s, more marked for women than for men. And then again a short one around 1970 (and since 2006 again, according to some sources). Main ref[es]:

      Another study shows that height growth in Britain, France and Sweden (but not in the Netherlands) got stagnated in the 1960s. Ref.[es]:

      I have also found some newspaper refs. confirming the Dynaric Alps as the tallest region of Europe (and not surprised at all, that Goran guy from Mostar was truly tall).

    9. I would really be surprised if the Galicians are the tallest in Spain, because I'm pretty sure they're one of the shortest, and I'm only talking about young people.

      I'm also pretty sure that Spain, France and England all have a few more to go given their lower dairy consumption (in fact Spaniards consume on average almost two times less milk than the Dutch) as well as their overall hardest condition during the last two centuries. Like I said, don't be surprised if Spaniards end up being taller than these two populations, a thing that's probably the result of north african admixture. As for the Dutch, they are now known to have halted their trend, as confirmed by two studies done at a 13 years gap (if I recall correctly, one in 1997 and one in 2010).

      Yeah, and the dinaric people are still growing and I bet Herzegovinians could potentially hit as high as 193cm or even 195cm!

  6. That Balto-Slavic study was strongly criticized on the Russian forums as low quality study which is about nothing. It seems that authors are stuck in 5-10 year old paradigms. Actually they didn't even use some aDNA to compare the pre-Russian population with modern Russians in East Europe.
    Everybody can check this by comparing the Scythian sample from the Mathieson et al. with modern Russians that live there.

    1. And which is the result re. the Scythian/Russian comparison? Anyhow notice that Mathieson et al. was still unpublished when this paper got out.

      There are two key points in my understanding, as underlined in the main text: (1) South Slavs are close to non-Slavic neighbors and relatively distant from West/East Slavs and (2) North Russians are genetically Uralic. Nothing of this is really new but I fail to see how it may be considered wrong.

  7. I don't understand how they make two distinct groups if we look at autosomal it seems Czechs and Slovaks are genetically closer to Croatians and Slovenes rather than poles and Ukrainians. Something I don't exactly think is true. Also I don't understand how Czech y DNA clusters so close to german when percentages of R1a in those countries is significantly different...something's are just puzzeling to me

    1. It is autosomal DNA what you complain about and, instead, it is Y-DNA what you use as argument. In the Y-DNA graph (B) the populations do behave as you say, but in the autosomal plot (A) they do not, so there is quite apparently a contrast. This may well be because Poland is basically part of the North European plain, more exposed to interaction with Eastern Europe, etc., while the old Czechoslovakia is more secluded instead, largely part of the Mid-Danube basin (Bohemia is not but it has a very especial geography of its own). It is not just South Slavs they cluster with but also non-slavic populations of the same geography, like Hungarians and Romanians, with a general tendency towards Southern and Western Europe.

    2. A possible, improvised, interpretation would be that Poland was intensely colonized by early Indoeuropeans from Eastern Europe and then Russia, etc. was back-colonized from Poland with the Corded Ware expansion. Corded Ware did not affect any of the areas south of the Carpathians (Bohemia did but only in the final Westward expansion), but this one was the area occupied by Vucedol culture, which is clearly intrusive but more suddenly so and not exactly the same thing. So probably, while some areas within Vucedol or Western Corded Ware got a huge input of Indoeuropean males, they may have retained a much larger fraction of pre-IE females, what would be congruent with graph C (mtDNA), where the populations you mention do again cluster together (plus some Polish subpops. too).

  8. This would seem (I think) to make significant Slavic Admixture in (certain regional subgroups of) Greeks (more southern still than Balkan "Slavs") even less likely (or at least substantially lower than thought).

    1. Indeed. If the "true slavic" ancestry in South Slavs is negligible, the same applies for Greeks, etc.

  9. What about the Avar and Alan admixture in Croatia? Remember that Hungarians ruled over Croatians for a thousand years.

    1. Based on what data? If such semi-mythical origins are undetectable in Hungarians, why would they be in Croats? It's a bit like looking for the signature of the Visigoths or the Moors in Spain: not at all easy to find. There may be something but it's so tiny an subtle that we can really ignore it altogether for most purposes.

    2. Hi Maju: I followed your chat about Croatians. In the matter of size, I can assure you, there is nothing like that in Western Europe. Girls reach 1.80 easily, and men fluctuate between 1.85 and 1.95 with a very well developed muscular structure and a very heavy bone structure that makes them natural athletes.
      They grow rather late, usually being smaller than Spaniards until sixteen when they start growing.
      Usually they are blonds, but have brown eyes and the skin color is slightly yellowish. They have hairy bodies and faces with high cheek bones, cut in a peculiar way, that gives them a sort of fierce look. The brow is broad and slightly in angle. If you look at the picture of Marechal Tito you will see a good example of the face. Some of them have square faces, like some Russians with small noses, but there are also aquiline noses.
      Actually there is a theory about the origins of the Croatians or HRVT, as a tribe of Iranian origin that migrated to west acquiring a Slavic language. There are words and folk traditions that can be identify in this way. For example the word for God is Bog, the name of HVAR, the island in the Adriatic Coast, is Sun and their own name HRVTI is related to a Persian divinity.
      Perhaps an oriental horde composed by Yaziges (Alans) Avars and Goths, the common mixture of the steppes dominated the Romanized Tracians and Illyrians in different waves. The regular history says that the Slavic speaking Hrvati , a supposedly pacific people that was enslaved by Avars with whom they mixed, infiltrated the territories of Illyria actually known as Croatia and occupied the coast and the islands, and were ruled by a Magyar aristocracy since the year 1000 until 1917, when the Kingdom of Yugoslavija was born.
      According to the cluster, Croatians share genes with their neighbors, and not exactly with north slavs and this information confirms the fact that they only share a language, and this fact is not contradictory with the history. They share genes with the Bulgars, that is a turquic people that was slavizased, and the Romanians were the Goths remained for a while and perhaps for more than a while. And about Hungary according to its history, from the year 1000, their kings brought people from different places in Europe in order to civilize the country, in a way that the peasants descend from the ancestral settlers, the urban population was mostly Jewish, German, French, Italian ,Serb and Greek, Armenian and the aristocracy was Magyar, German and Jewish. All of them turned their original last names to Magyar sounding last names during de 19 century. And this fact confuses all the samples, because last names mean nothing there.
      Sometimes history helps to understand.
      Eskarrik asko eta ondo bizi.

    3. It is true that Croatians and other West Balcan peoples are quite tall. But that seems to be part of a wider European pattern that has nothing to do with Slavs. See this entry:


      Most people doesn't seem to know that Greeks are quite tall, while Brits or Finns are rather short instead. Poles, who might be identified (at least for the data I managed in that entry, which did not include Ucranians) with proto-Slavs are quite average in size for both genders.

      There seems to be a V-shaped or rhombe-shaped area of tallness in Europe between the Netherlands and Lithuania (but with Poles as exception) and with a less well defined southern vortex, which can be placed either in the Adriatic or in Greece (where women are in the tallest third, although men are rather average). From experience Serbs and often Romanians too are also quite tall but their data is not in that set, Bulgarians instead are the shortest of my sample for both genders, if we exclude Turks.

      If we exclude Bulgaria and Turkey, the shortest men seem to have a southern tendency (Spain and Greece are exceptional in this somewhat, and even more so Croatia and Slovenia) BUT the shortest women are to the North: in Britain and Finland. So overall there is a tendency to relative shortness outside the V-shaped region I mentioned before. It has no obvious relation with any macro-ethnic or (paleo-)historical setting I can think of: height just peaks around Germany but not in any too simple or obvious pattern.

    4. "They grow rather late, usually being smaller than Spaniards until sixteen when they start growing".

      That's an interesting issue and it may be largely genetic, but ill-studied, AFAIK. In my family, for instance, we seem to almost stop growing around 14 y.o., so for example I was in the tall group when I was a kid but now I'm average.

      "Usually they are blonds, but have brown eyes and the skin color is slightly yellowish".

      I've met many black haired Croats and Bosnians. The "yellowish" (vs. "reddish") skin color seems to have a very patchy non-structure in Europe (I made some self-research years ago and could not draw any conclusion) and should be related genetically to red-hair genetics, which also regulate pheomelanin (the red pigment) in the skin (I did spot "reddish" skin phenotype in areas where red hair is common, typically NW Europe: Scotland, Ireland, NW Germany, but very patchy at a continental scale anyhow). I'm telling from memory because I've lost the data but I can tell you that there is no obvious geographic pattern of red-yellow skin color tendency.

      "... and faces with high cheek bones, cut in a peculiar way, that gives them a sort of fierce look. The brow is broad and slightly in angle. If you look at the picture of Marechal Tito you will see a good example of the face".

      I think I know what you mean: it's not universal at all but it is a very typical Balcanic face, which I mostly associate with Romanians ironically (at least one of my Romanian neighbors, a woman, has it). The most characteristic version is broad-faced and robust but the traits are also found in more narrow-faced "Dinarid" types, more "gracile", often (the other Romanian neighbor I have, for example). I think this is a very typical Balcanic kind of face, although not the only one. And, within the Balcans, it may be more common towards the North.

      "Actually there is a theory about the origins of the Croatians or HRVT, as a tribe of Iranian origin that migrated to west acquiring a Slavic language".

      Call it a neomyth. There is no evidence for such origins in genetics or any other evidence. Iranians proper do not show any of the traits you have mentioned (and anyhow they seem to be pretty much local West Asian aborigines based on genetics).

      "... their own name HRVTI is related to a Persian divinity".

      I guess you mean VRITRA, which is in fact an Indian god, and a pre-IE one judging on the fact that is a dragon or serpent. It's probably just a coincidence of sound (which are much more common than most people realize).

      Said that there was almost for sure many interactions between Indo-Iranians and Balto-Slavs in Eastern Europe, what resulted for example in the satem trait and other cultural elements. But I don't think we can overestimate their impact. In almost all linguistic trees Balto-Slavic is part of a Western Indoeuropean grouping, which also includes Germanic (sometimes associated to Albanian/Illyrian), Celtic and Italic (sometimes Italo-Celtic), which is probably a clade that formed with the Corded Ware expansion.


    5. ...

      "According to the cluster, Croatians share genes with their neighbors, and not exactly with north slavs and this information confirms the fact that they only share a language, and this fact is not contradictory with the history. They share genes with the Bulgars, that is a turquic people that was slavizased, and the Romanians were the Goths remained for a while and perhaps for more than a while".

      This is a very Nordicist interpretation of reality. Goths probably did not leave any significant genetic legacy, being as they were a conqueror elite. The Bulgarians are mostly a deeply rooted Balcanic people. They surely have some steppe element but from Ezero/Thracians mostly however and saying that they were "Turkic" just because ancient Bulgar elites probably were (a Hunnic offshoot surely) is as meaningless and fantasious as imagining that the Franks shaped the genetics of France or the Visigoths those of Iberia. The very fact that they had to abandon their Turkic language in favor of a Slavic one clearly indicates that, even within the conqueror elites, Slavs were dominant in numbers by a lot.

      But Slavs characterized themselves for being very inclusive of other peoples, which seems to have been their key to success, in almost a Roman/Latin way: expansion by assimilation. Actually I'd say this is pretty much applicable to every ethnic success: assimilation and mestizaje wins, apartheid and segregation fails. Of course you also need to win in the battlefield, but for that you need troops and supplies and some loyalty from the peasants themselves (>90% of the population before the Industrial Revolution), so assimilating the conquered ones, rather than feeding their hatred via segregation and meaningless genocide is what works. And, for what we know, Slavs were very good at that integrative way of expansion - nothing to do with the recent genocides.

      "Eskarrik asko eta ondo bizi."

      I see that you have learned some Basque. It's "ondo izan" (be well) but otherwise it is perfect. Congratulations.

      Sadly I have forgotten almost all my Serbocroat by now. All I remember is "jedam pivo" and "nasdravia" (although this one is probably rather Serbian than Croat). XD

  10. Mother in croatian is MAJKO and I don´t recalled to have been taught of anything by Moscow.

  11. What he/she means is that pan-Slavism was an ideology exploited by Russia, which tried to play the role of "paladin" of Slavic peoples, which in that time were often subjugated to other nations, including Russia itself but otherwise non-Slavic: Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Some of that still remains for example in the special relation between Serbia and Russia. And while other "Slavists" may not be sympathetic to Russia, the core corpus of beliefs is the same: one macro-nation expanding from a single urheimat, something that is probably real at the ethno-linguistic level but no at all at the deeper genetic level instead.

  12. Yeah, I know. But I am not a pan slavic fun, or anythig of the sort and my observations are personal, not from the books. I have two sons and a daughter that are half croats, and lots of in-laws from the island of Brac.
    What is your genetic conclusion about south slavs, besides the fact they are no specially related with north-east or west slavs?
    By the way, you know that Montenegro´s name, where according the Balkan tradition are the tallest people, is Crna Gora, that means Black Mountain.
    You know "mountain, altitude, high",came to my mind when I was going to say farewell in your "Gora Euskadi"

    1. I don't have a complete opinion on the origin of South Slavs or more in general Balcanic peoples (where the genetic differences between language areas are not really meaningful, at least in most cases). My old understanding is that they are probably descendants, mainly, of Neolithic peoples, what would explain why patrilineages E1b (Albanians and Greeks notably) and I2 (Serbo-Croats particularly) expanded with Cardium Pottery Neolithic in Westward direction (with a close relative dominant in Sardinia and offshoots around the Pyrenees). However the issue of I2 is very complex and I don't have an up-to-date opinion right now, but my default hypothesis is that it expanded from Ukraine (where it seems most diverse) to the Balcans in the Epipaleolithic and was picked up by the Early European Farmers, particularly in their maritime/southern route.

      About "gora" (mountain) and "gore" (up, upwards), these are words that truly startled me when I visited the recently broken up Yugoslavia in the early 90s. I remember that we made jokes about how "innegotiable" those countries were as "part of the greater Basque Country" each time we found a toponym or word that sounded Vasconic, be it in Italy or in the Balcans. However the words have troubled me since then: "gora" is pan-slavic, hence it should have been picked further north, maybe when the Indoeuropeans invaded Central Europe (previously Danubian Neolithic and such, which may well have been Vasconic speakers), plausibly at the Carpathian mountains. However "gore" (up, upwards) is exclusively Serbo-Croat and means exactly the same as Basque "gora".

      The question is that the word looks like having a Basque etymology: goi-ra, where goi=up, high, and -ra=to, towards. Other common declensions of goi are goien (highest), goiko (from the high) goia (the high [place], cf. Goya the painter, who had Basque ancestry), goiri (high or upper town), etc. So IMO "gore" is a Vasconic remnant, probably picked by Indoeuropeans in the context of the Vucedol culture and retained to this day. There are surely others but I don't know that much about your country and region. In any case the Ibar river in Kosovo is one of those toponyms that have no other reasonable explanation (ibar = river bank, sometimes valley, compare with Iber-us → Ebro, Tiber ← t-Iber? and Hevros, Greek name of the Maritza). Ibar has again a very clear Basque etymology: ibai = river, ibi = ford, in Aragon ibon = mountain lake, so speculatively *ib- = river or fresh water body).

      As for Montenegro having the tallest people, maybe, but don't tell that to my friend Stasha Zajovic, because she's quite petite. There's always an exception, you know. :)

  13. An old joke from Tito´s times said that the inhabitants from Montenegro were the tallest because there neck grew longer looking to Belgrade expecting to find a suitable job in the government.
    I have another question for you. In euskera, the word "zuri" means "white.
    I read that "surya" in Vedic has something to do with the light of the sun
    And "argi", light , reminds me the root of "argentun".

    1. The argi - argos/argyros/argentum relation is already in my mind: ἀργός means "white" in Greek, from which ἄργυρος and Lat. argentum, both meaning "silver". They seem to have several Indoeuropean cognates, not just in Celtic (which might be influenced by Vasconic) but also in Indo-Iranian, so, of there is a relation, it's probably between proto-Vasconic and proto-IE, of which there are many. On the other hand English "silver" is almost certainly from Vasconic, cf. Basque "zilar" and Iberian "seldar", again not the only likely such Vasconic word, but in this case it should be from substrate.

      As for "zuri", I'm generally of the opinion that it is related to "zur" (wood), i.e. it would be "the color of wood", which is normally creamy whiteish, or maybe from "hezur" (bone, possibly related somehow to Gr. ὀστέον and Lat. "os", again possibly via proto-IE because there are Indo-Aryan cognates). The ancient Basque color system probably only included four colors:
      → zuri: white
      → bel(tz): black; rel. bele: crow, raven.
      → urdin: blue-green-grey (today just "blue"); rel. ur: water (plausible original meaning: "watery", "water-like").
      → gorri: red-orange-brown, yellow even (today just "red"); rel. "gor": deaf, "gorbizi": irreducible, "gordin": raw, brutish, cruel. In this sense Dr. Roslyn Frank has argued that it is surely related to English "gore", meaning originally the idea of "raw meat/flesh", "bloody" maybe. So "gore" (Middle English: "gor", "gore", "gorre") would be yet another Vasconic substrate word in English (do not confuse with Serbo-Croat "gore", which as we just discussed is probably Vasconic but from a different root: goi, gora).

      Surya is clearly cognate of Lat. Sol and Germ. Sun, Iranian Xor and Greek Helios. It's an Indoeuropean word, whose reconstructed form was plausibly *sóh₂wl̥, so this one I'd say it's a false cognate, a mere coincidence.

  14. Thanks Maju for your answer. I have another question, the relation between Biotz (Heart) and Bios in Greek (Life) Both are very old and conservative words that are not easily changed or adopted from another language.
    Another aspect that I would like to exchange ideas is about the basque isolation in respect to the steppe invations Don't you think that the fact of Rh (-)could have produced a sort of cultural barrier that prevented marriages or interfere with more that one child?
    I am 0 Rh negative and I had to be treated with some drug because my second child was A Rh positive, and probably I could have had a reaction from the inmune system that could have prevented the success of future pregnancies.
    Sometimes biological facts are neglected, like the fact that neanderthal/sapiens mixed babies could have not been able to be born from sapiens mothers, because the size of the head or the shoulders.
    In my croatian in law family there was a case of a brother in law married with a non croatian lady, that one of the siblings had a very difficult birth that caused him a life damage due to the fact that the head and shoulders could not go through the birth channel. That's why I mentioned the size of the croatians in relation with the size of the iberians.
    So biology could have prevented the natural tendency of humans to mingle in old times.
    Now, there are all kind of facilities, but until the twenty century the rate of mortality in child birth was enormous.

    1. "relation between Biotz (Heart) and Bios in Greek (Life)"

      Good one! There's also "bizi" (life / to live), which is surely cognate of "bi(h)otz". I would indeed agree that "bios" looks Vasconic.

      Another interesting ones may be:

      oikos/ekos (house) - etxe (house)
      oxi (no) - ez (no) - Greek's negative and affirmative particle are very much against the Indoeuropean rule, the affirmative one (yes) being "ne", which is "no" in Slavic and close to the "no" word in other IE languages as well.

      "Don't you think that the fact of Rh (-)could have produced a sort of cultural barrier that prevented marriages or interfere with more that one child?"

      The effect is very minor: only 13% of all Rh+ children from Rh- mothers (and never the first one) is affected. It could act as a very lesser barrier against "pure" Rh+ men having children with Rh- women, but the effect is too small to matter.

      Also Basques are just like 25% Rh- (approx., can't recall exact figure), highest on Earth but still a minority.

    2. Thinking a bit more on the bios-bizi-bihotz (sometimes boz, from which: poz: happiness) issue.

      I understand that the Greek word "bios", can be scrapped of at least the -s ending, and maybe the -os, because that's declension, like the Latin -us. So probably the root word is *bi-.

      That's exactly what we seem to find in Basque, where bizi can be "butchered" as: "bi-iz-i", where bi- is the root just mentioned, iz- is the root of izan (to be, i.e. na-iz: I am, etc.) and -i is a verbal infinitive ending (-i, -n or -tu). Bihotz is unclear what it means, but I will guess here that it was originally *bioz: bi-o-z = made of (-z) my (-o-) "bi". Note: the -o ending is or rather was proximate, today it's only used in plural: biok (we two, bi = 2), lagunok (the friends, I included), euskaldunok (we the Basque people) but can also be used in the sense of "this we care about specially".

      This last is a bit conjectural but let's move on. What called my attention after thinking on all this is that "bi" is also, as you may have noticed above: "two" (and is probably at the root of Latin bi-, although some dispute it and argue it's a natural evolution of "duos", p.e. duonus > bonus, duellum > bellum, but this could equally be blamed to Vasconic substrate influence). So is there a relationship between "*bi-" (life) and "bi" (two)? I'm going to throw a speculative thought here: there is.

      The reasoning would be that the ancient neolithic religion or cosmology implied a pair of gods (yin-yang style) bringing life to existence. In the preserved Basque mythology these are Mari (she) and Sugar/Sugoi/Maju (he), in Greek oldest cosmogony they could be Gaia and Eros, in Hindu basic layer they are Sakhti and Shiva and in Taoism they are the principles of Yin and Yang. At least the Basque and Indian versions are clearly fertility cults that idealize sex or certain type of sex at least, which the Dual God does and the mortals too. So there may well be a notion in which life (*bi-) and two (bi) are connected conceptually.

      And I leave, or live, it at that...

  15. Perhaps the root of Bihotz and some other words are as old as the Neolithic.....
    "However we do see a strong influence of Greek Neolithic and particularly the oldest sample, Rev5, in SW Europe, very especially among Basques, who seem to have only very minor Anatolian Neolithic ancestry, unlike everyone else relevant here".

    1. Basque is just the last survivor of a once much larger family, let's call it Vasconic (following Vennemann in the nomenclature although not necessarily in all the details of his theory), which included at least ancient Iberian and Paleo-Sardinian (and probably many others, based on substrate evidence like what Vennemann discusses or what we have commented here).

      So Sardinians have a different genetic makeup but linguistically they used to be cousins. Why? Because it's not a mere blanket and homogeneous replacement but rather a complex partial replacement, with waves forth and back at some moments and also many and diverse localized founder effects. A complex mosaic but with ultimately a single generic origin in the Aegean Neolithic, where the ancestor of those languages (proto-Vasconic) was once spoken.

      Mutatis mutandi is a bit like Latin America: Spanish or European ancestry varies a lot but Spanish (or the closely related Portuguese) dialects are spoken everywhere.

  16. Reading something about the Pelasgos, I found this quote:

    "Algunos investigadores georgianos (incluyendo a M. G. Tseretheli, R. V. Gordeziani, M. Abdushelishvili y Zviad Gamsakhurdia) relacionan el pelasgo con las culturas íberas-caucásicas del Cáucaso prehistóricos, que los griegos conocían como Cólquida."
    Perhaps this is the link between Eastern and Western Iberia that raises much curiosity. I followed a link to read about Colquida, and I found out that the capital was Ea and actually they have a ski resort called Gudauri. I have read that Ibero and Basque are somewhat related and share some vocabulary.
    Funny coincidences, with the river Iber in the Balkans, Ilion in Anatolia, the kingdom of Urartu between eastern Iberia and Anatolia
    There are footprints here and there of some relation lost in a sea of modern indoeuropean languages.

    1. IMO there's no reason at all to relate Caucasus with Basques, etc. In fact in all Europe-only PCAs they are exactly opposite at the 2nd dimension and in West Eursian PCAs this can be also appreciated although in a more oblique line.

      Caucaso-Iberianism is a compulsive-obsessive disorder of sorts. Some people display truly unhealthy obsession with the Caucasus that makes no sense to my mind.

      The name Iberia for the antique Caucasus country is not related in any way that we know to rivers. From Wikipedia:

      The provenance of the name "Iberia" is unclear. One theory on the etymology of the name Iberia, proposed by Giorgi Melikishvili, was that it was derived from the contemporary Armenian designation for Georgia, Virkʿ (Armenian: Վիրք, and Ivirkʿ [Իվիրք] and Iverkʿ [Իվերք]), which itself was connected to the word Sver (or Svir), the Kartvelian designation for Georgians. (...) According to another theory, it is derived from a Colchian word, "Imer", meaning "country on the other side of the mountain", that is of the Likhi Range, which divided Colchis and Iberia from each other.

  17. I would say better example would be about special relation between Russia and Ukraine. It's far more illustrative.


Please, be reasonably respectful when making comments. I do not tolerate in particular sexism, racism nor homophobia. Personal attacks, manipulation and trolling are also very much unwelcome here.The author reserves the right to delete any abusive comment.

Preliminary comment moderation is... ON (your comment may take some time, maybe days or weeks to appear).