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Monday, February 12, 2024

The Nalchik surprise


If, like Iosif Lazaridis, you subscribe to the idea that the Yamnaya people carry early Anatolian farmer-related admixture that spread into Eastern Europe via the Caucasus, then I've got great news for you.

We now have a human sample from the Eneolithic site of Nalchik in the North Caucasus, labeled NL122, that packs well over a quarter of this type of ancestry (see here). Below is a quick G25/Vahaduo model to illustrate the point (please note that Turkey_N = early Anatolian farmers).

Target: Nalchik_Eneolithic:NL122
Distance: 2.1934% / 0.02193447
60.8 Russia_Steppe_Eneolithic
26.2 Turkey_N
13.0 Georgia_Kotias

On the other hand, if, again like Iosif Lazaridis, you subscribe to the idea that the Indo-European language spread into Eastern Europe via the Caucasus in association with this early Anatolian farmer-related admixture, then I've got terrible news for you.

That's because NL122 is apparently dated to a whopping 5197-4850 BCE (see here). This dating might be somewhat bloated, possibly due to what's known as the reservoir effect, because the Nalchik archeological site is generally carbon dated to 4840–4820 BCE.

However, even with the younger dating, this would still mean that early Anatolian farmer-related ancestry arrived in the North Caucasus, and thus in Eastern Europe, around 4,800 BCE at the latest. That's surprisingly early, and just too early to be relevant to any sort of Indo-European expansion from a necessarily even earlier Proto-Indo-Anatolian homeland somewhere south of the Caucasus.

This means that NL122 effectively debunks Iosif Lazaridis' Indo-Anatolian hypothesis. Unless, that is, Iosif can provide evidence for a more convoluted scenario, in which there are at least two early Anatolian farmer-related expansions into Eastern Europe via the Caucasus, and the expansion relevant to the arrival of Indo-European speech came well after 5,000 BCE.

I haven't done any detailed analyses of NL122 with formal stats and qpAdm. But my G25/Vahaduo runs suggest that it might be possible to model the ancestry of the Yamnaya people with around 10% admixture from a population similar to NL122.

Target: Russia_Samara_EBA_Yamnaya
Distance: 3.4123% / 0.03412328
72.6 Russia_Progress_Eneolithic
18.2 Ukraine_N
9.2 Nalchik_Eneolithic

However, I don't subscribe to the idea that the Yamnaya people carry early Anatolian farmer-related admixture that spread into Eastern Europe via the Caucasus (on top of what is already found in Progress Eneolithic). Based on basic logic and a wide range of my own analyses, I believe that they acquired this type of ancestry from early European farmers, probably associated with the Trypillia culture. For instance...

Target: Russia_Samara_EBA_Yamnaya
Distance: 3.2481% / 0.03248061
80.2 Russia_Progress_Eneolithic
13.6 Ukraine_Neolithic
6.2 Ukraine_VertebaCave_MLTrypillia
0.0 Nalchik_Eneolithic

Another way to show this is with a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) that highlights a Yamnaya cline made up of the Yamnaya, Steppe Eneolithic and Ukraine Neolithic samples. As you can see, dear reader, there's no special relationship between the Yamnaya cline and Nalchik_Eneolithic. The Yamnaya samples, which are sitting near the eastern end of the Yamnaya cline, instead seem to show a subtle shift towards the Trypillian farmers.

Indeed, I also don't exactly understand the recent infatuation among many academics, especially Iosif Lazaridis and his colleagues, with trying to put the Proto-Indo-Anatolian homeland somewhere south of the Caucasus. Considering all of the available multidisciplinary data, I'd say it still makes perfect sense to put it in the Sredny Stog culture of the North Pontic steppe, in what is now Ukraine.

Please note that all of the G25 coordinates used in my models and the PCA are available HERE.

See also...

Frustrated comedians

The Caucasus is a semipermeable barrier to gene flow

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Romans and Slavs in the Balkans (Olalde et al. 2023)


It's always amusing to see some random Jovan or Dimitar arguing online that Slavic speakers have been in the Balkans since at least the Neolithic.

Obviously, Slavic peoples only turned up in the Balkans during the early Middle Ages. It's just that their linguistic and genetic impact on the region was so profound that it may seem like they've been there forever.

A new paper at Cell by Olalde et al. makes this point well. See here.

That's not to say, however, that it's an ideal effort. The paper's qpAdm mixture models probably could've been more precise and realistic. Genes of the Ancients has a useful discussion on the topic here.

Interestingly, Olalde et al. admit that they can't detect much, if any, admixture from the Italian Peninsula in the Balkans, even in samples dating to the Roman period. And yet, this doesn't stop them from accepting that the Roman Empire had a massive cultural and demographic impact on the Balkans.

I also assume that, by extension, they don't deny that Latin was introduced into the Balkans from the Italian Peninsula.

That is, Latin spread into the Balkans without any noticeable genetic tracer dye, and it eventually gave rise to modern Romanian spoken by millions of people today in the eastern Balkans. This might be a useful data point to keep in mind when discussing the spread of Indo-European languages into Anatolia.

See also...

Dear Iosif, about that ~2%