Before Slavery

We keep hearing more about European genetic prehistory, and the picture is coming together.  In one new paper,  we hear aDNA results from the Carpathian Basin. It’s clear that the LBK farmers are the same people as the earlier Starcevo culture in the Balkans, and that those farmers are genetically quite distinct from the original hunter-gatherers of Europe. If you consider uniparental markers ( mtDNA and the Y-chromosome), they look to have incorporated very few local foragers. U5b is by far the most common mtDNA haplotype among the old hunters – I’m not sure that it’s been seen at all in the LBK farmers.  Almost all of the known Y chromosomes among the farmers (both LBK in central Europe and Cardial along the Med) are G2a2 – 29 out of 32. Today G2a2 is not common in Europe – you find some in the hills of southern Europe.

Reich and Patterson think that the EEF, the farmers, have a fair amount of WHG ancestry: I wonder how they managed that while picking up very little hunter uniparental markers.

They also have an abstract out for a talk at ASHG: we knew that modern Europeans are very different from the EEF,  especially in modern Europe, but we didn’t know when those new populations (which also have the Sibermen taint) showed up.  Turns out that the Corded Ware population has that new flavor: they are probably the Indo-European invaders of northern Europe, as many had suspected.


From what I can see so far, it looks as the invaders killed all the LBK-descended farmers in northern Europe, or nearly so.  The locals had had long trapezoidal houses clustered in small villages: the Corded Ware culture has almost no buildings at all, and a lot less agriculture.  They didn’t make the EEF guys serfs and get a cut of their grain – the villages disappeared. They didn’t tax them,  but then money and bureaucracy hadn’t been invented yet. Same for slavery: hadn’t been invented, probably.  Judging from the mtDNA patterns, they didn’t even grab many of the nubile women. The genetic mix changes little as you move across the north European plain: if the invaders were picking up local genes as they rolled along, it should have.

We used to call Corded Ware the Battle-Axe culture, but that’s too accurate for comfort.

Probably-related groups had already crushed the Old European cultures of the Balkans:  maybe they acquired a taste for devastation – better to burn out than fade away, right?

Again, and this is a guess, it looks as if something less genocidal happened in most of southern Europe.  Autosomally, southern Europeans are mostly EEF – sometimes almost entirely so, like highland Sardinians. Yet there has been a big turnover in Y-chromosomes: G2A2 is now fairly rare in most parts of  southern Europe.  Sounds like patrilineal conquest: the sons of warriors and aristocrats went forth conquering, but married local girls, diluting their original autosomal flavor (rather like India and Iran, but that’s another story!).  The warrior culture worked, kept expanding, even so, and the original EEF men have few Y-chromosomal descendants today – mostly in places that the conquerors didn’t really want.

In some cases, the patrilineal warriors were diluted to the point that they imposed their Y chromosomes and literally nothing else – very few autosomal genes, not even language. Plausible for the Basque.

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87 Responses to Before Slavery

  1. Sean says:

    “Judging from the mtDNA patterns, they didn’t even grab many of the nubile women.”

    Clearly men’s judgment about nubility must be assumed to be worse than their descendants’ judgement about how mtDNA patterns should be interpreted.

  2. Frito Bandito says:

    But asian indo-european speakers and european indo-european speakers are fundamentally different in a certain way: Asian indo-european speakers have loads of Ancestral north eurasian admix (up to 40% in pathans) and ZERO Western Hunter Gatherer.

    Whereas european indo-european speakers are mostly desceneded from WHG’s and have much lower ANE than asian indo-european speakers. So…..what gives?

    • eurogenes says:

      Asian Indo-European speakers don’t have 0% WHG. They just don’t have any in excess of what Stuttgart had.

      • Frito Bandito says:

        Check out Davidski’s new spreadsheet in one of his latest posts on eurogenes (or somewhere in the comments). I remember the pathans being about 40% ANE but having very low WHG-UHG, something on the order of 10^-1.

        • John Hostetler says:

          What does the U in UHG stand for – Uralic?

          • Mimi says:

            Western European/Unknown Hunter-Gatherer (WHG-UHG): “this essentially looks like a West Eurasian forager component, and includes the forager-like stuff carried by Neolithic farmers (Oetzi the Iceman has 40% of it).”

          • seeba says:

            UHG stand for “Unknown Hunter-Gatherers” and WHG stand for “Western Hunter-Gatherers.” UHG component was originally more common from greece to northern parts of middle east, while WHG was more common in rest of europe.

            I think its safe to say now that both Ancient Neolithic Farmers and all Modern Middle-Eastern people are mostly a hybrid mix between UHG people from northern middle-east and an exotic Basal Eurasian group (this 3rd group was once more common in arabian peninsula to the south and could occupied parts of Northern Africa also).

      • Frito Bandito says:

        Sorry, you were right. In your newest spreadsheet:

        There is some WHG but it’s in the single digits, but the ratio of ANE/WHG is still higher for asian indo-european speakers. Maybe lot’s of pre-indo-european migrations from siberia down into central asia?

        • seeba says:

          No you where probably more right the first time around, that indians and afghans don’t have any WHG admixture over all, because both the middeeastern-UHG and european-WHG are still in the end of the day two very diifferent population groups. but if there is still some WHG leftover in southasia then this number should be even further reduced to maybe 1% to 2%.

          In the spreadsheet south asians seem to have more ENP(west asian farmer) ancestry than europeans on average, so therefore they should also carry more middeeastern-UHG admixture than compiring with european-WHG. And as for what going on with the indo-european migrations into europe, for that I would claim maybe strong admixture in russia with southern Finns before travelling further west.

  3. My observation is that in balkan area, there are some minorities with very high IQs although the country averages are low. And some very tall people they have. Why is that so?

    And do mountains save some people being killed, isolating and protecting them?

  4. bob sykes says:

    Isn’t it about time for another book collecting this stuff?

  5. amac78 says:


    LBK — The Linear Pottery culture is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing circa 5500–4500 BC. It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik).

    Cardial — Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware is a Neolithic decorative style that gets its name from the imprinting of the clay with the shell of the cockle… These forms of pottery are in turn used to define the Neolithic culture which produced and spread them, mostly commonly called the “Cardial Culture”.

    EEF — Early European Farmers.

    WHG — West European Hunter Gatherers (same Dienekes cite as EEF).

    ASHG — American Society of Human Genetics.

    • amac78 says:

      Cardial — Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware is a Neolithic decorative style that gets its name from the imprinting of the clay with the shell of the cockle… These forms of pottery are in turn used to define the Neolithic culture which produced and spread them, mostly commonly called the “Cardial Culture”.

      Typo (no Preview).

    • RCB says:

      Thank you. Was sorely needed.

  6. amac78 says:

    A smart-but-stupid article on ancient human DNA and the evolution of anatomically modern humans:

    How Ancient DNA Is Rewriting Human History by Michael White, September 12, 2014. Pacific*Standard, the Science of Society

    — begin fair-use excerpt —

    … From the results of early DNA studies in the late 1980s and early ’90s, scientists argued that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa, and then expanded into Asia, Oceania, and Europe, beginning about 60,000 years ago. The idea was that modern humans colonized the rest of the world in a succession of small founding groups—each one a tiny sampling of the total modern human gene pool. These small, isolated groups settled new territory and replaced the archaic humans that lived there. As a result, humans in different parts of the world today have their own distinctive DNA signature, consisting of the genetic quirks of their ancestors who first settled the area, as well as the genetic adaptations to the local environment that evolved later.


    Well, it’s time to scrap this picture of human history. Looking over the stunning new data generated in just the last five years, geneticists Joseph Pickrell at the New York Genome Center and David Reich at Harvard University argue that the genetic record of the first modern humans leaving Africa has long been “overwritten” by later developments. “It is now clear that the data contradict any model in which the genetic structure of the world today is approximately the same as it was immediately following the out-of-Africa expansion,” they write. Present-day geography of human genes is not a good guide to our ancestry.


    …The genetic record shows that for the past tens of thousands of years, mixed human ancestry is the rule and not the exception.

    This finding has implications for the role of evolution in shaping who we are. Genetic adaptations that first evolved in one environment were sometimes brought to other parts of the world with very different environments. This means that we need to be wary about accepting overly simple stories about how present-day people in a particular region carry genes that have evolved to fit their particular niche—those evolved genes may be recent arrivals from somewhere else.

    — end fair-use excerpt —

    “wary about accepting overly simple stories” links to David Dobbs’ hatchet-job NYT review of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance. Examples:

    Wade runs into much trouble making this argument. He indulges in circular logic. He tells just-so stories. While warning us to avoid filtering science through politics, he draws heavily from conservative historians who minimize the roles played by political power, geographic advantage, momentum, disease and dumb luck. Conveniently, this leaves more historical questions for genetics to answer.

    The result is a deeply flawed, deceptive and dangerous book. Its most pernicious conceit is that it’s finally safe to talk of racial genetics because “opposition to racism is now well entrenched.” The daily news — a black teenager’s killer walks free in Florida; a former Ku Klux Klansman shoots up a Jewish community center; and tearful survivors observe the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, in which 100 days of mass murder rose from ethnic distinctions pressed on the populace by European colonists a century before — says otherwise.

  7. dave chamberlin says:

    A few years back I took a few week vacation to Sardinia and we avoided the coast, lots of eurotrash, and traveled through the highlands, we were absolutely enthralled with the bronze age ruins. The people were horse jockey tiny, really short and really slender. I’m an old football player, not one Iocal resident that I saw for two weeks came close to approaching my size. I saw first hand, up close and personal, how a stone battle axe culture was able to obliterate a bronze age culture that is best genetically represented today by the highland Sardinians.

    This of course isn’t the whole picture but it is an important part of it. People whom have been farming for thousands of years shrink. They become vulnerable to attack from outsiders whom use their superior size and strength in hand to hand combat.

    • Polynices says:

      Would island living also have contributed to modern Sardinians being smaller? Or not enough time for that effect?

      • Bruce says:

        I don’t know. Polynesians are pretty beefy.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        In my opinion the diminutive stature of the highland Sardinians has nothing to do with the island effect and everything to do with very long term hardship. The primary reason for the preservation of an ancient DNA stock in the highlands of Sardinia is that no one wanted the land they occupied. It was mountainous, dry , and seriously degraded by overgrazing. As stated by Cochran in an earlier post falciparum malaria depopulated the coastal areas of Sardinia and drove the remaining population into the hills where they were pretty much left alone. Quite a few African slave raiders came and took off everybody they could. But they left no genetic imprint since whenever they were caught they lost their head.

    • Matt says:

      Corded Ware wasn’t coming up against a battle axe culture of any kind, bronze or otherwise.

      If it were, it might have been more like the story of the Corded Ware’s replacement in western swathes of its territory by the Beaker people.

      (It’ll be interesting to see how much this rollback shows in the German Corded Ware genomes we get – will they be pretty much German, or far too German in some way for reality?).

  8. sprfls says:

    Why would the same (or very similar) groups use wildly different conquering strategies in different places? Saying LBK women were dogs and Cardial women hotties would be a funny parsimonious explanation, but that doesn’t seem right.

    • j says:

      I agree that Cardial women were hotties but it would be unconscionable that men passed those LBK slave girls. My theory is that Cardial girls kept Cardial men on short leash.

  9. Sacred Monkey in the Vatican says:

    “In some cases, the patrilineal warriors were diluted to the point that they imposed their Y chromosomes and literally nothing else – very few autosomal genes, not even language. Plausible for the Basque.”

    The overwhelming prevalence of what seem to be typically Indo-European varieties of R1b amongst the Basques confused me at first (“Why did the IE conquerors adopt the language and culture of their subjects in Basque country, but imposed their own in much of the rest of Iberia, where Y lineages seem slightly less uniformly IE?”), but I suspect there might have been a time-lag of a few generations between the different invasions, with IE tribes invading Basque country earlier, then their Celtic cousins pouring into Spain a little later.

    We’ll never know, but my guess would be “Vortigern Syndrome”- local EEF bigwigs, in a dispute with a stronger EEF tribe, decide to hire as mercenaries some of these ferocious IE warriors they’ve been hearing about, who have been marauding around central Europe for a while now. The IE warriors come, do their jobs well, and decide they should be in charge, instead of the wimpy EEF king who invited them. (It’s always a great idea to import the toughest foreign mercenaries you can find- just ask Diarmait Mac Murchada, or Romulus Augustulus). Being an all-male band of mercs, they naturally marry the local women, who raise their children as EEF speakers.

    If the IE warriors who went to Basque Country arrived one to three generations before the main IE deluge into Iberia, that would give them just enough time to lose contact with fellow IE speakers and adopt the local language. Moreover, if the Basques acquired IE genetic adaptations and/or warrior traditions earlier than their neighbors, that might partially explain why many of their EEF neighbors fell to later Celtic and Lusitanian conquerors, while the Proto-Basques did not.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      Or two waves: a copper age wave of peoples that neighbored the PIE and were displaced by them and a later bronze age IE wave that brought the language everywhere but the Basques.

      • Sacred Monkey in the Vatican says:

        True; I should have written “at least a few generations”. The gap between invasions could be much longer, but I assume the archaeological record would leave some pretty obvious evidence in that case. A gap of only 50-150 years, though, might be virtually invisible to us today, just looking like parts of one big continuous population movement.

    • John Hostetler says:

      Based on the aDNA, I figure the simplest explanation for why Basques are closer to ancient WHG than their neighbours is that the neolithic EEF colonization was clinal; the closer to the Mediterranean, the higher the EEF proportion. Otherwise, one has to suppose that the Bronze Age reconquista somehow brought more WHG genes to the relatively remote Basques than to their more cosmopolitan neighbours, which seems unlikely. (By this logic, Basque could even be a throwback WHG language, ‘older’ even than a throwback EEF one, though I’m not saying that.)

      However, your ‘Vortigern Scenario’ is one way precisely that – more WHG genes than to the neighbours – could have happened.

      How decisive is the Y-chromosome data? Do you think the high R1b means the ‘WHG excess’ must have come in the Bronze Age and not as a remnant of a Neolithic cline?

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “Based on the aDNA, I figure the simplest explanation for why Basques are closer to ancient WHG than their neighbours is that the neolithic EEF colonization was clinal; the closer to the Mediterranean, the higher the EEF proportion.”

        If you look at various maps of the LBK range they show it didn’t extend all the way to the Atlantic.

        One possible explanation is their farming package wasn’t suited to the Atlantic coast climate region (wetter? saltier?)

        There was also the neolithic megalith culture all along the Atlantic but that seems to have originally been reliant on fishing and limited to the coasts.

        That might imply a lot of surviving foragers in a neutral zone stretching all the way up the Atlantic coast between the LBK culture in the interior and the megalith culture on the coast.

        Eventually there was a switch from coastal fishing to cattle-centric farming which i assume would lead to those last forager areas being filled in and the new culture (megalith++ ?) butting up against the western border of LBK.

        If correct the later survival of forager groups along the Atlantic coast – because it weren’t immediately suitable for the neolithic farming package – if that is correct may be why the Atlantic region has more WHG.

        • Kate says:

          “a unique Mesolithic culture that once existed along the North Sea and the Baltic (Price, 1991). At that time, an abundance of marine resources drew people to the coast each year for fishing, sealing, and shellfish collecting, thus creating large but fluid settlements unlike anything seen in other hunter-gatherers.” from Peter Frost’s latest post.


    • Matt says:

      If they didn’t have money (because it hasn’t been invented yet) well, just toss them what they want, which being dumb as rocks fighters is going to be, like, nubile young female slaves (or wives if you like, pretty much interchangeable terms at this point) and bronze weapons (you’ve invented slaves and bronzecasting by now, right?). And these are incidentally perhaps harder for primitive screwheads with no concept of compound interest or arbitrage to squander.

      It’s sure to be a winning strategy! What could go wrong?

    • Anonymous says:

      Sometimes a conquering race undergoes a language shift. Culturally Basques are alike their neighbours, admittedly with a predictable ‘upland’ suite of culture images that extends into the Hindukush.

      • Sacred Monkey in the Vatican says:

        Right, language shift is not unusual. What was odd to me what the fact that this particular group of conquerors underwent a language shift, while their apparent cousins living closely nearby did not, despite the fact that the former seem (though it’s hard to tell at this point) to have replaced a larger percentage of the male lineages than the latter.

        Probably it’ll make more sense once they have more data on the distribution, origins, and different subclades of DF27 (about 40% of Basque lineages, I think).

        • CaoMengDe says:

          Not Strange at all. If there were two waves of conquest or immigration.

          Late Ming travler scholar Xu Xiake (Hsü Hsiak’o) observed this his travels thru the Southwestern Ming frontier of Yunnan on the Burmese border.

          There had been many waves of Han immigration to Yunnan region prior to the Mongol conquest of Kingdom of Dali and created the province of Yunnan

          But all earlier Han immigrants were all absorbed into the native population. Mongol conquest changed that by attaching the province to China Proper.

          When Ming had overthrew Mongol Yuan dynasty and marched army into Yunnan to finish off the rump Mongol state there, large scale Han immigration started. First wave was mostly male Ming soldiers ordered to remain and garrison Yunnan. Only later Han immigrants brought their families. Early Ming soldiers took native wives and settled down on the frontier.

          Yet, 250 years later toward the end of Ming, when Xu Xiake visited Yunnan, he found that
          in the remote Ming garrisons cut off from large population centers, descendants of early Ming soldiers and their native wives had become completely native, in language and custom.

          Even today, there is an ethnic group in neighboring Guizhou called Chuanqing 穿青人 (green shirt) who are believed to be the descendants of early Ming soldier settlers, but they are distinct from and often fought against the late arrival “blue shirt” Han. They try to petition PRC to be recognized as separate non-Han ethnic group in 1953, but their claim were rejected base on the fact their forefathers were Han. At 670,000 strong, they are largest officially unrecognized ethnic group in China. In their native Guizhou, They are allowed to put 穿青人 as their ethnic identification on their residency permit. But it’s not recognized outside of the province. Very recently, other provinces have relaxed the rules and also allow them to register as Chuanqing 穿青人

          This girl is a Chinese celebrity who recently went public with her Chuanqing 穿青人 heritage:

  10. Greying Wanderer says:

    “From what I can see so far, it looks as the invaders killed all the LBK-descended farmers in northern Europe, or nearly so. The locals had had long trapezoidal houses clustered in small villages: the Corded Ware culture has almost no buildings at all, and a lot less agriculture.”

    If the boreal forest zone extended further south in those days then that might be what limited the LBK’s northern range and allowed other groups: funnel beaker/globular amphora first and then corded ware, to develop a semi-nomadic slash and burn agriculture in the northern forests. (This would explain the lack of settlements but at the same time account for the higher than forager numbers needed imo to over-run LBK.) Then once that population was established along the northern range of LBK the two would likely come into conflict.

    (IIRC conifers make the soil ph more acid hence why the conifer line may have effected farming potential.)


    “Reich and Patterson think that the EEF, the farmers, have a fair amount of WHG ancestry: I wonder how they managed that while picking up very little hunter uniparental markers.”

    Assuming this was true for the sake of argument how could it happen?

    Just a thought but if WHG originally extended all around the med coast and then up along the coasts and rivers of Europe and the farmers expanded out of the fertile crescent or Egypt or wherever incorporating female dna from the WHG along the way (and thus autosomal also) but the farmer females had a specific advantage such that the farmer mtdna was gradually selected in place over the WHG mtdna then couldn’t that create the observed effect?

    (With this happening before their arrival in Europe.)


    Alternatively is male J definitely not a marker of an eastern branch of WHG?


    “Autosomally, southern Europeans are mostly EEF – sometimes almost entirely so, like highland Sardinians. Yet there has been a big turnover in Y-chromosomes: G2A2 is now fairly rare in most parts of southern Europe.”

    Click to access Article2.pdf


    G highest in the coastal north. I highest in the central mountains.

    • Jaakko Raipala says:

      “If the boreal forest zone extended further south in those days then that might be what limited the LBK’s northern range and allowed other groups: funnel beaker/globular amphora first and then corded ware, to develop a semi-nomadic slash and burn agriculture in the northern forests.”

      It’s probably the other way around. Scandinavia is still not as “boreal” in flora as it “should be” and the post-deglaciation recolonization is still ongoing with the diversity of boreal species higher in Finland than in Scandinavia and much higher still in Russia the further east towards former Ice Age refuges in Siberia you go.

      “(IIRC conifers make the soil ph more acid hence why the conifer line may have effected farming potential.)”

      This is true and relevant in many ways (eg have trouble finding ancient DNA because the acidic soil eats bones so fast) . But here’s a map of estimates of when spruce took over from some biology textbook, in years before present:

      That’s some high school textbook picture but the point is, look at how recent it is and how big of a delay the Baltic Sea is. According to the pollen studies the forests around the Baltic around Corded Ware times really looked nothing like today.

      This is also something to remember before theories of someone else wiping out someone. Northern Europe is still not through the post-glaciation recolonization and this has happened in many stages that were certainly slow revolutions for whoever lived here (eg slash and burn won’t work in all forest types). Cultures may have had to retreat from their previous northern edges without any human cause.

      • dearieme says:

        “slash and burn won’t work in all forest types”: spot on. For example it won’t work in the broadleaved forests of Britain. No one knows how the early farmers cleared the wildwood in Britain. I don’t mean that no one speculates, just that no one knows. But it certainly wasn’t slash and burn.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Interesting stuff ty, especially the effect of the Baltic.

        “slash and burn won’t work in all forest types”

        Yes i was thinking of it happening the other way round i.e not necessarily a good alternative but the only alternative.

        1) Farmers cut down deciduous forest (alkaline soil) and plant crops adapted for alkaline soil = no problem

        2) Farmers cut down coniferous forest (acid soil) and plant crops adapted for alkaline soil = low yield and eventual retreat from that region

        So i was thinking the conifer line might have been a barrier to the standard neolithic farming package because of the soil ph with slash and burn herding (maybe mostly cattle in the west (funnel beaker) and mostly pigs in the east (globular amphora) with pigs winning (corded ware)) as the only viable alternative to no farming at all.

        Although it’s moot if the conifer line didn’t extend that far south.

  11. Matt says:

    On Corded Ware can anyone with an archaeology background say if it really is the case that it looks like their expansion stopped cold at the Atlantic megalithic area, or whether that’s just a culture form boundary? Or are there any hypotheses about why this is the case?

    It’s seem curious that Corded stops basically where the Western LBK does. Funnelbeaker and Western LBK seem to get replaced, then Corded seems unable to go further. What is it that stopped both LBK and Corded going any further? Are France and Britain undesirable land where Scandiwegia isn’t?

    The main issue that would seem to exist with the LBK sample and Oetzi not having large amounts of WHG admixture is that in many ways they position a lot like Middle Eastern samples with WHG mixture should position, on clines based on WHG samples.

    Otherwise, the Near East certainly needs quite extensive gene flow that approximates the non-WHG parts of LBK. And this should show in their uniparental markers.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “Or are there any hypotheses about why this is the case?”

      If the regions where cattle have the advantage is related to rainfall then the Atlantic coast climate zone has massive rainfall. In the northern forests further inland pig herding may have been more efficient than cattle. That might explain why the borders of these cultural groups seem to follow climate zones.

      • dearieme says:

        Pigs don’t like the cold: cattle are hardier. At least nowadays: whether in those days I don’t know.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          I don’t know either. I read somewhere that forest pig herding was big with the later Germans so i was just extrapolating backwards. If the idea is correct that might imply the northern pig herders had to use local pig species rather than the middle eastern ones?

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        The direct reason being relative population density. If neither side has a distinct military advantage of some kind then numbers aka population density will be the deciding factor imo.

        So if forest pig herding produced a pop. density of x throughout the whole northern zone whereas cattle produced x+1 in the western 1/4 and x-1 in the eastern 3/4 then – after a tussle or two – the cultural distribution would likely follow.

  12. John Hostetler says:

    If I may greatly simplify, Greg’s model seems to be that the EEF replaced the WHG roughly 10,000 years ago, basically throughout Europe west and northwest of the Pontic steppe. That was Round One.

    Then, roughly 5,000 years ago, the ‘people-who-once-had-a-perfectly-good-name-but-must-now-be-named-by-pottery’ (let’s think of them as a WHG/ANE blend for now), replaced the EEF in Northern Europe, and conquered them with variable admixture in Southern Europe. That was Round Two: call it the revenge of WHG genes.

    A few questions:

    1. Again, recognizing the simplification, am I right that this is the model?

    2. How much total replacement by EEF really went on in Northwest and North Central Europe in Round One? Wasn’t significant survivorship of WHG genes likely there all along?

    3. If Round Two was total replacement in Northern Europe, as suggested in this blog entry, then the Unnamable Ones presumably had lots of EEF in them already, since Northern Europeans do today. So were they actually a WHG/EEF/ANE blend?

    • John Hostetler says:

      PS: I’m not expecting Greg to necessarily have the time or inclination to respond – I’d like to read any reasoned explanations, especially those that integrate genetics, archaeology and linguistics – excessive focus on the latter two seems to lead to a lot of sloppiness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perfectly-good-name is Aryan?

      • Jaakko Raipala says:

        If the Corded Ware people were Aryans we then need another Indo-European expansion to replace the Aryan languages with the languages that Europeans actually speak.

        It is not a perfectly good name at all. Aryan is an ethnic name that Germanic romanticist authors stole for no reason. It was always a mix of bad taste and pseudoscience to equate all Indo-Europeans with Aryans. It’s as if some Hindutva authors would suddenly decide to call themselves Deutsch because a couple of Indo-European speaking peoples call themselves with derivatives of that same word and then wrote all sorts of nonsense about how Germans aren’t really Deutsch because they don’t look South Asian. Leave the Germanic names for Germanic branch and Aryan names for Aryan branch.

        There used to be actual Aryans in eastern Europe and there is no point in creating confusion by calling any non-Aryan branches of Aryan. If you’re that confused then any wannabe Stephen J Gould will have a ridiculously easy time ridiculing your ideas…

        • Philip Neal says:

          “There used to be actual Aryans in eastern Europe…” When and where?

          I entirely agree about the use of the word ‘Aryan’.

          • Jaakko Raipala says:

            Indo-Iranians populated northeastern Europe between the northern forest belt (populated by Finno-Ugrics whose languages have very old Indo-Iranian loans, including what seems to be the word “arya” in various meanings) to the Caucasus and they had offshoots in southeastern/central Europe up to medieval times. The waves of Huns, Mongols and Turks ended their rule of the steppe and they assimilated mostly in Slavic but also Turkic and Finno-Ugric ethnicities.

            There are still Aryans in eastern Europe if you can call Ossetia a part of Europe (Ossetians do have some name for themselves that’s a derivation of “arya”). They are a presumed remnant of the nomadic Aryans who kept invading Europe and China until Mongols and Turks took over the role. If we can rely on ethnic identification by Roman authors who didn’t actually record the language, literal Aryans even migrated as far as Gaul and Iberia:


            Germanic “Aryanism” was a pretty straightforward copy of various medieval Eastern European legends of upper classes descending from invading peoples that were later identified as Indo-Iranian speakers, like Polish Sarmatism:


            The self-designation Aryan is common among Indo-Iranians (so it is old) but it doesn’t pop up in other branches (so it is probably not “proto-IE old”).

          • Philip Neal says:

            @Jaakko: Ah I see, you count Iranians as Aryans.

    • eurogenes says:

      Corded Ware were partly EEF. We can see this in their mtDNA. Overall, I’d say they were very similar to present-day East Baltic groups, but with higher levels of ANE.

      And they certainly didn’t completely replace the EEF/WHG mixed groups that they encountered across Northern Europe.

    • gcochran9 says:
      1. More or less

      2. Judging from uniparental lineages that we’ve looked at so far, there was almost no mixing.

      3. Maybe. It is possible for two groups to have basically similar autosomal genetics with pretty different uniparental lineages: effective population size for uniparental lineages is 4 times smaller, drift is thus stronger, and chance matters more when you’re only looking at two loci. The centum expansion maybe started out in Russia with a pop that had that kind of mixture.

      • eurogenes says:

        Gokhem2, the very late Swedish TRB farmer, has a lot of WHG admixture. Almost as much as Basques. It also shares a lot of drift with Northwest Euros like the Brits and Dutch.

        Something to keep in mind.

  13. CAM says:

    One can easily see that in an era where resources are scarce, massacre is the preferred method, versus raiding in abundance. This interesting paper shows the total violence of the Cow Creek Massacre in 1325AD, and other parts of the excavation show endemic malnutrition.

    Now, one can easily argue that this was an exception, except for all that archaeological evidence in the Southwest of total resource exploitation in an era of scarcity.

    • a very knowing American says:

      At Crow Creek (site of a horrendous massacre), the one age/sex class mostly missing is young women, presumably assimilated by the victors. The Yanomamo, with a far simpler technology than Corded Ware were doing plenty of wife capturing back in the day. (Helen Valero, a Venezuelan national, was one victim, who wrote about her experience.) The Nuer, East African pastoralists with a simple technology, incorporated so many women and children from their Dinka victims that some Nuer groups were probably of mostly Dinka ancestry, although culturally Nuer. So even folks with a low level of technology and nothing in the way of civilized-style chattel slavery can still be capturing and incorporating women in large numbers when they are militarily successful. If Corded Ware types and Neo-Eskimos weren’t doing this, it might mean that male provisioning was so important for these guys that men didn’t want extra wives. Or maybe a man’s children by an outside woman didn’t count as members of the tribe. Maybe outside women were so hopeless at basic women’s work (as defined by invaders with a new economy) that none of the new guys wanted them as wives. Not really clear what was going on.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        ” If Corded Ware types and Neo-Eskimos weren’t doing this, it might mean that male provisioning was so important for these guys that men didn’t want extra wives.”

        Or they did it anyway but the offspring didn’t survive because in their environment one man couldn’t produce enough surplus to feed more than one set of kids?

      • Matt says:

        Probably not so much women’s work.

        One idea would be that if LBK women were kind of low lactase persistance, then they would have less babies on a high lactase diet compared Corded women. Hawks currently has a post on his blog about how lactase persistent women in a milk dependent region could wean earlier and more children (which is not only itself a direct selective advantage, but could be indirectly by making an inbred lineage of warrior types more numerous).

        Cow’s milk might have been more important in the zone of worsening agricultural climate where the Corded took over from the LBK, compared to the north (where in the Brit Isles / Atlantic facade where there may already be pastoralism of a sort established to some degree, and the circum-Baltic region of rich salmon fisheries) and the South (where the climate is less pessimal for agriculture).

        I’d expect this could combine with the fact that the LBK were likely no pushovers keen to give up their women – see the Talheim Death Pit. Fighting with them might be all or nothing. While in the Cardial zone, subsistence advantage for Corded would be less, but possibly there might have been slightly more opportunities for male mercenaries.

  14. Matthew M. Robare says:

    It seems like the Corded Ware culture was too early to have been Indo-European speakers. For one thing, going by Beckwith, the spread of IE accompanied the spread of horsemanship and chariots. IE was also associated with the Kurgan culture. Furthermore, the complexity of manufacturing chariots would seem to indicate a culture more sophisticated than Corded Ware. I suppose a relationship isn’t out of the question, but I would associate the IE speakers with the Shintashta culture.

    • eurogenes says:

      Corded Ware Culture was the temperate zone adaptation of the steppe Kurgan cultures.

      Sintashta was probably proto-Indo-Iranian.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Or a Black Death from the east?

    “They didn’t make the EEF guys serfs and get a cut of their grain – the villages disappeared.” … ” Judging from the mtDNA patterns, they didn’t even grab many of the nubile women.”

    Slavery is predicted even in the Mesolithic.

    • ghazi-less says:

      Pathogens as a prime mover–just like population replacement in the Americas. Seems very plausible. Is there any evidence available today in support of this hypothesis?

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know if theres evidence from bioarchaeology for pathology, but the aDNA looks suggestive and plagues from the steppe spreading west is attested. Maybe the East Asian genes of the ‘Sibermen’ were under positive selection for resistance.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Look, the Black Death, or something of comparable virulence, wouldn’t have done the job. Populations recover pretty rapidly. You need plague after plague after plague, none of which you’re adapted to, which is what the Amerindians faced. Possible because oceans had blocked contact with the disease epicenters of the Old world for something like 15,000 years.

        Was Europe similarly isolated? No. Does this scenario work? Very unlikely. Old-fashioned head-bashing is much more plausible.

        • seeba says:

          There is already strong signs of heavy population declining during the late neolithic period before any invading groups set foot into the european subcontinent. we also see that while famers where in decline in europe, their european hunters and foragers counterparts were thriving and retaking europe parts of europe for a short while. Anyways Europeans don’t have remain isolated for things to get from bad to worse.

          its seems Plagues and living closely in clustered small villages ofcourse could be the major trigger, but so can climate changes, having crop failures, famine, over using natural resources, cultural isolation, internal fighting and warfare. it seem invading newcomers where just the last and final blow to an already bleak situation to begin with.

  16. Sean says:

    Mitochondrial DNA: more than an evolutionary bystander

    “The vast majority of studies employing mtDNA in evolutionary biology and ecology have used it as a means to infer demographic and historical patterns without pondering the underlying functional implications. In contrast, the biochemical and medical communities often aim to understand the influence of specific mtDNA mutations on mitochondrial functions, but rarely consider the evolutionary and ecological implications”.

    Diet influences the intake target and mitochondrial functions of Drosophila melanogaster males “This study is of particular importance to understand the influence of diet on mitochondrial evolution in invasive and broadly distributed species including humans”

    Humanin “Humanin is a peptide that is encoded in the mitochondrial genome …Metabolic effects have also been demonstrated and humanin helps improve survival of pancreatic beta-cells, which may help with type 1 diabetes,[16] and increases insulin sensitivity, which may help with type 2 diabetes.[17]”

    Mitochondria as sensors and regulators of calcium signalling Milk has a awful lot of calciuim.

  17. Sean says:

    A real conquest:-
    THE team discovered that the Viking settlements set up closer to their homeland, such as those on Shetland and Orkney, seem to have involved similar numbers of men and women. […] The study also showed that the Viking genetic signature from the frontiers of their empire, such as the Scottish Western Isles, the Isle of Skye and Iceland was strongly male biased. The pattern matched what one would expect of colonisation, said Dr Goodacre. More secure settlements close to colonial strongholds seem to have been founded by families, while more distant ones fit the popular image of male invaders who took local wives.
    The work backs archaeological, place name and linguistic evidence that suggests complete Norse cultural dominance of Shetland and Orkney during the Viking period.”

    Complete cultural dominance, but the paper says:- ” Our findings indicate an overall Scandinavian ancestry of approximately 44% for Shetland and approximately 30% for Orkney, with approximately equal contributions from Scandinavian male and female subjects in both cases. This contrasts with the situation for the Western Isles, where the overall Scandinavian ancestry is less (approximately 15%) and where there is a disproportionately high contribution from Scandinavian males. “

  18. Asher says:

    The link to ancient scalping practices made me google scalping practices from around the ancient world and it looks pretty universal. So much for the bonobo-like peaceful savages that make the kumbaya-types so wet in their panties.

    Human history is positively brutal.

  19. Asher says:

    Women, unlike men, were frequently scalped while still living. Yeah, let’s bring back paganism and animism.

  20. j says:

    Baldness may have had selective advantage, making the trophy scalp less desirable. I decided to shave my head so no one will be tempted to scalp me.

  21. says:

    This is a great blog, touching on a subject that is blossoming for thinking people. We want to have an idea where our people (genes) came from. How genes relate to culture is a perplexing question, but I hope that eventually, with the gene pattern established with more precision this will become clearer. Robert Keith Brooklyn, NY

  22. Andrew says:

    “In some cases, the patrilineal warriors were diluted to the point that they imposed their Y chromosomes and literally nothing else – very few autosomal genes, not even language. Plausible for the Basque.”

    What kind of Maxwell’s demon could cause a 2 bean salad population to mix with another population and be replaced by its Y chromosome without acquiring its 3rd type of bean?

    Female infanticide

    If the warrior caste males out marry to the conquered locals and raised the sons to be warriors and sacrificed their daughters to the gods, the progeny would have the warrior Y and a mostly autosomal 2 bean with decreasing the 3rd bean with every generation. The warrior caste would have to replace the local male population over time. Ironically, by selecting for male children they would deselect their own traits and the warrior caste would become more like the conquered population.

    There is some evidence for preference for males in an ancient Basque necropolis:

    “Besides, there exists a significant differentiation gender wise, men having qualitatively and quantitatively more important funerary artifacts than women.”

  23. Lot says:

    I would expect that the invading population, coming from an area that had low population density, and conquering a population that was more numerous and more advanced, suffered very high male causality rates. The average warrior may have been supporting not only his wife and kids, but his slain brother’s. While there would still be a temptation to skim off the cutest females, if it didn’t make sense overall, the tribes might just have collectively decided to avoid the practice completely.

    What we know from much later written records of Northern Europe is that it was relatively egalitarian, meaning few if any men had the resources to support multiple concubines. We also know that in modern northern Europe women have the highest relative social, economic, and political status in the world. If this was also the case back then, the conquering tribeswomen’s objection to diverting parental resources to the offspring of conquered women would be sustained.

    I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry declined a threesome:

    JERRY: The manage. And not only that. She just called me and said she talked to the roommate and the roomate’s into the manage too.

    GEORGE: That’s unbelievable.

    JERRY: Oh, it’s a scene man.

    GEORGE: Do you ever just get down on your knees and thank god that you know me and have access to my dementia?

    JERRY: What are you talking about? I’m not goin’ to do it.

    GEORGE: You’re not goin to do it? What do you mean, You’re not goin to do it?

    JERRY: I can’t. I’m not an orgy guy.

    GEORGE: Are you crazy? This is like discovering Plutonium … by accident.

    JERRY: Don’t you know what it means to become an orgy guy? It changes everything. I’d have to dress different. I’d have to act different. I’d have to grow a mustache and get all kinds of robes and lotions and I’d need a new bedspread and new curtains I’d have to get thick carpeting and weirdo lighting. I’d have to get new friends. I’d have to get orgy friends. … Naw, I’m not ready for it.

    GEORGE: If only something like that could happen to me.

    JERRY: Oh, shut up you couldn’t do it either.

    GEORGE: I know.

  24. Greying Wanderer says:

    “hairy Ainu”

    The thing that gets me about that is:

    if Caucasians (for want of a better word) reached Siberia and downwards first so their original distribution was west Eurasia and all across north Eurasia

    and if the SLC24A5 gene is assumed to be a proxy for the west Eurasian version of farmer genes

    and if the West and East Eurasian versions of farmer genes started somewhere around the middle east and somewhere around China respectively

    then this distribution map of SLC24A5 is odd

    (from )

    With my assumed start points the two variants of farmer gene met half way in India and seem to balance out there i.e. neither variant seems to have become dominant over time. However if it’s correct that the AiNuE used to dominate in the far north all the way to Siberia down as far as Japan then the east Asian version of farmer genes starting out somewhere around China has won out dramatically over time before eventually reaching a similar halfway point.

    I think this may tie in with the collapse of LBK i.e both versions of farmer genes had specific and similar advantages so they expanded east and west respectively, met in India and reached an equilibrium there but at the same time both sets of genes moved north too, clockwise and counter-clockwise respectively, but the west Eurasian farmer expansion was halted for a time by the early steppe-related invasions so the east Eurasian farmer expansion got a head start in the north – leading to the gradual push back of the AiNuE.

    • Sean says:

      A more European specific allele for skin pigmentation, SLC45A2 solute carrier family 45, member 2 [ Homo sapiens (human) ]. “Mutations in this gene are a cause of oculocutaneous albinism type 4, and polymorphisms in this gene are associated with variations in skin and hair color. Multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene”

      The Interplay between Natural Selection and Susceptibility to Melanoma on Allele 374F of SLC45A2 Gene in a South European Population “In order to assess also the association of L374F to hair or eye color, we genotyped a subset of 344 individuals from which we had paired information for these traits. We observed that the ancestral allele G (374L) was associated with black (OR = 2.14; p = 0.0018) and dark brown hair (OR = 2.24; p = 0.0189), and the darkest eye color […] we observed that the polymorphism Leu374Phe (L374F, rs16891982) was statistically associated with skin color variability within this sample. In particular, allele 374F was significantly more frequent among the individuals with lighter skin.[…] The age of the expansion of the allele in this case was estimated to be of 16,480 years ”

      A Decreasing Gradient of 374F Allele Frequencies in the Skin Pigmentation Gene SLC45A2, from the North of West Europe to North Africa. “The highest allele frequency is observed in Denmark”.
      Denmark has the lowest digit ratio in the world and is also where one in 8 children is born to couples where medical assistance is needed due to low male sperm count.

      Near fixation of 374l allele frequencies of the skin pigmentation gene SLC45A2 in Africa. “Soninké populations have 374l allele frequency of 0.03.”. They live along the Senegal river, the most polygynous part of Africa.

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  26. j says:

    Only 14 percent of the English genome is derived from Eurasian Hunters. The English are from the ancient stock? Confusing.

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