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Monday, December 18, 2017

Corded Ware as an offshoot of Hungarian Yamnaya (Anthony 2017)

David W. Anthony has just posted a new paper at his page titled Archaeology and Language: Why Archaeologists Care about the Indo-European Problem (see here).

It's not only an interesting discussion about why the search for the Indo-European homeland is still such a big deal, but also a useful, almost up to date, summary of the fascinating stuff that ancient DNA has revealed about the genetic history of Europe, with a special focus on the origin of the Corded Ware people, who are generally accepted to be the first Indo-European-speaking population of Northern Europe.

Now, I say it's an almost up to date summary, because Anthony seems fairly certain that the Corded Ware people were descendants of the Yamnaya people, rather than just their close relatives. He uses archaeological and ancient DNA data to argue that Yamnaya migrants moved from the North Pontic steppe to the eastern Carpathian Basin (present-day Hungary), and then onto what is now southern Poland to give rise to the proto-Corded Ware population.

I probably would've said this was a highly plausible scenario before I saw the ancient DNA results from the latest preprint of Mathieson et al. 2017, an ancient genomics paper in the works focusing on Southeastern Europe (see here). But now that I've seen those results, I feel that Anthony's proposal might be outdated.

One of the samples in that preprint is from a pre-Yamnaya Eneolithic burial on the northern edge of North Pontic steppe, in what is now eastern Ukraine, labeled Ukraine_Eneolithic I6561. This individual not only strongly resembles the Corded Ware people in terms of genome-wide genetic structure, but also belongs to Y-haplogroup R1a-M417, which is a paternal marker probably no older than the Eneolithic and intimately associated with the Corded Ware expansion. Currently, as far as I can see, he's by far the most likely candidate in the ancient DNA record to belong to a proto-Corded Ware population.

Keep in mind also that not a single instance of R1a-M417 has yet been found among a wide range of prehistoric individuals from the Carpathian Basin. On the other hand, Olalde et al. 2017 (see here) did manage to catch one Early Bronze Age (EBA) Bell Beaker from the region belonging to R1b-Z2103, which is the paternal marker currently most strongly associated with Yamnaya.

Below is a map of Central and Eastern Europe ca. 3000-2000 BCE from Anthony's paper, edited by me to show the burial location of Ukraine_Eneolithic I6561. If we assume that his descendants or close relatives were the proto-Corded Ware population, then looking at this map, it seems unlikely to me that they would've taken the Carpathian Basin route before expanding into Northern Europe. Rather, I'd say that they would've fanned out across the north directly from the steppe, perhaps along those northward-pointing river valleys? And I suspect that they may have still been a pre-Yamnaya group as they migrated out of the steppe, just as Yamnaya was forming somewhere to the east.

But hey, Anthony might be right, and I might be way off. Indeed, perhaps Anthony based his theory, to an extent, on soon to be published Yamnaya samples from the Carpathian Basin? If such genomes have been sequenced, and at least one belongs to R1a-M417, then it's game over as far as the origin of the Corded Ware people is concerned, and I'll welcome the surprise.

See also...

Early Baltic Corded Ware form a genetic clade with Yamnaya, but...

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


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Anthro Survey said...


Ah, ok. My bad, then. It's just that Spencer is essentially the president of the identitarian movement in the US. As for Jorjani---I've checked and it seems they've actually cut ties a couple of months ago.

It's hard to say whether it benefited in the long run as that can be a subjective matter, but I'd have to stress that, indirectly, there was a net positive gain for the Iranics. It somehow enabled them to leave an indelible mark on the world like never before.

As far as swarming goes, I agree, it's quite an apt term for the initial Mongol sweep.
This isn't to say that Arabians were peacenicks. It's just that their impact is vastly overstated---in everything. Prof. Touraj Darayee of UC Irvine has a series of videos on YT pertinent to this subject. A conspiracy theorist by the name of Emmett Scott also casts doubt on the role Bedouins played in the conquest, attributing the fall of the Sassanids to a strange coup involving a modified version Ebionite Christianity. Heck, even Arab grammar and poetry was developed by Iranians. I don't want to go into detail but, to top it off, doesn't it seem perhaps too convenient that Salman the trench tactician was, in fact, a Persian?
Turkic influence wasn't pernicious, but I wouldn't say it added much cultural capital. The Turkomans had an unparalleled military legacy, though, and we can say there was a Turk-Tajik symbiotic relationship. Xerxes may have been stopped at the Hot Gates, but the Seljukid legacy brought Persian prose to the streets of Sarajevo.

Yeah, most of the influential folks were, indeed, from Khorasan and central Iran. Christians from greater Syria were important in translating and cataloguing ancient texts, but added comparatively little new insight. The Syro-Mesopotamian Muslims to whom I refer include al-Jazari, al-Haytham(my fave), thabit ibn Qurra and al-Battani. I'm not at all surprised by their representation. In fact, I'm surprised there weren't more of them. After all, should we really expect descendants of lineages associated with earliest urban civilizations(Gobekli, Sumeria, Catalhoyuk, etc.) to be dull? :D Steve Jobs and Carlos Slim surely didn't fit that bill. Also, regardless of one's take on Assad, you gotta admit he's quick on his feet when it comes to giving brilliant responses to the media. As a general rule, Syrians/Lebs and urban Iraqis tend to be sharp-minded folks across the board.

That is to say, the Semitic-Aryan paradigm as peddled by some online WNs and pan-Aryanists is bollocks.
Come to think of it, ancient Persians were never really "anti-Semitic" to any appreciable extent. They had a disdain for the nomadic Arabs, but this carried over into the Islamic period, too(Turks seem to have inherited their anti-Arabism from Persians). In fact, other Semitic speakers shared their regard of the Arabian tribes. Other than that, Persians were always ready to borrow from Semitic-speaking peoples of Messopotamia, be it writing or queen consorts. The Sassanians had a great relationship with ME's Jews too. They played an important role in Khosrau's capture of Jerusalem from the Byzantines, for example and Sassanid Mesopotamia was home to a thriving Jewish community.

The Ilkhan/Timurid/ periods in Greater Iran seem to have been a "three steps back, two steps forward" sort of deal. On the one hand, there were polymaths like al-Kashi and Nasriddin Tusi accompanied by unprecedented architectural feats. On the other, quite a bit of material---urban and literary---was irreversibly damaged, along with an ensuing brain drain from Khorasan. Whatever the case, these periods definitely benefited China because Persian astronomers introduced western maths and the round-earth paradigm there. As inventive as the Chinese were, they were mathematically challenged and running behind the Hellenistic tradition.

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