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Thread: Bell Beaker R1b-L21

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    Cool Bell Beaker R1b-L21

    Ever since L21 was rediscovered and made available for commercial testing in late 2008, its probable birthplace has been hotly debated. The initial gusher of L21 among Irishmen and men of Irish descent led many to conclude that L21 must have been born in Ireland. A "back migration" was posited for L21 found elsewhere. Sometimes it was attributed to wandering Irishmen, e.g., "randy monks", and "Wild Geese". When it was discovered in the course of testing that the y-dna L21 in Ireland was exclusively DF13 (and subclades), enthusiasm for an Irish origin waned. Some then turned to Britain as the likely birthplace of L21. Others believe that L21 was born somewhere on the European continent.

    Since it is widely (but not universally) believed that Bell Beaker men brought L21 or the y-dna line immediately ancestral to L21 to the British Isles and Ireland, how has the recent spate of Bell Beaker y-dna test results affected the problem of the L21 Urheimat?

    Of the ten British Bell Beaker y-dna test results in the recent Olalde et al paper, The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwest Europe, eight were R1b-L21, and of those eight, six were R1b-DF13.

    Bell Beaker R1b-L21

    Bell Beaker R1b-L21 Olalde et al May 2017.jpg

    The oldest of those R1b-L21 Bell Beaker skeletons, by more than a century, as one can see, are as follows:

    I2457 2480-2031 BC (Amesbury, Wiltshire) Midpoint: 2255 BC

    I2565 2470-2140 (Amesbury, Wiltshire) Midpoint: 2305 BC ("The Companion")

    I2447 2400-2040 BC (Yarnton, Oxfordshire) Midpoint: 2220 BC


    I2565 above is the oldest of the three, at least based on the mid-point of his rc-based age estimate. He is the Amesbury Bell Beaker man known as "The Companion", because his skeleton was found only a few meters from the burial of the famous Amesbury Archer. The Archer and The Companion share unusual bone structure in their feet, which indicates that they were related. Here are some remarks on that from Wessex Archaeology:

    Quote Originally Posted by Wessex Archaeology
    An analysis of the bones later showed that he [The Companion] and the Archer were related as they both had the same unusual bone structure in their feet – the heel bone had a joint with one of the upper tarsal bones in the foot. This proves they were related, and it is even possible that they were father and son, though this is not certain.
    Isotope analysis indicated that the Archer probably grew up on the Continent, perhaps in the region of the Alps, but that The Companion may have been raised in southern England or someplace on the Continent geologically similar to southern England.

    http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/book/export/html/5

    Unfortunately, Olalde et al did not publish the Archer's y-dna test results, possibly because of poor coverage, or perhaps (hopefully) because they are saving them for a separate paper. Anyway, if The Companion was the Archer's son, then the Archer himself was R1b-L21, as well. Certainly, at any rate, the Archer and The Companion were closely related. If the Archer was R1b-L21, that would make it extremely unlikely that L21 originated in Britain, since the Archer was evidently born and raised on the Continent.

    YFull's current estimate for the birth of the mrca of L21 is about 2400 BC. If that is right, then L21 had a very narrow window in which to be born in Britain, since the earliest known Bell Beaker burials there date to about that time. The earliest in Ireland date to about 2300 BC. Olalde et al found no R1b or steppe dna at all in Britain predating Bell Beaker, so it is extremely unlikely that L21 was already there before the Beaker Folk arrived.

    IMHO, L21 is older by at least a couple of centuries than YFull's current estimate (which is based on the NGS test results submitted to them by living men). If I am right, that would render it almost impossible for Britain or Ireland to have been the birthplace of L21.

    The Companion:

    Bell Beaker The Companion Amesbury R1b-L21.jpg
    Last edited by rms2; 06-03-2017 at 05:17 PM. Reason: Omission
     


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  3. #2
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    So, if not in Britain or Ireland, where did L21 originate?

    This is just my opinion, and I could be wrong (obviously), but I think L21 probably arose somewhere in Central Europe, probably in the Alpine region in the vicinity of the headwaters of both the Danube and the Rhine. I am basing that opinion on the isotope analysis of the Amesbury Archer's tooth enamel and on the fact that British Bell Beakers were autosomally closest to Bell Beakers from the Lower Rhine, which I think indicates a migration path from Central Europe down the Rhine Valley to the North Sea coast and across to SE Britain.

    This is from the abstract of the Olalde et al paper, page 3:

    Beginning with the Beaker period, and continuing through the Bronze Age, all British individuals harboured high proportions of Steppe ancestry and were genetically closely related to Beaker-associated individuals from the Lower Rhine area.
    This is from pages 6-7:

    British Beaker Complex individuals (n=19) show strong similarities to the central European Beaker Complex both in genetic profile (Extended Data Fig. 1) and in material culture: the great majority of individuals from both regions are associated with “All Over Corded” Beaker pottery. The presence of large amounts of Steppe-related ancestry in the British Beaker Complex (Fig. 2a) contrasts sharply with Neolithic individuals from Britain (n=35), who have no evidence of Steppe genetic affinities and cluster instead with Middle Neolithic and Copper-Age populations from mainland Europe (Extended Data Fig. 1). Thus, the arrival of Steppe ancestry in Britain was mediated by a migration that began with the Beaker Complex. A previous study showed that Steppe ancestry arrived in Ireland by the Bronze Age, and here we show that – at least in Britain – it arrived by the Copper Age / Beaker period.

    Among the different continental Beaker Complex groups analysed in our dataset, individuals from Oostwoud (Province of Noord-Holland, The Netherlands) are the most closely related to the great majority of the Beaker Complex individuals from southern Britain (n=14). They had almost identical Steppe ancestry proportions (Fig. 2a), the highest shared genetic drift (Extended Data Fig. 4b) and were symmetrically related to other ancient populations using f4-statistics (Extended Data Fig. 4a), showing that they are consistent with being derived from the same ancestral population without additional mixture into either group.
    Last edited by rms2; 06-03-2017 at 03:46 PM.
     


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    Great write-up, thanks.

    Is there a simple breakdown of continental L21 men and their subclades? Even if it is accepted that L21 originated on the continent, I'm wondering if what you've written here necessarily counters the back migration theories.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGM View Post
    Great write-up, thanks.

    Is there a simple breakdown of continental L21 men and their subclades? Even if it is accepted that L21 originated on the continent, I'm wondering if what you've written here necessarily counters the back migration theories.
    If you are talking about modern men, probably the best source is the R L21, Z290 and Subclades Project, although it may require some fishing through the DNA Results pages.

    Personally, I think ancient y-dna always trumps modern y-dna and theories based on modern y-dna.
     


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    Dad's mtDNA: K1a1

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    Quote Originally Posted by RGM View Post
    . . . Even if it is accepted that L21 originated on the continent, I'm wondering if what you've written here necessarily counters the back migration theories.
    I was just thinking about that part of what you wrote, and I think I get what you were driving at, which is, even if L21 was born on the Continent, some of the L21 there now may be the result of British and Irish men migrating there.

    No doubt that is true, but the back migration idea was always part of the L21 Isles-origin hypothesis, which is why I answered the way I did. You will find some continental L21 here and there that descends pretty obviously from some Isles progenitor, but much of it does not. I know from my days as the admin of the old R L21 Project (now in new and very capable hands) that most of our continental L21s have no close Isles STR matches, and some of them have no STR matches of any kind.
     


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    Quote Originally Posted by RGM View Post
    I'm wondering if what you've written here necessarily counters the back migration theories.
    I'm recalling the recent re-posting of some comments from the "Deconstructing" paper by Christian Jeunesse, including this nugget:

    • The hypothesis of Rückstrom: for obvious reasons, which it is not
    necessary to detail here, another pillar of current research on the
    Bell Beaker, the thesis of the Rückstrom would never have been
    created.


    A lot of that back migration, reflux stuff is perhaps a house built upon the sand. Not to say that there is, or was, no back migration; but it should not be assumed, as the default explanation of anything that contradicts what we've been thinking for a while. The thread on which this was discussed a bit, before some posters lost their civility, was here: http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthre...l=1#post237275
    Last edited by razyn; 06-04-2017 at 11:13 AM. Reason: Removed an umlaut I had added because I was thinking Swedish and German doesn't use that one.

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    I think the L21 Isles-origin idea is about dead, but the coup de grace would have come had the Amesbury Archer's results been included in Olalde et al and shown he was R1b-L21.

    The Companion's R1b-L21 does almost as well, IMHO, but the diehards will never accept it.
     


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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    So, if not in Britain or Ireland, where did L21 originate?

    This is just my opinion, and I could be wrong (obviously), but I think L21 probably arose somewhere in Central Europe, probably in the Alpine region in the vicinity of the headwaters of both the Danube and the Rhine. I am basing that opinion on the isotope analysis of the Amesbury Archer's tooth enamel and on the fact that British Bell Beakers were autosomally closest to Bell Beakers from the Lower Rhine, which I think indicates a migration path from Central Europe down the Rhine Valley to the North Sea coast and across to SE Britain
    I agree, somewhere along the Rhine River between the Alps and the the North Sea would be a logical choice. I'm gonna stay neutral and say Switzerland
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    I'm a complete novice on the subject, so apologies if I'm stumbling out onto old battlefields. I promise my questions come from ignorance rather than ignorance.

    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    You will find some continental L21 here and there that descends pretty obviously from some Isles progenitor, but much of it does not. I know from my days as the admin of the old R L21 Project (now in new and very capable hands) that most of our continental L21s have no close Isles STR matches, and some of them have no STR matches of any kind.
    Well, that goes for many men regardless of origin. I have M222 men of Irish origin in my project with no STR matches. STRs, while very useful, have of course given way to SNPs. The reason I made that comment is because I've looked at this L21 tree of many men who have done advanced SNP testing: http://www.ytree.net/DisplayTree.php?blockID=3 . I noticed that while there are a number of continental men sprinkled throughout, the vast majority seem to be part of Isles-dominated subclades. I suppose my thinking was that if L21 originated all the way out in the middle of Europe, wouldn't there be distinctly continental subclades with no Isles presence at all? What would explain the lack of such subclades?

    I realize that link is hardly all-encompassing, and perhaps such subclades do in fact exist. That was why I was asking if there are other resources. I suppose I can trudge through the L21 project myself and see what's in there. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do any work!
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