Genetic Continuity in Greece

August 8, 2017


Greek women through the ages: Minoan, Cycladic, Mycenaean, Classical, Modern  (SOURCE)


A recent study suggested based on modern samples that Greeks hadn't changed much since ancient times. Now that's been proven with ancient DNA from Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean Greeks. Their ancestry is mostly Anatolian Neolithic farmer with some Caucasus/Iran and less Russian/Siberian admixture (the last two related to the spread of Indo-European languages), they had dark hair and dark eyes, and there was no difference between the elites and common people. They're genetically closest to modern Southeastern Europeans, and not to Northern Europeans or Africans as different people have claimed.

The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus and Iran. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia. Modern Greeks resemble the Mycenaeans, but with some additional dilution of the Early Neolithic ancestry. Our results support the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean, before and after the time of its earliest civilizations.

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The elite Mycenaean individual from the ‘royal’ tomb at Peristeria in the western Peloponnese did not differ genetically from the other three Mycenaean individuals buried in common graves.

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Other proposed migrations, such as settlement by Egyptian or Phoenician colonists, are not discernible in our data, as there is no measurable Levantine or African influence in the Minoans and Mycenaeans, thus rejecting the hypothesis that the cultures of the Aegean were seeded by migrants from the old civilizations of these regions.

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Phenotype prediction from genetic data has enabled the reconstruction of the appearance of ancient Europeans who left no visual record of their pigmentation. By contrast, the appearance of the Bronze Age people of the Aegean has been preserved in colourful frescos and pottery, depicting people with mostly dark hair and eyes. We used the HIrisPlex tool (Supplementary Information section 4) to infer that the appearance of our ancient samples matched the visual representations (Extended Data Table 2), suggesting that art of this period reproduced phenotypes naturalistically.

We estimated the fixation index, FST, of Bronze Age populations with present-day West Eurasians, finding that Mycenaeans were least differentiated from populations from Greece, Cyprus, Albania, and Italy (Fig. 2), part of a general pattern in which Bronze Age populations broadly resembled present-day inhabitants from the same region (Extended Data Fig. 7).

The modern Greek samples used in the study for comparison are not the best. Thessaloniki is in the north of the country, the Coriell database doesn't provide specific origins, and there are only two Cretans. I believe that if Mycenaeans were compared to their descendants in the Peloponnese, continuity would be nearly perfect instead of just very strong.


Lazaridis et al. "Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans". Nature, 2017.

2 comments

thebai said...

Isn't it obvious? Greek myth is actually given from Phoenicians. Archeologist George Bass proved that Phoenicians had already been controlling the Mediterranean before they were superpower in the sea with many studies on oldest underwater vessel. They all mixed early-farmer people from Levantine, Fertile Crescent and Anatolia. Was not ever best love story in the history, story of Paris and Helen that is about East - West argue? Why it is similar to the myth about the king Agenor's daughter Europe? Heredot mentioned that "Thales ancestry come from Cadmus". Why Socrates said "Beauty is a short-lived tyranny?" Why Anatolian kings like Lydian were obsessed on that having a beatiful wife. I guess some stories in the history may tell us something happened real?

Unknown said...

OT (I know you may not like this), but will you write in IQ again? I was wondering if you'd talk about PISA scores and how reliable they may or may not be, as well as Richard Lynn again.