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Origin of the Alans
#31
The projection of blue-eyes and blondness onto Central Asian Indo-European populations rests on a few classical references and 19th/20th century Aryan/Nordic anthropological and linguistic theories. These basically saw a connection between Indo-European speech and "Nordic" features. These theories had Indo-European speech, blondism, light-coloured eyes, and tall height entering Europe from the Pontic Steppes in one package, mixing with short, dark haired and eyed European Neolithic natives.

Recent ancient DNA studies have shown this to be entirely wrong. Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers had blue eyes, combined with dark skin (except possibly in Scandinavia). The Neolithic farmer incomers, on the whole, had both lighter skin and darker hair and eyes than the natives. The people of the Early Bronze Age Yamnaya culture of the Pontic Steppes, seem to have expanded in a mass migration into both Europe and Central Asia. They are the best bet for being the original Indo-European speakers. They were tall, moderately fair skinned, but were overwhelmingly dark eyed and brown haired. There has not been a great deal of work done on blondism, but it would be a good bet that it has always been centred, as it is now, on the areas around the Baltic Sea.

If you take the Aryan=Nordic theories of the past out of the equation, as the DNA evidence suggests, then there is no reasonable expectation of Central Asian Iranian/Tocharian speakers being blue eyed or blond.
Martin

Fac me cocleario vomere!
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#32
'I'm not sure how popular this thread has been.'

Well its pretty popular here.
The issue may be that, other than the current posters, the rest of us may not have much to add; I am learning from this thread.
Rodger Williams
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#33
I've been following this thread - to learn - I know nothing about the peoples and history of this area of the world. Well, I know a little bit now, 'cuz of yinz guys...
Cheryl Boeckmann
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#34
So what have we got so far in our quest for the origins of the Alans? Wusun, nomadic elements of Kangchu which was probably ruled by a Tocharian or Yueh-chih ruling class who were also overlords of the Yancai (Alanliao), However according to Alemany in his book Sources of the Alans the word Alanliao in the Hou Han Shu could be a scribal error as the later Weilu talks about 2 separate states, Alan and Liu which were situated north and north-east of the Caspian Sea around present day Kazakhstan, (could be Aorsi) or were the Alans a confederation of assorted groups? Were Alans around  longer than that if we connect them to the Roxolani and Aorsi which means the Alans/Alani predated these groups, and were they split into western  and eastern groups? 

 Sources both Chinese (Hou Han Shu, Weilue) and Roman (Tacitus, Josephus) allude to a new group or confederation which formed mid way through 1st century AD and called themselves Alans.  But what about the Roxolani who first appeared in 107 BC according to Strabo and the Aorsi/As also mentioned by Strabo appearing around 64/47 BC.

 Frederic Teggart in his book Rome and China - Correlations in History tried to list the various conditions leading to a rapid expansion of the Alans in the 1st century and putting them into some sort of order. Just a quick list below.

 Firstly the war carried on by the Romans against firstly Mithradates III of Bosporus between 46-49 AD followed by them occupying Chersonesus in 54, and then Tyras on the Dniester in 56 as well as various wars defending Chersonesus. All these things affected

a)     The trade of the Siraci and tribes to the north of them.
b)     The trade of the Aorsi with the Medes and Armenians.
c)      The trade of the Aorsi with the tribes of the lower Don.
d)     The migration of the Iazyges to Hungary.
e)     Trouble with the Roxolani in 68-70 AD on the Danube.

 Around the same time Tiberius Plautius Silvanus Aelianus carried out the transfer of thousands of Trans-Danubians into Moesia so there must have been upheavals further east causing a conveyor belt effect in the west.

 Wars between Rome and Parthia over Armenia would have interrupted trade with Sarmatian groups as well.

 Secondly, in the east we have the disruption of the Hsiung-nu affecting its western neighbours in 48-49 AD which resulted in interruption of trade between Central Asian tribes with the tribes around the Volga and Kama rivers. The Hsiung-nuby this time had split into northern and southern groups but still remained a threat to its smaller neighbours.

 Thirdly, the war between Hsien, king of Yarkand and  Kangchu in 50 AD which directly interrupted trade between the Yancai and Kangchu which could have led to a realignment of the Yancai to look west for more opportunities.
 Maybe climate change and disease amongst their herds could have had some effect on groups turning west but not many records on that although there is some mention of "rinderpest" originating in Central Asia, decimating herds of livestock around 375 to 386 AD which  even affected cattle in Roman territory but that is much later than the period we are talking about.

 Of course later on in 4th Century the Black Huns probably pushed more eastern Alans west into the Roman empire and the Caucasus, which in turn pushed the Goths onto a collision course with Rome. Smile

Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#35
What Did the Real Yuezhi/Wusun/Tocharians Look Like?

Martin said, "If you take the Aryan=Nordic theories of the past out of the equation, as the DNA evidence suggests, then there is no reasonable expectation of Central Asian Iranian/Tocharian speakers being blue eyed or blond."

I don't think we can agree with that. Actually the DNA evidence proves otherwise, as do Roman and Chinese historical sources. We have tried to make light of this issue, but let's review known facts. First, we have the previously mentioned testimony of Ammianus Marcellinus that Alans were fair-haired. Were they genetically related in some fashion to the Yuezhi/Wusun and the Tocharians?

First, let's consider the Tocharians and the Tarim people living during the period we're studying-- the people who also introduced Buddhism to China. Here is a painting, un-retouched, of two Buddhists from Western China's Tarim Basin.

     
Perhaps I'm color blind, but I don't think so. The person to the right is obviously Chinese (as he should be) but the man to the left is a Tocharian with the same features (short beard and moustache) we've viewed on the Yuezhi/Kushans. I'll let you determine the color of his eyes and hair.

Now let's move on to the Wusun, the people most closely-related to the Yuezhi. Writing in the Hanshu (Chap. 96a), Yan Shigu says, "Among the various Rong in the Western Regions, the Wusun's shape was the strangest; and the present barbarians who have blue eyes and red hair, and are like a macaque, belong to the same race as the Wusun."

Now, we're extremely fortunate. A large portion of the Wusun moved down to the Pamirs, just a few hundred miles south of Kanju (already discussed in relation to the Yuezhi) in what is now called Tajikistan, and were recorded by the Chinese for a millennium thereafter. A distinctive portion of the Tajiks have non-Iranian features, but seem to be an extension DNA-wise of the Wusun. Here's a photo worth a million words:

   
Of these three young Tajik women, the central figure appears to have blue eyes. The two young women to each side of her have green eyes, and one is a red-head. They also have Northern European features. 

And here's another example, even more extreme-- a Tajik girl.
   

Far more interesting, let's take a look at the DNA analysis. The vast majority of "Aryan/Nordic" features (as Martin calls them) arrive in Haplogroup R1a1a, the so-called distinguishing Indo-European genetic strain. We can see its distribution across Asia and Europe by consulting this DNA map:

   
I find this quite amazing. The darkest areas ("hot-spots") show up in exactly the same "Indo-European" areas linguists and archaeologists have been projecting for an entire century. Look at India, exactly where we might expect the Indo-Aryan languages. For our purposes, we see a hotspot where nobody would expect one-- right there in the Altai, home of the Arimaspi, Tuvans, and Pazyryk Culture. From there, the Yuezhi/Wusun/Alan trail follows a "U"-shaped progression, down across Western China, to the BMC (Kangju), then up to the Aral (Yancai) area, so on and so forth.

It's hard to argue with ancient documentation, original tapestries, and the DNA trail. This all fits well in the origin of the Alans. I don't find these results extraordinary.

In any given population of Europoids, we would find blue/green/gray eyes as "sports." Most of what we know comes from Xinjiang Province, from the Takla Makan, into the Ili Valley and Ferghana, and then to Tajikistan just beyond the Chinese border. This was prime Saka/Yuezhi/Wusun territory.

A typical archaeological reference would be Sino-Platonic Paper No. 51, The Study of Ancient Human Skeletons from Xinjiang, China, by Han Kangxin. The study examines eight ancient cemeteries, perhaps the most relevant one being at Tudanmu on the upper reaches of the Ili River, the graves dating to 2,400-1800 B.P., and including seven male and six female Wusun skulls and two Saka ones (the latter's gender not specified). All male skulls were "Western Caucasoid." Han adds, "Two female skulls show obvious Mongoloid characteristics, perhaps a mixed type of the two races."

I'm far from being an Aryan racist. The most beautiful people on Earth are "admixtures."
      Wink Big Grin
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#36
"Kingdoms" of the Yancai & Liu

Let's return to our story. We've established that by 100BC the "kingdom" of Yancai paid tribute to the Kangju. Simply put, this was the Kangju's "cut" within an ancient trade route. The route followed the Axartes River northwest to the "borderless swamp" (the Aral Sea). Therefore, the country of the Yancai corresponded to the same location once inhabited by the Massagetae... and most likely the reason Casius Dio, and then Ammianus Marcellinus, referred to the Alans as "formerly the Massagetae."

Another "kingdom" recorded by the Chinese-- the land of "Liu"-- existed further northwest, obviously just below the Urals. A text written after the turn of the millennium refers to a place called "Alanliu," a corruption of two separate kingdoms in roughly the same locations, in other words the lands of "Alan" and "Liu." What's important here, is a description of more than one kingdom (tribe). We don't yet know exactly who they were in the migratory "juggle," but several tribes arrive in Western texts-- the Aorsi, the Northern Aorsi, the Siraces, and the Roxolani.

Who exactly were they? According to Taishan Yu they were Saka. Generically speaking, they were Saka, But at a closer look, they were an amalgam of more than one distinct tribe-- including the Sakarauli (the Saka pushed out the Ili Valley by the Wusun), plus elements of the Yuezhi and Wusun.

We can identify at least one individual descending from the Sakarauli-- for instance, Eunones, king of the Aorsi (in Strabo) had the same name as the Saka king Vonones. The Yuezhi/Wusun element shows up in the curious religious ceremony found in the Altai and then later in the Bosphoran Kingdom, now attributed to the "Sarmatians;" or more explicitly, the Aorsi. At this point in time, old established Saka alliances had collapsed and newer ones were being formed.

The kingdoms of Yancai and Liu lasted for a century or more. "Liu" simply disappears from Chinese texts. And in AD 73, when Eastern Han envoy Ban Chao returned from the West he informed the court that Yancai had changed its name to "Alan." We can also conclude that Yancai/Alan was no longer paying tribute to Kanju.

We've received a prevue from Michael (two posts above), and at this point we can turn west and consult Roman a priori material.
Wink
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#37
Hi Alanus, my knowledge of Han and steppe history is not that great but did the Wusun push the Sai (Saka) out of the Ili Valley or did they defeat the Yueh-shih who had earlier pushed the Saka out. Smile Smile
 I agree with your statement in an earlier post that the Wusun probably lived west of the Yueh-shih as they would have been in the way of the fleeing Yueh-shih who had just been defeated by Mao-tun's son the Old Shan-yu in about 166 BC. Considering Mao-tun came to rule the Hsiung-nu around 209 BC the Yueh-shih must have been a tough nut to crack and it took the Hsiung-nu about 40 years to finally send them packing from the Gansu corridor. I seriously doubt if the Wusun and Yueh-shih shared grazing grounds as the Yueh-shih were a powerful and numerous tribe around the end of the third century BC before the Hsiung-nu became the dominant confederation and probably didn't have to share their grazing ground with anyone and this misconception probably stems from when Chang tried to bribe  them with the territory of the defeated tribe (K'un-yeh) in the Gansu as a means to break them away from the  sphere of the Hsiung-nu. 
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#38
Back to you, Michael

Originally, when the Yuezhi were attacked by the Xiongnu they plowed through Wusun territory and went "west." The records don't say exactly where but it would have been somewhere west of the Gansu Corridor and north of the Takla Makan. Then the Xiongnu uprooted the Wusun. The Wusun also went west and passed around the Yuezhi, and reached the Ili River Valley.

These are long distances, and we haven't placed either tribe into perspective. For Martin, Childeric, Athena, and other RATers following this thread, it might be worthwhile to show the size and scope of both tribes. They were HUGE! Of major tribes listed by Herodotus, they appear to be the "Arim-Aspi"-- the powerful dwellers of the Altai. Power equates with wealth, and wealth arrives through (not just horse-breeding, ie Arim-aspi-- "the horse-lovers" or "horse-people") but through control of natural resources in great demand throughout the trade network. Here's a map of Asia's most valuable commodities, somewhat dated but handy:

   
Here we see the Altai as the "richest" territory on the Asian Continent. We find copper, gold, and tin, each escalating to a higher value until we reach tin, the most precious metal for Bronze Age China. This is what the Arimaspi/Yuezhi/Wusun controlled. We locate them this far north according to Zhou era Chinese sources. Also referring to their eventual migration, Abdullaev states, "[The local tribes] were forced out by the Yuezhi arrival from Siberia and the Altai." (Kazim Abdullaev, Nomad Migration in Central Asia, online PDF) The Yuezhi eventually moved to the BMC, rich in tin, and the Wusun reached the Ili River where the map shows a "G." Arrr! Gold!!!

Power also equates with military prowess, the ability to take lands from weaker tribes. Here it gets incredibly interesting, because previous to 200 BC we find the Saka as Top Dogs on the Eastern Steppe. Look what happens.

After being attacked by the Xiongnu, the Wusun traveled 2,000 kilometers west and literally "drove" the Saka from the Ili Valley. This is amazing at first glance. The Wusun are recorded in the Shiji as a tribe of "20,000 bows." Does this mean they were a small tribe who (somehow, perhaps magically) defeated Kings of the Steppes? Not necessarily if we look at the Wusun as heavy cavalry combined with a lesser force of 20,000 archers. They defeated the Sakarauli by shock-force. This also coincides with tactics used by their descendents the Alans, in particular the Rhoxalani. Even archery warfare was changing. Fewer arrows are found in "Late Sarmatian" graves. They were switching to a "one on one" technique, purposely aiming at individual opponents rather than creating a "shower of arrows." And they were using large bows with siyahs, consequently larger arrows with larger heads.

     
These are so-called "Late Sarmatian" arrowheads and remains of the bows. The bone plates are in two different lengths, the lower plates are shorter, indicating the bows were asymmetrical and very powerful (as seen on the Orlat battle plaque).

After reaching the Ili Valley, the Wusun extended their grazing grounds westward, finally building their "capital" on the north shore of Issyk Kul. Strange as it might be, the famous kurgan of the Golden Woman was constructed only 100 years before the Wusun occupation. Here again, they displaced the Sakarauli. At this point, the Wusun controlled 250,000 square kilometers of territory extending from the Ili Valley north to Lake Balkash, the entire 7 Rivers area, and then westward 500 kilometers to Lake Issyk. Oh no, the Wusun were not a small tribe. Here is a map of their holdings:

   
I hope everyone can visualize the size and sheer power, of the Wusun territory. To put it in perspective, this territory was twice the size of the state of Rhode Island (USA). Unfortunately, I've run out of illustration space, plus I prefer the shortest posts possible. Stay tuned for a post on the Yuezhi, a steppe entity larger than the Wusun. Wink
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#39
Hi Alanus, I must admit I am a bit confused and curious regarding who the Wusun defeated in the taking of the Ili Valley. 

 I know Sima Qian’s  Shi ji claims that the Hsiung-nu attacked the Wusun but the later Han Shou states that the Ta Yueh-shih attacked the Wusun and killed the king. Even Shi ji 110 mentions that Mao-tun wrote to the then Han emperor Wen-ti in 176 BC that he defeated the Yueh-shih and wrote that 

We have killed them and conquered them (which resulted in) the surrender of Lou-lan, Wusun, Hu-chieh and twenty six countries in their neighbourhood, all of which have become subjects of the Hsiung-nu.) Thus all the people who use the bow have been unified into one family.” 

This piece of the letter indicates to me that the Wusun and many other tribes surrendered to the Hsiung-nu and became part of the Hsiung-nu confederation as outer tribes and not part of the inner circle. Mao-tun also bragged that he had destroyed the Yueh-shih but that could be a bit of bluff and bravado as it took his son the “Old Shanyu” to defeat the Yueh-shih and turn the skull of the defeated Yueh-shih king into a drinking cup.  The Yueh-shih must have been tough. But it seems that the Yueh-shih were the sole enemies of the Hsiung-nu as they did not surrender. 

 After 166 BC after their defeat in battle the Yueh-shih split into two groups with the Ta Yueh-shih or “greater” Yueh-shih, as the Han Shou called them, turning west and defeating the Saka, driving them out of the Ili Valley and according to the Han Shou, also attacked the Wusun while the Siao Yueh-shih or “lesser” turned south of  the Tarim Valley and settled on the borderlands of Han China. Are there any other sources which dispute this theory other than Shi ji 123? It seems that the Ta Yueh-shih were lucky in that the Old Shanyu was more interested in attacking the Han than chasing them west.  Smile Smile  

Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#40
Michael,

You're correct and it's my error. After they were attacked by the Xiongnu, the Yuezhi went west, pressing through the Wusun, killing their chieftain-- the Kunmo (dated at 177/176 BC). We then have the story of the orphaned son of the Kunmo being suckled by a wolf; and the leader of the Xiongnu (titled the Shanyu) adopts the boy. So, the Yuezhi continued west and "settled in the lands of the Sai (Sakarauli)" No mention of a battle in either the Shiji or Hanshu, but the Yuezhi were recorded as having "100,000 bows," indicating a very large tribe.

The Wusun became the Xiongnu's vassals for at least three decades. After reaching the age of zhuang (thirty years old), the slain Kunmo's son became the new Wusun leader. He asked the Shanyu for permission to attack the Yuezhi and avenge his father's death. The resulting battle (somewhere near the Illi River Valley) drove the Yuezhi further west into the Araxetes valley (Ferghana) where they displaced (or intermixed with) the Saka. Shortly thereafter, the old Shanyu died and the Kunmo broke away from the Xiongnu, regaining Wusun independence. The Xiongnu made many attempts to reconquer the Wusun yet failed.

I think the expression "settled in the lands of the Sai" confused me; it was used for both the Wusun and Yuezhi. And just before writing the post, I had studied two PDFs on the area's archaeology, both references mentioning Saka and Wusun graves while omitting the Yuezhi entirely. So we know the Yuezhi occupied the Ili Valley for at least 30 years or more, and the Wusun-Yuezhi battle must have taken place after 147/146 BC, and after the Kunmo reached zhuang (the Chinese definition of an age between 30 and 50 years old).

As you mentioned, the Yuezhi had split into two groups when attacked by the Xiongnu in 177/176 BC-- the Lesser Yuezhi fled south, while the Greater (Da) Yuezhi went to the Ili Valley. The later battle between the Wusun and Da Yuezhi appears to be the conflict depicted on the Orlat plaque. Both sides shown in the scene use Chinese swords and have helmets adopted by the Han, indicating direct and prolonged contact.

With the Da Yuezhi movement to Ferghana, the Sakarauli were displaced. Under leadership of their Kunmo, the Wusun were strong enough to beat the Yuezhi, a much larger tribe. And of course, the Kunmo got his revenge. As mentioned earlier, the Wusun were a sizable tribe. Like the Lesser Yuezhi, some of the Wusun went into the Pamirs in later centuries. The Wusun remained an entity until at least AD 900 when the last-recorded Wusun delegation met with Chinese envoys. Wink

   
Wusun tombs in the Ili Valley.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#41
Just found on the internet. More of the Tocharian, Yuezhi, Wusun, DNA Trail.
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2...VqkkW_Slqq

   
Cool
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#42
Alan, I don't think that you fully appreciated the importance of the information in my post. You are describing modern populations and Ancient/Medieval illustrations, I was describing Ancient DNA. Of course there are minorities in Asia and elsewhere with light hair and light eyes, Ghengis Khan is described as red-haired, as, indeed, is Timur. Also, from the perspective of the Chinese, who called themselves "The Black-haired People", and who are overwhelmingly black haired and dark-brown of eye, any level of lighter hair and eye colouring will be noteworthy.

In the past the relatively light hair and eyes of a minority of Afghans and others in the surrounding region were explained in terms of the historical Greco-Macedonian influx. Otherwise they were explained as being derived from the Indo-European expansion. This categorically cannot be done any more.

Population genetics studies of recent years showed that the population of Europe had three components - the proportion varies between countries. One component was identified to indigenous hunter-gatherers, another to the Neolithic farmers of Middle Eastern origins and the third was unknown. The use of DNA extracted from burials of the Early Bronze Age Ukraine, of people of the Yamnaya Culture, have identified the third component of European ancestry. A mass migration of these people in the Early Bronze Age resulted in the transmission of their genes to almost all Europeans - the Sardinians seem to have no Yamnaya ancestry and they are exceptional. From the point of view of "what is most likely" the Yamnaya are the best candidates as being the original proto-Indo-European speakers - they also were the originators of the R1b marker. The Yamnaya also migrated into Central Asia to give rise to the Afanasevo Culture (proto-Tocharian?).

What the researchers on Ancient DNA were able to do is look at some markers, "genetic height", mutations associated with light skin colour, and mutations associated with light eye colour.

This has demonstratively shown that those characteristics once associated with "Nordic" features did not originate in one original population. Modern Europeans are a mosaic of features from different ancestors which have been worked upon in situ by selection (natural and/or sexual) since they became combined.

Yamnaya were tall, had relatively light skin, but had brown (or not blond) hair and brown eye alleles.
The Western European Hunter Gatherers (WEHG - Mesolithic aborigines) had blue (light) eye alleles (100%!), and dark skin - not just swarthy, dark like today's tropical peoples. However, the Scandinavian Mesolithic Hunter Gatherers seem to have had lighter skin.
The Neolithic peoples were relatively short, light-skinned and had intermediate levels of eye colour, but generally a majority of dark eye alleles.

The take-home message is that any light eyed or blond-haired people in Central Asia were not the result of the original Indo-European expansion, as the original Indo-Europeans were dark of hair and eye - as shown by their preserved DNA. Quite possibly some early Siberian populations may have had lighter colouring, or some reflux eastern movement of mixed Yamnaya/Early Farmer/WEHG populations may have occurred, no one knows.
Martin

Fac me cocleario vomere!
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#43
(01-28-2016, 09:08 AM)Urselius Wrote: Alan, I don't think that you fully appreciated the importance of the information in my post. You are describing modern populations and Ancient/Medieval illustrations, I was describing Ancient DNA.

Population genetics studies of recent years showed that the population of Europe had three components -  One component was identified to indigenous hunter-gatherers, another to the Neolithic farmers of Middle Eastern origins and the third was unknown.

The use of DNA extracted from burials of the Early Bronze Age Ukraine, of people of the Yamnaya Culture, have identified the third component of European ancestry. A mass migration of these people in the Early Bronze Age resulted in the transmission of their genes to almost all Europeans -  the Yamnaya are the best candidates as being the original proto-Indo-European speakers - they also were the originators of the R1b marker. The Yamnaya also migrated into Central Asia to give rise to the Afanasevo Culture (proto-Tocharian?).

I do appreciate your input, Martin. However, I think it's flawed from too few DNA samples, and someone's view of what amounts to an Invasion Theory. You are suggesting a "mass migration" of the Yamnaya Culture into Europe, thus a "transmission of their genes to almost all Europeans." That's pretty heady stuff!!

There was no mass migration... not into Europe. I believe the last proponent of that scenario was Marija Gimbutas.

As of yet, there's no true concensus of Haplogroup R1b. And when we look at DNA maps of R1b, they don't show any traces of a Indo-European cultural expansion into Asia... in our case, Indo-Iranian. This was a very real expansion, West to East, going from the Yamnaya Culture, to the Andronovo Culture, to the Afanasevo Culture, so on and so forth. In this case, it was also a population expansion but not a mass migration. Where in Asia do we see R1b? Take a look:

   
   
   

On all three maps, R1b is insignificant in Asia yet heavy in Europe. The only logical explanation according to this data would discount the existence of the Saka, Yuezhi, and Wusun entirely. They and their ancestors disappear! With R1b, we find no blond, blue eyed people in Asia. Obviously, the pics of the Tajiks and a Tocharian monk I posted earlier were fakes.

Yes, these are modern maps and they don't show the ancient populations. But why, and I mean WHY, are the incredibly dark map areas located Right Next to the Atlantic Ocean? Did the Yamnaya people slam against the Atlantic and then, having no boats to go further, marry into every port-district along the coast? That's what these maps indicate... and I'm too old a fart to believe it. Something smells fishy in Denmark, and I think it's R1b.

I believe the reference to a mass Indo-European migration into Europe (yet not even a trickle into Asia) is outdated. That's not how dominant language transmission worked nor has it changed. Language spreads through the power elite, an elite that controls political advantage, cultural hierarchy, tribal customs, and access to trade goods. No huge migration involved. In this fashion, a small number of Spanish elite changed the language of the Meso-American natives. It's the reason English is the second language in China... where no huge migration arrived.

Please remember-- Language travels fastest when riding a horse... or zipping across the Internet, particularly in the sales sector, like on Ebay. Using the correct language results in recognition, prestige, and a fatter wallet. While you're certainly correct on the importance of the Yamnaya Culture, I don't believe there was a heavy influx into Europe of the magnitude of a "mass migration." And I see nothing wrong with R1a1a as being the dominant gene in the Eastern steppe tribes whom we know as the Saka, or within the Indo-Aryans either. While I respect your dissention, I can't agree with it until more studies of R1b are done.

For accurate information on how language works, I suggest David Anthony's, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language; also the classic, In Search of the Indo-Europeans, by John P. Mallory.

PS: DNA leaves a "trail." Taking a second look at these DNA maps, I would venture that R1b was carried by ships rather than by horses. The hotspots reoccur typically along ancient seaport areas. Just a wild guess, but R1b may have originated in Iberia. Tacitus mentions the ancient Welsh tribe of Silures as coming from the Spanish coast, also the same people went to Ireland. Then we have more exceedingly dark areas in Armorica, and up to Scandinavia and even Iceland. The chances of a mass migration of Yamnaya Indo-Europeans to these areas is about the same as colonizing Mars. Wink

Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#44
I understand your caveat about numbers, but ancient remains that have yielded usable DNA is now in the hundreds. It will never be possible to access the numbers of sample donors that can be done for modern populations. However, if you have dozens of samples of Mesolithic WEHG and every single one has dark skin alleles combined with blue eye alleles this is telling you something significant. This is revolutionary stuff! What is of greatest importance is that this is not a back-projection from present population genetics data (ie. educated guesswork aided by computer modelling), it is actually looking at genetic time-shots.

I think all Yamnaya males have yielded R1 Y chromosome markers.

"The genetic impact of the Yamnaya migration is strikingly illustrated by the transition in European Y-chromosomal haplogroups from a predominance of G2a beforehand to R1a and R1b afterwards, an impact that is, retrospectively, detectable in present-day DNA."

From: Genome Biology, December 2016, 17:1 Ancient DNA and the rewriting of human history: be sparing with Occam’s razor. Marc Haber, Massimo Mezzavilla, Yali Xue, Chris Tyler-Smith.

This is not guesswork, Neolithic Western Europeans did not have R1 markers, the Early Bronze Age Yamnaya did, therefore the present Western European incidence of R1 markers is due to Yamnaya ancestry. The precise present distribution of R1 markers in Europe has been modified by events - pressure from disease pandemics, founder effects, and population movements - that have occurred after the Yamnaya migrations, so are post Early Bronze Age in date. The Yamnaya were ancestral the the European Corded Ware Culture, but also to the Afanisevo Culture in Central Asia. In turn the Corded Ware Culture was ancestral to the Sintashta and Andronovo Cultures which stretched from the Caspian Sea eastwards towards the Tarim Basin.

There was a conundrum of markers (at a relatively low incidence) linking Native Americans (especially those groups around the Great Lakes) with Europeans, now we know that the Yamnaya people also had these markers, and that they originated in a North Siberian population that was partly ancestral to both Native Americans and the Yamnaya.

Don't believe me, have a look at the publications themselves:

Haak W, Lazaridis I, Patterson N, Rohland N, Mallick S, Llamas B, et al. Massive migration from the steppe was a source for Indo-European languages in Europe. Nature. 2015;522:207–11.

Allentoft ME, Sikora M, Sjogren KG, Rasmussen S, Rasmussen M, Stenderup J, et al. Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia. Nature. 2015;522:167–72.

Previous to these and other recent studies I do not think that anyone would have predicted that Mesolithic WEHG would have had 100% blue eye alleles, or that pale skin is of such recent occurrence in European populations.

There is another study that I think is not fully published on a number of "culturally Anglo-Saxon" female burials of the 5th century. Two of the women were of continental origins, one was a native Briton and one was a British/continental hybrid. Strangely, perhaps, the continental women had low status grave-goods and the highest status grave-goods were in the burial of the "British lady".

This explosion in Ancient DNA studies will revolutionise the way the past is looked at, no less.
Martin

Fac me cocleario vomere!
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#45
Martin,

I agree with the greater stance of your hypothesis, and see no reason to quote from your post. The confusion of R1 markers occurred within early speculation. Klyosov, a professional in the field, phrased it this way, "Yamnaya, Catacomb, and neighboring cultures apparently shared [aka- diffused] both R1b and R1a, albeit in different time periods-- R1b before 5,000 ybp, R1a after 4,500 ybp." (A.A. Klyosov, Ancient History of the Arbins, Bearers of Haplogroup R1b, internet PDF.)

As such, R1b occurs in the Bell Beaker group (Neolithic) and predates the intrusion of the Yamnaya Culture (Early Bronze Age) into Europe and its associated cultures across Asia, where we find R1a as the heavier marker. (I prefer "intrusion" rather than "mass migration.) One BlogSpot's title really phrases it bluntly, "First R1b from Neolithic Europe... and it aint from the Steppe."
http://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2012/05/fi...nd-it.html

Our concern is tracking the migration of two specific Saka tribes-- the Yuezhi and Wusun-- both of which carried a Europoid appearance with a healthy Asiatic infusion. The two tribes were not culturally identical, nor were they exact matches to the Pazyrk and Ukok cultures of the Altai. They did however, share the same customs and religion of the Altai groups. They fit Herodotus' "Arimaspi" perfectly. Both tribes were originally adjacent to the Altai, living just southeast. The Wusun graves are typically pit inhumations, while the Yuezhi used "podboi" catacombs. Both tribes retained customs going straight back to Yamnaya and Catacomb cultures.

Anyway, thanks for the input. We'll look into Strabo's "Asii" and the "Kangju problem" next, simply because this amalgam with the BMC Saka apparently created a new steppe entity to the northwest. Big Grin
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply


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