Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Some remarks on a genetic shift that affected modern RoA in Iron Age.

Those are the possible events by their importance.

1. Politic of large population movements organized by the Urartian kings. This policy would decrease the Etiuni genetic profile in ancient RoA and increase new genetic profiles from other regions. It would result also in the apparition of Etiuni profile elsewhere.
Numbers in cuneiform texts are sufficient to explain this shift. But with the current paleogenetic data available this is not yet visible. At last not on a scale comparable to the claims of the kings. Out of 30 samples from 800-600 BC only two are from south. Most probably with more samples from Urartian cities like Teishebaini, Erebuni, Argishtihinili and others we will see them in the future. Another reason that could "hide" the newcomers is the practice of cremation. Even though it was limited to a subset of Urartians.
2. A theory exist that in its final period the Urartian kingdom elite moved to the modern Armenia. For instance mentions of last Rusa and king Sarduri son of Sarduri are found in Karmir Blur (Teishebaini) but not in Tushpa. It's possible that in its final periods the Biainili dinasty lost control of Tushpa and prefered to move to north. A similar event occured in last period of Assyria and other kingdoms. This theory is not widely accepted but there are some reasons to believe that it occured.
3. A new groups moved to Armenian heartland from more southern regions than Van basin. From historic Korduk and Nor Shirakan. Those groups are mentioned in Khorenatsi as Yervandians, Zarehians, Vahuni, Nersehians. They are mentioned as native but in cuneiform texts possible related names are found in the south. Their supposed arrival fits to late and post Urartian periods. It is probably associated to wider regional changes. Tribal names like Parnaki are attested in the most southern regions while later we see toponyms with it in more northern regions. Cawdek' (Ծաւդեք) in the south but also in Artsakh / Syunik. What triggered those migrations, are they really significant and how much impact they left is unknown.
4. A possible Persian and Medes impact. This sounds trivial given historic events but the direction of genetic shift in modern RoA contradict to the expected impact. There is no visible increase in Iran_Neo ancestry (Lazaridis and Hovhannisyan do not detect Iran_Neo increase). It would be also strange that ancient Medes and Persians had much lower steppe than what was already present in ancient Armenia. So it's possible that this event affected indirectly via the event number 3.
5. Transfer of capital to Armavir. This event is dated to 330BC but could have started earlier. Anyway it's very unlikely that it has left much impact.
Besides those points we also need to better understand the Middle Bronze Age Karmir-Berd culture which was an offshoot of Van-Urmia culture. It affected Araratian plain so this could have altered the Araratian plain Etiunians genetics. But the samples we have from Karmir Blur do not speak in favor of strong impact. Anyway more samples from Araratian plain are needed in Lchashen Metsamor period.
I think I mentioned all possible events that are responsible for this change. With more genetic data this puzzle will be solved. There is also need to review once more ancient texts for better understanding this situation. Combined with archaeology I hope all answers will be found

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