Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Evidence of the Ancient Spice Trade in Syria



Another revealing day working with the Syrian and Assyrian Dodecad Data.

Adhering to the idea that demic diffusion should be inferred from nearby real populations and not synthetically created ones, ie pure sub-components, I've interpolated backward from the Middle Assyrian Period (1500BC) to the Neolithic, using the diffusion rates for countries adjacent to Syria:

On the left of the above graph is the bar for Assyrians plus the "remainder" term inferred in the previous post.   There are two "seven bar" diffusion sets, one for the diffusion from the south and east, represented by Saudis, and a second term for diffusion from the north and west, represented by Cypriots.  The diffusion from these two processes occur contemporaneously, but can be represented separately because of the linearity of the diffusion equation.   Each bar describes 350 years of diffusion.  The 7x350=2450 years of diffusion take us from the Middle Assyrian Period in 1500BC to 3950BC. 

As the Egyptian Invasion of Syria occured in the 14th Century BC, I didn't include Egyptians in the diffusion process for this period.  I also didn't include a separate diffusion process for Babylonia.  Prior to 1500BC, Assyrians focused their trade westward.  Prior to 1500BC, there are "South Asian/Northwest Asian/East Asian" components in the Modern Saudis (that diffused from Babylonia) that model the more limited diffusion from Babylonia in the Bronze Age.

At a very low level during the Bronze and Iron Ages, another demic process was at work which contributed to the West African, East African and Northwest African components that are not accounted for by any other diffusion process. 

I propose that it is the Spice Trade, and to a limited extent, the trade in slaves that brought people from far flung corners of the Ancient World to the Fertile Crescent.  The spice and slave routes of the ancient world are described on the following maps.



Picking from populations along these routes, it is possible to account for some of the minor components in Syrians.  The results are plotted on the following graph:

On the x axis:

"1" represents the 4000BC Fertile Crescent population after diffusion from "Cyprus" and "Saudi Arabia", but not accounting for diffusion from other processes.

"2" represents the contribution to Syrians during the Bronze and Iron Ages from diffusion assumed to be due to the spice trade and slave trade.  Components are:
0.17% Northwest African
0.53% West African
0.49% East African

"3" represents the 4000BC Fertile Crescent population of "1" less the minor diffusion components ("2").

Some notes on the contruction of the slave and spice contribution: 
I decided to try to reconstruct the minor components in "2" from populations known to have traded with Syria, rather than raw components.  I was able to contruct the "trade" contributions from various combinations of the Dodecad Ethiopian, West African, the Maasai and Mozabite populations.  As all of these populations would have had access to spice and slave routes, and in fact were central to these forms of trade, it's plausible that Ethiopian, West African, Maasai or similar East African populations, and Berbers are the sources of these minor components in Syria today.

After accounting for all of these sources of diffusion, we arrive in the Halafian Fertile Crescent in approximately 4000BC ("3" in the above graph).  Normalizing this result of "3", we have:


The Dodecad K=10 components for this postulated Neolithic population are:

68.1% West Asian, 27.8% South European, 1.12% Northeast Asian, 0.65% North European, 2.33% South Asian and 0% on the other components.

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