August 08, 2014

mtDNA haplogroup V7 from ~5,000-year old kurgan of the Novosvobodnaya culture

I am not sure that the finding of a single mtDNA V7 sample suggest "a role of the TRB culture in the development of the Novosvobodnaya culture", or, indeed with the labeling of the TRB as "Indo-European". In any case, it's good to see some ancient DNA from the North Caucasus.

Acta Naturae. 2014 Apr-Jun; 6(2): 31–35.

Analysis of the Mitochondrial Genome of a Novosvobodnaya Culture Representative using Next-Generation Sequencing and Its Relation to the Funnel Beaker Culture

A. V. Nedoluzhko et al.

The Novosvobodnaya culture is known as a Bronze Age archaeological culture in the North Caucasus region of Southern Russia. It dates back to the middle of the 4th millennium B.C. and seems to have occurred during the time of the Maikop culture. There are now two hypotheses about the emergence of the Novosvobodnaya culture. One hypothesis suggests that the Novosvobodnaya culture was a phase of the Maikop culture, whereas the other one classifies it as an independent event based on the material culture items found in graves. Comparison between Novosvobodnaya pottery and Funnelbeaker (TRB) pottery from Germany has allowed researchers to suggest that the Novosvobodnaya culture developed under the influence of Indo-European culture. Nevertheless, the origin of the Novosvobodnaya culture remains a matter of debate. We applied next-generation sequencing to study ~5000-year-old human remains from the Klady kurgan grave in Novosvobodnaya stanitsa (now the Republic of Adygea, Russia). A total of 58,771,105 reads were generated using Illumina GAIIx with a coverage depth of 13.4x over the mitochondrial (mt) DNA genome. The mtDNA haplogroup affiliation was determined as V7, suggesting a role of the TRB culture in the development of the Novosvobodnaya culture and supporting the model of sharing between Novosvobodnaya and early Indo-European cultures.



Chad Rohlfsen said...

That's one hell of a stretch. I've only seen an association with Maykop, from archeologists discussing the site. Maybe, there is another side. Sure as hell not TRB though.

bellbeakerblogger said...

I agree with your comments here.
The problem with drawing a straight line to the Baalberg Group is that they were only a western chunk of non-IE TRB. The Middle Neolihtic Rossens probably did originate in the Pontic, but they became isolated in the West when encroached upon by the Funnelbeakers. If anything, V7 is just a minority Near East lineage and in this study is found about where it should be. r/1702

Kristiina said...

23andme tells on their site that ”Haplogroup V originated in Iberia during the Ice Age. After a last burst of cold conditions roughly 12,000 years ago, migrations carried the haplogroup northward along the Atlantic coast and through central Europe to Scandinavia. Today it is found in a wide variety of populations from the Basques of Spain to the Saami of Finland.”
• Age: 16,000 years
• Region: Europe
• Example Populations: Finns, Saami (Lapps), Sardinians, Basques
• Highlight: Haplogroup V was probably common in Doggerland, an ancient land now drowned beneath the North Sea.

There is also a map that shows that V is quite frequent in Iberia, Northwest Africa, France, Scandinavia and other Baltic Sea countries, European Russia and Caucasus. The highest frequency is in Saami, c. 40%.
I doubt that we are able to identify something specifically Indo-European in this haplogroup if it started spreading from Iberia to the south and to the north during and after the Ice Age, unless we take a view that the Indo-European protolanguage/ the Baltic branch developed in Doggerland area and spread from there to Russia and Caucasus.

Kurti said...

@Kristina. Allot of informations 23andme provide is extremely outdated and I wouldn't take it serious. For example Haplogroup J2 is still labeled as Haplogroups which reached Europe with farmers. Though no farmer has ever been tested with J* and contrary all Haplogroups within the IJK family are connected to ANE ancestry.

Kristiina said...

Kurti, what do you think is not correct in what they say on 23andme site. If you have more updated information on haplogroup V, I would be very happy to share it with you.

Dr Rob said...
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Simon_W said...

@ bellbeakerblogger

Baalberge was actually located in the middle of the southern fringe of the TRB, not in the west.

And Rössen from the Pontic?? I've never heard about that. Generally speaking it is regarded as a daughter group of the LBK. After having spread and settled down, the once uniform LBK dissolved into various local daughter groups, one of them being Rössen. Afaik the immediate precursor of Rössen may have been Grossgartach, which was located on the upper Rhine.

Furthermore, Rössen proper ended at the time of the earliest Funnelbeakers (TRB), so there was no temporal overlap. A late form of Rössen, contemporaneous with the earliest TRB, was Bischheim, and the related Schwieberdingen. Also Gatersleben seems to be partly related with Rössen, but also influenced by Lengyel. These were rather small, local groups, and they were not encroached upon by the TRB, which at that time was still confined to northern Germany and Poland. Denmark was still occupied by Ertebölle hunter-gatherers.

Much of the area of the Rössen culture was occupied by the Michelsberg culture in the Upper Neolithic. And Michelsberg is regarded by some experts as part of a TRB culture area in the widest sense. But it was also influenced by the early Chasséen, which was Cardium descended. So it was kind of intermediate between north and west.

By the way, in this craniometric study, the Michelsbergers cluster with the western LBK, Lengyel, Tripolyans from Bilcze Zlote and Chalcolithic Sardinians. I wouldn't be surprised if they were also genetically Sardinian-like, like all the early European farmers so far.

In any case we shouldn't regard the Funnelbeakers (TRB) as a genetically distinct, more hunter-gatherer descended group. In light of the latest research on ancient autosomal DNA, it has become clear that at least the TRB people of southern Sweden were very similar to early LBK farmers. And craniometrically they were in fact very similar to Rössen people, as demonstrated by Schwidetzky.

So, with regards to the statement of the authors of the present paper: The TRB may have been Indo-European only if Indo-European spread with the earliest farmers, that is, if Renfrew's theory holds true. This however is unlikely, imho.

@ Kristiina

According to this valuable study
haplogroup V came with the early farmers. The Iberian hunter-gatherers had only U4, U5, H and N*.

Unknown said...

Because it’s easy to jump to conclusions with regard to Indo-European origins, let me defend some of the authors’ conclusions.

First, there’s really no justification in calling TRB non-IE, because we simply don’t know.
All these theories are wonderful fun, but there’s really no justification in excluding TRB 1500 years before the first attested IE languages appear in writing. We don’t know who was speaking IE at that point and who wasn’t.

One of Mallory’s main points for over 15 years, starting with In Search of, has been that IE speakers could not have come into Anatolia by way of the Caucasus. It was a big point with him. The Caucasian languages were supposed to block the Hittites from coming from the western steppes by that route. Mallory said they had to come from the Balkans. Part of the great Kurgan horseman conquest through the Balkans into Anatolia.

It was also handy because it kept any hypothetical neolithic Anatolian IE from getting to the steppes via the Caucasus. That was also impossible, according to Mallory.

Times have changed, of course, and now the kurgans have suddenly shown up in Maykop and Kura–Araxes, not just south of the Caucasus but well into eastern Anatolia. And they look to pre-date the ones on the steppes.

I like the idea of metal makers from Balkans crossing the Black Sea and showing up in the Caucasus. It was a logical place for metal specialist to head to because of raw materials. And it gives the people we see at Varna and Vinca somewhere to go - at least the ones who didn’t go west towards Iberia.

And of course some descendants of TRB may have gone along for the ride. I like that the pottery in the Caucasus looks like Neolithic central Europe.

A very mixed genetic group we see in the neolithic in Europe. So I don’t blame the authors one bit for wanting to be sure an example of the right mtdna showed up in the Caucasus. In case that was going to be the objection.

About Time said...

Broad brush? Yes. Insufficiently supported by data? Yes.

Off the mark? We'll see.

Grognard said...

It would almost have to start off in iberia or some other place and then spread right after glacial period. It's too widespread for it to be otherwise. Still interesting to see this here.

Simon_W said...

A tiny correction, I'm sorry:

The earliest TRB was restricted to northern Germany, without Poland.

Kurti said...

@Unknown the first ever sequenzed Indo European genome, which belongs to Thracian individuals, shows the Caucasus_Gedrosia component as strongest. So the best conclusion is that Indo Europeans came from East and not West into Anatolia.

Simon_W said...

@ Unknown

The theory that the TRB were the Proto-Indo-Europeans has been put forward about a decade or so ago by the German sociologist and economist Carl-Heinz Boettcher. He however believed that the TRB people were thoroughly admixed with northern hunter-gatherers, and that the culture had come into being because of a transformation of the early Neolithic cultures by Ertebölle raiders and conquerors, the "Vikings of prehistory". I think genetic research pretty much falsified this theory.

Simon_W said...

Well, I have to be careful not to commit the mistake of faulty reasoning. Even if the LBK farmers were not the Proto-IEs, they might have been the Pre-Proto-IEs, i.e. their language might have been ancestral to Proto-IE, which rather fits to a Chalcolithic level of culture. Genetically there must have occured thorough changes in the later Neolithic, with a strong increase of hunter-gatherer ancestry. But it's not yet clear how this took place. If remainders of hunter-gatherers were merely assimilated and absorbed, then the language of the farmers would probably have prevailed. Also there is various evidence for later Neolithic admixture from the Westasian highlands. But it can't be ruled out that the immigrants learned the language of the locals.

Simon_W said...

Dienekes, if you don't mind too much let me just add this, please:
Still, the genetic similarity of the TRB farmers to non-IE Basques is a strong hint. In the latest Skoglund et al. study, the TRB farmers are close to Basques in the PCA. Speaking in terms of Dodecad K7b and K12b components, Basques are even a bit less Southern/Basal Eurasian than TRB farmers. They also have no Caucasus and no Southwestasian component. Instead they have the Gedrosia component which is presumably related to later eastern influx via central Europe. Furthermore, what's common to all IE peoples, is the highland Westasian admixture. And the absence of this is a further commonality between Basques and TRB people.

Dr Rob said...
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Kristiina said...

Simon_W, in fact, I know that they proposed in that study that haplogroup V arrived from the Middle East during the Neolithic. However, V is very rare in the Middle East and I do not know if it is really very old there. I have not seen age estimations of V haplotypes in the Middle East.
In any case, in the recent Fernandez et altri paper, V was not found in ancient Middle Eastern samples (8000 BC) in which K, L3, N*, HV, H, U* and R0 were found.

The fact that V is very diverse and frequent in Northern Europe must be taken into account, and haplogroup V has been found in Pitted Ware Complex context in Ajveda, Sweden, dated 4800 – 4000 BP. The TRB samples in Malmström et altri study belonged to H, J and T.

Perhaps, V did not originate in Iberia, but developed within the northern hunter gatherers.
Somewhere in the middle of the web page you have the frequency map of V:
It is not a good address, but I could not find a better one.

Kristiina said...

The link was wrong! The map is visible here:

To me it does not look like V spread from the Middle East. However, it is curious that the highest frequencies are in Lapland/ Finland and Nortwest Africa.

Kurti said...

@Simon_W It has become a fact no one can deny anymore that these genes we call "West Asian" or Caucasus_Gedrosia reached Europe with the Indo_Europeans.
Basques most likely absorbed the "Gedrosia" from arriving Indo_European tribes. I say this because contrary to Basques, Ötzi and other ancient farmers "lack" Gedrosia.

The Thracian individuals showed both Caucasus and Gedrosia like admixture.

Artem Nedoluzhko said...

Hey all! I am coauthor of article about mitochondrial genome of a novosvobodnaya cultural representative. I glad that our scientific work has produced very interesting discussion. But it is only one sample and for more detail conclusions we need more aDNA analysis of Maykop and Novosvobodnaya samples. About Novosvobodnaya culture! It is hypothesis of Russian archeologist Alexey Rezepkin about coexistance of Maykop (from Asia) and Novosvobodnaya (with European roots) cultures on Caucasus in Early Bronze age. If you want you can read about Novosvobodnaya artefacts here:

Simon_W said...

@ Kristiina
I see, thanks for the hints!

@ Kurti
To me the West Asian origin of the Indo-Europeans is the most likely hypothesis, too. It's more and more supported by ancient DNA, and it's plausible both archeologically and linguistically. I wouldn't say that the West Asian admixture in Europe came exclusively from Indo-Europeans, though, since obviously there are genetically West Asian populations who never spoke IE languages. The Gedrosia admixture in Europe seems to be linked with R1b, and hence the questions about how and when it spread are closely tied to the puzzle of the R1b expansion. Although many people on the web now claim that the earliest Indo-Europeans and the „Centum“ languages were tied to R1b this is by no means established fact. At least the often heard idea that the Yamnaya culture was R1b dominated and spread that haplogroup to central Europe with Kurgan invasions can be regarded as falsified. The German Bell Beaker people, who had R1b, had no trace of the eastern hunter-gatherer mt-DNA U2.

Grey said...

If farmers along the Atlantic coast - from whatever origin - initially had a low population density due to the Atlantic zone climate not being well suited to their crops so their settlements relied heavily on fishing and hugged the coast then if they at some later point developed a form of farming that provided a staple diet suited to that very wet climate e.g. milk and oats, which produced a larger population density then that might lead to them expanding west to east.

Simon_W said...

Kurti, the fact that Thracians of the Iron Age had strong West Asian admixture on its own doesn't prove a a West Asian origin of the PIE. It's quite similar to the fact that present-day Greeks have strong West Asian admixture. This doesn't prove that the PIE were West Asian either. It's more the general pattern that convinces, with all the IE peoples having West Asian admixture and the Basques and Finns having not. Plus the growing body of a-DNA evidence for chalcolithic migrations from the West Asian highland region onto the Eurasian steppe and to central and eastern Europe. (Not to speak of the archeological and linguistic evidence.)

Unknown said...

Greetings, Artem! Nice piece of work. 

 Artem Nedoluzhko wrote:
“It is hypothesis of Russian archeologist Alexey Rezepkin about coexistence of Maykop (from Asia) and Novosvobodnaya (with European roots) cultures on Caucasus in Early Bronze age. If you want you can read about Novosvobodnaya artefacts here:”

One reason I like this is it opens the door on the idea that maybe the people of Maikop did not speak an Indo-European language. And by extension neither did the people of Yamna.

Formidable linguists like Diakonov, Starostin and Ivanov have made a good case that the wide ranging Hurrian-Urartian and the Northern Caucasian languages are related. Perhaps Maikop belonged to this language group along with Kura-Araxes, the Hurrians and Urartians in south?

This long stretch of non-Indo-European speakers would be what split eastern, satem IE off from western IE, starting some time after 4000 BCE.

So, perhaps, Novosvobodnaya represents European “metal people,” who spoke an IE language, crossing the Black Sea and intruding into the foothills south of the Caucasus.

I understand that it takes about 7-10 days by canoe to cross the Black Sea from Istanbul to Batumi.

It would take maybe four months going north of the Black Sea by land -- by way of the Ukraine -- to get to the same place on foot. Or, wheeling along with oxen, even longer.

These people were not stupid. They would have taken the canoe.

I do like Alexey Rezepkin referring to kurgans as “megalthic.” And though there’s a little bit of a time gap -- perhaps those Novosvobodnaya folk were the result of a long flow of emigrants from Europe.

Finally, dark or black burnished ware he mentions may also play a pretty important role in the development of metal technology.

See especially Dušan Borić, Absolute Dating of Metallurgical Innovations in the Vinča Culture of the Balkans (2009):
“The knowledge of smelting in the Balkans might have been related to the developments achieved in the control of the pyrotechnological process connected with the production of high-quality dark-burnished ceramic wares that are one of the main trademarks of the Vinča culture (cf. Chapman 2006)...”

Kurti said...


The level of West Asian admixture in ancient Thracians exceeds that of any modern population in the Balkans. it frequency is actually typical for that of West Asian population. With levels of up to 50%! However this is indeed not a prove that Indo European evolved in Western Asia. I didn't even claim that with my comment. But it might be a prove that Indo Europeans crossed through Western Asia. To be honest I personally believe that the Proto Indo Europeans had a widespred homeland somewhere between West and South_Central Asia and crossed into Europe from three directions. 1. through Anatolia into Balkans. 2. through the Caucasus (Maikop connection). 3. Through South_Central Asia from the east Caspian route into North Asia and Eastern Europe. By the way one of the Thracian individuals turned out with yDNA H1b1* typically for populations of South-Central Asia (Roma are H1a* someone told). three Thracian samples turned out with mtDNA HV, U3b and U2e. In this combination typically West Asian, especially Iranic and Mesopotamian. There is absolutely no doubt for me that they crossed through Western Asia.

Kurti said...

On a sidenote somewhere I red that Haplogroup H probably originated in Western Asia too. Thats also what Wikipedia states. Wasn'there even a Neolithic sample from Syria who turned out as yDNA H*?
If that is correct, than Thracians had the whole Iranieau-fertile Crescent package with mtDNA HV* U2* and U3*.