Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Additional DNA - Basques, Mesetans (Update)

Someone stop the DNA studies!

I rewrote this post because it was garbled on a confusing subject.  Let me try again.

In yesterday's post a puzzling question was the maternal discontinuity in the Mesetas of Spain beginning in the Bell Beaker period.  The results are strange, but not due to Roth 2016's observed discontinuity.  The results are strange because these Beakers have a very different maternal profile.

Four hours after posting that, Eurogenes posted some genetic results, which shows a Basque Country (NW Spain) Megalithic Dolmen “El Sotillo” with remains of people possessing Beaker identities, but again, not genetically aligned with North European Beakers tested thus far.  The El Sotillo dolmen included Ciempozuelos materials (as some Basque sites have this common Mesetan ware)*

I commented at Eurogenes that "El Sotillo" folk looked like proto-Basques and posted a link to some of those profile predictions from commentors at Eupedia.

Then Nirjhar007 posted this paper that literally just hit the wire concerning ancient remains in the Basque country going back to the Mesolithic.

Ancient mitochondrial lineages support the prehistoric maternal root of Basques in Northern Iberian Peninsula

Leire Palencia-Madrid, Sergio Cardoso, Christine Keyser, Juan Carlos López-Quintana, Amagoia Guenaga-Lizasu and Marian M de Pancorbo

The Basque population inhabits the Franco-Cantabrian region in southwest Europe where Palaeolithic human groups took refuge during the Last Glacial Maximum. Basques have been an isolated population, largely considered as one of the most ancient European populations and it is possible that they maintained some pre-Neolithic genetic characteristics. This work shows the results of mitochondrial DNA analysis of seven ancient human remains from the Cave of Santimamiñe in the Basque Country dated from Mesolithic to the Late Roman period. In addition, we compared these data with those obtained from a modern sample of Basque population, 158 individuals that nowadays inhabits next to the cave. The results support the hypothesis that Iberians might have been less affected by the Neolithic mitochondrial lineages carried from the Near East than populations of Central Europe and revealed the unexpected presence of prehistoric maternal lineages such as U5a2a and U3a in the Basque region. Comparison between ancient and current population samples upholds the hypothesis of continuity of the maternal lineages in the area of the Franco-Cantabrian region. 

Which brings us to the formation of the Mesetan Ciempozuelos communities that were so confusing when I originally looked at Roth, 2016 [here].  Part of that question might now be answered if it can be shown that the Mesetans are a movement of people from the Pyrenees region (obviously they moved from somewhere).

In fact, if you look at La Sima burnt mound, then an interesting cultural mingling is possible.

If your not following any of that, let me put it in plain English, and one that may be soon relevant when interpreting the papers of Harrison and Heyd and Heyd's forthcoming paper.  Forget Maritime pottery for a moment and suppose that the AOC beakers in the littorals, especially in the Pyrennes region are sufficiently early enough that some cultural fusion occurred that produced the Ciempozuelos style.  Other possibilities exist with some of the other styles. 

So that's all clear as mud, I may update again later..

*See Also "Reflexiones en Torno Al Campaniforme.  Una Mirada Hacia El Caso Vasco"
Reflections beyond to Bell-Beaker.  A sight to the case basque"
Alfonso Alday Ruiz.


  1. What do you think of the possibility that the so called Beaker folk who have some Beaker goods around them in Spain are not culturally Beaker people and instead obtained their pottery via trade with contemporaneous culturally Beaker people who lived nearby?

    These people could be part of the local component of a Basque ethnogenesis that had not yet merged with the Y-DNA R1b, Steppe ancestry men from somewhere else who joined with them to give rise to a mix that became Basque.

    While Bell Beaker does eventually arrive in NW Iberia, it does so rather late and by a roundabout route from Southern France, rather than directly from the earliest Bell Beaker sites in Southern Portugal.

    1. Well, it seems the lineages associated with Basque people are too young to fit in any local scheme that makes sense, plus the researchers keep broadcasting that t's something Eastern, so I'll build off that. Although it wouldn't surprise me if different R1b stuff is lurking there in future studies.

      Probably the dominance of R1b in the Basque is a statistical consequence of being surrounded by folks dominated by R1b-M269, largely the Celtic baby-factory. If you take DF27 for example, it'd seem to have only recently achieved such frequency, which again probably has more to do with the relative population size and and statistics.

      What I believe is that case from what I've read, mostly of the Artenac, is that during the Beaker period, Beaker people co-existed in 'the next village over' from some Artenac settlements and there isn't anything to support conquest by steppe warriors. I'd bet steppe admixture in Basques was not a one time event but 4000 years of gene flow with their neighbors.

    2. Just one question sir,

      Is the Artenacian culture part of the larger Bell Beaker culture?
      Thank you!

    3. My understanding is that Artenacian was progressively influenced by Beaker Culture but remaining a distinct culture despite these influences.