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Analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA gives insights into population movements in the Tarim Basin, China

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Republication from Biomed central

Afanasievo-Tarim

Fig. 1

Map of Eurasia showing the location of the Xiaohe cemetery, the Tarim Basin, the ancient Silk Road routes and the areas occupied by cultures associated with the settlement of the Tarim Basin. This figure is drawn according to literatures

 

https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2Fs12863-015-0237-5/MediaObjects/12863_2015_237_Fig2_HTML.gif

 

Fig. 2

a Fourth layer of the Xiaohe cemetery showing a large number of large phallus and vulva posts; b A well-preserved boat coffin; c Female mummy with European features; d Double-layered coffin excavated from the Xiaohe cemetery

 

Chunxiang Li, Chao Ning, Erika Hagelberg, Hongjie Li, Yongbin Zhao,  Wenying Li, Idelisi Abuduresule, Hong Zhu and Hui Zhou

BMC Genetics201516:78

DOI: 10.1186/s12863-015-0237-5

Abstract

Background

The Tarim Basin in western China, known for its amazingly well-preserved mummies, has been for thousands of years an important crossroad between the eastern and western parts of Eurasia. Despite its key position in communications and migration, and highly diverse peoples, languages and cultures, its prehistory is poorly understood. To shed light on the origin of the populations of the Tarim Basin, we analysed mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in human skeletal remains excavated from the Xiaohe cemetery, used by the local community between 4000 and 3500 years before present, and possibly representing some of the earliest settlers.

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Most European men descend from a handful of Bronze Age ancestors

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Republication from the University of Leicester

Bronze Age EuropeBronze Age European warriors

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University of Leicester researchers discover a European male-specific population explosion that occurred between 2000 and 4000 years ago
  • Researchers determined DNA sequences from the Y chromosomes of 334 men belonging to 17 populations from Europe and the Middle East
  • Study shows that almost two out of three (64%) modern European men belong to just three young paternal lineage
  • Male-specific population expansion was widespread, and surprisingly recent, focusing interest on the Bronze Age

Geneticists from the University of Leicester have discovered that most European men descend from just a handful of Bronze Age forefathers, due to a ‘population explosion’ several thousand years ago.

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The Indo-European Cradle from a Linguistic and Archaeological standpoint

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Republication from the Annual Review of Linguistics

 

The Indo-European Homeland from Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives

Vol. 1: 199-219 (Volume publication date January 2015)
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-124812

David W. Anthony1 and Don Ringe2
1Anthropology Department, Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York
2Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ABSTRACT
Archaeological evidence and linguistic evidence converge in support of an origin of Indo-European languages on the Pontic-Caspian steppes around 4,000 years BCE. The evidence is so strong that arguments in support of other hypotheses should be reexamined.

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Figure 1  Wheel terms found in Indo-European language branches. Modified with permission from Anthony (1995).

 

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Massive migration from the steppe as a source for Indo-European languages in Europe

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Republished from  biorxiv

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We estimate mixture proportions using a method that gives unbiased estimates even without an accurate model for the relationships between the test populations and the outgroup populations (Supplementary Information section 9). Population samples are grouped according to chronology (ancient) and Yamnaya ancestry (present-day humans).

Phylogenetic Analysis of Haplogroup G1 Reveals Migrations of Iranic Speakers

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Republication from PLOS One

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Fig 1. Ancient migrations of Iranic-speaking populations.

A) Area populated by Iranic speakers in the middle of the first millennium BC. States whose languages belonged to the Iranic and Armenian linguistic groups are shown in red (modified from [39]). B) Homeland and migration of Iranic speakers according to the major competing theories (modified from [34]).   doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122968.g001

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Y-chromosomal haplogroup G1 is a minor component of the overall gene pool of South-West and Central Asia but reaches up to 80% frequency in some populations scattered within this area. We have genotyped the G1-defining marker M285 in 27 Eurasian populations (n= 5,346), analyzed 367 M285-positive samples using 17 Y-STRs, and sequenced ~11 Mb of the Y-chromosome in 20 of these samples to an average coverage of 67X. This allowed detailed phylogenetic reconstruction. We identified five branches, all with high geographical specificity: G1-L1323 in Kazakhs, the closely related G1-GG1 in Mongols, G1-GG265 in Armenians and its distant brother clade G1-GG162 in Bashkirs, and G1-GG362 in West Indians.

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The Kalash Genetic Isolate: Ancient Divergence, Drift, and Selection

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Republication  from The American Journal of Human Genetics

American Journal of Human Genetics

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The Kalash represent an enigmatic isolated population of Indo-European speakers who have been living for centuries in the Hindu Kush mountain ranges of present-day Pakistan. Previous Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA markers provided no support for their claimed Greek descent following Alexander III of Macedon’s invasion of this region, and analysis of autosomal loci provided evidence of a strong genetic bottleneck. To understand their origins and demography further, we genotyped 23 unrelated Kalash samples on the Illumina HumanOmni2.5M-8 BeadChip and sequenced one male individual at high coverage on an Illumina HiSeq 2000.

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Mismodeling Indo-European Origin and Expansion: Bouckaert, Atkinson, Wade and the Assault on Historical Linguistics

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Atkinson-I-E-Expansion-Animated-Mapby Martin W. Lewis

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As GeoCurrents passed through its August slowdown, plans were made for a series on the Summer Olympics. Thanks to the efforts of Chris Kremer, we have gathered statistics—and made maps—relating Olympic medal count by country to population and GDP, both overall and in regard to specific categories of competition. The series, however, has been put on hold by the recent publication of two heralded articles on the history and geography of the Indo-European language family. On August 24, a short piece in Science—“Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family”—made extravagant claims, purporting to overturn the most influential historical-linguistic account of the world’s most widespread language family. On the same day, Nicholas Wade, noted New York Times science reporter, wrote a half-page spread in the news section of the Times on the Science report, entitled “Family Tree of Languages Has Roots in Anatolia, Biologists Say.” Over the next few days, the story was picked up—and often twisted in the process—by assorted journalists. Within a few days, headlines appeared as preposterous as “English Language Originated in Turkey.”

As Wade’s title indicates, the Science article, written by Remco Bouckaert and eight others (most notably Quentin D. Atkinson), seeks to overturn the thesis that the Indo-European (I-E) family originated north of the Black and Caspian seas. It instead locates the I-E heartland in what is now Turkey, supporting the “Anatolian” thesis advanced a generation ago by archeologist Colin Renfrew. The Science team bases its claims on mathematical grounds, using techniques derived from evolutionary biology and epidemiology to draw linguistic family trees and model the geographical spread of language groups. According to Wade, the authors claim that their study does nothing less than “solve” a “long-standing problem in archaeology: the origin of the Indo-European family of languages.” (Strictly speaking, however, the problem is not an archaeological one, as excavations by themselves tell us nothing about the languages of non-literate peoples; it is rather a linguistic problem with major bearing on prehistory more generally.)

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