The genetic diversity of Balkans
The Balkan Peninsula has seen countless settlements by “modern humans” since the Upper Paleolithic era. This is evident by the rich archaeological heritage present in the region from the transitional period between Middle and Upper Paleolithic Era in Europe and in addition, the different technological traces from traditional Neanderthal associated Mousterian to Ceramic industries of Neolithic people. Therefore, this shows the importance of the area for understanding the spread of modern man across the European continent.
This region has also been presumed to be a probable gateway to Europe for first settlers from Central Asia, as well as a refuge area during the Last Ice Age. The process of populating the Western Balkans was determined extensively by several episodes in History. The transition of hunting-gathering to farming was fairly complex in terms of the difference in the influence of pioneering agriculturalists from Anatolia and the Mesolithic era foragers.
At the beginning of 2000 BC the Balkan region was inhabited by different Illyrian tribes that established the oldest known central-western Balkan civilization. This area was also the birthplace of two of the most influential civilizations in the World; the ancient Greek and the Byzantine Empire. Furthermore, the split of the Roman Empire in 395 AD divided the region into two parts. In addition, the Balkan region served as a frontier between the empire and the barbarian civilizations beyond the Danube.
In 410 AD, the first barbarian conquerors into the Balkans were the Goths from the west. They brought their cultural and economic influence into the region and in 600 AD, the Slavs who occupied the Danube Basin northern regions, continued their way to the south. It is historically believed that some of the Illyrians was assimilated and others were forced to move south, into present-day Albania.
During the Great Migrations, in addition to the already present Goths and Slavs, the Mongolian tribe from the Central Asiatic Plateau seeking to conquer and glory, moved into the Balkan Peninsula. The first of these groups of Asian nomads to make an appearance were Turkic tribes: Eurasian Avars and the Huns. Onwards from the 15th to the 19th century the Balkan Peninsula was under the Ottoman Empire.
In modern day, the West Balkan territory is populated by numerous ethnic groups of different religious and linguistic backgrounds. Ethnicity in the Balkans typically emphasizes aspects like linguistics, culture, religion, as well as politics, which are specific to human groups, and are interpreted differently.
During the last 20 years, the variation studies of inherited markers such as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the non-recombinant Y chromosome (NRY) have been explored in human population genetics in order to provide clarity on the diversification problems and dispersal of humans in both global and local contexts.
Genetic analysis based Y-chromosome haplogroups (Hgs) variations has revealed that the West Balkans countries populations share a large fraction of the ancient gene pool of Southeastern Europe, which consist of five European-specific Hgs: E3b1, I-P37 (xM26), J2, R1a, and R1b. in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the frequency of NRY Hg I-P37 is particularly high and this could partially be attributed to genetic drift. In both Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Serbs Haplogroup I (P37) is observed in high frequency, showing the difference in ethnicity doesn’t outline different ancestry, rather they share a large subset of their paternal lineages, which was mostly affected by the post-LGM expansion major demographic event. Similarly, Croatian populations exhibit a high frequency of I (P37).
Haplogroup I2a* appears to have originated in the Balkans, perhaps from a glacial refuge there. It is very common in Croatia and Bosnia in the modern day today and decreases in frequency as you go east. A rare offshoot branch of I2a is also found further in the British Isles. Another subgroup of I2a, the most common lineage in Sardinia, is also found at low frequencies in Spain and France.
Haplogroup I2b (formerly known as I1b2), originated near modern day Germany, reaching its peak frequency. I2b is spread evenly across NW Europe including the British Isles, where it was brought by historical migrations.
Haplogroup R1a is found today across all of Asia and Europe and is believed to have originated in South or Central Asia. R1a frequency in Hungarians and Szeklers is comparable to the same in their neighbors (e.g. Czechs and Slovaks, mainland Bosnians, Croatians, Serbians, and Romanians) and other Uralic-speaking populations (e.g. Komis, Estonian, and Mordvin). R1a presence in the British Isles is due to Norse Viking ancestry, although Anglo-Saxons and Danes may have carried a smaller proportion there. It has been thought that haplogroup R1a was carried into Europe by the Kurgan culture, who domesticated the horse
Haplogroup E3b1, (presently known as Haplogroup E1b1b) represents the last major direct exodus from Africa into Europe believed to have appeared first in the Horn of Africa about 26,000 years ago and scattered across North Africa and the Near East during the late Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. E1b1b lineages are closely linked to the diffusion of Afro-Asiatic languages.
J2 settled in Anatolia region after the last glacial era. It originated in the northern portion of the Fertile Crescent. From there it spread throughout central Asia, and the Mediterranean region including North of Africa, and further south into India. As with other populations with Mediterranean ancestry, this lineage is found within Jewish populations
In the mtDNA variations, the Balkans populations, the majority showed that they all belonged to the West Eurasian gene pool and a small percentage of the lineages originated from East Eurasia and Africa.
3 Dec 2016 / rarikola / 0