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Thread: Mount Lebanon provides an opportunity to study DNA from the ancient Near East

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    Mount Lebanon provides an opportunity to study DNA from the ancient Near East

    PgmNr 2716: Mount Lebanon provides an opportunity to study DNA from the ancient Near East.
    Authors:
    M. Haber 1; Y. Xue 1; C. Scheib 2; C. Doumet-Serhal 3; T. Kivisild 4; C. Tyler-Smith 1

    Affiliations:
    1) Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom; 2) Estonian Biocentre, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia; 3) The Sidon excavation, Saida, Lebanon; 4) Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

    The hot climate of the Near East has limited the study of ancient DNA from this region. Here, we sequenced five whole genomes from ~1,600-year-old individuals who lived during the Roman period in a village in Mount Lebanon. We consistently found surviving endogenous DNA in the petrous bones of the ancient individuals and we attribute this success to the mild climate of Mount Lebanon. The ancient individuals derived most of their ancestry from a population modelled by previously-reported Bronze Age individuals who lived on the Lebanese coast or inland in Jordan. In addition, we found steppe-like ancestry in the Roman Period individuals which we have previously detected in present-day Lebanese but not in Bronze Age individuals. This supports our previous proposition that the steppe ancestry penetrated the region more than 2,000 years ago, and genetic continuity in Lebanon is substantial. Our results show that individuals inhabiting the Mount Lebanon range likely shared similar ancestry with contemporaneous people living elsewhere in the region, but have higher chances of endogenous DNA surviving today and thus provide an opportunity to study past events more easily than in lowland Near Eastern samples.
    From Davidski's ASHG 2018 entry two days ago:

    https://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2018/...en-thread.html

    So, we now know the Steppe-admixture found to differentiate modern Lebanese from BA Lebanese, as found in Haber et al. (https://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S...97(17)30276-8), already existed before the 4th century AD. This should kill off for good some wild theories it arrived from Crusaders or North Europeans during Medieval era.

    In any case, although the study itself isn't out yet, and we don't have the samples yet - what's your take on the source of Steppe-admixture in Iron Age Levantines?

    Haber et al. in his study from 2017 suggested either Assyrians, Persians or Macedonians (aka Hellenistic Greeks):

    It is important to note here that Bronze Age Steppe populations used in the model need not be the actual ancestral mixing populations, and the admixture could have involved a population which was itself admixed with a Steppe-like ancestry population. The time period of this mixture overlaps with the decline of the Egyptian empire and its domination over the Levant, leading some of the coastal cities to thrive, including Sidon and Tyre, which established at this time a successful maritime trade network throughout the Mediterranean. The decline in Egypt’s power was also followed by a succession of conquests of the region by distant populations such as the Assyrians, Persians, and Macedonians, any or all of whom could have carried the Steppe-like ancestry observed here in the Levant after the Bronze Age.
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    I learn towards the Hellenistic Greek explanation. That's the most proximal source in time and we have historical evidence of Greek immigration to Syria and the Levant.

    I wouldn't rule out other contributions as well, but the Hellenistic connection seems like the strongest case to me.

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    I'm not so sure Greeks explain it, David makes a good point against it

    Persians and Greeks, especially pre-Slavic admixture Greeks, probably had about 15-20% of steppe ancestry, so even a few per cent of steppe ancestry in Roman era and modern Lebanese would require quite a bit of Persian and/or Greek admixture into the northern Levant. I'm not sure if that works?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruderico View Post
    I'm not so sure Greeks explain it, David makes a good point against it
    I agree. Greek input makes little sense to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psynome View Post
    I learn towards the Hellenistic Greek explanation. That's the most proximal source in time and we have historical evidence of Greek immigration to Syria and the Levant.

    I wouldn't rule out other contributions as well, but the Hellenistic connection seems like the strongest case to me.
    I don't think pre-Slavic Greeks had enough Steppe-derived admixture to elevate Steppe admixture in post-BA Levantines to 7%, without seriously affecting the autosomal clustering of of Levantines (Levantines would have to be ~30% ADMIXED with Mycenaeans-like, which can be modeled as 80% Minoans + 20% Steppe, for example). At least they cannot be the only source.

    I think the Mitanni are probably the first ones responsible for spreading Steppe ancestry along the Fertile Crescent via Assyrians.

    The Mitanni themselves were Hurrians, thus probably didn't have substantial Steppe ancestry, however judging by some theonyms, proper names and other terminology appearing in the Mitanni culture language there is substantial evidence suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion, thus bringing substantial Steppe admixture into the Mitanni and to Northern Fertile Crescent:





    Also, my own upstream subclade's TMRCA, Q-Y2209, which is quite common among the Middle Easterner Q-M378 subclades, seems to be dated to ~3900 YBP, coinciding with the appearance of the Mitanni in the northern rim of Mesopotamia at around 17th century BC.

    Q-M378 most likely originated in Central Asia and has been carried into Southwest Asia by Indo-Aryan migrations.

    However, looking at the map above we can see the Mitanni themselves didn't really have much of a presence in the littoral regions of the Levant (aka Lebanon).

    Later on, the Middle Assyrian Empire conquered the Mitanni, and later on, probably circa 10th century BC, during the wide expansion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, spread this Steppe admixture in the fertile crescent.




    However I don't think it was only one source, but continuous geneflow of several Steppe-rich populations mixing with Levantines over centuries.

    I think later arrivals such as the Persians and indeed the Greeks also added some more Steppe admixture.

    Also, Davidski suggests Celtic contribution via Galatians (so Anatolians), appearing at around the 4th century BC, which is also possible.
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    Would it be possible that a sort of "founder effect"-esque event could have happened autosomally here? As in, a group of Mitanni descended individuals spread their genes disproportionately among the local Levantine population?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86 View Post
    From Davidski's ASHG 2018 entry two days ago:

    https://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2018/...en-thread.html

    So, we now know the Steppe-admixture found to differentiate modern Lebanese from BA Lebanese, as found in Haber et al. (https://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S...97(17)30276-8), already existed before the 4th century AD. This should kill off for good some wild theories it arrived from Crusaders or North Europeans during Medieval era.

    In any case, although the study itself isn't out yet, and we don't have the samples yet - what's your take on the source of Steppe-admixture in Iron Age Levantines?

    Haber et al. in his study from 2017 suggested either Assyrians, Persians or Macedonians (aka Hellenistic Greeks):
    R1b-Z2103 is at a low-moderate frequency in the Levant. Could this be its arrival since it hasn't popped up BA or earlier? R1a-Z93 is also quite common in Arab groups.
    YDNA: R1b-Z220 (A7066+) (1800's Stepney, London(Bethnal Green), UK George Wood b. 1782
    maternal-grandfather YDNA: prob. I1 Gurr, George 1843, Feversham, Kent, England.
    maternal-grandmother YDNA: R1b-P311+ Beech, John Richard b. 1780, Lewes, England
    maternal-ggrandfather YDNA R1b-U106 Thomas, Edward b 1854, Sittingbourne, Kent
    paternal-ggf YDNA: R1b-L48. Gould, John Somerset England 1800s.
    paternal-ggf YDNA: R1b-L48. Scott, William Hamilton mdka Ireland(?) < 1800s

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    I had been skeptical of the Mittani contribution since I figured if it did happen, it must have been diluted for many centuries before the Roman period. But you all have made a good point. This isn't either/or. It makes sense that there could be a Mitanni contribution in addition to other inputs, including maybe Greek and Persian. Confirming Mitanni ancestry would really be impressive... measurable Indo Aryan ancestry as far as Lebanon!

    I also just thought of another possible source. There are theories that the IE ancestors of Phrygian and Armenian speakers migrated into Anatolia and Upper Mesopotamia after the Bronze Age collapse. Maybe they brought steppe ancestry close enough to the northern Levant for it to make an impact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik View Post
    Would it be possible that a sort of "founder effect"-esque event could have happened autosomally here? As in, a group of Mitanni descended individuals spread their genes disproportionately among the local Levantine population?
    Well, if for some reason the Assyrians, which are known to have extensively used exiles and populations transfer as a mean to discourage and prevent mutiny, exiled 3-4 villages with mostly Mitanni ethnic background to the Levant region, that might be possible. Judging by how haplogroup Q-M242 appears in the Middle East:



    It does seem to be slightly elevated specifically in Iran, Central Anatolia and the Levant (and I'll also add Southern Mesopotamia).

    But who knows.

    That map also correlates nicely btw with the Syro-Hittite "states" of the Iron Age:



    So this could also be another source.
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    Does anyone have detailed Y haplogroup info for Lebanese people? As far as I know, R1b is significantly more common than R1a, although both are present.

    Does anyone have more detailed subclade info for R1b in Lebanese people?

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