|Linear Pottery from Hungary|
This was going to go into a general compilation post but it has already stirred some debate in an unrelated entry, so I thought I’d open a proper space for debate here.
The issue is that a new research paper (Z. Gubba et al., Science 2011, pay per view) has found that many of the mtDNA HVS-I sequences at Hungarian Neolithic sites appear to be what we would usually call East Asian haplogroups, namely N9a (3/11, each from a different site), C5 (1/11), D1/G1a1 (1/11). In addition there are two mysteries: M*/R24 (1/11), maybe related to South Asia, and a novel R* lineage (1/11). Finally there are some more familiar cases N1a (1/1) and R-CRS, interpreted as H (3/11). See this chart provided by Waggg for the details.
The method of testing only HVS-I has many limitations and one would have hoped that it would not be used anymore. If you are going to damage a valuable archaeological bone, you’d better produce valuable, solid, results and HVS-I does not serve that purpose. But the ego of researchers is infinite, or at lest bigger than my patience.
Still the N9a lineages seem quite solid. While the 16261 site seems hypervariable (and hence suspicious) 16257 only shows mutation at the root of N9a in all the mtDNA phylogenetic tree as we know it. Its presence along other “Asian” lineages seems to reinforce the consistency of this finding.
However it is still most surprising. Even if C and D do exist in modern Europe (at low levels and mostly towards the NE, ref. – h/t to Waggg again), they have always been thought as rather late arrivals related to Uralic expansion probably. As far as I know N9a has never been reported (certainly not at any meaningful levels) in Europe before now. Not in Neolithic peoples either.
So it’s the kind of thing that makes you raise both eyebrows and drowns you in doubts. Feel free to debate in the comments section.