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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ancient DNA from early Medieval Muslim graves in France

A new paper at PLoS ONE reveals that three individuals from early Medieval burials in southern France belong to Y-chromosome haplogroup E1b1b1b-M81 and mtDNA haplogroups H1, K1a4a and L1c3a, and thus were probably of North African origin.

Abstract: The rapid Arab-Islamic conquest during the early Middle Ages led to major political and cultural changes in the Mediterranean world. Although the early medieval Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula is now well documented, based in the evaluation of archeological and historical sources, the Muslim expansion in the area north of the Pyrenees has only been documented so far through textual sources or rare archaeological data. Our study provides the first archaeo-anthropological testimony of the Muslim establishment in South of France through the multidisciplinary analysis of three graves excavated at Nimes. First, we argue in favor of burials that followed Islamic rites and then note the presence of a community practicing Muslim traditions in Nimes. Second, the radiometric dates obtained from all three human skeletons (between the 7th and the 9th centuries AD) echo historical sources documenting an early Muslim presence in southern Gaul (i.e., the first half of 8th century AD). Finally, palaeogenomic analyses conducted on the human remains provide arguments in favor of a North African ancestry of the three individuals, at least considering the paternal lineages. Given all of these data, we propose that the skeletons from the Nimes burials belonged to Berbers integrated into the Umayyad army during the Arab expansion in North Africa. Our discovery not only discusses the first anthropological and genetic data concerning the Muslim occupation of the Visigothic territory of Septimania but also highlights the complexity of the relationship between the two communities during this period.

Gleize Y, Mendisco F, Pemonge M-H, Hubert C, Groppi A, Houix B, et al. (2016) Early Medieval Muslim Graves in France: First Archaeological, Anthropological and Palaeogenomic Evidence. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148583. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148583

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

CHG admixture in early western Anatolian farmers

Anatolian Neolithic farmer I0708 from the Mathieson et al. 2015 dataset belongs to Y-haplogroup J2a and is the most Caucasus-shifted of the early Anatolian farmers in my Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of West Eurasia (see below). This is unlikely to be a coincidence and provides strong evidence that at least some Neolithic farmers in western Anatolia harbored Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer (CHG) ancestry.

Note that the two CHG genomes sequenced to date courtesy of Jones et al. 2015, Kotias and Satsurblia, belonged to Y-haplogroups J and J2a. Moreover, J2 today shows peaks in frequency and diversity in and around the Caucasus. In other words, Y-haplogroup J, and in particular J2, appear to represent paternal signals of CHG admixture.

Unfortunately, it's not yet possible to demonstrate with formal tests beyond any doubt that I0708 has CHG admixture.

For instance, the D-stats below, in which a couple of the least Caucasus-shifted Anatolian farmers are Anatolia Neolithic1, while I0708 is Anatolia Neolithic2, fail to reach significance (Z=3). Please note, I ran the stats with the Amerindian and Siberian samples to test for Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) admixture, which appears to be a feature of CHG.

However, the results are all clearly positive, and might reach significance with higher quality data and/or a better reference than Anatolia Neolithic1.

Indeed, the subtle difference in ANE affinity between Anatolia Neolithic1 and Anatolia Neolithic2 is underlined by the D-stats below. Note that here Kotias shows significant signals of admixture when paired with Anatolia Neolithic1, but not when paired with Anatolia Neolithic2. This is despite the fact that Anatolia Neolithic2 is a higher coverage sequence (6.95x vs 2.66x) and offers more markers.

I0708 is unlikely to be the only early western Anatolian farmer with CHG/ANE admixture. The PCA above show that a couple of others are also pulling strongly towards the Caucasus. Indeed, all of the Anatolian and European Neolithic samples might harbor low levels of CHG ancestry. The problem with testing this idea at present is a lack of more basal Near Eastern ancient genomes from core areas of the Near East, like, say, the Levant.

Hopefully they're on their way, but in any case, it's almost certain now that CHG was already expanding west, and in all likelihood east, during the early Neolithic. This probably has some important implications for the peopling of West Eurasia and their linguistic affinities. Feel free to post what these might be in the comments.

Update 11/02/2016: I came up with new Anatolia Neolithic1 and Anatolia Neolithic2 sets using D-stats (by comparing each of the Anatolians to Kotias versus sample I0708). For a breakdown see here. Anatolia Neolithic2 now shows significant signals of admixture from Kotias, Dai, Surui and Han. This implies that it not only harbors CHG ancestry, but also ANE and East Asian-related admixtures.