I know, I know: I'm decaying into a total procrastinator. I don't have any excuse other than I don't feel like blogging as of late: neither on anthropology nor on politics. I rather feel like learning new stuff and playing, rather than writing and I lack of the structured environment to force myself to do otherwise than what I feel like most of the time. Being of compulsive temperament only worsens things.
I also know that this is not the proper way to start an article. Yes, I know. Do I even care?
So getting to mention now some of the stuff that I have not discussed in these last months and is definitely worth posting about. First of all this key study on more easterly Anatolian early farmers than those seen so far.
Intriguingly they are notoriously similar to those sequenced farther West (see here), what seems to support the model of Anatolian origin of European Neolithic peoples, largely ancestral to modern Europeans. However even Western Anatolian early farmers show already some extra admixture with the Paleoeuropean "WHG" component relative to their Southern Anatolian precursors. So, as the authors suggest, admixture between immigrant farmers and native foragers was a gradual and continuous process beginning in Asia Minor itself.
Gülşah Merve Kılınç, Ayça Omrak, Füsun Özer et al., The Demographic Development of the First Farmers in Anatolia. Current Biology 2016. Open access → LINK [doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.057]
The archaeological documentation of the development of sedentary farming societies in Anatolia is not yet mirrored by a genetic understanding of the human populations involved, in contrast to the spread of farming in Europe [ 1–3 ]. Sedentary farming communities emerged in parts of the Fertile Crescent during the tenth millennium and early ninth millennium calibrated (cal) BC and had appeared in central Anatolia by 8300 cal BC [ 4 ]. Farming spread into west Anatolia by the early seventh millennium cal BC and quasi-synchronously into Europe, although the timing and process of this movement remain unclear. Using genome sequence data that we generated from nine central Anatolian Neolithic individuals, we studied the transition period from early Aceramic (Pre-Pottery) to the later Pottery Neolithic, when farming expanded west of the Fertile Crescent. We find that genetic diversity in the earliest farmers was conspicuously low, on a par with European foraging groups. With the advent of the Pottery Neolithic, genetic variation within societies reached levels later found in early European farmers. Our results confirm that the earliest Neolithic central Anatolians belonged to the same gene pool as the first Neolithic migrants spreading into Europe. Further, genetic affinities between later Anatolian farmers and fourth to third millennium BC Chalcolithic south Europeans suggest an additional wave of Anatolian migrants, after the initial Neolithic spread but before the Yamnaya-related migrations. We propose that the earliest farming societies demographically resembled foragers and that only after regional gene flow and rising heterogeneity did the farming population expansions into Europe occur.
Maybe the most informative graph is this one (fig. 2):
|Genetic Structure and Diversity of Central Anatolian Neolithic Populations|
(A) PCA on contemporary west Eurasian populations onto which a total of 85 ancient individuals are projected from this study and previous studies. See Table S1 for number of SNPs per individual. Neighboring modern populations and ancient Anatolian populations are shown encircled. Modern population names are in italics.
Etc. (not so interested here in B, C and D, legend too long, check in the original paper)
Click to expand
It is interesting that, in spite of the Anatolian origin of this ancient ancestral population, they do not tend so much to modern Anatolian Turks but rather to Levant populations like Cypriots (closest ones), Lebanese, Palestinians, etc.
This is probably because, even if early Neolithic peoples of the Levant were not quite like them (see here again) they had become almost like them before the Bronze Age because of regional admixture, which I understand was mostly (but not only) north-to-south flow.
Notice that the Boncuklu (Bon) people had very low genetic diversity and they seem to be a dead end rather than directly ancestral. Instead, the Tepecik-Çiftilik (Tep) population seems a good proxy for the ancestors of Neolithic peoples of Western Anatolia and Europe.
When we think about South Anatolia Neolithic, we usually think first and foremost about the famous Çatalhöyük site. Well, this ancient settlement is in the area of Boncuklu (to the West, both are near Konya) rather than that of Tepecik-Çiftilik (to the East, near Niğde), so it is quite possible that it is another demographic dead end, related but not directly ancestral to mainline European Neolithic.
Personally I still think they could well have migrated at least partly by boat, along the southern Turkish coast but, until new data comes, I may need to alter my hypothesis of the ultimate origin being in the Northern Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus even) rather than Anatolia. These people of Tepecik-Çiftilik were, if not direct ancestors at least very closely related to the actual source population, which may well have lived closer to the coast in any case.
The newly sequenced South Anatolian farmers had some of the lineages that were later present in Hungary's and Germany's "Danubian Neolithic", notably the now rare N1a1a1, found in 4/9 samples in this study. Also present were K1a (3/9, incl. one K1a12a), U3 (1/9) and N1a1b (1/9).
So it is time to dismiss the hypothesis that claimed N1a1a1 as a European aboriginal lineage: it came with the immigrant farmers and now there can be no doubt about it.