Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Embracing the Hellenic Plural Identity

Doric Temple in Segesta, Sicily

From the early Bronze Age, the Minoans inhabited Crete and the Aegean Islands.  They were a wealthy trading power in the Mediterranean with commercial connections to Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The Myceneans occupied Southern Mainland Greece.  Other Greek speaking tribes such as the Aeolians and Dorians occupied positions to the north.

Starting in about 1150BC, the Dorians descended from the north and into southern Greece. 

Of course, there were other Greek peoples.  For simplicity, I confine the discussion to the Aegean peninsula.

Dienekes' genetic data for Greeks here and here does suggest that there is an echo of those ancient people who came together to form the Hellenes.

Looking at the recent Balkan groups that Dienekes' has presented, we have Bulgarians that are composed almost entirely of an Italo-Balkan component.  Serbians as well.  On the other end, we have Cypriots that bear a classic Mediterranean Fertile Crescent signature.  In Dienekes' Balkan-Italian-Caucasus plot, Cypriots get their own component. 

Here's where it gets interesting.  Greeks and Armenians seem to be sandwiched in the middle, with a little Georgian or West Asian thrown in for good measure.  That suggests that we're looking at the origin of Greeks:  Minoans (Fertile Crescent signature) intermeshed with Greeks who have been in place since the LGM and varying degrees of a Balkan genetic contribution.

It's too early to get a complete genetic picture.  Dienekes' Greek data is taken from only five samples; the Serbian and Bulgarian data from only a few people.

For the record, I plotted the Greek data from the Eurasian run and then tried to reconstruct it from Cypriots, as a proxy for Minoans.  Here's what I got:

        1=Greeks    2=Cypriots  3=Italo-Balkans

        Greeks = 0.48% Cypriot + 52% Italo-Balkan

The Italo-Balkan component has the familiar Proto Italo-Celt substructure:  North European-South European-West Asian in the amounts 24%-40%-36%.   It's a little different from the background populations I calculated for Italians.  The Greek background population (referred to here as Italo-Balkan) has more West Asian and less Southern European than Tuscans and Northern Italian background populations.

Given the isolation of many Greek regions, even into modern times, it will be interesting to see if there might still exist a North to South Italo-Balkan-Minoan cline in the Aegean peninsula. 

Time will tell.

Akrotiri Ship Procession (Minoan)

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating, keep up the great posts!


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