Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bell Beaker DNA and Quick Out-takes

I'll give a couple of out-takes from the Haak et al paper which is the biggest study of ancient European DNA ever.  I wanted to wait until I had a chance to thoroughly read the paper (linked below) and condense the most interesting points.

"das Bode-Becher" of Quedlinburg, Germany (not #I0806 who tested R1b-P312 & H1) See burial page 1*

(*Correction.  The Quedlinburg man used in the sample was 50 years old.  Pictured is the 20 year old)

The thirty-nine authors are very notable in the fields of archaeology and genetics.  A number of the authors have been mentioned on this blog before.  Unlike previous genetics papers, the appendix includes solid explanations of sites, artifacts and why remains were selected for testing.  Good.

The study confirms, more concretely than ever, that a major genetic transformation of Europe occurred beginning early in the third millennium.  This was true in Western Europe which found itself engulfed in the Beaker enigma.

As a side note, a sharp population collapse preceded the emergence of Beaker and Corded peoples.  In many areas the abandonment of tombs and fields may point to serious social problems in Europe even before the arrival of new people.  [here]

The conclusion of the Haak authors is that the genetic shift in Central Europe is consistent with migration from the North Pontic Steppe (specifically) and implicate the steppe populations as the only source of this change coming into Europe before being reduced several hundred years later by R1b Bell Beakers and later again by Unetice who had much less of the Yamnaya-like ancestry for whatever reason.
"...first, during the Middle Neolithic, when hunter-gatherer ancestry rose again after
its Early Neolithic decline, and then between the Late Neolithic and the present, when farmer and hunter-gatherer ancestry rose after its Late Neolithic decline. This second resurgence must have started during the Late Neolithic/Bronze Age period itself, as the Bell Beaker and Unetice groups had reduced Yamnaya ancestry compared to the earlier Corded Ware, and comparable levels to that in some present-day Europeans..."
They admit they really don't know where the Yamnaya-like Corded Ware people came from, especially given the fact that all of the Yamnaya individuals they produced were uniformly R1b, whereas the Corded Ware were mostly R1a.
"We caution that the sampled Yamnaya individuals from Samara might not be directly ancestral to Corded Ware individuals from Germany. It is possible that a more western Yamnaya population, or an earlier (pre-Yamnaya) steppe population may have migrated into central Europe, and future work may uncover more missing links in the chain of transmission of steppe ancestry."

Other topics to delve into later...

>  The researchers got a positive result for R1b from a 50 year old man in the town of Quedlinburg, Germany.  (I had previously thought that Individual I0806 was the other man pictured above*corrected).  

>  R1b was present in the Early Neolithic of the Ebro Valley.  An individual from the Els Torcs cave was shown to be a basal form of R1b north of L51 (corrected) with a maternal haplogroup of T.  It looks like a solid result because the individual clusters with farmers and the individual was related to at least one other individual present who is clearly not modern. (Haplogroup F?)

It will be interesting to see how people react to this.  One question that may not be answerable for a while is, how much of the Western R1b is descended from this early positive in the Eastern Ebro region? 

>  This paper rightly bats down the western origin or Iberian emergence of R1b and favors an eastern origin that arrived as a low frequency haplogroup in the Neolithic, this in light of the Early Neolithic Iberian who tested positive for R1b.

Some have conflated the results of the Yamnaya individuals and the favored eastern emergence of R1b to mean that the authors suggest R1b Western Europeans are descended directly from R1b Yamnayans or similar through a vehicle of choice, ie. Bell Beaker wanderers.

This is not what the authors said.  They also did not say that all Indo-European languages are best explained by the Steppe Hypothesis, in fact, the Armenian plateau hypothesis is considered just as likely.   They did not say that Bell Beaker culture is descended from Yamnaya Culture.  It is not.

Bell Beaker Culture does have some similarities with Yamnaya.  They usually used hollow base barbed points, they were solar worshippers, they drank from beakers emblazoned with solar motifs.
Bell Beaker Culture is a distant cousin and the two met at a distant time in Northern Iran/Northeast Mesopotamia, not Russia.

"It is still possible that the steppe migration detected by our study into Late Neolithic Europe might account for only a subset of Indo-European languages in Europe, and other Indo-European languages arrived in Europe not from the steppe but from either an early “Neolithic Anatolian” or later “Armenian plateau” homeland.."

Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe
Wolfgang Haak1,*, Iosif Lazaridis2,3,*, Nick Patterson3, Nadin Rohland2,3, Swapan Mallick2,3,4,
Bastien Llamas1, Guido Brandt5, Susanne Nordenfelt2,3, Eadaoin Harney2,3,4, Kristin
Stewardson2,3,4, Qiaomei Fu2,3,6,7, Alissa Mittnik8, Eszter Bánffy9,10, Christos Economou11,
Michael Francken12, Susanne Friederich13, Rafael Garrido Pena14, Fredrik Hallgren15, Valery
Khartanovich16, Aleksandr Khokhlov17, Michael Kunst18, Pavel Kuznetsov17, Harald
Meller13, Oleg Mochalov17, Vayacheslav Moiseyev16, Nicole Nicklisch5,13,19, Sandra L.
Pichler20, Roberto Risch21, Manuel A. Rojo Guerra22, Christina Roth5, Anna Szécsényi-
Nagy5,9, Joachim Wahl23, Matthias Meyer6, Johannes Krause8,12,24, Dorcas Brown25, David
Anthony25, Alan Cooper1, Kurt Werner Alt5,13,19,20 and David Reich2,3,4

We generated genome-wide data from 69 Europeans who lived between 8,000-3,000
years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of almost four hundred
thousand polymorphisms. Enrichment of these positions decreases the sequencing
required for genome-wide ancient DNA analysis by a median of around 250-fold,
allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies1-8
and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that the populations of western and
far eastern Europe followed opposite trajectories between 8,000-5,000 years ago. At the
beginning of the Neolithic period in Europe, ~8,000-7,000 years ago, closely related
groups of early farmers appeared in Germany, Hungary, and Spain, different from
indigenous hunter-gatherers, whereas Russia was inhabited by a distinctive population
of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ~24,000 year old Siberian6. By ~6,000-5,000
years ago, a resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry had occurred throughout much of
Europe, but in Russia, the Yamnaya steppe herders of this time were descended not
only from the preceding eastern European hunter-gatherers, but from a population of
Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe came into contact ~4,500 years
ago, as the Late Neolithic Corded Ware people from Germany traced ~3/4 of their
ancestry to the Yamnaya, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of
Europe from its eastern periphery. This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central
Europeans until at least ~3,000 years ago, and is ubiquitous in present-day Europeans.
These results provide support for the theory of a steppe origin9 of at least some of the
Indo-European languages of Europe.


  1. The Eastern European steppe looks like the place where R1 bifurcated into its main subclades, which then expanded to the Near East and Europe.

    This would explain the late arrival and uneven spread of ANE in both regions, because both of the Eastern European R1a/R1b forgers were about 40% ANE.

    It would also fit nicely with R1 + ANE being important markers of the Proto-Indo-European expansion.

    1. Clearly the North Pontic was subject to Near Eastern immigration in the 5th/6th m. B.C. I think this was demonstrated in the Armenian-like admixture.

      If R1 bifurcated on the steppe, who was it that immigrated into the Pontic Steppe from the Near East?

    2. Neolithic farmers migrated to the steppe. But perhaps Eastern European R1 foragers took farmer wives, just like the I2/C6 foragers did in Western and Central Europe.

      If so, I don't know what happened to the farmers and their Y-DNA? Maybe some did pass on their genes and more sampling will find G2 and J2 amongst the mixed steppe herders?

      Also, I think there's a problem with using modern Armenians as references. We don't know who lived in eastern Anatolia before the R1 and ANE arrived there, in my view from the steppe. Whoever it was, maybe they weren't very Armenian-like at that point.

    3. your example is plausible. farmers appear to have been overrun in several places including Southeast France. on the other hand the yamnaya samples don't appear to be farmer maternal lineages IMO

    4. They're mostly Near Eastern though. They might be from Neolithic farmers different from those we're used to.

  2. Bell beaker was not anti-steppe, because they had slightly less than CWC. Bell Beaker can be fit as over 50% Yamna. Every Yamna male had R1b, and everyone of them tested for L23 had it. L23 wasn't found in Neolithic Europe, it was found in Yamna. Also, the same R1b1* that was found in Neolithic Spain was found in Mesolithic Samara. So, there's clear biased on your point, because you're ignoring the data.

    1. I've always maintained that Bell Beaker was from the steppe, a different steppe.

      Also, I only ask the question regarding the Els Torcs individual. I doubt he had any substantial impact on later lineages and I agree with the authors regarding R1b's eastern origin.

      I also agree with the authors some of the population turnover came from other places such as the Armenian plateau (ultimately)

    2. R1a1* and R1b1* in Mesolithic Russia. Nearly 100% R1a1-M417 in bronze and iron age IEs of Asia. 3/3 R1a-M417 from Corded ware. 3/3 R1b from Bell Beaker. 7/7 R1b from Yamna. R* from Upper Paleolithic MA-1.

      There's a clear pattern. It's very possible R1b-P297 arose in Russia and moved down south into west Asia. I agree with you though, that it is possible R1b-P297 moved up from west Asia.

      But anyways one of the best pieces of info from this paper in my opinion is R1b-P312 from Bell beaker. They weren't able to test it for any P312 basal clades. Bell beaker really seems to have been a R1b-L11 heavy culture, considering now they have 3/3 R1b while earlier Corded ware has 3/3 R1a-M417. This suggests a pretty old diversification of L11 in west Europe in my opinion. It could have spread mostly in the Late Neolithic and Bronze age.

    3. Well, I agree that it is certainly looking good for a geographical bifurcation origin. I'd like to see DNA from outside Europe though. I expect a lot of surprises.

    4. In broad strokes, we see that R1* emerges in the same area that the IE urhiemat is suspected. We have evidence of both migration and large scale population turnover in Europe at the same time spread of IE is suspected. We see that prior to the haplogroups associated with IE, Europe was dominated by "Old Europe" haplogroups. While admitting there is incomplete knowledge about the exact linkage and timing of R1b and Bell Beaker emergence in Western Europe, I fail to see how either could be seen as purely autocthounous. Indeed the reverse seems mot likely true - early net migration from the East to West, then making use of local materials and culture while introducing innovations which are shared with Corded Ware, etc. and this broadcasting back to the East, perhaps into the Isle, etc.

  3. You got the Iberian wrong. It is not L51. It is L278, way back in the R1b tree, like the Samara hunter. The Iberian is not ancestral the AMH R1b. Those younger subclades are from the East.

  4. That Iberian is more likely to be v88 or the ancestral group to v88. It has nothing to do with m269 in Western Europe. We are Yamnaya Indo-Europeans. Plain and simple.

    1. It's an interesting possibility. Maglio had proposed this with V88 which is linked on the sidebar

  5. For me, the origin of R-M269 might be anywhere between Egypt/Sudan and Iran. However it is notable that Egypt/Sudan have several different forms of R1a, R1b, and R2. R-V88 and R-M269 are found together in Egypt/Sudan and other regions of North Africa, Sahara, and Sahel plus points southward. R-M269 itself is found in many parts of Africa and West Asia. Within Africa, it is notable in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, northern Nigeria (and probably Niger too), Horn of Africa, and several others.

    1. Our understanding of the major West Eurasian haplogroups is based almost exclusively on the European continent.
      I think as we get ancient DNA from places like Dilmun, Indus Valley, Axum or Mesopotamia, the archeo-genetic community will get a good jolt.

  6. Given the other genetic markers which indicate migrations from North Africa, I favour a North West African origin of R-M269 in Europe, with an ultimate origin of R-M269 itself somewhere between Nile Valley and Iran.

  7. Chris,
    That is all impossible. P297 split in Northern Eurasia. One Yamnaya was P297, ancestral for M269 and M73. They both arose in that area. Forget Africa. R1b split apart on the steppes. It is pretty obvious now. A population in Africa, the Steppes, and Spain CANNOT independently develop the same SNPS to the next clade. All European m269 is from the Steppes.

    1. Those under L51 that is. Some m269 may take another course with later metal age movements. The Iberian is not ancestral to us, neither is any other one but the Samara hunter. Yamnaya is a mix of the R1b population and a near eastern one. Bell Beaker is 50% of that, and 50% Middle Neolithic. It's pretty well settled. We just need an L51 in the steppes, which looks like a shoe-in with his great-grandfather, father, and brother there.

  8. "All European m269 is from the Steppes"

    Right. So is all African and all West Asian R-M269 'from the Steppes' too? Did the Kurgan invasions reach the Khoisan and the central African pygmies? The Hausa? The Gabonese? The Ethiopians? Yemenis? Saudis? Algerians? Libyans? Egyptians?

  9. Everybody only knows of R-V88 in Africa, however R-M269 is also increasingly turning up all over Africa, including Ethiopia where colonial European admixture is highly unlikely, and pygmies who have only mixed with Bantus. That is R-M269 or R-P297, found in African populations, and separate and distinct from R-V88 (in many cases along side it). It is necessary to read several papers to find this, especially papers from more recent years. With R-M269 also being found in West Asia, which is probably the source of the African R-M269.

    1. "including Ethiopia where colonial European admixture is highly unlikely, and pygmies who have only mixed with Bantus"

      Perhaps there was a sort of mixture... we don't know what happened: R-M269 and R-M17 in Egypt and Sudan could come from Arabs, or from Mamalukes.