This is an issue that has lingered for a long time in the online anthropology circles. Once upon a time (2005) there was online a presentation in which a good deal of mitochondrial DNA (HVS-I) sequences from the key Iberomaurusian (or Oranian) culture site of Taforalt (North Morocco) were (not too formally) published. Eventually this presentation became almost impossible to find... however now Rym Kefi (the original author if I remember correctly) and colleagues have got back to resurrect that important data set from oblivion, plus sequences from Afalou cave as well.
Rym Kefi et al., On the origin of Iberomaurusians: new data based on ancient mitochondrial DNA and phylogenetic analysis of Afalou and Taforalt populations. Forsenic Sciences Research 2016. Freely available at the time & space of writing this → LINK [doi:10.1080/24701394.2016.1258406]
The Western North African population was characterized by the presence of Iberomaurusian civilization at the Epiplaeolithic period (around 20,000 years before present (YBP) to 10,000 YBP). The origin of this population is still not clear: they may come from Europe, Near East, sub-Saharan Africa or they could have evolved in situ in North Africa. With the aim to contribute to a better knowledge of the settlement of North Africa we analysed the mitochondrial DNA extracted from Iberomaurusian skeletons exhumed from the archaeological site of Afalou (AFA) (15,000–11,000 YBP) in Algeria and from the archaeological site of Taforalt (TAF) (23,000–10,800 YBP) in Morocco. Then, we carried out a phylogenetic analysis relating these Iberomaurusians to 61 current Mediterranean populations.
The genetic structure of TAF and AFA specimens contains only North African and Eurasian maternal lineages. These finding demonstrate the presence of these haplotypes in North Africa from at least 20,000 YBP. The very low contribution of a Sub-Saharan African haplotype in the Iberomaurusian samples is confirmed. We also highlighted the existence of genetic flows between Southern and Northern coast of the Mediterranean.
The bulk of the data is this (tables 1 and 2):
Notice that all sequences are "old style", i.e. HVS-I only, and that's why haplogroup assessment is not always 100% certain, with particular emphasis on the "CRS" sequences, which have been proven in some ancient cases to belong not to the modern normal (H1, rarely H2 o other H) but to a very rare modern haplotype within U*, AFAIK only preserved in Asturias but somewhat common in the Magdalenian of South Germany.
In any case, that they produce 100% safe H1, H6, H14, etc. and, even more surprisingly, J and T2 variants, should make people think about the hidden Paleolithic mtDNA diversity in the wider Mediterranean area. And by this I do not just mean North Africa but also all Southern Europe, including many areas that can't be considered part of the Mediterranean basin, such as most of the crucial Franco-Cantabrian Region, the most densely populated province, by far, of post-LGM Upper Paleolithic Europe, source of several cultural waves (including the Solutrean one, almost certainly at the origin of Iberomaurusian), yet outrageously neglected by research.
Table 5 and other materials in the paper also deal with which modern populations appear closest to the Iberomaurusian ancient mtDNA pool and these are:
- Tuscans (0.00090)
- Catalans (0.00134)
- Galicians (0.00223)
- Sicilians (0.00377)
- El Alia (0.00699)
- Valencian (0.00787)
- Matmata (0.00788)
- Slougia (0.00831)
- Jerba Berbers (0.00934)
Figures in brackets are FST distances, the smaller the closer the match, statistically speaking. Populations in cursive are from Northwest Africa.
That is I'd say quite surprising because we tend to think of those near matches as quite impacted by Neolithic and post-Neolithic inflows, at least judging on other recent research. It seems that the debate on the origin of modern Europeans and North Africans refuses to come to a close, as different aspects of the evidence available may be somewhat contradictory. What do you make up of all this?
- Leherensuge: 2009 review of mtDNA H studies (some re. North Africa).
- I'd emphasize Sykes et al 2005 on Portuguese Epipaleolithic and Neolithic mtDNA also rich on "CRS" and other H sequences, because it provides another anchor point for the presence of mtDNA H in pre-Neolithic Europe.
- But for North African mtDNA studies Enafaa 2009 is pretty much seminal, showing that SW Europe related haplogroups H1, H3, H4 and H7 are absolutely hegemonic in the region's H.
- MtDNA H in Magdalenian Cantabria
- MtDNA U6 in Aurignacian from Romania
- On South Iberian Solutrean (surely at the origin of Iberomaurusian)
- And in general the Oranian label (alternative name of Iberomaurusian)
UPDATE: single marker inferred lineages (not always the haplogroup is reported correctly):
Down in the comments' section, Capra questions with good sense the certainty of inferred haplogroups. The most clear one is TafV27, claimed to be H6a1a8, which cannot actually be that (would need another HVS-I marker defining H6, which is missing), however this means that it must be HV0 and possibly V, a lineage that appears (per the aDNA literature) in the European Neolithic, already quite towards the West, out of nowhere, and that "nowhere" should not be West Asia, where it has never been sequenced, unlike K.
I'm therefore reviewing here all the single-marker inferred haplogroups as carefully as possible, please double-check them and report if I seem to be committing any error:
- AF22B - 16126C (reported as JT or H14b1) - JT(xJ,xT) or H14b1 indeed, notice that JT* was probably also one of the lineages described (also by the HVS-I method) for Nerja cave (Solutrean, same time frame), just across Alboran Sea (cf. Fernández-Domínguez 2005). Whether is one or the other or even something else, it's almost certain that the lineage was shared across the sea between Europe and Africa, what just makes total sense for this culture.
- Taf55-IB - 16239T (reported as H1) - I actually get specific H1 variants (H1bf'bg'bh'ch specifically) or H17c. H sublineages in any case, unless it is an extinct or unreported R* lineage, most unlikely.
- TafV27 - 16298C (reported as H6a1a8) - must be HV0, possibly even V, a distributed Euro-African lineage with three hotspots: Kabylia, Catalonia and Lappland. Per Caramelli 2003 and successor studies, this lineage was already present in Italy (Pagilicci cave) in the Gravettian era.
- TafVIII - 16223T (reported as U4a2b) - It cannot be U4 at all because it lacks the HVS-I mutation 16356C. In fact the reverse 16223C mutation defines macro-haplogroup R, and I can't find any other matches within R, so it must be L3(xR), maybe N(xR) but maybe M or other L3. The possibilities are many, for example: N1, N2, N9, N11, etc. within N, a lot of possibilities within M, and also several within L3e'i'k'x(xL3x). The only thing we should be certain here is that it is not R and also not upstream of L3 (that's how good as it gets with HVS-I methodology, really).
- TafXXV3 - 16126C (reported as H14b1) - as with AF22B, it can be JT(xJ,xT) or H14b1 and again I must emphasize that there is an extremely good chance that this matrilineage had relatives in Iberia (Nerja) within the Solutrean culture.
In case you want to re-check, the best resource is of course PhyloTree.
IMPORTANT CAVEAT: the above update was done assuming they had fully sequenced the HVS-I, which is not that long, but it seems that in many cases (second column of the tables above) they have only sequenced up to the 16317 locus, what makes prediction of haplogroup even harder. That would explain their H6a1a8 prediction, although there's no way they can exclude the much more common HV0 (H6 is unheard of in North Africa). Thanks again to Capra for pointing that out.