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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Yamnaya isn't from Iran just like R1a isn't from India


A strange thing sometimes happens in population genetics: highly capable and experienced researches come up with stupid ideas and push them so hard that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, they become accepted as truths. At least for a little while.

It's obvious now, thanks to full genome sequencing and ancient DNA, that Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a cannot be native to India. It arrived there rather recently from the Eurasian steppe, in all likelihood during the Bronze Age, probably as the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was collapsing or, perhaps, just after it had collapsed.

But for quite a few years this was something of a taboo, even politically incorrect, narrative, and it was vehemently rubbished by many Indians, including Indian scientists, and their western academic sympathizers.

Indeed, a whole series of papers came out, often in high brow scientific journals, claiming that R1a originated in South Asia, and that it spread from there to Europe. This, it was also claimed, was the final nail in the coffin of the so called Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), because R1a was often described as the "Aryan" haplogroup.

I wasn't impressed by any of this nonsense. I said so here and elsewhere, to the great annoyance of those who believed, against all reason and logic, that the Indo-Aryans, and even Indo-Europeans, were indigenous to India. Here's a taste of some of my work on the topic going back to 2013.

South Asian R1a in the 1000 Genomes Project

Children of the Divine Twins

The Poltavka outlier

Looking back, it's all a bit rough, but very cool nonetheless. However, I was often accused of being biased, unscientific and even bigoted and racist as a result of offering such commentary and research. Make no mistake, my detractors were seething that I would dare to question what was apparently a scientific reality, and they wanted to shut me up. It was a nasty experience, but it now feels great to be vindicated.

Certainly, nowadays, no objective person who, more or less, knows their stuff would argue that the vast majority of the R1a in India doesn't ultimately derive from the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe.

But otherwise things haven't changed all that much since then. For instance, despite a whole heap of ancient DNA data being available from Eastern Europe and West Asia, there's a widely accepted idea that the Early Bronze Age (EBA) Yamnaya culture formed on the Pontic-Caspian steppe as a result of migrations from what is now Iran.

This is not true. It can't be true, because it's contradicted by all of the data. I've tried to explain this on several occasions, but generally to no avail.

Yamnaya =/= Eastern Hunter-Gatherers + Iran Chalcolithic

Another look at the genetic structure of Yamnaya

Likely Yamnaya incursion(s) into Northwestern Iran

Thus, the Yamnaya people and culture were indigenous to Eastern Europe, and basically formed as a result of the amalgamation of at least three different populations closely related to Eastern European Hunter-Gatherers (EHG), Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers (CHG), Early European Farmers (EEF) and Western European Hunter-Gatherers (WHG). They did not harbor any significant ancestry from what is now Iran; at least not from within any reasonable time frame.

However, me communicating this fact has resulted in some rather strange and unsavory reactions from a number of individuals who appear to have a big emotional investment in this issue. They become frustrated and even angry when I try to explain to them that there's no sense in looking for the genetic origins of Yamnaya in Iran, much like the people who argued with me when I tried to reason with them that R1a wasn't native to India. Here's an example from a recent blog post (for the full conversation scroll down to the comments here).


Heh, here we go again with the accusations of bias, scientific impropriety and whatnot. Ironically, the poor chap just couldn't comprehend that he never had an argument to begin with, quite obviously due to his own bias in regards to this topic. Well, at least he didn't call me a racist.

In a recent preprint, Wang et al. correctly characterized Yamnaya as, by and large, a mixture of populations closely related to EHG, CHG, EEF and WHG (see here), with no obvious input from what is now Iran. Sounds familiar, right?

They also discovered that, during the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age, the Caucasus and nearby steppes were mainly home to three quite distinct populations: 1) Steppe groups, including Eneolithic steppe and Caucasus Yamnaya, 2) Caucasus groups, including Kura-Araxes and Maykop, and 3) Steppe Maykop, which they classified as part of 1. These populations were all separated by clear genetic and cultural borders, with significant and unambiguous mixture from the Caucasus cluster only in a couple of Steppe Maykop outliers and one Yamnaya outlier from what is now Ukraine.

Clearly, this leaves no room for any migrations from what is now Iran to the steppe that would potentially give rise to Yamnaya. In other words, the main genetic ingredients for what was to become Yamnaya were already on the steppe well before Yamnaya, during the Eneolithic, and it's quite likely that they were indigenous to the region.

However, interestingly, Wang et al. did appear to try to save the link between Yamnaya and Iran by referring to the CHG-related ancestry in Yamnaya as "CHG/Iranian". I'm not surprised because most of these authors are associated with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH), which is currently pushing a proposal that the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) homeland was located in what is now Iran and surrounds (see here). So, obviously, they need to somehow show a relationship between Yamnaya and Iran, because Yamnaya and the closely related Corded Ware archaeological complex are generally seen as early Indo-European cultural horizons. Good luck with that.

Actually, let me make it clear once and for all that I couldn't care less where the very first Indo-European words were uttered. It's just something that I find interesting. I rather doubt that this was within the borders of present-day Iran, and I explained in some detail why in a post almost two years ago (see here). But if someone manages to prove that the PIE homeland was indeed located partly or wholly within what is now Iran, that's OK. I won't be emotionally traumatized as a result.

However, obviously, this will have to be done with the assumption in mind that Yamnaya and Corded Ware became Indo-European-speaking almost purely via an linguistic transmission, with hardly any associated gene flow. It's possible, I guess. But then there's almost 200 years of scholarship based on linguistics and archaeological data that generally agrees in favor of the Pontic-Caspian steppe as the PIE homeland.

On a related note, I also couldn't care less whether the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) reflects what really happened during the Indo-Europeanization of South Asia, or if it's more appropriate to call it the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT). I'll accept whatever an objective analysis of all of the relevant data shows when we have enough of it to make an informed judgment.

However, currently, I see nothing in the data that would prevent the AIT from being true. To me, the profound impact that the Bronze Age steppe peoples obviously had on South Asia, and especially on the Indo-European-speaking Indian upper castes, suggests that, overall, an invasion-like scenario is quite plausible. But I might be wrong, and so what if I am?

See also...

Ahead of the pack

Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but...

Genetic borders are usually linguistic borders too

35 comments:

epoch said...

What surprises me about the Iranian Homeland Theory is that it doesn't state any cultural, linguistic or archaeological evidence, nor any candidate cultural horizon as Early Proto Indo-Europeans. That vagueness makes it almost un-falsifiable. Say what you will about OM, at least he produced a scenario that was verifiable. Same thing with the OIT fans, who claim the original PIE culture is IVC. The MPI-SHH theory however stays clear from any substantial claim.

Samuel Andrews said...

Common sense nuke.

Samuel Andrews said...

I'm not sure David Reich & friends buy into the Iran thing either. They probably stand by it publically because it beecause it is the only theory that puts Steppe genesis into a schema that connects it with other ancient populations and sounds cool. "Iranian farmers moved into Steppe and India", is nice and simple and is really interesting.

Eventually, as more ancient DNA is collected from the Caucasus and Steppe, David Reich & friends will change their stance from Iranian farmers to ancient Caucasian people.

Matt said...

@epoch, it would be nice if so. But is there even enough knowledge of the succession of neolithic cultures in the Caucasus-Iran for them to begin to do that? Russian archaeology is pretty good, for the region and the cultures. Is the comparable archaeology for this region in as good shape?

On the topic of falsifiable archaeological horizons, Damgaard's linguistic supplement will need to herald a reformulation of the steppe hypothesis:

"The attestation of Anatolian Indo-European personal names in 25th century BCE " (at Ebla in Syria) "decisively falsifies the Yamnaya culture as a possible archaeological horizon for PIE-speakers prior to the Anatolian Indo-European split. The period of Proto-Anatolian linguistic unity can now be placed in the 4th millennium BCE and may have been contemporaneous with e.g. the Maykop culture (3700–3000 BCE), which influenced the formation and apparent westward migration of the Yamnaya and maintained commercial and cultural contact with the Anatolian highlands (Kristiansen et al. 2018). Our findings corroborate the Indo-Anatolian Hypothesis, which claims that Anatolian Indo-European split off from Proto-Indo-European first and that Anatolian Indo-European represents a sister rather than a daughter language. Our findings call for the identification of the speakers of Proto-Indo-Anatolian as a population earlier that the Yamnaya and late Maykop cultures."

since the onomastic evidence from Armi is contemporaneous with the Yamnaya culture (3000–2400 BCE), a scenario in which the Anatolian Indo-European language was linguistically derived from Indo-European speakers originating in this culture can be rejected. This important result offers new support for the Indo-Hittite Hypothesis (see above) and strengthens the case for an Indo-Hittite-speaking ancestral population from which both Proto-Anatolian and residual Proto-Indo-European split off no later than the 4th millennium BCE.

There is also certainly some work needed on the steppe side to reformulate the hypothesis in a way that provides an archaeological horizon for movements from the steppe into the Near East from pre-Yamnaya groups, and that probably does not include cultural features dated to the Yamnaya horizon as part of the reconstructed Indo-Hittite lexicon (though they could be the proto-Indo-European sister).

The "Revised Steppe Theory" centered on Yamnaya seems out, and some form of steppe theory based on migrations of earlier cultures, with a much less developed pastoral economy seems to now be necessary to maintain an Indo-Hittite steppe origin theory of some sort.

Marija Gimbutas moved away from an original theory of the Yamnaya as nucleus for the proto language to a theory where the spread of the proto language was connected to a horizon around the spread of "Kurgan culture" from the Pontic-Caspian steppe... but that's considered nonsense now, because of the vagueness of definition, and because of the grab bag character of the "horizon". Globular Amphora Culture, Maykop, Remedello, Baden culture all were included as "kurganized" and certainly seem to lack any notable EHG ancestry when we look at the genotype through adna today. (This kind of fast and loose characterisation of material culture also being characteristic of her work around the figurines of the Balkan Cultures; ascribing to and deriving from them a whole female-centric mythology and society which it is overwhelmingly likely did not exist).

So although steppe still seems the best (from a genetic and probably linguistic angle), there is a gap for a steppe theory that actually shows an archaeological horizon consistent with the above name evidence.

andrew said...

"this will have to be done with the assumption in mind that Yamnaya and Corded Ware became Indo-European-speaking almost purely via an linguistic transmission, with hardly any associated gene flow. It's possible, I guess."

CHG and some mtDNA tends to indicate that brides from the Caucasus were brought into Steppe communities, consistent with strong patrilocality and a strong tendency to bring in non-local brides and non-steppe brides in Indo-European communities elsewhere, e.g., in Corded Ware culture.

Now, the anthropology evidence tends to show pretty strong that when a bride who doesn't speak her husband's language is brought to her husband's home and community, that their children end up speaking the husband's language and not the wife's.

For example, the literature on linguistic exogamy supports this conclusion. So, this isn't a really strong argument for a means of language transmission from the Caucasus.

But, if you had a lot of Caucasian brides in the community, you would expect PIE to pick up loan words, large adult language learner community tweaks to its grammar (generally a linguistically simplifying force), and possible other phonetic and grammatical influences similar to a linguistic substrate influence - because language learning wives customary mistakes in learning PIE driven by their own shared L1 tendencies would have some impact on PIE as a whole if there were a lot of them at once.

"But then there's almost 200 years of scholarship based on linguistics and archaeological data that generally agrees in favor of the Pontic-Caspian steppe as the PIE homeland."

The linguistic data could be more definitive on this point (it has really been the genetics that have tipped the balance decisively in favor of the Pontic-Caspian steppe over, for example, an Anatolian Neolithic theory). Vocabulary based analysis of inferred PIE and early Rig Vedic Sanskrit suggests, for example, mountain and forest vocabulary that seems to rich to ascribe to a steppe environment or to India.

The archaeological data is probably the strongest argument that Caucasian cultures like Maykop and Kura-Araxes was a powerful cultural source for Indo-Europeans on the Steppe. These Caucasian sources were pretty much definitively the source of the metallurgical technologies that gave the Bronze Age steppe people one of their decisive advantages over late Neolithic cultures and Copper Age cultures that lacked these technologies, and there is increasing evidence that funeral practices very similar to those that became litmus tests of Indo-European steppe cultures arose contemporaneously or perhaps even earlier in these Caucasian cultures which were also the source of their metallurgical technologies.

And, we know that the Steppe people and the people in these Caucasian cultures exchanged goods, technologies and sent wives to the Steppe in connection with these trade exchanges.

So, the archaeological data does not contradict a narrative in which some key Caucasian cultures make large cultural contributions to Steppe culture that were pivotal in the ethnogenesis of an explosively expansive PIE culture that also integrated technological advances like the domestication of horses and the wheel with Caucasian metallurgy and probably Caucasian religious ideas as well.

While providing wives isn't a good means of language influence, prestige cultures with advanced cultural elements and technologies do have powerful linguistic influence on the recipients of technologies from prestige cultures, so the direction of technology transfer and cultural transfer mostly from the Caucasus to the Steppe does provide conditions well suited to linguistic transmission in the same direction.

The key point in these scenarios, however, is that regardless of the ultimate source of contributors to the PIE mixing pot, there is a secondary expansion from the Pontic-Caspian steppe speaking late PIE in any case.

Jaap said...

'... when a bride who doesn't speak her husband's language is brought to her husband's home and community, that their children end up speaking the husband's language and not the wife's.' True enough, as the father's lingo is the avenue to everything that is merited within the social context. But mind the 'ends up'! Such a child will be bilingual as the language intuitions that are formed in very early childhood will have derived from the mother!
If all Steppe bands received this genetic, linguistic and cultural imput to form the 'late PIE' dialects that were to develop into the IE languages, there's little sense in calling it 'late PIE', as PIE would do. Nor would there be any sense in talking about 'Hittite-Indian', as Anatolian would likewise have come from the Caucasus ...
But there seems to be a lot of hitches along this scenario. Linguistic ones mostly. There's a knot here not quite untangled.

Synome said...

Most IE scholars don't consider the Yamnnaya culture to be the ancestor of Anatolian IE in any case, most place the ancestor of all IE languages in the Sredny Stog era. So I don't think it's much of a big deal that the Yamanya=PIE hypothesis is possibly falsified.

Gimbutas and Mallory place PIE in Sredny Stog.

Anthony focuses on Yamnaya but specifically states that incursions into the Danube area by earlier PIE speakers in the 5th millennium may have given rise to Anatolian.

Parpola says PIE is in Cucuteni Tripolye, and that Sredny Stog pastoralists immigrated and took over in the 5th millennium and these immigrants became the PIE speakers.

The pendulum may have swung towards Yamnaya after the genetic studies came out that connected the Yamnaya Steppe component to IE cultures, but we now know that this component is older than Yamnaya and the archaeological theories always pointed earlier as well.

andrew said...

""The attestation of Anatolian Indo-European personal names in 25th century BCE " (at Ebla in Syria) "decisively falsifies the Yamnaya culture as a possible archaeological horizon for PIE-speakers prior to the Anatolian Indo-European split."

Whomever is being quoted is greatly overstating the strength of that linguistic evidence, which amounts to twenty proper names in a Syrian collection of records, in a context where Hattic proper names and Hittite proper names are not actually very different at all.

Davidski said...

@Matt

"The attestation of Anatolian Indo-European personal names in 25th century BCE "(at Ebla in Syria)" decisively falsifies the Yamnaya culture as a possible archaeological horizon for PIE-speakers prior to the Anatolian Indo-European split."

Bit of a straw man, no? Because who's actually arguing that Yamnaya was archaic PIE?

mickeydodds1 said...

David,
Is there any significance at all in fairly strong Indian matches turning up occasionally in the Gedmatch results of individuals of purely European ancestry?

Is it evidence of ancient shared Steppe descent, or is it merely an erroneous artifact of the Gedmatch algorithim?

epoch said...

@Matt & andrew

Some proponents of the Steppe hypothesis propose this: Sredni-Stog -> Novodanilovka -> Suvorovo -> Ezero -> Anatolians.

Mathieson 2018 actually supports this, as it may have no Suvorovo (+/- 4400 BC) samples but it has a sample from the culture that immediately preceded it with steppe ancestry and it has a contemporary sample from an area just a 100 km west of the Suvorovo sample which has Y-DNA R1 and steppe ancestry. Ezero has steppe ancestry.

Oddly enough Mathieson claims his paper makes a route through the Balkans less probable where I think it actually points to crucial evidence for it.

epoch said...

@andrew

I think David Anthony stated that Suvorovo presented the oldest tumuli. They weren't on the steppe though.

Davidski said...

@mickeydodds1

I don't know much about the IBD algorithm at GEdmatch, so I can't comment about that. But yeah, IBD tests pick up a lot of ancient ancestry, so you need to look for large segments (>10 cM), or clusters of smaller segments, to focus on more recent ancestry. But even then, if the algorithm is a bit crap, you have to be very cautious how you interpret the output.

Folker said...

@Matt
"The attestation of Anatolian Indo-European personal names in 25th century BCE " (at Ebla in Syria) "decisively falsifies the Yamnaya culture as a possible archaeological horizon for PIE-speakers prior to the Anatolian Indo-European split."

In fact, it's in Ebla's tablets, but the names (around 20) are found in relation to Armi, not Ebla.

The result is still needing peer-review. As a matter of fact, this result is based on various hypothesis, it is depending on how you are transcripting the tablets. You must understand that the words are not writing in full, but like in Hebrew, only certains letters are written, and some parts of the words are omitted (like in Latin).

So, given the very limited number of examples, and the numerous possibilities of reading the same word (which is written in another language than Eblaic), we must be very cautious with an assimilation with Anatolian names.

In fact, "the attestation of Anatolian Indo-European personal names in 25th century BCE" is only a hypothesis and remains to be proved. I think many linguists will no agree with him anyway (and from what I read, the identification with IE personnal names is only based on some radicals, so the names themselves are not fully IE in any case).

Another point must be stressed: he are dating the Yamnaya horizon from 3000BC, which is an error. 3300BC is a more accurate datation, and probably postdate the real homogeneization in the Steppe. By the way, the Yamnaya Horizon datation needs some work: we need to explain the presence of Yamnaya in Thrace already around 3100BC.

In fact, they are still the best candidates for being the origin of the Anatolian branch: Ezero is too early (as the IE are appearing in Anatolia in the second half of the IIId millenium), and they are vanishing almost at the same time as Anatolian IE could have entered Anatolia (XXIVth century).

The Yamnaya seem to be really the key element about IE dispersal.

Another point must be stressed: the CHG-like component was already present in Steppe Eneolithic. So the admixing between EHG and CHG-like is older than 4000BC, with no relation to Caucasus-Eneolithic.

What happened during the IVth millenium is homogenization between Steppe groups with incorporation of european farmers groups present in the Steppe. Those groups were probably related to CT (archeologically attested in the Steppe).

Anyway, an interesting paper on IE and milk:
https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01667476/file/GarnierSagartSagot_milk.pdf

Matt said...

Synome: Most IE scholars don't consider the Yamnnaya culture to be the ancestor of Anatolian IE in any case, most place the ancestor of all IE languages in the Sredny Stog era. So I don't think it's much of a big deal that the Yamanya=PIE hypothesis is possibly falsified.

Gimbutas and Mallory place PIE in Sredny Stog.

Anthony focuses on Yamnaya but specifically states that incursions into the Danube area by earlier PIE speakers in the 5th millennium may have given rise to Anatolian.


That is fine, if a strong argument can be marshelled for that, which is clear and falsifiable. That they can demonstrate a clear, unambiguous material link and expansion in archaeology, or genetic ancestry (ideally both) and a linguistic reconstruction of proto-Indo-Anatolian lexicon and inferred material culture, one that does not lean heavily on the proto-Indo-European descended languages (which descend from one sister subclade so not independent data points) can be strongly linked to that archaeology. And this still turns out to be very clearly the superior of a NE Anatolia-Caucasian urheimat at the time in matching of lexicon to habitat and material culture.

Mainly noting Anatolian as a late spread associated with either Yamnaya or the Steppe_MLBA cultures (e.g. Hittites as charioteers from the steppe type ideas), and then extraordinary substrate effects have made the language appear more differentiated, seems now falsified. If you take the linguistic supplement to Damgaard (lead author Kroonan) as correct, noting various objections upthread that contend it is not so (for which I'd probably have to await specific responses from linguistic consensus to defer to).

If so, it is a must then to have an early dispersal and long differentiation depth. It's the Yamnaya culture that seems to have the stronger case linking to a very specific linguistic features to a very specific archaeological horizon was made for. For instance, vocab for the solid wheel used for wagons for archaeologically attested during Yamnaya stage and presence for re-constructable wheel vocab at earliest stage is usually cited as the killer blow against an earlier homeland which was not at a wagon using stage (though IRC specific wheel vocab unattested in Anatolian anyway(?)) and more tentatively bronze. (Or push back Yamnaya dates, though maybe not great if the dating of these material cultures is so arbitrarily defined they can just be shifted around in response to contradicting evidence.)

Davidski said...

@epoch

That vagueness makes it almost un-falsifiable. Say what you will about OM, at least he produced a scenario that was verifiable. Same thing with the OIT fans, who claim the original PIE culture is IVC. The MPI-SHH theory however stays clear from any substantial claim.

LOL

Imagine if it turns out that even Olympus Mons was more scientific than the MPI-SHH.

Mark B. said...

I just finished reading D. Reich's new book. He says south of the Caucaus/Iran for proto-IE. He just drops it in at the end of a paragraph after pointing to the wheel/wagon cognates in IE. But he leaves out the biological terms that fit the Steppe and not Iran. I dunno - he's the genetics expert, and he talks with all the other experts, but it's hard for me to figure.

The Living Tribunal said...

I have a (possibly stupid) question to ask: Roughly what proportion of the Yamnaya ancestry was composed of CHG people (or how much of the Yamnaya DNA comes from CHG populations).


FrankN said...

@Matt: “is there even enough knowledge of the succession of neolithic cultures in the Caucasus-Iran..?

The picture has only recently begun to get clearer, thanks to excavations in the Caucasus (pipeline-related) and NW Iran (dam-building).
This paper attempts to sum up the latest findings and place them into a wider geographical context:
https://www.academia.edu/19848008/Fifth_and_Fourth_Millennium_BC_in_North-Western_Iran_Dalma_and_Pisdeli_Revisited

The emerging sequence looks approximately like this:

- (Late) Neolithic, early 7th mBC – 5,400 BC: Neolithisation of the Urmia Basin (from the Central Zagros, Seh Gabi etc?), giving rise to the Haji Firuz Culture (erroneously labeled as Haji_Firuz CHG);
- Neolithic – Chalcolithic transition, 5,400-5,000 BC; still poorly defined, lack of AMS dating, possible chronological gap in some locations;
- Early Chalcolithic Dalma Culture, 5,000-4,500 BC; a transhumating culture involved in long-distance Obsidian trade.. Apparently a local NW Iranian development that during the second half of the 5th mBC spread (or was displaced?) towards the Central Zagros. The Dalma horizon also entails Alikemek Tepesi in SE Azerbaijan that, with the revised dating, may provide the earliest evidence of the domesticated horse, nearly one millennium before Botai, Sredny Stog etc. [Investigation by French experts is underway and should provide a clearer picture, see https://www.azernews.az/culture/126696.html .];
- Late Chalcolithic (LC) 1 Pisdeli Culture, 4,500 – 4,200 BC: Part of the so-called “post-Ubaid” horizon, displaying Mesotopotamian influence and parallels to the Upper Euphrates region.
- LC 2/3 Chaff-faced ware (CFW), 4,200-3,700 BC: Possibly an “organic” development out of Pisdeli, though AMS datings from the Central Araxes (Kültepe/ Nakhkichevan, Arashten/ Armenia [Arm_CHG]) seem slightly earlier than the NW Iranian ones. Strong expansion into the Kura Basin and beyond (Leyla Tepe, admixture into Sioni and Maykop), as well as through N. Mesopotamia (Upper Euphrates, Khabur valley [Hurrians], etc) eventually into the Amuq plain around Antakhia (Amuq F, mid 3rd mBC)
- EBA Kura Araxes / Early Transcaucasian Culture (ETC), ca. 3,500-2,500 BC: Apparently intrusive, with a possible short hiatus/ chronological gap. The origin of KA is yet unclear, earliest attestation (around 4,000 BC) from the Middle Araxes (Kültepe, Arashten) as admixture into CFW-dominated contexts. In spite of the intrusive character, NW Iran still represents an early phase of KA expansion.
- MLBA Urmia Ware, 2,200-1,500 BC, with strong parallels to the Trialeti Culture (E. Georgia), and contemporary Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Various archeological aspects still need to be sorted out. This, of course, applies even more to linguistic considerations, which, aside from PIE, also concern Hurro-Urartian and North Caucasian. Luckily, we have quite a bit of regional aDNA already, and I invite you (and others) to check whether archeological finds correspond to information yielded by aDNA.

We will probably still have to wait a few years for aDNA from Syria, but the Iraq part of Mesopotamia may sooner or later provide aDNA that can help to shed light on the nature and extent of Ubaid/ Uruk influence, possibly also on the hide-out of Basal Euasians.

FrankN said...

Dave:
You might want to somewhat rephrase your thread title:
You point out that Yamnaya isn't intimately related to Iran_N, i.e. the Central Zagros. I trust you in that, you are far better at genetic analyses than I am.
Some time ago, you also showed that Yamnaya (or the CHG/Iranian component within it) didn't directly descend from Colchian HG (CHG, Kotias, Satsurblia).
So, we are apparently dealing with an ancestry component that was neither originating from Colchis, nor the Central Zagros, but somewhere in-between. But from where in-between?

For answering that question, I prefer going back to the LGM and the question of LGM refugia. Colchis, and the narrow strip of Black Sea coastal lowland extending westwards towards Samsun has, for all we know, been one of those LGM refugia. We don't have UP/EP samples from the Turkish part of that refugium yet, but I doubt that they would be substantially differentiated enough from the available Colchian samples to qualify as source for the CHG part of Steppe Eneolithic ancestry.

Recent climate models suggest that during the LGM, glaciation of the Caucasus reached as far down as 500m a.s.l. The fact that Satsurblia, at 360m a.s.l., was uninhabited during the LGM indicates that only lowlands qualified as LGM refugia. This puts most of E. Georgia, with the possible exception of Lower Kakheti, out. Moreover, E. Georgia today has rather low precipitation and is semi-steppic to desert-like; during the LGM, all available climate modelling suggests it to have been an uninhabitable desert.
AFAIK, there hasn't been any UP/EP site identified in E. Georgia so far, in contrast to several W. Georgian sites, but also Early Paleolithic spots such as Dmanisi (arguably the earliest Hominid found outside Africa). The same seems to appöy to W. Azerbaijan. The Kura plain in E. Azerbaijan was anyway flooded during the LGM (Khvalynian Transgression) and as such uninhabitable.

That essentially leaves us with the S. Caspian, evidenced as LGM refugium for, e.g., the Persian Walnut. The area has been (and is still) affected by Caspian Sea level fluctuations. During the LGM, and possibly also after the Younger Dryas, sea levels were up to 60m higher than today (Hotu cave, e.g., was flooded during the UP and only settled during the Mesolithic). OTOH, during interstadials, the sea level may have been more than 100m lower than today, reducing the Caspian Sea to the size of the Aral Lake (at it's better times, pre-1970s) and opening up wide coastal plains to the North and South.

Against this background, the chance of getting South Caspian UP/EP aDNA seems comparable to obtaining aDNA from Doggerland, i.e. close to zero. Hotu_HG apparently already displays substantial introgression from the Central Zagros. The same may apply to nearby Bell Cave, which has hardly been discussed and analysed so far. Still, the South Caspian UP/EP looks as the most parsimonious source of "CHG-Iranian, but neither Colchian nor Zagros" contribution to Steppe populations. And that would ultimately make those contributors Iranian (or originating from within 200 sea miles off the Iranian coast).

I wonder, btw., whether it is possible to construct an South Caspian UP ghost from Hotu_HG/ Bell Cave HG (but maybe the sample quality is too poor).

Davidski said...

@Mark B.

I just finished reading D. Reich's new book. He says south of the Caucaus/Iran for proto-IE. He just drops it in at the end of a paragraph after pointing to the wheel/wagon cognates in IE. But he leaves out the biological terms that fit the Steppe and not Iran. I dunno - he's the genetics expert, and he talks with all the other experts, but it's hard for me to figure.

Wagons were already being used by Neolithic farmers in Central Europe, so the Proto-Indo-Europeans and Yamnaya may have got this technology from the west from, say, Cucuteni Tripolye and/or Globular Amphora.

Is there something special about the Maykop wagons that say Yamnaya wagons were derived from them?

In any case, Yamnaya doesn't actually show a clear, unambiguous genetic relationship to Maykop, while it does harbor Globular Amophora-like ancestry. We've been talking about the latter fact for a couple of years in the comments here.

I suppose that there may have been important contacts between Maykop and Yamnaya that resulted in language transfer, so this is worth discussing at least. But I wouldn't get too caught up in this, because I reckon the Maykop data, when poked and prodded enough, will eventually reveal that Maykop people were intimately related to present-day Caucasian speakers.

And apart from that, the notion that Yamnaya is significantly derived from some Bronze Age or Eneolithic population from Iran isn't even worth discussing. It's just total f*cking nonsense.

@The Living Tribunal

I have a (possibly stupid) question to ask: Roughly what proportion of the Yamnaya ancestry was composed of CHG people (or how much of the Yamnaya DNA comes from CHG populations).

Around 30-40%. Check out my qpGraph models here...

What's Maykop (or Iran) got to do with it? #2

Salden said...

>but the Iraq part of Mesopotamia may sooner or later provide aDNA that can help to shed light on the nature and extent of Ubaid/ Uruk influence

Hmmm? Is something being done there when it comes to Ancient DNA?

Davidski said...

@FrankN

Don't get your hopes up that you'll ever see any real evidence of Ubaid/Uruk genetic influence in Yamnaya, no matter how much aDNA from Mesopotamia is recovered.

Ric Hern said...

How much contact did the Indo-Europeans retain after their dispersal ? Could the words for new inventions or technology have spread or be more standardized after the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans ? Were there indirect contact between the Altai and the Balkans after the dispersal ?

This type of scenario surely could complicate things when reconstructing what Proto-Indo-European actually looked like and when it originated. Adapting the word Computer for example surely do not point to the origin of a certain language....

Ric Hern said...

A Language consists of thousands of words. The absence of one word or even a dozen words surely doesn't put such a Language in a totally different Language Family....

Jailed Twice said...

@FrankN
It's necessary to take into account not only the icing, but also the tectonic factor
http://rjee.ru/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/rjee_2_4_2017_1_kalyakin.pdf

Richard Rocca said...

Davidski said... "Around 30-40%. Check out my qpGraph models here..."

Maybe I'm reading your graph wrong? If you are showing Steppe_Eneolithic3 as only 28% CHG and Yamnaya was a mix of Steppe_Eneolithic3 and European MN Farmer, wouldn't CHG be lower than 28%?

Davidski said...

@Richard Rocca

You're correct. I was thinking of my qpAdm models when I posted that.

Another look at the genetic structure of Yamnaya

So based on all of the evidence, from a variety of methods, CHG is probably at around 30% in Yamnaya.

Dmytro said...

How much of this CHG is traceable in contemporary European populations?

Davidski said...

@Dmytro

How much of this CHG is traceable in contemporary European populations?

It's usually about a third to a half of their steppe ancestry proportion, which makes sense.

qpAdm tour of Europe: Mesolithic to Neolithic transition

qpAdm tour of Europe: the Bronze Age invasion

zardos said...

To answer the question for modern Northern Europeans, this means about one quarter CHG ancestry, doesnt it?

Davidski said...

@All

Btw, forgot to ask earlier, please share this post via all social media that you can think of.

Slumbery said...

No, because for North Europens the third (of their Steppe ancestry) applies. The ones that go for the half are the ones with extra, non-Steppe, CHG(like) ancestry.

epoch said...

@FrankN

Thanks for that information (link and summary) on Iran.

4mypeople said...

I need information of Maternal Haplogroup R1a, you have nothing on it on Eurogenes and there is next to nothing on it on google. My mothers family are Irish, Scottish English and Belgian and I wanna know how I got this very rare haplotype.
Also can you compile a list of Archaic European gnome Gedmatch kit numbers n a list for comparison please and thank you.
I've been trying to upload western Neanderthal gnomes that I have downloaded from the google drive of whoever has them accessable on the Gedmatc ancient DNA page but when I do they always say they have not yet been tokenized etc even after 6-8 months.
Seems odd that only the Altai Neanderthal gnome is available for comparison when Western European Neanderthals would have allot more DNA in common with both Archaic and modern Europeans you would think.
Also I ran Pestera Cu Oase through the Gedmath eye color predictor and he had blue eyes which comepletely debunks the idea that blue eyes originated in the black sea area only 8-10,000 years ago as do many other samples show if run through the eye color predictor.
Look forward to hearing from you, you can e-mal me at 4mypeople@protonmail.com and also check out my youtube channel 4mypeople where we discuss Archaeology ancient history and genetics mythology etc.