February 01, 2010

mtDNA haplogroup K in Bronze Age Syria

International Journal of Osteoarchaeology doi:10.1002/oa.1150

Anthropological analysis of the osteological material from an ancient tomb (Early Bronze Age) from the middle Euphrates valley, Terqa (Syria)

J. Tomczyk et al.


Terqa, situated on the right bank of the Middle Euphrates, is known to have been a site already in the third and second millennium BC. Excavations which take place in this region aim to provide answers for numerous significant issues connected with the origins of human civilisation. In 2008 season we found a tomb dated 2650-2450 BC, consisting of two chambers with stone domes. The smaller chamber contained many luxury grave goods. The other one was bigger and contained human skeletons.

The first skeleton belonged to a man, 45/50 years old. It is extremely heavy and large. On the right humerus, near the proximal edge, we found two cuts. The healed edges of the wound suggest that the man from Terqa survived after the wound was inflicted. Many muscular attachments were clearly marked on the bones and bone robustness was far above the average, which may suggest that the skeleton belonged to a warrior. These observations correspond to the fact that the bronze part of a belt together with bronze weapon-blades was found on the right side of the hip.

The second skeleton, which belonged to a female who was about 40/44 years old, was found in an anatomical position. The chamber also contained an almost complete skeleton of a sheep. The morphology of the forearm of the female suggested strenuous activity. From this skeleton was successfully isolated HVR1 fragment. The main mutation indicated that the analysed mtDNA belonged to haplogroup K.



Gioiello said...

Unfortunately the paper isn't for free. It would be interesting to see the HVRI mutations, seen that she is a close relative of mine (K1a1b1) and also of my sons (K1c1*).

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Could someone with access to the paper reveal what it means by "far above average?"

I'm also a little surprised that the inference to being a "warrior" would be so clear.

Presumably, hard manual work was the daily grind for just about everyone in the 26th century BC, and would not particularly suit one for war.

One would also think that someone aged "45/50" (why not "45-50"?) would have long since retired from military service and might perhaps have been an aristocrat or war lord of some form, rather than a "warrior" (and why "warrior" rather than "soldier"). Hand to hand combat is a young man's game.

Is the abstract trying to secure "Goliath"/"Hercules"/"Nephalim" myth interest? It is about a thousand years too early for either of the first two.

Marnie said...

"Hand to hand combat is a young man's game."

Don't know about Syria, but in Ancient Greece, men were expected to fight until the age of sixty.

I posted something earlier on another thread from this same book: "The Western Way of War" by Victor Davis Hanson.

Hanson also makes an interesting case for the relationship between farmer and warrior.

Thus, the sheep.

royjking2 said...

This paper is extraordinarily important in my opinion. Haplogroup K derives from the north---analogous to Y chromosome haplogroup J2a--while mtDNA pre(HV)1 corresponds to J1e--pervasive in the Arabian peninsula. So, the paper supports that this inhabitant of EBA Terqa was derived from sedentary farmers from the north.

J said...

45 was long past military age. Xenophon in its 10,000 writes that soldiers 30 were considered old and excempted from the tenuous tasks.

eurologist said...

16224 T --> C

16311 T --> C

Gioiello said...

Eurologist, have you read the paper? A little bit if there are only these results: it can be whichever K. At Kostenki they have mapped the whole motochondrial. It would be interesting to know if there are a K1a1b1a (the Jewish one) or not.

Fanty said...

I dont know for ancient Greece, but in medieval Europe, only 10% of the population did become 60 at all.

In ancient Germania, men married in the age of 13 and became warriors in the age of 15. Their average life expectany was only 30.

Anonymous said...

Primus Pilus Centurion Gaius Crastinus of the Legio X Fretensis (unofficial Julia or again unofficiali Equestris), was still fighting in the first line at age 50 or thereabouts, at the battle of Pharsalus (1st C BC) between Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Gaius Julius Caesar Princeps Senatus.

[Source: Pluarch Lives-Gaius Julius Caesar]

Again, in the Iliad, thought to describe events that took place ca. 1260 BC, Nestor the Elder King of Pylos, was fighting in the front line at age 60 or thereabouts.

Else, in the Spartan Military, men were not dismissed from active duty til age 65.

[Plutarch on Sparta, Prof. Richard J.A. Talbott, Penguin Classics)

Conclusion: In this commentator`s humble opinion, asserting that one had been an active warrior at age sixty in antiquity, is not without literary references in ancient literature.

One further point: The authors note unusually robust bone structure of the warrior remains.

They fail to mention that professional warriors were usually members of the Aristocracy-Patriciate in remote antiquity, thus they definitely had access to a much richer diet in protein than the average soldier-commoner.

A diet rich in protein helps develop more robust bones and musculature.

My field of expertise is Military History and Bodybuilding, I fear I have little to offer in the way of Anthropology.



Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

"The authors note unusually robust bone structure of the warrior remains.

They fail to mention that professional warriors were usually members of the Aristocracy-Patriciate in remote antiquity, thus they definitely had access to a much richer diet in protein than the average soldier-commoner.

A diet rich in protein helps develop more robust bones and musculature."

Good point. You get big bones as a kid, not an adult.

Marnie said...

Thanks Achaean.

As to the woman?

"The morphology of the forearm of the female suggested strenuous activity."


Fanty said...

Well, of course Abrahams wife got pregant in the age of 90 too.
So why shouldnt there be warriors in the age of 60, right? ;)

Fanty said...

Also, lets not forget Methusalem, who lived for 969 years.

He might have fought in the first line til the age of 700, who knows.

terryt said...

Do you really believe that stuff Daniel?

Fanty said...

"Do you really believe that stuff Daniel?"

It was ironically, because someone mentioned ancient sources about people fighting til the age of 60.

So I mentioned an ancient source mentioning something even more unbelievable. ;-)

Fanty said...

Roman, Greek or Egyptian sources are as good as Jewish ones. ^__^

eurologist said...

Eurologist, have you read the paper? A little bit if there are only these results: it can be whichever K.

Gioiello, yes, those are the only two mutations presented. They studied HVR1 - but I can't determine if they were successful in getting results over the entire region. The two figures that show the two mutations range from 16,215 to 16,232 and 16,301 to 16,317, respectively.

pconroy said...

Gioiella said:

It would be interesting to know if there are a K1a1b1a (the Jewish one) or not.

Remember that K1a1b1a mtDNA is NOT exclusive to Ashkenazi Jews, but also found among Polish Roma (aka Gypsies). It is like the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH), an illusion.

It is probable that some of the founder female Ashkenazi lineages were Roma. Other evidence to support this is that traditional Ashkenazi music (aka Klezmer) shows a lot of similarities to Roma music. Klezmer music bands sometimes even featured Roma musicians.

Major Tom said...

Roma or gipsy music is always derivated from the countries where gipsies live, so we can say that roma music taken elements of the traditional Ashkenazi music.

terryt said...

"Roman, Greek or Egyptian sources are as good as Jewish ones".

Probably better because they don't have quite so much associated cultural baggage.

"Roma or gipsy music is always derivated from the countries where gipsies live"

They've got to make a living so they play whatever is paying. They may play something different at their own families' parties though. My special interest is in what the slaves in the USA played at their white masters' parties.

Gioiello said...

Pconroy, please, in Italian "Gioiello" is masculin and "Gioiella" is feminin: I am a male, a Sylvester Stallone.

Perhaps you kno i was banned from two forums for having supported that Jews aren't Jews but whoever except Jews, but I use proofs and not theories. I am K1a1b1, Italian from at least many thousands of years, and I would say sceintifically from where my "son" K1a1b1a derived to Jews. In the Tomb of the Shroud there weren't K, and I think that Jews took it from elsewhere, but I would know for certain where.

Fanty said...

*throws in, that I am also K*
But I am K1a4a1a

Anonymous said...

The Jews are such touchy creatures. And so whiny. At 23andMe they don't like being told that their mtDNA V, H1, H3 are totally European in origin, and has nothing to do with Jews, Jewish myths or the Middle East. I suggested their haplogroups came from European women, shiksas not Jewesses. They hate being told the truth. And all that stuff about Jews being intelligent. There seems to be nothing truthful about Jews least of all their intelligence.

The Jews are mostly Europeans from the Mediterranean who have some Middle Eastern heritage. So have lots of other people. No big deal. On 23andMe a lot of them cluster with Northern Europeans. They are inbred which makes them outliers in Europe. They end up with about 1000 Relative Finder cousins, Northern Europeans have around 150 and Southern Europeans 50. You can see who is inbred and who is not!

I see not everyone reads here. J1e originated in the Northern of the Middle East and expanded east, west and south 10,000 years ago. The Arabians got their J1e sometime in the late Neolithic after various animals were domesticated and plants cultivated to provide food for them and their animals in their desiccated environments. They are also highly inbred, nearly as bad as Jews. Any people with a haplogroup over 50% in frequency begs many questions. Inbreeding, recent founder effects, one population subjugating another recently and having breeding privileges. The Anatolian Turks did something similar after taking over Anatolia and Thrace. The harem is an eastern cultural invention.

The time frame for the study is very recent. I don't consider finding K, a subdivision of the ancient mtDNA U* in the Middle East significant. Neither is finding mtDNA K in the Iceman with his copper axe.

As Dienekes own EuroDNACalc showed, I am all SE European. The minor NW European, and Ashkenazim could be disregarded.

Marnie said...

Ponto, Gioiello:

Working on your stand up routine?

pconroy said...


The same could be said for Ashkenazi music. However Klezmer music is most heavily influenced by Romanian and Moldovan musical forms, or exactly what you would expect if it derived from Roma originally, as these are the geographic locations where Roma are most heavily concentrated in Europe.

pconroy said...


Sorry, no offense meant.

I didn't realize that you were like Sylvester Stallone, I had imagined you as more nerdy ;)

Fanty said...


But Ashkenazi (literate "Germans" in hebrew, for originally beeing Jewish settlers in Germany) could have just picked up this kind of music when they fled eastwards.

Ashkenazi lived in Germany since the 1. Century AD. To be exact, they lived in the Rhineland.

There they picked up their Germanic tounge "Jiddish" and their German surnames.

After living about 1000 years in Germany, they went into trouble in the middle ages and left eastwards for Eastern Europe. And there, they might have picked up eastern european music styles.

Gioiello said...

To Pconroy: I named Sylvester Stallone for the Italian meaning of "Stallone" = stallion. I must deepen your "nerdy", after I'll write something to you.

To Daniel I would say that Ashkenazim migrated to the Rhine Valley from Italy and not in the first yeard after AD, but probably during Middle Ages, pasing through Italy, where they took the most partr of their genes. If in Italy there isn't K1a1b1a but the ancestor K1a1b1 (mine) does mean that North European descend from Italians and Jews took it in the Rhine valley or elsewhere in Europe. Fron Italy after the Younger Dryas not only West Europe but also East Europe was peopled again.

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

Is there a test to tell if you're not bred correctly or to advise on breeding? What is inbred? I think it's not always a choice but can occur when there isn't a lot of people in a ethnic group,so at some point they'll keep doin' the same recycled ones when they run out of the few choices they had and they'll probabaly die out from ailments like Florida cougar cats did-but why don't other groups of animals or people die out,or run out of mates- is it because their group is larger to begin with? And what about being bred too far apart?Is there any such thing? Is it genetic drift?When you don't get enough of your own common stock ,then you don't stay glued together and you just start to fall apart-may sound fake but you don't stay glued together if you don't get no matching joints,hair,brains,bones-it's true you don't.

terryt said...

"What is inbred?"

Inbreeding occurs when the two parents have recent ancestors in common. In reality all species are inbred to some extent, otherwise they wouldn't look enough like each other for us to be able to recognise them as being a defined 'species' in the first place.

"is it because their group is larger to begin with?"

That's basically correct. But it also depends on what disadvantageous recessive genes the group has to begin with. Inbreeding brings out recessive genes because it's more likely in a small group with a long shared ancestry that both parents will have many genes in common. In effect virtually everybody has a reccessive gene or two that would be disadvatageous if they had a double reccessive, so a high level of inbreeding is almost always disadvantageous to the group.

"And what about being bred too far apart?Is there any such thing?"

Very much so. That's why, by definition, separate species cannot form fertile offspring. In fact it's not that simple because many populations quite capable of forming fertile hybrids are classified as separate species.

"Is it genetic drift?"

Can be. Sometimes it's selection acting differently on the separate groups. Without gene interchange within two groups each develops its own gene pool. Eventually genes developed in the two populations will become incompatible with each other.