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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ancient mitogenomes from Sardinia and Lebanon (Matisoo-Smith et al. 2018)

Over at PLoS ONE at this LINK. Emphasis is mine:

Abstract: The Phoenicians emerged in the Northern Levant around 1800 BCE and by the 9th century BCE had spread their culture across the Mediterranean Basin, establishing trading posts, and settlements in various European Mediterranean and North African locations. Despite their widespread influence, what is known of the Phoenicians comes from what was written about them by the Greeks and Egyptians. In this study, we investigate the extent of Phoenician integration with the Sardinian communities they settled. We present 14 new ancient mitogenome sequences from pre-Phoenician (~1800 BCE) and Phoenician (~700–400 BCE) samples from Lebanon (n = 4) and Sardinia (n = 10) and compare these with 87 new complete mitogenomes from modern Lebanese and 21 recently published pre-Phoenician ancient mitogenomes from Sardinia to investigate the population dynamics of the Phoenician (Punic) site of Monte Sirai, in southern Sardinia. Our results indicate evidence of continuity of some lineages from pre-Phoenician populations suggesting integration of indigenous Sardinians in the Monte Sirai Phoenician community. We also find evidence of the arrival of new, unique mitochondrial lineages, indicating the movement of women from sites in the Near East or North Africa to Sardinia, but also possibly from non-Mediterranean populations and the likely movement of women from Europe to Phoenician sites in Lebanon. Combined, this evidence suggests female mobility and genetic diversity in Phoenician communities, reflecting the inclusive and multicultural nature of Phoenician society.

Matisoo-Smith E, Gosling AL, Platt D, Kardailsky O, Prost S, Cameron-Christie S, et al. (2018) Ancient mitogenomes of Phoenicians from Sardinia and Lebanon: A story of settlement, integration, and female mobility. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0190169.

See also...

Something unexpected from Mesolithic Sardinia


Salden said...

The paper notes that Phoenician samples either have haplogroups much more common in Europe than in West Asia or aren't common at all outside of endogamous or isolated groups like Druze.

Point is, rather than just movements of captured or married females I say that it's more ammunition for saying that the Middle East (at least for Levant to North Africa since they didn't have the terrain to lower Arabization like Iran had) was significantly changed by post Islamic movements (Arab invaders, slaves).

Unknown said...

@Salden No, Iran was not Arabized and Iranians barely have any Arab admixture, perhaps 1 to 5%.

Did they extract some Autosomal data from the samples?

rozenblatt said...

@Shahanshah of Persia they didn't mention any autosomal data in the paper. I guess they tried, but apparently many of the Lebanese samples were of too low quality even to get mtDNA. I bet they will try to get full genomes and will publish them in another paper.

By the way, how do you know that " Iranians barely have any Arab admixture, perhaps 1 to 5%. " To prove such claim, we need ancient full genomes of Sassanian Iran, which, as far as I know, at this moment we don't have.

Rob said...

You guys should read the methods : only mtDNA sequencing was performed. Not all labs can do full genome

BTW: U Otago my old haunts !

Unknown said...

@rozenfag We have a lot of evidence, and David has proven this to be the case multiple times. Just look through his posts.

Aram said...

Pre Phoenician (1800bc) H34 found in Chukotka. :)

Salden said...

Iran is mountainous while the Levant to North Africa aren't. It's easy to see how they could have gotten way less Arabian admixture. And the SSA slave trade wasn't concentrated there.

capra internetensis said...

They hinted at future nuclear DNA research. I sure hope so, because even Y results would be more informative, never mind autosomal. As it is n=4 doesn't add up to much. There are also the Bronze Age Sidon samples which should be basically early Phoenician, they don't match any Sardinians either.

Looks like they have samples from Ibiza as well but they are not in this paper.

Samuel Andrews said...

Other than the one with N1b1a5, none of them belong to a definitively Near Eastern lineage. W5 is a super rare mHG so I can't say anything about that. But the rest are all typical European mHGs.

The T2b3 and H1c in the Phoencians from Lebanon and U5b2c1 from the Phoencians in Morcco could definitely be coming from European admixture. Those are all European-specific lineages.

That's not astounding evidence of bidirectional gene flow in Phoencian settlements and doesn't deserve a whole paper dedicated to it.

Samuel Andrews said...

Sad, the authors of this paper go along with the old theories about a significant pre-Neolithic origin for European mtDNA. I don't know if there has been a single mtDNA paper which claims otherwise. Trust me, other than U5 & U4 & U2 & maybe someother stuff (like K1c) all Euroepan mtDNA is either from Neolithic/Mesolithic Anatolia or Caucasus. WHG & EHG ancestry probably mostly come from males hence Lithuanians don't have 40% U5 and U4.

Olivieri 2017, the paper which sequenced thousends of Sardinian mitogenomes, argued for a signifcant pre-Neolithic origin for Sardinian mtDNA. Ridiculous.

Samuel Andrews said...

My mtDNA blog will be up in a week or two. My first post will cover precisly how Middle Eastern & European mtDNA is interrelated. The next post will cover the common mtDNA between all Europeans.

The third post will show how not only ancient mtDNA but modern mtDNA confirms that a huge chunk of European mtDNA is from Neolithic Anatolia. This includes Europeans as far north as Karelia.

My fourth post will be dedicated to Sardinians. The reason; mtDNA wise they might a legitamate Neolithic isolate and almost all their mtDNA is of EEF origin. This pre-Neolithic stuff for H3 or K1a4 is complete hog wash.

Unknown said...

H3 was also found in one of the corpses in the much discussed Nuragic necropolis of Mont'e Prama, which yielded what are perhaps the oldest stone statues in Europe, we're talking late bronze age/early iron age, 3000 years ago:

And it's commonly found in modern Sardinians (18% of them) first and foremost, but also among Basques though with a slightly lower frequency (13%)

Sofia Aurora said...

Plos this week has very interesting articles. I saw this one, check it out folks in case it interests you:

Samuel Andrews said...

@Silver Gate,

Yep. And also there's loads of H3 from Neolithic Spain, France, and Britain.


Btw, It is clear now there was mtDNA diversity within Neolithic Anatolia. Differnt Anatolian groups brought different mHGs into different parts of Europe. All of them were really similar but not identical. The farmers who went to Spain & Sardinia carried very little N1a1a. The farmers who went into the Balkans & Central Europe carried very little H1 and H3.

As more Anatolia Neolithic mitogenomes come in don't be surprised if they find sites dating to like 8000 BC with loads of "modern looking" European mHGs like H3, like H1b, like J1c2, like K1a1a. It'll be pretty cool to see.

A said...

The oldest stone statues in Europe are in the megalithic temples of Malta, 3150 to 2500 BC.

Rob said...

I'd qualify / correct Sam"s suggestions

Central - west Anatolia does look fairly uniform, with significant levels of N1, and Y correlates such as G2
Rather it is Syria and Halaf sites in the far southeast of turkey which might have H3.

And the data from Europe is still not 100% clear; apart from LBK being the G2/ N1 founder effect.
Most of the Iberia data is actually Middle neolithic, with minimal early Neolithic samples
Sam forgot to mention the Harvella study of Romania, which only resolving to H* level, showed a lot of H.
Essentially, this looks like a second migration through Europe after the early Neolithic,

Grey said...

"reflecting the inclusive and multicultural nature of Phoenician society"

or maybe they were slave traders

Samuel Andrews said...


If you really want to get technical sure maybe a second Neolithic wave from EEFs near Anatolia but not in Anatolia brought H3 and other mHGs. The point I was making is EEF (basically only Neolithic Anatolia) had mtDNA diversity.

We don't have enough data from Neolithic Anatolia to be sure they will all show lots of N1a1a and no H3. Don't jump to quick conclusions. Wait for more data.

"Most of the Iberia data is actually Middle neolithic, with minimal early Neolithic samples "

Yes. However H3 has popped up in the Cardiel culture dating to the Early Neolithic.

H3. 5330-5230 BC, Galeria da Cisterna, Portugal

In addition typical modern European H4a1a, K1a2a, K1a4a1 have popped up in multiple Cardiel culture sites dating to the Early Neolithic.

Yeah, sure maybe a second wave from Syria brought H3. *Maybe.* But right now I think it came from Anatolia with the first wave.

Samuel Andrews said...

Correction. H3 has popped up in two Early Neolithic sites from Iberia.

5330-5230 BC, Galeria da Cisterna, Portugal, Cardiel.
5000 BC, Catalonia, Spain, Epicardiel.

Anonymous said...


Not really. The Phoenicians were never in a particularly strong slaving position, especially since their colonies relied on the goodwill of neighbouring peoples, and they were a mercantile, not conquering people. Even Carthage's Empire looked more like the East India Company. Most of our references to slavery in their world are minor and domestic, or religious in the case of Carthage. Captives tended to be ransomed back, or sold off to other parties. This isn't to say that we don't have good evidence of piracy and raiding for captives, but slavery was not a huge part of Punic life compared to the Greeks, Romans, and other neighbouring peoples.

Carthage was fairly multi-cultural, with a mixture of Punics, Libyans, and Greeks. They were also rapidly Hellenising, and chances are that today we would mistake Hannibal in full battle dress for a Greek Strategos. This paper, however, seems to show that this mixing may have begun before Carthage had created a new Empire. I look forward to better details and resolution on the precise origins of these females, and would be interested to see if they played a part in cultural shifts seen in the archaeological record.

Rob said...

@ Sam. Fair enough, It'll be interesting to see what pans

Samuel Andrews said...


Is there archaeological evidence some early Europeans farmers arrived from Syria?

Rob said...

@ Sam
Think of Anatolia is 2 zones: (a) west and central (where all the data to date comes from) : who's roots lie in EpiPaleolithic traditions characterized by contacts with (I) Europe - Mditerranean & Black Sea (II) Coastal Levant (natufians); versus (b) east Anatolia which formed a zone with Syria, northern Iraq and further beyond, to Zagros. As the Neolithic progressed, and the big move West occurred, the border eroded.

Chad said...

I doubt that. Halaf is east of Tepecik-Ciftlik, and contemporary. They're likely even more Iran-like. The opposite of what differs Cardial from Danubian.

Karl_K said...


Why don't you just write a paper about the Neolithic origin of the mtDNA? You must have a ton of data by now, and it's no harder than writing a blog post. Just submit it to biorxiv, it's free. If you get good feedback, you could submit a revision to a respectable journal. Then you will be taken seriously and could become a leader in this field of mtDNA analysis instead of just a blogger/commenter.

jv said...

Wonderful! Look forward to this! My sister in law tested with 23andMe. Apparently my husband is also mtDNA H with about 80% British Isles ancestry. Is there anyway to predict his subclade of H if I can get the raw data from my sister in law? FTDNA yDNA & mtDNA package deal is over $500 right now.

Samuel Andrews said...


Thanks. I was going to do that first but decided to do a blog post instead because I realized I don't have the tech skills to make graphics or have enough irrefutable evidence. I might try writing a paper eventually though.

For now, all I am doing is a blog. I want it to be the place all the people online who are into European & Middle Eastern genetics will go to learn about mtDNA. Later, I'll expand to focus on mtDNA all over the world.

"Is there anyway to predict his subclade of H if I can get the raw data from my sister in law?"

Once my blog is up I'll offer to analysis, find closest matches, and write a little report on anybody's mtDNA for $5 cuz FTDNA and others tend to give crap reports. You can send me her mtDNA then.

I can guarantee your husband does belong to a subclade because H* is super rare. If your sister in law's mtDNA was tested at enough coverage she should be able to find a subclade. If she does then I definitely have some matches in my database and might even know the specific region it is mostly found.

Onur Dincer said...


FTDNA mtDNA full sequence test is the way to go for your husband or sister in law. Then you can submit the mtDNA full sequence raw data to Samuel, FTDNA mtDNA haplogroup project admins and James Lick for further analysis.

jv said...

@ Onur,
Thank you

jv said...

@ Samual Andrews,
Thank you. I read that 23andMe has a chip test for mtDNA. Perhaps my husband’s subclade of H is not one of the common ones like H1 or H3. Thanks for your help.

Samuel Andrews said...

Loads of ancient mtDNA from Lithuania and Poland dating from Roman Iron age to 18th century.

I've just skimmed through the results. I do see some haplotypes I found in eastern Europe using modern mtDNA in the migration period data. But can't say anything about the data till I take a closer look.

I haven't mentioned this yet. A mHG I consider Slavic specific popped up in a burial from Bavaria Germany dating to 300-400 AD. There's a good chance the person was an early Slav who moved into a German community.

Simon_W said...

@ Sam

Depends on the finding location I'd say. At that date southern Bavaria was still covered with Roman communities.

Anthro Survey said...


Good points and you beat me to them.

One question:

"The T2b3 and H1c in the Phoencians from Lebanon and U5b2c1 from the Phoencians in Morcco could definitely be coming from European admixture."

Just to clarify here, though: You mean 'recent' European admixture, right?---not "European" admixture mediated by Villabruna-like HGs mixing with basal-heavy MEs 16-20KYA.

U6 in those earliest Neolithic Moroccans from IAM site is clearly from some archaic mixture of West Eurasian HGs(presumably with para-Eurasians characterized by y Hg E and mtDNA NxA,I,O,R,S,X,Y,W).

Also, can you test one of my theories out please? :-)

Simon_W said...

quotation from aniasi:
"chances are that today we would mistake Hannibal in full battle dress for a Greek Strategos"

Quite right; Hannibal and company as envisaged by military artist Giuseppe Rava:

Anthro Survey said...

@Simon_W (and aniasi)

Haha! That brings back memories from my Rome:Total War days. Not that I particularly cared for the Carthage faction much, or other Hellenistic-themed factions for that matter.

Samuel Andrews said...

@Anthro Survey,
"Just to clarify here, though: You mean 'recent' European admixture, right?---not "European" admixture mediated by Villabruna-like HGs mixing with basal-heavy MEs 16-20KYA."

Yes. My estimate for H1 is 9,000 years. My estimate for H1c is 6,000 years. My estimate for T2b is 8,000 years. Both H1 & T2b are EEF lineages. Both are really common in North & East Europe. Germans, Celts, and Balto-Slavs.

I'm not super dogmatic about this but I really doubt the WHG-like ancestors of Natufians or EEF carried any U5. Instead, they probably carried other U lineages like K1a & U3. U5b2c1 is a European WHG lineage. It might be 20,000 years but I doubt it. It might be like 13,000 years old. Any presence of U5b2c1 outside of Europe means that population has European admixture.

Samuel Andrews said...

"K1a & U3"

And U6. IMO, the basal U subclades in the Middle East & India; U1, U3, U2, U7, definitly decend from their non-Basal ancestors just like U5 & U4 in Europe. U2 in India is an Iran Neolithic, ultimately ANE lineage.

A lot else is possible. Maybe some non-U lineages as well like J & T.

Ric Hern said...


U6 ? I thought U6 originated in Europe very early ?

Samuel Andrews said...

Maybe U6 originated in Europe but I guarantee you its important expansions occurred in North Africa.

Alogo said...

Nice, Sam, looking forward to that. I haven't paid much attention to mtDNA personally so a nice compendium like that would be of interest to me too.

On topic, it'd be interesting to have Sardinian autosomes from the period of Phoenician colonization up to the de facto end of Byzantine rule. Sardinians seem to have a small amount of "levantine" ancestry in some non-formal tests (not sure if formal testing concurs) and they could have conceivably acquired it from various events during that period, from the Phoenicians to some small North African populations that followed the Vandals.

Theasparagus said...

It is important to mention that the samples from Sardinia belong to the Punic period (6th-3rd century bc), not to the Phoenician one( late 9th-early 6th century bc). Archaeologists always distinguish between these periods because during the Phoenician period it is clear from the material evidence that the Sardinians and the Phoenicians collaborated and coexisted peacefully in coastal settlements which often had mixed Phoenician and Nuragic features, the archaeologists who are excavating these sites claim that the the native Nuragics were the majority of the citizens, which explains why Sardinians today are still pretty much identical to their neolithic ancestors, and it's evident that Sardinians were present in the early Phoenician cities of the Western Mediterranean such as Utica, Carthage and in almost all of the Iberian sites. Sardo-Phoenician amphorae were really popular during these period in the Western Mediterranean and along with some other vessels they testify the great degree of cooperation between the Nuragics and Phoenicians, the Sardo-Phoenician cities prospered during this period in autonomy.
However later on, during the 6th century bc Carthage had become the biggest Phoenician city and became militaristic, ancient writers mention that during this period the Carthaginians fought against the Greeks in Sicily, but also against the Sardinians. Archaeologists seem to support these accounts since there is evidence that these Sardo-Phoenician cities were suddenly destroyed in a fire, including Monte Sirai which is the one from where the samples in this study came from, the Punics built their cities over these towns and thus we see the appearance of Carthagnian like necropolis at Monte Sirai, Sulky, Cagliari, Tharros and Pani Loriga, all over South Western Sardinia, the richest part of the island, during this exact period.

Unknown said...

This is not what genetic studies show. In fact, what the genetic studies show is that the central Sardinians (especially ) are the most preserved and close to the Neolithic Europeans.

Davidski said...

Sardinians from the more remote, swampy areas are very similar, although not identical, to Early European Farmers (EEF).

But most Sardinians, those from the more populous areas, cluster more or less between them and mainland Italians. There is also low level Sub-Saharan ancestry in Sardinia, and it's probably of very recent origin from North Africa and/or the Levant.

Theasparagus said...

Frank, what do you mean that this isn't what genetic studies show?

I was referring to South Western Sardinia, not to Central and Eastern Sardinia which are the places inhabited by the Sardinians who've preserved their Neolithic DNA the most.

Davidski, the Sardinians who are the most similar to Neolithic Europeans are the ones in Ogliastra, which isn't really a swampy region, the swamps and ponds are mostly found in some of the most inhabited places in Sardinia, such as Cagliari and Oristano, the people of Ogliastra live in the mountainous part of the island.

Davidski said...


OK, fair enough, I got swamps mixed up with mountains.

Theasparagus said...


How close are Sardinians from the more populous regions of the island to Mainland Italians?

I thought that Sardinians were pretty homogeneous and while the ones from the most populous regions were somewhat more distant from EEF than Ogliastran Sardinians they were still much closer to those inland Sardinians than to mainland Italians on average.

Davidski said...

From memory, some Sardinians are almost like mainland Italians. There was a paper on this topic a little while ago, but I don't have the link on me.

Theasparagus said...

I remember a recent study which showed that he inhabitants of every area of the island had extremely similar aDNA with only very minor differences, but maybe I'm mistaken.

Theasparagus said...

@Philippe He might have a point, the ones in Sardinia were the first free standing stone statues in Europe:

While those in Malta, or at least the life sized ones, were attached to a wall:

Husayn said...

How come no one who the Phoenicians are in detail?