Evidence for an origin of the Armenians from Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations

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Republication from biorxiv.org

67984563454[Map credit: armenica.org]


Marc Haber, Massimo Mezzavilla, Yali Xue, David Comas, Paolo Gasparini, Pierre Zalloua, Chris Tyler-Smith


The Armenians are a culturally isolated population who historically inhabited a region in the Near East bounded by the Mediterranean and Black seas and the Caucasus, but remain underrepresented in genetic studies and have a complex history including a major geographic displacement during World War One. Here, we analyse genome-wide variation in 173 Armenians and compare them to 78 other worldwide populations. We find that Armenians form a distinctive cluster linking the Near East, Europe, and the Caucasus. We show that Armenian diversity can be explained by several mixtures of Eurasian populations that occurred between ~3,000 and ~2,000 BCE, a period characterized by major population migrations after the domestication of the horse, appearance of chariots, and the rise of advanced civilizations in the Near East.



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Map of Byzantine Asia Minor in 780 AD, with the classic regions in black letters.  These regions must not  be confused with the Byzantine themata (provinces) in red letters (map source: wikipedia)
By Periklis Deligiannis

In the 4th century BC, before the conquests of Alexander the Great, Asia Minor (or Anatolia) was a multiracial area inhabited by several peoples with different ethno-linguistic origins. The Lydians, Carians, Lycians and the natives of Pamphylia and Cilicia were of Luwian origins. The Lycaonians, the Pisidians and the Phrygians belonged to the Phrygian group of peoples. The regions of Ionia, Aeolis, Doris, Troas and the coasts of Pamphylia and Cilicia had Greek population (descended from the Mycenaean and Archaic Greek colonization and the Hellenization of the natives). The Mysians and Doliones were Proto-Thracian populations, while the neighboring Bithynians were a Thracian proper tribe. The Cappadocians of Cappadocia proper and the Western Pontos (see below) were speaking several “hybrid” Phrygian, Iranian, Luwian, Hurri-Urartian and Palaeo-Caucasian  dialects like the neighboring Armenians did, but the mixed Irano-Phrygian ethnic character with a lead of the Phrygian element, tended to prevail in both mentioned peoples.

The Kartvelian (Palaeo-Caucasian) tribes were the main population in Eastern Pontos (Pontus in Latin). In Paphlagonia, the local Palaic language (of the region Pala or Pa(ph)la in the Hittite archives) was loosing speakers in favour of the Phrygian. The following clarification needs to be made on the place terms “Cappadocia” and “Pontos”. Both regions were initially a geographical unit: Cappadocia, which extended to the south coast of the Black Sea (Euxeinos Pontos for the ancients) but since the establishment and development of the Hellenistic kingdom of the Mithridatids in coastal Cappadocia (3rd-2nd century. BC), known as “Cappadocia of Pontos”, or possibly even earlier, the specific area was geographically separated from the mainland and was eventually called simply “Pontos”. Moreover a geophysical separation of the region from the rest of Cappadocia existed, because of the high mountains that stretch between them. Finally, the north coast of Anatolia was also dotted with Greek city-colonies.
I do not mention Anatolian Galatia because this area was just a state, being the result of an invasion and not an ethnic region. The area of Galatia was comprised from parts of Cappadocia and Phrygia. The Gallic/Celtic overlords were scant in number compared to their numerous native subjects. That is why in this study I consider Galatia as the western part of Cappadocia and the eastern part of Phrygia.