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Thread: Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

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    "I should elaborate. Some people are indeed here for learning more about their identity, or just genetics in general."

    people who are on this forum to learn about their identity are people who identifiy themselves with their genetics. what would be the purpose ot this if you didn't actually place value on it?
    i mean i once talked with a friend about latest scientific stuff from this forum and he then asked me:"well thats all nice but what is this actually good for? who actually cares?"

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    It's called intellectual curiosity.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    It's called intellectual curiosity.
    he's an "intellectual". but he still isn't interessted in this. interesst isn't coming from nowhere imo.

    if you study these things you must give it some kind of value. i don't want to say that you want to search your identity. there are many other reasons why you could want to give value to it. maybe some people here do not actually care that much about genetics but see them as a tool to look at the spread of ancient cultures. though then the main focus lies on the culture and not on the genetics behind it.

    if i look at certain profile pictures, celts, romans, then its quite obvious for me that identity plays a big role here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ailchu View Post
    he's an "intellectual". but he still isn't interessted in this. interesst isn't coming from nowhere imo.

    if you study these things you must give it some kind of value. i don't want to say that you want to search your identity. there are many other reasons why you could want to give value to it. maybe some people here do not actually care that much about genetics but see them as a tool to look at the spread of ancient cultures. though then the main focus lies on the culture and not on the genetics behind it.

    if i look at certain profile pictures, celts, romans, then its quite obvious for me that identity plays a big role here.
    Well, I won't speak for others. I'll speak for myself. I was a history major, European history, specifically Italian history, but also always had an interest in the history and archaeology of ancient civilizations of the Near East.

    By chance, as the result of doing some research on the Etruscans, I stumbled on the dienekes blog and was hooked.

    I thought this was a way of answering questions I'd had for years about the pre-history and early history of Italy. I didn't need to "prove" my identity to myself. I know I'm Italian; I know right where my ancestors have been for the last 1000 years or so. I did take the 23andme test and join the dodecad project, because I wanted to contribute in some way to the research. I haven't taken any other tests; I don't see the need. While it was interesting seeing the "clusters" into which my ancestry was divided, it doesn't change how I "identify" or anything like that. Whatever it is it is.

    It's just interesting seeing how we came to be us, which groups came from where to mix and create "Italians". That's it; no big angst, and nothing to prove, either to myself or anybody else. Certainly this doesn't come from any sense of wanting to prove the "superiority" of my "people".

    I should also add that I don't know any Italian Americans and certainly no Italians (other than the ones on this and other sites), who gives a damn about any of this. My relatives won't participate even if I pay for the test! I am constantly surprised by the level of interest in northern Europe with this kind of testing and analysis. Every other day it seems some country is doing massive testing. I mean, it's interesting and all that, but to be honest it seems a bit weird to me. I mean, you know you're Dutch or Icelandic or Finn or whatever. You know where your ancestors have been for many generations. What is testing the whole country or at least big swathes of it going to tell you? I don't get it, and especially when there isn't a heck of a lot of difference between people in some neighboring northern European countries, much less within each country. The British project had to go to incredibly small grained analysis to find their "clusters". Still, not my business. Whatever floats your boat, as they say.

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    Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

    We are the offspring of a variety of tribes and civilizations.
    Sometimes I go Roman, Neanderthal, Jefferson, Golden Man, Moka for Espresso, Eagle, today I’m going Disco. Tomorrow who knows. lol :)
    But you oh Messapo, Tamer of Horses ... that no one, with neither iron nor fire can break down! “Virgil”

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ailchu View Post
    if you study these things you must give it some kind of value. i don't want to say that you want to search your identity. there are many other reasons why you could want to give value to it. maybe some people here do not actually care that much about genetics but see them as a tool to look at the spread of ancient cultures. though then the main focus lies on the culture and not on the genetics behind it.
    I can't see what the problem is with identity. Why do we study history ? Why do we study ancient cultures ?

    As a Frenchman, I feel (and quite intensely so) that I am heir to ancient Greek philosophy, to Roman juristic traditions, to two thousand years of Christian influence (though I am not properly speaking a believer), to Rousseau and Voltaire, to the French Revolution, and so on and on and on... This heritage defines and conditions each of my decisions, consciously or not. It also defines the politics of my nation. It amounts to a form of cultural determinism. Understanding the heritage means understanding the decisions, their whys and wherefores. What's wrong with that ?

    Genetics is just part and parcel of the package. It never drove me to despise anyone. Nor kept me from reading literature from all over the world. Our planet is a patchwork of diverse cultures. Let them live and prosper. The world is better-off as long as it keeps them alive. Identity is not the problem. Artificially constructed contempt is the problem. Ill-understood ego-boosting strategies are the problem. Narrow-mindedness, ignorance, and aggressive obscurantism are the problem.
    It is therefore worth while to search out the bounds between opinion and knowledge; and examine by what measures, in things whereof we have no certain knowledge, we ought to regulate our assent and moderate our persuasion. (John Locke)

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    I can't see what the problem is with identity. Why do we study history ? Why do we study ancient cultures ?

    As a Frenchman, I feel (and quite intensely so) that I am heir to ancient Greek philosophy, to Roman juristic traditions, to two thousand years of Christian influence (though I am not properly speaking a believer), to Rousseau and Voltaire, to the French Revolution, and so on and on and on... This heritage defines and conditions each of my decisions, consciously or not. It also defines the politics of my nation. It amounts to a form of cultural determinism. Understanding the heritage means understanding the decisions, their whys and wherefores. What's wrong with that ?

    Genetics is just part and parcel of the package. It never drove me to despise anyone. Nor kept me from reading literature from all over the world. Our planet is a patchwork of diverse cultures. Let them live and prosper. The world is better-off as long as it keeps them alive. Identity is not the problem. Artificially constructed contempt is the problem. Ill-understood ego-boosting strategies are the problem. Narrow-mindedness, ignorance, and aggressive obscurantism are the problem.
    I feel like ethnicity is a generational thing that is in continuous evolution. As a result, it doesn’t make much sense to me to personally identify my modern life with any historical ethnicity. My love for history is more a curiosity about the human condition during different eras.

    We like to say these genes could be “Celtic” or “Roman” because of knowledge of the recent past. However, if there are 1000 generations and 1000 possible ethnicities between “Red Lady of Paviland” and the present is it logical to assign any particular snp to any one of those 1000 ethnicities?

    This hobby is fascinating to me because it helps answer some of histories mysteries and because new insights are constantly unfolding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, I won't speak for others. I'll speak for myself. I was a history major, European history, specifically Italian history, but also always had an interest in the history and archaeology of ancient civilizations of the Near East.

    By chance, as the result of doing some research on the Etruscans, I stumbled on the dienekes blog and was hooked.

    I thought this was a way of answering questions I'd had for years about the pre-history and early history of Italy. I didn't need to "prove" my identity to myself. I know I'm Italian; I know right where my ancestors have been for the last 1000 years or so. I did take the 23andme test and join the dodecad project, because I wanted to contribute in some way to the research. I haven't taken any other tests; I don't see the need. While it was interesting seeing the "clusters" into which my ancestry was divided, it doesn't change how I "identify" or anything like that. Whatever it is it is.

    It's just interesting seeing how we came to be us, which groups came from where to mix and create "Italians". That's it; no big angst, and nothing to prove, either to myself or anybody else. Certainly this doesn't come from any sense of wanting to prove the "superiority" of my "people".

    I should also add that I don't know any Italian Americans and certainly no Italians (other than the ones on this and other sites), who gives a damn about any of this. My relatives won't participate even if I pay for the test! I am constantly surprised by the level of interest in northern Europe with this kind of testing and analysis. Every other day it seems some country is doing massive testing. I mean, it's interesting and all that, but to be honest it seems a bit weird to me. I mean, you know you're Dutch or Icelandic or Finn or whatever. You know where your ancestors have been for many generations. What is testing the whole country or at least big swathes of it going to tell you? I don't get it, and especially when there isn't a heck of a lot of difference between people in some neighboring northern European countries, much less within each country. The British project had to go to incredibly small grained analysis to find their "clusters". Still, not my business. Whatever floats your boat, as they say.
    My fascination with history was also what ultimately led me to my fascination with genetics. Ever since I was young, I've always regarded history as my favorite subject, and co-majored in it. I also do a lot of my own research online, to broaden my knowledge. Ancient history is also one of my favorites. When I started learning more about prehistory, I was hooked. I think it's especially exciting now that more research is being done in the area of Ancient DNA. Thanks to breakthroughs and reduction of cost in technology.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Here's an article by Razib Khan on David Reich's upcoming book:

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/...eveal-history/

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    It seems like David Reich leaks some information about South Asian genetic history that he probably has seen in his lab but is still not ready for publication. Hopefully we'll know more about that soon enough because I can't stand the over the top noise by South Asian deluded ethno-nationalists any more who are newly emboldened by the quotes published in Indian newspapers and given by (unsurprisingly) Indian geneticists who are working and marketing their conclusions on their own, with the vaguest and, honestly, most irresponsible rhetoric.

    Since just a few days ago, I had to put up with three South Asian men telling me that the IVC was not only Indo-European and actually already Sanskrit-speaking (apparently Sanskrit was a kind of fossil for milennia), but also that the Indo-Europeans from IVC settled all of the steppes of the Middle East and were the ancestors of the Hittites, IE Europeans, ancient Arabians (what?!), Tuaregs (once again, what?!) and even the Chadic tribes (yes, just because they have high percentages of R1b, don't mind that it is R1b-V88, not M269, but how would they know these things are actually thousands of years apart?!). Oh, and yes they guarantee that the Indo-Europeans were the ANI - again, don't mind that ANI admixture is not found in many other Indo-European-speaking areas.

    They're thrilled and kind of out of control with their wild speculations, because an Indian geneticist guarantees that they analyzed the ancient DNA and can state that the autosomal DNA of the IVC was totally indigenous harking back to the Palaeolithic (how likely is that in Asia, really?). They also said that there's no sign of migration either into or out of India at the time of the IVC (now that's a problem, people came to speak closely related Indo-European languages from Western Europe to China, but apparently there was no large-scale migration).

    I'm really interested to see those results, because until now they sound like at best a desperate distortion of the scientific results. I would really like to understand why so many South Asians and - as I also was "lucky" enough to find out in the last few months - Subsaharan Africans are sooooo aggressively defensive against any result that suggests that they are not 100% indigenous to their territories since at least the Palaeolithic era. We're not even talking about modern ethnic/national disputes. There is a huge aversion even to suggestions that there was mixing with outsiders 5,000 or even 10,000 years ago. That's really weird for me.

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    who or what is IVC ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    who or what is IVC ?
    Indus Valley Civilization

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwauthy View Post
    I feel like ethnicity is a generational thing that is in continuous evolution. As a result, it doesn’t make much sense to me to personally identify my modern life with any historical ethnicity. My love for history is more a curiosity about the human condition during different eras.

    We like to say these genes could be “Celtic” or “Roman” because of knowledge of the recent past. However, if there are 1000 generations and 1000 possible ethnicities between “Red Lady of Paviland” and the present is it logical to assign any particular snp to any one of those 1000 ethnicities?

    This hobby is fascinating to me because it helps answer some of histories mysteries and because new insights are constantly unfolding.
    I agree with you, especially if we're talking about closely related ethnicities that are ultimately just variations of one common mosaic of cultures and genetic admixtures (like most modern European ethnicities). Besides what you said, one of the problems is that very few people nowadays, mostly those whose family have lived for a long time in very isolated communities, can calmly identify with ONE ancient ethnicity without any sort of cognitive dissonance or willful blindess to not see the whole picture. If we go back 2,000 years ago, some 100 generations, how likely is that the vast majority of what they are really comes from just one old ethnic group? We're not even talking about genetic origins here, but about ethnicity, a thing that comes and goes, changes even when the labels do not change (does anyone honestly believe that modern Norwegians identify with exactly the same ethnic culture and way of life as the Norsemen of the Viking age?) and sometimes may be completely replaced even without much or any genetic turnover (especially when the shift was from one to another related ethnicity, e.g. from north Celtic to Germanic).

    I think it's perfectly fine to identify with one's modern ethnicity or nationality, as long as they are totally aware that even that ethnicity or nationality is not some kind of fundamental and permanent "essence" that exists apart from the others and has "inherent" qualities that prevail over time and space, especially in comparison with neighboring peoples.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    I think it's perfectly fine to identify with one's modern ethnicity or nationality, as long as they are totally aware that even that ethnicity or nationality is not some kind of fundamental and permanent "essence" that exists apart from the others and has "inherent" qualities that prevail over time and space, especially in comparison with neighboring peoples.
    Judging from how people define themselves below their avatars on this forum, I'd say we should clearly distinguish between ethnicity and the consciousness of ethnicity. By the way, does ethnicity exist outside that consciousness of one's ethnicity ? In other words, ethnicity may be a social construct, but it is primarily a psychological, personal, intimate construct.

    As a social construct, transient as you seem to consider it, it did not emerge out of the blue. Just like your autosomal makeup at a given time in a given place is the result of previous encounters and changes, ethnicity is the outcome of military events, social uprisings, cultural choices, etc... It doesn't exist apart from the others, in fact it does exist thanks to the others, who prioritized their options (slightly or significantly) differently. It is defined and conditioned by history, the history of men and the history of ideas. Our present is child to our past. As such, it is indeed not a "permanent essence", but it can be a reliable element of reference to build a behavior on.

    Alongside that cultural/historical dimension of ethnicity, there is the idea each individual forms of his ethnicity - his own intimate feeling of who he is. That too may be subject to alteration and change over time. The question is: Can we violate that ? Can we judge ? Everyone is entitled to develop his own self-image, as long as it does not drive him to harm his fellow human brothers. Ethnicity is eminently subjective, and as such, disconnected from how much DNA (real or assumed) one got from a given group. It has to do with Myth, not with time and space. It is beyond control, that's why it sometimes turns dangerous, when self-criticism and self-restraint fail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    Judging from how people define themselves below their avatars on this forum, I'd say we should clearly distinguish between ethnicity and the consciousness of ethnicity. By the way, does ethnicity exist outside that consciousness of one's ethnicity ? In other words, ethnicity may be a social construct, but it is primarily a psychological, personal, intimate construct.

    As a social construct, transient as you seem to consider it, it did not emerge out of the blue. Just like your autosomal makeup at a given time in a given place is the result of previous encounters and changes, ethnicity is the outcome of military events, social uprisings, cultural choices, etc... It doesn't exist apart from the others, in fact it does exist thanks to the others, who prioritized their options (slightly or significantly) differently. It is defined and conditioned by history, the history of men and the history of ideas. Our present is child to our past. As such, it is indeed not a "permanent essence", but it can be a reliable element of reference to build a behavior on.

    Alongside that cultural/historical dimension of ethnicity, there is the idea each individual forms of his ethnicity - his own intimate feeling of who he is. That too may be subject to alteration and change over time. The question is: Can we violate that ? Can we judge ? Everyone is entitled to develop his own self-image, as long as it does not drive him to harm his fellow human brothers. Ethnicity is eminently subjective, and as such, disconnected from how much DNA (real or assumed) one got from a given group. It has to do with Myth, not with time and space. It is beyond control, that's why it sometimes turns dangerous, when self-criticism and self-restraint fail.
    I absolurely agree with you. It is just that I always try to have it clearly stuck in my mind that, yes, ethnicities do exist "thanks to the others", as you say, but those others were often also the (partial) ancestors of other modern ethnicities, or people from other ethnicities that somehow contributed to what my ethnicity is like now (not just genetically, as you say etnicity is not about percentages in one's DNA, but a sort of collectively construed myth that allows us to organize better in a complex society). Identifying with one's ethnicity is ultimately a bit subjective, but as you say it's not "out of the blue", it's part of a historic and social process, but that process, we should never forget, was unvariably impermanent and often messy, so that our present ethnicity can't be seamlessly linked to any ancient ethnicity in a sort of unbroken line. It's always an ongoing and still imperfect process, and one which is spongy, not shielded from similary ongoing processes of ethnogenesis and organic change in other ethnicities nearby.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Well, it's out. I was going to get the Kindle version, but for textbooks I like print, so I don't know when it will arrive.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    The Intro doesn't have a lot of content in it, but it does have this map from 2015 which I had forgotten about...explains a lot all by itself. It's labeled "farmers". I have to take a look at the paper to see how precisely it's defined.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    Even the chapter headings are causing some heartburn in all the expected cases: lots of "Iranian farmer" admixture. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    The Intro doesn't have a lot of content in it, but it does have this map from 2015 which I had forgotten about...explains a lot all by itself. It's labeled "farmers". I have to take a look at the paper to see how precisely it's defined.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    Even the chapter headings are causing some heartburn in all the expected cases: lots of "Iranian farmer" admixture. :)
    I'm looking forward to delving into the book later this evening.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    I'm looking forward to delving into the book later this evening.
    Well, this has got the usual suspects in an uproar, predictably:

    "Ancient DNA available from this time in Anatolia shows no evidence of steppe ancestry similar to that in the Yamnaya (although the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet be published). This suggests to me that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia, because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians. If this scenario is right the population sent one branch up into the steppe-mixing with steppe hunter-gatherers in a one-to-one ratio to become the Yamnaya as descriebed earlier- and another to Anatolia to found the ancestors of people there who spoke languages such as Hittite."


    I think it's noteworthy that he says no ancient DNA from the Hittites has yet been "published". He doesn't say it hasn't been found, or analyzed, he just says it hasn't been published. Is that his usual, lawyerly precision with words because perhaps someone out there has analyzed them but not yet published, or is it because his lab has analyzed them but just not published yet. There's those 2000 samples he says that are analyzed but not yet written about.

    So, I guess we still don't know, except we know how he, and presumably his Lab mates, are leaning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, this has got the usual suspects in an uproar, predictably: "Ancient DNA available from this time in Anatolia shows no evidence of steppe ancestry similar to that in the Yamnaya (although the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet be published). This suggests to me that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia, because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians. If this scenario is right the population sent one branch up into the steppe-mixing with steppe hunter-gatherers in a one-to-one ratio to become the Yamnaya as descriebed earlier- and another to Anatolia to found the ancestors of people there who spoke languages such as Hittite." I think it's noteworthy that he says no ancient DNA from the Hittites has yet been "published". He doesn't say it hasn't been found, or analyzed, he just says it hasn't been published. Is that his usual, lawyerly precision with words because perhaps someone out there has analyzed them but not yet published, or is it because his lab has analyzed them but just not published yet. There's those 2000 samples he says that are analyzed but not yet written about. So, I guess we still don't know, except we know how he, and presumably his Lab mates, are leaning.
    i doubt his lab analyzed it or else he probably wouldn't make speculations in his book. isn't the indo-iranian language branch supposed to be one of the if not the youngest of the indo european tree. so if it originated in what is now iran it would not have affected southern iran for thousands of years while spreading north and west before it spread south?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ailchu View Post
    i doubt his lab analyzed it or else he wouldn't make speculations in his book. what's interessting for me is that the indo-iranian language branch is speculated to be one of the if not the youngest of the indo european tree. so if it originated in iran it would not have affected southern iran for hundreds of years while spreading north and west before it spread south?
    He's not suggesting that Indo-Iranian arose in the south Caucasus. It would be the most ancient form of IE, the one that gave rise to the Anatolian branch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, this has got the usual suspects in an uproar, predictably:

    "Ancient DNA available from this time in Anatolia shows no evidence of steppe ancestry similar to that in the Yamnaya (although the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet be published). This suggests to me that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia, because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians. If this scenario is right the population sent one branch up into the steppe-mixing with steppe hunter-gatherers in a one-to-one ratio to become the Yamnaya as descriebed earlier- and another to Anatolia to found the ancestors of people there who spoke languages such as Hittite."


    I think it's noteworthy that he says no ancient DNA from the Hittites has yet been "published". He doesn't say it hasn't been found, or analyzed, he just says it hasn't been published. Is that his usual, lawyerly precision with words because perhaps someone out there has analyzed them but not yet published, or is it because his lab has analyzed them but just not published yet. There's those 2000 samples he says that are analyzed but not yet written about.

    So, I guess we still don't know, except we know how he, and presumably his Lab mates, are leaning.
    That's really at least potentially game-changing. There'll be a lot of noise and resistance in many places, I bet. But just to make things clearer as I try to establish a chronology of facts and cultures in my mind (nothing too scientific, just my personal speculations that I wait to be confirmed, refined or totally destroyed by the next publications)... Do we know for certain what was the main autosomal admixtures of the Sredny Stog and where its earliest cultural influences came from? Is it possible that ancestor/sister clades of R1b-M269 were already quite common and diverse (well, in maps of diversity of R1b clades the area around the Black Sea coast always comes up in highlighted colors) in Transcaucasia or - as some speculated even years ago - in the Maykop area specifically? What would've been, if any, the relevance of Sredny Stog (there were some R1b found in it, or am I mistaken?) to the PIE cultural and linguistic formation, or should we now presume that there was a wholesale transformation and "Yamnization" of the entire steppe caused by the mixing of the EHG locals with that dominant Caucasian influx? I'm a bit confused as you can see...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, this has got the usual suspects in an uproar, predictably:

    "Ancient DNA available from this time in Anatolia shows no evidence of steppe ancestry similar to that in the Yamnaya (although the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet be published). This suggests to me that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia, because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians. If this scenario is right the population sent one branch up into the steppe-mixing with steppe hunter-gatherers in a one-to-one ratio to become the Yamnaya as descriebed earlier- and another to Anatolia to found the ancestors of people there who spoke languages such as Hittite."


    I think it's noteworthy that he says no ancient DNA from the Hittites has yet been "published". He doesn't say it hasn't been found, or analyzed, he just says it hasn't been published. Is that his usual, lawyerly precision with words because perhaps someone out there has analyzed them but not yet published, or is it because his lab has analyzed them but just not published yet. There's those 2000 samples he says that are analyzed but not yet written about.

    So, I guess we still don't know, except we know how he, and presumably his Lab mates, are leaning.

    Moderators should prepare for firestorms if this is true.

    Anyone that is on anthrogenica should go see what is just beginning to unfold...

    Get your popcorn ready
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    If the oldest forms of PIE were located south of the Caucasus, they were probably spoken by predominantly R1b people. How come the R1a people in the forested steppe of the north ended up speaking IE without notable influx of R1b ? You can borrow technological innovations from neighbors. It is harder to conceive why a people would give up their language. I think there still remains a lot for us to discover about PIE.

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