October 27, 2010

Ancient mtDNA from Titriş Höyük, southeastern Turkey

I will comment later.

International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, n/a. doi: 10.1002/oa.1213

Understanding Early Bronze Age social structure through mortuary remains: A pilot aDNA study from Titriş Höyük, southeastern Turkey

T. Matney et al.

This report describes a pilot study examining aDNA from a skeletal population excavated in the 1990s at the late Early Bronze Age (EBA, c. 2300-2100 BC) urban settlement of Titriş Höyük in southeastern Turkey. Typically, late EBA burials at Titriş Höyük consisted of periodically reused underground family crypts contained within houses. However, one unique set of remains dated to the latest phase of the late EBA occupation at the site departed from this burial pattern entirely. It consisted of an above ground mortuary installation (B98.87) displaying the skulls and post-cranial bones of 19 individuals, most exhibiting a variety of fatal traumas. In this article, we compare the mtDNA sequences of these individuals with those buried in contemporary traditional late EBA intramural crypts. After successful extraction and amplification of ancient DNA molecules during a double blind study of 13 skeletons selected for the pilot study, our team was able to compare the genetic relatedness of individuals displayed in B98.87 to individuals buried elsewhere on the site. Based on archaeological evidence alone, earlier we had suggested that the occupants of B98.87 were perhaps outsiders, possibly soldiers vanquished in hostilities taking place shortly before the abandonment of the city at the end of the late EBA. However, our pilot study showed no clear genetic difference between the population of B98.87 and the broader population of the late EBA city, contrary to our expectations.



Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The date would suggest that this find would be a few hundreds years pre-Hittite for that region, and hence would allow for some pretty direct inferences about what changed in the DNA makeup of Anatolia with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans, by providing a baseline to measure later aDNA samples against.

[rant] Damn pay walls! In legal journals, SSRN provides free pre-prints of almost everything. In physics, arvix does the same. I'd be quite curious to see how much revenue these sites actually generate from pay wall limitations. The authors are getting paid faculty salaries, not royalties. The journals are available in print for anyone to view free of charge in university libraries across the country. The non-printing costs of journals like these can't be all that great with both content and peer review provided free or near free, and the journals are not for-profit entities for investors to repay and probably have no significant debt on their balance sheets. I have to think that one could endow dozens of scholarly journals in perpetuity for the cost of one endowed professorship.[/rant]

Jean said...

The results are 10 CRS and two with just one mutation from CRS. Full details: http://www.buildinghistory.org/distantpast/ancientdna.shtml and my blog post:

They tested only the first 400 base pairs of HVR1, too little to securely allocate haplogroups.

Even so 10 CRS are obvious cause for concern about contamination, though they went to some trouble to guard against it.

ashraf said...

"this find would be a few hundreds years pre-Hittite"
Should be
"few hundreds years before first Hittite written text"

Though I think you forget that as early as script was introduced to Anatolia from Mesopotamia there was ALREADY very diversified indo-european languages of the Anatolian branch(palaic,luwian,lykian,psidian,lykaonian...) and also distinct indo-iranian mitanni(1000 years before first vedic texts and wich is more archaic than vedic[mitanni azda=>vedic ada])wich undermines that ie was recently introduced to Anatolia.
Besides according to Gamkrelidze+Ivanov Hittites had traditions that they came to Central Anatolia from south-eastern parts and they did not tax the cities of their "urheimat"+there are very old toponyms in that region that are of indo-european and indo-hittite etymology.
It's most likely that khattic,hurric and other Caucasic languages took refuge in Anatolia(due to Caucasus being in the ice age)as for the Indo-European languages, according to glottochronology Anatolian branch is the oldest one(dated to around 8000 bc)and Anatolian languages could not have coming from further north since by those times the northern regions were not inhabitated(still in the ice age)or poorly inhabitated(still agriculture[=>population burst]did not diffuse there from further south)+the presence in proto indo-european and Anatolia of Egyptian&Semitic&Sumerian "loanwords"

Bedros said...

Jean: The authors hoped to find a clue by comparing their mtDNA with that of a sample of more typical burials within the city. The results are surprising. Of the 12 samples from both typical and the odd burial, 10 are reported CRS (H2a2 in modern people) and two with just one mutation (16278 in one case, 16139 in the other). They tested only the first 400 base pairs of HVR1, so it is impossible to be certain of the haplogroups. The authors are at pains to rule out contamination, but they realise that this is a surprising result. Modern Anatolia is not as high on H as that overall.

For what it's worth, hg H is the biggest mtDNA haplogroup in the Armenian DNA Project (21/105 = 20%). Of the 21 hg H members, 3 are CRS and 2 more only have 16519C which is usually discounted. Of the few hg H members who have undergone FGS testing, one is H2a1.

16278 is found in all four of the hg X members (4/105 = 4%).

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Thank you Jean for the report.

onur said...

For what it's worth, hg H is the biggest mtDNA haplogroup in the Armenian DNA Project (21/105 = 20%).

Bedros, in Bermisheva et al. (2004), mtDNA hg H is found in 28.7% of Turks (63/218), 29.17% of Azeris (14/48) and 28% of Adygeis (14/50), and in all of these three populations hg H is the biggest mtDNA haplogroup (unfortunately there is no information about their H subhaplogroups and other details):


Note that these hg H percentages of these three populations are very close to each other and higher than 20% you reported for Armenians. But still, they don't come near the hg H ratio Jean reported for the Titriş Höyük population. So it seems that Jean is right in his doubts.

aargiedude said...

Another ancient mtdna study with near impossible results, barring that the 10 CRS are all related to each other. It's looking like most ancient mtdna studies produce weirdly different results from modern mtdna. And yet today the mtdna of Europe and the Middle East has homogeneized to such an incredible degree that one can barely tell apart a Middle Eastern population from a European one, other than that, it's almost impossible to distinguish 2 European populations, or 2 Middle Eastern/Anatolian populations.

The likelihood of producing 10+ CRS samples in the first 400 bases of the HVR-I, in a population of 12 Anatolian samples, is approximately 1 in a million. The same likelihood if all samples were European is 1 in 30,000. So contamination doesn't fly. And neither does the argument that this was a wild coincidence. It's too much of a long shot: 1 in 30,000. Forcing the conclusion that the mtdna of Anatolia 4,000 years ago was hugely different from today. Except if they're related...

If the 10 CRS are related then obviously everything is explained. But... the scientists really doubt they're related, though they say it's not impossible, either. And also there's the issue of the other 2 samples that did have a mutation. Considering just the first 400 bases of HVR-I, as the study did, only 8% of Anatolian mtdna is CRS, and another 15% has a single mutation (77% have 2 or more mutations). The likelihood that 2 Anatolian non-CRS samples would both have just 1 mutation each is 1 in 38. That's possible, but unexpected. On its own it doesn't matter, but since the other 10 samples (CRS) seem to, precisely, have a "lack of mutations" issue, it makes me wonder if there's some sort of connection between the 10 CRS and the 2 single mutation samples. An issue with the testing itself, not with the samples.

onur said...

Yes, as Argiedude says, with the ratios Jean reported it is extremely unlikely them to be even, say, a West European population, not just Anatolian. No human population today exists with the ratios Jean reported or something close to it. So either there are some errors (not necessarily including contamination) in the study or the samples are all related.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

"there was ALREADY very diversified indo-european languages of the Anatolian branch(palaic,luwian,lykian,psidian,lykaonian...)"

The other Anatolian branches are only documented to have existed post-Hittite. A scenario of language disintegration following the collapse of the empire similar to what was seen in the Romance languages post-Roman empire is more plausible.

Mittani was likely derived from Indo-Aryan and appears in the historical record a couple of hundred years after the Hittites as a new dynasty in an existing kingdom.

onur said...

Ashraf: there was ALREADY very diversified indo-european languages of the Anatolian branch(palaic,luwian,lykian,psidian,lykaonian...)

Andrew: The other Anatolian branches are only documented to have existed post-Hittite.

Luwian and Palaic were contemporaneous with Hittite.

ashraf said...

The languages of the Anatolian branch are highly diversified (by far much more than Romance languages) and NON intelligible.
And they did have non-indo-european Khatti speakers as neighbors to their north as well as (their language was not attested) ahiwa and asuwa as neighbors to their west.

Hittite is dated to some 9500 years ago and it was less archaic than Luwian.
The fact that the Semitic,Sumerian and Egyptian loanwords are widepread amongst all indo-european branches and languages(such as the words for seven, honey, star...)is a proof of the homeland of the proto indo-european language being in Western Asia.
Genetics too(see the wide dispersal of the west Asian component amongst Indo-European speaking populations) as well as archeodemography,archeobotany,archeology,archeofauna and the presence in proto indo-european of words for metallurgy,agriculture&animal husbandry do support the Western Asian homeland(by the way the other pre-ie languages and peoples of Europe too did originate in Western Asia[at more ancient times]since Western Asia is a bridge between eastern Africa and Europe)
Please see the graphes below

I recommand you the book below(more than 1100 pages)
(I will read it when I will have enough free time)

Gioiello said...

Ashraf says: “I recommend you the book below (more than 1100 pages)
(I will read it when I will have enough free time)”.

I think that nobody reads a dictionary, but perhaps consults it.

onur said...

Hittite is dated to some 9500 years ago

Hittite isn't dated to 9500 years ago (it is attested beginning from the early 2nd millennium BC), just that the line preceding it and other Anatolian languages is speculated by some linguists to have separated from the line preceding non-Anatolian IE languages 9000 or so years ago.

The languages of the Anatolian branch are highly diversified (by far much more than Romance languages) and NON intelligible.

I don't think they were mutually non-intelligible with each other. I have investigated some of their basic lexicons (Hittite, Luwian and Palaic) and they seemed fairly similar to me.

onur said...

BTW, Ashraf, who are those Khazars in your third link? Was there a people called Khazars other than the Medieval Turkic Khazars (and when and where exactly?) and were they IE-speaking (and specifically the Indo-Iranian branch?)?

ashraf said...

mr Gioiello
It's more a book explaining the etymology of the Hittite words (comparing them with other words of the Anatolian branch and other ie languages)than a simple dictionnary and that's why it will be very useful for ones wishing to understand the extent of the internal diversity of the ie Anatolian languages.

mr Onur
afaik the Khazars were Turkic or at least they had a Turkic speaking ruling class, though it's obvious that Khazars would also be including pre-Turk Iranian folks of Central Asia.

As for Hittite , you are correct that Hittie and Luwian are similar(both belonging to the central branch of Anatolian+being neighbors&official languages they would,of course,have many common words [throughout borrowing])but still distinct languages.
Even if their WRITTEN STANDARD basic lexicon could be similar,their morphology,grammar and complex words are rather different so they could be intelligible and the other Anatolian languages of the other Anatolian branches were even more differentiated.
Please read below:
"it would also be difficult to explain the great and deep divisions among these(Anatolian)languages some already attested in the late Third and early second millennia bc,they include not only the central anatolian languages Hittite,Luvian&Palaic but also more remote ones such as Lydian,Lycian and possibly even Carian and the Cretan language written in Linear A,it is even more difficult if not impossible to explain THE EXTREME INTERNAL DIVERSITY of the Anatolian subfamily if it only disintegrated in the Third or even the late fourth millennium"
The author's sources were works of the specialists: Mallory,Dews and Gamkrelidze&Ivanonv

onur said...

I have corresponded with one of the authors of the Titris Hoyuk study, Omer Gokcumen, via e-mail in Turkish. In our correspondence I mentioned to Mr. Gokcumen all of our (mine, Jean's and aargiedude's) criticisms about the study. He responded to me sincerely. Below in italics is the English translation (translated by me and approved by him and the other team members) of his response to me:

Your criticisms are completely accurate. But already we say the same things in the article.

I have helped the team in the extraction of the teeth from the skeletons and in the analyses of the modern DNAs. We have tried to reduce the contamination as much as we could. For example, DNAs of all the team members were examined and none of them were the same with the ancient DNA results. Still, as you know, results of ancient DNAs are extremely problematic. So it would be wrong to arrive at a definitive conclusion by looking at these data.

If subsequent studies give consistently similar results to ours, then we can carry out a more detailed investigation of this story. But in its current state, as you and the other critics say, this study mustn't lead us to a definitive conclusion.

Finally, we cannot say that the ancient samples have haplogroup H just by looking at the HVS1. I think we've mentioned this in the article. In short, this is an interesting pilot study, but it shouldn't be considered as a discovery that will result in big changes in the field.

In a later e-mail Mr. Gokcumen added that the analyses of this study were conducted by two separate labs independently to control for errors.

Ponto said...

Why don't they go for the SNPs that tell you what haplogroup the remains had. Just typing some many bases of the HVR-1 is a waste of time. Lots of haplogroups have the CRS in HVR-1 and are not the haplogroup of the Cambridge Reference Sequence. Go to mitosearch and type nothing into the HVR-1 boxes, i.e no changes from the CRS and see how many different haplogroups you get out.

Waste of time and money.

onur said...

Ponto, the impression I've got from my correspondence with one of the authors of this study is that this is just the beginning and further genetic studies on the Titris Hoyuk skeletons are awaiting us in the very near future. Then I think the haplogroups will be clear (my guess is that the ratio of the mtDNA hg H will be similar to modern Anatolian populations like Turks and Armenians).