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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%