Thursday, December 30, 2021

Origins of modern Armenian genetic profile

 Origins of modern Armenian genetic profile. How and when.

Unlike main Europe the genetic history of Near East is much more complicated. 

In the current stage of our knowledge the Mesolithic Near East had two distinct and quite distant from each other populations after the Late Glacial Maximum. One in the western parts in Levant and Anatolia, the other in eastern. In Iran and parts of Caucasian range. To understand how unusual was this situation You must realize that the genetic distance between Mesolithic Iranian and Levantine pops was comparable to the distance between foragers living in Baikal region and modern England. Obviously a barrier existed in Near East that permitted to such a distant populations to live side by side without mixing. It was the Armenian Highlands in the North, then probably the Mesopotamian deserts and Zagros and finally Persian Gulf was larger in the past.

The attached maps present the genetic legacy of this ancient pops. As You can see the Iran/Zagros Neolithic ancestry today is best preserved in the East in Pakistan, while Anatolian farmers ancestry is best preserved in the South Europe. Sardinia is famous for being the closest to NW Anatolian farmers. Anatolia had another type of farmers in the south from Tepecik Ciftlik. Those farmers were slightly different and their map as expected is different. Their genetics is close to ancient Minoans. You can also notice the Anatolian farmers ancestry in Central Asia and Africa. The first is due to Corded Ware (R1a-M417) expansion while the latter is due to migration to Africa from SW Europe which introduced there the R1b-V88 lineage, which is today prominent in Chadic speakers.

Returning back to Near East You can notice that modern North Near Easterners in general and Armenians in particular do show ancestry from a different type of farmers. Here represented by South Caucasian sample from Neolithic period known as Shulaveri culture. South Caucasian Neolithic recently became famous by its old wine producing site. But they had other interesting features like round houses similar to those found in Halaf culture. While we are waiting aDNA from Halaf, Hassuna and Ubaid there is little doubt that their genetic profile will be the same Centristic type as farmers of ancient Armenia/SC. From anthropologic point of view it is in those cultures that we see the earliest skulls close to Armenoid type. 

Do this mean that the typical Armenian ( and not only Armenian) Centristic genetic profile formed as a mixture of Eastern and Western Near Eastern distinct pops. Maybe yes, maybe no. Or both yes and no. We don't know for sure the answer to this question because we don't have ancient DNA from Iraq, Syria, East Turkey/SC old enough to understand this puzzle. 

But it is possible that the reality will be even more surprising than we imagined. Many scholars believe that both Iran and Levant Mesolithic foragers descend from a more archaic population labeled as Basal Eurasians. So what if those Basal Eurasians who lived before the LGM turn out the have a Centristic profile? An unpublished ancient DNA from pre LGM yielded a shocking result. There wasn't any CHG in west Georgia (Dzudzuana) 26.000 years ago. It had more alleles with Anatolian farmers than with CHG which lived in the same place after the LGM.

In any case we already know that this Centristic profile existed already 8-10 thousands years ago in Near East and it expanded in various occasions playing an important role in the formation of modern Near Eastern genetics, which is much more homogenous than it was in late Paleolithic.

PS After this introduction to the subject You can better understand this PCA and analysis.

Friday, December 24, 2021

I want two clarify two subjects related to Yamna and R1.

 I want two clarify two subjects related to Yamna and R1.

In the current stage of our knowledge there is no evidence that the haplogroup R1 formed in Siberia and expanded from there. The oldest R1b we have are from Italy and Ukraine (14.000 and 10.000 ybp respectively ) and the oldest R1a is from Ukraine also. 10.000 ybp.

Siberia is the one of best sampled region and no evidence of any R1 there before the known IE migrations. R1 was present in Central Asia and even Tarim bassein before IE but they were migrants from West.

So the most likely homeland of R1 is the southern parts of Eastern Europe. Black and Caspian sea region. It expanded after LGM, 20.000 ybp, when ices melted. While the oldest R2 are found in Iran.

R1 moved west (V88) east and south before any known IE migration. We can't say when the oldest R1 will be found in Near East. But it was almost certainly present there in Chalcolithic period.

As for the branch R1b-Z2103. It is almost certainly associated with Yamna. But Yamna was very different from any modern population. Calling it European or Caucasian is meaningless.

A straight comparison of it with ancient mainland Europeans (WHG and Euro farmers ) and ancient pops of Armenia show that they were closer to ancient Armenia than any known ancient _unadmixed_ mainland European pop, except the EHG of East Europe offcourse.

Distance to: Yamnaya_RUS_Samara

0.17046264 RUS_EHG

0.22841458 Kura-Araxes_ARM_Talin

0.31287725 HUN_Baden_LCA

0.37744914 WHG

The inverse.

Distance to: Kura-Araxes_ARM_Kalavan

0.21628849 Yamnaya_RUS_Samara

0.22521151 HUN_Baden_LCA

0.36474630 RUS_EHG

0.48159869 WHG

Distance to: Kura-Araxes_ARM_Talin

0.21710358 HUN_Baden_LCA

0.22841458 Yamnaya_RUS_Samara

0.37306523 RUS_EHG

0.48617417 WHG

European farmers and Yamna are practically equidistant from ancient Armenia.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The origins of the name Armenia.

 The origins of the name Armenia.

In trilingual Behistun inscription ( dated circa ~520bc) the list of twenty three countries is mentioned. One of them is the Armina in Persian. The same country is labeled as Urashtu in the Babylonian version.

It is frequent for the same kingdom to have different names. It can be explained by different geographic perspectives. But other factors can play a role.

Given that Persians were mentioned in Urartian inscriptions we can assume that Persian knew about Urartu kingdom earlier in 7th century and were using the same Armina term to designate that kingdom.

What can be the source of this term? 

Given the location of Persians and Mannaeans we must search a term that was located in south eastern parts of Biaina/Urartu as a source of this term. Indeed such term existed and it was situated between lake Van and Urmia. It was the Aramali and Armarili mentioned in Assyrian sources. Why and how this term could become Armina?

Both Aramali and Armarili do have the Urartian plural suffix -li like in Biainili. This means that the root was Arama- and Armari. This latter is sometimes interpreted as Armali. In this case we will have Arma-. 

In the Persian form Armina the last -na also can be a suffix. This suffix in most likelihood is not Persian but comes from the same stock as Biai-na and Man-na ( frequently mentioned as Mannayu = Mannaeans ) 

Here we can make a plausible assumption that the term Armina was initially coined by Mannaeans to denote Urartu kingdom, which later was borrowed by Persians.

Finally the form Armari- can be explained as Arm + ar where the last -ar is a plural suffix in another language spoken by the tribe from which this root Arm- is derived. Such a piling of two and more plural suffixes is very frequent in conditions when there are multiple ethnicities mixed.

It must be noted that -ar plural suffix can be related to old Armenian -ear suffix which later evolved to modern -(n)er.

There are other arguments which favour this theory.

+ Armarili was a district in Urartu were the hometowns of Urartian kings were located. Basically if the Assyrian claims are correct then we can say that the ruling dinasty of Urartu were Armareans. It's quite natural to name a kingdom based on the origin of it's dinasty. Examples are France, Bulgaria etc.

+ The first king of Urartu was Aramu. Once more we see the name of Urartian ruler connected with Aramali/Armarili. Though in Assyrian inscription Aramali is not part of Urartu. But in that mention Urartu of Aramu was still a small kingdom and didn't yet expanded enough to south east to include Aramali. It must be noted that Aramali/le is mentioned as a city , but when we read the raw text it become clear that it was a city associated with larger district where numerous cities existed.

It'a interesting that the Khorenatsi explains exactly in this way the apparition of Armenia. From the name of patriarch Aram. But here a legitimate question arise. If Assyrians knew that the ruling dinasty of Urartu was from Armarili why they didn't give importance to that term. Well naming conventions sometimes can have very obscure logic but in this particular case there was a serious reason to not use anything with Aram/Arm in root. Because Assyrians were already using extensively the term Aramu to describe a Semitic tribe that became prominent in Iron Age Syria and it's vicinity.

Finally this theory fits well with Armen Petrosyan 's suggestion that the ruling dinasty of Urartu was steming from Early Iron age tribes Mushki and Urumu. Nothing forbids us to imagine that a group of Urumu tribe settled in south east of Van where under the influence of Urartian language they got the -li plural suffix, while the the root has undergo a vowel reduction. A process when the vowel [o= cuneiform u] shifts to [a] like in Russian language. Thus Aramali can be derived from Urumuli while the name of the king Aramu<Urumu from the same tribal name. As for Armarili/Armali it is mentioned more than a century later and in most likelihood lost an internal vowel.

In any case the linking of Urumu with Aramali is not mandatory for this theory to work. It can work even without Urumu , but it's inclusion adds extra insight to understand the deeper origins of the term Aramali/Armarili.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

In Miss Universe 2021 competition the participant from Armenia had the Urartian style.

 In Miss Universe 2021 competition the participant from Armenia had the Urartian style. It seems Mikael Badalyan (head of Erebuni museum) consulted for making this dress.

Friday, December 17, 2021

In the inscription describing a war with Melid (Militia) a land Musha is mentioned.

 In the inscription describing a war with Melid (Militia) a land Musha is mentioned. 


On the same day I set off towards the land, on the right(?) I subdued the land Qala’a. I came to the land Karniši, mountainious land on the left(?) of the city Miliṭia, and I came to the land Muša nearby the city Zabša.


The land was in most likelihood near modern Malatya and Kiği ( Armenian K'eli>Keghi from Urartian Qala'a?).

In Urartian inscriptions it was frequent when the final vowel was not really pronounced. So here we have a land Mush which fits well in the theory that the term Mushki was the plural of Mush. While the extra -ki represents the Armenian plural suffix -k' frequently used in many toponyms in Armenian period.

Nevertheless it is very unlikely that this place was the initial homeland of Mushki because in Hittite period the region near Malatya is well attested and there is no any term that can be linked with Mush/Mushki. Summing all data available we can say that Mushki came to that region after 1200bc from a more North Eastern location. 

Some of them moved further west and settled in Anatolian lowlands around modern Kayseri (ancient Mazhak) Eusebius use the term Moschoi to denote Cappadocians. While in Iron Age the term Mushki was also used to denote Phrygia.

The Turkish archaeologist Veli Sevin linked the Early Iron Age grooved ware in Malatya Elyazig region with Mushkis.

Let's hope one day we will see EIA ancient DNA associated with grooved ware.

Monday, December 13, 2021

I edited the map from Sagona's book

 I edited the map from Sagona's book. Added two other cultures that are mentioned but not marked in the map. 

Samtavro in Shida Kartli region of Georgia. It is in the North of Kur river. Later it correspond to historic Iberia.

Khojaly-Gadabay. Laneri et al. thinks that it was related to Lchashen culture. Later it correspond to Artsakh and Utik' provinces of Armenia. 

The borders of Colchian culture were exaggerated in that map. From Abkhazia further north starts other Iron Age culture known as Meotic which is usually linked to NWC people. Later the region was known as Colchis. 

But the land of Aia (Kolchoi) mentioned in Argonauts was almost certainly not in Colchian culture place but further south, west of Rize, and east of Synop.

Lchashen culture correspond to Etiuni tribal confederation. This culture was present in Kars, Igdir but it's pottery was rare in Erzurum. Occasionally it is also found in Agri region of Turkey. Later it correspond to Ayrarat and Gugark provinces of Armenia.

Kaiakent-Charachoi was in North East Caucasus with some presence in North Azerbaijan. It almost certainly correspond to NEC people. Their migration to south in Iron Age will create the Caucasian Albania.

Talysh or Talysh - Mugham correspond to various Iron Age tribes who were living there. Remarkably some of their pottery was found as far as in southern parts of Karabakh. 

And finally the Koban culture. Their ethnicity is unknown. But they almost certainly played an important role in the ethnogenesis of Alans. Which formed as a mixture of Scythians and Koban people.

Some scholars proposed a link between them and Tauri people living in Crimea. Some scholars want to link it with with Nakh people but that is quite unlikely.

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.

Friday, December 3, 2021

A remarkable Kur-Araxian burial was found recently in Shahumyan (Armavir province).

 A remarkable Kur-Araxian burial was found recently in Shahumyan (Armavir province).

A collective burial with 30 bodies. More than 60 potteries, most of them well preserved. Dozens of bronze objects. Bronze objects are not frequent in KA burials.

According Pavel Avetisyan they will send them for genetic testing.

It's worth to note that despite the fact that we have ancient DNA from Kur-Araxian period, we lack any DNA from Araratian lowland plains like Armavir. I hope this will fill the gap and we will have more Y dna.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The closest pops to Armenians in Dodecad K12b.

 The closest pops to Armenians in Dodecad K12b. I would like to make the same exercise in G25 but the regional data is not available yet.

For some unknown reason Yunusbaev choosed Hamshen Armenians for his research. So don't be surprised by the result.

The main conclusion is that East - West Armenians are the closest to each other then comes their respective neighbours. 

With fst the same result would be even more pronounced.

Udis are close to Eastern Armenians and vice versa.

 Udis are close to Eastern Armenians and vice versa. But Udis are a complete outlier in Nakh Daghestani family. In the top 20 ethnicities there is no single NEC nation close to them.

The first picture is from Dodecad, the second one is from G25. Notice we don't have yet Eastern Armenians in G25, but when we will have them they will be the closest. (see the update )

The historic reasons of this proximity are quite long to describe. But they are other reasons like the drop of population size which increase the instability of the population DNA.

When the effective size of a pop drops below a certain level it's Y dna becomes very volatile and prone to extreme drift. One such a classic case are Basques who's Y dna say nothing about their origins. The same can be true about Udis though in this case I am expecting some conservatism.

Here is the Y dna of general Silikyan (Silikov) who's patrilineal side has Udi origin. Yet the Y dna has European origin.

Anyway only ancient DNA will help to understand better this situation.

PS. An update. The third image is the distance in G25 after the addition of new Armenian_Syunik sample.