December 03, 2008

mtDNA of Berbers from Morocco and Egypt

Annals of Human Genetics doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2008.00493.x

The Complex and Diversified Mitochondrial Gene Pool of Berber Populations

C. Coudray et al.


The mitochondrial DNA variation of 295 Berber-speakers from Morocco (Asni, Bouhria and Figuig) and the Egyptian oasis of Siwa was evaluated by sequencing a portion of the control region (including HVS-I and part of HVS-II) and surveying haplogroup-specific coding region markers. Our findings show that the Berber mitochondrial pool is characterized by an overall high frequency of Western Eurasian haplogroups, a somehow lower frequency of sub-Saharan L lineages, and a significant (but differential) presence of North African haplogroups U6 and M1, thus occupying an intermediate position between European and sub-Saharan populations in PCA analysis. A clear and significant genetic differentiation between the Berbers from Maghreb and Egyptian Berbers was also observed. The first are related to European populations as shown by haplogroup H1 and V frequencies, whereas the latter share more affinities with East African and Nile Valley populations as indicated by the high frequency of M1 and the presence of L0a1, L3i, L4*, and L4b2 lineages. Moreover, haplogroup U6 was not observed in Siwa. We conclude that the origins and maternal diversity of Berber populations are old and complex, and these communities bear genetic characteristics resulting from various events of gene flow with surrounding and migrating populations.



Antigonos said...

I wander if these North African specific Hgs can be attributed to the indigenous populations from the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic times (e.g. the Kiffians)!
Could the locality of the Hgs coincide with the locality of the various racial types from the above mentioned periods?

Maju said...

I believe they are native in the sense you mean, Antigonos. More complex is where they came from originally.

For example U6 is, by large, most diverse in Iberia but almost unknown elsewhere in Europe, but U6a (the most common subclade) appears original from the Nile. To me this, and other indications, suggest colonization from southern Iberia (where U6 would be an Aurignacian/Gravettian founder effect) and counter-tide from Sudan in the middle/late UP and/or Mesolithic. Most of "sud-saharan" L clades, as well as West Asian M1, would have arrived with the counter-tide from the Nile (Capsian). But I cannot be 100% sure.

Afriqash said...

The green sahara there was certainly a larger haplo-diversity, we get a hint of that in the rock art at Tassili Na'jjer and other sites. Unfortunately, not much has survived from that period being so long ago, but cushitic tradition refers to that period as being the Golden Age. The climatic apoclypse and its toll doesn't arouse curiosity in the current academic establishmentis although its is clear its the central feature shaping african and middle eastern cultures, causing aggregation in the nile valley and mesopatamia for example.

Afriqash said...

What survived in Africa from that Golden Age--the two horn period--(referring to the confluence of both intellectual and spiritual enlightment) was the cushitic civilization represents by ancient egypt, cush and punt. The sumerian culture lost much earlier its cushitic soul, but its language is the missing link ( it never really was missing only ignored through incompetence or malice likely both) between the language of the ancient cushitic peoples and semitic language...I mean what kind of pseudoscientist claim sumerian is not related to any language even if they were ignorant of cushitic languages, how the hell do u explain the afro-asiatic language family, how is it that a language that remained the sacred language of the region thousands of years does not become related to the inheritors even if initially foreign?

Maju said...

What you say about the Golden Age in Cushitic tradition sounds interesting. I'd like to learn more about it. However Cushitic is a very broad term, so which specific traditions are your refering to?

Nevertheless, Sumerian is considered an isolate by nearly anyone. It is a language that is incredibly well known in spite of being dead, because they have left so many written remains. We know with great certainty how was Sumerian and there's no clear link from it to any other language. Archaeologically though, Sumerian culture, derived from those in the Zagros area so the most likely place to search for anything related would be the Caucasus if anywhere, IMO.

We can say with great certainty that Sumerian was not Cushitic or, more properly, Afroasiatic. Semitic instead is Afroasiatic (i.e. relatd to Cushitic, and also to ascient Egyptian/Coptic, Berber, Chadic and Omotic).

how is it that a language that remained the sacred language of the region thousands of years does not become related to the inheritors even if initially foreign?

A complex question I can't make much of. In any case the Semitic invaders of Mesopotamia did use Sumerian for scholarly and relgious purposes for a long time. But in the end it was Semitic (Akkadian, later Chaldean) which became dominant and Sumerian got lost - much like Germanic became dominant in England or Austria, instead of Latin, or Arabic became dominant instead of Aramaic, Hebrew or Egyptian, or Sanskrit became dominant instead of whichever was the IVC language, or Spanish replaced largely Nahuatl and other Native American civilization languages. People change languages through generations and this in the long run has mostly to do with convenience (after all a language is a fundamental communication tool before anything else). At some point Semitic became more convenient than old-fashioned Sumerian and took over. Sumerians became then Semites.

Maju said...
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