The importance of archaeology before population genomics


Recent paper First encounters in the north: cultural diversity and gene flow in Early Mesolithic Scandinavia, by Manninen et al. Antiquity (2021).

The authors criticize the model laid out in Günther et al. (2018), whereby the origin of the previously defined Mesolithic Scandinavian hunter-gatherer genetic group (SHG) was defined as an admixture between genetically defined WHG and EHG populations that migrated into Scandinavia from two separate Ice Age refugia: the south (WHG) and north (EHG). This dualistic model was further associated with two specific lithic blade technologies present in Early Mesolithic Scandinavia (Sørensen et al. 2013), as summarized … Read the rest “The importance of archaeology before population genomics”

Demographically complex Near East hints at Anatolian and Indo-Aryan arrival

New papers Genomic History of Neolithic to Bronze Age Anatolia, Northern Levant, and Southern Caucasus, by Skourtanioti et al., and (open access) The Genomic History of the Bronze Age Southern Levant, by Agranat-Tamir et al., both in Cell (2020) 181(5).

Interesting excerpts from Skourtanioti et al. (2020) (emphasis mine):

Genetic Continuity in Anatolia

We focused on the three Late Chalcolithic groups with sufficiently large sample size and who are the earliest in time among the LC-LBA groups: ÇamlıbelTarlası_LC (n = 9), İkiztepe_LC (n = 11), and Arslantepe_LC (n = 17). Taking individual estimates from all these individuals together

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Proto-Anatolians: from the Southern Caucasus or the Balkans?


There has been some renewed interest lately in the origin of Proto-Anatolians, because of the recent lecture by Petra Goedegebuure, associate professor of Hittitology at the University of Chicago: Anatolians on the Move: From Kurgans to Kanesh, given at the Oriental Institute (Feb 5 2020).

I will try to comment on her lecture with a critical view of some of her ideas, keeping in mind reasons for one or the other potential routes, which we can for the moment simplify as Gimbutas’ (1965, 1993) eastern route through the Caucasus vs. Anthony’s (2007, 2015) … Read the rest “Proto-Anatolians: from the Southern Caucasus or the Balkans?”

Earliest R1a-Z93…from Late Trypillia in the Podolian-Volhynian Upland!


Recently, the preprint by Sirak et al. biorXiv (2019), Human auditory ossicles as an alternative optimal source of ancient DNA, was published in Genome Res. (2020), and the corresponding samples were finally uploaded to ENA.

I have been trying to get my hands on sample GLAV_14, a male from the Late Eneolithic site Glăvăneştii Vechi, classified as Romania Bronze Age (ca. 3500-3000 BC), mtDNA T1a1, referenced as investigated first in the study:

Haas N, Maximilian K. 1958. Anthropological study of the human bones from graves with ochre from Glăvăneștii Vechi, Corlăteni and Stoicani Cetățuie. Soviet Anthropology 4,

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Spread of Indo-European and Uralic speakers in ADMIXTURE


The following are updated files for unsupervised ADMIXTURE of most available ancient Eurasian samples with K=7. For reference, see PCA of ancient and modern Eurasian samples.

NOTE. For a precise interpretation of ancestry evolution, be sure to first check the posts on the expansion of “Steppe ancestry”, on the spread of Yamnaya ancestry with Indo-Europeans, and on the evolution of Corded Ware ancestry typical of modern Uralic populations.

ADMIXTURE timeline

This is a YouTube video similar to the one on Indo-Europeans and Y-DNA evolution:


Some comments

  • I have tried running supervised ADMIXTURE models by selecting
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“Steppe ancestry” step by step (2019): Mesolithic to Early Bronze Age Eurasia


The recent update on the Indo-Anatolian homeland in the Middle Volga region and its evolution as the Indo-Tocharian homeland in the Don–Volga area as described in Anthony (2019) has, at last, a strong scientific foundation, as it relies on previous linguistic and archaeological theories, now coupled with ancient phylogeography and genomic ancestry.

There are still some inconsistencies in the interpretation of the so-called “Steppe ancestry”, though, despite the one and a half years that have passed since we first had access to the closest Pontic–Caspian steppe source populations. Even my post “Steppe ancestry” step by step from a year ago … Read the rest ““Steppe ancestry” step by step (2019): Mesolithic to Early Bronze Age Eurasia”

Bell Beakers and Mycenaeans from Yamnaya; Corded Ware from the forest steppe


I have recently written about the spread of Pre-Yamnaya or Yamnaya ancestry and Corded Ware-related ancestry throughout Eurasia, using exclusively analyses published by professional geneticists, and filling in the gaps and contradictory data with the most reasonable interpretations. I did so consciously, to avoid any suspicion that I was interspersing my own data or cherry picking results.

Now I’m finished recapitulating the known public data, and the only way forward is the assessment of these populations using the available datasets and free tools.

Understanding the complexities of qpAdm is fairly difficult without a proper genetic and statistical background, which I … Read the rest “Bell Beakers and Mycenaeans from Yamnaya; Corded Ware from the forest steppe”

Yamnaya ancestry: mapping the Proto-Indo-European expansions


The latest papers from Ning et al. Cell (2019) and Anthony JIES (2019) have offered some interesting new data, supporting once more what could be inferred since 2015, and what was evident in population genomics since 2017: that Proto-Indo-Europeans expanded under R1b bottlenecks, and that the so-called “Steppe ancestry” referred to two different components, one – Yamnaya or Steppe_EMBA ancestry – expanding with Proto-Indo-Europeans, and the other one – Corded Ware or Steppe_MLBA ancestry – expanding with Uralic speakers.

The following maps are based on formal stats published in the papers and supplementary materials from 2015 until today, mainly on … Read the rest “Yamnaya ancestry: mapping the Proto-Indo-European expansions”

The genetic and cultural barrier of the Pontic-Caspian steppe – forest-steppe ecotone


We know that the Caucasus Mountains formed a persistent prehistoric barrier to cultural and population movements. Nevertheless, an even more persistent frontier to population movements in Europe, especially since the Neolithic, is the Pontic-Caspian steppe – forest-steppe ecotone.

Like the Caucasus, this barrier could certainly be crossed, and peoples and cultures could permeate in both directions, but there have been no massive migrations through it. The main connection between both regions (steppe vs. forest-steppe/forest zone) was probably through its eastern part, through the Samara region in the Middle Volga.

The chances of population expansions crossing this natural … Read the rest “The genetic and cultural barrier of the Pontic-Caspian steppe – forest-steppe ecotone”