Monthly Archives: February 2011
- The latest movie craze: Werner Herzog’s 3D film… of Grotte Chauvet – trailer at YouTube, interview at Der Spiegel
- Early Brits drank on human skull cups – PLoS ONE paper
- 9 meters underwater at the Isle of Wigh… there is a whole Neolithic settlement with incredibly preserved wood artifacts – video at BBC
- Recognize Somaliland to preserve its Neolithic treasures (right), or why UNESCO will not protect the impressive Neolithic cave art of this very real African state – article at CNN
- Sauna and pork feast remains at Marden Henge, England. I’d say this pretty much demolishes the idea that saunas have any sort of Celtic or Indoeuropean specific cultural link – article at This is Wiltshire
- The Jordanian town that survived the worst drought 4200 years ago – Unreported Heritage (right: dolmen from Tell el-Hammam outskirts)
- Iron ages tombs discovered in Uyghristan (Xinjiang Uyghur) – People’s Daily Online
See also: Stone Pages.
The results show that while the initial transition to agriculture in central Europe was the result of migrating farmers from the Near-East and Anatolia, agricultural practices were adopted by indigenous hunter-gatherer populations in outlying regions of Europe. Therefore, instead of employing two competing and mutually exclusive models of biological versus cultural diffusion, a mosaic model of both biological and cultural diffusion is a more appropriate model for this demographic change across Europe as a whole.
Pan-European Epipaleolithic archetype
|Fig. 3, click to expand|
- Most danubians (LBK) appear to be directly related to Thessalian Neolithic (Nea Nikomedia) and this one to South Anatolian neolithic (Çatalhöyuk).
- Eastern Linear Pottery (AVK, Tisza basin) peoples seem to relate best to SE Balcan Neolithic peoples (probably well represented by the Gumelnita Chalcolithic site) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B of the Upper Euphrates.
- Some peripheral groups seem rather distinct and may suggest admixture with natives.
- The Körös group is consistently similar to Danish Neolithic peoples of TRBK (Funnelbeaker culture) and this set falls quite apart from the other Neolithic populations in the ME tree, while it falls outside the mains Euro-Anatolian set in the NJ tree. This would be probably best explained if this Hungary-Denmark affinity pre-dates Neolithic. However the only local Paleolithic sample (Vlasac in Serbia) clusters elsewhere, so maybe it means a mixed population after all. In any case I do not think anyone can argue that Körös-TRBK is a purely immigrant population on light of this data.
I tried to visually represent these notions over the map in fig. 1:
|My visual interpretation of the affinities revealed in the paper|
|Fig. 3 – PCA|
I’ll excerpt some of the paper’s most interesting insights here:
Major haplogroups and macrohaplogroup structure:
The most prevalent haplogroups were B5a (12%), F1a1a (7.5%), C7 and M7b1 (6% each).Macrohaplogroup N (including haplogroups A, B, F, N and R) comprised 57% of the samples in 37 haplogroups. 26% of the samples were assigned to haplogroup B, almost equally to B4 and B5. 26 out of the 27 haplogroup B5 samples were found to be haplogroup B5a. 22% of the samples belonged to haplogroup F, of which 79% belonged to F1a and its subhaplogroups.Macrohaplogroup M (including haplogroups C, D, G and M) comprised 43% in 27 haplogroups. 32% of the samples belonged to haplogroup M, distributed among ten subhaplogroups. 25% of the M samples, however, remained M*. No maternal west Eurasian or African admixture was detected.The recently described haplogroup M71 was diverse in the Laos sample.
Characteristics of Laotians and some control populations:
The Laos sample showed mtDNA diversity characteristic of Southeast Asian populations. The composition of haplogroups was in agreement with other populations from this region [3- 7,12,17,23-25,35], with haplogroups B4a, B5a, M7b1, F1a and R9 being the most frequent southern aboriginal lineages.Little Northern contribution was detected. The presence of haplogroups described as Northern (East) Asian [4,6,7,25,36], i.e. A, Z, Y, C, M8a, M9, G2, D and N9, was low in the Laos dataset.Obviously, the Han population samples did not cluster in the correspondence analysis. Although assigned to the same nationality, they are distant from each other genetically.It was also meaningful to separate the Hmong and Mien population samples , that are usually combined based on linguistics, as they differ genetically (see Figure 4).
Fast post-OoA migration confirmed:
… the novel basal M haplogroups found in high diversity in the Laos sample and surrounding populations support the fast migration and in situ differentiation model (see Figure 3).
In spite of language Laotians are closest to Austroasiatics than Daics:
An interesting picture was revealed (see Additional Files 6, 7 and 8, Figure 4): the ethnic population with the highest similarity to the Laos sample in terms of shared haplotypes, MPD, pairwise FST values and localization in the MDS plot were the Austro-Asiatic . This was unexpected…
… unexpected probably because the assumptions of the authors about the recent demographic history of the region (full of mass migrations towards the mountaintops – what?!) just do not seem to make much sense.
Astronomy was clearly important in the lives of the ancients, it seems. It was at least the case in early Neolithic Jericho, whose seemingly classless society built a stonewall dominated by which was probably the tallest building back then: a tower at least 8.25 m tall (left).
Interestingly it has been discovered now that the tower is aligned with the summer solstice in a way that, when the Sun sets that evening, the shadows of the nearby hill envelop first the tower and then the whole town.
Roy Liran and Ray Barkai, Casting a shadow on Neolithic Jericho. Antiquity, 2011. Freely accesible.
AbstractBased on pre-DNA racial/color methodology, clinical and pharmacological trials have traditionally considered the different geographical regions of Brazil as being very heterogeneous. We wished to ascertain how such diversity of regional color categories correlated with ancestry. Using a panel of 40 validated ancestry-informative insertion-deletion DNA polymorphisms we estimated individually the European, African and Amerindian ancestry components of 934 self-categorized White, Brown or Black Brazilians from the four most populous regions of the Country. We unraveled great ancestral diversity between and within the different regions. Especially, color categories in the northern part of Brazil diverged significantly in their ancestry proportions from their counterparts in the southern part of the Country, indicating that diverse regional semantics were being used in the self-classification as White, Brown or Black. To circumvent these regional subjective differences in color perception, we estimated the general ancestry proportions of each of the four regions in a form independent of color considerations. For that, we multiplied the proportions of a given ancestry in a given color category by the official census information about the proportion of that color category in the specific region, to arrive at a “total ancestry” estimate. Once such a calculation was performed, there emerged a much higher level of uniformity than previously expected. In all regions studied, the European ancestry was predominant, with proportions ranging from 60.6% in the Northeast to 77.7% in the South. We propose that the immigration of six million Europeans to Brazil in the 19th and 20th centuries – a phenomenon described and intended as the “whitening of Brazil” – is in large part responsible for dissipating previous ancestry dissimilarities that reflected region-specific population histories. These findings, of both clinical and sociological importance for Brazil, should also be relevant to other countries with ancestrally admixed populations.
|Location of Hainan (red)|
The Li or Hlai are a Kradai-speaking people from Hainan, today a province of P.R. China and the only one which is fully insular (besides the claimed but not controlled Taiwan). However in the Pleistocene Hainan used to be a peninsula and therefore an affinity with mainland peoples was to be expected.
We found that Hainan islanders showed close relationship with the populations in mainland southern China, especially from Guangxi. Haplotype sharing analyses suggested that the recent gene flow from the mainland might play important roles in shaping the maternal pool of Hainan islanders. More importantly, haplogroups M12, M7e, and M7c1* might represent the genetic relics of the ancient population that populated this region; and 14 representative complete mtDNA genomes were further sequenced.
The predominant haplogroups in southern China and Southeast Asia: haplogroups B, F, and M7 together account for ~ 69%, 71%, and 63% of the maternal gene pools of the populations Li-BT, Li-LD, and Li-QZ, respectively (Table 1). The prevailing haplogroups in northern China, such as haplogroups A, D4, G, and Z, were rare or even absent in the three Li populations.
The genetic difference between Hainan islanders and populations from the mainland was statistically significant (p < 0.001, Analysis of molecular variance, AMOVA), whereas the difference between the Li populations (Li-BT, Li-LD, Li-QZ, Li-TZ, and Jiamao) and non-Li populations (Cun, Danga, and Lingao) was not (p = 0.147±0.010, AMOVA).
In general, the mtDNA haplogroup profiles of Hainan islanders are similar to the profiles of the populations from mainland southern China. (…) Especially, most Hainan islanders were clustered with some populations from Guangxi (Figure 3). This pattern was also reflected by the genome-wide data: the Jiamao population in Hainan Island was clustered with the Zhuang population (i.e. the dominant minority ethnic group in Guangxi) (…)
Update (Feb 17): the illustration errors have been fixed (sometimes writing an email is worth it) and now they can be used to better understand the genetics of the area. For example:
|From fig. 6: frequency of mtDNA M12|
A systematic comparison of variability in stone tool making strategies over the last quarter-million years shows no single behavioral revolution in our species’ evolutionary history. Instead, the evidence shows wide variability in Homo sapiens toolmaking strategies from the earliest times onwards. Particular changes in stone tool technology can be explained in terms of the varying costs and benefits of different toolmaking strategies, such as greater needs for cutting edge or more efficiently-transportable and functionally-versatile tools. One does not need to invoke a “human revolution” to account for these changes, they are explicable in terms of well-understood principles of behavioral ecology.
Other items I found notable in this newsletter are:
- Earthen burial urns (nannagadies) found but barely researched in Kerala
- Paleolithic fertility art found in Poland (already discussed in a wider entry)
- Mammoth engraving found in North America
- 10,000 years old stone carvings from Timor
- Australian stone semicircle is astronomical device, 10,000 years old