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.