July 10, 2013

Population history of middle Euphrates valley

HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology Available online 3 July 2013

Population history of the middle Euphrates valley: Dental non-metric traits at Tell Ashara, Tell Masaikh and Jebel Mashtale, Syria

Arkadiusz Sołtysiak, Marta Bialon

Fifty-nine dental non-metric traits were scored using Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System on a sample of teeth from 350 human skeletons excavated at three sites in the lower middle Euphrates valley. The dataset was divided into six chronological subsets: Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age, Early Iron Age with Neo-Assyrian period, Classical/Late Antiquity, Early Islamic (Umayyad and Abbasid) period and Modern period. The matrix of Mean Measure of Divergence values exhibited temporal homogeneity of the sample with only dental non-metric trait scores in the Modern subset differing significantly from most other subsets. Such a result suggests that no major gene flow occurred in the middle Euphrates valley between the 3rd millennium BCE and the early 2nd millennium CE. Only after the Mongolian invasion and large depopulation of northern Mesopotamia in the 13th century CE a major population change occurred when the area was taken over in the 17th century by Bedouin tribes from the Arabian Peninsula.



Kurti said...

So does that basically mean, Iraqi Arabs are no descend of ancient Mesopotamians but rather a heavy mix of Bedouins with earlier Mesopotamians (Sumerians, Iranians, Assyrians)?

andrew said...

3rd millenium to 2nd millenium BCE corresponds to the couple of thousand years immediately following the transition from a linguistically Sumerian Mesopotamia to a linguistically Akkadian (Semitic) era.

An absence of a demic component in Northern Mesopotamia from Hittite expansion, and from subsequent Greek, Persian, Islamic empire and Turkic expansions prior to the Mongolian invasion is surprising.

I also have some doubt about the correspondence of dental structure and genes. I would think that diet and periods of scarcity would play an important role as well.