February 20, 2015

Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations => Armenians (?)

As far as I can tell, the hypothesis of "several mixtures" comes from looking at many pairs of populations and seeing that different types of pairs seem like they mixed to make Armenians. Possibility (1) is that Armenians have multiple mixtures, and possibility (2) is that none of the sources work very well.

Hellenthal et al. did not find mixture in Armenians, but they worked with a different methodology and smaller sample size. Either, the N=173 sample size enabled detection of this admixture, or differences in methodology account for differences in conclusions. If true, the admixture dates in this paper would be some of the earliest discovered by looking at modern populations (without the help of ancient DNA).

The TreeMix analysis (Figure 4) is inconclusive about admixture from a population best represented by Neolithic Europeans. There is no plot of residuals in this figure, so this model with one migration event may not be adequate. Prior knowledge suggests that it isn't, as Pakistani and European populations have no admixture in Figure 4.

It's great that the authors will share their data!
As of this writing, the data is not "live"; it might appear when the paper is published.

bioRxiv doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/015396

Genetic evidence for an origin of the Armenians from Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations

Marc Haber et al.

The Armenians are a culturally isolated population who historically inhabited a region in the Near East bounded by the Mediterranean and Black seas and the Caucasus, but remain underrepresented in genetic studies and have a complex history including a major geographic displacement during World War One. Here, we analyse genome-wide variation in 173 Armenians and compare them to 78 other worldwide populations. We find that Armenians form a distinctive cluster linking the Near East, Europe, and the Caucasus. We show that Armenian diversity can be explained by several mixtures of Eurasian populations that occurred between ~3,000 and ~2,000 BCE, a period characterized by major population migrations after the domestication of the horse, appearance of chariots, and the rise of advanced civilizations in the Near East. However, genetic signals of population mixture cease after ~1,200 BCE when Bronze Age civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean world suddenly and violently collapsed. Armenians have since remained isolated and genetic structure within the population developed ~500 years ago when Armenia was divided between the Ottomans and the Safavid Empire in Iran. Finally, we show that Armenians have higher genetic affinity to Neolithic Europeans than other present-day Near Easterners, and that 29% of the Armenian ancestry may originate from an ancestral population best represented by Neolithic Europeans.



Anonymous said...


Thugnacious said...

Phyrgians + Urartians = Armenians.

AgnosticThought said...

Armenian and Phrygian are not close enough as languages to account for a shared history, and the lack of a substantial Balkan component disproves the theory of Phrygian origin. Though there certainly was an Urartian substrate, and Armenian, being an IE language did replace it by 600BCE, there is no Urheimat for the proto-Armenian speakers. The Balkan hypothesis has long since been disproven, and hopefully, aDNA and more penetrative genomic studies will put the nail in the coffin.

Unknown said...

@ Simon w
"Armenians, Thracians, Phrygians etc who were from the Balkans (in the case of the Armenians that's at least Herodotus' account), "

The tales of Phrygian and Armenian migration might be just that- tales. Herodotus afterall, was playing on words, and otherwise inventing origin stories for people who he hadn't actually studied intimately their language declensioning or genetic structures :)

Whatever the case, just because the Caucasus and anatolia were obviously linguistically diverse doesn't rule out their centrality in the expansion of IE languages (without necessarily implying they were *the* homeland) .

Kurti said...

This confirms my thoughts and what Maciamo wrote on his Eupedia page.

The linguistic forefathers of Armenians and as such a large portion of their genetic ancestry came directly from Balkans via Central Anatolia.

With the words of Maciamo

"This paper confirms what I wrote about the Proto-Armenians migrating to Anatolia c. 1200 BCE. They were the last major invaders to settle in Armenia, which explains why Armenians are still speakers of an Indo-European language. The other IE speakers in the region, be them Hittites, Lycians, Lydians or Phrygians, all had their language replaced by later conquerors, like the Persians, then the Greeks and Romans, and eventually the Turks, who were the last to impose their language in Anatolia to this day."

Kurti said...

I personally feel confirmed that Armenians linguistic forefathers are Phrygians who mixed with the local populations when arriving.

Unknown said...

Linguistically, Armenian cannot be a considered a descendant of Phrygian.

A direct association of Phygians proper with the Bronze Age ethnogenesis of Armenians is no longer tenable (See my comments below).


LivoniaG said...

Did you notice this?

The David Reich paper says the Armenian element in Yamnaya is very different than the genetic profile of Early or Middle European Neolithics. Here however they say modern Armenians have a strong affinity to the European Neolithic. I assume they don't mean Yamnaya. And that this is based on the new data from western Armenia.

So how does this affect Reich's paper?

Aram said...

It's amazing how people make conclusions without even trying to understand what is said in the paper. The Phrygians came AFTER 1200 BC not before, This paper says that Armenians don't have any meaningful admixture after 1200 BC. So the 1200 BC was the ending point of the process of Armenian ethnogenesis not the starting point.

Simon_W said...

Compare this to Dienekes' rolloff analysis of Armenians as a mixture of Sardinians and Balochi, he arrived at an admixture date of 1280 BC +/- 430 years:

The most similar mixing pair in the paper would be Central and South Asians + Sardinians, with an admixture date of 2886 BC +/- 271. What a huge difference! I'm not sure how to interpret this.

But with regards to the Kurgan theory, I note that the mixture involving northern Europeans and Arabs dates to after 2000 BC and a mixture involving modern Western Europeans and Central/South Asians extends to shortly before 1000 BC.

@ Mike Thomas

As for the Phrygians, there was a related people in the Balkans called Bryges:
Perhaps the ancients may have been wrong about the direction of the migration, and the Balkanic Bryges were really descended from Anatolian Phrygians. But why should we assume this, when the ancient sources clearly say otherwise?

Granted, Herodotus' account of Armenian origins might be as wrong as his account of Etruscan origins might be. They are both controversial, but so far there is no clear proof that they are wrong.

Possibly there is just a grain of truth in his account. I mean, obviously the Etruscans were not Lydians, the Lydians spoke an IE language related to Hittite. And maybe the Armenians are not exactly descended from Phrygians. But there was Lemnian close to Lydia, and Armenian apparently related with Greek and Albanian.

The traditional Armenian semi-mythological account of Armenian proto-history, which has the Armenians migrating from Babylon to Armenia around 2500 BC, is no less dubious than Herodotus, to the contrary. Such patriotic myths are notoriously unreliable and prone to the creation of legends.

@ Unknown

In the ADMIXTURE analysis the Neolithic farmer component is strongly present in Armenians and throughout the Near East. Yet on the whole Armenians and other modern West Asians differ from the EEF, mainly because of the West Asian component.