Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Areni and Maykop

The recent French team's paper had some comments about Areni cave which needs clarification.

Areni cave people do NOT descend from Maykop for the simple reason that they are much older than Maykop culture. Areni is from Late Chalcolithic period which starts at 4300bc while Maykop culture starts _after_ 4000bc. On the contrary. Today most archaeologists are inclined to believe that Leyla tepe culture (starts at 4300bc) played an important role in the formation of Maykop. Leyla tepe people ( who by the way had similar pottery as in Areni) from modern Azerbaijan crossed the Caucasian range moved to Daghestan and from there moved to North West Caucasus. Where they meet already preexisting pastoralistic groups that had the J2-M67. They mixed with them and created the Maykop culture as we know.
Paleogenetic data confirms this. Maykop Y dna is related both to older layers (J2-M67) and to new migrants from Leyla-tepe (L2, T1a3). Notice both L2 and T1a3 are found in ancient North Iran also which further reinforce the idea that they moved to north from/via modern Azerbaijan.
Areni cave also had the Y dna L1a which is also connected to North West Iran.
Any similarities of cultures between Areni and Maykop are easily explained by a migration from South Caucasus to North West Caucasus around 4000bc and not the inverse.
But this is not the whole story. When Leyla tepe groups crossed the Caucasian range they almost certainly encountered people of Steppic origin in Daghestan. We have ancient DNA from those old Steppe groups and they are from Progress site. Leyla-tepe-Areni related people in most likelihood mixed with this Steppic groups that is why we see their genetic impact in Areni. As You can see on the attached table Areni people had substantial ancestry from Progress which is in North Caucasus. But this ancestry is mostly via maternal lines. Because the paternal L1a has a local origin.
The reason why Areni women face reconstructions are so unusual is due to this Progress related genes. On the same table You can see that Areni people do NOT have any ancestry from the so called Steppe Maykop which by the way had Siberian affiliation and Y dna Q1. Keep in mind that Progress had Y dna R1b-V1636 and not Q1.
They are many other arguments why Areni is of local origin. Their pottery which is called Chaff faced ware. As You can see Chaff faced pottery became very popular from Cilicia ( Amuq ) to Caspian sea shores in Late Chalcolithic. Those people also had unusual burial practices in jars. Before the LC period grit a type of hard stone was added to pottery. While in LC it changed to straw. With high certitude we can say that the wine making technology as ancients knew was invented in Areni and related to them Chaff faced ware people.
It's possible that during this interactions between South Caucasus and Steppic Daghestan some Y dna also appeared in South Caucasus. The best candidate would be obviously the V1636. But we don't have any direct proof of that. What is needed is to have more ancient DNA from Late Chalcolithic period ( 4300-3600 bc ) in South Caucasus. French team tried to extract from Mentesh tepe but they failed due to extremely low coverage. So, we wait for the next attempt.

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