Triune origins

With the latest paper, the story on European origins is becoming clearer.  Three populations account for European ancestry: the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of western Europe (dubbed WHG in the paper), early European farmers derived from somewhere in the Mideast (EEF), and a third group more closely related to ancient Siberians (ANE) than any existing population. Those Sibermen also contributed a third of Amerindian ancestry, the rest being similar to modern East Asian populations.

The key facts are the dates, derived from radiocarbon dating, and statistical tests on ancient and existing genomes, tests that can show admixture, tree structure, etc.  WHG and ANE are sister populations, but distinct.  Here’s a graphical representation of the model:Figure 2

These methods are powerful, but not all-powerful.  They can detect population changes if the intrusive group is sufficiently genetically different – basically, if it has drifted enough.  But I don’t think they can detect movements of and/or replacements by more closely-related populations., and it looks to me that there must be more to the story than we see in this graph.  The uniparental lineages hint at more dramatic events than these autosomal analyses. G2A was apparently very common in the Impressed-Ware populations along the Mediterranean coast, but now it’s rare, found mainly on islands and up in the hills.  Yet this analysis suggests that southern European populations such as Tuscans are 75% EEF farmers – where did the Y chromosomes go?  Northern European populations are, according to these calculations,  something like 35% descended from WHG populations.  Those WHG populations seem to have had exclusively U mtDNA lineages (U,U4,U5, and U8) but those only add up to a frequency of 10 or 11% in those northern European populations today. Where did those mtDNA lineages go?

Could be selection.  When you look at the explosive expansion of R1b and R1A (probably originating in the Sibermen), you have to wonder. Or maybe it was more like the story of the Golden Family, the Jenghiz-Khanites, or Neil of the Nine Hostages – maybe everybody  who was anybody in early Bronze-Age Europe had to be a descendent of a certain legendary (but real) king, and this distorted Y-chromosome transmission

Could be near-replacement by some population  that was autosomally similar but fairly different in its uniparental lineages.  Could be that we’re missing something in the analysis.

The Sibermen look to be the Indo-Europeans, or a major component thereof. And so you must have an Urheimat that is fairly far east – not in Europe.  Before their advent, most of Europe must having been speaking EEF languages of some kind, of which Basque is the only survivor.  Interesting that this paper say absolutely nothing about the Indo-European expansion.  The word “language” isn’t even used.  I wonder if there is a paper on that in prep, one that makes use of all this new ancient DNA information.  Or, maybe the authors feel it isn’t their pidgin and are leaving that up to someone else.

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25 Responses to Triune origins

  1. Our really successful ancestors outbred the others thousands of years ago, to be sure. But we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all if more recent NW European ancestors hadn’t looked at the new rules the Christians were bringing in from the south and said “Yeah, you’re right. Marrying our cousins is a bad idea. Let’s be the only people in Christendom to obey that.” I still don’t get it.

    • peppermint says:

      that’s because it didn’t happen.

      Cousin marriages and arranged marriages had never existed in northern Europe, look at the laws of Aethelred or Cnut. Female inheritance is not just a new feminist innovation either.

      Shakespeare wrote a play about an arranged, cousin marriage in far away Verona where those things happened.

      • ckp says:

        >Cousin marriages and arranged marriages had never existed in northern Europe, look at the laws of Aethelred or Cnut. Female inheritance is not just a new feminist innovation either.

        Uh, yeah they did. It’s pretty much the default for settled farmers. See hbdchick’s recent posts about Frankish kin groups, feuding, cousin marriages and so on, for example.

        By the time Shakespeare was around, feuding and cousin marriages were but a distant memory for Englishmen so of course he would write about Verona.

  2. Sorry. I get why we don’t marry cousins, Don’t get smart-alecky here. I don’t get only one group went along with it while everyone else could only debate whether mother’s-brother’s-daughter or father’s-brother’s-daughter was the preferred bride.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      People recently accustomed to a kindred marriage model might have been half way there already (due to group inheritance rather than family inheritance). If the kindred marriage model is related to semi-nomadic slash & burn farming and the Germanics were only recently arrived south from a slash & burn farming environment then they might have had less resistance to the change.

      So basically a fluke:

      Christianity + pre-existing kindred marriage model

      which becomes:

      Christianity + slash & burn farmers (or recently so with not enough time to change to the standard farmer family inheritance model)

      (You could actually imagine it as a conservative movement in that case i.e. the *old ways* were breaking down in favor of closest-cousin marriage and the welcome adoption of this aspect of Christianity to *preserve* the old tradition.)

      A test of this might be the history of Christian missionaries in different parts of the world during the imperial era. Did they find it easier to persuade tribes with a kindred model to not marry their closest cousins (as they weren’t doing it already).

    • Boris Bartlog says:

      If you want to view it purely as a question of what *incentives* might have driven such a difference, I’d say that relatively rapid population expansion would be one candidate. In a society with a fixed pool of resources whose ownership is determined by inheritance, it makes genetic sense to marry close kin. In a society with an expanding pool of resources, allocation of which varies according to genetic fitness, you end up with a different logic. The population boom of the high middle ages would then be evidence of a situation that favored outmarriage.

  3. SpaghettiMeatball says:

    Are there any relatives of the EEF languages left in West Asia? Perhaps some of the north/south caucasian languages? Basque seems to share a lot of peculiar grammatical features with them (ergative and other unusual cases) but not a lot else. It’s clear that west asia was profoundly changed after the EEFs left, by the semitic expansion.

  4. Greying Wanderer says:

    “Could be near-replacement by some population that was autosomally similar but fairly different in its uniparental lineages.”

    All-male colonies of miners / fishermen / traders + local females.

  5. dave chamberlin says:

    I have long been dissatisfied with our lack of knowledge on what was happening prehistory, before there were written accounts. It is exciting that finally geneticists are becoming sophisticated enough to take the DNA from ancient skeletons and fill in what has been a very large the void in what happened. I’m grateful that blogs are popping up that will update me on the latest important discoveries in this new field where I am optimistic that we shall soon know a great deal more.

  6. Toddy Cat says:

    “The word “language” isn’t even used. I wonder if there is a paper on that in prep, one that makes use of all this new ancient DNA information. ”

    As we’ve seen in the comment section of this very blog, linguists have been very slow to look at DNA evidence, especially when it might serve to confirm some theory that they don’t like (such as the work of Joseph Greenberg, etc.). I can well recall a linguist here arguing that theories in one discipline could not be confirmed by evidence from another discipline, which is just crazy. Physics and astronomy, anyone?

  7. dearieme says:

    I’m struck by the reference above to “slash & burn farming”. Could it be relevant that slash & burn farming could not be done in Britain and therefore, I assume, in large parts of the NW continent that had similar broad-leaved trees?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      I don’t know about Britain. I know it was done in Finland until recent times so I wonder if it was the norm in parts of Scandinavia, Baltic and Germany within the correct time frame.

      • dearieme says:

        It’s a matter of the types of tree. Native British broad-leaved trees don’t die when you fell them, and their corpses won’t burn unless you chop them up and dry them. If the Finns have notices warning you against starting forest fires, then slash-and-burn was presumably possible. The only time you see such notices in Britain is in conifer plantations. Children can happily set campfires in our native woodland: there’s no chance that it will burn.

  8. Ginny says:

    “The Sibermen look to be the Indo-Europeans”

  9. Arntor says:

    If its get too complicated for you guys, I do recomend high-altitude Norwegian fleinsopp to sort things out.

  10. TWS says:

    So the Sibermen, Daleks, and Time Lords?

  11. BB753 says:

    What is your take on “basal Eurasian”, Dr Cochran? I have yet to see a clear definition.

  12. Greying Wanderer says:

    “It’s a matter of the types of tree.”

    Makes sense.

  13. Pingback: linkfest – 01/21/14 | hbd* chick

  14. Greying Wanderer says:

    A question which might link the previous blog post about continuity, this post about triune origins and the comments about kindred marriage models and their possible connection with slash and burn agriculture is:

    Where was the boreal forest line in 4000 BC and was it just north of the furthest extent of the LBK neolithic farmers?

  15. eurogenes says:

    Why not in Europe?

    Did you see this quote in the paper?

    “A geographically parsimonious hypothesis would be that a major component of present-day European ancestry was formed in eastern Europe or western Siberia where western and eastern hunter-gatherer groups could plausibly have intermixed. Motala12 has an estimated WHG/(WHG+ANE) ratio of 81% (S12.7), higher than that estimated for the population contributing to modern Europeans (Fig. S12.14). Motala and Mal’ta are separated by 5,000km in space and about 17 thousand years in time, leaving ample room for a genetically intermediate population.”

    However, there’s no chain of archaeological cultures leading from Siberia to Europe at the right time (ie. Copper Age), but there is an excellent one leading from Eastern Europe to the Asian steppe.

    The only assumption one needs to make to tie ANE to the archaeologically and most of all linguistically plausible Proto-Indo-European expansion from Eastern Europe is that the middle Volga region during the Copper Age was populated by a people with an extreme ANE ratio, who expanded so rapidly that they didn’t pick up much admixture along the way into Central Europe and deep into Asia.

    But to settle this issue we need ancient genomes from Mesolithic and Copper Age Eastern Europe.

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