Friday, February 10, 2023

The origin of Thracians is interesting from Armenian perspective for two reasons.

The origin of Thracians is interesting from Armenian perspective for two reasons. First to check the Kortland's proposal about close relation between Armenian language and Thracian. The second reason is to verify the validity of ancient Greek claims about the presence of Thracian tribes near or in Armenia.
We have now enough samples from ancient Bulgaria to have some conclusions. See the first chart from Neolithic to Middle Ages of Bulgaria.
To be short the answer to the first question is No. Genetics do not support the idea of special relatedness of Thracian and Armenian.
The reason for this is that Proto-Thracian community was a complex mixture of Yamna/Catacomb (R1b-M269, I2-P78), then Srubna (Indo - Iranian R1a-Z93 ) and finally of local European Neolithic Farmers from whom they got their most frequent Y DNA. The E-V13 which was making some 80-90% of Thracian Y DNA in Iron Age Bulgaria.
Ancient Iron Age Thracian DNA is relatively homogenous. Compared to Bronze Age there is decrease of Steppe and increase in Euro Farmers ancestry. This type of ancestry persists in Bulgaria in antiquity until the arrival of Slavic people who change once more the genetics of Bulgaria. You can see that in samples from Middle Ages.
In Bronze Age Bulgaria (3200-1100bc) there is two important streams of migrations. One from Steppe the other from Anatolia. By Anatolia we mean the type of ancestry that had ancestry fron historic Armenia also. In the chart it is represented by "Central farmers". It's not high but it's there as in Crete and other Greek islands BA.
Nevertheless, Thracians do not directly descend from those Bronze Age populations but rather from a poorly sampled region in Romania where the Carpathian Mountains acted as a sort of barrier that preserved European Neolithic ancestry much better. In my opinion Proto Daco-Thracian population formed there and around 1200BC it expanded to south toward Bulgaria and to east toward Ukraine and probably further East. A E-V13 and I2-P78 was found as east as in Kazakhstan. Although this can be explained by Cimmerian and Scythian back and forth migrations after 900BC in modern Ukraine. It seems Scythians assimilated some Thracians.
Possible linguistic evidence of Thracian presence in east is the term Vardanes (the Roman era name of one river near Kuban) Compare this name with river Vardari in Macedonia, also of Thracian origin. Another example is the river Terek, which is linked to Traikos, although it has a NEC etymology also. Possible genetic evidence is an ancient sample from Iron Age North. Caucasus (Koban culture) with obvious European origin. They are also theories that cities like Partaw (modern Barda) and C'urtaw in historic Armenia do have the peculiar Thracian root dava (city). Also, the native Armenian word jur (water) has the exact exact parallel in Thracian.

The evidence is not huge. But a possibility that a small group of Thracians reached North Caucasus and moved to south is real. Even more the presence of small number of E-V13 in Artsakh and Udi village Vardashen makes such an Iron Age migration very likely (1200-900BC). The only thing we don't know is that who introduced the E-V13 to South Caucasus. Was it a real Thracian migration or via Scythians / Cimmerians. Keep in mind that the few cases of E-V13 in most western Armenians are not via Caucasus but rather from Balkans.
In any case the E-V13 is low in Armenians. Less than 1%. So, its presence is not directly related to Armenian ethnogenesis. We have quite large sample size from ancient Republic of Armenia and no single E-V13 was found there. Thus, there is no particular reasons to believe that any Thracian tribe had deep impact on Iron Age events of Armenia.
PS The reader may wonder why I place the origins of a Levantine haplotype E in Romania. The reason for this is ancient DNA. E-V13 was a rare Y DNA in Neolithic Europe ultimately from north Levant. It reached Romania and Western Ukraine where it became part of Yamnaya related groups. It was still missing in Bronze Age Balkans. No single V13 from Bronze Age. But sometime after 1200BC it had a dramatic expansion associated initially with Thracians. While later the E-V13 integrated in numerous surrounding ethnic groups. Albanians, Greeks (via Dorian's?) Slavs, Scythians, Romans and even Germans. E-V13 was found in Visigoth samples from antic Spain

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