GENETIC HISTORY OF BULGARIA
Bulgaria is located in the eastern region of the Balkan Peninsula, overlooking the Black Sea. It links Southeastern Europe to the Eurasian steppe and in addition, Anatolia to the Aegean islands. It lies on the presumed pathway of modern humans’ migration into Europe in the Upper Paleolithic era. Bulgaria had some of the earliest farming sites, and also had early forms of metallurgy, incorporating copper.
History of the Peoples who Inhabited Bulgaria
The earliest traces of human life date back to Paleolithic and Mesolithic times, this has been supported by brilliant cave drawings and the flint tools used by primitive man, pre-homo sapiens. Homo sapiens emergence is credited as 2000 years after the initial appearance, settling in the lands between Mesopotamia and Palestine. Bulgaria being in a fertile place, with the increasing change from hunter-gatherer to agriculture led to many groups settling in the region.
The rise of Metallurgy gave a further boost in human civilization development, showing export of copper, therefore suggesting some form of trade. Population increase was caused by improved living condition and this resulted in clashes due to land and ore deposits.
The Thracians, became the dominant group, their territory not only comprised of modern day Bulgaria but also Romania, Eastern Serbia, Northwest Turkey and Northeast Greece. Regrettably, they didn’t create an alphabet of their own, in order to aid us in gaining information about them. However, much of their information has come from secondary sources, Hellenians, and Romans.
Thracian economy involved the production of food, raw materials and other goods that were exported after they met local demands. Trade routes were via land and sea as well, spanning as far as North Africa.
The Romans soon came afterward after the decline of the Thracian influence over the territory and surrounding regions, and ruled for quite some time until local rebellions and tribal revolts coupled by internal roman squabbles led to the decline and evidently rise of the tribes that would make up Bulgaria and would remain till modern times.
Y-STR Variation and Dispersion Patterns of the Major Haplogroups
A Recent analysis of Bulgarian samples have pointed out their descent from the following haplogroups; haplogroups I (L-460 and M423), E (V68 and V13), R (M343, M420, and M458), R (L23*), and J (M172 and M241).
Haplogroup I-L460 (I2a) is low moderately frequent with high levels being found in Ukrainian and all South Slavic region other than in Slovenia. This haplogroup descended from the macro-haplogroup I, and the Levant from its immediate ancestor macro-haplogroup IJ. Its exclusiveness and patch-wise distribution within Europe suggest early entry into Europe during the Paleolithic era.
Haplogroup I-M423 is the most frequent haplotype present in all Balkan populations, characterized by star-shaped radiation network. This network topology, together with the age estimates the genetic record to be of Balkan Mesolithic foragers and their expansion soon after the adoption of agriculture.
Haplogroup E-V68 is present at low-moderate frequencies. E-V68 origin is in Northeast Africa near the Nile and Lake Alexandria. Therefore, this haplogroup represents a more recent Bronze Age “exodus” from Africa into Europe through the Balkans.
Haplogroup E-V13 displays a star-like radiation network, from a central haplotype found in the Balkans. This pattern points to a recent rapid expansion into the Balkans. The oldest age present in the Balkans dates back to Mesolithic era and is found in Western Bulgaria. This indicates that haplogroup E-V13 was already present (if not originated) in Mesolithic times in Western Bulgaria from where it underwent expansion.
Haplogroup R-M420 (R1a) is the dominant group among the North Slavs, Slovenians, Hungarians (from Bulgaria) and the most common haplogroup in Asia. This evidence suggests that the major haplogroup R arose in southern or central Asia descended from Haplogroup IJK. During the Bronze Age, the subsequent path into Europe and major settlement is thought to have happened. R1a and R1b major clades are found at low frequencies in Europe. The R1a branch that is limited to Eastern Europe makes up 96% of Bulgaria and is separated from its Asian relative. The most common R1a branch from China to Anatolia makes up the rest 4%. The R1a frequency could probably be the result of the descendants of prehistoric eastern European tribes; the Balto-Slavs, and possibly the Thracians. However, all branches are consistently outnumbered by M458, in the whole eastern and central Bulgaria region. M458 is the dominant R1a clade in the regions corresponding to areas of Bulgarian dialects that are most similar to the Polish dialects, the eastern and Slavic dialects in modern day Greece. The network of haplotypes associated with Haplogroup R (M458); include the European branch of haplogroup R-M17/M198, which is characterized by an expansion that conforms to a star shape.
Haplogroup R-M343 (R1b), present in Bulgarians at a frequency of 10.7%. This haplogroup is most frequent around Ural and Chad, as well as in most of Western Europe and adjacent islands. R1b entry into Europe is thought to be through the Balkans.
Haplogroup R (L23*) has its network is dominated by multiple reticulations that confirm having sub-clades yet to be discovered. This Haplogroup’s frequency, distribution variance, together with the haplogroup’s age variation, has been able to locate the oldest presence of this lineage in the Circum-Pontic region.
Haplogroup J-M172 (J2) is found in low frequency but significantly in high levels among the Hungarians, Romanians, Bosniaks, Austrians and Italians, while dominated in high frequency in Anatolia and the surrounding regions. While its origin is north of the Levant, its current pattern directly reflects recent Copper and Bronze Age events that arose from the Aegean being connected to western Anatolia in addition to Greek and Phoenician Mediterranean colonization. Several subclades within J2 are present: J-M410 (J2a), Balkan J-M12 (J2b). The prevailing is the J2a, L26 deep subclade, it is further divided.
Haplogroup J (M241) shows a central network with the most frequency, being widespread in the Southern Balkans region. This is likely a result of a rapid Neolithic era expansion in Asia Minor. Due to the periphery of the haplogroup’s network is mostly found outside of this region (Apulians, Nepalese and Indians) the present results yield no useful evidence for J-M241 homeland identification. Consequently, around the Black Sea region, and to be precise, Anatolia, haplogroup J-M241 is associated as a genetic marker of farmers’ expansions towards Southeast Europe, enhanced by Bosphorus Sill breaching and Pontic Lake flooding with marine water.
mtDNA Frequencies and Distribution
Bulgaria shows a very similar mtDNA profile to other European countries. It is dominated by mitochondrial haplogroups Hg H, Hg U, Hg J/Hg T, and Hg K and like most Europeans, H1 is the prevailing subclade. A majority of the U-carriers stem from U5 and U4.
2 Nov 2016 / rarikola / 0