Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lepenski Vir? (Harvard Beaker Notes)

Let's go back and revisit an old hypothesis before getting into these two papers from Nature (1, 2).

This hypothesis by Hervella (2015) was a new alternative to Brotherton (2013) concerning the dramatic rise of haplogroup H in MN Central Europe.  It's an important topic because most Beakers outside of Iberia are distinct for their impenatrable and exclusive male-cousinship and fairly elevated levels of mtdna H.  Examining Balkan mitolineages of the Neolithic, the Hervella people came up with an alternate hypothesis concerning H:
"...none of the models studied to date have taken into consideration another possible and obvious explanation, namely a new wave of Neolithic migration into Europe through the ‘traditional route’ of the Balkan Peninsula. This new wave of Neolithic migrations are represented by Vinča and Dudeşti cultures (5500–5000 BC), that trace their origin in North-West Anatolia on the basis of ceramics features [28]. The Boian, Zau and Gumelniţa cultures from Middle-Late Neolithic (M_NEO) from Romania are the direct continuation of this cultural complex; the M_NEO group from Romania displayed differences in haplotype (S5 Fig) and haplogroup distributions (S4 Fig) with the Middle Neolithic from Central Europe.
The hypothesized contribution of Middle Neolithic migrations from North-West Anatolia into the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe may explain the position of the BBC (Late Neolithic in Central Europe), close to the M_NEO groups from Romania in the multivariate analysis (Figs 2 and 3)."
Mesolithic Lepenski Vir "Lotus Burial" Looking East (Boroneant & Bonsall, 2012)
*See also "Burial Practices in Iron Gates Mesolithic" [Link]

As of recently, we know Hervella's hypothesized NW Anatolian H-people were indeed expanding into the ancient domain of R1b in the Iron Gates region and Wallachian Plain.  This was already evident in the skeletal record...
"Human skeletons exhibit both extremely robust and gracile features throughout the sequence.. [between Mesolithic and Neolithic] (Dusan Boric, 2002 [Link])
So now let's expand on Southern Romania and Eastern Serbia at later R1b Lepenski Vir graves; we see a confirmation of the Hervella paper hypothesis in mtdna (75%) and confirmed by autosomal DNA with a single male being R1b 100%.
"A notable finding from the Iron Gates concerns the four individuals from the site of Lepenski Vir, two of whom (I4665 and I5405, 6200–5600 bc), have entirely northwestern-Anatolian-Neolithic-related ancestry. Strontium and nitrogen isotope data38 indicate that both these individuals were migrants from outside the Iron Gates region and ate a primarily terrestrial diet (Supplementary Information section 1). A third individual (I4666, 6070 bc) has a mixture of northwestern-Anatolian-Neolithic-related and hunter-gatherer-related ancestry and consumed aquatic foods, and a fourth and probably earlier individual (I5407) had entirely hunter-gatherer-related ancestry (Fig. 1d, Supplementary Information section 1). We also identify one individual from Padina (I5232), dated to 5950 bc, who had a mixture of northwestern-Anatolian-Neolithic-related and hunter-gatherer-related ancestry. These results provide genetic confirmation that the Iron Gates was a region of interaction between groups distinct in both ancestry and subsistence strategy."
What does that mean?  When we look at the end of Rossen in Western Europe and the emergence of sites like Gougenheim and Blatterhohle, we might see a source for certain cultural traits in certain SE European Cultures.

"The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwestern Europe" is published in Nature and makes this comment:
"at Szigetszentmiklós in Hungary, we found roughly contemporary Beaker-complex-associated individuals with very different proportions (from 0% to 75%) of steppe-related ancestry. This genetic heterogeneity is consistent with early stages of mixture between previously established European Neolithic populations and migrants with steppe-related ancestry. One implication of this is that even at local scales, the Beaker complex was associated with people of diverse ancestries."
I'd count Harvard's argument as evidence against a source for Beaker lineages.  Of all the male Bell Beaker lineages sequenced in Europe, the one Beaker with the highest proportion of Steppe DNA is Z2103 and in an area that was settled by Alpine Beakers from the West in an area adjacent to actual Yamnaya.  In other words, he is an outlier in several different ways, none of which point to him being ancestral to anyone further West.

I'm not saying L51 came from the West, it didn't.  But based on the evidence so far, Hungary isn't a stepping stone to Western Europe no matter how geographically convenient it may be.


  1. The western off-shoots of Yamnaya are reliably on the Z2103, which is still quite common in Eastern European populations I believe. I don't think that this is very suprising, considering the nature of the Yamnaya expansion into Europe (fast, male-dominated).

    Do you think L51 could have diversified in a place that hasn't been sampled as excessively as Iberia and Central-Eastern Europe, perhaps? I have no clue where that might be, but I think the samples we have thus far are insufficient to fully explain its expansion.

    1. Probably the W or NW Black Sea if you went off modern diversity.

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  3. As the understandable bias in sampling cold and damped places starts to wind down (next five years) the rest or the real stories will arise. for now we have to live the the skewed view.
    For now just having fun with another H10e individual. Very rare mtdna Hg. Even if People like Jean manco keeps ignoring it:
    * we have H10e in Portugal, at the exact place where later bell beakers appear (3600 BC),
    *corded ware (22oobc) in Germany (where BB met CWC)
    *and now olalde found a bell beaker R1b1a1a2a1a2b1 (2300bc) with it in the Czech Republic.

    Its the little things that keep hinting at the real story.

    1. Don't misunderstand, my disagreement is with the mode that Eastern lineages end up in the West and the cultures to which they were associated.
      Using Yamnaya as an intellectual black box is a sign of weak evidence and lazy research. BBC and CWC are not descended from Yamnaya at all. CWC is related to it, BBC is related to it via CWC and something else. It's that something else that Im most interested in.

    2. Maybe not pertinent... but at this stage in your opinion what would "that something else" be? :)

    3. I'm skeptical of the notion of a post-CWC wave that is "more Yamnaya than Yamnaya itself" coming into the NW European plain and producing offspring that are always a quarter less steppe-like than CWC.
      There is only two logical possibilities. 1) L51 comes via the CWC, which besides one late sample has been almost exclusively R1a 2) Beakers have ancestry from CWC that is not male mediated.

      Either way I am certain that Northern Beakers have CWC ancestry and cultural heritage in part. But if the second scenario is true, then the excess hunter ancestry and a very diminished steppe ancestry comes from the male R1b half. This other ancestry could have been present in elites such as Michelsberg and some descendant cultures. I call it the 'Violet Volken' and I suggest that this was already spreading in Western continent and North Africa via Iberia.

      If the first scenario is true, then it demands and explanation for why CWC replaced CWC and only intermingled with Neolithic folks when CWC #1 didn't despite being the leading edge of that wave.

  4. A clue is the R1b-M269 man from Eneolithic Ukraine, who is WHG rich with some EEF.

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  6. I cant imagine Michelsberg will be anything other than I2a2 and I2a1