August 06, 2008

Sicilian Y-chromosomes: Greek and North African influences

In retrospect, posting my E-V13/Ancient Greek colonization theory a week before the appearance of this article was a very timely move. I was pondering whether I should wait in or post it; I'm glad I did not wait.

And here is the money shot:
The mutation rate used is the average of rates taken from Gusmao et al27 for DYS460 and from the Y Chromosome Haplotype Reference Database (YHRD, for the other microsatellites.
I feel slightly vindicated given my recent interest in Y-STR mutation rates.

Also of interest:
Haplogroup R1b1c-M269, the most frequent Y-chromosome Hg in Europeans, is differentially distributed among eastern (18.4%) and western (30.3%) areas of Sicily. ... E3b1a-M78, G2-P15 and J2-M172 show frequencies (0.22, 0.32,0.33), respectively. E3b1a2-V13 is present in both WSI (6.5%) and ESI (5.3%), whereas G2-P15 and J2-M172 are non-randomly distributed, occurring at higher frequencies in the eastern areas of the island ... Furthermore Q-P36- or M242-derived chromosomes also detected significant similarities between Sicily (2.54%) and Lebanese populations (1.53%).
The G2 frequency looks like a typo to me. It's listed as 4.1% (West) and 7.02% (East). J-M241 is more frequent in the West (7.38%) than in the East (1.75%). The paragroup J2*(xM67, J2a1k) is more frequent in the East (14.91%) than the West (6.55%). The overall haplogroup I breakdown is (5.08% I-M253, 1.27 % I-M26, 0.42% I-M223, and 0.85% I*)

European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 6 August 2008; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2008.120

Differential Greek and northern African migrations to Sicily are supported by genetic evidence from the Y chromosome

Cornelia Di Gaetano et al.


The presence or absence of genetic heterogeneity in Sicily has long been debated. Through the analysis of the variation of Y-chromosome lineages, using the combination of haplogroups and short tandem repeats from several areas of Sicily, we show that traces of genetic flows occurred in the island, due to ancient Greek colonization and to northern African contributions, are still visible on the basis of the distribution of some lineages. The genetic contribution of Greek chromosomes to the Sicilian gene pool is estimated to be about 37% whereas the contribution of North African populations is estimated to be around 6%.

In particular, the presence of a modal haplotype coming from the southern Balkan Peninsula and of its one-step derivates associated to E3b1a2-V13, supports a common genetic heritage between Sicilians and Greeks. The estimate of Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor is about 2380 years before present, which broadly agrees with the archaeological traces of the Greek classic era. The Eastern and Western part of Sicily appear to be significantly different by the chi2-analysis, although the extent of such differentiation is not very high according to an analysis of molecular variance. The presence of a high number of different haplogroups in the island makes its gene diversity to reach about 0.9. The general heterogeneous composition of haplogroups in our Sicilian data is similar to the patterns observed in other major islands of the Mediterranean, reflecting the complex histories of settlements in Sicily.



Dean said...

The Peloponnese (or at least part of it) has high amounts of Balkan E. Is the Peloponnese a source of spread of this haplogroup to other lands, or did this haplogroup come to the Peloponnese with "Dorian" invasions from the north or some other invasions?

The Dorian invasion theory is disputed, from what I read. Were the Dorians already present in the Peloponnese at the time of the Mycenean heyday, did they come from the north (around Epirus/Albania) or did they come from Asia Minor, which is the last thing I read about the Dorians' origin?

Dienekes said...

The ancient historians are clear about the migration of the Dorians, led by the Heraclids into the Peloponnese. The Dorians did not originate in the Peloponnese, but rather in central Greece. Most of the Greek colonies of Sicily were of Dorian origin from the Peloponnese, e.g. Corinthian or Lacedaimonian.

So, irrespective of how the Peloponnesians got their E-V13 (from Dorians or pre-Dorians), this was an element in the population, that was transferred to Sicily during the colonization of the island.

Crimson Guard said...

37% sounds too inflated, was this for a sample size too? Besides there is ethnic Greeks and Albanians living on the island since the fall of Eastern Rome after the Ottomans drove off many west. I think a pre-Greek idea from the Balkans is more reasonable, as there's noted movements and cultures spreading around from there into Southern Italy, Greece and else where even.

This E-V13 thing though, seems weak and a trifle drawn out to me.

Dienekes said...

there is ethnic Greeks and Albanians living on the island since the fall of Eastern Rome after the Ottomans drove off many west.

Greeks who fled the Ottomans migrated mainly to northern Italy, not to Sicily.

Crimson Guard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crimson Guard said...

Thats not entirely true, Dienekes. Also its not counting the Greeks which fled outve the Balkans during the Slavic invasions to Southern Italy. Besides the strongest living Greek community/or influence is in Calabria not Sicily.

terryt said...

"So, irrespective of how the Peloponnesians got their E-V13 ... this was an element in the population, that was transferred to Sicily during the colonization of the island".

Did any E-V13 reach North Africa? Say, Tunisia?

Maju said...

I think a pre-Greek idea from the Balkans is more reasonable, as there's noted movements and cultures spreading around from there into Southern Italy, Greece and else where even.

Southern Italy in general shows clear signs of very strong Aegean influence in the Chalcolithic (pan-European chronology, early Bronze Age in Greece already). This would pre-date both Mycenanean and classical Greek colonization and add up with them in the resulting genetic pool.

I nevertheless think that E-V13 is "originally" from Greece (Neolithic founder effect) and that it spread to the Balcans from there with Neolithic colonization via the Vardar-Morava-Danub "highway" primarily (as mentioned in another post).

Patrick said...

The Greek language has survived in Calabria.
In western Sicily it was replaced by Arabic and later Latin languages; the process took longer in the eastern part of the island where the Christian population had remained Greek-speaking through the Arab period.
The last place Greek was spoken in Sicily was the area around the city of Messina. (Some sources indicate that the Greek language and the Byzantine rite were in common use among the lower classes there until the Counter-
Reformation in the 16th century.)

Steve said...

I have a couple of questions/problems with this new paper; first, that the authors only used 5 STR's to calculate the TMRCA and second, that the margin of error, as a result, is enormously wide (675-6940 ybp). It is hard to accept the dating as meaningful because of the huge margin of error, which could cover everything from the Neolithic to the high medieval period.

It is also curious that both King and Underhill are coauthors for this paper, yet the date estimate from YTime (ASD based) is apparently based on the germ rate. That would appear to be highly inconsistent with their paper of only a few months ago, strongly advocating the EE factor of 3.6 - which you have pointed out is probably too high.

Steve Bird

Dienekes said...

first, that the authors only used 5 STR's to calculate the TMRCA and second, that the margin of error, as a result, is enormously wide (675-6940 ybp).

The margin of error isn't wide primarily because they used only 5 Y-STRs, but because they were calculated with Monte Carlo simulation with a coalescent model with exponential growth.

Using the same markers, I calculate an STR variance of 0.195. The average mutation rate for these markers using the latest YHRD figures and collected data by Gusmao et al. for DYS460 is 0.002212. According to my calculations, the correction multiplier is 0.9; therefore I estimate the age as 0.195/(0.002212*0.9) = 98 generations, or 940-450BC depending on generation length. The beginning of Greek colinization of the island c. 750BC is very consistent with this estimate.

Dienekes said...

I deleted a paragraph so this doesn't read right: by "same markers" I mean 8 markers from the supplementary data.

Archdukefranz said...

Could anyone post a full list of the Y haplogroups contained in the article or at least what Y haplogroups the authors believe are linked to the Greeks and Africans?


Abate Vella said...

In western Sicily it was replaced by Arabic and later Latin languages

Latin language was never spoken in Sicily by the population at large. It was the language of the Roman rulers and of a small part of the cultural elite. Even with regard to the Sicilian language it is not at all sure its placement among the Latin languages.

Ponto said...

There is quite a lot of noise made about mutation rates and age estimates to that most common ancestor. Pity you people didn't flap out loud when all that garbage was being said about R1b being Paleolithic and European in origin, linking it with primitive humans like Cro Magnons and old paintings of animals. Now it seems that woggy haplogroups like mine, J1 are found to be older than the white bread haplogroups, like R1b and R1a, everyone is questioning the validity of age estimations to the most common ancestor. Bigotry towards Eastern Mediterraneans like Lebanese no doubt.

I think those genetic studies are in their infancy. It is most likely all Europeans are basically of very recent stock, most likely from the Neolithic or Bronze ages and more recent immigrations. I.E language speakers most probably brought R1b and R1a into Europe from Asia along with their horses and milk diets. All E, G, J haplogroups came in during the Neolithic age and probably accompanied pot making like the impressed ware. But pots are not people, and neither are languages.

With regard to Sicilian languages, who really cares? The Romance languages were brought in by the Romans long before a form of Arabic koine took hold. Language change occurs according to who is in charge and its prestige value. Latin held sway, Greek held sway, Arabic held sway, and now Standard Italian holds sway. The local Sicilians can use whichever language they like, the Standard in daily commerce, education, broadcasting and the vernacular at home or within your village and among friends. It is not a big deal.

Maju said...

WTF? Since when haplogroups are "white bread" or "woggy"? If you think so you're frequenting the worng companies.

I am not in favor of recentist models in any case, certainly not for the bulk of European ancestry (or whatever other regional cases). R1b must be in Europe at least since Magdalenian and J and E clades are probably of Neolithic arrival in Europe, even if they are much older than R1b globally.

Anything else just makes no sense: for me arguing MC hypothesis vs. archaeological data is like arguing creationism vs. the fossil record. Even if you want to believe in the hypothetical aspect to the left of the equation you cannot, unless you are extremely dishonest with yourself, ignore the blunt facts of the right side.

So most religious people have found a compromise between their beliefs and the truths like rocks of science.

But MC is sold as "science", even as "rocket science"... no matter that their proponents can't agree in a method nor demonstrate it with actual data. As I said before elsewhere, C14 had to be demonstrtated before it went mainstream but MC seems to have not. It is not experimental science but just authority-based "tradition" (even though it's an extremely recent tradition). Authority is not valid in science, even if it has a psychological effect, it may be valid in religious thinking but not in the scientific method.

Abate Vella said...

Dear Ponto,

my comment refers to the origin of a language and not to what it is spoken today in Sicily.

The origin of a language is of the uttermost importance as a tool to help in archeological and genetics studies.

Recently new discoveries on the origin of Sicilian have been made which refer to the sanskrit roots of some very common words.

If you use genetics alone you will be able to say anything you like, which is what The national Geographic is doing.