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The position of the Nazlet Khaterspecimen among prehistoric and modernAfrican and Levantine populations

Posted by big mike M on May 22, 2013 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Nazlet Khater man was the earliest modern human skeleton found near Luxor, in 1980. The remains was dated from between 35,000 and 30,000 years ago. The report regarding the racial affinity of this skeleton concludes: "Strong alveolar prognathism combined with fossa praenasalis in an African skull is suggestive of Negroid morphology. The radio-humeral index of Nazlet Khater is practically the same as the mean of Taforalt (76.6). According to Ferembach (1965) this value is near to the Negroid average." The burial was of a young man of 17-20 years old, whose skeleton lay in a 160cm- long narrow ditch aligned from east to west. A flint tool, which was laid carefully on the bottom of the grave, dates the burial as contemporaneous with a nearby flint quarry. The morphological features of the Nazlet Khater skeleton were analysed by Thoma (1984). The 35,000 year old skeleton was examined using multivariate statistical procedures. In the first part, principal components analysis is performed on a dataset of mandible dimensions of 220 fossils, sub-fossils and modern specimens, ranging in time from the Late Pleistocene to recent and restricted in space to the African continent and Southern Levant. ---Thoma A., Morphology and Affinities of the Nazlet Khater Man; Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 13, 1984


Nazlet Khater falls closer to the Late Palaeolithic Nubian samples . . . If an ancestral descendant relationship existed between Nazlet Khater and the Late Palaeolithic Nubian specimens, then regional continuity persisted among the Upper/Late Pleistocene populations of the Upper Nile region. The Nazlet Khater specimen is part of a relict population which is a descendant of a larger sub-Saharan stock, which extended as far north as present day upper Egypt sometime during the Last Interglacial period, or the early part of the Last Glacial period. In such a scenario, the Nazlet Khater belongs to a relict population which retained some of the morphological features [form & structure] that were present among Middle Stone Age populations, but no longer present in other contemporaneous sub-Saharan and North African populations. ---The Position of the Nazlet Khater Specimen Among Prehistoric and Modern African and Levantine Populations, Ron Pinhasi, Departent of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, U.K., Patrick Semal, Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium; Journal of Human Evolution (2000) vol. 39, 269–288.

Full paper:;)

Libya and the Maghreb:

Posted by big mike M on May 21, 2013 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Libya and the Maghreb:


If the archaeology of the Sahara’s southern margins remains rela- tively poorly understood, the Maghreb has long been the focus of sustained activity focused on the Pleistocene/Holocene transition (Lubell 2000, 2005). Here and at Haua Fteah in northeastern Libya, the Iberomaurusian industry introduced in Chapter 7 continued to be made into the terminal Pleistocene (McBurney 1967; Close and Wendorf 1990). Several unusual features are of interest, including evidence, rare at this time depth, for sculpture. This takes the form of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic ceramic figurines from Afalou, Algeria, baked from locally available clay to temperatures of 500◦–800◦C (Hachi 1996, Hachi et al. 2002). Dating 15–11 kya, they are complemented by an earlier fragmentary figurine from the nearby site of Tamar Hat (Saxon 1976). Distinctive, too, are the many burials known from these later Iberomaurusian contexts, including apparent cemeteries at Afalou (Hachi 1996) and Taforalt, Morocco (almost 200 individuals; Ferembach et al. 1962). Analysis of these remains (see inset) raises issues of territoriality, limited mobility, and group identity that economic data are still too few to explore further.


Knowing that people hunted Barbary sheep and other large mammals and that they collected molluscs, both terrestrial and marine, is very different from being able to develop this checklist of ingredients into a meaningful set of recipes or menus that could illuminate the details of Iberomaurusian subsistence-settlement strategies.




The extremely large skeletal samples that come from sites such as Taforalt (Fig. 8.13) and Afalou constitute an invaluable resource for understanding the makers of Iberomaurusian artifacts, and their number is unparalleled elsewhere in Africa for the early Holocene. Frequently termed Mechta-Afalou or Mechtoid, these were a skeletally robust people and definitely African in origin, though attempts, such as those of Ferembach (1985), to establish similarities with much older and rarer Aterian skeletal remains are tenuous given the immense temporal separation between the two (Close and Wendorf 1990). At the opposite end of the chronological spectrum, dental morphology does suggest connections with later Africans, including those responsible for the Capsian Industry (Irish 2000) and early mid-Holocene human remains from the western half of the Sahara (Dutour 1989), something that points to the Maghreb as one of the regions from which people recolonised the desert (MacDonald 1998).


Turning to what can be learned about cultural practices and disease, the individuals from Taforalt, the largest sample by far, display little evidence of trauma, though they do suggest a high incidence of infant mortality, with evidence for dental caries, arthritis, and rheumatism among other degenerative conditions. Interestingly, Taforalt also provides one of the oldest known instances of the practice of trepanation, the surgical removal of a portion of the cranium; the patient evidently survived for some time, as there are signs of bone regrowth in the affected area. Another form of body modification was much more widespread and, indeed, a distinctive feature of the Iberomaurusian skeletal sample as a whole. This was the practice of removing two or more of the upper incisors, usually around puberty and from both males and females, something that probably served as both a rite of passage and an ethnic marker (Close and Wendorf 1990), just as it does in parts of sub-Saharan Africa today (e.g., van Reenen 1987). Cranial and postcranial malformations are also apparent and may indicate pronounced endogamy at a much more localised level (Hadjouis 2002), perhaps supported by the degree of variability between different site samples noted by Irish (2000).


--Lawrence Barham

The First Africans: African Archaeology from the Earliest Toolmakers to Most Recent Foragers (Cambridge World Archaeology)


Modern Europe's Genetic History Starts in Stone Age

Posted by big mike M on May 20, 2013 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Europeans as a people are younger than we thought, a new study suggests.


DNA recovered from ancient skeletons reveals that the genetic makeup of modern Europe was established around 4,500 B.C. in the mid-Neolithic—or 6,500 years ago—and not by the first farmers who arrived in the area around 7,500 years ago or by earlier hunter-gatherer groups. (Read about Europe's oldest known town.)


"The genetics show that something around that point caused the genetic signatures of previous populations to disappear," said Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, where the research was performed.


"However, we don't know what happened or why, and [the mid-Neolithic] has not been previously identified as [a time] of major change," he said.


Furthermore, the origins of the mid-Neolithic populations that did form the basis of modern Europe are also unknown.


"This population moves in around 4,000 to 5,000 [B.C.], but where it came from remains a mystery, as we can't see anything like it in the areas surrounding Europe," Cooper said.


The surprising findings are part of a new study, published in this week's issue of the journal Nature Communications, that provides the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.


The study shows that "relatively recent migrations seem to have had a significant genetic impact on the population of Central Europe," said study co-author Spencer Wells, who leads National Geographic's Genographic Project. (Read about Europe's "Wild Men" in National Geographic magazine.)


Genetic Signature


In the study, Cooper and his colleagues extracted mitochondrial DNA—which children inherit only from their mothers—from the teeth and bones of 39 skeletons found in central Germany. The skeletons ranged in age from about 7,500 to 2,500 years old.


The team focused on a group of closely related mitochondrial lineages—mutations in mitochondrial DNA that are similar to one another—known as haplogroup H, which is carried by up to 45 percent of modern Europeans.


Cooper and his colleagues focused on haplogroup H because previous studies have indicated the mutations might have been present in Europeans' genetic makeup for several thousand years.


It's unclear how this haplogroup became dominant in Europe. Some scientists have proposed that it spread across the continent following a population boom after the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago.


But the new data paint a different picture of the genetic foundation of modern Europe: Rather than a single or a few migration events, Europe was occupied several times, in waves, by different groups, from different directions and at different times.


The first modern humans to reach Europe arrived from Africa 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. By about 30,000 years ago, they were widespread throughout the area while their close cousins, the Neanderthals, disappeared. Hardly any of these early hunter-gatherers carried the H haplogroup in their DNA.


About 7,500 years ago during the early Neolithic period, another wave of humans expanded into Europe, this time from the Middle East. They carried in their genes a variant of the H haplogroup, and in their minds knowledge of how to grow and raise crops. (Related: "Egypt's Earliest Farming Village Found.")


Archeologists call these first Central European farmers the linear pottery culture (LBK)—so named because their pottery often had linear decorations.


The genetic evidence shows that the appearance of the LBK farmers and their unique H haplogroups coincided with a dramatic reduction of the U haplogroup—the dominant haplogroup among the hunter-gatherers living in Europe at that time.


Farmers Move In


The findings settle a longstanding debate among archaeologists, said Wells, who is also a National Geographic explorer-in-residence.


Archaeology alone can't determine whether cultural movements—such as a new style of pottery or, in this case, farming—were accompanied by the movements of people, Wells said in an email.


"In this study we show that changes in the European archaeological record are accompanied by genetic changes, suggesting that cultural shifts were accompanied by the migration of people and their DNA."


The LBK group and its descendants were very successful and spread quickly across Europe. "They became the first pan-European culture, if you like," Cooper said.


Given their success, it would be natural to assume that members of the LBK culture were significant genetic ancestors of many modern Europeans.


But the team's genetic analysis revealed a surprise: About 6,500 years ago in the mid-Neolithic, the LBK culture was itself displaced. Their haplogroup H types suddenly became very rare, and they were subsequently replaced by populations bearing a different set of haplogroup H variations.


Mysterious Turnover


The details of this "genetic turnover" event are murky. Scientists don't know what prompted it, or even where the new colonizers came from.


"The extent or nature of this genetic turnover are not clear, and we don't know how widespread it is," Cooper said.


If this turnover were widespread, it could have been prompted by climate change or disease, he said.


"All we know is that the descendants of the LBK farmers disappeared from Central Europe about 4,500 [B.C.], clearing the way for the rise of populations from elsewhere, with their own unique H signatures."


Peter Bogucki, an archeologist at Princeton University who has studied early farming societies in Europe, called the finding "really interesting" and noted the timing of the genetic turnover is curious.


"At the end of the fifth millennium—[about] 4,000 B.C.—there are a lot of changes in the archeological record," said Bogucki, who was not involved in the study.


For example, the long houses that LBK farmers and their descendants favored became less common. Also, the settlement patterns of people living in Central Europe began changing, as did their stone tools.


"There are major transformations during this time that haven't really been all that well explained in interior Central Europe," Bogucki said.


"It looks like the whole system of agricultural settlement that got established with the LBK ran its course through the fifth millennium and something caused people to change."


Of Unknown Origins


Bogucki agrees that climate change might have been a trigger for the change in Europe's genetic makeup, but he thinks it was only a factor and not the sole cause.


One thing that is clear from the genetic data is that nearly half of modern Europeans can trace their origins back to this mysterious group.


"About [4,500 B.C.], you start seeing a diversity and composition of genetic signatures that are beginning to look like modern [Central] Europe," Cooper said. "This composition is then modified by subsequent cultures moving in, but it's the first point at which you see something like the modern European genetic makeup in place."


Whatever prompted the replacement of genetic signatures from the first pan-European culture, Cooper is clearly intrigued. "Something major happened," he said in a statement, "and the hunt is now on to find out what that was."


Correction: The original version of this article stated that the genetic makeup of modern Europeans emerged 4,500 years ago. The text has been updated to reflect the correct timing as 4,500 B.C., or 6,500 years ago.


The First Africans

Posted by big mike M on May 20, 2013 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Regular Middle Paleolithic inventories as well as Middle Paleolithic inventories of Aterian type have a long chronology in Morocco going back to MIS 6 and are interstratified in some sites. Their potential for detecting chrono-cultural patterns is low. The transition from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic, here termed Early Upper Paleolithic—at between 30 to 20 ka—remains a most enigmatic era. Scarce data from this period requires careful and fundamental reconsidering of human presence. By integrating environmental data in the reconstruction of population dynamics, clear correlations become obvious. High resolution data are lacking before 20 ka, and at some sites this period is characterized by the occurrence of sterile layers between Middle Paleolithic deposits, possibly indicative of a very low presence of humans in Morocco. After Heinrich Event 1, there is an enormous increase of data due to the prominent Late Iberomaurusian deposits that contrast strongly with the foregoing accumulations in terms of sedimentological features, fauna, and artifact composition. The Younger Dryas again shows a remarkable decline of data marking the end of the Paleolithic. Environmental improvements in the Holocene are associated with an extensive Epipaleolithic occupation. Therefore, the late glacial cultural sequence of Morocco is a good test case for analyzing the interrelationship of culture and climate change.

--Late Pleistocene Human Occupation of Northwest Africa: A Crosscheck of Chronology and Climate Change in Morocco

Jörg Linstädter, Prehistoric Archaeology, Cologne University, GERMANY Josef Eiwanger, KAAK, German Archaeological Institute, GERMANY Abdessalam Mikdad, INSAP, MOROCCO

Gerd-Christian Weniger, Neanderthal Museum, GERMANY

North Africa is quickly emerging as one of the more important regions yielding information on the origins of modern Homo sapiens. Associated with significant fossil hominin remains are two stone tool industries, the Aterian and Mousterian, which have been differentiated, respectively, primarily on the basis of the presence and absence of tanged, or stemmed, stone tools. Largely because of historical reasons, these two industries have been attributed to the western Eurasian Middle Paleolithic rather than the African Middle Stone Age. In this paper, drawing on our recent excavation of Contrebandiers Cave and other published data, we show that, aside from the presence or absence of tanged pieces, there are no other distinctions between these two industries in terms of either lithic attributes or chronology. Together, these results demonstrate that these two ‘industries’ are instead variants of the same entity. Moreover, several additional characteristics of these assemblages, such as distinctive stone implements and the manufacture and use of bone tools and possible shell ornaments, suggest a closer affinity to other Late Pleistocene African Middle Stone Age industries rather than to the Middle Paleolithic of western Eurasia.

--On the industrial attributions of the Aterian and Mousterian of the Maghreb, Harold L. Dibble et al.

Journal of Human Evolution, 2013 Elsevier.

Lakeside cemeteries in the Sahara: 5000 years of holocene population and environmental change.

Posted by big mike M on May 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

PLoS One. 2008 Aug 14;3(8):e2995.

Lakeside cemeteries in the Sahara: 5000 years of holocene population and environmental change.

Sereno PC et al.





Approximately two hundred human burials were discovered on the edge of a paleolake in Niger that provide a uniquely preserved record of human occupation in the Sahara during the Holocene ( approximately 8000 B.C.E. to the present). Called Gobero, this suite of closely spaced sites chronicles the rapid pace of biosocial change in the southern Sahara in response to severe climatic fluctuation.


Two main occupational phases are identified that correspond with humid intervals in the early and mid-Holocene, based on 78 direct AMS radiocarbon dates on human remains, fauna and artifacts, as well as 9 OSL dates on paleodune sand. The older occupants have craniofacial dimensions that demonstrate similarities with mid-Holocene occupants of the southern Sahara and Late Pleistocene to early Holocene inhabitants of the Maghreb. Their hyperflexed burials compose the earliest cemetery in the Sahara dating to approximately 7500 B.C.E. These early occupants abandon the area under arid conditions and, when humid conditions return approximately 4600 B.C.E., are replaced by a more gracile people with elaborated grave goods including animal bone and ivory ornaments.


The principal significance of Gobero lies in its extraordinary human, faunal, and archaeological record, from which we conclude the following: The early Holocene occupants at Gobero (7700-6200 B.C.E.) were largely sedentary hunter-fisher-gatherers with lakeside funerary sites that include the earliest recorded cemetery in the Sahara. Principal components analysis of craniometric variables closely allies the early Holocene occupants at Gobero with a skeletally robust, trans-Saharan assemblage of Late Pleistocene to mid-Holocene human populations from the Maghreb and southern Sahara.Gobero was abandoned during a period of severe aridification possibly as long as one millennium (6200-5200 B.C.E).More gracile humans arrived in the mid-Holocene (5200-2500 B.C.E.) employing a diversified subsistence economy based on clams, fish, and savanna vertebrates as well as some cattle husbandry. Population replacement after a harsh arid hiatus is the most likely explanation for the occupational sequence at Gobero.We are just beginning to understand the anatomical and cultural diversity that existed within the Sahara during the Holocene.

Divorcing the Late Upper Palaeolithic demographic histories of mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6 in Africa

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'Divorcing the Late Upper Palaeolithic demographic histories of mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6 in Africa'


Erwan Pennarun, Toomas Kivisild, Ene Metspalu, Mait Metspalu, Tuuli Reisberg, Doron M Behar, Sacha C Jones and Richard Villems


BMC Evolutionary Biology 2012, 12:234


Abstract (provisional)



A Southwest Asian origin and dispersal to North Africa

in the Early Upper Palaeolithic era has been inferred in

previous studies for mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6.

Both haplogroups have been proposed to show similar

geographic patterns and shared demographic histories.



We report here 24 M1 and 33 U6 new complete mtDNA

sequences that allow us to refine the existing

phylogeny of these haplogroups. The resulting

phylogenetic information was used to genotype a

further 131 M1 and 91 U6 samples to determine the

geographic spread of their sub-clades. No southwest

Asian specific clades for M1 or U6 were discovered. U6

and M1 frequencies in North Africa, the Middle East and

Europe do not follow similar patterns, and their sub-

clade divisions do not appear to be compatible with

their shared history reaching back to the Early Upper

Palaeolithic. The Bayesian Skyline Plots testify to non-

overlapping phases of expansion, and the haplogroups'

phylogenies suggest that there are U6 sub-clades that

expanded earlier than those in M1. Some M1 and U6

sub-clades could be linked with certain events. For

example, U6a1 and M1b, with their coalescent ages

of ~20,000-22,000 years ago and earliest inferred

expansion in northwest Africa, could coincide with the

flourishing of the Iberomaurusian industry, whilst U6b

and M1b1 appeared at the time of the Capsian culture.



Our high-resolution phylogenetic dissection of both

haplogroups and coalescent time assessments suggest

that the extant main branching pattern of both

haplogroups arose and diversified in the mid-later Upper

Palaeolithic, with some sub-clades concomitantly with

the expansion of the Iberomaurusian industry. Carriers

of these maternal lineages have been later absorbed

into and diversified further during the spread of Afro-

Asiatic languages in North and East Africa.

DNA study shows Europeans share common ancestors who lived 1,000 years ago

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Whether they are a Serb and a Swiss, or a Finn and a Frenchman, any two Europeans are likely to have many common ancestors who lived around 1,000 years ago. A genomic survey of 2,257 people from 40 populations finds that people of European ancestry are more closely related to one another than previously thought, and could help to bring about new insights into European history.


The first efforts to trace human ancestry through DNA relied on ‘uniparental genetic markers’ — DNA sequences from the mitochondrial genome, which is inherited through mothers, or on the Y chromosome, which men inherit from their fathers.


Those studies captured the broad strokes of human history, such as Homo sapiens' migration out of Africa less than 100,000 years ago and their subsequent colonization of Europe and Asia. But uniparental markers do little to inform more recent history, in part because they represent only a single lineage in a family tree — such as a mother’s mother’s mother, and so on.


Related stories

Studies slow the human DNA clock

Ancestry testing goes for pinpoint accuracy

Filling in the gaps in the slave trade

More related stories

In recent years, researchers have looked to the rest of the genome — the DNA that can come from either parent — to understand ancestry. In the latest study, population geneticists Peter Ralph, now at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and Graham Coop, at the University of California, Davis, looked to the entire genome to reconstruct European ancestry. Their work is published today in PLoS Biology1.


The researchers' approach relies on the way in which genes are reshuffled each generation, when an individual forms new egg or sperm cells by mixing and matching the chromosomes he or she inherited from each parent. As a result of this process, a person’s genome is made from interspersed chunks of his or her ancestors’ chromosomes. The locations where DNA sequences are swapped are different each time, so that the uninterrupted segments a person passes down become shorter with each generation. For instance, the chunks of DNA shared between first cousins are longer than those shared between second, third and fourth cousins.


Gene-sequencing companies such as 23andMe, based in Mountain View, California, use this property to connect distant cousins enrolled in their databases. Ralph and Coop looked for even more distant relatives by identifying stretches of the genome shared by people living throughout Europe. By looking at the length of these chunks, the researchers were able to determine approximately when distant cousins’ common ancestor lived.


They found common ancestors from as recently as 500 years ago mainly within populations. Older stretches of DNA, however, connected more geographically distant Europeans.


The work also uncovered genetic signatures for key events in European history, such as the migration of the Huns into Eastern Europe in the fourth century, and the later rise of Slavic-speaking people there. Present-day inhabitants of Eastern European countries share many ancestors who lived around 1,500 years ago, Ralph and Coop found. Italians, meanwhile, are connected to other European populations mainly through individuals who lived more than 2,000 years ago, perhaps as a result of the country's geographic isolation.


Studies such as this one have the potential to solve longstanding historical questions, says Coop. It has been unclear, for instance, whether the expansion of Slavic languages was driven by migration of Slavic-speaking people, cultural diffusion or both. Genetic studies “can tell us how people moved, rather than just what’s in the written record”, Coop says. John Novembre, a population geneticist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, says that the study marks “a huge step in that direction”.


Nature doi:10.1038/n



Europeans appear to be more closely related than previously thought.

Scientists who compared DNA samples from people in different parts of the continent found that most had common ancestors living just 1,000 years ago.

The results confirm decade-old mathematical models, but will nevertheless come as a surprise to Europeans accustomed to thinking of ancient nations composed of distinct ethnic groups like "Germans," ''Irish" or "Serbs."

"What's remarkable about this is how closely everyone is related to each other," said Graham Coop of the University of California, Davis, who co-wrote the study published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology.

Coop and his fellow author Peter Ralph of the University of Southern California used a database containing more than 2,250 genetic samples to look for shared DNA segments that would point to distant shared relatives.

While the number of common genetic ancestors is greater the closer people are to each other, even individuals living 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) apart had identical sections of DNA that can be traced back roughly to the Middle Ages.

The findings indicate that there was a steady flow of genetic material between countries as far apart as Turkey and Britain, or Poland and Portugal, even after the great population movements of the first millennium A.D. such as the Saxon and Viking invasions of Britain, and the westward drive of the Huns and Slavic peoples.

The study did find subtle regional variations. For reasons still unclear, Italians and Spaniards appear to be less closely related than most Europeans to people elsewhere on the continent.

"The analysis is pretty convincing. It comes partly from the enormous number of ancestors each one of us have," said Mark A. Jobling, a professor of genetics at the University of Leicester, England, who wasn't involved in the study.

Since the number of ancestors each person has roughly doubles with each generation, "we don't have to go too far back to find someone who features in all of our family trees," he said.

Jobling cited a scientific paper published in 2004 that went so far as to predict that every person on the planet shares ancestors who lived just 4,000 years ago.

Experts say the study's findings need to be compared with what we know about population movements in Europe and elsewhere from other fields, including archeology and linguistics.

"Although, as the authors note, the approach is inherently 'noisy' (i.e. error-prone), it still does give results for European populations that are in reasonable agreement with historical expectations," said Mark Stoneking, a professor evolutionary anthropology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, who also wasn't involved in the study. "It would be interesting to see this applied in situations where we don't have such good historical information."

Coop and Ralph said the findings might change the way Europeans think about their neighbors on a continent that has had its fair share of struggle and strife.

"The basic idea that we're all related much more recently than one might think has been around for a while, but it is not widely appreciated, and still quite surprising to many people, even scientists working in population genetics, including ourselves," they said in an email to The Associated Press. "The fact that we share all our ancestors from a time period where we recognize various ethnic identities also points at how we are like a family — we have our differences, but are all closely related."

Just don't expect news of closer family ties to prompt a surge of brotherly love in Europe or elsewhere.

"There have been many studies that we've been involved in showing that groups which are fighting each other furiously all the time are actually extremely closely genetically related. But that's never had any impact on whether they continue to fight each other," Jobling said.

"So for example Jewish and non-Jewish populations in the Middle East are extremely similar genetically, but to tell them they are genetic close relatives isn't going to change their ways."




African migration/contribution into Europe

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Prehistoric contacts over the Straits of Gibraltar

indicated by genetic analysis of Iberian

Bronze Age cattle

Previously, the appearance of the Late Atlantic Neolithic culture had been placed at a significantly later date than the Egyptian culture, and this chronology and the cultural similarity were interpreted as implying that Egypt was the original source (14). However, more accurate radiocarbon dates obtained from Late Atlantic Neolithic culture sites subsequently redated the origin of this culture to being approximately the same as that of the predynastic Badarian Egyptian culture (15), leading to the hypothesis that these two cultures might derive from a common area, perhaps through pastoral groups living in the Sahara. The culture linked to the Late Atlantic Neolithic period is known to have been dedicated almost exclusively to cattle breeding, secondarily complemented by sheep and goat breeding (14), suggesting that an investigation of the origin of Iberian cattle may offer further insight into early Iberian–African cultural contacts.


These early Neolithic populations of Andalusia appear to have consisted of a number of distinct groups (12), one of which is suggested to have African origin due to finds of characteristic red ochre ceramics (13, 14). Similarities have also been noted between the predynastic Badarian Egyptian culture dated to the 5th millennium B.C. and the Late Atlantic Neolithic culture in western Andalusia (14). Previously, the appearance of the Late Atlantic Neolithic culture had been placed at a significantly later date than the Egyptian culture, and this chronology and the cultural similarity were interpreted as implying that Egypt was the original source (14). However, more accurate radiocarbon dates obtained from Late Atlantic Neolithic culture sites subsequently redated the origin of this culture to being approximately the same as that of the predynastic Badarian Egyptian culture (15), leading to the hypothesis that these two cultures might derive from a common area, perhaps through pastoral groups living in the Sahara. The culture linked to the Late Atlantic Neolithic period is known to have been dedicated almost exclusively to cattle breeding, secondarily complemented by sheep and goat breeding (14), suggesting that an investigation of the origin of Iberian cattle may offer further insight into early Iberian–African cultural contacts.



Testing the Hypothesis of an African Cattle Contribution in Southern

European Breeds (H2).


However, even if 63 and 11 different T1 haplotypes are observed in Africa and Europe,

respectively, only two of them are present in both regions. In addition, (i) T1 haplotypes can be found well beyond the area of maximum Moorish expansion, (ii) recent introductions of exotic cattle are usually male mediated (not affecting mtDNA) (34), and (iii) one T1 haplotype has been

recently observed in a sample of 16 Bronze Age cattle remains from Spain.


So, the hypothesis of a recent and geographically restricted introduction of African cattle does not seem sufficient to explain the T1 distribution in Europe. On the contrary, DNA data are compatible with earlier gene flow into several Mediterranean regions. There is evidence of early diffusion of cattle pastoralism by people crossing arms of sea (21–23), and, hence, the same process may have led to the dispersal in Europe of breeds carrying the T1 haplotype.




The modern and ancient mtDNA sequences we present here do not support the currently

accepted hypothesis of a single Neolithic origin in the Near East. The processes of livestock

domestication and diffusion were certainly more complex than previously suggested, and our data provide some evidence in favor of the hypothesis that the origin of European cattle is multiple. Breeds domesticated in the Near East and introduced in Europe during the Neolithic diffusion probably intermixed, at least in some regions, with local wild animals and with African cattle introduced by maritime routes.


1) Greeks share an important part of their genetic pool with sub-Saharan Africans (Ethiopians and west Africans) also supported by Chr 7 Markers. The gene flow from Black Africa to Greece may have occurred in Pharaonic times or when Saharan people emigrated after the present hyperarid conditions were established (5000 years B.C.).

Reconstructing ancient mitochondrial DNA links between Africa and Europe

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African gene flow into Europe in particular Neolithc times


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages of macro-haplogroup L (excluding the derived L3 branches M and N) represent the majority of the typical sub-Saharan mtDNA variability. In Europe, these mtDNAs account for <1% of the total but, when analyzed at the level of control region, they show no signals of having evolved within the European continent, an observation that is compatible with a recent arrival from the African continent. To further evaluate this issue, we analyzed 69 mitochondrial genomes belonging to various L sublineages from a wide range of European populations. Phylogeographic analyses showed that ∼65% of the European L lineages most likely arrived in rather recent historical times, including the Romanization period, the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily, and during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. However, the remaining 35% of L mtDNAs form European-specific subclades, revealing that there was gene flow from sub-Saharan Africa toward Europe as early as 11,000 yr ago.


"Here, we show, for the first time, genetic evidence signaling prehistorical movements in the opposite direction, from sub-Saharan Africa toward Europe. It is likely that most of the signals in the nuclear genome of this ancestral gene admixture between African immigrants and local Europeans had been erased by historical recombination and genetic drift. Therefore, as demonstrated in the present study, the mtDNA genome (and perhaps the Y chromosome) (Capelli et al. 2009) is the source to rescue the echoes of prehistorical sub-Saharan movements into Europe."


--Cerezo et al 2012. Reconstructing ancient mitochondrial DNA links between Africa and Europe. Genome Res. 22: 821-826