Monday, April 15, 2019

Ciempozuelo-Bros and Proto-Berber? (Olalde et al, 2019)

Here's more Beakerblog impressions as I work through Olalde et al, 2019, which is the gigantic study looking at the genomic transformation of the Iberian Peninsula.

This post is about the so-called Ciempozuelo-Bros that are popping up with early Iberian Beakers (A term I use jokingly to refer to trace ancestry associated with Africa).  A few outliers specific to Iberia are not so much important for the Bell Beakers generally (other than showing genetic relation with sites such as Ifri d'Amir where the influence on early Continental Beaker ceramic styles are well noted), but it is conversely important for the very ethnogenesis of modern North African Berbers.

In fact, this individual,  I4246  Camino de las Yeseras (San Fernando de Henares, Community of Madrid, Spain) is highly typical of a Moroccan Berber, as you can see by his uni-parental markers:

E1b1b1a and mtDNA haplogroup M1a1b, highly typical of Neolithic pre-Berber sites such as Ifri d'mar.  Could his genetic affinity be mistaken for a Berber?  Apparently so.  If we took a Late Neolithic North African man and crossed him with a Central Spanish Beaker woman, what is the result?  Much of the modern Berber tribes?

But let's look closer at pre-Islamic Berber religion, mitochondrial haplogroup profiles, heritable characteristics (like lactase persistence and blood polarity) other cultural attributes.  The reason why I4246 is important is because much of the North African Beaker pottery is essentially a downgrade of the Central Spanish pottery.  It's out of this milleu that the Berber nation is formed across North Africa, its solar religion and burial practices.  Whereas European Bell Beakers are strictly dominated by R1b-M269 subclades, it would appear that a reverse process happened in Africa (although DF27 in Tunisia and Canary Islands require some explanation).

Fatima Bedredime, 94 by photographer Zohra Bensemra/Reuters (Berber profile via IBD)
In the previous post, "Marauding Mesetans Take Booty", my interpretation of the current data is that Iberia's vast pseudo-steppe plateaus are looking like the vector for not only steppe-related ancestry, but consolidated Bell Beaker genetic ancestry throughout the whole of Iberia.  It's basically Iberian Iron Age proto-history repeating itself previously.  There are the populous, high culture centers in the coastal East, West and South and then cattle country interiors that ascend from obscurity to increasingly fortified and aggressive plains communities.

To be continued....


  1. Iberian slaves exchanged for luxury goods (ivory, ostrich eggs), perhaps?

    1. I think a more likely scenario is that the Bell Beakers were spread along the coasts to Tunisia, down to the Acacus, and back along green strips to the Anti-Atlas. Over time their widespread network became the skeleton for what would become the Berber network and they slowly dissipated into local tribes.

  2. "If we took a Late Neolithic North African man and crossed him with a Central Spanish Beaker woman, what is the result? Much of the modern Berber tribes?"

    BBB, LN Morocco are very euro-shifted compared to modern and EN Moroccans

    1. I may have oversold a bit. Fregel et al did show the European ingression in the MLN, also I know that North Africa has tracked steadily southward over time, so my simplistic metaphorical example is more of a situation that would have existed in the second and first millennium, during the formation and consolidation of proto-Berber or groups that would later become part of the Berbers.

      Also, a similar situation probably exists as in Europe where there is a bounce-back of the former ancestry over time. But I do think, unless there is evidence to the contrary, that T-13910 and the nearly uniform representation of H1 in some Berber groups can be attributed to the Beaker presence.