David Reich on social inequality and Yamna expansion with few Y-DNA subclades

Interesting article from David Reich that I had missed, at Nautilus, Social Inequality Leaves a Genetic Mark.

It explores one of the main issues we are observing with ancient DNA, the greater reduction in Y-DNA lineages relative to mtDNA lineages, and its most likely explanation (which I discussed recently).

Excerpts interesting for the Indo-European question (emphasis mine):

Gimbutas’s reconstruction has been criticized as fantastical by her critics, and any attempt to paint a vivid picture of what a human culture was like before the period of written texts needs to be viewed with caution. Nevertheless, ancient DNA data has provided evidence that the Yamnaya were indeed a society in which power was concentrated among a small number of elite males. The Y chromosomes that the Yamnaya carried were nearly all of a few types, which shows that a limited number of males must have been extraordinarily successful in spreading their genes. In contrast, in their mitochondrial DNA, the Yamnaya had more diverse sequences.9 The descendants of the Yamnaya or their close relatives spread their Y chromosomes into Europe and India, and the demographic impact of this expansion was profound, as the Y-chromosome types they carried were absent in Europe and India before the Bronze Age but are predominant in both places today.13

This Yamnaya expansion also cannot have been entirely friendly, as is clear from the fact that the proportion of Y chromosomes of steppe origin in both western Europe14 and in India15 today is much larger than the proportion of the rest of the genome. This preponderance of male ancestry coming from the steppe implies that male descendants of the Yamnaya with political or social power were more successful at competing for local mates than men from the local groups. The most striking example I know is from Iberia in far southwestern Europe, where Yamnaya-derived ancestry arrived suddenly at the onset of the Bronze Age between 4,500 and 4,000 years ago. Daniel Bradley’s laboratory and my laboratory independently produced ancient DNA from individuals of this period.14 We find that in the first Iberians with Yamnaya-derived ancestry, the proportion of Yamnaya ancestry across the whole genome is almost never more than around 15 percent. However, around 90 percent of males who carry Yamnaya ancestry have a Y-chromosome type of steppe origin that was absent in Iberia prior to that time. It is clear that there were extraordinary hierarchies and imbalances in power at work in the Yamnaya expansions.

David Reich clearly doesn’t give a damn about how other people might react to his commentaries. That’s nice.

In any case, if anyone was still in denial, R1b-M269 expanded with Yamna (through the Bell Beaker expansion) into Iberia, hence yes, 90% of modern Basque male lineages have an origin in the steppe, like the R1b-DF27 sample recently found, and their common ancestor spoke Late Proto-Indo-European.

Findings like these, which should be taken as normal developments of research, are apparently still a trauma for many – like R1a-fans from India realizing most of their paternal ancestors came from the steppe, or its fans from Northern Europe understanding that their paternal ancestors probably spoke Uralic or a related language; or N1c-fans seeing how their paternal ancestors probably didn’t speak Uralic. It seems life isn’t fair to stupid simplistic ethnolinguistic ideas

Let’s see which Y-DNA haplogroups we find in West Yamna, to verify the latest migration model of Late PIE speakers of the Reich Lab (featured image).

Check out also the BBC News coverage of David Reich and Nick Patterson, the two most influential researchers of the moment in Human Ancestry: How ancient DNA is transforming our view of the past.

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Gimbutas seems to have gone a bit too far with her interpretations of pre-“Kurgan” European societies but they seem to have been generally right – the relative difference seems clear, with an overall more egalitarian way of life, less of a focus on raiding and hero-warrior ideologies etc. being washed away by the Bronze Age due to influences from the east (with a locus on the steppe but perhaps also close-by regions around the Caucasus). By the Iron Age there seems to be yet another transformation, reflected especially in the difference in warfare compared to preceding times and more visible… Read more »

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[…] of a dubious Indo-Slavonic proto-language which would need a split 2,000 years before the known Late PIE expansion associated with Yamna, and 3,000 years before early Indo-Iranian community formed in […]

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[…] David Reich on social inequality and Yamna expansion with few Y-DNA subclades […]

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[…] indoslawischen Ursprache als unmöglich zurückweisen, da es 2.000 Jahre vor dem bekannten spätidg. Asbreitungen mit Jamna in Verbindung gebracht, und 3.000 Jahre vor der Entstehung der früher indoiranische Gemeinschaft […]

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[…] with people, and especially with language. We have already seen this into question recently by David Reich and Iosif Lazaridis, with Y-DNA becoming again essential to assess […]

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[…] similar cases of proven linguistic continuity despite genetic replacement can be seen in the Basque region (where today more than 90% of Y-DNA lineages are of haplogroup R1b-L51), and in Remote […]

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[…] that was later contested in its methods by Lazaridis and Reich, but that is today again accepted by Reich and Lazaridis (probably for different reasons, namely Y-DNA […]

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[…] Not a single reputable geneticist contests the origin of R1b-L23 subclades in Iberia anymore (see Heyd, or […]

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[…] R1b-L23 based on EEF-like ancestry and few steppe contribution found in Iberian Bell Beakers (read what David Reich has to say on this question); and “OIT zombies” still arguing for IVC representing Proto-Indo-European, based on […]

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[…] serious scholar (see David Reich’ comments) can argue at this point that male-biased East Bell Beaker migrations expanded the European […]

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[…] clans expanding continuously for centuries. The maintenance of local traditions (as evidenced by East Bell Beakers in Iberia related to Iberian Proto-Beakers) is often not a useful argument in genetics, especially when the […]

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[…] wide Eurasian cline (and sharing one common invariable trait, the paternally inherited haplogroup, as supported by David Reich) – fine-scale studies of population structure and social dynamics is still not a thing for […]

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[…] for months. I think that, by now, it should be clear to everyone that Y-DNA is often as important (sometimes even more) than statistical tools to infer certain population movements, since admixture can change within […]

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[…] Among Fennic populations, Estonians and Karelians (ca. 1.1 million) have not suffered the greatest bottleneck of Finns (ca. 6-7 million), and show thus a greater proportion of R1a-Z280 than N1c subclades, which points to the original situation of Fennic peoples before their expansion. To trust Finnish Y-DNA to derive conclusions about the Uralic populations is as useful as relying on the Basque Y-DNA for the language spread by R1b-P312… […]

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[…] just have a look at the PCA from Bell Beaker samples in Olalde et al. (2018), which (as Reich has already explained many times) expanded directly from Yamna R1b-L23 […]

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[…] David Reich on social inequality and Yamna expansion with few Y-DNA subclades […]

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[…] admix, do not change, and therefore they do not lend themselves to infinite pet theories (see e.g. what David Reich has to say about R1b-L23 in Iberia); their cultural continuity can only be challenged with carefully threaded […]

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[…] David Reich on social inequality and Yamna expansion with few Y-DNA subclades […]

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[…] David Reich on social inequality and Yamna expansion with few Y-DNA subclades […]

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[…] now that Bell Beakers may not have been Indo-European at all, despite showing clearly Yamna-related haplogroups and ancestry, because then Corded Ware and R1a could not have been Indo-European and that’s […]

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[…] admixture as Bell Beakers spread westward, the explosive expansion of Yamnaya R1b male lineages (in words of David Reich) and the radical replacement of local ones, whether derived from Corded Ware or Neolithic groups, […]

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[…] has been around for quite some time already, since the publication of Narasimhan et al. (2018) (see here or […]