Kings of the Stone Age

The Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b is extremely common in Western Europe ( > 70%). At the same time, it doesn’t appear to be very old.

Which facts suggest two possibilities.  The first is that this particular Y-chromosome haplogroup confers some kind of fitness advantage. It’s moderately improbable, since  the Y chromosome doesn’t contain many genes, but it is possible. It’s more likely considering that ways of life have changed a lot in the Holocene, so an old version of the Y might not be very close to optimal, especially in any behavioral effects.

The other possibility is that there was a male lineage that prospered enormously in a way similar to the Golden Family, the direct male descendants of Genghis Khan. We know that reputation has lasted for about 800 years: as late as the 20th century, a huge fraction of the nobles in Mongolia were direct male-line descendants of the Master of Thrones and Crowns.  I could see this happening in the big population turnover about 5000 years ago: a leader of a wildly successful invasion might build an enduring reputation, such that even a long time later,  people would look to his descendants for leadership. I get the impression than in Mongolia,  you’d automatically expect one of these guys to organize your sock hop – nobody else would be worthy.

This could extend even to populations that were not really conquered or replaced  by the incoming troublemakers, like the Basque.  They too might have been susceptible to R1b glamor: people have certainly borrowed dynasties from other countries.

How to find evidence? Well, it would be difficult, but you might be able to show that graves full of expensive goodies were more likely to hold dead guys with R1b than poor graves, over a large area and for a long time.  If there was a fitness advantage,  you might be able to demonstrate some kind of difference in men with R1b, a difference that was plausibly beneficial in the past.  And no, I don’t mean sperm competition.





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87 Responses to Kings of the Stone Age

  1. SD says:

    What was that Centum and Satem heading I just saw, or did I see wrong?

  2. I just learned what a sock hop is. And in the process, felt like a whippersnapper.

  3. A2M says:

    This thread ( points a fertility advantage for R1 bringers, particularly for male offsprings

  4. eurogenes says:

    Y-HG R might well be linked to some sort of a fertility advantage. But it’s hard to miss the fact that R1b and R1a make their debut in Central European ancient DNA at about the same time.

    R1b is found in Bell Beaker graves in east Germany dated to around 4,500 YBP…

    R1a is found in Corded Ware graves, also in east Germany, dated to around 4,600 YBP…

    R1a is also found in Andronovo and Scythian Royal Kurgans in South Siberia from the Bronze and Iron ages…

    So if this is just some sort of fertility advantage, then why did it only kick in during the late Neolithic? Keep in mind that R is at least 24,000 years old (Mal’ta boy from near Lake Baikal was R), and in fact R1a probably split from R1b around 25,000 years ago.

  5. Weltanschauung says:

    To what Y-chromosome haplogroups do the historic royal houses belong? For a long time they tried with some success to marry only among themselves; Andersen’s story of The Princess and the Pea is social satire, not just fantasy.

    • anonymous says:

      “To what Y-chromosome haplogroups do the historic royal houses belong”

      I remember reading once that G2a is very much overrepresented in the Pictish royal houses of Scotland (which is otherwise mainly R1b). The Picts are supposed to have been non-IndoEuropean holdouts that eventually got swamped. G2a originates in the Caucuses so it could be a Neothlic group that colonized Europe long ago, before the IEs took over.

      Niall of the 9 Hostages, progenitor of so many Irish Kings, was R1b. His signature is very widespread in Ireland and also not uncommon in Scotland.

      Sommerled, the Viking who is the ancestor of many key Scottish clans, was R1a.

      a whole bunch more can be found here:

  6. Greying Wanderer says:

    This diagram

    (from )

    shows a dramatic population crash.

    Does the population spike that happened some time later tally with the age of the euro clades of R1b?

    “Stop drinking the milk boy, you’re too old it’ll make you sick.”

    “Nah dad I’m fine.”

    • Kate says:

      Could it be that adaptation occurred amongst those milking cows, since free milk is the only perk of the job and wouldn’t that most likely have been girls, who milked cows and helped themselves to free milk for as long as possible, thereby pushing the limits of lactose digestion to the max?

      re. a comment you made elsewhere – : ‘the farmer females carried some advantageous alleles that allowed selection in place’, could lactase retention amongst females have been a factor?

      • Sandgroper says:

        Sounds like it’s time for the intelligent brown heifer song again.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Why would they be milking cows if they did not already have genes for lactase persistence? (That is, their progenitors were on the extreme right hand side of the distribution of the genetically mediated cessation of lactase production.)

      • Kate says:

        @Sandgroper – what a lovely video. Of course, we’re well known for our silk fetters in England, we even use them for binding legal documents!

        maybe the timing is a bit out, I thought lactase declined in late childhood/adolescence, but,
        ‘lactase activity declines after the weaning phase’

        Still, weaning might occur as late as 4 years, so maybe it’s not too much of a stretch to think 5-6 year olds would get the job of milking a cow?

        If they weren’t drinking/milking, how did they discover they weren’t intolerant any more?

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Yeah, I’m only assuming male here because if correct it would tie in with the R1b explosion.

        Either way the idea depends on whether that population spike in the diagram is at the right time for the euro-specific R1b clades.

      • Sandgroper says:

        if you liked that song, give some of these a whirl;

        And not forgetting the Disney version:

      • anonymous says:

        “Lactose intolerance” doesn’t seem to affect people who drink RAW milk. And pasteurization is quite new. The selection for LP seems to have centered, not around actual “intolerance” of milk, but, the ability to extract a lot more calories from it.

        Q. “Why would they be milking cows if they did not already have genes for lactase persistence?”

        From time to time, mothers must have died in childbirth or while still nursing. If no other woman in the tribe was lactating, a desperate father might have fed his child with goat, sheep, or cow’s milk.. and it worked. Likely at least some of those kids kept on drinking milk past the normal age of weaning, and thrived thereby… and voila, selection in favor of LP began.

      • Anonymous says:

        ‘“Lactose intolerance” doesn’t seem to affect people who drink RAW milk.’

        Well, yes it does.

      • Kate says:

        thank you, very nice music

        “If no other woman in the tribe was lactating, a desperate father might have fed his child with goat, sheep, or cow’s milk.”

        but if intolerance doesn’t start till weaning, why would they have to be desperate before they thought about trying it?

      • Sandgroper says:

        Kate: You’re right, they wouldn’t.

        Actually, cheese making started pretty early; at least by 5,500 BC in Poland – doesn’t go bad and easy to carry. Ripened and aged cheeses contain little to no lactose.

      • Sandgroper says:

        And yet we know that animal milk consumption caused a hammer blow of selection.

        So I’m thinking your theory might well be right, Kate. The little weaners who could tolerate augmentation of their diet with animal milk without being killed by dehydration from violent diahorrea had a better chance of survival to adulthood. It could also have enabled women to have more children.

      • anonymous says:

        @kate “but if intolerance doesn’t start till weaning, why would they have to be desperate before they thought about trying it?

        As I said, “If no other woman in the tribe was lactating, a desperate father might have fed his child with goat, sheep, or cow’s milk.” The normal procedure in primitive times and even into our great-grandparents time, was to hand the orphaned baby over to a lactating woman, a “wet-nurse”.

        There would have been no reason to use animal milk if human milk was available, indeed the first person who thought of it probably regarded it as “gross.” Hence I suspect that the first use of animal milk was a desperate act by a proto-herdsman trying to save his baby.

      • Sandgroper says:

        ‘the first person who thought of it probably regarded it as “gross.”’ Not saying you’re wrong, but it’s a brave act to attempt to put yourself into the mind of someone back then. Why did someone in what is now France sacrifice 1,000 bronze axes? Throwing one bronze axe into the rapids to get the attention of the Lady of the Lake I can just about comprehend. But 1,000? What’s that for, to impress the neighbours? Maintain the scarcity of elite weapons? No idea.

        I had a Chinese friend from Malaysia – his mother dried up during the Japanese occupation, and there was no baby food, but the village had a bitch which had had pups, so he was fed dog’s milk. I thought that was pretty gross. If I had been one of his parents, I don’t think it would even have occurred to me. But it kept him alive. As an adult he asked me several times whether I thought it would have had any bad effect on him – he obsessed over it. He was my good friend, so I said “No, definitely not” to make him feel better about it. I didn’t know the answer. I still don’t. I assume they milked the dog and then boiled the milk or something before giving it to him – I can’t imagine that they laid him on the floor next to the dog and let him suck on her, but maybe…I don’t know. It didn’t stop him from becoming extremely wealthy, or from having a couple of kids who grew a lot bigger than he did.

        He died in his early 50s from stomach cancer. I doubt there was a connection. But I don’t know that. Greg might – he understands viruses as causative agents for cancer.

        • gcochran9 says:

          H. pylori, a bacterium, certainly has a lot to do with stomach a cancer. I don’t know about any dog-carried pathogens that are risks for human cancers, although some might exist. But let us cut to the more important question: what about the puppies ?!?

      • anonymous says:

        “Not saying you’re wrong, but it’s a brave act to attempt to put yourself into the mind of someone back then.”

        It was an inspired guess….

        It’s also an untestable hypothesis.

      • Sandgroper says:

        Reportedly, there were only a couple of pups, so enough milk for everyone.

        I never did ask him what dog breed it was, which was on obvious omission on my part. It had to be a fairly big one, I guess, to produce enough milk.

      • Kate says:

        I imagine people tried drinking milk as soon as they could milk an animal. Having decided cows’ milk made children/adults sick, it was probably too valuable a resource to give to infants, as long as mothers were producing human milk.

        Thinking about Grey’s idea that, in the region where the lactase adaptation occurred, the soil was too heavy for efficient cereal cultivation, at that time – perhaps the ‘desperation’ was a ‘cultural desperation’ in response to suboptimal calorie intake, which had reduced available human milk.

        I can talk about breast feeding till the cows come home :))

    • anonymous says:

      “‘“Lactose intolerance” doesn’t seem to affect people who drink RAW milk.’
      Well, yes it does.”

      Plenty of people report that going raw, solved their milk problem. However, perhaps this isn’t universally true. Maybe some LIT folks, have a problem with ALL milk.

  7. Patrick L. Boyle says:

    I’m not entirely sure at what you’re hinting at. I’m an R1b myself. Does that mean I’ve been favored? And if so, was it just superstition not true genetic blessedness?

    Everyone know that IQ has certain social correlates. Are there similar correlates for major gene sequences? By this I mean is it possible that R1B men are more likely to be supervisors and managers than men with other Y Chromosome patterns?

    This seems to me to be easy to study given the ubiquity of 23andme type data. There may be nothing there but who know?

    • Patrick L. Boyle says:

      My spelling checker has failed me. Sorry.

      Spelling itself is not a part of ‘g’ I’m told. Maybe it’s a part of R1b?

  8. Andrew says:

    Subclade U106 was probably founded in Germany and it has grown to be a large portion of R1b. I recall seeing a modern distribution of U106 in Europe and what stood out is that it clustered around rivers and waterways. In an agrarian society, the farmers with the riverfront land were the wealthiest and people got less wealthy the farther they were from rivers. Perhaps some Clarkean selection here.

  9. robert king says:

    One variant–R1b1b2a1a2f2 reaches a peak in Ireland. Most men in Ireland have Y chromosomes belonging to this Haplogroup. 17% Hvae a direct match to a signature traced to the Ui Neill dynasty–founded by the Irish king Niall of the Nine Hostages in the 4th/5th century.

    • dearieme says:

      Niall’s mum was a Saxon; not that that would influence his Y.

      • mindfuldrone says:

        The filthy Saxon hussy

      • syon says:

        dearieme:”Niall’s mum was a Saxon; not that that would influence his Y.”

        Her Saxon status looks rather unlikely:

        “Cairenn Chasdub; Caireann (“curly-black (hair)”) was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, the daughter of Sachell Balb, king of the Saxons, the second wife of the Irish High King Eochaid Mugmedón, and the mother of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

        When she was pregnant with Niall, Eochaid’s first wife Mongfind was jealous and made her do heavy labour, hoping to make her miscarry. She gave birth beside a well as she was drawing water, and, out of fear of Mongfind, left the baby exposed to the birds. But the child was rescued and brought up by a poet called Torna. When the child, Niall, grew up he returned to Tara and relieved his mother of her labour, and went on to become High King himself.[1][2]

        Given Niall’s dates (he is traditionally supposed to have died around the turn of the 5th century, although modern historians place him half a century later),[3] it is anachronistic for his mother to have been a Saxon, but O’Rahilly argues that the name Cairenn is derived from the Latin name Carina, and that it is plausible that she might have been a Romano-Briton.[4] Indeed, Geoffrey Keating describes her not as a Saxon but as the “daughter of the king of Britain”.”


      • dearieme says:

        “according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition” is all the evidence that anyone’s got, feeble though it be. It’s the same type of evidence as for Niall’s existence, so you might as well be consistent in choosing to believe both these yarns or neither.

        Rejecting her Saxonhood is, I assume, mere racism.

      • anonymous says:

        “…Rejecting her Saxonhood is, I assume, mere racism…..”

        Pug mo thoin.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There are a suite of traits that go with greater prenatal testosteronenation in males. One is sperm competition, others are being charming, ‘edgy’ and a good dancer, sex drive, ect ect, whereby there would be more children in a marriage. In the neolithic food resources would be available for a man to provide for a really big family, so a previously hyper-marginal gene for the aforementioned traits could spread by causing men to have bigger families.

    Conquering elite? The Basques make that provenance more than a little dubious.

  11. Greying Wanderer says:

    great vid

    “Why would they be milking cows if they did not already have genes for lactase persistence?”

    dairying goes back a long way. being able to drink it raw just gives you extra (and for minimal work)

    i think the reason northern Europe might have been especially favored for LP at the time is a) crops only marginal in those regions and b) not enough pasturage for herds large enough to live off meat so a specific niche.

  12. anonymous says:

    Has anyone thought to look into the most ancient mythology of Europe, to see if a legendary R1b progenitor could be tentatively identified?

    • dearieme says:


      • anonymous says:

        I had similar thoughts. I was thinking of his father Odin, the one-eyed. If we could find legends of a distant one-eyed progenitor across R1b-istan, that might cinch it. However, I’m not aware of any such. The Gaelic name Sullivan translates as one-eyed, but that’s not far enough east or far enough back in time.

        We need to dig deeper. Folklore asserts that the Milesian Gaels from Scythia, via the Mediterranean. A plausible R1b route.

      • JIm says:

        I thought Thor was the local version of the generic Indo-European Sky God.

      • anonymous says:

        “..Odin, the one-eyed. If we could find legends of a distant one-eyed progenitor across R1b-istan…”

        I searched for one-eyed legends, and it seems that, 2 versions of the one-eyed guy can be found,…

        1) In Northern Europe — where the IndoEuropeans achieved large scale population replacement — Odin/Woden/Wotan/etc, the one-eyed, is a revered god-figure.

        2) Across southern Europe, where the IEs conquered and mixed but did not totally replace the locals, there’s a swath of “Cyclops” legends, in which the one-eyed character is a dreaded enemy. This theme shows up from Ossetia to Basque country.


        • Greying Wanderer says:

          “there’s a swath of “Cyclops” legends, in which the one-eyed character is a dreaded enemy”

          and also craftsmen

          “They provide Zeus’ thunderbolt, Hades’ helmet of invisibility, and Poseidon’s trident, and the gods use these weapons to defeat the Titans.”

          similar to the dwarves creating weapons for the aesir/vanir against the giants.

  13. steppebro says:

    Here’s a challenge to Cochran and others who speak with so much confidence about how languages and peoples spread in prehistoric Europe. Can they reconstruct the spread of Romance languages, or Germanic languages with genetic info alone? I’ve never seen “control” attempts like this…I doubt very much they can do this.

    We know a lot more about spread of Latin, but what does genetic info show? Does it back up what we know historically …that is, can they pretend they didn’t know history, literature, etc., and try to reconstruct the history from genetic data alone? What history would come out from that genetic data regarding the spread of Latin or changes in Europe 50 BC – 1000 AD, or anything else?

    My guess is no, or they would be talking about it; but they do know what happened in 5000-1500 BC europe? Sure, because there are no records to prove otherwise…seems a bit convenient.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You can confidently infer language change when there is a massive genetic change. When there is no such population turnover, it may happen, but genetics won’t tell you.

      There were two population turnovers in Europe. The first was EEF farmers replacing local hunter-gatherers, complete by 4000 BC. The second was by another group with lots of hunter-gather-like ancestry ( western and some Siberian), which looks to be the Indo-Europeans.

      The Roman Empire conquered and taxed people, rather than replacing them. I don’t think it left much of a genetic signature – but it did leave a language.

      So: replacement always changes the language, but other factors can too, especially in more recent times, with literacy and bureaucratic states.

      And you’re still banned.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Once again, the mental block that a lot of linguist-types have against even looking at genetic evidence astonishes me.

      • Sandgroper says:

        I’m with you on that one, brother. I just don’t get it.

      • Sandgroper says:

        But I do so love it when Greg gives someone a long, reasoned explanation, then at the end reminds them they are banned and bans them again. I live for the slap-downs.

      • Hans Olo says:

        The Roman Empire probably had at least some genetic effects, albeit comparatively undramatic ones. It was common to settle military veterans in conquered areas, and conquest also brought merchants, officials, and other settlers.

        Up into the first century most of these soldiers would have been Italian, but afterwards provincials predominated.

        Also, what effect did importing all those slaves have on the genetic makeup of Italy? There were an awful lot of them, although if I recall they are said to have had a below-replacement birth rate.

      • Patrick L. Boyle says:

        Rome had a big impact on the genetics of the population but in ways that are more complex than usually imagined.

        First of all Roman citizens were for a long time the only ones allowed into the legions. So the legionnaires serving on Hadrian’s Wall were usually Italians. The term of service was twenty years. Many of these sedentary garrison soldiers would have taken local wives and left behind Italian genes.

        Meanwhile back in Rome slaves were often imported from places wherever there had been a foreign war. In the Empire period, slaves were often manumitted by their owners. These freedmen came to replace the natives and adopted Roman names and identities as soon as possible. These institutions acted as a kind of ethnic ‘pump’. Italians were dispersed outward and all sorts of other nationalities were brought inward.

        Slavery was an institution for upward mobility in Rome. In the Empire period they had to pass laws restricting manumission. The society had trouble absorbing all the new freedmen. A rich Roman bought a slave, trained him in some trade, and then freed him. A freedman was still in service to his former master as a client. Clients often kicked back part of their business profits to their original master. It was good business for both. The sons of slaves became free Roman tradesmen who adopted Italian names and spoke Latin.

        Genes throughout the Mediterranean basin were mixed.

      • “First of all Roman citizens were for a long time the only ones allowed into the legions. So the legionnaires serving on Hadrian’s Wall were usually Italians.”

        ‘Zat true? I was under the impression that an eventual grant of citizenship (plus forty acres and a mule, or something of the sort) was one of the incentives for joining up. By Hadrian’s time, anyway, citizenship wasn’t restricted to Italy. I believe both Hadrian and Trajan were born in Hispania.

    • anonymous says:

      Mexico today is reported to be 49% R1b. 600 years ago it was zero… That’s a rather rapid IndoEuropean takeover. Horses and metal, horses and metal…

      • Kate says:

        This is new info for me so apologies if it’s obvious to you, but I rather like it:
        The horse originated in America, travelled all the way down the mammoth step to Europe but died out in America. ‘Native Americans’ headed east from the mammoth steppe and became isolated in America. Europeans-to-be headed west from the mammoth steppe to Europe and, thousands of years later crossed the sea to America and took the horse back with them.

      • Richard Sharpe says:

        but died out in America

        Actually, was exterminated in America.

  14. Greying Wanderer says:


    “I had similar thoughts. I was thinking of his father Odin, the one-eyed. If we could find legends of a distant one-eyed progenitor across R1b-istan, that might cinch it. However, I’m not aware of any such… We need to dig deeper. Folklore asserts that the Milesian Gaels from Scythia, via the Mediterranean. A plausible R1b route.”

    If there were two routes from Scythia: a land one and a sea one there might be two sets mythological similarities: a coastal one around the med and up the Atlantic coast and a distinct but related land one across the north.

  15. The R’s were horse-whisperers. Either that or they were the first cornerbacks.

  16. Greying Wanderer says:

    “Has anyone thought to look into the most ancient mythology of Europe, to see if a legendary R1b progenitor could be tentatively identified?”

    quick bit of googling for mythological father-figures (just for fun, not a serious proposition but some of it might be of interest)

    1) Ossetia: Kurdalaegon

    [blacksmith of the gods == originally maker (father) of the gods?]

    2) Crete: Velchanos

    “The origin of the Roman god of fire Vulcan has been traced back to the Cretan god Velchanos by Gérard Capdeville, primarily under the suggestion of the close similarity of their names.[51] Cretan Velchanos is a young god of Mediterrenean or Near Eastern origin who has mastership of fire and is the companion of the Great Goddess[disambiguation needed]….showing him as a god of vegetation and springtime: the tree is the symbol of the union of Heaven and Earth and their generative power, i. e. the site of the union of the god and the goddess.”

    [consort of mother goddess == fertility == fire?]

    3) Rome: Vulcan

    “Vulcan belongs to the most ancient stage of Roman religion”

    “The nature of the god is connected with religious ideas concerning fire. The Roman concept of the god seems to associate him to both the destructive and the fertilizing powers of fire.”

    “Another meaning of Vulcan is related to male fertilizing power. In various Latin and Roman legends he is the father of famous characters…In a variant of the story of the birth of Romulus the details are identical even though Vulcan is not explicitly mentioned.[32]
    Some scholars think that he might be the unknown god who impregnated goddesses Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste and Feronia at Anxur. In this case he would be the father of Jupiter.”

    Through association with the Greek god Hephaestus he turns into a son of Jupiter and one story involves him being thrown out of Olympus. Vulcan is married to Venus.

    “In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people”

    [Replaced in the pantheon – originally father of the gods – later returns as blacksmith son?]

    4) Rome: Dis Pater

    “Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth”

    “It is often thought that Dis Pater was also a Celtic god. This confusion arises from the second-hand citation of one of Julius Caesar’s comments in his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars VI:18, where he says that the Gauls all claimed descent from Dis Pater. This, however, is of course an example of interpretatio romana: what Caesar meant was that the Gauls all claimed descent from a Gaulish god similar to the Roman Dis Pater, that is, a chthonic deity associated with prosperity and fertility. Different possible candidates exist for this role in Celtic religion, such as Gaulish Sucellus, Irish Donn and Welsh Beli Mawr, among others.”

    5) gap for Iberia

    6) Gaul: Sucellus

    “He is usually portrayed as a middle-aged bearded man, with a long-handled hammer…His wife, Nantosuelta, is sometimes depicted alongside him. When together, they are accompanied by symbols associated with prosperity and domesticity.”

    7) Ireland: Donn

    “Donn is regarded as the father of the Irish race..Originally, Donn was the chief of the Sons of Mil, a mythological race who invaded Ireland, ousting the Tuatha Dé Danann”

    8) Wales: Beli Mawr

    “Beli Mawr (translated into English as Beli the Great) was an ancestor figure in medieval Welsh literature and genealogies….Several royal lines in medieval Wales traced their ancestry to Beli.”

    “The origin of the name Beli is still a matter of debate among scholars.”

    [This is probably just a coincidence but p has often shifted to b in Welsh apparently which might make it “Peli Mawr” which would mean “Great Balls”]

    Cerne Abbas giant (kindof NSFW)

    [nb club]


    theory (based on a few hours googling so not to be taken seriously but might be interesting)

    Original male father / fertilty god, consort of mother goddess, associated with trees / tree branches / wooden clubs, caves and fire (in aspect of fertility).

    Displaced and replaced by Zeus / Jupiter et al warrior deities and downgraded to blacksmith of the gods instead associated with smith’s hammer, caves and fire (in aspect of craft).

    Surviving best in original form the furthest away from source of the replacement warrior deities.

    In other words did Gimbutas’ goddess have a consort and does Velchanos mean “Peli Mawr” in Ancient Cretan?

  17. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s my 2003 article on Genghis Khan’s genetic signature, with lots of quotes from Greg:

  18. Greying Wanderer says:

    – kingly line (Ghenghis Koenig)
    – warriors / priests / artisans (warrior caste R1b, artisans not)
    – R1b genetic fertility advantage
    – milky bar kid (could be milky bar girl but would that advantage y dna? mtdna H maybe?)

  19. a very knowing American says:

    Maybe worth comparing the workings of social class and the dynastic principle.

    With social class, according to Gregory Clark’s latest, you get what looks an awful lot like genetic inheritance of some underlying variable S (social competence, moxie, whatever). Thanks to assortative mating, S is strongly correlated from one generation to the next. Surname analysis implies that the intergenerational correlation of underlying S is a lot higher than intergenerational correlation of measured social class. Because assortative mating is imperfect, surnames hitchhike for a while along with S, but show gradual regression to the mean. (In caste societies that’s regression to the caste mean, and the same goes for endogamous ethnic groups).

    With a dynasty, like the Mongol’s Golden Family, the Ui Neills, and Nurhaci’s folk, the surname itself is a valuable asset that can contribute to reproductive success. Correlations between surname/dynastic membership and above average reproductive success may be a lot more enduring than in the case of social class, and Y haplotypes may hitchhike along with surnames to high frequency.

    “Imperishable fame” is an epithet found in various IE daughter languages that probably goes back all the way to Proto-Indo-European poetry. The impression is that life for these guys was about more than just mating well, having kids, and piling up material wealth (the goals of a traditional class society). You also wanted a glorious name that would live on, and bring glory to your (patrilineal) descendants, forever. Did this ethos shape the genetic evolution of early IE (and other) populations?

    • a very knowing American says:

      Addendum to the previous:

      For this to work, it’s important to have some kind of long term social memory that lets names live on. Writing may do it, but epic poetry will too. The poetry is a lot more than entertainment.

  20. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Claims that R1b-S21 is associated with a particular culture that enables women to leave more surviving offspring:

    In comparison, the R1b lineages were expert at growing cereal crops and knew how to mash dried oats and barley into a nutritious “primitive porridge” which could be spoon-fed to babies, weaning them much earlier.

    I wonder if it will survive the Cochran filter?

  21. dearieme says:

    “If I had been one of his parents, I don’t think it would even have occurred to me.” Come now, you’d have remembered the legend of Romulus and Remus.

  22. Greying Wanderer says:


    “These days it is. Back then?”

    Sure, it’s just a guess. Just seems to me if there was a time and region where crop yields were low and pasturage limited then people who could combine cereals and milk in their beakers could thrive in that environment where other couldn’t.

    • Kate says:

      he’s called 4th Doorman, I only realised myself the other day and I chuckled, reminds me of an air steward.

      I can just imagine a couple of Dutch folk, ‘So, you think we could flatten this grain and maybe add just a little milk? OK, letsh try!’

      Re, Greek myths, fascinating but I don’t know much. Robin Lane Fox did a programme which is on Iplayer. He traced the same gods, I think, from the Hittites across the Med. I was reminded of this when Greg mentioned vision at an elevated point because in Fox’s programme one really gets the idea of how the gods were rooted in the landscape and the same landscape features could still be seen as people migrated west along the Med.

      Also maybe of interest with leg wounds etc. Hephaestus was lame:
      Hephaistos took the huge blower off from the block of the anvil, limping; and yet his shrunken legs moved lightly beneath him. He set the bellows away from the fire, and gathered and put away all the tools with which he worked in a silver strongbox. Then with a sponge he wiped clean his forehead, and both hands, and his massive neck and hairy chest, and put on a tunic, and took up a heavy stick in his hand, and went to the doorway limping.
      Probably irrelevant but at the time when I read up on greek gods, he struck me as an interesting one.

    • Kate says:

      Something else that might interest you or not – Alice Roberts programme about Megafauna of the Mammoth Steppe concluded that even though humans weren’t numerous enough to over-hunt mammoths, what they did was to kill the mature bulls who lived outside the female families, easier to capture. The effect was to create a lack of mature males and the immature males ended up killing off the females by injuring them, either by being clumsy towards them or, by knocking them over accidentally when they were fighting amongst themselves. A female with a broken leg would die and her offspring with her and eventually the population crashed, for want of mature males. Interesting idea.

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