Saturday, February 27, 2021

Biorxiv is a place were preprints are published before they pass a peer review

Biorxiv is a place were preprints are published before they pass a peer review. In this website You can find all kind of papers some of them are quite unrealistic like claims that Europeans were present in Mayan civilization before the Columbus. Or like those who question the out of Africa.

Nevertheless this is very useful place to get a feedback, to correct errors to have a more robust paper. That is why they allow the general public to leave comments under the paper. Usually the authors react to comments but sometimes they do not.

Yesterday we discussed the paper that was released in June 2020 about the Armenian origins so here I want to copy my comment that is still valid. They are also comments made by the user Arthur from our group and Davidski. 

Notice the paper is still not published and didn't pass a peer review.


Dear Anahit Hovhannisyan et al.

Thanks for the interesting paper. I agree that there is no genetic evidence for Balkanian origin of Armenians. I also think that modern Armenians retained a substantial amount of genes from Neolithic period. But the question of mass migration after Bronze Age is disputable.

When five years ago first ancient DNA from modern Armenia was published I started to analyze them (using both online tools and academic data) and I came to the conclusion that they are different from modern Armenians. Thus some events occured in Armenia after LBA and EIA period. Which would be after 850 BC. To have an idea with what type of genetic events we are dealing with we must have more precise definition of terms.

For instance those samples from modern Armenia almost certainly do NOT represent the genetic situation in all Armenian Highland at LBA-EIA period. They represent the Lchashen Metsamor culture which was mostly restricted to modern Armenia, parts of Kars and Igdir regions in Turkey. On the other hand we know that there was a distinct Urartean culture in Van region which rapidly expanded in Middle Iron Age period. We don't have samples from ancient Van but some indirect data suggests that they will be different from ancient samples from modern Armenia. Another factor that almost certainly increased heterogeneity in Arm. Highland in MLBA period is the well known expansion of Hittite culture from Anatolia to western parts of historic Armenia. We also see a Steppe shift in MLBA samples from modern Armenia. Visible in Your D stats Z scores.

Based on this data we can say that during MLBA period Arm. Highland became quite heterogenous. Structured by regions. And this heterogeneity started probably at EBA period. We can't use samples from Eastern Armenia to describe the situation in all Armenian Highlands. We need samples from Eastern Turkey to better understand those regional structures.

Recent paper from Skourtanioti et al. fully confirms this idea of regional structurisation. We have Kur Araxian period samples from Arslantepe EBA ( Malatya region ) and they are very different from Kur Araxian samples (EBA) from modern Armenia. Surprisingly they are much more western and slightly more southern shifted than modern Armenians. While EBA samples from modern Armenia are more eastern (CHG) shifted. Which suggests a clinal distribution of ancient BA populations in Armenian Highlands.

My conclusion is that there wasn't any massive migration into Armenian Highlands at Iron Age. After LBA Arm. Highland remained relatively isolated like Haber concluded. The extra western (Sardinian like) shift that modern Armenians have is not the result of massive migration but due to intra-Highland homogeneisation of divergant populations that were already living in historic Armenia at LBA-EIA period. Thus genetic isolation is not always equal to genetic continuity.

The names of this regional populations are well known. Biaina, Etiuni (Lchashen-Metsamor), Diaukhi, Arme Shubria. Their political unification started with Urartu and was continued in Yervandid (Orontid) Armenia period. For much better understanding of this events we need ancient samples not only from Eastern Turkey but also samples from Urartean, Yervandid and Artashesids periods in modern RA to understand how genetic profile changed during this periods.

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