Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Brother From Another Mother?

I have no way to verify, but some commentors are saying that two Bell Beakers in Barcelona (I0257 and I0261) in the Nature paper are R1b-V88 or slightly ancestral.  Neither of them have Steppe-related ancestry.

Beaker inspired Kerma Ware? (1900 BC Nubia, Jan Turek?)

Over a week ago, Razib Khan talked about this new paper "The peopling of the last Green Saraha revealed by high-coverage resequencing of trans-Saharan patrilineages" by D'Atanasio et al, 2018.

In it, the authors attribute the star-like explosion of R1b-V88 in the Green Sahara to a rather recent coalescence period about 5,000 ago with an entrance from Sardinia (or S. Europe) ranging between this coalescence age and something up to two thousand years earlier.  I previously called the curious presence of R1b in the circum-Sahara a "grass fire pattern" phenomenon.

Here's what the D'Antanasio authors wrote:
"The peculiar topology of the R-V88 sequenced samples suggests that the diffusion of this haplogroup was quite rapid and possibly triggered by the Saharan favourable climate"
After this back-coalescence date, the Sahara began a rapid desiccation with some fairly strong pulses of catastrophic and permanent drought.  That event is revealed in the structure of V88's African phylogeny.  The D'Antanasio people rightly figure that the remnant of this dead zone can be partially re-created by looking at moderns in the peripheries.  Very clearly they believe that R1b-V88, now common among certain cattle pastoralist nations across the Sahel, are partially descended from populations that once populated this region.

 Before jumping through the computer with a retort, a commentor on Anthrogenica asks this very reasonable question in response (translated):
"The question remains unanswered, where did [V88] cross the Mediterranean and why is it the only one of the old [European] haplogroups to have done it with success...?"
If D'Antanasio is correct that African V88 plugs into a larger European phylogeny of a certain age, then why is this one child clade found dominating certain cattle communities in Africa, but not a single one from the alphabet of European or Near Eastern lineages?  From an archaeological standpoint, at what point in the Holocene is this directionality in either direction possible?

Let me ask directly.  Does African V88 find its source in the Beaker communities of Iberia and the Mediterranean Islands?  Does it find its source in Southwest Iberia in the centuries before this?

This comment is not to suggest any direct relationship with the following culture, but it does ask if the stylistic influences of the Bell Beakers were close enough in proximity that their decoration was recognizable to distant others.  Here, in a paper entitled "The Beaker World and Otherness of the Early Civilizations", Jan Turek makes this comment:
" Nubia (namely in the present-day Sudan) began at this time, the development of Kerma Culture (Early Kerma, group C, Phase Ia-b 2500-2050 BC).  Ceramic of the Kerma culture has a remarkably similar ornaments as the Late Neolithic Saharan pottery and Bell Beaker in Northwestern Africa and Europe."
The last quote was added partly because of the convenience of having a convenient graphic available, but also it shows that beyond permanent settlements and pit graves that Beaker traders, long hunters and family bands could be found in the reaches.  Some people of the Saraha at this time are V88; connecting too many dots?

Honestly, I do not know the answer to the V88 question.  Right now it could still be partially associated with the Cardium expansion, but the window of possibilities continues to narrow.


  1. In my view, the way V88 got to Africa (and where it came from) is pretty much a solved problem.

    Certainly, once it was established in the vicinity of Lake Chad, it expanded, and the possibility that a few patriline descendants of Chadic men during a Green Sahara period might have ended up in Iberia via the Straight of Gibraltar from that launching point wouldn't be surprising at all. But, other than being part of the general mix of folks in the general Iberian gene pool about 2300 years after V88 men arrived in Lake Chad, which included a Green Sahara period when transit from Lake Chad to what is now Morocco wouldn't have been very difficult compared to arid periods, I seriously doubt that these men had anything special to do with the Beaker culture. Although trade facilitated in part by Chadic people could conceivably have been a vector for transmission of Nubian ceramic goods to NW Africa. (Note that Berber ethnogenesis had not taken place at this point in time.)

    The case for cultural continuity from Europe to Africa and back to Iberia of a culture ancestral to the Bell Beaker culture, however, seems remote indeed. And, the possibility that V88 could have made it to Iberia from the Balkans via Southern Europe also seems plausible.

    1. Keep in mind that the directionality of gene flow begins with flow from Iberia to Morocco in the middle of the 3rd millennium and are distinctly MN European with affinity to Baalberge (Fregel et al, 2017). During the Moroccan Beaker period trade between West Iberia and the Sahara accelerates via Morocco (tusks and ostrich).
      My point is that even in a far away place like Kerma, they had visually seen beakers and incorporated some of their designs. So while Beaker evidence quickly attenuates beyond West Algeria, they may (I think probably) had pockets of folks or traveling tinker bands out there.

  2. There is another Middle-Eastern/European clade among the same African population IIRC: Y-DNA T

    1. T isn't really a candidate for a Saharan haplogroup though. V88 is located with in the Sahel and the Oases.

    2. While Y-DNA T is most common within Africa in the Nile Basin and Eastern Ethiopia/Somolia, it is found among some Niger-Congo Fulani populations in the Sahel (adjacent and to the South of places where V88 is more common).

    3. Ok, I see now. It is in Guanches and in Cameroon so that does suggest it could be a trans-Saharan lineage.