May 07, 2008

mtDNA from Grave Circle B in Mycenae

A new preprint on mitochondrial DNA from Grave Circle B in Mycenae. Unfortunately, the authors report that they could not get any autosomal or Y chromosome DNA, however they did manage to obtain four mtDNA sequences (out of 22 individuals) which appear to be authentic, and which belonged to haplogroups UK ("heart-shaped face" individuals Γ55 and Γ58, possibly brother and sister), U5a1 or U5a1a ("long-faced" individual Ζ59) and the Cambridge Reference Sequence ("heart-shaped face" individual Α62), which is "compatible in the region sequenced
with various haplogroups including H, HV1, J, U, U3 and U4 (but not UK, U5a1 or U5a1a)." The pictures of the individuals are from Making faces : using forensic and archaeological evidence, by John Prag and Richard Neave, College Station : Texas A & M University Press, 1997 (ISBN 0890967849), first row: Γ55, Γ58, second row: Ζ59, Α62.

UPDATE: Certainly, the brother-sister inference is plausible, but strangely there was an observed case of a married couple from Sicily which also happened to be both in haplogroup U5a1a. Perhaps we'll never know.

UPDATE 2: I think this woman will be pleasantly surprised.

UPDATE 3: A nice podcast with Keri Brown, where she talks a lot about ancient DNA and its challenges (not about the Mycenaean work though). Also, a previous publication by the same group on the challenges of authentication of ancient DNA.

In the current paper they were able to distinguish some of the contaminant DNA of the lead author who handled the work because it had one of her unusual mutations, and conclude that while it is possible that the discovered sequences may be contaminants, it is more likely that they are not. It would certainly make a good detective story to try to find out the mtDNA sequence of the late J. Lawrence Angel who handled the remains extensively, or any other individuals associated with them.

UPDATE 4 (From the supplementary material). This confirms that by UK the authors mean the haplogroup more commonly known as K:

Γ55: "Positions 16224 and 16311 characterise haplogroup UK. Position 16093 is not characteristic of any haplogroup so may be either an artefact or a private mutation."
Γ58: "The endogenous DNA that is not AB therefore belongs to a haplogroup that differs from the CRS at 16224. The only possibilities are Z, which should also display mutations within MtC at 16185, 16223 and 16260, and UK. We therefore conclude that Γ58 contains endogenous DNA of haplogroup UK."
Z59: "MtF sequences were also obtained from the second Ζ59 extraction, and all six of these
differ from the CRS at 16256, 16266 and 16270 (highlighted in red in sequences 2f77, 2f78, 2f79,
2f80, 2f81, 2f82). Position 16266 is associated with haplogroup Y, and positions 16256 and 16270
with U5a1 and U5a1a. ... On balance, we conclude that Ζ59 contains endogenous DNA of
one of either haplogroup U5a1 or U5a1a, although Y remains a possibility."
A62: "The single MtC sequence that could be obtained (2c49) lacked the mutation at 16172 suggesting that this bone was not contaminated with AB DNA. Elsewhere the sequences conformed with the CRS, consistent in the region sequenced with various haplogroups (e.g. H, HV1, J, U, U3 and U4). None of the positions within this region diagnostic of UK (16224, 16311), U5a1 (16192, 16256, 16270), U5a1a (16256, 16270) or Y (16231, 16266) were mutated: hence there is no evidence for the presence of endogenous DNA of these haplogroups."

Journal of Archaeological Science doi:10.1016/j.jas.2008.04.010

Kinship between burials from Grave Circle B at Mycenae revealed by ancient DNA typing

Abigail S. Bouwmana, Keri A. Browna, N. W. Prag A.Johnb and Terence A. Brown

The richness of the burials in Grave Circle B at Mycenae, Greece, indicate that the 35 people interred there held elite status during their lifetimes 3500 years ago. It has been speculated that the groups of burials represent different dynasties or branches of the same family. To test this hypothesis, we carried out an exhaustive ancient DNA (aDNA) study of 22 of the skeletons. We
were unable to identify nuclear aDNA in any specimen, but we obtained authentic mitochondrial aDNA sequences for four individuals. The results were compared with facial reconstructions and interpreted within the archaeological context represented by the organisation of the graves and the positions of the burials within the graves. We conclude that the contemporaneous male Γ55 and female Γ58 skeletons, which both possess the UK mitochondrial haplogroup, were brother and sister. The implication is that Γ58 was buried in Grave Circle B not because of a marital connection but because she held a position of authority by right of birth. The results illustrate the difficulty in using aDNA to study kinship relationships between archaeological specimens, but also show that aDNA can advance understanding of kinship when used to test hypotheses constructed from other evidence.



Antigonos said...

So Mycenaeans were descendants of Europeans dating back to at least the Last Glacial Maximum.
They were no Levantine immigrants or residents of the Middle East.
U5a1a lineage within haplogroup U5 arose in Europe approximately 30,000 years ago, and is mainly found in northwest and north-central Europe (Scandinavia). In the context of its rather ancient origin, the modern distribution of haplogroup U5a1 suggests that individuals bearing this haplogroup were part of the initial expansion tracking the retreat of ice sheets from Europe.
Let's see what Mycenaean Grave Circle A is going to give now.

Dienekes said...

antigonos, genetics is not your strong point, and google is no substitute for it.

Dienekes said...

"The fact that three different haplotypes belonging to U5a1a# were found in Normandy and Morbihan suggests that this haplogroup appeared in north-western Europe: it would have subsequently spread across Europe from this centre. One part of U5a1a would have reached the Near East, and certainly subsequently back-migrated into Europe, as suggested by Richards et al"

Dienekes said...

As for the other two sequences, one of them couldn't be assigned to a specific haplogroup, while the other (UK) is found at high frequencies in various populations Greek and eastern populations (e.g., Kurds 12%, Lemnos 8%, Crete 7.4%, Rhodes 7.1%, Palestinians 7.7%).

In conclusion, all three types could have been present in Greece in the Paleolithic or could have arrived in the Neolithic or later.

pconroy said...

Interesting that one of them is CRS - my wife's maternal ancestry is from Eastern Sicily and she is CRS also.

I guess this could be the Greek influence in that area of Sicily.

Dienekes said...

The CRS is far too common to draw that conclusion.

Antigonos said...

Clarity of perception and neutral investigation are not your strong points and continuing to do so will only deteriorate your case.
One of the samples could n't be identified!!!
The other could be almost anything!!!
Thus so far the verdict is that the ancestors of Mycenaeans were probably U.P. Europeans and not Mediterraneans. LIVE WITH IT!!!
Just because a very small part of this U5a1a people went to Near East or N. Africa what does this mean?
That they became...Anatolians or Natufians?
If a Bushman bearing A Y-DNA Hg goes to China, as the time will pass on he will become.....Chinese?
This group which went to Near East can't be identified with your Renfrew's Anatolian Neolithic farmers who are genetically related to J and E3b1a Hgs and culturally related to Natufians!!!
If mtDNA U5a1a bearers moved to Near East or N. Africa and then moved back again to Greece does not make them less genetically Europeans than the people which they left behind SINCE THEY RETAINED THEIR haplogroup!!!
Besides only a minute percentage of the U5a1a went to N. East and parts of Africa.
The vast amount of the particular Hg bearers stayed in Europe.
Thus what is more rational to say when you meat a U5a1a bearer?
That he must be descending from Europe or from Africa and N. East?
Of course in order for someone to be rational HE NEEDS NOT TO BE PREJUDICED FIRST!!!

P.S. And please try to read what i write and not what you wish to read.
I just said that Mycenaean samples descend from a "European" Hg and not an Asian or Asiatic one SO FAR.
We will have to wait and see what Grave Circle A will give in order to draw more confident conclusions.
You did the same with the Gravettian issue where i said that scientists must not make maps showing the entire Gravettian Ice Age refuge as the refuge of Y-DNA Hg I cause they were Gravettian sites which did not have Europoid individuals!
Thus how can you correlate Hg I with these?
These non Europoid Gravettian sites had females and males and thus how can we assume that I Hg was present to the entire Gravettian map.
I said that to clearly show that these Negroid Grimaldis must had their own Y-DNA and mtDNA Hgs and since they did not originate both culturally and racially from the same area as the Europoid Gravettians there is no way that the Hg of the one group was bestowed on the other.
Especially since during the time that the maps show there were Gravettian areas that were inhabited ONLY by Grimaldis and Europoids did not enter.
Thus which were the Grimaldi Hgs and why do they highlight THEIR AREA as the area of Hg I too?

You, instead of reading what i said, with your always polite and humble ways accused me that i said that....women had Y-DNA!!!!!
How old are you, 8?
And something final.
I write in your site for 3 years now.
I had a totally and i mean A TOTALLY different idea of you. I considered you as an example of researcher and a good friend, even via the Internet since we have never met.
The last two months though for reasons unknown to me you attack me TO EVERY SINGLE comment i make.
You know who i am, since i am not hiding like you, where do i live, what have i done in my life, etc. WHILE YOU DID NOT HAVE EVEN THE TYPICAL POLITENESS TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO ME EVEN IF THAT INTRODUCTION WAS ONLY LIMITED TO YOUR FIRST NAME!!!
My posts are on Anthropology, Genetics, Politics, History, Archeology, etc. and if i am worthy or not you can find it out by the comments of the other commentators to me and how do they validate me!
Although i must admit that in Genetics you are better than me, i can't say the same about the other areas!!!

Dienekes said...

>> If a Bushman bearing A Y-DNA Hg goes to China, as the time will pass on he will become.....Chinese?

I don't know about a Bushman going to China, but the ultimate descendants of a Y-DNA A African in Britain are fully British.

I'm not going to spin theories one way or another based on a sample of three.

Dienekes said...

Thus what is more rational to say when you meat a U5a1a bearer?
That he must be descending from Europe or from Africa and N. East?

Depends. If you meet an U5a1 or U5a1a bearer from northwest Europe, it's much more likely that he is not a back-migrant. If, on the other hand, you meet a U5a1 from Greece, you should _at least_ keep an open mind about him being a back-migrant.

advocatus diaboli said...

Please, is there any link to the original publish? I should like to see further details. Thanx in advance

terryt said...

Antigonos. I agree that Dienekes was a little rude to you. However I can't let your comment pass, "If a Bushman bearing A Y-DNA Hg goes to China, as the time will pass on he will become.....Chinese?".

Certainly the Bushman himself will never look Chinese but his great grandsons could easily have seven eighths Chinese autosomal DNA. They would look pretty much Chinese. For many breeds of animals just one more generation qualifies them as purebreds, indistinguishable from the real ones. Again an example of how Y-chromosome and mtDNA don't necessarily correlate with appearance.

Dienekes. I found your comment, "One part of U5a1a would have reached the Near East" particularly interesting. I've long had the idea that the Natufian may owe something to the European Atlantic coast but have found no genetic evidence for it. Perhaps U5a1a may just provide some of that evidence.

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

Dienekes said:

"I don't know about a Bushman going to China, but the ultimate descendants of a Y-DNA A African in Britain are fully British."

What do you perceive as British?

You said:

"Depends. If you meet an U5a1 or U5a1a bearer from northwest Europe, it's much more likely that he is not a back-migrant. If, on the other hand, you meet a U5a1 from Greece, you should _at least_ keep an open mind about him being a back-migrant."

Back immigrant or not U5a1a is an Upper Paleolithic European Hg carried by the inhabitants of Europe even before the LGM.
Thus the Mycenaean mtDNA so far is not reflecting populations of Near East or N. Africa!!!
It's a Hg which its bearers were Cro-magnid or Capellid.
They were no Mediterraneans!!!
Thus even if this U5a1a group had gone to N. East and then back to Europe does not mean that it can reflect Mediterranean populations AS YOUR DESIRE IS!!!
Boers who went to South Africa bearing R1b and I Hgs could they be labeled as sub-saharan?
Those who came back to Europe should their Hgs been treated as "African" just because they lived there for a time?
Your precious Lord Renfrew's theory puts the proto-farming communities of Eastern Europe to be the creators of the Greek folk and culture and that these were Mediterraneans.
Unfortunately for you, additionally to Physical Anthropology now we have Genetics too that move us more and more away from such a possibility.
Mycenaeans, the first Historically attested Greeks, were the first slap!!!
Sit tight, more will come in the future!!!

South Central Haplo said...

Just curious. Is there any H lineage found in any of remnants?. Either at this place or others?.

Dienekes said...

One of the individuals (bottom right) could be an H, although not certain to be an H. AFAIK no other mtDNA from Greece has been published yet, although more is likely to come from both this team and at least 1-2 others.

pconroy said...

CRS (Cambridge Reference Sequence) is usually taken to be mtDNA H2b

Maju said...

"... One part of U5a1a would have reached the Near East, and certainly subsequently back-migrated into Europe, as suggested by Richards et al"

But if you read the original Richards et al. (2000) article, he strongly seems to believe that both U5a* and U5a1 haplogroups are European erratics in West Asia:

Within U5, types that qualified as founders could have back-migrated into the Near East sufficiently long ago to have contributed to subsequent dispersals into Europe (as, e.g., the root types of U5a1 or U5a1a), or they may represent cases in which the founder criteria have not winnowed out simple backmigrants. U5a1 and U5a1a lineages in Europe may,therefore, have been derived from either indigenous European or redispersing Near Eastern types. (Although this may be true for U5a1a, U5a1 is an implausible founder cluster, since its “Near Eastern” distribution is accounted for primarily by the southern Caucasus, where only a few derived types occur. Since related derived types are also quite common in the northern Caucasus, U5a1 seems likely to have arrived from Europe via the northern Caucasus, fairly recently. This being the case, the fs0 analysis would provide a better estimate for the EUP component than would be provided by fs.)

The possibility is certainly open but the greatest likehood is that U5a clades are recent arrivals in West Asia.

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

If a Bushman goes to China...?Why the hell would he want to? Besides their faces are Mongoloid enough already,and they probably couldn't stand China's stressful,busy crowded, years-old traditional society.I'm a little xenophobic myself,but I do LIKE everybody.Anyway,it's nice DNA was found to identify the ancient Mycenaes-but what exactly is Haplogrp.Mt UK ? I don't think I've ever heard of it.I'll type it into a search engine for a looksee.

Dienekes said...

CRS (Cambridge Reference Sequence) is usually taken to be mtDNA H2b

Depends on the "region sequenced"; they probably couldn't get a reading on some diagnostic sites to distinguish between the listed haplogroups. That is also why they couldn't distinguish between U5a1 and U5a1a, meaning probably that perhaps they didn't get a reading on site 16,399. We could actually triangulate what part of the sequence they couldn't be sure of based on the released information, but I'll just wait for the supplementary material.

The possibility is certainly open but the greatest likehood is that U5a clades are recent arrivals in West Asia.

First of all, the probability inference depends on whether the sequence is U5a1 or U5a1a.

Second, as I mentioned above, the probability inference also depends on which part of Europe one talks about. Greece, being much closer to Anatolia is much more likely to experience this phenomenon, since it's the door of Europe so to speak.

It's important to note the limitations of the inferences one could make with the results, rather than be carried away to unwarranted conclusions.

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

I read on Wikipedia that Haplogroup Mt UK is just haplogrp. U ,since K is found to be a subclade of mtU8. Or were these Mycenaen people a blend of both U and K ?

Maju said...

UK is just the old style of calling U. First K was considered a haplogroup of its own, then it became evident that it was connected to U by upstream mutations (so UK), then it was obvious that K is just a third level subclade of U (U > U8 > K), even if a quite frequent one.

Anyhow, unlike with Y-DNA, there's no quasi-official nomenclator, so guess each author uses the terms as he/she prefers. In the Andorra paper for instance U means U(xK) but that varies.

Dienekes said...

I believe that by UK they mean K. Their statement that the individual could be U,U3, or U4 but not UK, U5a1, or U5a1a doesn't make sense otherwise.

Anyway, the supplementary data will clear up this issue.

Val Kyrie said...

My evil mother and sister in law belong to Haplogroup U5a1a1. They look identical and possess many similar personality traits from what I have read of the Mycenaean's. They do not look typical European, they have dark wavy hair with long faces, just like the women portrayed on Ancient Mycenaean artwork!

Samequeen said...

This is now an old thread, but I haven't seen it before. I didn't even think that our mt-DNA could have anything to do with Greece, as we are Swedish Saami.
A cousin of mine is U/K, one of my grandmas is U5a1*, and another has K1*.
Maybe it is now found something else in Greece?

Herodotos tells about two sets of girls that came to Delos, or maybe to some other place in Greece. They had a guard the last of the girls of six young men all were Hyperboreans according to Herodotos. No one turned back to Hyperborea.

It is a wonderful idéa, but I don't know if it is possible. :)

Val Kyrie said...

What is strange, is the sub branches of U5a1a (U5a1a1, U5a1b1 etc.) appear in Europe as identified in modern samples. Does this mean the Mycenaean's came from Europe and went back after their civilisation perished at the last phase of the Bronze Age (1600-1100 B.C)? If this is the case, this is quite a big discovery for Ancient Mycenaean and European history.