For many years, there has been a common belief among scientists that there were three different groups that made up modern-day Europeans – Middle Eastern agriculturalists, indigenous hunter-gatherers, and the Yamnaya tribes from the Pontic-Caspian steppes. Generally, the belief has been that they arrived in Europe around 5,000 years ago during the Bronze age. However, this is now set to change thanks to new reports.
In Western Georgia, two separate burials were found both with a minimum age of 10,000 years. By assessing the DNA within, we can now suggest that there was a fourth group in Georgia who lived in the Caucasus Mountains and they provided half of the necessary DNA for the Yamnaya people. Previously, this had been a sticking point but we can now see that the Yamnaya tribe were descended from these same hunter-gatherers who were thought to have been around between 5,000 and 8,000 years before.
With this in mind, what do we know about this group? Well, the Ancient Georgians probably settled at the border between Europe and Asia around 45,000 years ago. However, they became isolated after the Ice Age 20,000 years later. As the ice covered much of Europe, they were alone and didn’t come in contact with any other groups. Eventually, the ice began to retreat and they finally met other groups – most notably, the Yamnaya culture.
When looking at the genetic structure of the Caucasian population, we see similarities to now and there is a core structure running through the ages. Even looking back at the very earliest settlers, the same DNA dominates G2 and J2 today. As a result, we can suggest that linguistic, political, and religious expansions haven’t had quite the same impact on DNA as expected. Furthermore, they had less of an impact than prehistorical times in terms of local ecological adaptations.
When it comes to the later invaders such as the Neolithic age, they were known for their lowland areas with fewer forests. Considering the older settlers were somewhat dominated by the Y-DNA lineage, we could suggest that they would have seen more success if they resided in the more productive lowlands to the east and west of Caucasus. Although we don’t know exactly why the most productive areas saw success, we can predict that they were larger in terms of numbers. In addition to this, they had more dangerous weaponry and they could have even brought disease to which the locals were not as resistant.
With the later invaders, such as Western Anatolia R1b, the competition for productive areas increased and they also started to look for areas that were agriculturally-suitable. Suddenly, J1 and J2 were stuck with mountains and locations with less forestry – of course, this was the home of Daghestanian and Vainakh speakers within the Eastern region of Greater Caucasus.
If we were to look at G2, J2, and R1b patrilineages, the geographic pattern is clear to see and they actually made up around three-quarters of the population of Georgia. However, the pattern didn’t occur due to the different languages and many different dialects within the region (Svan and Megrelian) nor was it affected by Georgian-Ossetian ethnic boundaries – or even the Georgian-Armenian boundaries, for that matter. Instead, there is a correlation for G2 with the forested mountains, the Transcaucasian Depression, and the reduction in frequency in the Caspian and the Black Sea basins. Additionally, there were declines in the mountains with no forests both to the west and south of Caucasus.
Within this region, it was clear to see that they spoke languages that were unintelligible at best and this was particularly noticeable in the western and eastern regions. Despite this, the lineage of J2 is identical for both parties and were near enough identical. If we were to look away from the Caucasus, there are two other areas covered with forested mountains, with a similar rainfall level, where the same can be said and this is in Gilan/Mazenderan (provinces in Iran) and in the Alps. Also following the model, lowlands and the mountains with poor forestry were dominated by the J2 haplogroup. Not only is this present within Europe, it moves farther afield to countries such as India. With this in mind, the Indo-European language could have been brought over by these ancient people. Not only did they bring the language, they could have also brought something that was key for the Bronze Age – metal work!
22 Mar 2017 / rarikola / 0