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Thread: Cro-Magnons, Levantines and Indo-Europeans : what do we owe to our ancestors ?

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    Post Cro-Magnons, Levantines and Indo-Europeans : what do we owe to our ancestors ?

    The present population of Europe can trace its ancestry to three principal population sources following the end of the Ice Age.

    1) The first was the native Paleolithic & Mesolithic population of Europe, descended from Cro-Magnon. These were hunter-gatherers (presumably more hunters and fishers than gatherers). They have left us a good deal of our genetic heritage, but little else in term of language, culture or technologies. These people were tall, robust, hairy, with big brains, but most probably dark-haired, dark-eyed and slightly tanned. Their genetic legacy can be seen in Y-haplogroup I, mtDNA haplogroup H1, H3, V, U4, U5 and possibly some other haplogroups. These people usually buried their dead in collective graves.

    2) Around 7000 BCE Neolithic farmers from the Levant moved to Thessaly in northern Greece. They would spread pottery-making, wheat, barley and millet agriculture, as well as cattle, goat and sheep herding to the Balkans and Danube Basin, then across the Rhine, as far as northern France and Denmark. Western Europe's megalithic cultures, although probably more related to the Mesolithic people, were made possible thanks to the diffusion of farming from these original settlers.

    Neolithic farmers were of shorter stature than the Mesolithic aborigines, gracile rather than robust, high-skulled, long-headed and narrow-faced and also tanned with dark hair and eyes. They carried with them genes that made them gluten tolerant and well adapted to a high carbohydrate diet based on cereals. Indigenous hunter-gatherers lacking those genes would have had a high incidence of diabetes and food allergies like Coeliac disease or Crohn's disease if they adopted the same grain diet. If you do not suffer from such conditions you should be thankful for the Levantine DNA you inherited from your Neolithic ancestors. People in the British Isles and Nordic-Baltic countries, who have the lowest percentage of Near-Eastern DNA, have the highest incidence of diabetes and wheat/gluten allergy.

    Neolithic farmers introduced cheese and yoghurt making from the Near-East. Cheese has remained to this day one of the great cultural food in Europe, the pride of many countries and regions, representing a billion euro industry. Europe's first towns and cities were founded by these Levantine immigrants. These towns in the Balkans would also initiate Europe's Copper Age.

    The genetic legacy of these Levantine immigrants can be traced through Y-DNA haplogroups E1b1b, T, J2(b), G2a, and mitochondrial haplogroups J, T, U1, U7, K, H6 and some other subclades of H.

    3) Between 3000 and 2000 BCE, Europe underwent a dramatic invasion that would change its population structure and lifestyle for ever : the Indo-European migrations. The hunter-gatherers from the Pontic-Caspian steppe had adopted agriculture and herding from their Carpathian and Caucasian neighbours. These steppe people were not genetically adapted to a grain-based nutrition and so privileged herding over farming. The cold winters in the steppe was not favourable to the primitive Neolithic rainfall agriculture anyway, and the vast expanses of prairies were ideal for herding.

    Around 4000 BCE, the Indo-Europeans domesticated the horse, which permitted them to keep much larger herds and move them more quickly around the steppe. Between 4000 and 3500 BCE, they bred long-haired sheep that would allow the very first manufacture of wool. Wool clothing would make life much easier in the colder parts of Eurasia. It is known from the Tarim mummies in North-West China, that the Indo-Europeans had tartan-pattern clothes 4000 years ago. As the Celtic branch split away from the Tocharian one at least 5500 years ago, and as ancient Celts also wore tartan, it is likely that tartan was invented in the Eurasian steppe before 3500 BCE, around the time wool was invented.

    Being herders, the steppe people relied a lot on cow milk for their nutrition. The mutation for lactose tolerance certainly arose in the steppe, possibly west of the Ural, between 4600 and 2800 BCE.

    We also owe to the Indo-Europeans the introduction of bronze-working to Western Europe, the domestication of apples (3500 BCE, north of the Caspian Sea), and if not the domestication at least the spread of plums and cherries (both thought to have been domesticated between northern Anatolia and the Caspian). They also seem to have build the world's first galleys, on the Black Sea shores, around 3000 BCE. The Indo-Europeans were the first to widely use chariots for war, although it is contested whether they invented it or not.

    Most importantly, the Indo-Europeans gave us the languages we speak today in Europe (except Basque, Hungarian, Estonian and Finnish), and a great part of our culture and cultural history. Classical European religions, be it Greek, Roman, Celtic, Germanic or Slavic polytheism, are all Indo-European in origin - and so are Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in Asia.

    Neolithic to Bronze-Age steppe people appear to have had Proto-Europoid features (mixed European and Mongoloid features, although probably not slanted eyes), like wide, thick-boned faces and low skulls, which was quickly lost when they interbred with other Europeans. They almost certainly carried with them the genetic mutations for blue eyes, fair hair and red hair, as these can be found in all the regions of Eurasia that they colonised, including in the 4000 year-old Tarim mummies.

    Their Y-chromosomal signature is either R1a or R1b. Their mitochondrial DNA may well have included haplogroups from the Middle East (notably K and T), but otherwise included U2, U3, U4, U5, H5, H7, W, and probably I, X2 and other forms of H.

    The Pontic-Caspian cultures buried their dead in individual graves in cemeteries since the Neolithic (notably in burial mounds, known as kurgans or tumuli), unlike other most other cultures in Europe at the time that either burned the dead or buried them in collective graves. Old Indo-European texts (Mycenaean, Hittite, Indo-Iranian) reveal that they confer a lot of importance to the individual, such as personal achievements. They had individualistic values. They also had a patrilinear society with male-dominant gods, as opposed to the matrilinear female-goddess worshipping societies of "Old Europe". Their preference for male children might have helped spread their Y-DNA lines around Europe and South Asia.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 16-01-10 at 14:19.
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