May 27, 2008

mtDNA from eastern Crete

The conclusions:
The original settlement of the Island of Crete constitutes the colonization of an empty landscape and provides a unique case study to examine the agriculturedriven
dispersal, free from archaeological and genetic signals from previous occupations. The present mtDNAdata indicates a substantial Middle Eastern genetic input within eastern Crete, which is reflected in haplogroups HV and RO (pre-HV), subhaplogroups H4, H6-H8, J1, T1, U1, and U7 as well as haplotypes H031 and H032. Altogether, these signals suggest contributions of about 15% to the Heraklion Prefecture, 33% to the Lasithi Prefecture, and over 49% to the Lasithi Plateau population from the Middle East. The European influence is evident in the overall mtDNA haplogroup profile and in a number of H-specific lineages. This collage of mtDNA imprints (of Middle Eastern and European descent) is reminiscent of the complex migratory and colonization scenarios revealed by archaeological data and previous Y-chromosome analyses. This study also underscores the genetic uniqueness of the Lasithi Plateau population supporting previous Y-chromosome findings proclaiming its role as a mountain refugium. Overall, results from both marker systems (mtDNA and Y chromosome) support the existence of both Paleolithic and Neolithic components in the Cretan population.
Interestingly, in the previous paper, they found a paucity of Y-haplogroup J in the Lasithi Plateau, compared to Lasithi Prefecture and Heraklion.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology (early view)

Middle Eastern and European mtDNA lineages characterize populations from eastern Crete

Laisel Martinez et al.

Abstract

Throughout centuries, the geographic location of the island of Crete has been one of the leading factors shaping the composition of its population. Invasions and commercial and cultural ties at various time periods with European, Middle Eastern, and North African civilizations have created a collage of genetic and/or cultural influences from each of these regions within the island. Previous Y-chromosome diversity analyses uncovered pronounced differences in the frequency distribution of haplogroups from a mountain refugium and surrounding lowland populations of eastern Crete. In this study, the current geographic stratification of mtDNA haplotypes in eastern Crete was explored to elucidate potential sources of maternal gene flow. Our work includes a comparative characterization of two lowland collections from the Heraklion and Lasithi Prefectures in eastern Crete, as well as of an isolated mountain population from the Lasithi Plateau, all three previously examined using Y-chromosome markers. In addition to the presence of European mtDNA haplogroups in all three collections, our analyses reveal a significant contribution of Middle Eastern and Central Asian genetic signatures in the island of Crete, and particularly in the two populations from the Lasithi region at the eastern-most portion of the island. Close association between these Cretan groups and the Balkans can also be discerned, which in the case of the Lasithi Plateau corroborates previously uncovered Y-chromosome affiliations with the same geographic region.

Link

16 comments:

mysterymankc said...

So, how are Greeks so-called pure if this just proves admixture?

Dienekes said...

Crete has been peopled both by Anatolia and mainland Greece; what would be surprising if there was no "admixture".

mysterymankc said...

Can you just answer the question, Dienekes? Why is there a rebuttal of the fact that Greeks are impure if this article just proves it even more. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if Greeks have Turkish blood in them, since Greece was "peopled" by Ottoman Turks at one point in time. You are an ardent proponent of the theory that modern Greeks are physically the same as the ancient Greeks, what do you have to say about this paper that proves mingling of the blood?

Eric said...

Mystermanck,
I am new to this forum but I believe that it is important to note that, when discussing what is a Greek, Isocrates circa 380 BC stated..."
'Greek' has a connotation of outlook and not of race any longer, and that those who share our culture are called 'Greeks' rather than those who share a common blood ".
I believe that it would be beyond naivety to think that a population group historicaly sharing a culture as widespread, long livedly-influential and as accepting and embracing of others into the Greek narrative could be 'pure' in any sense of the word. There is continuity as well as evolution.
Regards
Eric

Dean said...

The rebuttals are for those who've gone a long way to say that ancient Greeks were eradicated and modern Greeks are descended from other peoples. No people who desire even a shred of credibility would say that Greeks are completely unmixed since ancient days.

I sincerely hope that someone picks up the ball and runs with it when it comes to gene studies of Greeks, e.g., researchers should now look at other scientific elements of the Lasithi plateau people, like physical appearance, surnames, placenames, etc., to add add further analysis. It's like gene studies are done and there is no further explaining of why disparities might occur.

It's probably up to Greeks to further analyze the studies. Who else would care as to why gene frequencies are what they are in Greece?

Maju said...

researchers should now look at other scientific elements of the Lasithi plateau people, like physical appearance, surnames, placenames, etc., to add add further analysis.

Looks like a rather trivial excersise. I am not even sure why Lasithi Plateau is even sampled so much. It is just a small municipality of some 3,500 people that suffered a very dramatic fate in the historical past, when Venetians deported all natives and, later, settled it with mainland Greeks. What we see now is surely just the founder effects that happened at that time.

It's certainly not the kind of place where one would expect to see the original Neolithic Cretans, certainly.

mysterymankc said...

"The rebuttals are for those who've gone a long way to say that ancient Greeks were eradicated and modern Greeks are descended from other peoples. No people who desire even a shred of credibility would say that Greeks are completely unmixed since ancient days."

Why the rebuttals if it's true? I don't care what your definition of Greek is, as in cultural or whatever you want to think, but the original ancient Greeks were an ethnic group and were conscious of their homogeneity. A negroid, if allowed to assimilate within Greece, would not be an Hellene, but still a negroid. The same goes for America. While it's not said, everyone knows when people think of an American, they think of a Germanic person with an Anglo name.

Dienekes just makes himself look like a buffoon while going on a crusade against nordicists and defending his stance that Greeks are physically the same as their predecessors. Then he has the gall to post this article stating that Cretans have Middle Eastern blood inside them.

Dienekes said...

"Then he has the gall to post this article stating that Cretans have Middle Eastern blood inside them."

There is nothing in this article which relates to the _date_ of the arrival of the "Middle Eastern blood" in Crete; your assertion that it is post-ancient in origin is unfounded.

Also, ancient Greeks had traditions of common descent (from the eponymous Hellen and his sons) but not of genetic "purity". Homer, for example, lists many population groups in Crete, such as Achaeans, Dorians, Eteocretans, and Herodotus mentions that the Hellenes were a branch of the barbarian Pelasgians whom they absorbed, in addition to other nations.

I have always stressed a substantial degree of Greek genetic continuity, not "purity".

mysterymankc said...

"Greek genetic continuity," eh? Who are you fooling, Dienekes? There's no such thing as Greek continuity if the modern ones are not physically equivalent to the ancient ones. Sure, there could have been some evolution, but since there's proof there was mingling of the blood from the Middle East, I'm pretty sure it was from miscegenation.

terryt said...

Mysterymankc. You seem to be making the same mistake that critics of the regional continuity theory of human evolution make.

It's quite possible to have continuity even under constant immigration. Genes from the indigenous inhabitants would survive, but be diluted. Each immigrant population's genes would then mix with the indigenous lot. With the next immigration the indigenous, now combined, gene pool would in turn be diluted.

It's possible, therefore, to talk of continuity even if eventually every single gene from what we might call the idigenous population has become extinct.

Maju said...

IMO, that mysterymankc is just a neonazi provocateur that doesn't deserve an answer but disciplinary action.

Anyhow it's clear that Greeks have a very important West Asian component from at least the Neolithic. Certainly the farmers of Sesklo did not arrive from the North Pole: eiher they were illuminated Greek hunter-gatherers or (more likely) immigrants from West Asia. And certainly classical Greeks were largely the descendants of those farmers, though surely a minor northern (reflected probably in paternal R1a) also happened.

I think Greeks (including pre-Hellenic "Greeks") have been most important in the developement of Europe specially in the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Antiquity. Without idealizing them I believe they deserve some respect from all other Europeans.

I also think Greeks were never Nordic, the same Egyptians weren't. In fact I have serious doubts about the very anthropometrical validity of the very term "Nordic". Just that some elements seem to watch too much Discovery Channel where all classical characters are played by blond Brit-looking actors.

terryt said...

Maju: "Without idealizing them I believe they deserve some respect from all other Europeans". Their contribution to the sum total of human wellbeing is outstanding. Thanks, all you Greeks.

lyndon said...

So, how are Greeks so-called pure if this just proves admixture?


The findings in question are ME lineages in Crete (pop.600,000) which does not constitute the entire population of Greece (pop,12,000,000).

The author states: Close association between these Cretan groups and the Balkans can also be discerned, which in the case of the Lasithi Plateau corroborates previously uncovered Y-chromosome affiliations with the same geographic region.

If we accept the hypothesis that these findings must include the entire Greek population, then this must mean that all Swedes have significant Asian admixture (largely restricted to the north), or that one can't claim that all Brits are free of Black DNA (the recent discovery of Sub-Saharans residing in Yorkshire since Roman times).

lyndon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lyndon said...

"Then he has the gall to post this article stating that Cretans have Middle Eastern blood inside them".

Isn't this a bit of a double standard? It makes me wonder why you haven't said the same thing about the people of Murlo in Tuscany with regard to the genetic footprint of the Etruscans who were from the Near East!

I guess it must be quite hard to deal with the fact that a pretty advanced and liberal civilization which played a big part in shaping Western Culture actually hailed from the Near East. Yet, ironically (with the exception of Murlo), the genetic contribution of the Etruscans (including any other Near Eastern Admixture) on modern Tuscans is small, and they don't have any non-Caucasoid admixture either.

Anyway, as Dienekes said, "There is nothing in this article which relates to the _date_ of the arrival of the "Middle Eastern blood" in Crete".

Maju said...

The author states: Close association between these Cretan groups and the Balkans can also be discerned, which in the case of the Lasithi Plateau corroborates previously uncovered Y-chromosome affiliations with the same geographic region.

Lasithi Plateau is, as I mentioned before, a small municipality that was supressed (killed, deported) by the Venetians upon a revolt and later recolonized from the mainland. It's not representative of anything but that particular local history.

I guess it must be quite hard to deal with the fact that a pretty advanced and liberal civilization which played a big part in shaping Western Culture actually hailed from the Near East.

Actually at that time West Asia (and some nearby areas like Egypt and Pakistan) was the core of "Western Civilization".

Also it's very likely that the Neolithic cultures of West Asia were often much more egalitarian, non-sexist, than what we see now. You just have to compare Etruscans with Romans to get the idea.