The Basques are genetically distinctive

By Razib Khan | December 16, 2011 4:57 pm

The Basque people of northern Spain loom large in any attempt to understand the ethnogenesis of European populations. That is because the speak the only indubitably indigenous non-Indo-European language in Western Europe. By this, I mean that other potential non-Indo-European languages such as the Tartessian or Pictish are either doubtful or uncertain in classification and understanding (Etruscan, or later Arabic in Spain, are not indigenous). As such they may lay claim to be representatives of a deeper pre-Indo-European substratum in the European population. Up until a few years ago the conventional view was that the Basques were the scions of the Paleolithic peoples of Western Europe, who eventually took up farming. Whether by chance or necessity, they alone retained the language of the original Europeans.

That view is now being challenged. It may be that the Basques were the descendants of the first emigres from the Near East, sweeping along the Mediterranean and Atlantic fringe, searching for arable land. This is no new orthodoxy, but if you grant this, then it opens up the likelihood that the European palimpsest is very complicated indeed. Of the public genome blogging projects Dienekes Pontikos has the most extensive database and greatest geographic coverage in the Dodecad Ancestry Project. He has repeatedly found that the Basques, along with the Finns, seem to lack a genetic element present in low amounts in other European populations, more or less, with a modal value in the trans-Caucasian region. The Spanish and the French as a whole exhibit admixture with this element, only their Basque minorities seem to lack it. The inference one can make from this is clear: these indigenous non-Indo-European peoples lack this component because it was introduced by Indo-Europeans! Now Dienekes has looked at the IBS (Spanish) sample from the 1000 Genomes, and the Basque distinctiveness jumps out again:

The labels are Dienekes’, so don’t take them literally. Additionally, remember that each component is a stylized representation in many cases, not a real ancestral component (e.g., one component might really be a hybrid). Rather, the slices give us a sense of population relationships. I claim from these results that the Basques are distinctive, but not distinct. The clearly overlap with other Spanish populations, more or less, but they stand out in having a far lower proportion of the “Caucasus” element. However you label this component, you generally see a similar deficiency in the Finns. Again, the Finns and the Swedes overlap, but the Swedes are distinctive in having this element at low proportions. Please note that quite often this component also differentiates Indo-European speaking South Asians from non-Indo-European ones! I think a “virtual genomes” method would be very interesting in exploring the commonalities across these populations.

Secondarily, also note that the Basque seem to lack the Northwest African/Southwest Asian component common in the other groups. This element exists even among other northern Spanish groups. The Basque exemption from tests of limpeza de sangue does seem justified; the only inference I can reasonably make is that the Moorish occupation left a substantial genetic impact on the peninsula. Far more than I would have thought. The standard ‘culturalist’ model is that the Spanish Muslims were predominantly converts, and their conversion back to Christianity between 1100 and 1600 (as Islam receded in Iberia) was a reversion. But these results lean me toward the proposition that many people with substantial Arab and Berber ancestry became Spanish Christians in the years of the reconquest. Such a substantial demographic impact due to what was a military conquest of a relatively small number (at least initially) increases my own suspicion that the Basques themselves are not the descendants of Paleolithic Iberians in totality.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Genetics, Human Genomics
MORE ABOUT: Basques
  • http://jackrusher.com Jack Rusher

    As regards the “Moorish” signal, we should probably keep the Punic contribution to the Spanish gene pool in mind. Many cities on the southern and eastern coasts of Spain were founded by sailor/merchants operating out of North Africa, most of whom were of mixed Berber/Phoenician heritage. I suspect relative genetic continuity between the Punics, the Moors and modern North Africans with a more cultural/linguistic than genetic contribution from Arabia.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #1, that makes sense until you notice that it’s found in many northern spanish regions too at high fractions. during the peak of the muslim dominion many berbers in fact were settled in this zone.

  • Onur

    I think Muslim Moorish ancestry of non-Basque Iberians seems substantial only because of the fact that non-Basque Iberians are Christian and Romance-speaking today. But it is very likely that just prior to the great Christian reconquests Muslim Iberians, who were mostly Arabic-speaking and constituted the majority of the Iberian population then, were genetically very similar to non-Basque Iberians of today (even in the proportions of the African components). Probably the Islamic conquest brought the overwhelming part of the African components (including “Northwest African”) of today’s Iberians while the subsequent Reconquista did not have any significant effect on the Iberian gene pool. So when we consider that the average non-Basque Iberian of today is genetically very similar to and even representative of the average Muslim Iberian of the era when the Iberian Muslim population was at its maximum extent, genetic impact of the Muslim conquest on Iberia does not look so much.

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    That only says what we already know: that Basques have not the same “alchemy” as real Iberians, which are all roughly the same (because they are descendant of Iberian Paleolithic people plus lesser Neolithic input).

    But this comparison is mostly pointless because the compared components are artificial “zombies” deduced by Dienekes (with some arbitrariness) in previous work. What we need is direct comparisons between Europeans, or Iberians too, at local/regional level. It may be useful to have a number of actual outgroups (like a real Caucasus population, which BTW, have not much to do with “Indoeuropeans” but rather with Neolithic Anatolians).

    The readings you and D. do are overall arbitrary and crazy and of little help. More and more people is writing to me annoyed at this “zombie” pop. nightmare.

  • Onur

    while the subsequent Reconquista did not have any significant effect on the Iberian gene pool

    Other than homogenizing the Iberian population by carrying the Muslim Moorish genetic elements to Christians (except Basques, who were as usual isolated). But as Christians were in the minority and Muslims were in the majority at the beginning, that homogenization probably did not make a significant difference on the average genetic profile of Iberia.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #3, i’m kind of confused. my point is that the NW african + sw asian is probably mostly from the berber-arab influx. do you disagree with that? or do you think the basque vs. non-basque distinction pre-dates that?

    That only says what we already know: that Basques have not the same “alchemy” as real Iberians, which are all roughly the same (because they are descendant of Iberian Paleolithic people plus lesser Neolithic input).

    i don’t think this was using the “zombie” populations that dienekes constructed, but that doesn’t matter. i’ve done the same analysis with the behar et al. without supervision (hypothesis free), and the distinction pops up between iberians and french basques in the same manner. the rest of your comment is kind of confusing to me.

  • John Emerson

    the likelihood that the * palimpsest is very complicated indeed.

    I think that this should be the default assumption in every case. For a couple of centuries authors have been constructing entire world views out of whichever bones and shards were available at the time they wrote.

  • AV

    Razib, are you proposing the possibility of the Caucasus component representing an Indo-European genetic signature in Europe (and possibly a distinguishing element in South Asia) under Colin Renfrew’s Neolithic Anatolia hypothesis?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #8, no. his model is too simple. though i think there is a large grain of truth there….

  • AV

    Thanks for the answer, Razib. Which hypothesis holds good for South-Asia, in your opinion? And, if a West-Asian origin for the proto-Indo Europeans is indeed true, what does the Northern European element among Pakistanis and Indians represent?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    And, if a West-Asian origin for the proto-Indo Europeans is indeed true, what does the Northern European element among Pakistanis and Indians represent?

    i think proto-indo-europeans were a compound of both elements actually. just happens that the basques had northern european before the indo-europeans showed up.

  • Onur

    #3, i’m kind of confused. my point is that the NW african + sw asian is probably mostly from the berber-arab influx. do you disagree with that?

    I agree with that (you can also include the “East African” component in that mix, though “Southwest Asian” component of Iberians probably bears less Berber-Arab mark compared to their African components). My point is that the Reconquista probably did not make a significant change on the average Iberian genetics. Its main contribution was the homogenization of the Iberian gene pool by carrying the Berber-Arab genetic elements to the segments of the Iberian population who had never became Muslim (except Basques) and as a result had not been affected by the Berber-Arab genetic input during the Muslim rule, but as those segments were in the minority in Iberia that did not make a significant change on the average Iberian genetics. So I think non-Basque Iberians of today are genetically very similar to and maybe indistinguishable from Muslim Iberians of the times when Muslim population was at its maximum extent in Iberia. This is why I think the Berber-Arab genetic impact in Iberia is not that significant.

    or do you think the basque vs. non-basque distinction pre-dates that?

    The Basque vs. non-Basque genetic distinction must surely be thousands of years old in Iberia, because there is Basque vs. non-Basque genetic distinction also in France, which has never been under Muslim rule. The Basque isolation seems to have persisted for thousands of years right up to the present day. The Muslim rule of Iberia is just a small part of that long era of Basque isolation.

  • Onur

    The Basque vs. non-Basque genetic distinction must surely be thousands of years old in Iberia, because there is Basque vs. non-Basque genetic distinction also in France, which has never been under Muslim rule. The Basque isolation seems to have persisted for thousands of years right up to the present day. The Muslim rule of Iberia is just a small part of that long era of Basque isolation.

    Also, there is Basque vs. non-Basque genetic distinction everywhere. Basques are a genetically unique human population.

  • Matt

    Yeah, I’m not sure about associating the Caucasus component with Indo-Europeans when it seems weird in that it is a huge presence in say, Egyptians and has a similar, very low, presence in people from Ethiopia to that of the British Isles. There is not a huge difference in the Caucasus component in Orcadians and French Basques (0.4% vs 0.1%).

    I think these components reflects a tendency to take part in long range mixture patterns, i.e. a rolling snowball pattern, but bidirectional, not a unidirectional skipping stone pattern by ancient populations with a centre somewhere. The Basques are an isolated population with a minimum of participation in these patterns, so show a minimum of involvement as reflected by the PCA.

    I also think that these patterns are not necessarily one way – the Japanese tend to come up in Dienekes analysis as the most pure “Far Asian” population. But the Japanese are probably not a source population for the admixed appearing Chinese and Korean populations (with greater shares of the Southeast Asian component in particular) and probably are not a relict of the first East Asian farmers from the China plain and migration is probably not one direction from South East Asia into China. The Japanese are probably just an isolated island population.

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    “i don’t think this was using the “zombie” populations that dienekes constructed”

    Of course it is, Razib, otherwise we would not get these distinctions: where do you see the Caucasus population or whichever other one in this analysis? Nowhere!

    “the distinction pops up between iberians and french basques in the same manner”

    Sure: Basques are not regular Iberians, it remains to see if they are somehow related to South French/Occitan other than Gascons, sadly studies of French are almost non-existent, even if they are the pivotal demography of Europe.

    “the rest of your comment is kind of confusing to me”.

    I’m not really surprised because it was not very clear. But it is pointless to make a preliminary analysis with all-Earth populations, select a number of zombie components and then apply them to regional comparisons such as this one – at least it is pointless to do that only. Nobody does that (except Dienekes and sometimes Zack). The logical thing is to make a direct regional comparison and see what components show up, with and without control outgroups (in this case maybe Moroccans, Greeks and three French populations – that’s what I would use certainly).

    Here we are comparing several Iberian populations with anything but themselves. I am certain (because of previous works, like Bauchet 2007) that there is an Iberian-specific and a Basque-specific component. In some of the pre-zombie era of Dienekes’ self-research Lyon French also showed up as distinct from the NW European (a very consistent cluster) and other European clusters.

    PS- As it will probably come out in relation with Bauchet 2007 and such, I must say that more SNPs is not necessarily too helpful, the real matter is the sampling strategy:
    http://leherensuge.blogspot.com/2008/06/larger-samples-better-than-larger.html
    http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000109

  • Elfino

    Respect to the “far asian” blue line in Andalusia, there was some years ago a history about a soccer referee with the surnames “Japón Sevilla” (In Spain we have two surnames, the first from the father, the second from the mother).

    Japón is the spanish word for Japan. In 1614 some Japaneses arrived to Seville to visit the king of Spain. 6 of them didn’t return, and started to live in Seville. As someone had to give them a spanish surname, the were called “Japón”. There are 645 people with the surname “Japón” in Spain, most of them in the area of Seville… including this lady: http://estb.msn.com/i/09/5469A5917FB5092D2115F203A84B9.gif

    In Spanish: http://ecmes.wordpress.com/2006/05/04/japon-y-sevilla/

  • carpetanuiq

    “the speak the only indubitably indigenous non-Indo-European language in Western Europe”.

    Could anyone point to me to the scientific evidence (not legendary) that proves that basque is indubitably indigenous non-Indo-European language, that is that basque predates indoeuropean languages in SW europe and that the contrary is not the case, that is that IE predates basque in this area ?

    As for the genetic evidence do we have information about where this samples comes exactly from ? I tend to agree with Maju about this. These components seems to me artificial constructs. And I would like to see included data from the whole France, and specially individuals from SW france and other north pyrenean areas.

  • John Emerson

    “Indubitably proves” is strong language. Not much is indubitable in this area of study. But a wealth of linguistic and archaeological data allow the reconstruction of a fairly recent (last 6,000 years) Indo-European movement into Europe (and the Middle East, Central Asia, and India.) There’s very little evidence of any kind for a Basque migration during that period, or for the presence of Basques or Basque-related peoples anywhere else but where they are. The burden of proof would seem to be on those arguing that the Basques reached Spain after the Indo-Europeans did.

  • Onur

    though “Southwest Asian” component of Iberians probably bears less Berber-Arab mark compared to their African components

    Especially considering that non-Basque Iberians have only a little higher (~1%) average proportion of the “Southwest Asian” component than non-Basque French (Basques have much less average proportion of the “Southwest Asian” component (Basques have almost no “Southwest Asian component) than both, but as Basques are a population isolated for thousands of years they are irrelevant in this issue).

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ok, just to make it clear: the HGDP has french and french basques, and the exact same ‘west asian’ distinction emerges there.

    Yeah, I’m not sure about associating the Caucasus component with Indo-Europeans when it seems weird in that it is a huge presence in say, Egyptians and has a similar, very low, presence in people from Ethiopia to that of the British Isles. There is not a huge difference in the Caucasus component in Orcadians and French Basques (0.4% vs 0.1%).

    that’s noise at that level. anyway, i assume there is some isolation-by-distance at work in northern europe. the key is that there is a sharp drop off around the basques, not a gradual one. and as i note above, the west asian is present at genuine low frequencies (0-5%) in swedes in dienekes’ samples but ~0% in finns. that’s interesting.

    I also think that these patterns are not necessarily one way – the Japanese tend to come up in Dienekes analysis as the most pure “Far Asian” population. But the Japanese are probably not a source population for the admixed appearing Chinese and Korean populations (with greater shares of the Southeast Asian component in particular) and probably are not a relict of the first East Asian farmers from the China plain and migration is probably not one direction from South East Asia into China. The Japanese are probably just an isolated island population.

    these components aren’t “pure” populations. i made that pretty explicit above. why are you adding that point then?

    I must say that more SNPs is not necessarily too helpful, the real matter is the sampling strategy:

    to some extent i agree. but i think you underestimate the sampling coverage…though i would like more fine grained analysis of french too.

  • Elfino

    Another interesting fact about the unknown and fascinating Iberian Language. Few is known about this language that was spoken in the south and east of Spain before the Roman Empire arrived.

    At this moment there are a lot of theories, including a relation with Basque. Recently, the way iberian people counted has been deciphered… they counted in basque. This doesn’t mean iberian = basque, it means they could have had a common ancestor.

    I hope it helps. You can find more information about this in the wikipedia:

    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idioma_ib%C3%A9rico

    Of course, the origin of iberian language is a mystery, like Basque.

  • http://dienekes.blogspot.com Dienekes

    Yeah, I’m not sure about associating the Caucasus component with Indo-Europeans when it seems weird in that it is a huge presence in say, Egyptians and has a similar, very low, presence in people from Ethiopia to that of the British Isles. There is not a huge difference in the Caucasus component in Orcadians and French Basques (0.4% vs 0.1%).

    People from the British Isles have a high % of the related Gedrosia component. Gedrosia and Caucasus components are the two heads of the lower-order k5 component recently inferred by Metspalu et al. (2011), which was named “West Asian” by myself in a recent analysis, where the same contrast between Indo-European vs. non-Indo-European Europeans persisted

    http://dodecad.blogspot.com/2011/10/eurasia7-calculator.html

    Also, one should not think of either the k5/West Asian/Caucasus/Gedrosia components as Indo-European without qualification. But, I do believe that the discovered contrast in Europe suggests that they reflect a type of ancestry related to the Indo-Europeans.

    For example, if we studied Latin American Mestizos vs. isolated Amerindian tribes, we would observe presence of the Mediterranean component vs. its absence, and we would correctly infer that the Spanish-speaking ancestors of the Mestizos possessed this component whereas the Amerindians did not. This would not, of course, mean that all Mediterranean-bearing populations were Spanish-speaking. The Proto-Indo-Europeans can be viewed as a group of people that possessed a genetic element related to k5/Caucasus/Gedrosia.

    Re: Maju’s dismissal of this analysis, the test of science is when it makes predictions which are supported by the evidence. Well, based on the French Basques and a single Spanish Basque in my Project, I predicted that Spanish Basques would turn out to have a substantially lower Caucasus and the African components than other Iberians. I devised an apparatus (K12a) to test that prediction, and it did. So, you can dismiss “zombies” all you want, but the proof is in the pudding.

  • Grey

    I imagine these things as a mixture of pressure caused by differential population density and geographical paths of least resistance so it makes intuitive sense to me.

    Step 1) Hunter-gatherers somewhere, Africa or Southern India or wherever, and empty space as ice retreats. Hunter-gatherers expand to fill the vaccuum.

    Step 2) Neolithic farmers expand out in all directions from a start point somewhere in the Near East. Personally i don’t see any need for them to massacre the hunter-gatherers. If the farmers had a higher population density on suitable farming terrain then i think they’d more or less simply push the H-Gs off through weight of numbers. No doubt there’d be lots of skirmishing type conflict but on the whole i can imagine a quite rapid farming expansion along the path of least resistance / highest farming potential with the H-Gs gradually pushed back into the terrain unsuitable for farming (at that time). If the average population density differential was 5:1 then even if the two groups ended up with 50% of the terrain each the farmers would still be 5/6 of the total numbers, if 3:1 and 70% then 7/8, so once the two groups started mixing the paleolithic H-Gs would get mostly absorbed into the neolithic farmers.

    (I think it follows from this that the least accessible parts of Europe might have the highest concentration of paleo H-G DNA.)

    Step 3) Those of the neolithic farmers who settled at the northern edge were changed somewhat by the environment – perhaps because of diet – in two broad groups, northern european and caucasus. When the climate warmed up some of both the northern european and Caucasus groups moved onto the steppe – initally just as foot herders – but as the steppe was initially empty of people they could move rapidly east and west anyway. The west-moving part of the Caucasus group mixed with the eastern half of the northern european group somewhere in the general vicinity of the Ukraine. Further west, unmixed elements of the northern european group expanded in various directions including into Scandinavia and Britain.

    If so then coming into the historic period the three main population blocs would be
    – neolithic farmers + absorbed paleo HGs (south and central)
    – northern european (northwest)
    – mixed caucasus and northern european (northeast) (western IE?)

    (If true, it might follow that if the most inaccessible parts of Europe (coming from the south and east i.e neolithic direction) had the most paleo H-G DNA then the least accessible parts of europe (coming from the north and east i.e. IE direction) might have the least IE DNA i.e. an inverse relationship.)

  • Grey

    “I’m not sure about associating the Caucasus component with Indo-Europeans when it seems weird in that it is a huge presence in say, Egyptians

    May not be relevant but…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluk

    “lasting from the 9th to the 19th century AD”

    “The Abbasids bought slave-soldiers mainly from areas near the Caucasus (mainly Circassian and Georgian), and from areas north of the Black Sea (Kipchak and other Turks). Those captured had non-Muslim backgrounds.”

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #24, i don’t find the original point interesting. i pointed out in the post itself that one has to be cautious about these elements/components. but the commenter acted as if i wasn’t. the reality is that i don’t think

    1) the west asian/caucasian element is 1:1 correspondent with indo-european

    2) nor do i think it is exclusive to indo-europeans

    in particular, lots of other groups in the broader region should share it through simple isolation-by-distance. the weirdness is when you get discontinuities on the margins of the distribution, in western europe and india, tracking language differences.

  • Grey

    “i don’t think
    1) the west asian/caucasian element is 1:1 correspondent with indo-european
    2) nor do i think it is exclusive to indo-europeans”

    yes, that was the point i was making

    for the sake of argument
    1) caucacus + x -> western IE (early)
    2) caucasus + y -> eastern IE (early)
    3) caucasus + turkic -> kipchak/cuman -> egyptian mamelukes (much later)

    so the same component in varying compound form arriving in different places at different times.

  • carpetanuiq

    1. @John Emerson said: “The burden of proof would seem to be on those arguing that the Basques reached Spain after the Indo-Europeans did”.

    Not completely agreed. When one ´s analysis mixes language and genetics, and presuposes the pre-indoeuropean basque language in Europe hypothesis without contributing a single evidence for it, readers might think that one´s analysis is weak and ask for alternative explanations of these genetic differences (if they are confirmed to be real for basques vs non basques sw europeans in general, which remain to be seen) .

    The pre-indoeuropean basque hypothesis must explain why on earth could IE languages replace all other languages in Europe except basque in an area not so prehistorically nor historically isolated as people think. Also it must explain the very low time deepness of proto-basque as reconstructed by Gorrotxategui (based on basque dialects and aquitanian epigraphy) as well as the presence of some word loans from middle east in basque.

    On the other hand we know that Hungarians produced language replacement in Europe in IX a.d. with little genetic impact in present Hungary. That makes perfectly posible, at least in principle the post-IE basque in Europe hypothesis. Jean Manco has also presented other posible pre / proto-historical scenarios. Not to speak of my own hypothesis about late arrival of basque speakers to aquitania in IV b.c coming from middle east (asia minor /west iran).

    The burden of proof is on whom ? I would say that on defenders of any of the two hypothesis, pre-IE and post-IE. Personally, with the information I have, after having read all Trask, Gorrotxategui and other basques linguists works, beeing knoweledgeable regarding the archeology and genetics of the basque area (including Dienekes late genetics cooking), I am still waiting for definite scientific evidence of the pre-IE basque in Europe hypothesis. So I repeat if anyone has one, it is very welcomed.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    The pre-indoeuropean basque hypothesis must explain why on earth could IE languages replace all other languages in Europe except basque in an area not so prehistorically nor historically isolated as people think.

    isolates do exist. there are two in south asia (burushaski and kusunda).

    Not to speak of my own hypothesis about late arrival of basque speakers to aquitania in IV b.c coming from middle east (asia minor /west iran).

    unless the source population is extinct and very different from extant mid eastern populations, i’m 100% sure if your model is correct it is 100% elite diffusion (no genetic impact).

  • ackbark

    Can the sharp drop-off in frequency of ‘west asian’ among the Basques be a reaction against their surrounding populations?

    I mean, where they breed themselves toward a local, explicitly Basque standard of beauty and identity, contra their neighbors, the result being that it happens to decrease that ‘west asian’ signal?

    How present is it in Basque dna from 2,000 years ago?

  • Onur

    though i would like more fine grained analysis of french too.

    Me too. I am especially curious about the regional differences in the distribution of the “Southwest Asian” component. For instance, if non-Basque south French have very similar levels of “Southwest Asian” component to those of non-Basque Iberians, this implies that the “Southwest Asian” component of Iberians is totally or almost totally pre-Islamic.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #30, two points

    1) the HGDP “French” are from what i recall a cosmopolitan parisian sample. so they should have some of that. there are one or two individuals that show it, but unfortunately there is recent north african admixture among french (e.g., edith piaf had recent berber ancestry).

    2) why would the south french have north african admixture while north italian samples don’t? is all the gene flow via the straits only? (perhaps)

  • Onur

    Razib, my last post was only about the “Southwest Asian” component, not about the “Northwest African” and other African components. The HGDP North Italians have a “Southwest Asian” component average of 5.5%, thus well over both the French and Iberian averages. So it would not be strange if south French have very similar proportions of the “Southwest Asian” component to those of Iberians, especially given that the Iberian average is not much higher than the French average (only ~1% higher according to some datasets).

  • carpetanuiq

    1. Isolates. Yes you are right, they exist. And it is still possible that basque finally is proved to be one of them. At present I find evidence inconclusive and other possibilities has not been ruled out.

    Regarding Kusunda, there is some parallelism with Basques. Weird classifications as the one from Ruhlen, highly disputed, as usual, by historical linguists (see for instance Language Log) and intriguing genetic facts, similar to those found in Basques:

    “Prof. Peter de Knijff (LUMC) was one of the people responsible for the interpretation of the results of the mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome research for the whole study. ‘In addition, we came out with valuable material for the Kusunda, a tribe that lives in the Himalaya,’ says De Knijff. ‘Due to their unique language and their hunter-gatherer culture they might have turned out to be descendants of that first out-of-Africa wave. But our DNA analyses show that they cannot be genetically distinguished from their Nepalese neighbours.’”(http://www.news.leiden.edu/news-2011/australian-aboriginals.html). Besides this quote I have seen there is a post of yours stating that they lack northwestern component.

    2. Again right. My post-IE late basque migration hypothesis (half-cooked for lack of time, specially the genetic side) is elite (or at least minority) migration. It is linked/based to Celts incursion into Asia Minor/middle east (it turns out that the same celt tribes were present in Asia minor and Aquitania) and homophony of some aquitanian tribe names with asia minor/middle east tribe names.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #32, ah, ok. you might want to look at papers using the popres data sets.

  • Onur

    I was referring to some of the datasets used by Dienekes (including the Dodecad populations). Unfortunately the POPRES datasets are not publically available.

    With the available data, for Iberians, of the components of Dienekes’ K12a ADMIXTURE analysis, I think the only components bulk of which we can attribute to the Berber-Arab influx are the “Northwest African” and “East African” components; what proportion of the “Southwest Asian” component of Iberians comes from the Berber-Arab influx and whether bulk of it comes from that influx are much less clear.

  • John Emerson

    27: carpetanuiq: There is no special difficulty with Indo European having replaced all pre-IE languages in Europe except one. The Pyrenees can serve as a refuge, and there also might have been any of several other reasons: e.g., that the Basques were politically and militarily better organized than the other pre-IE peoples, or that they assimilated key aspects the intruding culture quickly enough to be able to defend themselves, or both. There’s no evidence for these hypotheses, but they are not difficult, improbable conditions but quite normal, and there’s no evidence against them either, because there’s no evidence. As for post-IE intrusion, is there evidence for that? Where did they come from? There are no related languages. How did they get there, when the IE languages were already dominant?

    It makes sense that the Basques might have retreated before the IEs from somewhere else to the Pyrenees, but I don’t think that that’s what you’re saying. And even so, they’d be a pre-IE inhabitant of somewhere in Europe.

    Based on what is known, the pre-IE hypothesis seems definitely to be the parsimonious default hypothesis. I don’t see how the two hypotheses can be regarded as being of the same status.

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    Dienekes: the zombies are valid for what they are but the information they provide alone is limited and typically questionable. These two are my criticisms:

    1. It’s always better or at least a great informative complement to do unsupervised runs with a regional sampling strategy.

    2. If you used Yoruba and Chinese zombies you’d also get random (or even regionally consistent) differences between Europeans because there’s no “other” category and the program will always force populations and individuals in those categories.

    Often what appears to be a remote population’s “influence” (in unsupervised analysis) vanishes as soon as you go a bit deeper in the K levels: so you have even academically seated authors who (way too happily) claim that West Eurasians (or in other cases North Africans) have YRI influence, but when you apply the proper parameters of comparison, the whole case must be dismissed: http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2011/04/africanness-of-europeans-and-west.html

    We need to understand populations for what they are not for what we imagine/whish they are (which is for what carelessly used zombies serve).

    Also relating “Caucasus” component with IEs is like crazy: not just IEs should have originated further North but also most Caucasian peoples are non-IE, being arguably the main refuge of pre-IE survivals (NW Caucasian, NE Caucasian and Kartvelian language families, plus the “newly” arrived Turkic and some IE, mostly Russian of even more recent arrival). So it’s not just Egypt but also Caucasus itself, which is essentially anything but Indoeuropean.

    It’s possible that this component reflects a Neolithic wave from Anatolia instead, same as the related “Gedrosia” (Baloch) component. But it’s difficult to quantify their influence because they are surely distorted for lack of the clearly dominant local components found (at least) in Bauchet 2007 (v: http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2011/09/neolithic-colonization-of-valencian.html, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852743/). This key paper happens to be “inconvenient” for the defenders of the Neolithic replacement hypothesis and is therefore ignored and “forgotten” on the weirdest excuses. Why? Because it finds that Europeans are fundamentally Europeans, even if of several and not one simple stock and quantifies the Neolithic input as obviously minor.

  • Grey

    “Also relating “Caucasus” component with IEs is like crazy: not just IEs should have originated further North but also most Caucasian peoples are non-IE, being arguably the main refuge of pre-IE survivals”

    I may have misunderstood but isn’t the idea that the caucasus component simply acts as a marker?

    http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turkic/btn_Archeology/Zhou/CambridgeZhouChouArcheologyNorthEn.htm

    Looking at Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 and assuming some of the northern european genetics moved onto the steppe from one side of the Black Sea and some of the caucasus genetics did the same from the other side and the two mixed then you’d end up with a northern european group and a caucasus group in their original positions and a mixed northern europe + caucasus group on the steppe.

    So (caucasus + something else connected to the Caucasus by the steppe) would be a steppe marker rather than neccessarily an IE marker (as shown later with the mamluks).

    I may have misunderstood though.

  • Liesel

    Elfino

    Recently, the way iberian people counted has been deciphered… they counted in basque. This doesn’t mean iberian = basque, it means they could have had a common ancestor.

    The modern French and the remaining Celtic languages count that way as well. The English ‘score’ also hints to an older base 20 counting system. It is interesting but not unique to Basque or Iberian nor a marker of Pre-IE languages so it doesn’t provide a clue, unfortunately.

  • carpetanuiq

    @john emerson: everything you say is perfectly posible, but there isn´t neither strong evidence for it. Regarding post-IE arrival of peoples in Europe, besides hungarians, we know other posible cases such as etruscans. Iron age were quite a dynamic times.

    My point is that considering evidence at hand for both hypothesis the most reasonable position is to remain agnostic until new evidence of any kind is unveiled.

    On the other hand, I wonder what would be the genetic footprint of basque speaking male elite /minority coming from, let´s say east turkey/ west iran into a basque area around 500 b.c. Couldn´t this hypothetical event + genetic drift explain basques genetic differences, if any ?

  • ackbark

    One would think a movement like that would leave some kind of trace in Basque folklore, something to the effect of ‘refugees from Troy’.

  • http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    * Assigning a layer to the Basque:

    As for the Basque, they aren’t a good genetic fit for Upper Paleolithic European ancient DNA, or early Neolithic ancient DNA of the LBK, or early Neolithic ancient DNA of the Cardial Pottery Neolithic that has been found and published to date. It could be that Upper Paleolithic Iberians were genetically different from other Upper Paleolithic Europeans and from later early Neolithic populations. But, it seems at least as plausible to me that the population that brought us the Basque were a mid-Neolithic/Copper Age population that followed the first wave Neolithic Cardial Pottery people for whom we have ancient DNA and predated the IE population wave(s) in Iberia. Of course, they would have admixed with prior populations of Iberia to some extent, but the new component which would probably have been the linguistic source and superstrate could be much later.

    It would seem odd that the Basque would be the single highest frequency LP (lactose persistance gene) population in Europe if they were really a Paleolithic relict population, particularly given that early Neolithic Cardial Pottery populations in ancient DNA, Paleolithic populations in ancient DNA and neighboring regional populations in Gascony all have much lower LP frequencies.

    One could fruitfully match the Basque to the Bell Beaker people, for example, in the pre-IE era, and take the position that the Bell Beaker people were not IE, without serious tension with any hard evidence to the contrary. One could imagine the Basque and IE as competing peoples who experienced ethnogenesis in the copper age, with the IE eventually prevailing almost, but not quite, everywhere.

    * “Etruscan. . . . are not indigenous.”

    Etruscans may not have been the indigeneous population of Tuscany, but that does not mean that they could not have been a very deep rooted (perhaps early Neolithic or even Epipaleolithic) European population that made its way to a Northern Italian and Alpine refugium when pushed out of other parts of Europe.

    Genetically, Etruscans may be a better match to early Neolithic population genetics (with a Roman provided IE layer on top of it in modern Tuscany) than the Basque. The uniparental evidence, at least, suggests a greater similarity between the Etruscans and the early Neolithic people than the Basque.

    Neither of these populations, however, is very similar genetically to Upper Paleolithic Europeans, with the Uralic language speaking people of the Baltics arguably being the closest fit to that population genetically based on ancient DNA.

  • carpetanuiq

    @ackbark: christianism ?

    @ohwilleke:
    Re basques, agreed with the spirit of your comment, maybe not with all the details.
    Re etruscans, I thought latest research pointed to iron age but I might be wrong. According to ur knowledge, are they then pre or post IE ?

  • http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    Etruscans were undoubtedly present in Northern Italy at a time prior to the time at which it was integrated to the Roman empire and made a language shift from Etruscan to Latin. They were the second to last surviving non-IE language of Southern Europe (apart from Basque) and the language died before the Roman Empire fell, and was moribund by the 1st century CE.

    Etruscans probably arrived in Northern Italy from the Alpine region where their sister language Rhaetic was spoken in the early iron age and brought with them a technological (iron weapons) and cultural package (e.g. cremation practices) that could easily be confused with Italo-Celtic populations if we didn’t know better from the historical record and written Etruscan documents. They arrived close in time to, and slightly (a century at most) ahead of the establishment of Italic (IE) communities in Italy during the iron age. IMHO, they are a heavily IE influenced (by technology and culture transfer rather than demographically) wave that was propelled and pushed forward to where they arrived in Italy by the IE Italo-Celtic wave at their backs. The Etruscan culture showed clear martial roots – they were used to the warlike anarchy that arose in the Bronze Age collapse period and had dealt with its more successfully than most.

    The language of the pre-Etruscan residents of Italy during the Bronze Age and all points in time before them is pretty much irrevocably lost to history. IMHO, the available evidence disfavors the presence of IE languages in Italy prior to the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age, so it is more likely that the Etruscans moved into a location that was pre-IE before they arrived.

    It isn’t impossible conceptually or in terms of approximate timelines of greater Italy that a young, lingustically Italic colony moved in not long before them, and that the Etruscans in turn booted them. The periods of continuity with the Etruscans in Northern Italy, which greatly predate the Etruscan “golden age”, however, doesn’t really support that. They were the first population in the region with their level of technological sophistication, and there is nothing to suggest a shift from non-IE to Italic to Etruscan in the archaeological record.

    There are competing credible theories concerning the origins of the Etruscans prior to their iron age arrival in Northern Italy (and there is also a fair conceptual question about whether it makes sense to talk about Etruscans prior to the distinctive iron age cultural developments created the distinctive features that we associate with the label – one could say that their ethnogenesis was in the iron age and that their ancestors were merely pre-Etruscans).

    One of the more popular linguistic theories puts Etruscan in a family of languages that also includes some of the pre-Greek languages of the Aegean (e.g. Lemnian) and possibly even the language of mainland Greece prior to the Mycenean Greeks and possibly the language of the Minoans. This is a geographically plausible theory.

    Some ancient historians put their origins in Western Turkey, which isn’t necessarily inconsistent with a greater Aegean linguistic affiliation. While other ancient historians (and etymological analysis of the descriptor for these people) suggest that they might be a refugium population of exiles from Gaul who fled to the mountains, perhaps driven there by the Celts in the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age. Or, they could have sought the refuge of the mountains at some earlier time.

    These accounts aren’t necessarily inconsistent in a deeper sense either. It isn’t unreasonable to imagine that the cultural and linguistic influences of the pre-IE, pre-Mycenean Aegeans and Western Anatolians might have extended all the way to Gaul, although the non-IE languages of Western Anatolia that preceded the Hittite Empire (e.g. Hattic) (e.g. in prayers recorded phonetically by Hittites) have lots of similarity in “sound and feel” to Minoan (e.g. in prayers recorded phonetically by Egyptians) and not as much similarity to Etruscan. Etruscans might have shared a language with the Pelapanesians (indeed, I think that they probably did), and maybe even had a linguistic commonality with the Trojans, but I’m less convinced that Minoan was part of that linguistic family.

    Personally, I’m agnostic on the issue of a potentially Gaulish stop in their migration en route to Northern Italy via the Alps, but I do think that at least some Aegean linguistic family connection seems to be fairly well supported, although the evidence is a bit thin.

    Of course, as another non-IE language of Southern Europe, some have suggested a linguistic family association between Basque and Etruscan but that theory is not widely held right now, largely on linguistic non-similarity grounds, because Etruscan is sufficiently well attested that a stronger link would have been visible between a reasonably geographically close neighbor if there was a reasonable close common linguistic source for the languages.

  • carpetanuiq

    “IMHO, the available evidence disfavors the presence of IE languages in Italy prior to the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age”

    In the three mediterranean peninsulas we find the same patern: quite diversified IE language maps around VI b.c. For each peninsula either several tribes speaking related but different IE languages invaded it (as happened several centuries later with german invasions), either for each peninsula these tribes spoke same IE language but mixed peoples speaking different pre-IE languages (of which basque and etruscan are survivals, minoan having disapeared), either they spoke same language and invaded an almost deserted territory and branched either a combination of these hypothesis had to happen. The last take more time than bound you suggest for IE in Italy.

    Greece: Mycenaen arrived to Greece by 1900 b.c. and in 600 B.C we find already several greek languages or dialects. We know that there was a pre-greek language in crete, minoan and there is an hypothesized strong pre-greek substratum in greek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Greek_substrate).

    Italy: Late genetics studies sugest Etruscan genetics is related with east mediterranean genetics, but the dating and direction are less clear (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etruscan_origins). Their language very possibly belongs to Tyrsenian languages whose proto is dated 1000 b.c. and itself a paleoisolate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrsenian_languages). The Etruscan substratum in Italic (IE) languages is weak: “The Italic languages themselves show minor influence from the Etruscan and somewhat more from the Ancient Greek languages.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italic_languages). With all these data, comparing with greek, the conclusion seems clear, though still not definite.

    Spain: In the spanish peninsula we´ve got at least two non IE languages, Iberian (in the coast, extinct nowdays) and Basque (Northwest Pyrenees) not known to be related (although hypothesized by some). If we trust Villar almost all ancient onomastics in todays spanish Basque country and Navarre can be explained by IE. Reader must be aware that many of the suposed pre-IE basque toponimics in Spain that is flying in the web is not dated at all. On the other hand this displaces the basque case to the north. I´m less familiar with ancient onomastics in SW France but will see if I find anything solid. I have also to check the situation regarding Iberia.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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