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Thread: What is your theory regarding the origins of Greeks?

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    What is your theory regarding the origins of Greeks?

    When it comes to tracking down ancient migrations of ethnolinguistic peoples, ancient DNA has been amazing. I think we have been spoiled a little bit in some senses, as some migrations are glaringly obvious via the combination of genetics, archaeology and linguistics like the Indo-Iranian migrations for example, but others have not been as obvious. A big one in my opinion are the Greeks. A big problem is though that we barely have any ancient genetic data (the amount of Mycenaean samples in Lazardis is laughable and you know it!) from ancient Greeks to work on, and archaeology is not exactly our saviour here either, which is something I cannot understand. The Greeks are so prominent in history, and in the west it is such a fundemental cornerstone of our concept of civilization, yet we haven't figured out where they came from in 2020?

    Anyways, I know some new data from ancient Greece is on it's way and it could perhaps help us significantly trying to solve this question, but in the meantime, let's speculate on origins!

    I initially thought a late Catacomb culture offshoot, particularly the KMK/Babino culture made a lot of sense as they were in close proximity to Indo-iranian material cultures (Graeco-Aryan?), dabbled in chariotmaking and they also seemingly started to migrate towards the Balkans at the end of the 2nd millenium B.C. The weaponry of Mycenaean Greece show strong parallels to the types of the Seima-Turbino phenomenon, and the Borodino hoard near Odessa, Ukraine show these similarities as well. But I'm not too sure if the genetics are in agreement with this, amd from what I have heard this is perhaps not the direction we should be looking.

    These are the other options of course,

    The linguistic ancestors of Greeks could've beem the early steppe migrants towards the Balkans, which settled there and mixed in with the native populations. Like those Varna outliers, or the Suvorovo migrations.
    This could be possible but I think it's likelier these were Anatolian migrants. There is toponymic evidence all over the eastern mediterannean, including Greece and Southern Bulgaria, which indicates that an Anatolian, possibly Luwic speaking population had dwelled there.

    Perhaps Greece is the result of later steppe excursions towards the Balkans, from either the Fatyanovo or Yamnaya-period migrants. I'm really not familiar with the various material cultures in the southern Balkans from this time period so I can't think of any culture that would be an obvious candidate.

    Or alternatively, something more western, from the Carpatian Basin to the western Balkans? No clue, this is why I would like to hear what you think!

    Some questions:

    • When do you think the linguistic ancestors of the Greek peoples entered Greece? Rough estimates of course.
    • From where did they come? And please be more elaborate than "insert country here" hahaha . What I mean is which direction, which "steppe" population, which material culture. That kind of stuff!
    • Which haplogroups would you associate with the Indo-European migrants that became the Greeks?
    • Given that Proto-Greeks likely were not 100% LNBA populations, what do you think the rough average genetic contribution of the Proto-Greeks would be in ancient Greek populations? and additionally, modern Greeks? I think we will find a higher degree of steppe ancestry fluctuation in the new Greek samples by the way.

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    I think Catacomb culture still makes most sense, with an arrival in Early Bronze Age III (2400-2000BC). In terms of y-haplogroups I expect mostly Z2103 (which I think was already found in CC) and maybe PF7562. But I think PF7562 is probably older and arrived in the West-Balkans before the Greeks arrived in Greece. I think the genetic contribution of these proto Greeks was not all that big, and that the Steppe component in the general population of Greece was steadily rising as it was a bit of a genetic sink for trickling in populations from the north with a larger Steppe component.

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    Probably the Ancient Greeks came initially from the Northern Balkans, but later they definitely had more and more of what is called Eastern Mediterranean - Anatolian and Levantine. The Roman study, which undoubtedly includes many Greeks from Magna Grecia and migrants during the Imperial period proves it. Main haplogroups are J2a and J1, together with T1 and G2a. E-V13 and R1b from Eastern branches are minor haplogroups.

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    The Roman paper has Romans as ~12.5% R1b which is ridiculous anyway.

    Regarding Ancient Greeks probably the IE speakers were R1b - Z2103 who mixed with J2a and G2a Pelasgians to form the Mycenean era Greeks. During Late Bronze, during the turmoil E-V13 appears into the scene as a third layer contributing to Illyrians/Thracians/Greeks. Who were the E-V13 migrants and where did they come from is a mystery for now.

    Some say they were part of Eastern Urnfield complex who brought Naue II swords and cremation rituals into the Balkans, somehow the TMRCA of E-V13 and archeological evidences do point into this direction. Add that E-V13 was most likely absent in Balkans prior to Late Bronze Age.

    Today, most common Y-DNA in Greece are E-V13, J2a and R1b-Z2103, I2a, G2a.
    Last edited by Hawk; 10-30-2020 at 07:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk View Post
    The Roman paper has Romans as ~12.5% R1b which is ridiculous anyway.
    no it doesn't..

    "The Iron Age witnessed a striking shift in the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups compared to previous periods, indicative of large-scale immigration before the Iron Age (our dataset did not contain any Bronze Age individual from central Italy). Five of the seven male individuals in this time period belong to the R-M269 (R1b1a2) group, which is not observed in the nine earlier male samples. Unlike the general R-M343 (R1b) haplogroup, the R-M269 subgroup is thought to be tightly associated with Steppe related ancestry, as it was absent in ancient individuals in western Europe before 3,000 BCE but found in all Bronze Age Yamnaya males from Russia (c.3,500-3,000 BCE), >90% males associated with the Beaker-complex in Bronze Age Britain (c.2,700-2,500) and nearly 100% of males in Iberia after 2,000 BCE. Therefore, the appearance of R-M269 at high frequency (5 out of 7) in central Italy is consistent with the arrival of Steppe ancestry detected based on autosomal SNPs, via migration of Steppe pastoralists or intermediary populations in the preceding Bronze Age.”

    (Antonio et al. 2019, Supplementary material) https://science.sciencemag.org/conte...Antonio_SM.pdf

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    The origins of the Greek language according to David W. Anthony:

    "The only major post-Anatolian branch that is difficult to derive from the steppes is Greek. One reason for this is chronological: Pre-Greek probably split away from a later set of developing Indo-European dialects and languages, not from Proto-Indo-European itself. Greek shared traits with Armenian and Phrygian, both of which probably descended from languages spoken in southeastern Europe before 1200 BCE, so Greek shared a common background with some southeastern European languages that might have evolved from the speech of the Yamnaya immigrants in Bulgaria. As noted in chapter 3, Pre-Greek also shared many traits with pre-Indo-Iranian. This linguistic evidence suggests that Pre-Greek should have been spoken on the eastern border of southeastern Europe, where it could have shared some traits with Pre-Armenian and Pre-Phrygian on the west and pre-Indo-Iranian on the east. The early western Catacomb culture would fit these requirements, as it was in touch with southeastern Europe on one side and with the developing Indo-Iranian world of the east on the other. But it is impossible, as far as I know, to identify a Catacomb-culture migration that moved directly from the western steppes into Greece.

    A number of artifact types and customs connect the Mycenaean Shaft Grave princes, the first definite Greek speakers at about 1650 BCE, with steppe or southeastern European cultures. These parallels included specific types of cheekpieces for chariot horses, specific types of socketed spearheads, and even the custom of making masks for the dead, which was common on the Ingul River during the late Catacomb culture, between about 2500 and 2000 BCE. It is very difficult, however, to define the specific source of the migration stream that brought the Shaft Grave princes into Greece. The people who imported Greek or Proto-Greek to Greece might have moved several times, perhaps by sea, from the western Pontic steppes to southeastern Europe to western Anatolia to Greece, making their trail hard to find. The EHII/III transition about 2400-2200 BCE has long been seen as a time of radical change in Greece when new people might have arrived, but the resolution of this problem is outside the scope of this book".
    "The Horse the Wheel and Language, How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes shaped the Modern World", by David W Anthony, pages 368 and 369

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    KMK is the best candidate at the moment because of the evidence for migration into the Balkans during the relevant time period. It also absorbed influences from the early Srubnaya culture moving westwards, which probably included chariots and possibly genetic input as well.

    Most of Catacomb is a bit early and lacks evidence for chariot use, but the direct descendant KMK has all the right characteristics as far as I can tell. Late Catacomb by the Ingil river as David Anthony describes at around 2200-2000 BCE, that would be KMK as far as I understand.

    aDNA will help us out in the coming years, I'm sure.

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    CARLOS ALBERTO CASTELO a epigraphist can and will be very interested in explaining to you about the origins of Greek and Latin languages the most indo european based languages i did have a conference with him years ago and i can assure you he was the best of all that i encountered until today

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    It is frustrating not to know when and how exactly [Pre-]Proto-Greek got to the Balkans, but we'll just have to be patient. Hopefully denser sampling of Southeastern Europe (Mathieson-style) will make it obvious which group brought what. Not just Greek, but Anatolian, Phrygian, and Armenian, too.
    Ελευθερία ή θάνατος.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michalis Moriopoulos View Post
    It is frustrating not to know when and how exactly [Pre-]Proto-Greek got to the Balkans, but we'll just have to be patient. Hopefully denser sampling of Southeastern Europe (Mathieson-style) will make it obvious which group brought what. Not just Greek, but Anatolian, Phrygian, and Armenian, too.
    I can only imagine how frustating this is for a grecomerican like yourself. Hopefully we do get a somewhat satisfying answer soon.

    But I'd like to hear your take on it though. I know it is pretty much stabbing into the dark, but what do you think is the origin of the Greeks? From when and where did their Indo-European ancestors come from?

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