Saturday, December 4, 2021

Utik' was a province in ancient Armenia

 Utik' was a province in ancient Armenia. It's name was derived from a ethnonym Uti and the plural suffix -k'. Given it's obvious similarity with the name of Daghestani speaking Udis some scholars had proposed that ancient Utis were speaking the same language. Others expressed scepticism about NEC affiliation of ancient Utis because in Graeco-Roman sources tribes like Utians , Vitii (probably pronounced as Uitii) are attested in much larger territory. In Iran and in non Albanian parts of modern Azerbaijan. Another issue is that Vitii is distinct from Albania and is not included in it.

Given that we don't have much linguistic data to make judgements, we can use genetic data and archaeology.

Herrera (2012) gathered Y dna from Gardman (Utik') Armenians. The results are quite surprising. First Gardman Armenians have one of lowest level of J1* (2.1%) among Armenian groups. The J1-Z1842 branch is extremely popular in Daghestani speakers and do show obvious correlation with their linguistic family. Karafet (2015). Low presence of J1* (xP58) in Gardman Armenians means that Daghestani tribes who settled in Utik' from north didn't have much genetic impact in that region. If we look at broader picture in whole Azerbaijan then we find more cases there but not as much as one would expect. 20 from 265 ( 7.5% ) in Azerbaijan DNA project. Here we must remember that this are modern data and in the case of Azerbaijanis there were extra Iranian and Turkic migrations which could have diluted the initial level of J1-Z1842. Other important factors to consider is that not all cases of J1*/J1(xP58) from academic papers are from Z1842 branch and even not all Z1842-s are from typical Daghestani branches which means that this numbers are overestimated.

Other interesting numbers in Gardman Armenians are the higher than the average R1a1 (5.2%) and I2* (8.3%). R1a might be related to stronger Iranian influence in that region, which have left traces in toponymes (eg. Sakacene). While the I2* might be from the same I2c2 branch that was found in Early Iron Age Lchashen. This support the idea that LBA/IA culture Khojaly-Gadabay in Western Azerbaijan was connected to Lchashen culture in modern Armenia. 

The rest of haplotypes is more or less similar to other Armenian subgroups.

Those results do not support the idea that Utik' Armenians have large ancestry from Daghestani speakers. Which in turn could mean that ancient Utians/Vitii were not a NEC tribe but rather an IE tribe or an unknown language isolate.

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