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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ancient Guanche Y-DNA


Via
Dienekes I have just come to know of a fascinating new research on ancient Y-DNA from the Canary Islands. It is most precious information, as it informs us not only of the patrilineal genetics of the aboriginal Guanches (the matrilineages had already been researched previously) but also, by extension, about the pre-Arabic Y-DNA of North Africa to some extent.

Rosa Fregel et al., Demographic history of Canary Islands male gene-pool:
replacement of native lineages by European. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2009 (provisional PDF - open access).

The authors managed to extract Y-DNA from 30 individuals, most of them from La Palma, from the pre-colonial period. Additionally 42 individuals from the period of Castilian conquest were also sampled succefully.

The aboriginal Guanches (n=30) had the following haplogroups (sorted by numerical importance):

E1b1b1b (M81) - 8 - 26.7%
E1b1b1a (M78) - 7 - 23.3%
J1 (M267) - 5 - 16.7%
R1b1b2 (M269) - 3 - 10%
K(xP) (M9) - 3 - 10%
I (M170) - 2 - 6.7%
E1a (M33) - 1 - 3.3%
P(xR1) - 1 - 3.3%

Notes:
1. K* may be T. But notice that there are important amounts of K(xP,T) in modern Cape Verde, probably some odd founder effect and that the Canary Islands were briefly Portuguese at the very beginning of the colonial period. I'm wondering if it is some novel K sublineage, not yet described, specific of Canary Islands or rather North Africa.
2. P* is what? Could be R2, R(xR1,R2), Q or P(xQ,R) but all them are nearly unheard of so far west in the Old World.

In contrast, the Canarians of the conquest period were already in the process of Iberization: K*, I and P* were not identified anymore (this is admittedly odd for the case of I), the dominant "North African" lineages E1b1b1b, E1b1b1a and J1 show some clear reduction in their importance, R1b1b2 (very common in Iberia) increased massively up to 42.9% and R1a and E1b1a appeared for the first time (the latter probably as result of the African slave trade). This impact of colonization is much more marked than the one detected for mtDNA, emphasizing what we already knew that the colonization was largely a process carried on by men, as in Latin America.

What most interests me anyhow are these revelations:

1. J1 is pre-Arabic in North Africa. The same that the ancient Guanche mtDNA results showed that at least 50% of L(xM,N) pre-dates the slave trade, both in the Canary Islands and, by extension, mainland North Africa, this research shows that most of the North African J1 pre-dates the Muslim/Arabic conquest of the 7th century. It was something I already suspected (too common, clustered mostly in a distinct haplotype branch) so I am glad to see this suspicion confirmed.

2. "European" lineages R1b and I existed in North Africa prior to the Modern Age and probably prior to historical times altogether. Origins? If you're ready to challenge the TRMCA cult, maybe as old as Oranian (like their mtDNA counterparts H and V), if you're not, then blame Neolithic sailors maybe. The apportion detected 16.6% (5/30) for the sum of both lineages is just too high to be just erratics in any case.

In general, thank to these "fossil" records, we get a clear impresion that the modern DNA of North Africans is much like it used to be in the deep past and has been only minimally altered in the historical period.
.

21 comments:

Manjunat said...

2. "European" lineages R1b and I existed in North Africa prior to the Modern Age and probably prior to historical times altogether. Origins? If you're ready to challenge the TRMCA cult, maybe as old as Oranian (like their mtDNA counterparts H and V), if you're not, then blame Neolithic sailors maybe. The apportion detected 16.6% (5/30) for the sum of both lineages is just too high to be just erratics in any case.

Can't a phylogenetic analysis of STR counts give possible clusters? I think that would give some idea. When we already have methodologies and SNPs available for further refinement, I wonder why this stone age mentality on part of the researchers? Is there some kind of competition between different groups that they come up with half baked studies?

Maju said...

Not sure what you mean, Manju. The aDNA was tested for an array of possible SNPs and not STR markers. Ancient DNA is always complicated in any case and amny samples just do not give any valid results altogether.

Most STR info we have comes from DNA commercial companies like FTDNA but the samples they have are their customers and those are typically from certain regions and not others. We have then a high resolution image for the NW European corner and much lower resolution (if any) for the rest.

Anyhow, R1b1b2 is almost for sure the European type, which is found in Morocco (along with the R1b* Ht35 Anatolian type). See this older post - hope the link shows up, lately the "a href" HTML is not working in comments (if it does not, just search for ht35).

Maju said...

It's not shwoing up, damnit! The link is:

http://leherensuge.blogspot.com/2009/03/european-and-anatolian-r1b-structure.html

Anonymous said...

So could this J1 among the Canarian pre-hispanic population have come from the Phoenicians, or any other Semitic people, who settled in the Canaries? And why is J2 not found among them, but is found in the N. African population?

I know J2 appeared and increased after the conquest, as the percentage of J1 decreased.

terryt said...

When were the Canary Islands first settled? Was it in Phoenician times, or earlier? I'll stick my neck out and say that the species extinction on the islands will give us our best estimate for human arrival. Anyone have a date for that?

Maju said...

It could hypothetically be Phoenician on first sight but I think this can hardly be sustained on second look.

On first sight, when you look at the data, you see more J1 in Tunisia than in Morocco, what could be consistent with the pattern of historical Phoenician presence in the area.

But:

1- Modern Lebanese (the best proxy for ancient Phoenicians) have many other lineages than J1, notably J2 and J2 is not found at similarly high ammounts in either North Africa or the Canary Islands. J2 is quite rare in North Africa, while J1 is much more common even where it's rarer.

2- If you look at Iberia you see the opposite pattern: J2 is fairly common but J1 is very rare. That applies also to the areas where Phoenicians were most active historically, like Andalusia or Ibiza.

So I think we can discard Phoenicians and look instead for processes that affected diferentially to NW Africa and SW Europe. For example Neolithic.

Or in the case of North Africa maybe even Capsian culture itself (Epipaleolithic).

Notice that in fig.4 of Cruciani 2004, the haplotype structure of J1 shows a dense cluster (marked with background grey) that appears to have a North African root. So while J1 as such may be West Asian (probably of Palestinian origin), most J1 in fact may have coalesced in North Africa, maybe in Egypt. Not sure if this corresponds with any of the described subhaplogroups of J1 (J1e maybe?) but it should. Sadly most papers only test for J1 or even for J and J2, so hard to be sure.

Maju said...

When were the Canary Islands first settled? -

From memory c.3000 BCE. In the Neolithic, maybe in two succesive waves from nearby Morocco.

Maju said...

Correcting myself: after checking Wikipedia and some books I have at home the earliest safe dates are for c. 1000 BCE and the first wave may well have been of hunter-gatherers.

As you suspected some large lizards of the islands went extinct after human arrival.

terryt said...

Thanks. That's about when I thought would be the earliest possible time. That period does seem to be associated with movement around the Mediterranean: Sea People for example.

Maju said...

Only that the Canary Islands are in the Atlantic, and quite far away from the Mediterranean Sea.

I also think that the Sea Peoples issue has been hyped: the real account of the SPs talks of different peoples in different locations and times. The only clear expansive/destructive move at that time are ancient Greeks, who are clearly responsible of the destruction of Troy and probably behind a less known wave that affected the Near East (destruction of Ugarit, Philistines, contact with the remaining Canaanites/Phoenicians).

They are not comparable in any case, because Mycenaean Greeks were at the end of the Bronze Age and early Canarians were in what can well be called Epipaleolithic, Neolithic at most. Their origin is also clearly in the nearby NW African coasts (language, genetics, material culture). So it's hard to make any link with the Med. And anyhow the West Med and Atlantic area had been very active in sailing and trade since c. 3500-3000 BCE, 2000 years before. And in fact c. 1300-700 BCE period is when the Atlantic sailing collapses and the West Mediterranean falls to the Phoenicians.

terryt said...

"Only that the Canary Islands are in the Atlantic, and quite far away from the Mediterranean Sea".

Yes, but influences from within that sea would have enabled the expansion to the Canaries.

"anyhow the West Med and Atlantic area had been very active in sailing and trade since c. 3500-3000 BCE, 2000 years before. And in fact c. 1300-700 BCE period is when the Atlantic sailing collapses and the West Mediterranean falls to the Phoenicians".

And the period 'c. 1300-700 BCE' is exactly when the Canaries were settled (quote: "after checking Wikipedia and some books I have at home the earliest safe dates are for c. 1000 BCE"). That's not to say that it wasn't Africans who actually made it out to the Canaries. And perhaps Africans reached the eastern Mediterranean as well.

Maju said...

Highly speculative is all I can say, sincerely.

Agreed that the 1300-700 BCE period (and beyond up to the Pax Romana) is a turbulent one in Europe and West Asia. But the devil is in the details:

The so much hyped "sea peoples" are not one people nor probably one process but just the reflection in the Eastern (and maybe central) Mediterranean of the turbulences of the Bronze-Iron Age transition. Some of them were Greeks surely, others may have been Etruscans and yet others other groups like Lycians or who-knows-what.

But why these turbulences. IMO the key, before steel became common, i.e. before the beginning of the Iron Age c. 1000 BCE, is who had some tin at all. And the tin came from the Far West, the Hesperides, from Galicia and Cornwall. And the Iberian polities that must have been mediators in this trade, El Argar and Zambujal (VNSP), collapsed c. 1300 BCE.

We can only imagine that these civilizations were replaced by the so-called proto-Tartessian culture, which may actually have been the real Tartessos (the name Tartessian-Orientalizing culture probably means a post-Tartessos phase under strong Phoenician influence, since c.700 BCE).

Checking my books, I see that there was no real collapse of Atlantic trade (in fact most of the cultural influences in Iberia are Atlantic, specially from Ireland), so I was going a bit too far in that - I assumed that the collapse of the old civilizations was the same as the collapse of trade and seems not. Also there's some clear trade with Cyprus, possibly mediated by Italy (proto-Etruscans, Sicily).

So, ok, there were turbulences, there was some sustained trade between Iberia and the East, surely focused in tin and precious metals but probably mediated by Italy, and also through the European Atlantic (Iberia, Ireland, Britain, France, Denmark). But how can you relate this with the remote Canary Islands, at the very edge of everything?

All I can say is "maybe". I'll check to see if I can find out some signs of North African trade like ivory, which was common in the Chalcolithic and surely also the early Bronze Age. That could constitute some kind of indirect evidence, I guess.

terryt said...

"The so much hyped 'sea peoples' are not one people nor probably one process".

Totally agree. And there's certainly no need to assume they were from the region today called Lebanon, even though evidence suggests that the region was little disrupted during the period. People from all round the Mediterranean seem to have been mixing and moving.

"I see that there was no real collapse of Atlantic trade (in fact most of the cultural influences in Iberia are Atlantic, specially from Ireland)".

I was a little surprised when you mentioned it but I've long been prepared to accept your greater knowledge of the period and the region.

"But how can you relate this with the remote Canary Islands, at the very edge of everything?"

Perhaps it has some of the same characteristics of the Pacific expansion. Islands seem to have been discovered by accident, perhaps by sailors blown off course, but uninhabited islands have been described as the prehistoric equivalent of winning the lottery. The discoverers find their way home and then return with their women.

Maju said...

One of the issues that may have kept the Canary islands further apart is that the currents around them tend to send ships away into the Ocean, so you need certain navigational skills to reach them (or loads of luck, I guess).

One of the odd issues is that the historical references seem to suggest that the Guanches (or more technically the seven Canarian Aboriginal peoples, one per island, we now call Guanches) were no sailors, not even boaters it seems. This is quite odd but that's what I've found everywhere.

In general the speculation is that they lost their navigation skills once in the islands - but still...

Nearby Madeira (further off the coast) was uninhabited till Portuguese colonization in the 14th century. I mention this because it's kind of clear evidence that there was not too much adventurous sailing in the seas near Morocco before the Modern Age. The Canary Islands just were close enough to the coast (a desertic coast, btw) to be at some point colonized. But they were anyhow at the very edge of the Euro-Mediterranean Oecumene. Cape Bojador, just south of the Canary Islands was considered until 1434 the furthest navigable point along that coast (though it does seem that Phoenicians went around it in antiquity but only in exploration journeys like that of Hanno).

terryt said...

"In general the speculation is that they lost their navigation skills once in the islands".

That happened in NZ as well to some extent. In pre-European times the Maoris had some coastal navigation ability but certainly no long distance navigation beyond the sight of land. Once it's no longer necessary to exploit open water resources open water navigation skills are soon lost.

"Nearby Madeira (further off the coast) was uninhabited till Portuguese colonization in the 14th century".

Supports the idea that the discovery of the Canaries was accidental.

Maju said...

I was a little surprised when you mentioned it but I've long been prepared to accept your greater knowledge of the period and the region.

I was misled by the fact that the fall of the two "classical" civilization centers of Iberia (and by extension all the West) at the beginning of the Late Bronze period and the arrival of the Urnfield people (proto-Celts) to Catalonia, does signify the end of an age and the transition to a darker period that culminates in the Iron Age (c. 800-700 BCE for the are) with the Celtic conquest of the interior and Atlantic Iberia (Hallstatt culture) and the Phoenician colonization and likely destruction of the still unlocated Tartessos.

Nevertheless, while it is a more confuse period, mostly because Tartessos has not been found yet, I went too far in saying that trade had totally collapsed.

It's an interesting period I'm rediscovering now. For example the Focaean presence is dated archaeologically to c. 550 BCE, within the timeline that Herodotus gives for the reign of Arganthonios, what may mean that Tartessos really survived so late into protohistory (it was destroyed by the Phoenicians according to Carthaginian history).

I can really imagine a desperate Arganthonios, pressed by the Celts from the North and subject to the commercial monopoly and surely already perceived menace of the Phoenicians, wanting so badly an alternative power to ally to that he gave loads of riches to the Phocaeans as good will gift, as Herodotus tells. But Phocaea was conquered by Persia soon after... and probably Tartessos by the Phoenicians more or less at the same time.

The whole Tartessian cultural period lasts from c. 900 to 500 BCE, from c.1200 BCE if we include the proto-Tartessian period (restricted to Western Andalusia). So guess there was some reason for my objections: after c. 1300 BCE Iberia (and the West in general) entered a darker period, briefly illuminated by the mysterious Tartessos that nevertheless was under such strong Phoenician influence that is almost meaningless to differentiate both.

But the Atlantic Bronze cultural area (Galicia, Portugal) did keep some trade in the "dark ages". The Cypriot connection is interesting because it means that post-Mycenean Greek Cyprus was keeping up with the East-West Mediterranean trade somehow... until the Phoenicians took over the island, more or less at the same time they began colonizing the West (Gadir, Carthage), in the 8th century BCE.

But all this seems very much detached from the Canary Islands in any case.

Maju said...

And there's certainly no need to assume they were from the region today called Lebanon, even though evidence suggests that the region was little disrupted during the period.

Ugarit just to the north of Lebanon was one of the victims of the "Sea Peoples' raids". It was probably a Greek-organized destruction war like the one against Troy (both were destroyed roughly in the same years). South of Lebanon, Canaan was conquered by the Hebrews and to a lesser extent by another Sea People, the Philistines, probably Greeks from Crete.

For what I know, Lebanon was rather a refugium area for people otherwise pressed by all sides (the Canaanites, later known as Phoenicians, because they rose from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix), who did seem to learn or improve their navigation skills from the Sea Peoples (mostly Mycenaean Greeks) and eventually were able to take advantage of that when Greece fell into the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

I'll think I'll have this one- thank you very much....
M :)

terryt said...

"It's an interesting period".

It sure is, and you've illuminated it a great deal for me. Thanks. Perhaps you'd like to devote a post to expanding a little on what you know of the period. What you've put here is fascinating.

"But all this seems very much detached from the Canary Islands in any case".

I'm not so sure. Your comment, 'the mysterious Tartessos that nevertheless was under such strong Phoenician influence that is almost meaningless to differentiate both' may be relevant. The Canaries were probably settled as part of a huge complex of movement within the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic shore. The disruption at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean was part of the same complex, but not necessarily involving the same people.

Maju said...

Well, the case is that even if Tartessos might have existed c. 1200 (proto-Tartessian Late Bronze period), it was then just a regional culture, restricted to Western Andalusia (mostly the provinces of Huelva and Seville). It had no influence whatsoever around it before the Tartessian proto-Orientalizing phase, that begins only c.900 BCE and insted is influenced by the Atlantic Bronze.

I think I can insist in that the 1300-900 period was a dark period with the only contact known to the East being with Cyprus and with less cohesion also through the Atlantic, earlier amalgamated by the supercultural networks of Dolmenic Megalithism (c. 3500-1300) and Bell Beaker (c.2200-1300).

I understand that the 1300-1200 window may be of some relevance in Italy (Sardinia, proto-Etruscans) and that the 1200-1000 window is a troubled period in the Eastern Mediterranean. But I don't see how this can be conected to the colonization of the Canary islands c. 1080 BCE.

Of course there *might* be some connection but there's nothing that evidences or even suggests such thing.

Perhaps you'd like to devote a post to expanding a little on what you know of the period.

I've been thinking about that myself. The comment space certainly looks too small for explaining it all. Maybe.

BASQUES-IBERIANS said...

IBERIAN SCRIPTS IN THE CANARY ISLANDS

Fuerteventura and Lanzarote shelter many rock simple Iberian scripts that we identified in 2000 [http://www.visionlibros.com/detalles.asp?id_Productos=10978 ]
This is concordant with the fact that some ancient Canarian mummies share genetic traits with Europeans.
Were Iberian scripts made by Iberian fishers who were after tuna-fish?This may be likely [http://basques-iberians.blogspot.com.es/2013/11/las-escrituras-ibero-guanches-de.html ].Or scripts may have been done by some Iberian population established in Canary Islands.Otherwise,Canary Islanders could have born Iberian script to Iberian Peninsula; this last hypothesis seems unlikely.This type of script has not been found in Africa elsewhere.
[http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iberian-Guanche_inscriptions.pdf?uselang=es ]