Recent Insights on European Genetics

Back in October 2017, one commenter (on an article has since been deleted) proposed the idea that the Sea Peoples were Luwians (a people who occupied southern and western Anatolia in the late Bronze Age). I think this may likely be the case. Southern Europeans, especially Italians and Cypriots are highly admixed with Bronze Age Anatolians. It is tempting to think that the legend of Aeneas and his men leaving Troy and arriving in Italy is a memory of an invasion of Italy by the originally Luwian Sea Peoples during the late Bronze Age.

Modern Cypriots are genetically almost the same as the Bronze Age Anatolians, and Cyprus was very heavily invaded by the Sea Peoples. See this article for historical information on Sea Peoples raids.


The immigration of Phoenicians and Roman importation of slaves from the Levant would have added to the gene flow from the Near East to Mediterranean Europe, and both Levantine (“England_Roman_outlier”) and Bronze Age Anatolian admixture are present in modern Italians according to these models. I suspect the common admixture between Italians and Cypriots from Anatolian “Sea Peoples” is a reason why Cypriots and some Aegeans, show up as having Italian admixture according to 23 and Me (see Eupedia Autosomal Maps). The Mycenean samples also had significant admixture from the Anatolian Bronze Age, possibly indicating some substantial gene flow from Anatolia into Europe directly prior to the expansion of “Sea Peoples”.

7th-century Slavic tribes shown in orange

Also according to the models done on Eurogenes, it appears that the Greeks, in addition to their large Mycenean ancestry also have a great deal of early Slavic ancestry, which I suspect is from Slavic invasions of Byzantine Greece. This Slavic admixture (rather than the Dorians as I previously guessed) may be responsible for the more northern genetic affinity of modern Greeks compared to their Mycenean ancestors.

Other News

Davidski has reviewed many of the more recent genetic studies, which are being produced quite rapidly, and covering a lot of previously unknown territory.

As I have already predicted above, the notion that Sicilians have acquired greater amounts of admixture from different parts of the Near East since the Bronze Age (different from the Anatolian Neolithic “Barcin” admixture) appears to be empirically supported:

Some of his other articles on the genetics of Northern Europeans seem to confirm what I had noticed last year, that the main difference between the Baltic and Slavic ethnic groups and other Northern Europeans is their greater affinity towards Mesolithic and Paleolithic European hunter-gatherers. Germanic and Celtic ethnic groups appear to roughly form a genetic cline with the French (mostly Gauls) and Irish (Gaels) on one relative extreme and a (Germanic) Swedish Iron age specimen at the other. Many of the Bell Beakers who have been recently analyzed in the Olalde et al. 2018 study, Anglo Saxons, and Iron Age Britons appear in the middle of this cline.

The impact of the Beaker people still remains something of a mystery to me; genetically their admixture is very similar to modern Northwestern Europeans, but their skull morphology is often brachycephalic, a feature in modern times largely confined to the mountainous areas of continental Europe. Either there was a very strong selection for less brachycephalic individuals among certain Beaker-descended peoples in the last 4000 years, the lowland and island areas of NW Europe became populated by a meso- to dolichocephalic group autosomally very similar to the Beakers, or the brachycephaly of the Beaker people was caused by a cultural habit, possibly a cranial deformation, that later went out of style.

Thanks to the recent Veeramah et al. 2018 study, we now also have a glimpse at the genetics of migration era individuals.

Is suspect that the Roman soldier excavated from Germany for this study was of Iberian or Aquitanian origin, based on his placement on the PCA.

It would appear from the admixture model given by Davidski that the Gepid included in the study was descended from genetically Northern European Germans who had acquired significant admixture from Central Asia (possibly through the Alans, a Scythian people who had dwelt near the Caucasus and migrated into Europe). The “Ostrogoth” excavated from Crimea, unlike the Gepid, is modeled as having no Northern European admixture but appears highly admixed with gene flow from the Balkans and from Armenia, and this seems to agree with his rough position on the PCA given. Furthermore, the “Ostrogoth’s” archeological context also associates him with the ancient Greek city of Pantikapaion. So it seems plausible that this “Ostrogoth” may have simply been a Greek heavily admixed with peoples from the eastern shore of the Black Sea, and not at all an ethnic Ostrogoth.


One thought on “Recent Insights on European Genetics

  1. The Bronze Age Sicilian is dated to around 2,000 BC, before Phoenician colonization. It seems to have over 80% of it’s ancestry dated back to Neolithic Anatolian Farmers, with just a bit of Caucauses Hunter Gatherer/Iranian Neolithic and some very minor Yamnaya/’steppe’ admixture. Today’s Sicilians have gone from about 80% Anatolian Neolithic farmer [from the Middle Bronze Age] to only around 50% Neolithic farmer. The two eastern strains have increased, one being Caucausus Hunter Gather/Iranian Neolithic….the other being a Natufian component.

    I believe most of the Natufian component came to Siciliy and South Italy during the Phoenician times by Phoenicians, but it also could be later..either from migration from the Levant or North Africa during the Roman Empire or perhaps even during the Muslim era.

    You know…what we can say with the limited samples we have is it did not come through Greek colonization. Both the Mycenaean samples and even Minoan samples don’t have any Natufian component. Italy, Sicily and Malta do have Near Easter nancestry that seems to not have effected Greeks or Balkan people though. The Natufian component is only around 2-3% in modern mainland Greeks and Albanians…yet is 15% in Sicily and parts of South Italy. It’s a prehistoric component found in the Levant and North Africa, but made it’s way to Europe after the Neolithic..and it looks like even after the Middle Bronze age.

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