Who We Are: #9 Europe

To a good approximation, Europeans are descended from three populations: mesolithic hunter-gatherers, Anatolian farmers ( EEF) and Yamnaya pastoralists.

When this story begins, about ten thousand years ago, Europe was occupied by hunter-gatherers – foragers with sophisticated flint tools ( microliths) bows, and dugout canoes. In terms of social organization and technology, they were like archaic Amerindians (before agriculture). Many Amerindians on the west coast were still like that when Europeans arrived. Those European hunter-gatherers were themselves the product of a recent expansion out of the Balkans about 14,000 years ago, as the glaciers retreated. They did not have the major alleles causing light skin in contemporary Europeans, so probably had somewhat dark skin – exactly how dark is uncertain because they may have had their own skin-lightening mutations. They had high frequencies of the mutation that is the main cause of blue eyes.

Next came the first farmers, who started colonizing Europe about 8800 years ago. They originated in northwest Anatolia, and gradually spread over Europe by two paths: along the northern coast of the Mediterranean, and up the Danube. Eventually (by 6,000 years ago) populations of this sort occupied almost all of Europe, from Greece up to Sweden and as far west as England and Ireland. The stone-age farmers in the northern path (which led to the LBK culture) grew emmer and einkorn wheat, barley, peas, and lentils. As they moved into the Balkans, they picked up broomcorn millet, not in the original Southwest Asian agricultural toolkit. They raised cattle, pigs, goats, and old-fashioned sheep (not yet wooly). They preferred to farm loess soils near rivers, and lived in long houses arranged in small villages.

The settlers in the southern path had a similar kind of agriculture – but with tetraploid wheats, and without broomcorn. Both hunters and farmers had stone tools, no metals (at first), no horses.

There appears to have been another, very early migration that brought a different flavor of farmer to the Peloponnese and Crete – groups with ancestry from the eastern of the Fertile Crescent (the Zagros mountains of Iran) that did not use pottery. This migration did not go past Greece.

Not counting the Peloponnese, all these farming populations had a common origin and probably spoke related languages. In fact there is some recent evidence for that. We do not have to rely solely on Don Ringe’s talent as an inverse weathervane.

This is similar to Renfrew’s model for the expansion of Indo-European, but there is good reason to believe that Indo-European languages were introduced later, from the steppes. Renfrew’s theory is a good explanation of expansion of the languages carried by these Anatolian farmers, of which Basque is probably the only language still extant. It was just published 5000 years too late.

The original expansion of these Anatolian-origin farmers did not entail much mixing with the local hunter-gatherers: they were about 90% Anatolian. And there was friction, judging from skull-collections and forts, some of which show evidence of being stormed and burned by bow-wielding enemies. But significant numbers of hunter-gatherers hung around (without much genetic mixing) for a long time, a couple of thousand years, and this eventually led to a higher level of hunter-gatherer ancestry. This may have something to do with a style of farming that only worked in a fairly small fraction of the landscape (loess soils), leaving a lot of room for foragers. Farming in general was less effective than you might think, particularly in northern Europe, because the more cold-tolerant grain crops, like rye and oats, hadn’t been domesticated yet.

These early farmers eventually developed copper metallurgy, especially in the Balkans, and may have been the first to do so. They had art, some of it striking:

The archaeology of these Neolithic shows no evidence of strong hierarchy – no obvious palaces or temples. They sometimes had conflicts with the remaining hunter-gatherers, and they occasionally massacred each other, for unknown reasons.

The modern population genetically closest to these early farmers is Sardinian, specifically people living in Ogliastra province, in the southeastern mountains. Look at Neolithic DNA from Germany, Hungary, Spain, Sweden, England, Ireland: they all are genetically close to Sardinians. Otzi, the Iceman found frozen in northern Italy, looks Sardinian. And the way Sardinians look is informative: they have light skin and dark hair. Almost none are blondes or redheads. Apparently a wave of early farmers settled the Sardinian highlands, which, over the next seven thousand years, no else has really wanted.

More generally, most of the ancestry of southern Europeans – Spain, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean islands – goes back to these Anatolian farmers.

But there’s more to the story – the Aryans. Indo-Europeans.

The idea that a population moved off the steppe and made a major contribution to Europe’s culture and genetics was around a long time before people began studying ancient DNA. Mostly it was a product of linguistic analysis – just as the Romance languages such as French and Spanish and Italian are known to be descendants of Latin, almost all the languages of Europe ( and most of those in India and Iran) have deep similarities that suggest a common origin. For example, numbers:

English one two three four five six seven eight nine ten

Dutch een twee drie vier vijf zes zeven acht negen tien

German eins zwei drei vier fünf sechs sieben acht neun zehn

Icelandic einn tveir þrír fjórir fimm sex sjö átta níu tíu

Latin u:nus duo tre:s quattuor quinque sex septem octo: novem decem

Welsh un dau tri pedwar pump chwech saith wyth naw deg

Tocharian A sas wu tre s’twar päñ säk spät okät ñu s’äk

Lithuanian víenas dù try~s keturì penkì sheshì septynì ashtuonì devynì de:shimt

Russian odín dva tri chety’re pyat’ shest’ sem’ vósem’ dévyat’ désyat’

Farsi yak do se chaha:r panj shesh haft hasht noh dah

Sanskrit éka dvá trí catúr páñca s.as. saptá as.tá náva dáça

Nesbergu ai tah tro keti pekki sews eff owok neh tek

Linguistic archaeology has elucidated some facts about that the original Indo-Europeans. They raised horses, cattle, sheep and goats, had dogs, and farmed ( but not much). They had the wheel, used copper but not iron. They were patriarchal and warlike. They seem to have had young warrior bands (koryos) that went on seasonal raids and were compared to wolf packs. This tradition involving raising a dog as a pet and then sacrificing it, which is just wrong.

Not long after the invention of the wheel and domestication of horses, the Yamnaya culture spread rapidly over the vast grasslands of Eurasia, from Hungary to the Altai. Archaeologists used to think that this process was driven by emulation, people picking up a new culture – but that culture was carried by the expansion of a people, just as agriculture had been in Europe.
Why was the idea of migration and population replacement so shocking?

We have genetic samples from the Yamnaya, and genetic analysis has shown that were the product of a nearly 50-50 mix between two populations: eastern hunter-gatherers from Russia, and a population that has affinities to the Iranian farmers at the eastern end of the fertile crescent. The closest existing population to that second ingredient of Yamnaya ancestry are
backwoods Georgians (Dzugashvili, not Carter) – Mingrelians. Lavrentiy Beria was Mingrelian, if that helps.

Georgian ( the language ) is a member of the Kartvelian language family, native to the Caucasus. There are hints, not so much that Kartvelian and Indo-European are sister groups, more that the two protolanguages interacted at an early date. Reich suspects that proto-Indo-European originated south of the Caucus in some Iranian population: I’d bet that it originated along the eastern hunter-gatherers half of its ancestry. For a number of reasons, but one is that Greenberg thought that there was a distant relationship between Indo-European and the Amerindian languages.

Another point: there was lots of early contact & influence between Indo-European and protp-Uralic. They may even be sisters. You don’t get that south of the Caucasus.

There may be hints about this fusion of pops that led to the early Indo-Europeans out of linguistic archaeology. A number of people have the impression that the Indo-Europeans were composed of three social classes: warriors, priest/magicians, and herder-cultivators. Several old stories and legends ( such as the account of the Canola of the Sabine women, the Aesir-Vanir war, and the Mahabharata suggest that those warriors and priests conquered and incorporated the herder/cultivators. Related fact: looks as if the great majority of male lineages came from the EHG side.

About those eastern hunter-gatherers. Nick Patterson found that there was a real, measurable, but mysterious genetic connection between northern Europeans and Amerindians. The only explanation that worked posited a population somewhere in Siberia that had contributed to both Amerindians and Indo-Europeans – a ‘ghost’ population, since at the time we had no direct evidence of its existence. Later an ancient skeleton from Siberia ( the Malta boy) turned out to have that predicted genetic pattern, so these Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) are still dead, but no longer ghosts. This fits Greenberg’s idea of a connection between Amerindian and Indo-European. There were also some physical anthropologists, years ago, that had suspected some connection existed.

Yet another point: many of the key ideas Reich has helped confirm are not at all new. Gordon Childe published The Aryans in 1926 [ 92 years ago !], which argued that Europe was the product of an early immigration of gracile Mediterranean farmers followed by an invasion of Indo-Europeans off the steppe. He didn’t get every single syllable right, but he was close. Prehistorians and anthropologists then thought that Indo-Europeans had invaded India and imposed their language ( correct) – they also thought that caste was a deep-seated thing. I mean, you could tell that castes had not intermarried significantly because they fucking looked different – believing anything else required some form of willed blindness.

Reich tries his best to be nice about it, but his [fully justified] contempt for archaeologists and anthropologists shines through. As their tools improved (C-14 dating, for example ) and their funding increased, they got steadily farther and farther from reality. You’d think they were secretly psychologists !

Childe is also an interesting example: a man of the Left, in fact a deep-fried Marxist, yet he was able to actually think in a useful way. Back then, leftists dreamt of making steel and shooting kulaks, rather than lavishing praise on incompetents, deviants, and ragheads.

We know that when the Yamnaya moved into the Corded Ware [ = Battle Axe !] territory, they largely replaced the pre-existing population. About 75% of the Corded Ware ancestry was Yamnaya, possibly more. The replacement seems to have been male-biased: that is, the local men mostly disappeared while some of the local women survived and were incorporated into the Yamnaya society.
What do you think – did the local boys decide to spend all their time reading manga? Or was it one of those “What is best in life?” situations?

There are interesting linguistic hints about this: it is beginning to seem that much of the agricultural vocabulary you see in Western Indo-European languages (Europe) is not shared with the Indo-Aryans because it isn’t really Indo-European – most was picked up from the previous inhabitants of Europe. And because those pre-Indo-Europeans spoke related languages (Vasconic family, see Theo Veneman) different branches of Indo-European picked up closely related words.

The Indo-European expansion resulted in tremendous amplification of certain Y-chromosome lineages: R1b in western Europe, and R1a in eastern Europe and India/Iran. Why? Something like what may have happened with the descendants of Genghis Khan, the Golden Family? Or Neil of the Nine Hostages? or could those Y-chromosome haplotypes have conferred some kind of fitness advantage, as happened in domesticated horses?

The details of Indo-European expansions and conquest of europe are still being worked out. The general trend is near-placement in Northern Europe, conquest and language imposition in Southern Europe (with a lot of change in Y-chromosome lineages) We know that 5,000 years ago, Great Britain and Ireland looked Sardinian: those are the folks that built Stonehenge. 4,000 years, they looked like the current inhabitants. Very little continuity with the previous tenants: In England, > 93% replacement. we also know that before the Bell Beaker populations arrived, agriculture apparently had already ceased for several centuries, except in out-of-the-way places like the Orkney Islands. Archaeologists guess ‘climate change’ – I’d guess devastating raids and piracy, not unlike the Viking raids in the Dark Ages.

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232 Responses to Who We Are: #9 Europe

  1. Jerome says:

    It was my impression that all blue eyes are descended from a single mutation that occurred 6K – 10K years ago. How does that square with it being common 14K years ago?

  2. Cpluskx says:

    If that autosomally farmer Hajji Firuz r1b is dated correctly r1b might have moved from Northern Iran to steppe bringing the IE culture with it and later assimilate the r1a.

    • NotAPostMortemLizardSurgeon says:

      IF, which given him being rather downstream Y-DNA wise and harboring Yamnaya ancestry autosomally, is rather unlikely.

      • Cpluskx says:

        What Yamnaya ancestry are you talking about?

        Green: Iranian Farmer – Orange: Anatolian Farmer.

        • NotAPostMortemLizardSurgeon says:

          From Eurogenes:

          here it seems to be Afanasievo instead but you know the deal

          • Cpluskx says:

            Lol Eurogenes. That guy is not objective to say the least.

            • JSK says:

              “Lol Eurogenes. That guy is not objective to say the least.” And you are?

            • NotAPostMortemLizardSurgeon says:

              Well, I guess in the face of evidence you have to get personal. Can you show where his model fails? Do you even know how it works? If not, keep quiet. Other people, even notorious anti-steppists have confirmed his model. Davidski is one of the least biased members in the community, and he changes his views with new data. Reich mentioned him in his book and Nick Patterson has comments on his blog.

            • dave chamberlin says:

              Eurogenes is an excellent blog. Is Davidski sometimes wrong? Sure, so are we all.

        • Jeff says:

          No, Orange in this ADMIXTURE plot actually means Srubnaya-related, not Anatolian.
          And the Green, for instance, also contains Anatolian.
          You just don’t know how K levels work.

          • myb6 says:

            +1, but to be fair to Cpluskx, this was quite misleadingly-labeled in the paper itself.

            That sample had a lot of steppe ancestry.

    • epoch2013 says:

      No. Even if the Hajji Firuz R1b Z2103 is dated Chalcolithic it is not parsimonious that it’s the source of Yamnaya’s R1b. For the very simple reason that of all the ancient samples we have most of R1b’s diversity is around Eastern Europe. We have one (this) sample from Iran that fits the bill. It is a rather evolved variant, so where are its brothers, cousins? Dad? Grandparent?

      Not in ancient Iran.

      • Cpluskx says:

        You surely know much more and have seen more data than David Reich.

        • epoch2013 says:

          No I don’t. But it’s simple logic. You see, let’s see the two oldest R examples: Mal’ta 24.000 years ag with basal R* and Villabruna with a R1b. In between the action must have taken place. Maybe you are rigth, but then a whole swathe of R1b must have been missed from Iranian samples. While technically not impossible it still is unlikely.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Some of your notes are tacked on at the end there.

  4. gwern says:

    Is this post finished? It seems to degenerate into notes after “R1a, R1b”.

    • Thersites says:

      Probably still in progress, given the as-yet un-corrected typos. At least, one hopes so- would hate for Dr. Cochran to have fallen victim to the Black Beast of Argh.

  5. Zimriel says:

    Provìntzia de s’Ogiastra doesn’t exist anymore. The Italians subsumed it into Provìntzia de Nùgoro.

  6. Toddy Cat says:

    Just a reminder that if you look into a mirror at midnight, and utter the word “Greenberg” three times, a linguist will appear and tell you that Greenberg’s methods were invalid, no matter how much DNA analysis may confirm his results…

  7. What were they growing on the Orkney Islands? Did they have oats by then?
    Does anyone know when Europeans started making alcohol?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Barley, I’d guess.

      • epoch2013 says:

        Barley probably used to be staple food in area’s where wheat didn’t do all that well. Dutch excavations of Batavian villages show a multitude of barley, no wheat. While technically that could have been used for beer (They were a Germanic tribe after all) you’d expect some sort of wheat for food. Previous neolithic culture grew emmer and einkorn on far worse soils.

        Some cuisines still have dishes with barley:

        It actually tastes better than you think.

    • Zimriel says:

      You touched on something there, playalong. Last I read about teosinte maize, it was domesticated for its fermentable sugars, not for eating. Mesoamericans literally saw maize beer as a godsend because it meant they weren’t needing to get blasted on peyote for that bit of escapism anymore. Also beer strong enough to kill water/fecal pathogens and weak enough not to get you Hillary-level drunk all the time enabled town-level settlements to scale better, as in Sumer and Egypt.
      As maize grains grew larger over the generations of breeding, it was – later – fit for grinding into tortilla and, finally, for eating off the cob.

  8. Smithie says:

    Are we sure that Welsh is Indo-European? Not Martian with a few loan words?

    • Arpad says:

      Nope, it is well-established that Hungarian is Martian.

      The following passage is from The Curve of Binding Energy by John McPhee (1973, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, pp. 104-105):

      “Not all the Los Alamos theories could be tested. Long popular within the Theoretical Division was, for example, a theory that the people of Hungary are Martians. The reasoning went like this: The Martians left their own planet several aeons ago and came to Earth; they landed in what is now Hungary; the tribes of Europe were so primitive and barbarian it was necessary for the Martians to conceal their evolutionary difference or be hacked to pieces. Through the years, the concealment had on the whole been successful, but the Martians had three characteristics too strong to hide: their wanderlust, which found its outlet in the Hungarian gypsy; their language (Hungarian is not related to any of the languages spoken in surrounding countries); and their unearthly intelligence. One had only to look around to see the evidence: Teller, Wigner, Szilard, von Neumann — Hungarians all. Wigner had designed the first plutonium-production reactors. Szilard had been among the first to suggest that fission could be used to make a bomb. Von Neumann had developed the digital computer. Teller — moody, tireless, and given to fits of laughter, bursts of anger — worked long hours and was impatient with what he felt to be the excessively slow advancement of Project Panda, as the hydrogen-bomb development was known. … Teller had a thick Martian accent. He also had a sense of humor that could penetrate bone.”

    • Philip Neal says:

      Pray do not joke about the language of heaven. The Welsh Language Commissioner has stated that “legislation is needed to protect rights and to prevent language hate”. She is calling a meeting to discuss the matter further and think of ways to move the agenda forward.

      • dearieme says:

        “to move the agenda forward”: God, I wish she’d stick to Welsh.

        • syonredux says:

          I’ll have it so: a little charge will do it.
          I’ll not have it alter’d.
          Will not you?
          No, nor you shall not.
          Who shall say me nay?
          Why, that will I.
          Let me not understand you, then; speak it in Welsh.

          I Henry IV, Act 3, Scene I, 1659-1664

  9. Not only props for Greenberg, but for Theo Vennemann as well? You take my breath away.

    @ Toddy Cat – I’m going to run that experiment with “Vennemann” this very evening.

    BTW, I had fun tracking down Nesbergu, which I had not previously been familiar with. I was struck to the core that there was an Indo-European language I had not heard of.

  10. magic says:

    What’s the good source to read about the linguistic archeology stuff?

  11. Greying Wanderer says:

    “This tradition involving raising a dog as a pet and then sacrificing it, which is just wrong.”

    interesting thing about that to me is – did they do it cos they were psycho or did they do it because they weren’t psycho enough?

    (i.e. as a traumatization technique to toughen them up)

    • Smithie says:

      Old dog registrations in a rural environment: they are sometimes like 80-90% male. This suggests to me that many female puppies were killed. Probably easier than gelding male dogs without anesthesia.

      • JBL says:

        Many puppies and kittens are killed at birth, male pups too. This should surprise nobody. It’s another thing though to first raise it up, and only then execute the post-abortion.

        • Colastorm says:

          This seems vaguely reminiscent of the Ainu’s bear sacrifice ceremony, where they raise it as a pet from a cub, and then sacrifice it as an adult.

        • Smithie says:

          Definitely. I’m not trying to equivocate, but merely trying to imply that our GG grandparents were a hard people and when you go back to Yamna days they were probably even harder. So, while difficult, it would have been heaps easier.

          Contrast that to today. How many have ever killed a chicken, let alone a mouse? Many would become squeamish at the thought. And chickens are really monstrous animals. Apologies to PETA aside, their one redeeming quality is that they hit the taste buds right.

      • NotAPostMortemLizardSurgeon says:

        Toughen them up. They had to fight cannibalistic farmers and their wives vengeful family. Look what happened to the Corded Warians that apparently did not kill their Schoenfelder in-laws.

    • gcochran9 says:

      not psycho enough.

  12. Bla says:

    How the Balkans population history looks like?

  13. indravaruna says:

    I always tought that Sardinians and Basque looked alike, and some Sardinian surnames seemed similar to Basque.

    How about the Etruscans? There is some traditions that they came from Anatolia, there is a language similar to Etruscan found in a Greek island.

    • Jim says:

      Greenberg considered Etruscan to be a Euroasiatic language. He classified it as a separate branch but closer to Indo-European than the other branches. He discounted any particularly close relation to Anatolian languages.

    • Anonymous says:

      If there is a connection between Basque and Etruscan, it’s extremely distant. There’s some similarities in the numerals, but only if you’re really looking. It’s not really possible to come up with a series of sound changes that would account for them based on the evidence we have. Further muddying the waters, Etruscan as we know it is heavily Italicised and Hellenised, as is Basque, even from the earliest times. A lot of very basic Etruscan vocabulary looks Indo-European, but a great deal of it really doesn’t. Basque only appears to be related to Iberian and Aquitanian, and even the Iberian connection is tenuous.

      Etruscan is clearly related to Lemnian (spoken on Lemnos at least until the Classical period) and Rhaetic (spoken in the Alps). Both are attested in only a handful of inscriptions. It seems likely that they’re all also related to Minoan and its descendant Eteocretan, and Eteocypriot. The Eteocypriot connection is most obvious simply because there’s more surviving Eteocypriot material.

      As far as I can remember, the genetic evidence suggests the Basques were descended from a mix of hunter gatherers and neolithic farmers who were genetically isolated from the rest of Europe following the mix. Interestingly, Basque folklore speaks of at least two different groups of ‘giants’ who supposedly lived alongside humans for a long time, teaching anything from animal husbandry to farming to metalwork.

      (Nobody’s done much in the way of genetic research on ancient Etruscans. The Minoans if I recall correctly are similar to other Neolithic farmers but with some Anatolian/Iraqi maternal lineages. Possibly remnants of the expansion that never went west of Greece?)

      • DataExplorer says:

        Both Etruscans and Minoans had J2, which the Neolithic farmers did not. So most likely they are descended from a more recent Near Eastern migration. Didn’t Herodotus say the Etruscans came from Anatolia? Cattle in Tuscany also bears genetic markers from the Middle East.

        The Basques have the highest R1b in the world, so the paternal line does seem to be Indo European. Perhaps those “giants” were Indo European adventurers that roamed the Pyranese and went native, adopting the lical language?

  14. Smithie says:

    Any new theories as to why Europeans seem to have great deal of variety in hair and eye color compared to the rest of the world? Is it the Steppe or something else? What pop are we talking for the hair colors?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Blue eyes from the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, variety in hair color from the ANE. Why? Nobody knows.

      • tautology5628 says:

        There is this sexual selection theory floating about. I figure it is not plausible because sexual selection on females is a really weak force?

        • gkai says:

          When you have the usual kind of population replacement, with most of the local men killed but not the local females, it means you have (temporary) female surplus. Maybe at this time sexual selection on female is important. The prettier/most uncommon local being preferably chosen, or promoted so that offspring belong to the ruling caste?

          In fact, I wonder if sexual selection of female is such a weak force once you have huge reproductive success differential among males and patri-linear dynasties. Intuitively it seems that being a favorite concubine or wife is far fitter than being the annoying engrossed servant, not necessarily by the number of offspring but more by your future male offspring success….

          • bruce says:

            Peter Frost imaginied that the female surplus was from males dying at high rates on big-game hunts but I guess this would be earlier than Yamnaya invasion.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Peter Frost was wrong.

              • Hallie Scott Kline says:

                Frost was wrong in attributing males’ scarcity to the hunt? If so, is that because you think tribal conflict was a likelier reason? Would love to hear your thoughts.

              • gcochran9 says:

                First, he was wrong in sticking his model inside Europe. Can’t remember if he included eye color, but light eyes seems to have happened in a separate population from red and blonde hair. Since genes are pleiotropic, there are lots of possible reasons – maybe the KITLG blonde mutation has an advantage from something entirely other than appearance.

                Many models are just as plausible as his – having written a model down doesn’t make it that special, when there’s really no usable evidence to address the question.

          • Smithie says:

            There is the example of Roxelana, a member of Suleiman’s harem who became his wife. Supposedly, she had red hair. Of course, that particular dynasty is probably a bad example, as upon ascension, the other brothers were customarily killed.

            There is also Princess Llala Salma of Morocco. She seems to have reddish hair. Maybe, dyed, but maybe partly natural.

            • Bla says:

              You do know where Roxelana was from (at least approximately), right?

              • Smithie says:

                The way I think I heard it originally, she was likely from Thrace. Interestingly, I see the more popular idea is that she was from Ruthenia, or modern Ukraine, and that probably is correct.

    • bruce says:

      (cave) gentlemen prefer blondes?

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Northern Europe was the one place in the world where humans lived long enough to evolve mutations to cope with a lack of sunlight, a critical source of vitamin D. Neanderthals lived here and they too had their own mutation for red hair, completely different than the red hair mutation that later arose in humans.

  15. Coagulopath says:

    backwoods Georgians (Dzugashvili, not Carter) – Mingrelians. Lavrentiy Beria was Mingrelian, if that helps.

    “Mingrelian” sounds like a race in a fantasy novel that exists solely to fetch the evil wizard’s spellbooks from the library.

  16. How much genes horse Y-chromosome holds? Probably not a handful like in humans if it can provide fitness advantage?

  17. jovien says:

    What is difficult to believe is an IE expansion so rapid, with quasi-elimination of the previous farmer population, on such a huge territory, from such a tiny territory, probably not densely populated.

    The numbers in Reich are approximative and contradictory. P 116, the map shows the percentage of individual with steppe ancestry : 100% in Britain, 100% in Germany. But maybe it means what is written and not what one would have expected (and what I have thought before writing this) : percentage of ancestry from the steppe.

    Reading Reich, its seems that the IE entered present Poland in 3 000 BC, Britain in 2 500, and that the replacement was instantaneous.
    I suppose it took time.
    Your description is of a depredatory invasion, with a probable diminution of the total population in the invaded territories : the contrary of what happened with the invasion of the Anatolian farmers.

    All that said, I still have difficulty to understand how kind of steppic Vikings can have replaced in a few centuries three quarters of the population of half Europe. Even if Reich adds that probably they were bearers of the pneumonic plague. With Black Death, the population of Europe diminished, but not halved. It was very far from the bacteriological shock the Amerindians suffered.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I thought that the secret was already out, but here it is: killing people is easy.

      Actually, the latest thought is that the Black Death in 1348 really did kill half the population. Researcher had mis-estimated the death rate by accidentally concentrating on the prosperous, who left more records but had a moderately lower death rate than the population as a whole.

      Do I buy the idea that the Yamnaya won through yersinia? Probably not: you don’t get wildly sex-biased death from a bug.

      • Leonard says:

        Probably worth noting that exterminating farmers is easier than hunter/gatherers. The latter have the option to hide in the hills and woods and eat bark and grubs or whatever. If you want to kill them you have to go find them, which isn’t that easy. Farmers have big obvious fields full of crops which one can burn, or feed to one’s livestock. They can’t take to the hills because (a) there are too many of them to all live this way, and (b) they don’t know how to live off the land, nor are they equipped for it.

      • dearieme says:

        “you don’t get wildly sex-biased death from a bug”: you could if it were a bug associated with child birth. But that’s exactly the wrong sort of bug for this purpose.

      • Eric Wilds says:

        Any estimates of the population of EEF in Britain before the Indo Europeans arrived? The EEF were farmers, and apparently, good builders e.g. Stonehenge, dolmens etc. and shouldn’t have fallen so easily to the IE Bell Beakers. Was the horse the IE killer advantage?

      • myb6 says:

        Bug kills off half the farmers, then steppe comes in and goes for what is best in life?

      • Cantman says:

        Although I don’t necessarily disagree that this is what happened here, when we look at continental population replacements for which we have good records violent deaths really are not all that huge of a factor. Birth rate differential is much more of one.

      • JP says:

        These are pastoralists with horses and wheeled vehicles, technologies no one else has. They have a strong incentive to turn farmland into grazing land, as Mongols had in mind for northern China. With exclusive technologies and the puppy slaughter will to power it was easy, clearly. Hell their teenagers were more than a match for the farmers. Someone needs to produce some historical fiction on this.

    • Jeff says:

      You talk as if Hundreds or even a thousand of years are fast.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      “What is difficult to understand is an IE expansion so rapid with elimination of previous farmer population.”

      David Anthony, author of The Horse, the Wheel, and Language has a simple and probably correct answer as to why. One population lives out of horse drawn carts, the Yamnaya, and you have another population fixed to one spot, their farm. The farmers were sitting ducks, easily picked off by roving bands of horse raiders whom could raid and disappear without being pursued because they were on horses.

      There is this dipshit undercurrent that in our past we were peaceful and all got along. Nope. Not even close. Even small advantages allowed one population to expand rapidly at the expense of another. It’s a theme repeated over and over and over again. Predators fight and protect their territory from other members of their own species. Of course we did the same thing when we were hunter gatherers and to a lesser extent when we turned to agriculture. Give Apaches horses, Iroquois guns, Mongols composite bows, and if they can they will most definitely waste very little time in depopulating a huge area fast.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        And yes the young ladies of the previous locals were simply irresistible. But back in the days of yore you could not afford a wife of your children not to be raised in your own culture. So what happened on a raid, stayed on a raid.

      • Jim says:

        It took the Apaches quite a long time to learn to ride horses. At first they stole them to eat or to trade for other things. Apache raiding did drive the Spanish to a considerable extent out of Southern Arizona and Sonora. But neither the Apaches nor the Comanches wanted to get rid of the Spanish. Their knew their way of life was totally dependent on acquiring on acquiring all kinds of neat stuff from the Spanish. They loved the Spanish.

  18. jovien says:

    An ambiguity in the numbers of Reich and in yours :
    When you say in Britain > 93% replacement, is it replacement from the continent, or replacement from the steppe ?
    If it is the former, the question then arises : in Britain, what proportion of ancestry is from the steppe ?

  19. jovien says:

    But what’s the use of killing people, when you are in a stratified society ? Better dominate them and make them work for you when you sleep with their daughters your concubines and servants.
    Did the Angles and Saxons significantly replaced population of the British Isles ? No, as far as I know : they just make the language change.

    And, in fact, even the linguistic change is not so easy to understand in case of the IE invaders : the Vikings did not replace the languages spoken in the British Isles. But the IE carried their language from the Caspian Sea to Ireland, five thousand kilometers out of the steppe, and on the whole european continent.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Before the Yamnaya moved into Germany, there were villages of longhouses. Afterwards, there were no villages, no houses, almost no sign of farming.

      • One does not need to be a Picasso to see that something changed between the cave art and the medieval art. The phot of a sculpture in your post is also a testomy for that observation.
        Since 1968 countless women tried to rise their boys in a non-Macho fashion. “MeToo” shows that this did not work, the selection process still works the other way around. Wonder why. Seems that Reich’s fear about a debate about race is only the tip of a grander iceberg.

    • Leonard says:

      But what’s the use of killing people, when you are in a stratified society ?

      Killing them certainly ends any threat they might pose, whereas keeping them as slaves and concubines is at least potentially dangerous. Now, you and I both know that many peoples have managed to conquer and incorporate slaves just fine. We know it’s possible. Perhaps the Yamnaya didn’t know that.

      Also, the use of land for grazing herds and for farming is mutually exclusive. So it takes a substantial adaptation in your way of life to change from pastorialism to lordship. I have the feeling that a cultural adaptation like this is not that obvious. It may also require biological adaptations to really work well, and those wouldn’t be present until after you successfully make the transition — a catch-22.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        That was the original Mongol plan for what to do with China: burn it all down and convert it to pasture for their herds.

        But then some younger Mongols noticed that they kind of liked Chinese restaurants and Chinese laundries, so they proposed just ruling over the Chinese and taxing them.

      • jovien says:

        In a society with social classes and sort of kings, how is it possible not to know you can dominate or enslave conquered populations ?

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          maybe the early farmers didn’t produce enough of a surplus to maintain an elite class (or maybe they did in the south but not in the north) – in which case the different trajectories of Europe and east Asia may have been caused by timing i.e. maybe geography protected China from the steppe dudes long enough for their farming to develop a large enough surplus to support an elite class which the steppe invaders could replace.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          Well, morality very much aside, they might have known what they were doing, long-term. Mongol rule lasted only slightly over 100 years in China, whereas the descendents of the Yamnaya still rule North-West Europe (for now – give it a few years). Can anyone doubt that, had the Mongols actually exterminated the Chinese, the area that is now China would be a Mongol state?

          See also, United State vs. South Africa.

          Genocide is like nuclear weapons – the most sickening thing about it is that it works.

          • jovien says:

            Of course, it works. But the question is : for what purpose ?
            The IE invaders were probably not very excited by the idea that, four thousand years later, their offspring woud people Europe and the Americas. The one who exterminates the workers instead of making them work for him amazes me.

            • Toddy Cat says:

              I doubt that the Yamnaya were thinking about the future four thousand years from now, but men have been known to think about the position of their children and grandchildren, and they might have realized that being a thin upper stratum imposed on a huge resentful mass of helots liable to erupt into rebellion at any time was a very precarious position indeed. I agree, enslaving the conquered populace makes more economic sense short-term, and it’s certainly more humane, but the Yamnaya may not have thought like modern economists.

              Besides, people do weird shit all the time that nkaes no econimic sense – just look at Mao, Pol Pot and Hitler.

              • jovien says:

                To eat, the invaders had to work. They did not prefer somebody to work for them ?
                The example of the Vikings does not fit because they did not replace a population anywhere, the example of the Mongols does not fit either. Where do you find testified something of the same kind ? A farmer population replaced by invaders who are not much superior in agricultural techniques, and who live in a stratified society ?
                It looks like a war between Chimps or Amazonians – exterminating the males and taking the females – but in a hierarchical society, and this is the strangeness…

              • moscanarius says:

                To eat, the invaders had to work. They did not prefer somebody to work for them ?

                Their “work” might have been looting the next farm, a thing that often requires killing its inhabitants. They could have kept doing this until they reached regions sufficiently dense in farmers that they could no longer destroy this way, and had to either do as you say (dominate the slaves) or adopt some of the farmers’ ways. There you have the Southern European pattern of predominantly male Steppe lineages on predominantly EEF people.

            • Bla says:

              Look, they were pastorals. When you are a farmer, you might find conquered population useful, and put them to work as slaves or some other type of dominated population, while you rule over them and enjoy the benefits. If you are a pastoral, the incentive is just not there unless you switch to farming or extracting rents from much richer civilization (which might not necessarily work for that era). Furthermore, the more area they farm, the less area for your cattle to graze upon. In the first case you enrich yourself by keeping them alive, in the second, by destroying their source of food. As you transform the farming into grazing area, you might not even think, or care, what happens with the farmers.
              You might find some of them useful. You might want to take skilled artisans, especially metal workers (Did it happen? No idea.), but how many would that be? And of course, you might want to create/expand your concubinage. Hell, you might be curious and keep occasional artist or priest, or some equivalent, alive. But unless you find something captivating in conquered civilization, the results would probably be disastrous for them.

              Then again, maybe initial skirmishes, and supposed deaths in it, triggered the honor code of extracting revenge. Or their gods told them to do it. Or whatever… You don’t have to go especially far in history to find (wannabe) conquerors behaving in irrational way.

              • Bla says:

                Also, you need a greater area to produce the same number of calories from herding than from farming.

              • jovien says:

                Thank you for these answers. I begin to understand.

                I still would be interested to have a testified example of a pastoralist population replacing rapidly, by conquest, a farming one.
                I try to find one, but I cannot.
                For instance, as far as I know, during the turkic peoples expansion, there was no big scale conversion from farming to pastoralism. And the replacement of the population was limited, as it is manifest by the fact that the Kazakhs are less East Asians than the Kirgizs, and the Azeris ant the Anatolians less than the Kazakhs.

              • jovien says:

                1° I go towards my interlocutors :

                I remember the historian Pierre Chaunu (“L’Amérique et les Amériques”) saying that, for the Spaniards, conquering an empire was not that difficult : they had to take the place of the emperor ; the peasants were used to obey the State who ruled the towns. But to conquer non-State primitive peasants – like the Araucans – was of little profit (no big surpluses) and very labored : you have to conquer village after village, and, even conquered, they are not subdued : and more or less you have to exterminate them.
                I remember, too, the sociologist Jean Baechler (“Démocraties”) pointing to the length of time from the conquest of the mediterranean part of Spain by the Carthaginians to the conquest of whole Iberia by the Romans ; his conclusion was that Spain was too primitive. The same can be said of the non-conquest of Scotland and Ireland by the Romans.

                So, the first Europeans farmers were not alike the peasants the Turks met some thousands years later…
                And maybe one can say in some measure that they were eliminated because they fought to death, and that they died free.

                2° A technical point.
                .1 If, in a population, 80% of chromosome Y comes from a population A, and 20% from a population B, and 20% of mitochondrial DNA comes from the population A and 80% from the population B, can we guess that half the DNA comes from A and half from B, or can’t we : from the purely paternal lineage and from the purely maternal lineage we cannot make the inference ?
                .2 Is the good technique this one : to examine which proportion of the chromosome X comes from population A and which from population B ?
                For example, Reich, p 234 : US Blacks have 23% of their X chromosome which comes from Europe, so 38% of their male ascendency is from Europe, and 10% of their female ascendency.
                (That makes 24% of their ascendency from Europe. On page 233, it is said that it is 27% in “most of the genome”. I find that Reich’s book has many inconsistencies or assertions which look like inconsistencies).

    • Smithie says:

      Maybe, it has to do with genetic distance. Low distance: rulers are replaced. High distance: men are replaced. Could be a proxy for weaponry, population density, or even human tribal psychology.

      Beyond that, there is a certain level of development where it probably becomes a lot easier to control a pop, if, for instance, you have heavily armored knights or the Maxim gun.

    • JP says:

      I repeat they are pastoralists, they want to have herds of cattle and sheep. Cowboys don’t need servants. The IEs only refrained from total replacement in places where the land isn’t as fit for pastoralism: Italy, Greece, Anatolia and S/SW Asia. Also population density was higher in these places.

  20. jovien says:

    1° The argument in Reich for an origin of IE language in western Iran is relatively poor, and you give several good arguments to believe in an origin not in a place South of Caucasus, arguments who maybe could be classed this way by decisiveness :
    1. Uralic languages.
    2. EHG male origin of IE lineages.
    3. Georgian/Kartvelian population.
    4. Kartvelian language.
    5. Amerindian languages
    6. Amerindian population.

    2° I understand that the belief that the Basque language comes from Anatolian farmers and not from Pyrenean hunter gatherers comes from linguistics, in peculiar toponymy. But is it so strong an argument ?
    Anyway, some of the first farmers of our continent spoke Basque (or a pre-Basque) language : So there are two spectacular remnants of this people our part-ancestors : The megaliths and the Basque language.

  21. FrenchMan says:

    An instance of « old-fashioned sheep (not yet wooly) » : the Soay sheep, survived in St Kilda archipelago (Scotland) for thousand of years.

  22. Aidan Kehoe says:

    “Reich tries his best to be nice about it, but his [fully justified] contempt for archaeologists and anthropologists shines through. As their tools improved (C-14 dating, for example ) and their funding increased, they got steadily farther and farther from reality. You’d think they were secretly psychologists !”

    Just ordered the book on the basis of that—I had been holding off chiefly because of Reich’s attitude as you described it, but as you describe there’s some hope for him.

  23. ziel says:

    “Those European hunter-gatherers were themselves the product of a recent expansion out of the Balkans about 14,000 years ago, as the glaciers retreated.”

    So who were the Western Europe cave paintings that are a bit older – an even older group of HG’s? Is that lineage completely lost in current populations?

    • Jeff says:

      Before 14,000 BC, you had some groups in Europe.
      We don’t know the exacts yet, but it seems that the WHG is a mixture of Anatolian groups, European groups and ANE groups from 20,000 years ago and before.
      At that time, they were vastly different from the post-Ice age ones, if you’re wondering.

  24. Jim says:

    Did you mean Amerindians on the east coast?

    • Steve Sailer says:

      I have the vague sense that early American observers like Jefferson didn’t see East Coast Amerindians as being that distant from Europeans. But it seems hard to tell what the Indians Jefferson dealt with looked like because there aren’t that many full-blooded Eastern Indians left.

      In contrast, the biggest number of unmixed Indians today in the US are probably among the Navajo. The Navajo are quite different looking from whites, but then again they are Na-Dene speakers, and their ancestors arrived in the New World from Siberia much later than East Coast Indians.

      • Eric Wilds says:

        Implying the veracity of the Solutrean hypothesis?

      • Jim says:

        I have seen flesh and blood Navajo Indians. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flesh and blood east coast Indian. I assume they looked like Elizabeth Warren.

        • j says:

          The Indians of Florida and the Caribbean (Puerto Rico) are not Navajo yet they do not look European.

          • Jim says:

            I lived in Florida at one time and I don’t recall that I ever saw an American Indian while living there. I’m not sure where the Seminole are hiding, maybe in the Everglades. I think all the original Florida Indians are gone. The Seminole are recent emigrants from Alabama.

            According to Greenberg the Timucua who lived on the Northeast Coast of Florida are not closely related linguistically to any other North American linguistic group but instead belong to a South American group mostly spoken I recall in Venezuela. He thinks that they came to Florida across the Caribbean from South America.

            • SabbyInTheGlades says:

              The Calusa (Pre-Seminole) of SW Florida are an interesting bunch, worth reading about. And yes, the Seminole are down here. 🙂

        • JP says:

          I had a great grand parent who was “half” Abenaki, certainly quite high in admixture anyway. This side of the family has extremely high cheekbones and large, distinctive noses, not European though the rest of the known tree is Yankee. My uncle looks like the original Kennewick Man reconstruction as did his father. Interestingly, 23andme cannot detect this ancestry in me, though I have a bit of Amerindian, Siberian and Australian showing up in some of the GED Match results. I think they just don’t have good reference populations in the 23andme model.

  25. Yudi says:

    Is there going to be a podcast about this book?

  26. Yudi says:

    Also, why is Don Ringe an inverse weathervane? He supports the steppe hypothesis.

  27. Red says:

    I’ve heard that heterosis (hybrid vigour) can mean that mixing two gentically dissimilar populations, but who are similar in ability, can produce people who are ‘better’ than both. For instance, Euro-Japanese mixes have slightly higher IQs than both parents.

    Could the early migration of farmers to the Peloponnese and Crete (and mixing with natives) explain the early arrival of Greek / Minoan civilisation?

    Did the mixing of the three populations of Europe raise the collective IQ? And do the Italian-Semitic mixed roots of the Ashkenazi partially explain the higher IQ? Going much further back, Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon etc.

    • et.cetera says:

      “For instance, Euro-Japanese mixes have slightly higher IQs than both parents.”

      Can you provide a source for this claim?

      • Red says:

        “Can you provide a source for this claim?”

        Not exactly. In Cochran’s post on heterosis – https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/heterosis/ – he states:
        “I’ve seen a study that observed a moderate IQ advantage in Japanese-European kids in Hawaii, something like a quarter of a standard deviation, but I don’t think it’s been replicated, and that’s not enough change to get excited about in any event.”

        … but when you look at studies of mixed-race (black+white) IQ, it is often higher than the expected midpoint, which is another hint about ‘hybrid vigour’.

        • Red says:

          This is the possible source (from Richard Lynn):
          “The IQs of the two hybrid groups are slightly higher than the average of the two parent races. The average IQ of the Europeans and Hawaiians is 90.5, while the IQ of the children is 93. Similarly, the average IQ of the Chinese and Hawaiians is 90, while the IQ of the children is 91. The slightly higher than expected IQs of the children of the mixed-race parents may be a hybrid vigor or hetero sis effect that is frequently present in crosses between two strains. The same phenomenon has been found in Hawaii in a study of the children of Asian-European parents, whose IQs were 4 IQ points higher than those of the children of Asians and Europeans (Nagoshi and Johnson, 1986) In this study all three sets of parents had the same education and socioeconomic status, suggesting that this is a genetic effect.”

    • Jeff says:

      Actually no. Heterosis is something that is only desirable in crisis times, when specific-adaptations must give way to generic ones, and is particularly only good within your own community (like, not marrying your cousins, but marrying inside of your race).
      Crossbreding causes many issues and race-mixed peoples have lower health than otherwise.

      Also, look for something called Outbreeding Depression.

  28. John Bull says:


  29. DataExplorer says:

    Survive the Jive! You are all gong to love this guy:

  30. DataExplorer says:

    “Great Britain and Ireland looked Sardinian: those are the folks that built Stonehenge. 4,000 years, they looked like the current inhabitants. Very little continuity with the previous tenants: In England, > 93% replacement”

    4,000 years ago? The Celts arrived in Britain around 600 BC right? So were the first Indo Europeans in Britain pre-Celtic? Also the current British population has much more than 7% EEF and EHG, is this because later migrations brought back more non-Yamnaya DNA?

    • gcochran9 says:

      The Bell-Beakers were probably proto-Celts.

      • epoch2013 says:

        Pre-Proto-Italo-Celtic seems more like it.

      • Celts and Beakers says:

        Bell Beakers probably something proto-Celtic.

        But Iron Age British samples have about 20% more late Iberian EEF ancestry compared to the British Beakers, which probably works out something like 25% Iberian Bell Beaker ancestry.

        Celts proper are probably a different people who came later, and would have replaced the early Beakers to at least the degree we see with the Anglo-Saxon invasions of England (at least 30-40% turnover). Reich will explain this soon.

    • dearieme says:

      “The Celts arrived in Britain around 600 BC right?” I’ve often heard it said – even more often about Ireland than Britain – but never seen anything that seems to me to pass muster as evidence.

      I wonder whether the people who question the whole notion of “Celtic” might be on to something. Is it mainly a 19th century invention, part of the Romantic Movement, built on erroneous extrapolation of bits and bobs of Greek and Latin literature, and misinterpretation of archaeological finds? Dunno, but maybe it is.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “Also the current British population has much more than 7% EEF and EHG, is this because later migrations brought back more non-Yamnaya DNA?”

      the Bell Beaker people were already a mixed steppe/farmer population before they arrived in Britain/Ireland so they brought it with them

  31. jovien says:

    As far as I know, Europe is the only big region of the world where monogamy is immemorial.
    If this is true, is there some sort of explanation ?
    Can something be said about monogamy and IE ? About monogamy and the first farmers ?

    • dearieme says:

      “Europe is the only big region of the world where monogamy is immemorial.” How do you know?

      • Recusant says:

        Well since ‘immemorial’ means, in England at least, since the reign of Henry II, there’s plenty of records. But I don’t think he means that……

      • jovien says:

        Ulysse has one wife, not two. The same with Romulus.
        For the Celts and the Germans, it seems to me that if they had been polygamic at the time they met the Roman Empire, we would have known. And Odin has one spouse, not two.

        • epoch2013 says:

          For all that, marriage in Germany is austere, and there is no feature in their morality that deserves higher praise. They are almost unique among barbarians in being satisfied with one wife each. The exceptions, which are exceedingly rare, are of men who receive offers of many wives because of their rank; there is no question of sexual passion.

          Tacitus, Germania

          • dearieme says:

            Roman writers did tend to romance on about noble savages. They also stereotyped landscapes. For instance, because they held that one should fight barbarians in forests they invented a Caledonian Forest to fight Caledonians in. Pollen studies say that it didn’t exist.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      maybe far northern latitudes -> lack of resources -> monogamy?

  32. epoch2013 says:


    Several points:

    Those European hunter-gatherers were themselves the product of a recent expansion out of the Balkans about 14,000 years ago, as the glaciers retreated.

    That isn’t a fact, but a guess. I’d say Italy. El Miron has a third WHG ancestry and is basically from the LGM, when migrations would be at a minimum. It had to come from somewhere nearby.

    And because those pre-Indo-Europeans spoke related languages (Vasconic family, see Theo Veneman) different branches of Indo-European picked up closely related words.

    Not according to Guus Kroonen, who determined a very smart way of finding the pre-IE substrate. He found that it was very hard to determine if a local anomaly in a language was a local invention or part of a substrate. However, if one found anomalies in more than one European language family that couldn’t be explained by IE roots and sound laws you might be far more sure you have hit upon a substrate. This is the highly interesting stuff he found:

    Click to access sust266_kroonen.pdf

    • Philip Neal says:

      Kroonen is interesting and persuasive, with the beautiful accuracy of historical phonology, and he sees at least as far back as Vennemann has claimed to do. Thanks for the link.

  33. dave chamberlin says:

    Write an E-book starting from your review of Who We Are and I’ll buy it. Start it simple and in the next decade allow to link to another X thousand pages of what you continue writing or what you recommend reading. An E-book has so many advantages over a printed book. It doesn’t get outdated, it can link to greater detail in those areas the reader is most interested, and last but not least you can keep squeezing that cash cow when you come out with updates. Hopefully for your sake the book will be a cash cow rather than a penny pooping mouse.

    • Inductivist says:

      Me too!

    • dave chamberlin says:

      I want as a fascinated reader of this continuously updated genetic human history to get it from Greg Cochran. He is a scholar in this field who is able to write so that all of us non-experts can easily understand it. Nobody else shreds the wrong and pompous academics like Cochran. That alone makes it worth reading. This information is being updated so fast a printed book is basically outdated the day it comes out for print.

      Nothing wrong with West Hunter, I like how it jumps all over the place, but It’s time for our unfolding genetic history to be organized via E book so that it can be continuously revised as new information breaks. David Reich has written a bunch of groundbreaking papers which are great. But he is a working scientist running a huge team, he can’t integrate it with linguistics, ongoing field work, and bluntly lambast the wrong headed poobahs, he has to kiss ass, especially when he works out of Harvard.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Complete nonsense.

      • crew says:

        There should be a prize for the media organization that prints the largest amount of complete nonsense, or is that Fake News?

      • The Z Blog says:

        “Most of our traits, such as height, for example, are set by natural selection at an optimal level – it’s good for humans to be about so tall, on average. Some genetic variants tend to make people a bit shorter than average and some tend to make people a bit taller.”

        The pygmies could not be reached for comment.

        • j says:

          ‘It is not impossible for natural selection to produce populations with differences in intelligence, but these factors make it highly unlikely.”
          The article is confused about what natural selection is. It uses “natural” as is selection happens because changes in “Nature”, that is, climate, vegetation, fauna, etc. But intelligence is selected by social pressures, that is, humans had achieved the basic level of intelligence to feed themselves, so the extra intelligence is useful only in social interactions, like formulating war ruses, talking girls to bed, improving one’s social position to the priestly or the ruling class, etc. Jews, as per Greg, got their extra IQ thanks to the pressure to fill the only available social role for them – finance. What I am trying to say is that “natural selection for IQ” is unconnected to “Nature” and a function of social arrangements. BTW, in chimp troupes there is a permanent competition for elite social positions, the group is a political body where individuals form cliques and for alliances, and the more capable and intelligent males and females are those producing the baby chimps.

    • Smithie says:

      The particular language used: “whole continents”, “inherently…implausible”, “we would do better to focus” is an astonishingly clear example of (1.) trying to rationalize the egalitarian instinct, and (2.) trying to steer the dialogue. The closing paragraph (“maternal” and “infant”) is (3.) the mothering instinct gone awry.

      The argument doesn’t withstand scrutiny, so there is no counterpoint and comments aren’t allowed.

    • Space Ghost says:

      When you derive a result from first principles that contradicts 100 years of measurements (we can measure IQ) then maybe it’s time to consider whether your principles are wrong?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      people who are genuinely wired up to be egalitarian need to accept genetics cos that’s the only possible way they can get what they claim to want

      • Toddy Cat says:

        By the way, speaking of nonsense, Turkheimer is still defending Stephen Jay Gould’s “Mismeasure of Man” !

  34. Giambattista Vico lays out a similar theory for state formation in the Mediterranean that he derives from mythology: he believes the Heroes of Greece are mythologized memories of the Indo-European conquerers, the Titans memories of the physically larger Ice Age hunter-gatherers, and the commoners ruled over by the Heroes the native farming population. Initially marriage was forbidden between the nobility and the commoners but in every city state except perhaps Sparta this was later changed, with much interbreeding.

    He wrote this in the early 1700’s, when archeology had barely begun, and it’s also poorly written, but there’s much else besides this of interest in his work; he almost initiated etymology.

    • Jeff says:

      You would like to read Robert Graves’ Greek Myths then.

    • dearieme says:

      There’s a theory I’ve heard of that the German gods – e.g. Odin – are versions of people who once actually existed. Perhaps that’s based on the idea of your man Vico.

      • Peter Lund says:

        That’s already in Gesta Danorum (Saxo) from around 1200.

        • dearieme says:

          Then maybe Vico was a plagiarist. Or maybe good ideas will occur to people again and again.

        • syonredux says:

          Snorri Sturluson also employs the euhemeristic approach in the Prose Edda (circa AD 1220), arguing that the Aesir were originally ancient heroes (from Troy, no less) who were later worshiped as gods.

          And, of course, there’s Euhemerus himself, who, back in the 3rd century BC, argued that the Olympian gods were deified mortals who lived long ago….

      • I think that’s why in Greek myths gods gave birth to the Heroes, it was a poetic expression of their power being so much greater than ordinary men

        • dearieme says:

          I’ve long assumed the virgin birth yarn be a Greek intrusion into a story about a Jewish milieu.

          • j says:

            That, the apple in Paradise, the winged putti and much more.

          • bruce says:

            Doubt it. Virginity was expected of Israelite women (they were put to death for dishonoring Israel in the OT) –not surprising that the Messiah would be born to a virgin – no Greek influence needed.

            • dearieme says:

              Greek gods shag women, Jehovah does not. And then there’s the fact, if fact it be, that “virgin” is anyway a mistranslation of a word meaning ‘young woman’. The nativity is the downright silliest stuff in the NT.

      • bruce says:

        There’s been attempts to link e.g. Beowulf (sometimes via Bodvar BjarkI) to Arminius, the dragon is Rome legions, etc.

  35. Johnny Caustic says:

    My proud heart swells as I imagine my rowdy Yamnaya ancestors driving their battle axes right through the local population’s “Refugees Welcome” signs into their skulls.

  36. Jim says:

    Science is supposed to be progressive, becoming more and more accurate over time. That has been generally true for physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc. But sciences like archaeology, anthropology, psychology, after getting off to a promising start in the 19th century turned in the 20th century into pseudsciences dominated by crackpottery such as Freudian psychology. I certainly hope that this will change in the 21st century.

  37. jb says:

    One thing I found frustrating about Reich’s book is that he doesn’t seem to really nail down the relationship between the Ancient North Eurasians and modern Europeans.

    He describes modern Europeans as a fusion of indigenous European hunter-gatherers (WHG, although he doesn’t use that term), Anatolian farmers, and the Yamnaya; and he describes the Yamnaya as a fusion of Iranian farmers from the south and local people of the steppe (EHG?). But where do the ANE come in? Were the steppe people pure ANE? If not, then how big was the contribution of the ANE, and what was the population they were they contributing to? The book just doesn’t seem as clear on this as I would have liked, so if I missed something please let me know.

  38. Another good book: “The Horse, the Wheel, and Language” which gets into the archeology.

    There’s an online version here:

    Overall it’s very good, although he pushes the bullshit ‘peaceful expansion’ idea a little too hard.

  39. Greying Wanderer says:

    for anyone who’s been into ancient history since a kid and wondered what happened before the written record this is all rather spiffing

  40. Eric Wilds says:

    So the takeaway from all this is that all the prehistoric “dark ages” were caused by Indo European migrations from the steppes. “Old Europe” fell into decline circa 3800 BC after the arrival of the Suvorovo culture, pastoralists from the Ukraine. The “Bronze Age” collapse was also caused by the migration of IE from the steppe, the so-called “sea peoples” according to Egypt. Then there’s the collapse of the urban civilization of Harrapa (india) after the Aryans arrived. I suppose we could add the German migration that put an end to Rome — not a great record.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      What do you mean, not a great record? They were 4-0 !

    • Jim says:

      The actual Egyptian term for the sea peoples translates literally as “island peoples”.

      Destructive as the Indo-Europeans were the Mongols were even worse.

    • pyromancer76 says:

      I think “natural climate change” had something to do with these migrations. If one’s group is starving, one might have a more eradicating attitude to people who hold land where warm sun shines, especially if they have fallen into cultural funk. Being strong enough to defend borders/more borders seems one of the most essential evolutionary traits.

  41. Chill Nordic Bro says:

    Haplogroup I1 bro here. WHG lives matter.

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  43. Red says:

    “Several old stories and legends such as … the Aesir-Vanir war … suggest that those warriors and priests conquered and incorporated the herder/cultivators.”

    Another Norse myth (or poem) is the Rigsthula

    It tells the story of dark squat people (hunter gatherers?) who give birth to lighter red-haired people (farmers?), and finally to noble light-featured people (‘earls’ .. yamnaya? – who can “handle hawks, hounds, and horses”). Then came rune-makers and warriors etc. The myth is ambiguous whether each generation is descended from the previous one, because the central character – Rig – sleeps with the great-grandmother, grandmother, mother etc. Which suggests a merging with the original stock.

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  45. On the EEF says:

    Cochran: The original expansion of these Anatolian-origin farmers did not entail much mixing with the local hunter-gatherers: they were about 90% Anatolian. And there was friction, judging from skull-collections and forts, some of which show evidence of being stormed and burned by bow-wielding enemies. But significant numbers of hunter-gatherers hung around (without much genetic mixing) for a long time, a couple of thousand years, and this eventually led to a higher level of hunter-gatherer ancestry.

    Ultimately things remain at about 10% or less in the Balkans and Hungary. 25% or more in West and Northern Europe, so far about the same amount in Iberia, Britain, Poland, Ukraine.

    These populations with 25% HG have appreciably high Fst between each other; the British Neolithic populations have Fst of roughly 0.001 from each other, with Fst of 0.008 from Iberians and then 0.011 from the Polish-Ukrainian Globular Amphora Culture.

    Quite a bit more differentiated than present day peoples, e.g. English to Spanish is about 0.002, Lithuanian to Bulgarian about 0.005.

    There are also obvious differences in Fst to different HG populations, so its likely there was a local element to most of this, and its not the case that there was total replacement by some particular group of EEF who picked up 25% HG.

    Otzi, the Iceman found frozen in northern Italy, looks Sardinian. And the way Sardinians look is informative: they have light skin and dark hair. Almost none are blondes or redheads.

    EEF in Europe likely quite diverse in pigmentation.

    The Globular Amphora samples we have appear to be rather blonde (6/6), based on applying modern prediction arrays – https://genetiker.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/pigmentation-of-ancient-southeastern-europeans/.

    Not likely there will be any simple crumbling out into Indo-Europeans introducing diverse hair colours. One reason to doubt this is that the Yamnaya appear dark haired, and only later MLBA populations on the steppe start to have light hair (Sintashta, Andronovo). Once they absorb ancestry from EEF.

    Yamnaya are labelled as Pit Grave here: https://genetiker.wordpress.com/pigmentation/. No particular incidence of light hair. Seems less than the sporadic incidence in the British Neolithic pop.

    Idea that IE introduced light / colourful hair variants to Europe is probably wrong. Variants were already there. But selection must’ve changed.

    About 75% of the Corded Ware ancestry was Yamnaya, possibly more.

    Almost certainly more; early samples from the Corded Ware horizon have some differences from the Yamnaya in their ancestry (more EEF, less Caucasus related ancestry).

  46. On The Sardinians says:

    Cochran: Apparently a wave of early farmers settled the Sardinian highlands, which, over the next seven thousand years, no else has really wanted.

    Nah, you’re totally underestimating local replacement (curiously and ironically enough given your normal stances).

    Consider, current findings on Southern Europe show:

    a) 3 Sicilian Bell Beaker sample from Olalde’s paper (Olalde 2018) with probably about 5% Steppe ancestry

    b) Bronze Age Iberia with about 15% Steppe ancestry (http://www.pnas.org/content/115/13/3428 – Valdiosera 2018), a good bit below recent Iberians with about 25-30% or so (as against modern Brits at about 45-50%, and British Beakers at 60%)

    c) Mycenaeans with about 10% steppe ancestry (Lazaridis 2018)

    d) Bronze Age-Iron Age Balkans, again with very little steppe ancestry on average (Mathieson 2018).

    The Sardinians have about 5-10% depending on how you measure it. They look typical for these Bronze Age Mediterranean / Southern European cultures. They don’t have 0% steppe ancestry, and certainly not less than any Bronze Age Southern Europeans. (The fine points of the ratios are very important here, and accurate estimation methods.)

    So local replacement in Sardinia, from other Southern European Bronze Age groups, may well have been quite pronounced. What is it that you’re always saying about local replacement again? 😉

    The real story about Sardinian genetics today may be more that they’ve avoided much impact from historical events; a) Greek colonization, b) the Migration Period, c) the major influxes of the Roman Empire, d) the Moors, all of which have vastly changed the genetics of Sicily, Greece, mainland Italy and Spain (introducing elements of Levantine, West Asian, Germanic, Slavic and North African ancestry to Italy, Spain and Greece).

    Steppe ancestry in Southern Europe today is a composite of what was from groups like the Achaeans and Southern European Beakers, together with large doses from the Migration Period.

    Consider again, the recent studies on the Langobards (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2018/02/20/268250.full.pdf – Amorim 2018) and Huns (Veeramah 2018 – http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/03/06/1719880115) show that there were individuals on mainland Europe in Hungary and North Italy as late as the Roman Empire who looked genetically Sardinian in terms of steppe/EEF ancestry…

    • JP says:

      Someone needs to figure out how much Steppe is in the early, elite Mycenaean skeletons Schliemann found, if he didn’t blow them up with dynamite that is

      • Elite Mycenaeans says:

        That would be a good test. There’s one sampled elite burial from the Peloponnese so far, and she’s only very, very modestly increased in steppe ancestry at best (either not at all or less steppe in the paper, or something like 3-4% more steppe ancestry according to best test by amateurs enthusiasts). I’m hazy where she is in the time sequence, though.

        Some folk online repeatedly insist that sampled males would be different, but I’m not sure why this would be the case in the real world (if you’ve got heavily EEF female samples in your elite burials, you’re probably reproducing with them at a high rate, and if that’s the case, males from your population are highly unlikely to somehow retain higher steppe ancestry by magic). There are some jokers out there who look to imagine an elite caste of Northern Europeans but reality is unfortunately uncooperative with their fever dreams (and actually more cooperative with the idea that modern Greeks are fairly heavily Slavicized descendants of much more Sardinian and Minoan like ancient Greeks).

        Best bet for a rough modern proxy for Achilles and Odysseus and the elites of the Greek Dark Ages at the moment is still probably something like Sardinians with 20% Armenian.

    • Hoverica says:

      Sardinians cluster with EEFs in every PCA. They don’t pull toward Yamnaya at all. And they lack ANE, which is what differentiates (Steppe) EHG from plain old WHG.

      Modern Sicilians are pretty close to Beaker Sicilians, and even closer to Mycenaean Greeks, so historical events (post Greek colonization) haven’t had much impact at all.

  47. dearieme says:

    English one two three four five six seven eight nine ten
    Dutch een twee drie vier vijf zes zeven acht negen tien
    German eins zwei drei vier fünf sechs sieben acht neun zehn

    When we were small children, in the playground we spoke not only Scots English but also some Southern Scots:-

    Yin, twei, threi, … where by ‘ei’ I mean the German ‘ei’ sound.

    … fowr, fife, … The ‘ow’ as in ‘owl’; “fife” because I think the second consonant was quite close to German “v” i.e. a sound softer than English “v”.

    … sex, seeven, ocht, … The 8 is a bit approximate but I think it was closer to ‘ocht’ than ‘echt’.

    … nine, ten, … : I’ve written nine and ten because I can’t remember having to change them when using Scots English in the classroom or with our parents.

    … leeven, twawl (i.e. ‘tw’ as in English and ‘awl’ as in the tool). I stop there: I don’t suppose we often counted beyond 12 in the playground.

    A German professor once insisted to me that Scots was a Celtic language. What can you say?

    • Ivan says:

      “Scots” is a Germanic language descended from late Old English and spoken in Lowland Scotland. Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language used to be spoken mainly in the Highlands. Not sure how many speakers of SG there are left today.

  48. j mct says:

    See the stuff about blue eyes from WHG ancestry.

    I’ve read that fair skin was recently dated to something under 10K years ago, which makes it pretty recent. How does that fit into the western hunter gatherer, anatolian farmer, indo european scheme?

    • Fair Skin In The Game says:

      Depends on what you mean by fair skin exactly. The SLC24A5 allele which is the largest single variant that we know of contributing to fair skin was already homozygous derived (e.g. lighter skin) in a Caucasus Hunter Gatherer at Satsurblia Cave dated 17000-16000 YBP. Also looks present at high frequencies in not much too much later various HG populations from SE Europe->Russia without any sign of recent clear geneflow. For instance Romanian Iron Gates HG samples, 10000 YBP about 50%, Latvia HG at roughly same time depth 50-60%. Still comfortably before 8000 BC.

      So models of SLC24A5 specifically as having anything specifically much to do with post 8kya events, or selection following agriculture are likely to be quite wrong (“It’s pleiotropy; it does something useful for agriculturalist populations specifically !” – nope. Likewise all the “Oh, you need Vitamin D if you follow and agricultural diet, so lighter skin”. And yet fisher gatherers in NE and SE Europe have high frequencies of derived SLC24A5 well before agriculture or without even practicing agriculture…).

      Looks like a variant that arose and became fixed or very high frequency in some populations in West Eurasia well before 10kya and well before agriculture.

      But there are many alleles which are likely to be associated with the architecture of pigmentation in Europeans. So this does not help us with “fair skin” even that much.

      Incidentally, models where the EHG / Yamnaya introduced the other major SLC45A2 variant that is at higher frequency in Europeans (and only then could selection push it up to modern fixture).are also wrong. “The whole SLC45A2 from recent Indo European contacts!” gig. The variant’s already present in Anatolian farmers at low frequency: https://twitter.com/amwkim/status/981911810805850112, about 25%, the same as in British Neolithic farmers thousands of years later, despite major WHG admixture. The early British Beaker people have the variant at about 60%, intermediate British Neolithic and recent Brits at 100%, but somewhat higher than the reported data for the Yamnaya at 40%. It’s selection, and selection really could’ve happened at virtually any time as far as we can tell (because the variant’s present), but for some reason substantial selection in agriculturalist populations in Europe only happened during and after the Bronze Age.

      • j mct says:

        OK, I guess what I read was either wrong, or has been updated due to new data. I’m learning stuff! Thanks.

        • Fair Skin In The Game says:

          More updated really; it’s all changed pretty quickly, and what was tenable with a 2-4 samples from Europe back about 3-4 years ago has changed as more groups were sampled. Just one of those things, successful prediction is hard!

  49. Philip Neal says:

    Greg, I take it that the review of Who We Are is now complete. Thanks for an excellent guide to a book which, despite all its sermonising, is well worth reading, and thanks for persuading me to read it.

  50. Cpluskx says:

    They found Anatolian IEs in South Anatolia-Northern Syria at 2500 BC. Reich knew.

    • NotAPostMortemLizardSurgeon says:

      They claim that those names are Anatolian because some suffixes and roots are vaguely similar. The paper they cite does not even claim that they actually are Anatolian. And those people were clearly not locals. Some records saying that people, of which some might possibly be Anatolians, live in a kingdom with no accurate location, cannot support the claim of an Anatolian presence in Central Anatolia.
      By the way, this comes from Guus Kroonen, who claims the CWC is Proto-Germanic.

      There are more pieces of gold in this paper that make laugh and cry at the same time.
      Like 2500 BCE predating/being contemporary with Yamnaya. Or saying that those Bronze age samples (Who most likley are ethnic Hattians) lack Steppe admixture, MA2203 seems to have 7-8% Yamnaya ancestry.

      I know why they put some stuff in the supplement, it would not get past peer review.

      It is also funny that they claim that Hittite/Anatolian was not spread by elite conquest, I guess the people from Kussara came into power in Kanesh and Hattusa by diffusion of ideas, Pithana and Anitta were very peaceful and friendly people and the Anitta text is a lie by invading Hattians.

  51. Cpluskx says:

    ”I know why they put some stuff in the supplement, it would not get past peer review.”
    That’s why you are not a peer reviewer.

  52. NotAPostMortemLizardSurgeon says:

    Still getting personal when out of arguments, huh? This isn´t even interesting.

  53. iffen says:

    This tradition involving raising a dog as a pet and then sacrificing it, which is just wrong.

    How can it be wrong if that is the only way to acquire its essence?

    I supposed Cheyenne Dog Soldier puppy-dog stew was wrong as well?

  54. mydoina says:

    The statuette you used (photo) is the Thinker, was found along with another statue representing her woman and belonging to the Hamangia Culture, currently at the history museum in Constanta / Romania. It is a Neolithic culture from the 4th-2 nd millennium BC, which was named after the old Hamangia village in Istria, Dobrogea, today Baia village, Tulcea county / Romania. It is the culture of the Geta / Thracians / Dacians, the Romanians today. The Hamangia culture is linked to the population of Anatolia (today), the Pelegas. This culture has grown on today’s territory of Romania and, at a later stage, on the territory of Bulgaria (in the Varna and Burgas area) and sporadically at the NE of the Danube. With the help of radiocarbon dating, it was found that the Hamangia Culture developed in the 6th to 5th millennia. (before 4700 BC). (please specify when posting something)

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  56. Unknown128 says:

    Some experts seem to disagree that the “steppe ancestry” is Yamnaya at all:

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