2.5.1.21 Origin Tales

 0 Contents 2 Background 2.5 Societal 2.5.1 Europe

Europe 2.5.2.1

2.5.1.22 The Story of I

Introduction

Distribution of Y-DNA haplogroup I

Y-DNA Haplogroup I is very confusing. On the one hand it seems ancient in Europe. It rarely appears outside the boundaries of Europe and European colonies. So it is not a good candidate for arrival with farmers from the Near East. Nor does it seem the prime candidate for spread with the Indo-Europeans, since they travelled both west into Europe and east into the Indian Subcontinent. So the natural conclusion is that haplogroup I has been stalking around Europe since the Stone Age. It may not have been born in Europe, but it was a fairly early arrival.

On the other hand the pattern of sublades looks relatively recent. If I-men had been moving around Europe from the earliest division of the I lineages, then we would expect to see a much greater mixture of the subclades, thinly and fairly evenly spread across Europe, just as we do with some of the mtDNA haplogroups known to have been carried by Mesolithic Europeans. Instead we see regional bunching, typical of relatively recent arrivals. Ken Nordtvedt, stalwart of research on this haplogroup, cannot find a TMRCA for any existing Y-DNA I subclade older than 5,750 BC. Most are much younger. What are we to make of these contradictions?

The haplogroup may date deep into the distant European past, but it seems that most of the hunters and foragers who carried it have no direct descendants in the male line today. That doesn't mean that none of their genes survive in Europeans. It just means that the direct son to son to son line died out or "daughtered out" at some point. So the subclades that remain lead back to just a handful of Mesolithic men.

Where were those Mesolithic handful? One clue noted in several scholarly papers is that Haplogroup I appears most diverse in south-eastern Europe. So my instinct was to place Haplogroup I among hunter-gatherers in the Carpathian Basin, some of whom later turned to farming. As farmers, they lived on the fringes of the European steppe, the presumed home of Proto-Indo-Euopean. So they would be unlikely to travel east with steppe nomads. But they could form mixed farming-herding groups on the rivers north and west from the steppe and the lush lands west of the Black Sea, and so be associated with Indo-European movements in those directions.

Rather to my surprise, this picture is still holding up quite well. That doesn't mean that alternative scenarios can be ruled out. We have too little ancient Y-DNA to make firm pronouncements. Yet most of the existing Haplogroup I subclades can be explained as the result of known or suspected migrations from South-Eastern Europe, mostly long after farming had taken over from fishing and hunting.

Population patterns

In a hunter-gatherer economy,  the population is usually maintained at replacement level, where that community remains within a particular territory. Women space births by weaning late. Population levels need to be low, as each hunting band needs to roam a large territory. The human population dropped dramatically world-wide during the last glacial maximum. Within Europe it fell to the point where we would today classify it as an endangered species.

Then it expanded during the Mesolithic as people gradually reclaimed the territory that had been lost to the climate downturn. So the Mesolithic is the period in which we we would expect to see in mtDNA and Y-DNA the first "star-bursts" of new branch-lines popping out at around the same time, and indeed we do see them in some old European mtDNA clades. Ken Nordvedt's tree of Y-DNA haplogroup I shows a bit of a burst of new lineages at about 12,000 years ago = 10,000 BC (the Mesolithic expansion).

Once the population had expanded enough to fill the territory at the low hunter-gatherer level, we would expect the population to be stable until farming made higher levels possible. Haplogroup I1 does not show any star-burst at that time, so we can presume that people carrying it were in no hurry to take up farming. However we do see bursts of new lineages in I2 at c. 8,000 years ago = 6000 BC, as farming reached the Balkans. It appears that some I2 men were willing and able to adopt agriculture.

So my inclination is to look for the ancestors of today's I-men in successful hunter-gatherer cultures, which had a good chance of leaving descendants. In the days when all mankind lived by hunting and gathering, all could be considered equally successful if they managed to survive in competition with other predators. This might include other human hunting bands, but fellow humans were not initially the main competition. Man had to be clever enough to out-do lions and bears and not end up at the wrong end of the food chain. Once farming entered the picture, hunters were in direct competition with people who could outbreed them and inexorably take over the territory. Successful hunting cultures at that point were few and far between. Characteristically they occupied a highly fruitful hunting or fishing niche, that could scarcely be bettered at that stage by turning it over to farming. People in such a niche could hold off any incoming farmers who thought otherwise, and choose to adopt whatever seemed useful from farming neighbours at their own pace. For example the fisher-folk of Lepenski Vir, on the banks of the Danube in the Iron Gates gorge, took advantage of the plentiful fish supply to build a permanent village. They were not overwhelmed by farmers. Instead they seem to have contributed their own ideas of house-building to the dairy farmers moving up the Danube into Central Europe, producing a mixed style in the Lengyel Culture.

Subclades

The distribution maps used here are from Jacques Chiaroni et al., Y chromosome diversity, human expansion, drift, and cultural evolution,PNAS (2009), corrected supplementary information. The subclades here follow the current ISOGG nomenclature.

I1-M253

Artist's reconstruction of Ertebolle life
Distribution of Y-DNA haplogroup I1 (from Chiaroni et al 2009)

Despite its young TMRCA, this clade could have its origin in a Mesolithic migration of Haplogroup I* from South-Eastern Europe about 5,000 BC. This is by no means certain. Although we have found no-one alive today carrying just one or two of the many markers that define I1, each one of these markers may define a lineage that has died out in the male line. So all that is left is the healthy lineage I1, which appears to pop up out of nowhere in southern Jutland about 2,200 BC and is found today in Scandinavia and among descendants of the Vikings. There is no trail of earlier clades from South-Eastern Europe. So in theory Haplogroup I could have arrived from any southern Ice Age refuge as soon as Scandinavia was left habitable by the shrinking glaciers. It is only the fact that the spread of Haplogroup I overall leans towards Eastern Europe that has inclined researchers to look south-east for its Ice Age refuge.

The spread of the earliest pottery in Europe. Click to enlarge in a new window.

Yet such an origin does fit the hunter-gatherers of the Ertebølle Culture of Denmark (c.6000-3500 BC), who seem to have arrived along river routes from south-eastern Europe. Their pottery is of the earliest type in Europe, first made in the Samara region of south-eastern Russia about 7000 BC.1D. W. Anthony, The Horse, The Wheel and Language (2007), pp.148-9 and p. 480, note 19; D. W. Anthony, Pontic-Caspian Mesolithic and Early Neolithic societies at the time of the Black Sea Flood: a small audience and small effects, in V. Yanko-Hombach, A.A. Gilbert, N. Panin and P. M. Dolukhanov (eds.), The Black Sea Flood Question: changes in coastline, climate and human settlement (2007), pp. 245-370 (361). This is a spillover into Europe of the East Asian tradition of ceramic-making foragers.2B. Fagan (ed.), The Seventy Great Inventions of the Ancient World (2004), chapter 8: pottery. From Samara a distinctive type of pottery with pointed bases and flared rims spread up the Volga to the Baltic and appears in the Ertebølle and as far west as the Low Countries, where it is called Swifterbant, about 5000 BC.3P. Jordan and M. Zvelebil (eds.), Ceramics Before Farming: The Dispersal of Pottery Among Prehistoric Eurasian Hunter-gatherers (2009); D. Gronenborn, Beyond the models: Neolithisation in Central Europe, Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 144 (2007), pp.73-98 (87); P. Dolukhanov et al., The chronology of Neolithic dispersal in Central and Eastern Europe, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 32, no. 10 (October 2005), pp. 1441-1458. These hunters of the far north had territory that was not attractive to farmers until after about 4000 BC. Then much of Scandinavia was abandoned by farmers during a climate downturn in the decades around 700 BC, as I explain in my section on Proto-Germanic. Much agricultural land was abandoned and bog and forest built up. Hunters and fishermen could survive where farming failed. Around 650 BC Kjelmøy ceramics spread west into Scandinavia, probably marking the arrival of the Saami-speakers. Perhaps the Saami melded with hardy, hunting descendants of the Ertebølle who had never relinquished that way of life. That might explain why the Y-DNA haplogroup I1 is the second most common among the Saami.

An alternative explanation proferred by some geneticists is that I1 is the male companion to the Mesolithic movement northwards from the south-western Ice Age refuge that can be detected in mtDNA U5b1b1a in the Saami.

Haplogroup I1 haplotypes with their geographical distribution, based on those who have tested via FTDNA, are online in pdf from Terry Robb.

I2-M438

Spread of Impressed Ware

I2* tends to cluster towards south-east Europe and Anatolia. Most authors have assumed that its subclades spread from there during the Mesolithic. Yet we see bursts of new lineages in I2 at c. 8,000 years ago = 6000 BC, as farming reached the Danube Basin. So it seems more likely that I2 was carried by local foragers who adopted farming from incoming farmers. If so we would expect to find I2 or a subclade thereof migrating with farmers, and/or later on with the western branch of the Indo-Europeans, who absorbed some elements from their farming neighbours of the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture in the Copper Age. Several Indo-European languages seem to have arisen on the western shores of the Black Sea and then spread into Anatolia. Armenian seems to have passed through Anatolia to Armenia. In Armenia and neighbouring Georgia, we find a little I2* today. Other lines of I2* appear in the Adriatic and Northwest Europe. (See Family Tree DNA I2* Haplogroup Project results.)

I2a1-P37.2

Two examples of I2a1 have been found in the DNA of Neolithic farmers. They were among the burials in the Cave of Treilles in Aveyron, in the South of France. The Treilles culture of c. 3000 BC is the very last phase of the Neolithic in the region before the arrival of copper-workers and the Bell Beaker culture. 4M. Lacan et al, Ancient DNA reveals male diffusion through the Neolithic Mediterranean route, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, online before print May 31, 2011. Ken Nordtvedt considers their haplotypes consistent with I2a1a -M26.

Distribution of Y-DNA I2a1 and I2a2 from Chiaroni et al (2009)

Acknowledgement and disclaimer

This page has been made possible by the remarkable work of Kenneth Nordtvedt, so generously made available to us all, but he is not responsible for any errors. Nor does my interpretation of his data reflect his opinion, which may indeed differ considerably from mine. In June/July 2011 he produced his own map indicating lines of dispersal within haplogroup I, which is coordinated with his timeline and tree of I, available online in pdf.

Notes

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  1. D. W. Anthony, The Horse, The Wheel and Language (2007), pp.148-9 and p. 480, note 19; D. W. Anthony, Pontic-Caspian Mesolithic and Early Neolithic societies at the time of the Black Sea Flood: a small audience and small effects, in V. Yanko-Hombach, A.A. Gilbert, N. Panin and P. M. Dolukhanov (eds.), The Black Sea Flood Question: changes in coastline, climate and human settlement (2007), pp. 245-370 (361).
  2. B. Fagan (ed.), The Seventy Great Inventions of the Ancient World (2004), chapter 8: pottery.
  3. P. Jordan and M. Zvelebil (eds.), Ceramics Before Farming: The Dispersal of Pottery Among Prehistoric Eurasian Hunter-gatherers (2009); D. Gronenborn, Beyond the models: Neolithisation in Central Europe, Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 144 (2007), pp.73-98 (87); P. Dolukhanov et al., The chronology of Neolithic dispersal in Central and Eastern Europe, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 32, no. 10 (October 2005), pp. 1441-1458.
  4. M. Lacan et al, Ancient DNA reveals male diffusion through the Neolithic Mediterranean route, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, online before print May 31, 2011.
  5. S. L. Dyson and R.J. Rowland, Archaeology and history in Sardinia from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages: shepherds, sailors and conquerors (2007), pp. 24-32.
  6. M. Ozdogan, Westward expansion of the Neolithic way of life: sorting the Neolithic package into distinct packages, in Paolo Matthiae et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the 6th International Congress of the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, vol. 1 (2010). pp. 883-893.
  7. A. Moffat and J. Wilson, The Scots: A genetic journey (2011), pp. 35-6.
  8. A. Moffat and J. Wilson, The Scots: A genetic journey (2011), pp. 24-5.
  9. B.P. McEvoy and D.G. Bradley, Irish Genetics and Celts, Celtic from the West (2010), p.117. They identify this haplogroup as I1c, the old name of its parent.
  10. A. Moffat and J. Wilson, The Scots: A genetic journey (2011), p. 24.
  11. 16F. Schilz: MolekulargenetischeVerwandtschaftsanalysen am prähistorischen Skelettkollektiv derLichtensteinhöhle, Dissertation, Göttingen (2006).
  12. H. De Beule, Origins of HgI-L38 (I2b2) Subclades (April 2009) and Early Bronze Age Origin and Late Iron Age (La Tène) Migrations of I-L38 (online November 2009).

Page created by Jean Manco 19 March 2011; last revised 09-08-2011 . XHTML:CSS

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