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Thread: France: an unexplored paradise for geneticists

  1. #1
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    Post France: an unexplored paradise for geneticists

    France is probably the most genetically diverse country in Europe, yet ironically also the one about which the least is known by geneticists. Almost every country in Europe has had its fair share of Y-DNA tests to determine the frequency of haplogroups. But France remains the most mysterious, largely because of the reluctance of French people towards DNA tests.

    So far French people tested came more from the cities, where a surprisingly high percentage of Near Eastern/Greco-Roman haplogroup has been found (E1b1b, J2 and G). It is likely that the remote countryside, where people are the most wary of DNA tests, will be much more higher in Gaulish R1b.

    Graham Robb did a great job in his book The Discovery of France to explain the tribal nature of France through the ages. Not only was it usual for country people to marry exclusively with their "tribe" (very restricted local community), but some of these tribes had very particular attributes.

    Colliberts

    The Colliberts are a large tribe from the marshland of lower Vendée (Atlantic coast) who used to live in boats and stilt houses. They claimed to descend from an ancient tribe, the Agesinates Cambolectri, but were forced to move to the swamps when the Romans stole their land. Whether this is true or not, it appears that they have lived as a secluded community from the rest of France at least since medieval times.


    Cagots

    A large group of people from South-West France and North-East Spain, known as the Cagots (or Agotes), was persecuted and isolated at least since the 13th century. Cagots couldn't marry with other people and were not even allowed in most jobs, including the army (they were not trusted with weapons) or even just working the land. Most of them worked with wood or textile, in jobs like carpenters, lumberjacks, masons, rope makers, basket makers, coopers or weavers, but also coffin makers and gravediggers.

    The discrimination, prejudices and even racism towards the Cagots made of them an outcast group not unlike the Untouchables in India or the Burakumin in Japan. They were forbidden to come close to other people, to walk barefoot in public, or touch some things with their bare hands.

    Nobody knows exactly why they were discriminated against, but it has been suggested that they descend from lepers and that the fear and ostracism lasted until the early or mid 20th century.

    What is interesting is that they were typically described as being tall and having blue eyes, fair hair. It has been suggested that they could be the descendants of the Visigoths, who settled in that region in the 5th century. But others accounts describe them as short, dark and olive-skinned and thought to descend from the Saracens.

    DNA tests could easily prove or disprove these claims, as Goths or Saracens would have haplogroups not normally found in that part of France. In fact, Gascony and the Basque country are unusually homogeneous when it comes to Y-DNA (over 95% R1b), so it would be quite easy to confirm by testing a few descendants of Cagot families.

    The contradictory descriptions could also mean that they descend from an admixture of Visigoths and Saracens, maybe after both groups were ostracised from the mainstream population. This is all the more likely that the locals were so homogeneous, so that any distant foreigner like a blond Goth or an olive-skinned Saracen would stand out like a black sheep in the herd.

    Welche

    The Welche are a community of Romance-language speakers from western Alsace, where Germanic languages are traditionally spoken. Like for the Welsh of Britain, the word means "foreigners" or "people who don't speak German".

    Isolated in the Vosges mountains, this community has refrained from intermarrying with neighbouring German speakers until well into the 20th century (some until now).

    It would be interesting to compare this "island" of Gallo-Roman genes to those of German-speaking Alsatians, justly because Alsatians have been found to belong mostly to Celtic (R1b-S28) and Greco-Roman (J2) haplogroups, rather than Germanic haplogroups. What can we expect the Welche to be if the German speakers are already quite typical Gallo-Romans in their Y-DNA ? Are they a different kind of R1b ? Do they completely lack Germanic haplogroups (I1, I2b, R1b-S21, R1a) ?
    Last edited by Maciamo; 23-02-09 at 23:59.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    France is probably the most genetically diverse country in Europe, yet ironically also the one about which the least is known by geneticists. Almost every country in Europe has had its fair share of Y-DNA tests to determine the frequency of haplogroups. But France remains the most mysterious, largely because of the reluctance of French people towards DNA tests.

    So far French people tested came more from the cities, where a surprisingly high percentage of Near Eastern/Greco-Roman haplogroup has been found (E1b1b, J2 and G). It is likely that the remote countryside, where people are the most wary of DNA tests, will be much more higher in Gaulish R1b.

    Graham Robb did a great job in his book The Discovery of France to explain the tribal nature of France through the ages. Not only was it usual for country people to marry exclusively with their "tribe" (very restricted local community), but some of these tribes had very particular attributes.

    Colliberts

    The Colliberts are a large tribe from the marshland of lower Vendée (Atlantic coast) who used to live in boats and stilt houses. They claimed to descend from an ancient tribe, the Agesinates Cambolectri, but were forced to move to the swamps when the Romans stole their land. Whether this is true or not, it appears that they have lived as a secluded community from the rest of France at least since medieval times.


    Cagots

    A large group of people from South-West France and North-East Spain, known as the Cagots (or Agotes), was persecuted and isolated at least since the 13th century. Cagots couldn't marry with other people and were not even allowed in most jobs, including the army (they were not trusted with weapons) or even just working the land. Most of them worked with wood or textile, in jobs like carpenters, lumberjacks, masons, rope makers, basket makers, coopers or weavers, but also coffin makers and gravediggers.

    The discrimination, prejudices and even racism towards the Cagots made of them an outcast group not unlike the Untouchables in India or the Burakumin in Japan. They were forbidden to come close to other people, to walk barefoot in public, or touch some things with their bare hands.

    Nobody knows exactly why they were discriminated against, but it has been suggested that they descend from lepers and that the fear and ostracism lasted until the early or mid 20th century.

    What is interesting is that they were typically described as being tall and having blue eyes, fair hair. It has been suggested that they could be the descendants of the Visigoths, who settled in that region in the 5th century. But others accounts describe them as short, dark and olive-skinned and thought to descend from the Saracens.

    DNA tests could easily prove or disprove these claims, as Goths or Saracens would have haplogroups not normally found in that part of France. In fact, Gascony and the Basque country are unusually homogeneous when it comes to Y-DNA (over 95% R1b), so it would be quite easy to confirm by testing a few descendants of Cagot families.

    The contradictory descriptions could also mean that they descend from an admixture of Visigoths and Saracens, maybe after both groups were ostracised from the mainstream population. This is all the more likely that the locals were so homogeneous, so that any distant foreigner like a blond Goth or an olive-skinned Saracen would stand out like a black sheep in the herd.

    Welche

    The Welche are a community of Romance-language speakers from western Alsace, where Germanic languages are traditionally spoken. Like for the Welsh of Britain, the word means "foreigners" or "people who don't speak German".

    Isolated in the Vosges mountains, this community has refrained from intermarrying with neighbouring German speakers until well into the 20th century (some until now).

    It would be interesting to compare this "island" of Gallo-Roman genes to those of German-speaking Alsatians, justly because Alsatians have been found to belong mostly to Celtic (R1b-S28) and Greco-Roman (J2) haplogroups, rather than Germanic haplogroups. What can we expect the Welche to be if the German speakers are already quite typical Gallo-Romans in their Y-DNA ? Are they a different kind of R1b ? Do they completely lack Germanic haplogroups (I1, I2b, R1b-S21, R1a) ?
    You certainly don't make it sound like an heaven for geneticists. Anyway what about the ancient historical Muslim and African genetics runing through French population?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Knatchbull View Post
    You certainly don't make it sound like an heaven for geneticists.
    It is because it is the most complex country in Western Europe regarding haplogroups. But if your idea of paradise is not having much to do or think about then, it must be hell for you.

    Anyway what about the ancient historical Muslim and African genetics runing through French population?
    The only places in Europe that have a noticeable percentage of African haplogroups are Iberia and southern Italy. This does not include recent immigrants, of course. I am not aware of any sub-Saharan African haplogroups found among white French people, but a few cases have been noted in Britain, around Liverpool or Bristol. They are probably descendants of black slaves who settled in Britain (probably working as servants) instead of being sent to the plantations in the Americas. Bristol was a major hub for the slave trade in the 18th century.

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    I salute once again Maciamo for his patience and knowledge.
    The interest of genetics has nothing to do with racism, on the contrary as we all know that humanity began in Africa !
    This kind of comment is outdated and useless nowadays and only an attempt to spoil the tread.
    Perhaps a reason explaining the reluctance of French people towards DNA test ...

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    But do not forget Russia! Real Russians do not exist without a mixture of Mongolish
    blood. I suppose that the so called East Baltic race does not exist without Mongolish
    admixture.

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    Research concerning Sub-Saharan DNA among native Europeans has been controversial, because it seems that much of the testing has not been representative. This is particularly the case in Portugal were mt-DNA samples were taken from historically socially isolated populations that should not have been considered native, and in areas of the country (Alentejo and the Algarve) with only 8% of the total population. Also, Y-DNA studies have revealed Sub-Saharan haplogroups averaging near-zero in native Iberian populations.

    There is also considerable debate on the age and origination of "Sub-Saharan" mt-DNA in Portugal and Iberia as a whole. It is possible that much of it is actually not Sub-Saharan and was brought by the original Eurasian Berbers.

    To my knowledge, extensive testing for Sub-Saharan DNA has not been accomplished in the cities of Liverpool, Bristol or Cardiff, the areas of Europe believed to have had and continue to have the highest levels of miscegenation between whites and blacks.
    Last edited by Cambrius (The Red); 12-08-09 at 17:11.

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    As Someone Who Patrilineal Descent Lies In France, This Is very Interesting. Also It Makes Me Think Of The Wealth Of Paleolithic Remains Found In France And If These Very Recent Tribal Lifestyles Could Connect The Ages Of France.

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    I wish more digging in France would be done. I have a documented paper trail to Cognac and the Saintonges region. And I'm SRY2627+ these lands belong to the Santone Tribes Another Frenchman still in France also tested SRY2627+ and lives in the Pictone area. Although my Family Surname of Brousse seems to be in higher numbers in limousine area that boarders the Santonges. It has been suggested that France is the Birthplace of the SRY2627 mutation as France has the highest diversity of it. Now with that said the Santones and Pictones would have been the first of the tribes to encounter the Romans as the invasion started on their lands The San and Pictones are noted as being seafaring tribes and no doubt traded along the English coast and other places. A Frenchman told me it is illegal in France to do DNA testing it stems from an old law having to do with paternity

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