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Sunday, November 19, 2023

Musaeum Scythia on the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon

A few weeks ago bioRxiv published two preprints on the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon (see here and here).

I can't say much about these manuscripts until I see the relevant ancient DNA samples, and that might take some time.

However, for now, I will say that both preprints really need to emphasize the profound impact that the Sintashta-related early Indo-Iranian speakers had on the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon. This, of course, would require Wolfgang Haak and friends to pull their heads out of their behinds and admit that the proto-Indo-Iranian homeland was in Eastern Europe, not in Iran.

At the same time, it's likely that the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon originated deep in Siberia, and its inception was probably most closely associated with the West Siberian Hunter-Gatherer (WSHG) genetic component. It's important that the preprints emphasize this too.

Moreover, I can't see any convincing arguments in either preprint that the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon was mainly associated with proto-Uralic speakers, or even that it was an important vector for the spread of proto-Uralic. So there's not much point in forcing the Uralic angle on studies focused on the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon. Indeed, what we also need is an archaeogenetics paper dealing specifically with the proto-Uralic expansion.

Apart from that, I'd like to direct your attention to the fact that Musaeum Scythia has already written a fine blog post about these preprints:

Genomic insights into the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon

See also...

Finally, a proto-Uralic genome

The Uralic cline with kra001 - no projection this time

Slavs have little, if any, Scytho-Sarmatian ancestry

Friday, November 10, 2023

Wielbark Goths were overwhelmingly of Scandinavian origin

When used properly, Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is an extraordinarily powerful tool and one of the best ways to study fine-scale genetic substructures within Europe.

The PCA plot below is based on Global25 data and focuses on the genetic relationship between Wielbark Goths and Medieval Poles, including from the Viking Age, in the context of present-day European genetic variation.

I'd say that it's a wonderfully self-explanatory plot, but here are some key observations:

- the Wielbark Goths (Poland_Wielbark_IA) and Medieval Poles (Poland_Middle_Ages) are two distinct populations

- moreover, the Wielbark Goths form a relatively compact Scandinavian-related cluster and must surely represent a homogenous population overwhelmingly of Scandinavian origin

- on the other hand, the Medieval Poles form a more extensive and heterogeneous cluster that overlaps with present-day groups all the way from Central Europe to the East Baltic, and that's because they are likely to be in large part of mixed origin

- I know for a fact that at least some of these early Poles harbor recent admixture, because their burials are similar to those of Vikings and their haplotypes have been shown to be partly of Scandinavian origin (see here)

- one of the Wielbark females is an obvious genetic outlier (Poland_Wielbark_IA_outlier), and basically looks like a first generation mixture between a Goth and a Balt.

Please note that the PCA is only based on relatively high quality genomes, so as not to confuse the picture with spurious results and noise. Also, all outliers with potentially significant ancestry from outside of Central, Eastern and Northern Europe were removed from the analysis. The relevant datasheet is available here.

However, sanity checks are always important when studying complex topics like fine-scale genetic ancestry. To that end I've prepared a graph based on f3-statistics of the form f3(X,Cameroon_SMA,Estonia_BA)/(X,Cameroon_SMA,Ireland_Megalithic), that reproduces the key features of my PCA. The relevant datasheet is available here.

Polish groups from the Middle Ages are marked with the MA suffix, while the Iron Age Wielbark Goths are marked with the IA suffix.

If you're wondering why I plotted the f3-statistics that I did, take a look at this (all groups largely of Scandinavian origin are emboldened):

Poland_Legowo_MA 0.226406
Poland_Ostrow_Lednicki_MA 0.225996
Poland_Plonsk_MA 0.225017
Poland_Trzciniec_Culture 0.224215
Poland_Lad_MA 0.224142
Poland_Viking 0.223838
Poland_Niemcza_MA 0.223659
Poland_Weklice_IA 0.223549
Poland_Kowalewko_IA 0.222584
Poland_Pruszcz_Gdanski_IA 0.222324
Sweden_Viking 0.222091
Russia_Viking 0.222042
Poland_Maslomecz_IA 0.221914
Norway_Viking 0.221825
Denmark_EarlyViking 0.221257
Denmark_Viking 0.221174
England_Viking 0.220979

Poland_Maslomecz_IA 0.219816
Poland_Weklice_IA 0.219501
Denmark_Viking 0.2192
Poland_Kowalewko_IA 0.219176
Poland_Ostrow_Lednicki_MA 0.218916
Norway_Viking 0.218854
Poland_Pruszcz_Gdanski_IA 0.218684
Sweden_Viking 0.218626
Denmark_EarlyViking 0.218529
England_Viking 0.218308
Russia_Viking 0.217999
Poland_Viking 0.217914
Poland_Plonsk_MA 0.217756
Poland_Lad_MA 0.217719
Poland_Legowo_MA 0.21765
Poland_Niemcza_MA 0.217001
Poland_Trzciniec_Culture 0.216551

Interestingly, the Middle Bronze Age samples associated with the Trzciniec Culture (Poland_Trzciniec_Culture) show a closer genetic relationship to Medieval Poles than to Wielbark Goths or Northwestern Europeans. This is indeed the case both in terms of genome-wide and uniparental markers, including some very specific lineages under Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a.

But that's a much more complex issue that I'll leave for another time. So please stay tuned.

See also...

Slavs have little, if any, Scytho-Sarmatian ancestry

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Slavs have little, if any, Scytho-Sarmatian ancestry

Here's an abstract of a new study from the David Reich Lab about ancient Slavs, titled "Genetic identification of Slavs in Migration Period Europe using an IBD sharing graph". Emphasis is mine:

Popular methods of genetic analysis relying on allele frequencies such as PCA, ADMIXTURE and qpAdm are not suitable for distinguishing many populations that were important historical actors in the Migration Period Europe. For instance, differentiating Slavic, Germanic, and Celtic people is very difficult relying on these methods, but very helpful for archaeologists given a large proportion of graves with no inventory and frequent adoption of a different culture. To overcome these problems, we applied a method based on autosomal haplotypes. Imputation of missing genotypes and phasing was performed according to a protocol by Rubinacci et al. (2021), and IBD inference was done for ancient Eurasian individuals with data available at >600,000 1240K sites. IBD links for a subset of these individuals were represented as a graph, visualized with a force-directed layout algorithm, and clusters in this graph are inferred with the Leiden algorithm. One of the clusters in the IBD graph emerged that includes nearly all individuals in the dataset annotated archaeologically as “Slavic”. According to PCA a hypothesis for the origin of this population can be proposed: it was formed by admixture of a Baltic-related group with East Germanic people and Sarmatians or Scythians. The individuals belonging to the “Slavic” IBD sharing cluster form a chronological gradient on the PCA plot, with the earliest samples close to the Baltic LBA/EIA group. Later “Slavic” individuals are shifted to the right, closer to Central and Southern Europeans and probably reflecting further admixture of Slavs with local populations during the Migration Period.

Apparently this abstract is causing a bit of confusion online because of the mention of possible Sarmatian or Scythian ancestry in Slavs.

However, it's important to understand that the authors are referring to certain Slavic or even just Slavic-related individuals, usually from culturally heterogeneous frontier settlements deep in what is now Russia.

So yes, it's possible that some of these individuals carry Sarmatian, Scythian or other exotic eastern ancestry. But even if this is true, then obviously we can't extend this inference to all ancient and modern-day Slavs.

Indeed, below is a G25/Vahaduo Principal Component Analysis (PCA) that shows why modern-day Slavic speakers can't be linked genetically to Sarmatians or Scythians. To experience a more detailed version of the PCA paste the data here into the relevant field here.

As you can see, dear reader, most of the Slavs (Belarusians, Poles, Ukrainians and many Russians) cluster with the Irish near the western end of the plot.

Some Russians are shifted significantly east of them along the "Uralic cline" and, as a result, they cluster with various Uralic speakers such as Mordovians. That's because when Slavs migrated deep into what is now northern Russia they mixed with Uralic speakers who were there before them.

Most of the Sarmatians and Scythians form a cluster southeast of the Slavs and Irish because they carry significant levels of East Asian ancestry. This type of eastern ancestry is basically missing in modern-day Slavs (see here).

Several of the Scythians cluster among the Slavs and Irish, but that's because they're genetic outliers, whose existence, if anything, suggests that some Scythians had significant Slavic-related and/or Irish-related ancestry.

Now, even though most of the Slavs do cluster with the Irish in the above PCA plot, I strongly disagree with the authors of the abstract when they claim that "differentiating Slavic, Germanic, and Celtic people is very difficult" with PCA. It's actually pretty damn easy and I've been doing it successfully for many years. For instance, see here.

See also...

Wielbark Goths were overwhelmingly of Scandinavian origin

The Caucasus is a semipermeable barrier to gene flow