Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Human Remains from Estonia Pfrengle et al. The transition from hunter-gatherer subsistence to farming is one of the most important processes in human history. In Europe, it has been found to be a result of demic diffusion originating from the Near East. The arrival of the first farmers in Europe lead to an increase of genetic diversity as well as genetic admixture of local hunter-gatherer and the migrating farmers. Previous studies investigating European human history using mitochondrial and genome-wide nuclear data from early farmers and hunter-gatherers have provided detailed insights into the process of admixture and replacement throughout the Neolithic period. However this process has been poorly studied in the Baltic region where archaeological research suggests more extensive scenarios. Here we reconstructed the complete mtDNA of 19 individuals from different archaeological sites of Estonia covering the timespan from the Narva Culture to the Corded Ware Culture and determined their mitochondrial haplogroups. The results show that the typical European hunter-gatherer maternal lineages are represented exclusively in all individuals from until the Middle Neolithic. From the Late Neolithic on, haplogroups that are associated with European Neolithic farmers are detected. The results indicate genetic continuity of foraging cultures of Mesolithic and early Neolithic backgrounds and a late demic diffusion into the territory of Estonia associated with people of the Corded Ware culture. In addition, the generated genetic data are used to gain insights into the demography of burial complexes by sex determination and maternal kinship analysis. The Neolithic Transition at the Edge of Europe Jones et al. In Europe, the Neolithic transition marked the beginning of a period of innovations which saw people move from a mobile lifestyle, dependent on hunting and gathering for survival, to a more sedentary way of life based on food production. This new lifeway, which began in the Near East ~11 kya, spread quickly across the continental interior of Europe predominantly through demic diffusion. While the genetic impact of the Neolithic transition has been well explored in central Europe, its impact on more peripheral regions of the continent has not been as extensively studied. To broaden our understanding of this dynamic phase in European prehistory, we analysed genomes from a 4,000 year temporal transect through the Baltic region spanning from the Late Mesolithic to the Late Neolithic period. We found evidence for connectivity from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic however, we also detected signals consistent with influxes from non-local populations. These influences were distinct from the early farmer admixture which transformed the genetic landscape of central Europe during the Neolithic. Interestingly, dietary stable isotope analyses (δ15N and δ 13C) show that the genetic shifts coincide with diversifications in subsistence strategy. These results suggest that the Neolithic was a period of genetic flux in the Baltic however, the cultural and technological changes observed were largely independent of forager-farmer genetic exchange. Reconstructing population history in East Asia Wang et al. The deep population history of East Asia remains poorly understood compared to that of West Eurasia, due to the lack of ancient DNA data as well as limited sampling of present-day populations especially on the Tibetan Plateau and in southern China. We report a fine scale survey of East Asian history based on genome-wide data from ancient samples in the Amur River Basin, as well as 435 newly reported individuals from 53 populations. Present-day groups can be broadly classified into highly differentiated clusters, corresponding to Amur River Basin, Tibetan Plateau, southern natives and Han Chinese. Populations of the Amur River Basin show a high degree of genetic continuity from seven thousand years ago until today, and are closely related to the strain of East Asian related ancestry present in Native Americans. Tibetan Plateau populations are all admixed, deriving about 5%-10% of their ancestry from an anciently divergent population that plausibly corresponds to the Paleolithic population on the Plateau, and the remaining part from an ancient population that no longer exists in unmixed form but that likely corresponds to expanding farmers from the Middle and Upper Yellow River Basin who also contributed 40-90% of the ancestry of Han Chinese. A total of 10-60% of Han Chinese ancestry derives from southern Native populations, and we show that the type of southern Native ancestry that contributed to Taiwan Island Austronesian speakers is most closely related to present-day speakers of Tai-Kadai languages in southern mainland China. Contextualizing the Tianyuan genome within present and ancient human genomic diversity Yang et al. Recently, many studies have produced an unprecedented number of ancient human genomes, providing insight on human dynamics in many regions, particularly West Eurasia and the Americas. Here, we present genome-wide data from the Tianyuan specimen, dating to ~40,000 years ago. Unlike other ancient genomes studied to date, the Tianyuan genome is the first ancient Upper Paleolithic sample analyzed to have contributed greatly to the East Eurasian ancestral lineage. We compare Tianyuan to several ancient and present day human genomes to better understand both the genetic diversity in the Upper Paleolithic and the similarities and differences between Tianyuan and present day populations. Overall, the addition of genome-wide Tianyuan data provides greater insight into the population history in Eurasia over the last 40,000 years. Capture of ancient genomic DNA of individuals recovered from a Medieval Alemannic gravesite provides evidence for high mobility of fellowships during the 7th century CE. O'Sullivan et al. Whether the historic spread of cultural/language groups such as the Alemanni were migrations or local adoption of culture is still unresolved in archaeology. The Alemanni were a confederation of tribes that inhabited an area, from the third to the 10th century CE, which approximately overlaps with the modern distribution of Alemannic German dialect in Swabia. We present the genomic and isotopic data of eight individuals excavated from a gravesite in Niederstotzingen, Germany of supposed Alemannic origin dated to the 7th century CE. There were two multiple burials at the site suggesting either kinship or fellowship between the individuals. The tombs in the gravesite contained cultural artefacts and weapons indicating close contact of the Alemanni with Longobards and Byzantines. We investigated the genetic affinity of these individuals between each other and to modern West Eurasians. The genetic analysis utilised the targeted enrichment and sequencing of over 1.2 million genetic markers that have known ascertainment. From these data, we found no familial relationship among the individuals in the multiple graves, thus supporting a burial practice based rather on fellowship. All individuals were genetically male. The genetic affinities of the individuals, based on modern genetic distributions, were five Eastern Europeans, two Germans/Austrians and one Southern European. Isotopic data supports that only the Southern European individual was certainly born outside this region. The genetic data appear to correlate with the provenance of the burial artefacts, showing that westward movements and interactions among cultural groups likely occurred in this region during the 7th century CE. Origins and genetic legacy of the first people in Remote Oceania Skoglund et al. The appearance of people associated with the Lapita culture in the South Pacific ~3,000 years ago marked the beginning of the last major human dispersal to unpopulated lands, culminating in the settlement of eastern Polynesia ~1,000-700 years ago. However, the genetic relationship of these pioneers to the long established Papuan peoples of the New Guinea region is debated. We report the first genome-wide ancient DNA data from Asia-Pacific region, from four ~2,900 to ~2,500 year old Lapita culture individuals from Vanuatu and Tonga, and co-analyze them with new data from 356 present-day Oceanians. Today, all indigenous people of the South Pacific harbor a mixture of ancestry from Papuans and a population of East Asian origin that we find to be a statistical match to the ancient Lapita individuals. Most analyses have interpreted the ubiquitous Papuan ancestry in the region today-at least 25%-as evidence that the first humans to reach Remote Oceania and Polynesia were derived from mixtures near New Guinea prior to the Lapita expansion into Remote Oceania. Our results refute this scenario, as none of the geographically and temporally diverse Lapita individuals had detectable Papuan ancestry. These results imply later major human population movements, which spread Papuan ancestry through the South Pacific after the islands' first peopling. An ancient genomic perspective on the horse domestication process Librado et al. The domestication of the horse in the Pontic-Caspian steppes some 6,000 years ago represents one major turning point in human history. With horses, humans could travel for the first time well above their own speed and carry their germs, culture and genes across vast geographic areas. The development of horse-drawn chariots and cavalry also radically changed the history of warfare and was instrumental to the emergence of transcontinental empires. Additionally, beyond the battlefield, farm horses have massively impacted agricultural productivity. The biological changes that accompanied the process of horse domestication are, however, difficult to reconstruct from current patterns of genetic diversity both due to the development of intensively selected and extremely influential breeds during the last two centuries, and the almost extinction of wild horses. Recent developments in ancient DNA research have opened for the characterization of complete genomes, epigenomes and microbiota over long time series. We have applied such approaches to a large panel of horse remains spread across Eurasia and dated to 44,000-200 years ago. This started revealing the genetic structure of horse populations prior to and during early domestication stages as well as the history of genetic changes that accompanied their further transformation in a range of cultural contexts. I will present our latest progress made on an extensive dataset of ancient horse genomes spanning the whole domestication temporal and geographical range. Mobility between the Aegean and the Levant in the Late Second Millennium BCE: inference from ancient DNA of pigs Meiri et al. The Late Bronze and the early Iron Ages (ca. 1450-950 BCE) of the eastern Mediterranean region are characterized by dramatic historical processes. Empires emerged and collapsed, trade connections were established and severed, and at the end of this era socio-political unrest and migration of large groups of people were rife throughout the region. In the 12th century BCE the movements of the so-called "Sea Peoples" affected wide parts of the East Mediterranean. We study the nature of human movements during this period on trade connections, culture and animal husbandry using the ancient DNA of domestic animals, above all pigs. We recently showed that in Israel, European pig haplotypes appeared ca. 900 BCE, and soon after took over the gene pool, with all modern wild boars in Israel carrying European mitochondrial DNA. Here, we broadened the chronological and spatial scopes by studying ancient pig mitochondrial DNA from the southern Levant and Greece. The Near Eastern haplotype Y1 and supposedly Near Eastern haplotype Y2 were discovered in Greece in the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE, while the European haplotypes were found in Israel in the early Iron Age IIA (ca. 900 BCE). We propose that pigs were moved between Europe and Anatolia since the early Bronze Age. Connections between Greece and the southern Levant are observed in the Iron Age, and probably result from the migration of Sea Peoples to the east. These results shed light on networks and movements of people during both times of prosperity and crisis.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
ISBA7 PalaeoBarn abstracts
The abstract book for this week's meeting is available here. Emphasis is mine. The two abstracts on the genetic shifts in the East Baltic region might look as if they contradict each other, but they don't. What they're suggesting is that the East Baltic was basically home to typical European hunter-gatherers right up until the Late Neolithic, when the Corded Ware people crashed into the area, probably from the steppe via East Central Europe. For more on this topic also see here.