August 07, 2017

Minoans and Mycenaeans

It is great to finally see the first data from the most ancient Greeks (Mycenaeans) and also the Cretan Minoans:

  • Ancestrally. both Mycenaeans and Minoans were basically Mediterranean, well outside the variation of most Europeans and Near Easterners and >75% from early European-Anatolian farmers.
  • Phenotypically, they were dark-haired/eyed
  • They weren't pure Mediterraneans, but also partly "West_Asian". Bronze Age people from S.W. Anatolia were even more "West_Asian".
  • Mycenaeans also had some "Ancient North Eurasian" ancestry, which may have come from either the north or east of Greece.
  • Two Minoans and a Mycenaean were haplogroup J2, one Minoan was G.
  • One high-status Mycenaean female from Messenia was not different from the other three Mycenaeans.

Modern Greeks from Greece are more "northern", more "European", and less "Mediterranean" than the Mycenaeans. Bust, Fst-wise Modern Greeks (and assorted neighbors) are still fairly close to Mycenaeans, more so than other people from Europe and the Middle East:

Nature (2017) doi:10.1038/nature23310

Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans

Iosif Lazaridis, Alissa Mittnik, Nick Patterson, Swapan Mallick, Nadin Rohland, Saskia Pfrengle, Anja Furtwängler, Alexander Peltzer, Cosimo Posth, Andonis Vasilakis, P. J. P. McGeorge, Eleni Konsolaki-Yannopoulou, George Korres, Holley Martlew, Manolis Michalodimitrakis, Mehmet Özsait, Nesrin Özsait, Anastasia Papathanasiou, Michael Richards, Songül Alpaslan Roodenberg, Yannis Tzedakis, Robert Arnott, Daniel M. Fernandes, Jeffery R. Hughey, Dimitra M. Lotakis, Patrick A. Navas, Yannis Maniatis, John A. Stamatoyannopoulos, Kristin Stewardson, Philipp Stockhammer, Ron Pinhasi, David Reich, Johannes Krause & George Stamatoyannopoulos

The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean1, 2, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus3 and Iran4, 5. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia6, 7, 8, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe1, 6, 9 or Armenia4, 9. Modern Greeks resemble the Mycenaeans, but with some additional dilution of the Early Neolithic ancestry. Our results support the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean, before and after the time of its earliest civilizations.