May 09, 2009

Y chromosomes and mtDNA in Egyptian West Desert

Notice that all Y-chromosomes belong to either E-subclades or to J1. I would definitely not equate J1 with the Neolithic in this case; it is more likely to be due to historical movements of Semitic/Arabic populations into Egypt. The complete absence of J2 is noteworthy and resembles Arabian peninsula populations where the J2/J1 ratio reaches its minimum.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology doi:10.1002/ajpa.21078

Near Eastern Neolithic genetic input in a small oasis of the Egyptian Western Desert

Martina Kujanová et al.

Abstract

The Egyptian Western Desert lies on an important geographic intersection between Africa and Asia. Genetic diversity of this region has been shaped, in part, by climatic changes in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene epochs marked by oscillating humid and arid periods. We present here a whole genome analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and high-resolution molecular analysis of nonrecombining Y-chromosomal (NRY) gene pools of a demographically small but autochthonous population from the Egyptian Western Desert oasis el-Hayez. Notwithstanding signs of expected genetic drift, we still found clear genetic evidence of a strong Near Eastern input that can be dated into the Neolithic. This is revealed by high frequencies and high internal variability of several mtDNA lineages from haplogroup T. The whole genome sequencing strategy and molecular dating allowed us to detect the accumulation of local mtDNA diversity to 5,138 ± 3,633 YBP. Similarly, theY-chromosome gene pool reveals high frequencies of the Near Eastern J1 and the North African E1b1b1b lineages, both generally known to have expanded within North Africa during the Neolithic. These results provide another piece of evidence of the relatively young population history of North Africa.

Link

18 comments:

Maju said...

Well, I'd rather think of older events, maybe even pre-Neolithic but in any case as old as the Afroasiatic secondary genesis in that area, when E1b1 migrated to West Asia and surely J1 migrated to Egypt in turn.

The apportion of J1 is quite high (31%) and Semitic/West Asian peoples have been slipping in the area since long before the Muslim Expansion, notably associated to pastoralist nomads.

AFAIK it could mean anything as long as you can find a putative West Asian migration - and these have been happening since the very UP colonization of North Africa.

Creative said...

I also agree with that.

An example of ancient pastoralist movements into Egypt, in this case Arabs can be found in so called Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax 4th or 3rd century BC.
He mentions the following."Text not fully preserved"
A[RABIA. And after Syria are] the nation [Arabs], horse-riding pastoralists [and having pastures
of all kinds of ani]mals: sheep and goats . . . and camels; and thi[s] is . . . most are . . . Egypt . . .
in it . . . is out of the . . . [out]side se[a] . . . [s]ea . . . and . . . .. . . . . . . [The coastal voyage . . .]
{page 94} [of A]rabia de itself from the frontiers of Syria as far as the mouth of the [Nile i]n
Pelousion, for this is a mountain of Arabia, is 1,300 stades. . . . [A]rabia of Egypt as far as the
Nile out of which Ara - . . . Egyptians; and they bring tribute to Eg- . . . always to the Arabs.

Arabia of Egypt strikes me the most.

Maju said...

Yah, I have a vague memory of those Arabians of Egypt from reading the ancient geographers. Seemingly they were living in the Eastern Desert, near the Red Sea - though maybe that's just the "best guess" I saw in the reconstructed map.

Ponto said...

I wouldn't take those figures too seriously. Thirty five men tested of which 11 are J1; big deal. We are dealing with a small sample from an oasis. Lots of reasons could account for the Haplogroups found. Since J2 and other haplogroups are found in Egypt proper, and North Africa further west, the results just show how small isolated locales can skew the range and type of haplogroups found there. As to age,it could be quite ancient i.e Paleolithic or Mesolithic or date to the time after the death of Muhammad, anything is possible.

Creative said...

Of course anything is possible.
But pre-Islamic pastoralist movements into Egypt seem normal throughout history.
“Naturally Biblical stories also come to mind”

Anyway Ammianus Marcellinus a 4th Century Roman historian has made similar remarks on Saracens “ "easterners" is a general term for Desert Dwellers” like Pseudo-Scylax ca.700 years later.
Ammianus Marcellinus
Among those tribes (gentes) whose original dwelling extends from the Assyrians to the cataracts of the Nile and the frontiers of the Blemmyae, all are warriors of equal rank, half nude,clad in dyed cloaks as far as the lions, ranging widely with the help of swift horses and slender camels in time of peace or of disorder.

Latin Original
http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/ammianus/14.shtml#6

Creative said...

Proper location
IV 3.
http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/ammianus/14.shtml#3

Maju said...

I wouldn't take those figures too seriously. Thirty five men tested of which 11 are J1; big deal. We are dealing with a small sample from an oasis.

Very true. But J1 is much more common than J2 through North Africa and recent Arab migrations don't seem a really convincing reason for such large apportions - at least not to me. Also I think that the division between J1, J2a and J2b is very old, of about the same age of their cousins I2a and I2b (I1 seems to have a much more recent expansion instead comparable maybe to R1b1b2a and R1b1b2b).

Would need to check but I'm quite sure that either Mathilda or Dienekes posted recently on J1 in North Africa showing a different subcluster, that, if I'm correct is pre-Neolithic and would have backmigrated to West Asia with E1b1b.

Kepler said...

I read this book by Israel Finkelstein (Bible Unearthed) where he describes how Semite tribes were constant migrant workers in Egypt way before the supposed exodus (exodus Finkelstein considers just a myth).
The Hyksos are presumed, among other things, to have had Canaanite names
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyksos

What is so weird to me is the complete absence of J2

Maju said...

What is so weird to me is the complete absence of J2.

It only makes little sense if you consider modern Jews as descendants of ancient Canaanites/Hebrews probably. But that's likely to be just a myth, as they look mostly of Anatolian origin.

But I agree that J1 could be older than Neolithic in North Africa anyhow: it is too common to be just "recent".

Kepler said...

Some of them probably are, even if many aren't. But anyway, it is not that J2 is completely absent in North Africa. How representative is the sample?

onur said...

But that's likely to be just a myth, as they look mostly of Anatolian origin.That may partially be because of Anatolian conversions to Judaism during the Hellenistic and Roman eras.

Maju said...

But anyway, it is not that J2 is completely absent in North Africa. How representative is the sample?.

J2 is pretty rare in North Africa, not sure in Egypt right now but clearly in NW Africa (what surely means "recent" Neolithic/post-Neolithic origin). J1 instead is very common.

Check this older post on Iberian (but also North African) Y-DNA at Dienekes.

That may partially be because of Anatolian conversions to Judaism during the Hellenistic and Roman eras.

Almost exactly my thoughts.

Maju said...

Btw, it is maybe important to comment that North Africa and Italy are the only known areas where JT*, i.e. JT(xJ,T), is found (at low levels). Browse at Mathilda's for the source if you're interested.

Kepler said...

I read that article, interesting raw data but those Catalans got really "strange" conclusions from it, to put it mildly. I know J2 is minority in Africa, but not one specimen there?
How many persons did they try?
I suppose that would tell something.

Maju said...

...those Catalans got really "strange" conclusions from it...

What Catalans? The paper is authored Susan M. Adams and colleages. The name does not sound Catalan to me.

I know J2 is minority in Africa, but not one specimen there?.

All North African samples have some (very minor: 2-3%) J2, except the Saharawi one, which is rather small. What are you talking about? Instead Andalusia and Southern Portugal is in the 15% range. I don't know the explanation but I'd look to Italy, Greece and Turkey (maybe even Lebanon but the lack of J2 in Tunisia would suggest it's not of Phoenician), for the ultimate origins of this J2, which is pretty much widespread anyhow north of the Mediterranean - but is rare south of it.

Kepler said...

Sorry, I mixed that up, that woman is indeed Anglo-Saxon, the paper does have names from all over Spain (OK, Spain and Catalonia and Galicia and all other countries currently under Madrid control :-), I did read something else coming from the Pompeu, I will look it up.

I know the J2 distribution: rather Iraq to Turkey and then mostly Northern Med decreasing from Greece to Spain. What I mean here is that Dienekes says there is not a single J2 case in this sample of West Egypt. So it is 0% and not 1% or 2% or 5%. What is the sample? If the sample is just 100 then it falls under the range. If the sample is much bigger it would be statistical significant.

Maju said...

The sameple is exactly 35 people in an isolated oasis (check the graph, please). It is not significant in the sense you mean. So J2 is not 0% but just "not found" - it'd be in agreement with the small aportion found in other North African areas though.

Kepler said...

Oops, sorry, I should have seen that. Then the statement about J2's being completely absent is indeed not noteworthy.