New blogs

Leherensuge was replaced in October 2010 by two new blogs: For what they were... we are and For what we are... they will be. Check them out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

North African mtDNA derived from Iberian one

Found at
Dienekes' Anthropology Blog, original paper at DOI: 10.1353 (paywall).

MtDNA H lineages from Tunisia are less diverse and within the variability found in Iberia. Therefore they are most probably a derivate. This fits terribly well with what I have been pondering in the last months or even years about the early origins of North Africans and specifically of Oranian culture (also known as Iberomaurusian) , so I'm quite excited about it.

Let's reconsider all elements:

  • North African mtDNA H derived from Iberian H (also notice the relatively high concentration haplogroup V in Tunisia and nearby areas, that must be of European origin as well)
  • North African mtDNA U6 less diverse than Iberian one. The lack of U6 elswhere in Europe and the greater diversity of its derived subclade U6a in NE Africa, has led some scholars to think it arrived from West Asia. But overall Iberia has by large the highest diversity of this clade, followed by Morocco, including haplogroups U6b and U6c, that are not found in NE Africa. See my earlier post on U6 and the Maca-Meyer paper on the matter.
  • Odd rather common R1b ill-studied clades in NE Africa (Sudan, Upper Egypt) and also in Northern Cameroon, where it's dominant among some groups. While in this case the diversity argument is not so clear (most Iberian and European R1b belongs to a single subclade - but not all), we can't forget that Y-DNA is potentially much more susceptible to drift and that, in Western Europe, was affected by the LGM bottleneck and the Epipaleolithic demographic movements after it may have spread into Africa. R1b is not dominant but it's still a somewhat important haplogroup in NW Africa (I understand that the Capsian/Afroasiatic countertide replaced it largely by E1b1). Most North African R1b haplotypes connect much better with European than with West Asian clades in fact (there is one exception though).
  • The curious synchretic SE Iberian Gravetto-Solutrean culture dates from c. 22,000 BP (late 20th century calibrations, today it'd be probably somewhat older, like 25,000 BP maybe). The Solutrean of Mallaetes and Parpalló is among the oldest ones (only surpassed by that of Dordogne) but, unlike what happened in the Franco-Cantabrian region, where it became dominant soon after, in SE Iberia, it suffered a Gravettizing reaction that created a unique techno-cultural complex. Some of their artifacts fit extremely well with the back-tipped style found in North Africa, that also follow the all-covering Solutrean style of retouch.
  • The Oranian culture of North Africa, concentrated along the coasts, was early on called Iberomaurusian because the affinities with Iberian techno-complex appeared evident. Later, as doubts about its origin mounted up, it was renamed Oranian. In the last times it has been common to claim that Oranian arrived from Sudan or Egypt but that is not the least clear in fact. What does appear to have migrated from that area is the Epipaleolithic, maybe even Mesolithic (grain-gathering) Capsian culture, that has a more interior distributon and that was probably the one spreading Afroasiatic (Berber) language in the area. Oranian earliest dates are of c. 20,000 BP and its human remains are considered Crô-Magnon type, a type that was most common in Europe with the Gravettian culture (though in Mediterranean Iberia also within the "Solutrean").
  • The Qurta rock art of Upper Egypt (right in the crossroads where later Capsian may have originated) is incredibly similar to European rock art, specially to that of Côa valley in Portugal (see previous post on this matter). This artwork is dated to c. 16,000 BP.
All these archaeological elements fit in a chronological sequence Iberia-NW Africa-NE Africa that would be partly reversed later on with the Capsian (which did not arrive to Iberia though). The rather good match with genetic identifiers also seems to support this scheme. Maybe some corners need to be polished but I am every day much more persuaded that the ultimate origin of North Africans is in Europe, specifically in Iberia, rather that West Asia - even if later waves from the Nile and West Asia itself may have obscured this correlation.


Manju Edangam said...

I am every day much more persuaded that the ultimate origin of North Africans is in Europe, specifically in Iberia, rather that West Asia - even if later waves from the Nile and West Asia itself may have obscured this correlation.

I think I already claimed that E1b1b dominated south-western Europe until driven out by R1b to north Africa.

Maju said...

Well, that is not what I think, really. I'm rather of the opinion that R1b dominated North Africa before E1b1b largely replaced it with the Capsian wave.

You know that I find absolutely no reason to think that E1b1b existed in Eurasia before at least the late Paleoithic, more like the Mesolithic actually. Overall E is an African clade anyhow and there are good reasons to think that E1b1b in particular expanded northwards in that period just before the Neolithic and even within it. It's probably associated to the spread of Afroasiatic languages as well.

Anyhow I'd like to know which reasons bring you to think the way you do: I can't find any genetc reason (E1b is not more diverse anywhere in Europe than in Africa, all other E clades are African almost exclusively) nor archaeological either.

Maju said...

Or put more briefly and synthetically:

1. Why do you think E1b1b was in Europe at all before the Mesolithic/Neolithic period, what traces have you found to support it if any, what logic is behind that claim...?

2. Which mechanism, which archaeologically verifiable process, would have been involved in the spread of R1b, that you claim would have replaced E1b1b?

Manju Edangam said...

I think we discussed this at Quetzalcoatl. I don't remember the arguments now. Let me check there and get back to you. Why don't you install "Latest Comments" tool? That way it'll be easier to comment on the older posts.

Maju said...

Why don't you install "Latest Comments" tool? That way it'll be easier to comment on the older posts.

The wishes of my readers are commands for this humble blogger. I'll try to.

Maju said...

Manju: I can't find any single gadget that can do that function. I even tried with some htlm code posted at blogger help but it did not work. How do you do that?

Manju Edangam said...

I think I used this source code.

Maju said...

Thanks a lot, Manju. It finally worked. It's a pity it has to be javascript (something I block by default, at least for the first visits to any site - and many other does as well) but well...

The important thing is that the latest comments are visible. Anyhow, if you want to follow a particular discussion, I strongly suggest to click on the "subscribe to comments on this post" button, so you get email feedback - you can always unsubscribe at any time.