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Thread: African female heritage in Malta : 15.9% mtDna L

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    African female heritage in Malta : 15.9% mtDna L

    According to a recent study "The Genetic Heritage of the Maltese Islands: A MATRILINEAL PERSPECTIVE" published in 2016 :

    https://www.academia.edu/28022956/Th...AL_PERSPECTIVE

    African mtDna L haplogroups were found at a high rate of 15.9 % (21/132) in Malta. The most common L haplogroup is L2a1c6 (17/132) which emerged between 600 and 2,900 years ago.

    As per the authors, this is probably not linked to Islamic period :

    "In an analysis of all the persons in the populations having mutations identifying them as haplogroup L, which is geographically associated with Africa, the Maltese population did not share haplotypes with any North African populations, as had been expected due to the geographical proximity. In a study on Haplogroup L lineages Cerezo et al. estimated that the L2a1c6 haplogroup, the most common L haplogroup in Malta, emerged between 600 and 2,900 years ago. Whilst the spread of this haplogroup, which in modern Europe can also be found in Spain and Portugal might have occured at any time dating from the Carthaginian period to the Middle Ages, it would seem improbable for these set of mutations to have arrived in Malta during the Arab period, without them leaving any trace in Sicily, Tunisia or Libya. The high percentage of the population with this haplotype in Malta when compared to Spain and Portugal indicates that a genetic bottleneck occurred"

    Apart Portugal (see table below) where mtDna L were found at 22% in Alcacer do Sal (and > 10% in South Portugal), this is the highest mtDna L frequency ever reported in Europe.


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    This confirm that Maltese are not just transplanted Sicilians (it is also visible on autosomal basis for the higher North African admixture in the Maltese group) because we do not have this high percentage of mtDNA L. To better say Maltese are mostly Sicilians colonizers (in muslim times) with some other influences, probably is due to pre-Roman antiquity that we were mostly Greek+local tribes (and two Punic settlements) while Malta was mostly Punic with minor Greek and probably some pre-Punic population who was probably some sort of tribe related to Sicani, Siculi or Elimi.

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    I'm skeptical that these lineages really predate the Islamic period considering that there's little to no continuity between the ancient Maltese and modern Maltese. The island was all but depopulated after the Aghlabid invasion until being repopulated by Muslim settlers, mostly from Sicily, in the mid-11th century. Despite claims (with little or no evidence) of an expulsion of the Muslim population following the island being retaken by Christians, it's clear based on surname continuity (most Maltese surnames of Semitic origin were first attested among 11th century Muslim peasants in Sicily) that the modern Maltese descend from both these Muslim settlers and from later Christian immigrants, who were also mostly from Sicily and elsewhere in Italy.

    That being said, there's certainly a possibility that these lineages postdate the Islamic period. African and other slaves were being brought to Malta as late as 1797, and I know of some Maltese people who can actually trace their genealogy to a manumesso (freedman). This would certainly be in line with the fact that astronomically high rates of L elsewhere in Europe, i.e. Alcácer do Sal and Madeira, are owed to the trans-Atlantic slave trade within the past 500 years rather than to any ancient event.

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    Portugal was a warlike slaver Empire, Portugal created the idea and was the first modern European seaborne Empire and nowadays places like Alcácer do Sal are not different from some of the Paris banlieues or London districts like Brixton, that's modernity. The first ethnic Portuguese were people from the Northern Minho and the moving Portuguese frontiers incorporated several different peoples with different origins and different nations since the Medieval wars and most of those populations were integrated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RCO View Post
    Portugal was a warlike slaver Empire, Portugal created the idea and was the first modern European seaborne Empire and nowadays places like Alcácer do Sal are not different from some of the Paris banlieues or London districts like Brixton, that's modernity. The first ethnic Portuguese were people from the Northern Minho and the moving Portuguese frontiers incorporated several different peoples with different origins and different nations since the Medieval wars and most of those populations were integrated.
    If you're intimating that the high rates of L found in Alcácer do Sal are due to immigrants from Africa being sampled in that study, I can assure you that this is not the case. The results are those of white ethnic Portuguese. Not sure why you're talking about Brixton or banlieues.

    I'm not sure you understood my statement.
    Last edited by fished; 03-16-2017 at 02:03 AM.

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    African contribution in Portugal can be very old, not only in Ancient and Medieval times but the "modern" Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade since the 15th century was relevant in several regions. We can find "white ethnic Portuguese" descendents of African slave L mtDNA haplogroup after centuries of trade, just like in several other places in Europe. A good pioneer article from 2014 can be found here: Genetic Evidence of African Slavery at the Beginning of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Rui Martiniano and Portuguese geneticists with Ron Pinhasi.
    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep05994
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    Quote Originally Posted by RCO View Post
    Portugal was a warlike slaver Empire, .
    who was not a slaver state !


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    Quote Originally Posted by RCO View Post
    African contribution in Portugal can be very old, not only in Ancient and Medieval times but the "modern" Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade since the 15th century was relevant in several regions. We can find "white ethnic Portuguese" descendents of African slave L mtDNA haplogroup after centuries of trade, just like in several other places in Europe.
    This is essentially the same thing that I said. Your point of contention seems to be that you're arguing that this is a common phenomenon in Europe's formerly colonialist states, when in fact recent African gene flow has only had a noteworthy (although still minor) impact on autosomal or mitochondrial DNA in Portugal. White English people from London or Liverpool don't score significant amounts of African mtDNA, despite those cities' importance in trade with Britain's colonies (including the slave trade). African genes being slowly absorbed into the indigenous population over the course of centuries doesn't have much in common with immigrants coming to Paris or London in the 20th or 21st centuries but still remaining a clearly separate ethnic group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fished View Post
    I'm skeptical that these lineages really predate the Islamic period considering that there's little to no continuity between the ancient Maltese and modern Maltese. The island was all but depopulated after the Aghlabid invasion until being repopulated by Muslim settlers, mostly from Sicily, in the mid-11th century. Despite claims (with little or no evidence) of an expulsion of the Muslim population following the island being retaken by Christians, it's clear based on surname continuity (most Maltese surnames of Semitic origin were first attested among 11th century Muslim peasants in Sicily) that the modern Maltese descend from both these Muslim settlers and from later Christian immigrants, who were also mostly from Sicily and elsewhere in Italy.

    That being said, there's certainly a possibility that these lineages postdate the Islamic period. African and other slaves were being brought to Malta as late as 1797, and I know of some Maltese people who can actually trace their genealogy to a manumesso (freedman). This would certainly be in line with the fact that astronomically high rates of L elsewhere in Europe, i.e. Alcácer do Sal and Madeira, are owed to the trans-Atlantic slave trade within the past 500 years rather than to any ancient event.
    Maltese have two kind of surnames: latin surnames (mostly sicilian) like Vella, Spiteri, Bonnici etc, and semitic/arabic like Said, Zammit, Fenech.
    If it's true what you say, maltese should be a good proxy of what it was part of Sicily genetically in the short muslim period and before the expulsion of the muslims and the repopulation of part of the island. And this explain why Maltese have more north african admixture.

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    Another "classic" article - The History of African Gene Flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines, and Jews, Nick Patterson, David Reich and other known geneticists. I would say most of the L mtDNA found in Southern Europe and in Europe is related to African movements in the last 1000 years and even in Britain, Central Europe we can find some "relatively recent African" haplogroups just like Y-DNA A and the L mtDNAs. After 3-4 generations the phenotype can change completely but the haplogroup remains. We can easily found non-European persons in conventional genealogy and detect non-European haplogroups when the persons are socially classified as "white ethnic", so it's a normal phenomenon.
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