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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Warriors from at least two different populations fought in the Tollense Valley battle

I can't get the genotype data from the Burger et al. paper. The lead authors, Joachim Burger and Daniel Wegmann, aren't replying to my emails.

But they were gracious enough to release the BAM files for each of their samples, and these files can be converted to genotype data. So I've included ten of the Tollense Valley warriors (DEU_Tollense_BA) in the Global25 datasheets (see here).

The claim in the paper that these warriors "represent an unstructured population" is absolutely false and extremely naive.

Below are a couple of Principal Component Analysis (PCA) plots produced with Vahaduo Global25 views. The samples are labeled according to their Y-chromosome haplogroups. To see interactive versions of the same plots, paste the Global25 coordinates from the text file here into the relevant fields here.

These warriors are not a single unstructured population, because they cover too much ground in the above plots for that to be possible. It's clear to me that they represent at least two different groups from Central Europe and surrounds.

Of course, this would be a lot easier to work out if Burger et al. cared to supply more information about each of the warriors, such as their attire, weapons, circumstances of death, and so on. It's a complete mystery to me why this wasn't included in the paper, and the authors are refusing to talk to me, so it's unlikely that I'll ever be able to get it from them.

In the absence of such crucial archeological and anthropological data, I don't want to speculate too much, and get overly creative, but here are a couple of possible scenarios to explain the ancient DNA results:
- this may have been a battle between two Central European armies, one rich in Y-haplogroup R1b and the other rich in Y-haplogroup I2a, as well as their allies or hired help, including warriors from Eastern Europe belonging to Y-haplogroup R1a

- or perhaps it was an invasion from the east by warriors rich in Y-haplogroup R1a, and it was a success, with the local armies, rich in Y-haplogroups R1b and I2a, losing the battle and suffering most of the casualties.

I'm sure that one day someone will attempt to undertake a decent multidisciplinary study of this epic battle, and we'll at least have a rough idea about what happened. Or not.


Burger et al., Low Prevalence of Lactase Persistence in Bronze Age Europe Indicates Ongoing Strong Selection over the Last 3,000 Years, Current Biology, Available online 3 September 2020,

See also...

Genetic and linguistic structure across space and time in Northern Europe


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Onur Dincer said...


For Italians, I suggest you read our recent exchange on Italian genetics on these pages in Anthrogenica:

Bob Floy said...


"Samuel, you sound like a White Nationalist."

...and you then go on to express your disappointment(lol)at not being more "European", because you have EEF ancestry(which, by the way, has nothing to do with modern Turks and is actually very "European", once you understand the big picture, but you're a long way from that). That is some next level projection/hypocrisy right there, actually pretty impressive. Cheap, though.

Also, please, please share this Corded Ware/Single Grave lexicon that you apparently have access to, I think we'd all like to see this. Who published that? Stop holding out on us.

Onur Dincer said...

The term EEF is misleading as EEF are largely Anatolian Neolithic farmer in ancestry. Anatolian Neolithic farmer ancestry is today found in all of West Eurasia and is Pan-West Eurasian in its modern distribution. That it today peaks among Sardinians, a peripherally European population, does not justify calling Anatolian Neolithic farmer ancestry as European ancestry, it is West Eurasian for sure, but calling it European to the exclusion of all other regions is genetically wrong. But we can say that it is one of the major constituting elements of modern Europeans, but it is also one of the major constituting elements of all other modern West Eurasians. This is genetics, modern politics is irrelevant to genetics.

Having said these, having high Anatolian Neolithic farmer ancestry does not diminish the Europeanness of a population that is long-established in Europe; if a population is long-established in Europe, that is enough to call it European.

Samuel Andrews said...

On the is EEF Middle Eastern discussion.....

I agree with Onur that EEF is Middle Eastern. Therefore, it is accurate to say Europeans are part Middle Eastern.

And moreover I don't think it is correct to put the four main Stone age Southwest Asian pops in mutually exclusive categories. They were all Southwest Asian/Middle Eastern.

They were not closely related. They had maybe been completely separated for 10,000+ years. But because they lived in the same region and because they do share deep ancestry we can call them all Southwest Asian.

We don't know how they are related yet. Based on mtDNA it looks like they a lot of share deep ancestry.

Samuel Andrews said...

It is true that Lithuanians/Latvians are the most European, in that they have the most Mesolithic/Paleo European ancestry.

But, it is also true that Anatolian farmers spread across Europe 8,000-7,000 years ago which was a really long time ago. is no longer a new type of ancestry in Europe.

If, Andre thinks Anatolian farmer ancestry makes modern Europeans not very indigenous to Europe, I dis agree. I agree, they would be more indigenous if they had no Southwest Asian ancestry. But whatever.

Samuel Andrews said...


It seems you used to believe that Europeans are like a fundamentally distinct subspecies of humans who've been apart of a pure lineage since the out-of-Africa event. In the same way Brown Bears are distinct from Black Bears. And maybe you also threw a little racism on top of that.

Then you found out this isn't true.

You found out Europeans are combination of multiple admixture events between multiple Eurasian lineages, from Europe from North Asia and from Southwest Asia.

This debunks the idea of them being extremely distinct, but it doesn't debunk the idea, there's distinctness about Europeans in the same way there's a distinctness about South Asians and a distinctness about Southwest Asians.

Bob Floy said...

@Onur Dincer
"The term EEF is misleading as EEF are largely Anatolian Neolithic farmer in ancestry."

Yeah, I think we're all aware of that.

"if a population is long-established in Europe, that is enough to call it European."

Especially when every living European has at least 20% or so of it.

Bob Floy said...


That's a pretty good description of Andre's thinking, I'd say.
He seems to be permanently stuck in the beginner phase.

Onur Dincer said...


This debunks the idea of them being extremely distinct, but it doesn't debunk the idea, there's distinctness about Europeans in the same way there's a distinctness about South Asians and a distinctness about Southwest Asians.

Yes, and also within those regional groups (e.g., Sicilians vs. Scandinavians, Anatolians vs. Arabians, NW South Asians vs. Paniya).

ambron said...

David, can targeted genome sequencing is apt to skew the results of K36? I am asking in the context of the Welzin samples.

Davidski said...


I'm guessing that with "targeted" you're referring to the target enrichment and capture method that was used in this study and is used in many other ancient DNA studies.

No, target enrichment won't skew the results of the K36 test, provided there is enough data for a reliable run.

So if the samples are of very low coverage, and thus have very few markers to run in the K36, then the results will be skewed to some degree, perhaps to a significant degree.

ambron said...

David, yes, that's exactly what I meant. Thanks for the answer!

Wise dragon said...

@ Sam Andrews,

The thing is when using the term "Middle Eastern" people automatically associate this term with Arabs, and not a with a farmer population from Asia minor. Neither present day Turks nor Middle Easterners but Sardinians are genetically the closest living relatives of Anatolian farmers/EEF.

As far I as I know Anatolian farmers had themselves some WHG ancestry. However, after they migrated to Europe and became the Early European farmer obtained additional 7-11% WHG admixture. So EEF were slightly distinct from Anatolian farmers. For instance, Peninsular Arabs appear to predominantly Natufian-like with only small amount of ANF DNA.

Wise dragon said...

@ Davidski,

"By and large, Italians have much more complex ancestry than Brits and Poles."

In what way have Italians a more complex ancestry?

Bob Floy said...

@wise dragon

Southern Italians have a ton of near eastern and Iranian neolithic type ancestry that's lacking in the rest of Europe. Northern and central Europe's ancestry is much simpler by comparison.

Onur Dincer said...

In West Asia the Muslim Arab populations have some Sub-Saharan ancestry the other West Asian populations typically lack. Some Iranian populations in West Asia, if not all, have some obvious AASI ancestry from South Asia, which is typically lacking in the other West Asian populations. The East Eurasian admixture in West Asia is a Turkic thing and is pretty straightforward, no need for explanation.

Wise dragon said...

@ Bob Floy,

I‘m not sure but from what I recall reading the Neolithic Iranian DNA didn‘t have really an impact on Italy, but instead only CHG. Iran Neo and CHG are very similar components yet not identical. Furthermore, the increase of this CHG component is due to the largest change from "Iron Age/republic era Romans" to "imperial" and present day Central Italians.

This change, namely the increasing of CHG (which in the paper is labeled as Neo Iran,) was attributed to the "Near Eastern immigration" by the reseachers. However, based on the Sicilian Beaker samples, it seems that South Italians largely had this CHG component already elevated in them by the Bronze Age. In contrast to Central or North Italians who appear to have received the CHG or Neo Iran around the time of the Iron Age to Roman imperial times. Hence, it can be concluded that there was a high degree of immigration from either Southern Italy or Greece/Anatolia to Rome. The authors of the Roman paper even hinted in the study that what they label as Iran Neo could be entirely a Caucasian component.

Davidski said...

@Wise dragon

The CHG/Iran Neolithic ancestry in Italy is, strictly speaking, neither CHG nor Iran Neolithic. It's just generally from the Near East, and yes mostly from Anatolia.

However, my bet is that if we could go back precisely to find its source, most of it would be ultimately from the steppe, just like in other parts of Europe, but also from Mesopotamia, unlike in most other parts of Europe.

Apart from that, Italians also have ancestry from the Levant and North Africa, hence the Italian complexity that I was referring to above.

Darayvus said...

There's news: 145 distinct victims contributed to the remains, killed or (less likely) maimed. They included a number of porters, based on wear-and-tear on the skeletons who'd been porting longest. Also much of the DNA is southern which, I believe, should account for the low lactase persistence as of this time. Few northerners died in this "battle" on account it might not have been a battle for very long - it was a massacre.

Source: Detlef Jantzen, chief archaeologist for Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. It's all over, Daily Mail, Australian Times.

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