Genetic origins of Minoans and Mycenaeans and their continuity into modern Greeks

A new article has appeared in Nature, Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans, by Lazaridis et al. (2017), referenced by Science.

Abstract:

The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus3 and Iran. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia. Modern Greeks resemble the Mycenaeans, but with some additional dilution of the Early Neolithic ancestry. Our results support the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean, before and after the time of its earliest civilizations.

Samples are scarce, and there is only one Y-DNA haplogroup of Mycenaeans, J2a1 (in Galatas Apatheia, ca. 1700-1200), which shows continuity of haplogroups from Minoan samples, so it does not clarify the potential demic diffusion of Proto-Greeks marked by R1b subclades.

Regarding admixture analyses, it is explicitly or implicitly (according to the press release) stated that:

  • There is continuity between Mycenaeans and living people, so that the major components of the Greeks’ ancestry was in place already in the Bronze Age, after the migration of the earliest farmers from Anatolia.
  • Anatolians may have been the source of “eastern” Caucasian ancestry in Mycenaeans, and maybe of early Indo-European languages (i.e. earlier than Proto-Greek) in the region.
  • The “northern” steppe population (speaking a Late Indo-European dialect, then) had arrived only in mainland Greece, with a 13-18% admixture, by the time studied.
  • Samples before the Final Neolithic (ca. 4100 BC) do not possess either type of ancestry, suggesting that the admixture detected occurred during the fourth to second millennium BC.
  • Admixture from Levantine or African influence (i.e. Egyptian or Phoenician colonists) cannot be supported with admixture.

All in all, there is some new interesting information, and among them the possibility of obtaining ancient DNA from arid regions, which is promising for future developments in the field.

EDIT (20/8/2017): The article received widespread media attention, and two blog posts were linked to by the main author in his Twitter account: Who are you calling Mycenaean?, and On genetics and the Aegean Bronze Age. Apart from the obviously wrong reductio ad Hitlerum that pops up in any discussion on Indo-Europeans or genetics (even I do it regarding fans of admixture analysis), I don’t know why these created so much fuss (and hate) among geneticists. There seems to be a war brewing between Archaeology and Genetics.

Razib Khan writes The Revolution Which Came To Archaeology Without Archaeologists?, and I guess this is how many people feel in the field, but if they had studied some minimal archaeology of the samples they are studying they would know that their conclusions would come as no surprise, in any case. They can solve old archaeological questions, and they can help create new hypothesis. That’s it. Regarding the study Mr. Khan believes did come as a surprise to archaeologists, that on Bell Beakers, I would like to remind him of the predictions Volker Heyd did about genetics already in 2007, based only on Archaeology.

Related:

Featured map: samples studied, from the article.

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[…] card. The most recent example I know is the discussion around Lazaridis et al. (2017) paper, on Minoan and Mycenaeans. Some outrage from those involved in human evolutionary biology (read the comments), but not too […]

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[…] Genetic origins of Minoans and Mycenaeans and their continuity into modern Greeks […]

Johen
Johen

Next time they should use samples of greek bronze by anthropologist Dr. C loring Brace, which is close to cromagnon, or greek scholar’s skull samples.
Geneticist and anthropologist should cooperate each other for better results and saving times.

[imgcomment image[/img]
http://dienekes.blogspot.ca/2012/07/a-physico-anthropological-study-of.html

Johen
Johen

However, they are 2nd one type in tarim basin samples below, not yamna or afanasievo type (1st one)

I think the 2nd type can produce the 1st yamna type by being mixed with 3rd type.
http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e181/Borntobeking/2-2.jpg

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[…] I will revise that too (again, see the image below). Or, if – as Lazaridis et al. (2017) paper on Minoans and Mycenaeans suggested – the Anatolian hypothesis (that is, one of the multiple ones proposed) turns out […]

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[…] Both of these scenarios are interesting, in that they show potential links between Pre-Greek peoples of Hellas and the Pelasgian substrate of early Greek dialects, since they show a similar recent CHG-related wave from the East. […]

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[…] and now also Yamna settlers, those in Hungary admixing probably ca. 2750-2500 BC to form North-West Indo-European-speaking East Bell Beakers as well as other IE-speaking Balkan cultures, including those which admixed in Greece, as seen in Mycenaeans. […]

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[…] to CWC-like, sharing one common trait: Y-DNA. We are seeing the same happen with Balkan groups and Mycenaeans, with Old Hittites, and with steppe MLBA from Andronovo peoples expanding over Central and South […]

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[…] Yamna in the Balkans and steppe ancestry in Mycenaeans (in contrast with Minoans): […]

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[…] among the three presented. It does not seem to correspond to any of the samples published, from Lazaridis et al. (2017) or from Hofmanova et al. (2016). Also interesting seems I6420 in ADMIXTURE, although its position […]

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[…] to any of the ancient DNA samples published to date; it is not in Hofmanova et al. (2016), in Lazaridis et al. (2017), or in Mathieson et al. […]

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[…] BC to form Proto-Indo-Iranian, and about the regional admixtures seen in the Balkans, e.g. in Proto-Greeks, with the prevalent J subclades of the […]

santos
santos

so…you are saying that myceneansand greeks are not, were not indo-europeans?

Domitian
Domitian

No, the entire study is based on samples from 5 men, of which only 1 is Mycenaean.
So for all we know J2 could be extremely rare among the Mycenaeans, it just so happened that the (presumably) first Mycenaean skeleton we tested came up with J2.

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[…] This is similar to what happened with Mycenaeans and their continuity with Minoan ancestry. […]

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[…] et al. (2018) and Olalde et al. (2018), apart from some other papers like Lazaridis et al. (2016), Lazaridis et al. (2017), Mittnik et al. (2018), Lamnidis et al. (2018), Fernandes et al. (2018), Jeong et al. (2019), […]