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    North African-related ancestry in eleventh-century Al-Andalu (discussion)

    Biomolecular insights into North African-related ancestry, mobility and diet in eleventh-century Al-Andalus
    Marina Silva, Gonzalo Oteo-García, Rui Martiniano, João Guimarães, Matthew von Tersch, Ali Madour, Tarek Shoeib, Alessandro Fichera, Pierre Justeau, M. George B. Foody, Krista McGrath, Amparo Barrachina, Vicente Palomar, Katharina Dulias, Bobby Yau, Francesca Gandini, Douglas J. Clarke, Alexandra Rosa, António Brehm, Antònia Flaquer, Teresa Rito, Anna Olivieri, Alessandro Achilli, Antonio Torroni, Alberto Gómez-Carballa, Antonio Salas, Jaroslaw Bryk, Peter W. Ditchfield, Michelle Alexander, Maria Pala, Pedro A. Soares, Ceiridwen J. Edwards & Martin B. Richards
    Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 18121 (2021)

    Historical records document medieval immigration from North Africa to Iberia to create Islamic al-Andalus. Here, we present a low-coverage genome of an eleventh century CE man buried in an Islamic necropolis in Segorbe, near Valencia, Spain. Uniparental lineages indicate North African ancestry, but at the autosomal level he displays a mosaic of North African and European-like ancestries, distinct from any present-day population. Altogether, the genome-wide evidence, stable isotope results and the age of the burial indicate that his ancestry was ultimately a result of admixture between recently arrived Amazigh people (Berbers) and the population inhabiting the Peninsula prior to the Islamic conquest. We detect differences between our sample and a previously published group of contemporary individuals from Valencia, exemplifying how detailed, small-scale aDNA studies can illuminate fine-grained regional and temporal differences. His genome demonstrates how ancient DNA studies can capture portraits of past genetic variation that have been erased by later demographic shifts—in this case, most likely the seventeenth century CE expulsion of formerly Islamic communities as tolerance dissipated following the Reconquista by the Catholic kingdoms of the north.

    Uniparental genetic background of the Segorbe Giant
    We confirmed that the individual was genetically male (RY > 0.077; Supplementary Fig. S3), and both his uniparental markers point towards North African origins (Supplementary Table S2). He belongs to mtDNA haplogroup U6a1a1a (nomenclature according to Hernández et al.28). Although U6 in general, and U6a in particular, is present in higher frequencies in North and West Africa29,30, the complete mitochondrial genome dataset currently available is heavily biased towards Europe, and U6a1a1a, which dates to 3.5 thousand years ago (ka) (maximum-likelihood node estimation based on modern variation), appears to have a more southern European distribution (Fig. 1a; Supplementary Fig. S4). However, in our Iberian mitogenome dataset, U6a1a1a occurs only at 0.3%, whereas the HVS-I (hypervariable segment I) subclade U6a1a1, defined by a transition variant at position 16239, which nests U6a1a1a, is found at ~ 14% in Algerian Mozabite Berbers

    Haplogroup U6a1 has been found in Moroccan Iberomaurusian remains dating to 14–15 ka32, as well as in Early Neolithic Morocco (i.e. the pre-agricultural Holocene)2 (Fig. 1b). Although U6 lineages have been retrieved from sixteenth century CE Islamic burials in Granada (Andalusia)6, to our knowledge, UE2298/MS060 (dating to the eleventh century CE) is the earliest documented finding of a U6 lineage in Iberia. Based on the results of our newly generated Iberian mitochondrial dataset (n = 1104: 1008 sequences from mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands, plus 96 from mainland Portugal), U6a can be found at a frequency of 1.6% in modern mainland Iberian populations, with a peak of 3.6% in the south of Spain (Fig. 1b). This pattern contrasts with most mitochondrial lineages today in Iberia, although a peak of frequency in the south of the Peninsula is also observed for typically sub-Saharan African L lineages (but not for the predominantly northeast African haplogroup M136) (Supplementary Fig. S5; Supplementary Table S5). UE2298/MS060 falls outside the modern geographic distribution of U6 lineages in Spain, suggesting that the present distribution might not reflect the medieval distribution of this haplogroup. A detailed phylogeographic analysis of U6 can be found in Supplementary Note 1.

    We assigned UE2298/MS060 to the Y-chromosome haplogroup E1b1b1b1 (E–M310) (Supplementary Table S2), dating to ~ 13.9 [12.1–15.7] ka (Yfull, v.6.06.15) and immediately basal to the clade nesting E–M81 (E1b1b1b1a) (Fig. 2; Supplementary Figs. S6 and S7). E1b1b is very frequent in contemporary North Africa and has been found in North African and Levantine remains2,32,33,37 (Supplementary Fig. S8). E–M81 (E1b1b1b1a), dating to ~ 2.8 ka (YFull, v.6.06.15), has been retrieved from early Islamic remains (seventh–eighth century CE) in southern France38, whereas the more derived E1b1b1b1a1 has been found in two individuals from an Islamic necropolis in the city of Valencia, dating to twelfth–thirteenth century CE6. E–M81 is today predominantly found in the Maghreb (where its average frequency is > 40%) and peaks in modern Berber populations, with frequencies reaching > 80%39,40,41, being almost fixed in some groups, such as the southern Moroccan Tachlhit-speakers42 and the Chenini–Douiret and Jradou from Tunisia40. In Europe, it is found mostly in Iberia and Sicily at frequencies < 5%
    YFull: YF14620 (Dante Labs 2018)

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