March 10, 2010

Digging deeper into East African human Y chromosome lineages

Hum Genet. 2010 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Digging deeper into East African human Y chromosome lineages.

Gomes V, Sánchez-Diz P, Amorim A, Carracedo A, Gusmão L.

The most significant and widely studied remodeling of the African genetic landscape is the Bantu expansion, which led to an almost total replacement of the previous populations from the sub-Saharan region. However, a poor knowledge exists about other population movements, namely, the Nilotic migration, which is a pastoralist dispersal that, contrary to the Bantu expansion, impacted only East African populations. Here, samples from a Ugandan Nilotic-speaking population were studied for 37 Y chromosome-specific SNPs, and the obtained data were compared with those already available for other sub-Saharan population groups. Although Uganda lies on the fringe of both Bantu and Nilotic expansions, a low admixture with Bantu populations was detected, with haplogroups carrying M13, M182 and M75 mutations prevailing in Nilotes together with a low frequency of the main Bantu haplogroups from clade E1b1a-M2. The results of a comparative analysis with data from other population groups allowed a deeper characterization of some lineages in our sample, clarifying some doubts about the origin of some particular Y-SNPs in different ethnic groups, such as M150, M112 and M75. Moreover, it was also possible to identify a new Y-SNP apparently specific to Nilotic groups, as well as the presence of particular haplogroups that characterize Nilotic populations. The detection of a new haplogroup B2a1b defined by G1, could be, therefore, important to differentiate Nilotes from other groups, helping to trace migration and admixture events that occurred in eastern Africa.

Link

43 comments:

Ebizur said...

Quoting myself from Wikipedia:

"Hassan et al. (2008)[6] found that the three most populous groups of Sudanese Nilotes (Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk) were characterized by the predominance of Y-haplogroups A3b2 (28/53 = 52.8%), B (16/53 = 30.2%), and E1b1b (9/53 = 17.0%). [Additional note: Underhill et al. (2000) have reported finding the following Y-DNA haplogroups in a sample from Sudan, apparently the south of that country, so these data probably also represent northern Nilotes: 17/40 = 42.5% A3b2-M13/M63/M127(xM118, M171), 1/40 = 2.5% A3b2a-M171, 5/40 = 12.5% B2a1a-M109/M152, 1/40 = 2.5% B-M60(xB1a-M146, B2a-M150, B2b-M112), 2/40 = 5.0% E2a-M41, 1/40 = 2.5% E1a1-M44, 7/40 = 17.5% E1b1b1a-M78(xM148), 2/40 = 5.0% E1b1b1b-M81(xM107, M165), 4/40 = 10.0% F-M89(xI-M170, J2-M172, H(1?)-M52/M69, F?-M62, K-M9)]

Wood et al. (2005) tested samples of three Nilotic populations (Maasai from Kenya, Luo from Kenya, and Alur from the DRC) as part of a broad survey of human Y-chromosome DNA variation in Africa and found that the predominant Y-DNA haplogroup in each of the three populations was different, with E1b1b1-M35 being the most frequent among Maasai (13/26 = 50%, including 4/26 = 15% E1b1b1a-M78 and 9/26 = 35% E1b1b1-M35(xE1b1b1a-M78, E1b1b1b-M81)), E1b1a-P1 being the most frequent among Luo (6/9 = 67%, including 4/9 E1b1a7-M191 and 2/9 E1b1a-P1(xE1b1a7-M191)), and E2a-M41 being the most frequent among Alur (6/9 = 67%).[7]

Knight et al. (2003) have found haplogroup E1b1b1-M35 to be the most frequent Y-DNA haplogroup in a small sample of eight Southern Nilotic Datooga males from Tanzania (5/8 = 62.5%), with the remainder belonging to haplogroup Y*(xA-M91, B-M60, DE-YAP), which the authors have equated with haplogroup C and/or haplogroup F (2/8 = 25%), and haplogroup E1b1a-M2 (1/8 = 12.5%).[8] Henn et al. (2008) have found haplogroup E1b1b1g-M293 in 42.5% (17/40) and haplogroup E1b1b1-M35(xE1b1b1a-M78, E1b1b1b-M81, E1b1b1c-M123, E1b1b1d-M281, E1b1b1e-V6, E1b1b1g-M293) in 5.0% (2/40) of a sample of Datooga males from Tanzania, which suggests that a majority of the haplogroup E-M35 Y-DNA in this population belongs to the subclade marked by the M293 mutation.[9]"

The only Y-DNA clade that has been found in every sample of Nilotic peoples so far is E1b1, with only E1b1b (mostly subclades of E1b1b1a-M78) being found among the northern Nilotes (of southern Sudan), only E1b1a being found among the (south)western Nilotes (Luo of Kenya and Alur of DRC) according to the data derived from the tiny samples of Wood et al. (2005), and a mixture of E1b1b and E1b1a, with the former clade (and, at least in the Datog, its subclade E1b1b1g-M293 in particular) being predominant, among the (south)eastern Nilotes (Maasai of Kenya and Datog of Tanzania). A3b2-M13 has also generally been found in samples of Nilotic-speaking populations, but Knight et al. (2003) have not detected this haplogroup in their small sample of eight Datog males.

I understand that the Southern Luo group of Nilotes, which includes the Luo of Kenya and the Alur of DRC tested by Wood et al. (2005) and presumably also the "Ugandan Nilotic-speaking population" tested by the authors of the present study, are linguistically very homogeneous (to the point that the Alur and Dholuo languages may practically be considered as dialects of a single language), but they seem to exhibit some diversity in their Y-DNA, with the eastern part of this group (represented by the Luo from Kenya) tending to exhibit E1b1a Y-DNA and the western part of this group (represented by the Alur from DRC and the Ugandan Nilotic-speaking population sampled for the present study) tending to exhibit E2 Y-DNA.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Does anyone know if there has been any published research on the genetics of the people of the Nuba Mountains (of Central Sudan)?

They are notable as they include the Easternmost possible branch of the largely West African Niger-Congo language family, and have five language families in this thinly populated county sized area.

I also note that an article in a recent issue of Current Biology, Campbell and Tishkoff, "The Evolution of Human Genetic and Phenotypic Variation in Africa," discussed Nilotic migration at some length. Their evidence suggests that Nilotic migrations are one of the oldest Old World migrations that still leaves a linguistic mark on the modern world.

Important Nilotic migrations were taking place before Indo-European expansion in the leading Kurgan hypothesis, before Bantu expansion, before Uralic or Altaic expansions, and before the mass migrations of the Austronesian language speakers, the Austroasian language speakers, the Hmong-Mien language speakers or the Tai-Kendai speakers.

Ebizur said...

cf. Hisham Y. Hassan, Peter A. Underhill, Luca L. Cavalli-Sforza, and Muntaser E. Ibrahim, "Y-Chromosome Variation Among Sudanese: Restricted Gene Flow, Concordance With Language, Geography, and History," American Journal of Physical Anthropology (2008):

Nuba (Eastern Sudanic + Kordofanian)
13/28 = 46.4% A3b2-M13
4/28 = 14.3% B-M60
4/28 = 14.3% E1b1b-M215(xE1b1b1a-M78)
1/28 = 3.6% E1b1b1a-M78(xV12, V13, V22, V65)
1/28 = 3.6% E1b1b1a1-V12(xV32)
3/28 = 10.7% E1b1b1a1b-V32
2/28 = 7.1% E1b1b1a3-V22

In other words, the Y-DNA of the inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains appears to be roughly 45% A3b2-M13, 40% E1b1b-M215 (and especially E1b1b1a-M78), and 15% B-M60. The sample size is very small, and the authors have lumped Nilo-Saharan>Eastern Sudanic and Niger-Congo>Kordofanian speakers together, so these data are not terribly informative, but they do suggest that the speakers of Kordofanian languages may not share E1b1a-M2 Y-DNA with the speakers of languages belonging to the other branches of the putative Niger-Congo phylum.

By the way, Cruciani et al. (2010) have found E(xE1b1a) Y-DNA in about two thirds (23/35) of their samples of the Kunama and Nara peoples, two demographically miniscule, non-Afroasiatic-speaking populations of Eritrea, with the rest belonging to haplogroup A (5/35), haplogroup J (4/35), and haplogroup B (3/35, but only in Kunama). Like the Nuba peoples in neighboring Sudan, they do not seem to have any E1b1a Y-DNA. However, Cruciani et al. have found E1b1a to be the most frequent haplogroup in a very small sample of Songhai speakers from Niger (7/10 E1b1a, 1/10 E(xE1b1a), 1/10 B, and 1/10 A). It seems that the division between E1b1a and E1b1b in Africa is more geographical than linguistic, with haplogroup E Y-DNA in West Africans being predominantly E1b1a and haplogroup E Y-DNA in East Africans being predominantly E1b1b regardless of linguistic affiliation.

Ebizur said...

Exceptions to the general trend that I have noted in my previous post ("West African haplogroup E Y-DNA is mostly E1b1a, and East African haplogroup E Y-DNA is mostly E1b1b regardless of linguistic affiliation") include the Dogon of Mali in West Africa, among whom haplogroup E1a-M33 seems to occur at least as frequently as haplogroup E1b1a-M2, and the Hadzabe of Tanzania in East Africa, among whom haplogroup E1b1a-M2 seems to occur more frequently than E1b1b-M215.

Wood et al. (2005)
Dogon (Mali; Niger-Congo > Dogon)
1/55 = 1.8% A1a-M31
4/55 = 7.3% B-M150*
25/55 = 45.5% E1a-M33
1/55 = 1.8% E2b-M54
21/55 = 38.2% E1b1a-P1(xE1b1a7-M191)
3/55 = 5.5% E1b1a7-M191

(25/55 = 45.5% E1a-M33, 24/55 = 43.6% E1b1a-P1 total)

Knight et al. (2003)
Hadzabe (Tanzania; language isolate)
12/23 = 52.2% B2b-M112
7/23 = 30.4% E1b1a-M2
3/23 = 13.0% E1b1b1-M35
1/23 = 4.3% Y*(xA-M91, B-M60, DE-YAP)

Also, the Central Bantu-speaking Sukuma population of Tanzania is predominantly E1b1a, despite being located geographically in East Africa:

Knight et al. (2003)
Sukuma (Tanzania; Niger-Congo > Atlantic-Congo > Benue-Congo > Bantu)
3/32 = 9.4% B2a-M150
2/32 = 6.3% B2b-M112
20/32 = 62.5% E1b1a-M2
2/32 = 6.3% E1b1b1-M35
5/32 = 15.6% DE-YAP(xE1b1a-M2, E1b1b1-M35)

In some cases, such as that of the Sukuma in Tanzania, linguistic affiliation does seem to correlate better with genetics (of at least the Y-chromosome) than current geographical location.

Ebizur said...

Wood et al. (2005)
Maasai (Kenya; n=26; Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Eastern Nilotic, Teso-Lotuko-Maa, Maa)
7/26 = 26.9% A3b2-M13
2/26 = 7.7% B2a1a-M152
3/26 = 11.5% E1b1a-P1(xE1b1a7-M191)
1/26 = 3.8% E1b1a7-M191
9/26 = 34.6% E1b1b1-M35(xE1b1b1a-M78, E1b1b1b-M81)
4/26 = 15.4% E1b1b1a-M78

Luo (Kenya; n=9; Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Western Nilotic, Luo, Southern Luo)
1/9 = 11% A3b2-M13
1/9 = 11% B2a-M150(xB2a1a-M152)
1/9 = 11% B2a1a-M152
2/9 = 22% E1b1a-P1(xE1b1a7-M191)
4/9 = 44% E1b1a7-M191

Alur (DRC; n=9; Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Western Nilotic, Luo, Southern Luo)
2/9 = 22.2% A3b2-M13
6/9 = 66.7% E2a-M41
1/9 = 11.1% E1b1a7-M191

Knight et al. (2003)
Datoga (Tanzania; n=8; Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern Nilotic, Omotik-Datooga, Datooga)
1/8 = 12.5% E1b1a-M2
5/8 = 62.5% E1b1b1-M35
2/8 = 25% Y*(xA-M91, B-M60, DE-YAP)

Ebizur said...

Although the sample size of Wood et al. (2005) is woefully small, please note that the Luo of Kenya also seem to have mostly E1b1a Y-DNA despite speaking a Nilotic language and residing in East Africa. It seems that Y-DNA may be disassociated from both language and geography in their case.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Thank you Ebizur for you diligent summarization.

Some of the linguistic work done analyzing the Nuba Mountain area suggests that the Kordofan languages in the area predate those of the Nilo-Saharan or Afro-Asiatic language speakers in the area (multiple sources put Nilo-Saharan's origins in Sudan, but possibly to the West in what is now Darfur). So, Nuba Mountain genetics can be used to test hypotheses about the age depth of peoples elsewhere north of the African tropics.

Genetic and linguistic evidence shed some light of the historical migrations and origins of both Afro-Asiatic language groups and their subfamilies (e.g. Semetic) and of Nilo-Saharan language groups.

While there is no doubt that the Kordofan language families in Nuba themselves have their origins in the Nuba Mountains, this leaves big questions.

Did the Niger-Congo languages to which Kordofan languages are related once have a wider range that the Nilo-Saharans overtook? The answer to this question seems to be very likely yes, just given the current distribution of languages and the likelihood that Kordofan predates Nilo-Saharan languages in the Nuba Moutains.

And, where did the Niger-Congo languages originate? Did they expand East from West Africa? Did they expand South from the Sahara and then East from West Africa? Or, did they expand East from the Nuba Mountains (which in this scenario could be a relict population of early East African migrants to West Africa and the oldest extant group of Niger-Kordofan language speakers)?

Also related and important is the question: Who were the original Sahelian/Saharan farmers? They were farming almost as far back in time as farmers in the Near East and China, but with a completely different package of crops (Sorghum and Pearl Millet, for example). We would expect a society that domesticated crops in Africa to expand in cultural, linguistic and/or genetic influence relatively rapidly, as did the early farmers of the Fertile Cresent and China, at least to fill the ecological range of their package of crops. Yet, the genetic and linguistic traces are frustratingly difficult to trace due to their age and subsequence waves of migration.

Were they the proto-Afro-Asiatic people (perhaps bringing the agricultural idea, but not the crops from the Near East)? Were they the proto-Niger-Congo speakers who were forced South by an aridifying Sahara Desert? Were they the Nilo-Saharans, who turned from farming to herding when it was no longer possible to support farming in the Sahara?

pconroy said...

Andrew,

Good questions!

I predict that as more genetic association studies are done, Y-DNA haplogroup E will be revealed to be Eurasian, with only Y-DNA A and B as African in origin.

The interesting question thus, for me, would be which group or groups brought E to Africa and from which direction. I'd further imagine that there could have been 2 sources of agriculture in the Near East, one centered in Southern Anatolia, Northern Syria, the other in the Natufian area, and adjacent areas of North East Egypt.

What do you guys think?

German Dziebel said...

"I predict that as more genetic association studies are done, Y-DNA haplogroup E will be revealed to be Eurasian, with only Y-DNA A and B as African in origin."

Agree. It's already clear now that E is a subset of CDEF, with all other lineages found outside of Africa. Same goes for mtDNA L3/L4/L6. So, at 50-40K BP have two geographically widely separated populations, one in (South)East Asia (mtDNA M and N, Y-DNA C and F), the other one in East Africa (mtDNA L0-L1 and Y-DNA A and B). Subsequently, we begin seeing a westward movement of mtDNA M and N and Y-DNA C and F lineages into Europe and Africa.

Scythiastan said...

Agree the haplogroup E*(XE1,E2 ect) is found in Syria and Arabia (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2156-10-59.pdf,http://download.cell.com/AJHG/mmcs/journals/0002-9297/PIIS0002929708005478.mmc1.pdf
)
Also those who push E3b (E1b1b) being
sub-saharan are clearly anti-semetic.
:( sorry if a hurt a Anti-semetic,Afrocentric.

ashraf said...

If E is Eurasian,why it's connected strongly(except the Arabian post agricultural E1b1b1b) with the negroid race?

pconroy said...

Ashraf,

AFAIK whenever agriculture spread, it was via male agriculturalists' sons moving to the hunter-gatherer frontier and starting new agricultural communities. So if Eurasian carrying Y-DNA E moved into the Sahara, then the Sahel region, then West Africa proper, the population would initially be Middle Eastern in genotype and phenotype, then with demic expansion and some assimilation of the daughters of hunter-gatherers, become more admixed. Moving to West Africa would favor selection for darker skin and other local adaptations picked up from the native Hunter-Gatherer substrate. So there is a dilution of the Middle Eastern genotype, but maybe a replacement of the Phenotype. and eventually the male agriculturalist on the "wave of advance" are substantially African by descent, but their Y-DNA is still Middle Eastern or more generally Eurasian.

marnie said...

Andrew Oh-Willeke:

And apologies to everybody else, as this is off topic for this thread.

Andrew, still thinking about the Korean tea thing. It is true that the Japanese must grow buckwheat or there would be no soba noodles.

However, referring to wiki again:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_tea

the tea I think I stumbled upon is indeed made from barley. See Bori Cha in the link.

From the wiki page, they also appear to make a corn tea, Oksuru Cha.

Any thoughts on when corn and barley arrived in Korea?

marnie said...
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marnie said...

Just found a very nice paper on the history of barley:

http://www.aaccnet.org/
cerealfoodsworld/samplepdfs/CFW-51-0004.pdf

marnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

@marnie

The arrival of corn is easy. It is an exclusively New World crop and would have arrived in the post-Columbian area (i.e. 16th century CE or later).

This is consistent with it arriving in the same wave of crop adoptions as the New World hot chile. The arrival of that ingredient had a dramatic impact on Korean cuisine, for example, becoming a key element of the Korean national dish kim-chi.

New World crop arrivals had as big an impact on Korean cuisine as the arrival of the potato in Ireland did on Irish cuisine.

Barley's history in Korea is longer and more involved.

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

Andrew,

yeah! kim-chi, extra hot, yum!

Getting back to your thoughtful comments regarding Kordofan languages and Nilo-Saharan or Afro-Asiatic language speakers, I came across this interesting paper on the domestication of sorghum: "Sorghum history in relation to Ethiopia," H. Dogget. Maybe you've seen it. There's a scanned in copy on Google books. I won't put up the URL because it is horrifically long, but I think if you google "Plant genetic resources of Ethiopia," the Dogget article comes up on page 140.

The article is full of details on sorghum domestication, probably in Ethiopia along the Nile.

Thanks for your comments.

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

AFAIK whenever agriculture spread, it was via male agriculturalists' sons moving to the hunter-gatherer frontier and starting new agricultural communities. So if Eurasian carrying Y-DNA E moved into the Sahara, then the Sahel region, then West Africa proper, the population would initially be Middle Eastern in genotype and phenotype, then with demic expansion and some assimilation of the daughters of hunter-gatherers, become more admixed. Moving to West Africa would favor selection for darker skin and other local adaptations picked up from the native Hunter-Gatherer substrate. So there is a dilution of the Middle Eastern genotype, but maybe a replacement of the Phenotype. and eventually the male agriculturalist on the "wave of advance" are substantially African by descent, but their Y-DNA is still Middle Eastern or more generally Eurasian.

I concur. Also I think that Y-DNA is much less reflective of overall genetic origins and phenotype than mtDNA.

marnie said...

There is no reason to believe that agriculturalists of Africa originally gained their agricultural abilities in the Middle East.

Based on the estimated location of the domestication of sorghum, discussed in the Dogget paper which I reference above, it is likely that North East Africa, agriculturalism was discovered by Africans on the upper reaches of the Nile. (Sudan and Ethiopia)

So I see no reason to necessarily assume that agriculturalism was introduced back into Africa by a small group of Eurasians carrying Y-DNA E.

Again, the origin of the E agriculturalists could just as easily be African and could have occured on the upper reaches of the Nile. That's generally not considered to be the "Middle East."

terryt said...

"So there is a dilution of the Middle Eastern genotype, but maybe a replacement of the Phenotype. and eventually the male agriculturalist on the 'wave of advance' are substantially African by descent, but their Y-DNA is still Middle Eastern or more generally Eurasian".

And much the same process presumably occurred much more widely. In fact the OoA is probably far more complicated than is usually assumed. Individual haplogroups move much further than other genes from the original populations containing the haplogroups, unless the particular genes are advantageous in themselves.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Re: Sorghum domestication.

The dating of Sorghum domestication according to sources cited here precedes the arrival of agriculture in Egypt, although it follows the domestication of wheat, barley and peas in the Fertile Cresent.

Another piece of the "Sorghum package" of African Sahel crops, which is native to the African Sahel is pearl millet, although its wild range in West African. There is debate (also here) over a single v. multiple domestication event for pearl millet, with recent publications favoring a single domestication (and herE in West Africa. One study suggests a location "eastern Mali and western
Niger" and a domestication around 6000 BC, around the same time as Sorghum. The distinct domestications and their location suggest that if Middle Easterners were involved, that the idea of domestication rather than the crops and associated civilization themselves, would have been the import.

Berbers, who are the oldest strata of Afro-Asiatic languages in Northwest Africa arrived there around 1000 BC, and both this date and the changing climate of the Sahara argues that an early group would have been the domesticators of the African Sahel package of crops, probably proto-Nilo-Saharans, proto-Niger-Congoese, or a progenitor of both.

Current halotype E distribution, and the location of basal E* halotype and the E1a and E1b1a haloptype mostly in West Africa is suggestive of an emergence of E, E1a and E1b including E1b1 in West Africa with a mostly Nilo-Saharan E1b1b break from E1b1a from that lineage probably in Sudan, in line with the linguistic heartland of Nilo-Saharan. The timing of the break between E1b1a and E1b1b in the last 15,000 years is consistent with the margin of error with the formative time of Nilo-Saharan languages and peoples that date to more than 8,000 years ago.

The genetic evidence is also suggestive of the possibility that Nilo-Saharan is a remote daughter language of Niger-Congo, but genetic dating is too fuzzy to establish with any accuracy linkage to the Sahel package of crops or an exact date from genetic evidence.

marnie said...

Andrew, thanks for the great references on pearl millet and sorghum domestication. It's interesting that the estimated range of pearl millet domestication, from Mali to the boundary with Cameroon, exactly covers the range today of West Africa. That region is still quite culturally and linguistically homogeneous.

I'm puzzled about your comments on the Berbers:

"Berbers, who are the oldest strata of Afro-Asiatic languages in Northwest Africa arrived there around 1000 BC, and both this date and the changing climate of the Sahara argues that an early group would have been the domesticators of the African Sahel package of crops, probably proto-Nilo-Saharans, proto-Niger-Congoese, or a progenitor of both."

And it would certainly be fascinating to date the linguistic relationship between Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Congo:

"The genetic evidence is also suggestive of the possibility that Nilo-Saharan is a remote daughter language of Niger-Congo, but genetic dating is too fuzzy to establish with any accuracy linkage to the Sahel package of crops or an exact date from genetic evidence."

I'm looking forward to more papers on the genetic prehistory of West Africa. That area is a personal favorite of mine. One observation I have about West Africa is that there must have been ancient habitation of the West African coast. West Africans who live along the coast are expert seamen, fishermen and divers. There are even free divers, who can jump into ten foot waves and fish for food for up to 5 minutes. Their fishing culture seems to be ancient.

Thanks again for sharing this with us. I hope you'll post more.

marnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

"I'm puzzled about your comments on the Berbers:

'Berbers, who are the oldest strata of Afro-Asiatic languages in Northwest Africa arrived there around 1000 BC, and both this date and the changing climate of the Sahara argues that an early group would have been the domesticators of the African Sahel package of crops, probably proto-Nilo-Saharans, proto-Niger-Congoese, or a progenitor of both.'"

In timeline form:

* Sahara habitable 8000 BC-4000 BC
* Sorghum and Pearl Millet domesticated (in the case of Pearl Millet partially in now uninhabitable parts of the Sahara) 6000 BC
* Berber presence in Northwest Africa 1000 BC

If Berbers are the first Afro-Asiatic language speakers in Northwest Africa (as seems likely), and Afro-Asiatic was never a leading language of West Africa (as seems likely), then Afro-Asiatic speakers did not domesticate pearl millet and were probably not part of the culture that were part of the package of domesticated crops that followed that included Sorghum and Pearl Millet.

This leaves Niger-Congo speakers or Nilo-Saharan speakers, or a common shared ancestor, as plausible candidates for the peoples who should be associated with this complex of crops.

After reviewing the articles cited and the Current Biology paper by Tishkoff from a few original posts ago on this blog, it looks like the Niger-Congo people and not the Nilo-Saharans were associated with the Sahel crops, which is also a fit with the E haplotype evidence and archeological dates for the Nilo-Saharans. Also Nilo-Saharan cattle were a Near Eastern, not an African domesticate. (Incidentally, Nilo-Saharans also continued to practice river fishing as an important part of their subsistance).

This leaves Niger-Congo as the culture to associate with the pearl millet/sorghum package of Sahel crops. Thus, the dominance of Niger-Congo languages in West Africa may be evidence of a food production using sorghum and pearl millet as core crops based expansion ca. 6000 BC, of which we have no trace in the historical record and little archeology due to a lack of research to date (and poor preservation conditions), as a wave that would rhyme well documented the Bantu expansion 3000 years later.

This hypothetical Niger-Congo expansion would be similar to the expansion of farming seen at about the same time in Europe, and the language expansions seen in Asia thousands of years later.

It seems likely to have been, given the prevalence of certain E haplotypes in West Africa, a demic expansion in non-tropical areas, just as the farmer expansion in Europe replaced much of the prior hunter-gatherer population. I'm skeptical that Niger-Congo languages would be as similar as they are without that kind of relatively recent expansion.

If that much of the analysis holds, then the remaining question is, "where did the Niger-Congo language family expansion start?" In other words, "where is the Niger-Congo Urheimat?"

If Kordofani is the oldest language stratum in the Nuba Mountains, that puts Niger-Congo languages very far east at a very early date, and argues for the Nuba Mountains (or at least someplace on the Eastern edge of the Niger-Congo language area) as an Urheimat for Niger-Congo languages. The location is also attractive because it is close to the natural eastern boundary of wild pearl millet and the natural western boundary of sorghum, allowing for a synthesis into an expansionist farming culture somewhere around there. It is also attractive because the lack of E halpotype diversity in the most Western part of Africa suggests colonization with strong founder effects rather than an origin there. And, it is attractive because it puts the formative area for all of the major African language families geographically close to each other fairly near the presumptive place of origin of modern humans. All that, however, is just speculation.

marnie said...

Andrew, yes, I think you're onto something.

I remember reading somewhere that the Ashanti have dominated a trading route to the North and East, across the Sahara, for millenia, and that their power was maintained by trading gold to the north and east.

Another bit that rings true with your idea is cattle. You said:
"Also Nilo-Saharan cattle were a Near Eastern, not an African domesticate."

In West Africa today, the only cattle are ones that have a hump in their back. This has something to do with cattle of Middle Eastern origin not having sufficient malaria resistance.

West Africa is not only linguistically homogeneous, it is also quite musically homogeneous. The artistic style of folkart and dress also seems to be closely connected.

Most West Africans recognize this themselves.

I really think you're onto something.

pconroy said...

Marnie,

How romantic your notions of Africa are?!

The Ashante being one of the main slaving tribe in Africa, rose to power by raiding other tribes and capturing men, women and children, which they then force marched to ports to be traded for Gold...

I knew an Ashante guy in New York, and his first name was Bossman, I asked him why he had chosen that name and not his "African" name, he said that he was a chief's son and he, his father, grandfather going back centuries were called Bossman. Of course a famous Dutch slave trader in Ghana in the 1700's was Johannes Bossman, and my colleagues family probably adopted his name as theirs.

pconroy said...

Marnie,

African cattle for the most part have mtDNA from Africa or the Middle East, with Y-DNA from South Asia. It seems that the Zebu cattle were introduced into Africa thousands of years ago, either directly or by boat across the Indian ocean.

marnie said...

Dear PConroy,

I'm sorry if you think my notions of the Ashanti or Ashante are "romantic." I believe I said that it is well known that they dominated the control of a trade route.

You're writing off a people because slavery was an aspect of their society and their economy.

Perhaps you haven't read much history.

Slavery was part and parcel of almost all ancient stratified societies.

As in Ancient Greece, people who were held as slaves by the Ashanti were often captives from adjacent tribes, but also those who had an unpaid debt, for example. A slave could often earn their way out of slavery.

And it is true that the Ashanti are known to have negotiated with and play off against the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Romantic or not, it reflects political savvy.

Romantic?

Well, I guess we're pretty "romantic" about European and American history as well. Oh, and let's not talk about tolerating illegal, sub minimum wage labor, because it makes our lettuce cheaper.

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

correction:
And it is true that the Ashanti are known to have negotiated with and played off the Portuguese, Dutch and British.

pconroy said...

Marnie,

My point being that without the Ashante and other "mercantile" tribes, there would be no commercial African slave trade - as the Europeans died like flies in Africa, before the advent of quinine and such. Why do you think the British drank Gin and Tonic?
Gin because of a trade embargo on French wine during the 100 years war. Tonic because it is water plus quinine, and taken daily helps combat malaria:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinine

Why do you think West Africa was called "The White Man's Grave"

I know a lot about slavery worldwide as a matter of fact. Why do you think the Caribbeans today don't look Irish, despite hundreds of thousands of Irish slaves being exported there? Answer: 80% were dead within 2 years due to disease and being ill adapted to the climate, so they were a bad proposition for a slave owner. Consequently Irish slaves were worked to death, as it was felt it was better to get as much out of them before they inevitably died.

You need to read a little more, before you think of challenging me...

pconroy said...

Marnie said:

West Africa is not only linguistically homogeneous, it is also quite musically homogeneous. The artistic style of folkart and dress also seems to be closely connected.


This is also NOT true, and displays a lack of understanding of the region, it's history, cultures, religions and folklore. It displays a Eurocentric bias, where all West Africans and their culture is seen as similar - to an outsiders view.

For the record I studied African history in college, and had an aunt who lived in Nigeria (Makurdi on the Jos Plateau), for 25 years, before being kicked out by the military Junta.

As a kid I wore colorful "Kente cloth" type shirts brought back by my aunt from Nigeria - different ones for Ibo, Hausa and Fulani.

marnie said...

Dear pconroy,

I would mention that it was you who challenged me and inferred that a comment I made about the Ashanti was "romantic."

I'm not interested in getting into a political discussion about the rightness or wrongness of peoples that employed slavery. Slavery is obviously morally odious, but as I already stated, slavery existed broadly in the ancient world.

As to this comment:
"My point being that without the Ashante and other "mercantile" tribes, there would be no commercial African slave trade - as the Europeans died like flies in Africa, before the advent of quinine and such."

Had European ships not been waiting off the malaria free coast, as willing buyers, slaves taken by the Ashanti would have been traded within the African economy and been used for labor within the African economy. Many would have ultimately won their freedom, as was the custom. Again, this form of slavery existed broadly in the ancient world.

Most Ashante had no idea that the slaves they sold to Europeans would cross an ocean and be sold into a circumstance that they could never have envisioned.

I'm not sure what Caribbean Irishmen and Gin and Tonic have to do with a discussion about ancient trading routes in African.

And by the way, West Africans are somewhat resistant to malaria, but not entirely. Malaria is still the number one killer of children in West Africa.

And somehow, my mother, father, brother and I managed to survive three years in Ghana, and several bouts of malaria. I don't remeber drinking a lot of Gin and Tonic.

I'm not challenging your knowledge about slavery as practised in the recent past. Just suggesting that the use of slavery in West Africa follows a pattern that existed in ancient Greece, Rome, the Middle East, and India, and even the Americas.

As to your last post, I said similar, not identical. West Aficans themselves have numerous pan West African institutions such as the The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), which reflect their self recognized similarities.

pconroy said...

Marnie,

Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "Romantic", maybe "Deceitful" would be more appropriate - but I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.

You describe the Ashante as Gold traders - like they were jewelers or something - they were SLAVE traders. Gold was/is a form of currency to them and many other people.

The Ashante knew fully well what they were doing, and no I don't recall any tradition of freeing slaves in Africa. African groups like the Ibo, didn't enslave other tribes, but rather sold criminals of their own tribe into slavery. Slavery is still practised in the Sudan today, and in the Central African Republic and elsewhere in Africa, and it is a lifelong institution.

I mentioned Carribean Irishmen and Gin, by way of demonstrating:
1. Europeans didn't survive in Africa
2. Slavery of Africans in the Caribbean was much more benign than that of the Irish, as they were a more valuable and thus expensive commodity, and needed to be looked after.

West Africans carry the alleles for Siclle Cell Anemia, which in a heterozygous state confers decreased risk of developing Malaria.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sickle-cell_disease
Today of course you don't need to quaff copious amounts of quinine, as there is such a thing as Anti-Malarial drugs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimalarial_drug
My wife found them very helpful, as a field officer for the CDC in Uganda a decades ago.

Finally, that West Africans have pan-African economic institutions says nothing about their culture, or values - only about their proximity.

marnie said...

pconroy,

I'm sorry, but this is not a productive argument.

For the purposes of the discussion in this thread, let's just say that the Ashante, and other dominant African groups, controlled trade routes from the West African to the north and east. They traded slaves, gold and likely many other items.

I believe that we are all aware of limited genetic resistance that Africans have developed. You needed remind us.

Although you disagree, the Ashante represent only one of many linguistically and culturally related West African people.

Please take your political discussion elsewhere. This is an anthropology blog, not a morality blog.

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

correction:

I believe that we are all aware of the limited genetic resistance to malaria that Africans have developed. You needn't remind us.

pconroy said...

Marnie said:

Although you disagree, the Ashante represent only one of many linguistically and culturally related West African people.


NO - West Africans are genetically, linguistically and culturally heterogeneous.

There is far more genetic, linguistic and cultural diversity in a single country like Nigeria, than in all Europe together.

Start reading here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigeria

Ethnicities > 250
Languages = 521

These are just simple facts, not politics.

marnie said...

I'll leave it to Andrew to describe the linguistic relationship of West African languages. That seems to be his area.

Go ahead and fight with a word. I'm happy with "related", if you don't like "homogeneous".

Could we get back to discussing Andrews points about Niger-Congo languages?

And by the way, that kente clothe you were so fascinated with as a child is the sine qua non symbol of the Ashanti:

http://art-smart.ci.manchester.ct.us/
fiber-kente/kente.html

A. Cherson said...

Returning to the main thread here, I'd like to request some information on the Omotic people from the Ethiopian area. These are such groups as the : the Sadama (aka Sidamo), the Wolaita, the Hadiyya, the Gamo, the Gedeo, and several others. Are there any studies reporting any of these Omotic groups? Thanks.