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Migrations via genes

29 May 2020

At https://phys.org/news/2020-05-genomic-analysis-long-term-genetic-west.html … genomic analysis shows a long  term genetic mixing across western Asia – going back deep into the Holocene. The region includes Anatolia (modern Turkey), the Levant, and the southern Transcaucasus (Armenia) … and news of this mixing is bound up with a significant date – 6500BC (or 6200BC in old money, the event that coincided with a realignment of sea levels on a global basis). In other words – some kind of catastrophic disaster – a sort of mini dryas event as it involved a cooling of the globe for around 200 years. In the wake of the event people were set on the move. We can imagine that migration took place in diverse parts of the world. For example, we know that farming folk migrated out of Anatolia into the Balkans and eastern Europe – and then went on to follow the line of the Danube to reach the northern European plain over the course of the next couple of millennia. Migration led to the spread of ideas and technology – and culture. From the map we can see that farming folk also moved into the Caucasus.

Another mass migration occurred around 4000 years ago (following Mandelkehr's 2300BC event). This also resulted in genetic mixing in the region with what appears to have been a movement from the steppe zone (south of the Caspian). They seem to have left a genetic marker that was bigger than later movements. It must have involved a substantial number of people – although the period between 2200-1900BC was marked by drought (and possibly an epidemic). As such there may have been a fall in population numbers which accentuated the genetic marker of the newcomers. This appears to be what occurred in, for instance, Britain, at the same point in time.

Another study – Who were the Canaanites? can be found at https://phys.org/news/2020-05-canaanites-insight-ancient-genomes.html … people in the southern Levant during the Bronze ages (3500-1150BC) are referred to as Canaanites (in the Bible for instance). An article in the journal Cell (May 28th) looks at a genome wide analysis of DNA from 73 skeletons which shows the population was not static. For example, people from Georgia and Armenia, even Azerbaijan, moved into and out of the southern Levant. The Canaanites, however, living in different city states, such as Hazor and Megiddo, were culturally and genetically similar – in spite of the migrational movements. In other words, the farmers, or peasant class, remained static – but the elite may have differed. The Canaanites were derived from the local Neolithic population as well as inroads from the Transcaucasus (upper Mesopotamia), and genetically modern Arabs and Jews, it claims, retain 50% of the same genes. However, one might also say, they do not retain 50% of Canaanite genes. See also www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30487-6 or https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.024

Finally, at https://phys.org/news/2020-05-years-contact-conflict-cultural-genetic.html … concerns genetic impact and cultural change from 4000 years ago. Migration at the time had a lasting impact – more so than any invasion since that time. Thisa one comes from the American journal of human genetics

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