I have followed Dienekes' Anthropolgy Blog for a few years now. The guy certainly knows how to find new studies, and copy and paste them on his blog. But I am increasingly bewildered, even dumbfounded by his point of view and theories regarding, well, just about everything...
It started with Neanderthals, when I realised that Dienekes was adamantly opposed to the idea that Homo Sapiens could have interbred with them (example 1, example 2) and only reluctantly retracted his position when the evidence of Neanderthal DNA among Eurasian became unavoidable this year.
Then comes his position on the diffusion of the Neolithic, about which he commented today.
The first problem is the way he presents the choices. He obviously only allows for one diffusion or migration to have taken place, which is an overly simplistic view. He doesn't take into account the possibility of successive waves of Neolithic migrants, nor later migrations, including the expansion of the steppe people in the Bronze Age.Originally Posted by Dienekes
Secondly, the way he presents it presumes that all Europe was affected equally, when it seems obvious enough by now that the genetic impact of West Asian Neolithic farmers was much more important in Southeast Europe than in North Europe.
Thirdly, the way he imagines that Neolithic farmers intentionally decided to colonise Europe doesn't make much sense because these people were not organised in nations or city-states like the Greeks of the Classical Antiquity. They didn't have maps, and didn't even have writing. The Neolithic and Chalcolithic villages and towns of Southeast Europe didn't have any government or temple or any other public buildings associated with cities. Some towns in the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture were bigger than Mesopotamian cities, but cannot be called cities by archaeologists because they lacked these essential features of an organised society. If Dienekes doesn't even know the archaeology of Southeast Europe, where his ancestors are from, chances are he doesn't know much about archaeology in general.
Dienekes has mentioned many times that he supports the hypothesis that Neolithic farmers brought R1b and Indo-European languages to Europe. This is a double mistake, because all the evidences (ancient DNA, autosomal studies, study of R1b subclades, archaeological cultures, and linguistics of the IE languages) concur against a Neolithic arrival of R1b in Europe (except in the Pontic Steppe) and against a Neolithic spread of IE languages to Europe.
Dienekes obstinately thought that Ötzi would be R1b, and apparently is still convinced that R1b1b2 will show up in other Neolithic or Chalcolithic sites.
So which of the three choices do I think is correct ? None, of course ! The way I imagine things is more intricate and involves a bit of the three (depending on the region) and numerous migrations. Anybody who would choose only one of these scenarios is a fool (and I mince my words).
What probably happened, based on the current data, is this (chronologically) :
1) Early Neolithic : Anatolian farmers (G2a) move to the Balkans, the Danubian basin, and progress as far as Germany, the Low Countries and northern France. The migration is not an invasion. It is not sudden, nor planned. Farmers just keep advancing little by little every year, or every generation, in order to produce more food for the growing population. Only the most fertile regions are settled, leaving ample space for local hunter-gatherers (I2) to live around them. After a few centuries (or possibly millennia) of living side by side, hunter-gatherers learn to farm too, and the two groups increasingly merge with one another through exchanges of brides. I expect a lot of word borrowing from each part, as well as cultural exchanges.
Another migration from Anatolia (by sea) brings agriculture to Italy, North Africa, Iberia and South France. Similar process except that Mesolithic South Europeans are a blend of I2 and E1b1b.
A third migration from northern Anatolia/Mesopotamia to the Pontic Steppe brings mostly domestic animals (goats, pre-sheep, cows) and pottery. Agriculture fails in most places due to the cold climate. G2a3b and R1b2a1 merge in the southern steppes (North Caucasus to Southeast Ukraine). Foragers (R1a) in forest-steppe to the north.
Agriculture doesn't spread to Scandinavia and the British Isles at first due to the cold climate, but some Neolithic technology like pottery are adopted through contact with neighbours from the continent.
2) Late Neolithic & Chalcolithic : deeper fusion between Mesolithic and Neolithic populations in Europe. New wave of migrants from Anatolia to Greece and the Balkans (perhaps J2 ?).
3) Early Bronze Age : Pontic steppe pastoralists domesticate the horse, develop wool-sheep, the lactose tolerance mutation appears and spreads, bronze weapons first developed in the North Caucasus quickly adopted by steppe nomads (R1a1a, R1b1b2a1, G2a3b1a).
Thanks to the greater mobility (horse), increased population (lactose tolerance + more cattle thanks to herding on horses), superior weapons (swords and axes) and a new greed for copper and tin, Steppe nomads start attacking the rich copper-mining cultures of Southeast Europe. After a few centuries of killing and pillaging, they leave the ruined Danubian basin and continue westward and conquer Western Europe.
This latter migration brought Indo-European languages to Europe. It doesn't fit in any of the three categories, since it wasn't a slow and peaceful demic diffusion, but it wasn't a planned colonisation either. It was more like a disorganised series of raids by different clans that grew in power and number and progressively conquered most of Europe. It's difficult to find an analogy in historical times. Just imagine war-like Celtic or Germanic tribes each expanding their domains until there isn't any land left among the "Natives", then they start fighting against each others (which is pretty much what happened until the Roman conquest).