Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Origins of Dolmen culture

Dolmen culture (2900-1300bc) was a remarkable archaeological horizon in north west of Caucasus that appeared after the Maykop culture (3700-3000bc) and the older Darkveti-Meshoko (4500-3500bc). Many scholars believe that Proto NWC people (ancestral to Abkhaz, Adyghe, Cherkez, Kabardin and extinct Ubykh language) were the builders of those dolmens before they separate into modern existing groups.

We have only one ancient DNA sample from Dolmen builders. It's low coverage that is why it is absent in G25. Nevertheless, with qpadm models we can try to understand it's origins.
Given that dolmens are found all over Europe some scholars assumed that those north west Caucasian dolmens might be related to them. With the advent of genetics and fact that G2a2-U1 is frequent in NWC those theories gained a new attention.
That is why my first attempt was to test this theory. First, I tried to model Dolmen culture as a direct descendant of Darkveti Meshoko (labeled as Caucasus Eneolithic) and it worked with a good p value Then I tried to use a European source for Dolmens. They were not wanted. I used specifically Czech TRB which had megalithic burials. But it also failed. Anatolia Chalcolithic source also failed. Then I tried something more proximate and realistic, and it worked. Dolmen culture was modeled as largely (more than 90%) descending from Maykop culture. If You look attentively on the PCA You will notice that the single Dolmen sample plot close to Maykop samples. This is a somewhat unexpected result because the burial rites of Maykop and Dolmen cultures are quite different nevertheless the genetic verdict is unambiguous. It must be noted that burial rites of humans are mostly connected to their religion. And people can change over time their religious beliefs. For instance, Slavic people were practicing the cremation before the adoption of Christianity. Then they changed their burial rite after they became Christian.
As for the origins of G2-U1 in Caucasus it still remains obscure given the paucity of ancient DNA with this haplotype. Direct origins from Darkveti-Meshoko are possible. But an origin from Maykop also becomes plausible with this data. While a migration from Europe becomes less likely. You may wonder what is the difference between Maykop and Darkveti Meshoko. Well, the first descend from South Caucasus and Northwest Iran region Chalcolithic groups known as Chaff faced ware while the latter descend from farmers more connected to Anatolia and Euphrates basin.
With more ancient DNA from this larger region those questions will be solved. As for the origins of NWC languages it can have more complex origin than just descending from their main Y DNA.

See also

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