July 16, 2012

Late Minoan IB destructions not followed by Mycenaean immigration

This is an important contribution which falsifies the theory that the destructions of the Minoan palaces associated with the Late Minoan IB involved the coming of Mycenaean elites to Crete, by using a combination of strontium isotope analysis (which captures first-generation migrants) and biodistance analysis (which reveals no pattern of greater affinity of post-LMIB populations to mainland Greek samples.

However, this is interesting:

Therefore these results suggest a gradual rounding of the cranial shape for the Central Cretan population in the course of the Bronze Age, resulting from the increase of the cranial breadth in relation to cranial length. They further provide negative evidence for a disruption of the biological history of the Knossos population following the LMIB destructions due to an increase in the biodistance between the samples dating immediately prior and following the destructions.  
The gradual rounding of the cranial shape of the Central Cretan population over the course of the Bronze Age and the very similar shape of the Gypsades, Sellopoulo and Mavrospelio crania can be more clearly appreciated by plotting the Cranial Index (100*maximum cranial breadth/glabello – occipital length) data. The Cranial Index describes the cranial shape and higher cranial indices reflect a more rounded cranium. In Figure 7, the Cranial Indices for all the above-mentioned Central Cretan population samples are plotted in chronological order, from the Early to Late Bronze Age. Cranial Indices were calculated separately for males and females from each sample.  
The gradual increase in Cranial Index over the Bronze Age most probably reflects gene-flow from population/s biologically different from the Early Bronze Age Cretan population and from inter-population biological interactions (admixture) in the succeeding periods. An alternative interpretation implicating the thermoregulatory model of Beals et al. (1984) and adaptation to colder climatic conditions carries less weight. 
This might be consistent with J. Lawrence Angel's detection of a "Dinaroid-Alpine central trend" of Bronze Age invaders of Greece, as well as the well-known contemporary physiognomy of the historical Hittites and the physical anthropological evidence for them:
Senyurek (1951d, pp. 614-15) concludes that "the majority of the Chalcolithic and Copper Age inhabitants of Anatolia were dolichocephals of mainly Eurafrican and Mediterranean types, and that the brachycephals, probably representing the invaders, were rare in these periods. This study has further supported the conclusion that the earliest inhabitants of Anatolia were longheaded, and that the brachycephals came in subsequently. "The craniological evidence indicates that an invasion of brachycephals into Anatolia took place during the Chalcolithic period and that it was followed by a second invasion, bringing in the brachycephalic elements to Alaca Huyuk and other Copper Age sites, probably at about the middle of the Copper Age. The next invasion of brachycephals, which was more important and extensive than the previous ones, occurred at about 2000 B.C. This was made by the Hittites who were predominantly of the classical Alpine type."  

While there does not appear to be specific evidence for a new population element arriving in Crete after the LMIB destructions, the pattern during the Bronze Age is probably consistent with an intrusive population.

If we accept that the European Neolithic island-hopped to Greece from the East and thence spread north and east into Europe, it is peculiar that ancient DNA from Neolithic Europeans is dominated by Y-haplogroups I2b and G2a (missing the dominant Anatolian J2 haplogroup) and by a "Mediterranean" autosomal makeup (missing the dominant Anatolian West_Asian component). As I have previously argued, this suggests a sea change in the genetic makeup of Anatolia itself since the early Neolithic, and a Bronze Age migration of J2/West_Asian brachycephals into Anatolia, mainland Greece and Crete would be one possible agent for that development.

Late Minoan IB destructions and cultural upheaval on Crete: A bioarchaeological perspective

Nafplioti, Argyro

This paper discusses representative results from strontium isotope ratio (87Sr/86Sr) and biodistance analyses of archaeological human skeletal material carried out to assess the validity of the theory of a LMIB (ca. 1490/1470 BC) Mycenaean invasion of Crete and imposed political domination of Knossos, and thus shed more light onto the question of the LMIB destructions and the subsequent cultural upheaval on the island. These analyses show that the people buried in post- LMIB tombs at Knossos, traditionally associated with Mycenaeans based on material culture evidence, were in fact born locally and not in the Argolid. Further, the analyses presented reject the possibility that these people may represent the descendants of immigrants from the latter region. Additional negative evidence for the theory tested comes from further cranial and dental morphological analyses presented in the author’s doctoral thesis, as well as the material culture itself, briefly discussed here.


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