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Correlation of annual precipitation with human Y-chromsome diversity and emergence of Neolithic agricultural and pastoral economies in the Fertile Crescent


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Examining the beginnings of agriculture in the 'Fertile Crescent', this research team has compared the distribution of rainfall with the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups. The extended families signalled by J1 and J2 haplogroups seem to have had different destinies in the era of agro-pastoralist experiment: J2 were the agricultural innovators who followed the rainfall, while J1 remained largely with their flocks. Acknowledging the fuzzy edges of such mapping, the authors nevertheless escort us into new realms of the possible for the early history of peoples.
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Correlation of annual precipitation with
human Y-chromosome diversity and the
emergence of Neolithic agricultural and
pastoral economies in the Fertile
Jacques Chiaroni1, Roy J. King2& Peter A. Underhill3
Examining the beginnings of agriculture in the ‘Fertile Crescent’, this research team has compared
the distribution of rainfall with the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups. The extended
families signalled by J1 and J2 haplogroups seem to have had different destinies in the era
of agro-pastoralist experiment: J2 were the agricultural innovators who followed the rainfall,
while J1 remained largely with their flocks. Acknowledging the fuzzy edges of such mapping,
the authors nevertheless escort us into new realms of the possible for the early history of
Keywords: Neolithic, Fertile Crescent, agriculture, pastoralism, annual precipitation,
Y-chromosome haplogroups, phylogeography
The emergence of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent, while a complex and patchy event, was
facilitated by the presence of a Mediterranean climate characterised by wet winters and dry
summers. Such habitats were conducive to natural stands of cereals and legumes gathered
by pre-existing sedentary forager populations who were already in place at the onset of the
Holocene. Ice ages play an important role in shaping the genetic history of humans (Hewitt
2000; Torroni et al. 1998). The post-glacial warming trend was subsequently interrupted
by the colder, arid Younger Dryas episode, 11 000-10 300 BP (Bar-Yosef 1998; Bellwood
2005). This climatic fluctuation induced a reduction in the geographic distribution of
wild vegetative resources and likely catalysed cultural change (Twiss 2007) especially under
conditions of demographic pressure (Bar-Yosef 1998).
1French Blood Establishment of Alpes Mediterran´
ee (EFSAM), 149 Boulevard Baille, 13005 Marseille, France and
UMR6578 (CNRS/Faculty of Medicine of Marseille) Biological and Cultural Adaptability, Faculty of Medicine,
Marseille, France
2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-
5722, USA
3Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5120,
Received: 20 August 2007; Accepted: 10 October 2007; Revised: 23 October 2007
antiquity 82 (2008): 281–289
Correlation of annual precipitation with human Y-chromosome diversity
Figure 1. Position of haplogroup J and its major relevant
sub-clades shown within the context of the global Y-
chromosome binary phylogeny.
Genetic patterns in populations are
shaped by both locus specific forces
(natural selection) and population
level forces (drift). The latter include
migration, founder effect, neutral in
situ differentiation, non-random mating
and population size fluctuation (Cavalli-
Sforza et al. 1994). Y-chromosome
phylogeography most likely reflects the
effects of drift. The topology of the
major architectural branching structures
of human Y-chromosome diversity
in the global binary phylogeny is
an example of common descent
with modification (Figure 1).
Considerable progress in deter-
mining the global phylogenetic framework of the non-recombining
haploid mtDNA genome and Y-chromosome gene trees has propelled
the use of these elegant phylogenetic systems to characterise
population structure and reconstruct population histories (Underhill &
Kivisild 2007). Like climatic and archaeological evidence, such alternative molecular
genetic data also inform the multi-disciplinary conversation regarding the transition to
agriculture. In the case of the Y-chromosome, each molecular innovation (i.e. a nucleotide
substitution, insertion or deletion event) that creates a new branch (haplogroup) in the binary
gene tree traces to a unique common male molecular ancestor in whom the mutation event
first arose. This fact explains, to a large degree, the observation that the spatial patterning of
Y-chromosome diversity often has a particularly strong correlation with geography
(Underhill et al. 2001). One of the major varieties of Y-chromosomes that occur frequently
in the Fertile Crescent are those belonging to haplogroup J, whose representatives all
exclusively share a common single derived nucleotide base substitution that lies at the root of
this haplogroup and defines group membership. Haplogroup J manifests its highest global
frequency (50 per cent) in the western sector of the Fertile Crescent (Di Giacomo et al.
2004; Semino et al. 2004) with a spread zone spanning from north-west Africa (Arredi et al.
2004) to India (Sengupta et al. 2006). The origin of haplogroup J predates the Holocene era
and represents a persistent and widespread deep substrate of ancient common genetic heritage
(Cinniolu et al. 2004; Semino et al. 2004). Haplogroup J bifurcates into J1 and J2 varieties
(Figure 1). The results of several Y-chromosome population surveys involving haplogroup
J have been reported in populations located within the general region of the Fertile
Lifestyle differences exist between agriculturalists and pastoralists (Khazanov 1984).
Sedentary agriculturalists and semi-nomadic herders often occupy different ecological niches
(Cauvin 2000; Zarins 1990). Dry farming without irrigation is confined to regions of
250-400mm of annual precipitation (Bar-Yosef 1998; Buccellati 1992), while pastoral
nomadism is an adaptation to regional semi-aridity (Bellwood 2005; Zarins 1990). It has
Jacques Chiaroni, Roy J. King & Peter A. Underhill
been shown that the spatial variation of rainfall is important in dictating the structure of
endemic flora (Kadmon & Danin 1999). Since the focus of our study is the Neolithic
transition, we restrict our analysis of Y-chromosomes and rainfall to the approximate Fertile
Crescent ‘homeland’ region implicated in the shift to an agro-pastoralist economy. We
analysed the differential phylogeography of the two offsetting sister clades of Y-chromosome
haplogroup J to demonstrate the concept of the co-evolution of genes and the phased origins
of early Neolithic cultivation and herding. Using annual precipitation to demarcate arable
(250mm) and semi-arid landscapes we evaluate corresponding extant Y-chromosome data
as a predictive metric to distinguish between the settled farming and the domesticated
animal herding lifestyles.
Twenty-two sets of Haplogroup J frequency data located within the Fertile Crescent area
were analysed from these current geopolitically defined populations: Turkey (Cinniolu et al.
2004); Egypt and Oman (Luis et al. 2004); Iraq (Semino et al. 2004); Jordan (Flores
2005), Syria and United Arab Emirates (Di Giacomo et al. 2004); Iran (Regueiro et al.
2006); Israeli Bedouins and ethnic Assyrians from Iran, Turkey and Iraq (unpublished
results). Ethnic and linguistic affiliations for some of these data are available in the original
Annual precipitation data were retrieved from The Times Atlas of the World (1989)
and the following web resource: Spatial
surfaces of binary haplogroup frequency and annual precipitation distributions were
computed using the MapViewer (version 7, Golden Software, Inc.). A cubic regression
analysis using Excel software was performed in which annual precipitation was the
independent variable used to predict the frequency of Y haplogroups J1-M267, J2a-
M410 and J2b-M12. The cubic regression analysis was chosen in order to detect
maximal, minimal and inflectional points in the data set. In addition Spearman ranked
correlations were calculated to test significance of the relationships between precipitation
and each Y-chromosome haplogroup frequency using the SPSS 11.0 computational statistics
As predicted, both haplogroups J1 and J2a correlated significantly with annual precipitation.
The Spearman correlation tests gave the following results for each haplogroup: J1
r=−0.45, p <0.05; J2a r =0.56, p <0.01; and J2b r =0.00, p (not significant).
The cubic regression for haplogroups J1 and J2a were also significant, F(3,18) =8.47
p<0.001 and F(3,18) =8.22, p <0.0012 respectively. Figure 2 illustrates the cubic
fit of haplogroups J1 and J2a versus annual precipitation. As shown, haplogroup J1
frequency increases as precipitation level reduces below the 400mm per year threshold,
typical of semi-arid climates. In contrast, haplogroup J2a frequency reaches a maximum at
700mm per year within the Mediterranean woodland and open parkland zone (Bar-Yosef
1998). Figure 3 displays the sample sites, precipitation contours and the interpolated
Correlation of annual precipitation with human Y-chromosome diversity
Figure 2. Panel A. Mean annual precipitation vs. haplogroup J2a-M410 frequency for 22 populations. Triangles indicate
data points. Curve is the best cubic fit. Panel B. Mean annual precipitation vs. haplogroup J1-M267 frequency for 22
populations. Triangles indicate data points. Curve is the best cubic fit.
Jacques Chiaroni, Roy J. King & Peter A. Underhill
haplogroup frequency contours in the geographic regions analysed. Again, haplogroup
J2a frequency closely tracks the higher rainfall regions, while haplogroup J1 distributes in
the semi-arid and desert regions.
Climatic fluctuation can spur movements of humans and also act as a mechanism
triggering social change (Kuper & Kr¨
opelin 2006). Development of Neolithic agro-pastoral
economies enhanced the opportunity for more rapid cultural divergence. It is plausible
that pastoral nomadism was an adaptation to the general semi-aridity of the region that
allowed peoples to extend their territorial range (Cauvin 2000). Although seasonality affects
both agriculturalists and pastoralists, its influence differs through the cultivation cycle
versus the mobility cycle, respectively. The study of Neolithic nomads is difficult since it
leaves fewer indications in the archaeological record. Nonetheless, some evidence of early
(8000-7600 BP) nomadic herding preserved by sandstorms has been reported in semi-arid
zones in the southern Levant (Cauvin 2000; Zarins 1990).
Previously it was shown that the cline of haplogroup J2 frequency predicted with over
80 per cent accuracy the distributions of both Neolithic pottery and figurines in the
Near East and south-eastern Europe (King & Underhill 2002). This analysis provides
another example of the correlation of Y-chromosomes and the Neolithic from a lifestyle
perspective. The genetic memory retained in the extant distributions of Y-chromosome
haplogroups J1-M267 and J2a-M410 within the Fertile Crescent significantly correlates with
regional levels of annual precipitation in a reciprocal manner. The statistically significant
correlations of Y-chromosome haplogroups, precipitation levels and domestic lifestyle are
pronounced. The spatial frequency distribution of haplogroup J2a coincides closely with
regions characterised by 400mm of annual precipitation capable of supporting settled
agriculture, while haplogroup J1-M267 distributions correlate inversely with semi-arid
regions characteristically used by pastoralists.
The frequency distributions for both haplogroups overlap when annual precipitation
approximates 250mm (Figure 2). This climatic transition zone (Buccellati 1992) underscores
the importance of not directly conflating haplogroup type with ethnicity. While the
respective haplogroup distributions are not mutually exclusive, in general, the respective
differentials in the opposing lifestyle and precipitation zones is undeniable. Prior work on
the geographic origin and the estimated dates for the temporal expansion of lineages J1-
M267 and J2a-M410 suggest a common origin near the Upper Euphrates in the foothills of
the Taurus mountains dating to the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM) (Cinniolu et al. 2004;
Semino et al. 2004). A probable scenario is that after the onset of the Holocene during the
PPNB period both J1-M267 and J2a-M410 participated in the shift to an agro-pastoral
economy with some J1-M267 lineages occupying the semi-arid regions in the Arabian
peninsula adjacent to the Fertile Crescent. At that time, an increase in frequency of J1-
M267 among semi-nomadic population was likely a random fluctuation in gene frequencies.
However, continued social-cultural barriers to population flow such as endogamy and
patrilocality could have led to the observed current differential geographic frequencies
between the J2a-M410 and J1-M267 haplogroups. The preference for intermediate annual
Correlation of annual precipitation with human Y-chromosome diversity
Figure 3. For caption see facing page.
Jacques Chiaroni, Roy J. King & Peter A. Underhill
Figure 3. Panel A. Red symbols indicate the geographic locations of the 22 populations analysed. Panel B. Interpolated
spatial contours of annual precipitation (mm) distribution. Panels C and D. Interpolated spatial frequency distributions of
Y-chromosome haplogroups J2a-M410 and J1-M267 respectively in the Near East. Frequency scales are fractional.
Correlation of annual precipitation with human Y-chromosome diversity
rainfall levels (400-800mm) among Early Neolithic settlements may have also extended to
Thessaly in Greece (Perl`
es 2001) where J2a-M410 has been observed at high frequency (Di
Giacomo et al. 2003).
This study also provides a framework for the analysis of the maternally inherited
mitochondrial DNA genome (mtDNA) and rainfall in the Fertile Crescent. The mtDNA
genome is sensitive to both natural selection (Kivisild et al. 2006) and sex-specific forces at
the population level and may provide insights into possible sex-bias (Underhill & Kivisild
We acknowledge that our simple dichotomous model does not record that early
Neolithic societies were complex entities often characterised by broad spectrum and nuanced
subsistence strategies (Twiss 2007) that are not necessarily recorded in the genes. Complexity
in paternal heritage exists in most populations beyond just one haplogroup variety of
Y-chromosomes participating in a range expansion by agro-pastoralists. Nevertheless the
pattern of J1 and J2 haplogroup mapping provides a suggestive signal of dispersion.
The authors wish to thank Professors L. Luca Cavalli-Sfzora and Aaron Brody for their valuable comments as
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... From a genetic perspective, two studies have associated Y-chromosome haplogroups J1 and J2 with the spread of agriculture and domestication from the Fertile Crescent (Chiaroni et al. 2008(Chiaroni et al. , 2010, and a separate study (Balaresque et al. 2010) connects R1b to these events. These three haplogroups combined account for 65% of Armenian male ancestry (see Herrera et al. 2012), suggesting the region, while perhaps sparsely populated throughout the Paleolithic and Mesolithic, was settled by agriculturalists from the Levant, whose genes survive today. ...
The debate over the ethnogenesis of Ashkenazi Jewry is longstanding, and has been hampered by a lack of Jewish historiographical work between the Biblical and the early Modern eras. Most historians, as well as geneticists, situate them as the descendants of Israelite tribes whose presence in Europe is owed to deportations during the Roman conquest of Palestine, as well as migration from Babylonia, and eventual settlement along the Rhine. By contrast, a few historians and other writers, most famously Arthur Koestler, have looked to migrations following the decline of the little-understood Medieval Jewish kingdom of Khazaria as the main source for Ashkenazi Jewry. A recent study of genetic variation in southeastern European populations (Elhaik 2012) also proposed a Khazarian origin for Ashkenazi Jews, eliciting considerable criticism from other scholars investigating Jewish ancestry who favor a Near Eastern origin of Ashkenazi populations. This paper re-examines the genetic data and analytical approaches used in these studies of Jewish ancestry, and situates them in the context of historical, linguistic, and archaeological evidence from the Caucasus, Europe and the Near East. Based on this reanalysis, it appears not only that the Khazar Hypothesis per se is without serious merit, but also the veracity of the ‘Rhineland Hypothesis’ may also be questionable.
... Southwest Asia not only represents one of several regions in the world where agriculture evolved, but also the potential homeland where Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages evolved (see discussions in Chapter 5: Section 3, Chapter 7: Sections 2 and 3). Two published reports (Chiaroni et al. 2008;Chiaroni et al. 2010) found that in Southwest Asia a statistically significant correlation exists between annual precipitation and the evolution of sedentary dry land agriculture as well as pastoralism. In other words, people grow crops in Southwest Asia where rainfall is abundant. ...
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In the last five years the quest to explain the correlation between genetic and linguistic diversity has employed a methodology called palaeogenomic modeling. Such models were published in prestigious science journals including Nature. They have also been reported in mainstream media such as the BBC. Furthermore, the metrics data reflect that they are cited frequently in scholarly journals. These models, however, are flagrantly inconsistent with the archaeological record. They employ the wrong genetic marker and not enough data. I strongly believe that the palaeogenomic modeling “fad” will soon dissipate because of this these deficiencies. My research stands ready to yield desperately needed models of language prehistory that are highly reliable. Researchers will have, for the first time, a robust methodology for exploring the correlation between genetic and linguistic diversity.
... The pair-wise correlations indicating larger groups of jointly propagating Hgs verified this assumption (González et al. 2002). Positive and negative rank correlations of Y-chromosomal Hgs J1 and J2 with annual precipitation revealed different migration processes of Neolithic farmer and pastoralist populations in the Near East (Chiaroni et al. 2008). MDS mapping of Hg frequency distributions of ancient and recent samples revealed different impacts of Neolithic farmer populations on various genetic regions in Europe (Hervella et al. 2012). ...
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In this study, we aimed to illustrate the efficiency of correlation analysis of musical and genetic data for certain common ethnic and ethno-musical roots of mankind. The comparison of the results to archaeogenetic data shows that correlations of recent musical and genetic data may reveal past cultural and migration processes resulting in recent connections. The significance tests verified our hypothesis supposing that propagation of oral musical traditions can be related to early human migration processes is well-founded, because the multidimensional point system determined by the inverse rank vectors of correlating Hg–UCT pairs has a very clear structure. We found that associations of Hgs jointly propagating with associations of UCTs (Unified Contour Type) can be identified as significant complex components in both modern and ancient populations, thus, modern populations can be considered as admixtures of these ancient Hg associations. It also seems obvious to conclude that these ancient Hg associations strewed their musical “parent languages” during their migrations, and the correlating UCTs of these musical parent languages may also be basic components of the recent folk music cultures. Thus, we can draw a hypothetical picture of the main characteristics of ancient musical cultures. Modern and prehistoric populations belonging to a common Hg–UCT association are located to very similar geographical areas, consequently, recent folk music cultures are basically determined by prehistoric migrations. Our study could be considered as an initial step in analysis of the correlations of prehistoric and recent musical and genetic characteristics of human evolution history.
... The different geographic distribution of both sub-haplogroups J1-M267 and J2-M172 suggests two separate histories, even though they have evolved in situ leading to the Neolithic revolution. It is well known that J1-M267, whose maximum frequency is observed in the Southern Arabia, has been related to pastoralism in the semiarid region of Arabia, while J2-M172, mainly observed in the Fertile Crescent, has been the Y-chromosome marker for the spread of farming into Southeast Europe (Al-Zahery et al., 2011;Chiaroni et al., 2008Chiaroni et al., , 2010Semino et al., 1996Semino et al., , 2000Semino et al., , 2004. ...
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Objective: We analyzed the Y-chromosome haplogroup diversity in the Kuwaiti population to gain a more complete overview of its genetic landscape. Method: A sample of 117 males from the Kuwaiti population was studied through the analysis of 22 Y-SNPs. The results were then interpreted in conjunction with those of other populations from the Middle East, South Asia, North and East Africa, and East Europe. Results: The analyzed markers allowed the discrimination of 19 different haplogroups with a diversity of 0.7713. J-M304 was the most frequent haplogroup in the Kuwaiti population (55.5%) followed by E-M96 (18%). They revealed a genetic homogeneity between the Kuwaiti population and those of the Middle East (F ST 5 6.1%, P-value < 0.0001), although a significant correlation between genetic and geographic distances was found (r 5 0.41, P-value 5 0.009). Moreover, the nonsignificant pairwise F ST genetic distances between the Kuwait population on the one hand and the Arabs of Iran and those of Sudan on the other, corroborate the hypothesis of bidirectional gene flow between Arabia and both Iran and Sudan. Conclusion: Overall, we have revealed that the Kuwaiti population has experienced significant gene flow from neighboring populations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and East Africa. Therefore, we have confirmed that the population of Kuwait is genetically coextensive with those of the Middle East. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 28:203-212, 2016.
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... Y-chromosome haplogroup diversity among Svan males is relatively low compared to that seen in other West Asian populations (e.g., Badro et al., 2013;Grugni et al., 2012), although haplotypic diversity within them is quite high. Four of the Y-chromosome haplogroups (G2a, R1a, J2a1b, I2a) found in Svans are also associated with male-mediated migrations related to Neolithic farming ( Balaresque et al., 2010;Chiaroni et al., 2008;Chikhi et al., 1998Chikhi et al., , 2002Haak et al., 2010; Lacan (1) and minuses (-), with (1) indicating significant differences at p 5 .050. Given its history, the South Caucasus would partly fit both scenarios. ...
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Objectives: In this study, we characterized genetic diversity in the Svans from northwestern Georgia to better understand the phylogeography of their genetic lineages, determine whether genetic diversity in the highland South Caucasus has been shaped by language or geography, and assess whether Svan genetic diversity was structured by regional residence patterns. Materials and methods: We analyzed mtDNA and Y-chromosome variation in 184 individuals from 13 village districts and townlets located throughout the region. For all individuals, we analyzed mtDNA diversity through control region sequencing, and, for males, we analyzed Y-chromosome diversity through SNP and STR genotyping. The resulting data were compared with those for populations from the Caucasus and Middle East. Results: We observed significant mtDNA heterogeneity in Svans, with haplogroups U1-U7, H, K, and W6 being common there. By contrast, ∼78% of Svan males belonged to haplogroup G2a, with the remainder falling into four other haplogroups (J2a1, I2, N, and R1a). While showing a distinct genetic profile, Svans also clustered with Caucasus populations speaking languages from different families, suggesting a deep common ancestry for all of them. The mtDNA data were not structured by geography or linguistic affiliation, whereas the NRY data were influenced only by geography. Discussion: These patterns of genetic variation confirm a complex set of geographic sources and settlement phases for the Caucasus highlands. Such patterns may also reflect social and cultural practices in the region. The high frequency and antiquity of Y-chromosome haplogroup G2a in this region further points to its emergence there.
In order to understand the dynamics of emergence and spreading of socio-technical innovations and population moves it is important to determine the place of origin of these populations. Here we focus on the role of geographical factors, such as land fertility and mountains in the context of human population evolution and distribution dynamics. We use a constrained diffusion-based computational model, computer simulations and the analysis of geographical and land-quality data. Our analysis shows that successful human populations, i.e. those which become dominant in their socio - geographical environment, originate from lands of many valleys with relatively low land fertility, which are close to areas of high land fertility. Many of the homelands predicted by our analysis match the assumed homelands of known successful populations (e.g. Bantus, Turkic, Maya). We also predict other likely homelands as well, where further archaeological, linguistic or genetic exploration may confirm the place of origin for populations with no currently identified urheimat. Our work is significant because it advances the understanding of human population dynamics by guiding the identification of the origin locations of successful populations.
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Human Y chromosome haplogroup J1-M267 is a common male lineage in West Asia. One high-frequency region—encompassing the Arabian Peninsula, southern Mesopotamia, and the southern Levant—resides ~ 2000 km away from the other one found in the Caucasus. The region between them, although has a lower frequency, nevertheless demonstrates high genetic diversity. Studies associate this haplogroup with the spread of farming from the Fertile Crescent to Europe, the spread of mobile pastoralism in the desert regions of the Arabian Peninsula, the history of the Jews, and the spread of Islam. Here, we study past human male demography in West Asia with 172 high-coverage whole Y chromosome sequences and 889 genotyped samples of haplogroup J1-M267. We show that this haplogroup evolved ~ 20,000 years ago somewhere in northwestern Iran, the Caucasus, the Armenian Highland, and northern Mesopotamia. The major branch—J1a1a1-P58—evolved during the early Holocene ~ 9500 years ago somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, and southern Mesopotamia. Haplogroup J1-M267 expanded during the Chalcolithic, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. Most probably, the spread of Afro-Asiatic languages, the spread of mobile pastoralism in the arid zones, or both of these events together explain the distribution of haplogroup J1-M267 we see today in the southern regions of West Asia.
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The effort to harness global Y-Chromosome variation as a tool for linguistic research has produced an interesting observation. Recent genetic evidence supports Bellwood's 2005 early farming dispersal hypothesis. Thus, the standard approach to Indo-European origins, the so-called steppe hypothesis, may not be a persuasive model of language prehistory.
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The Neolithic period of the southern Levant was an era of tremendous change. Over the course of the Neolithic, the gradual transition from foraging to agriculture involved not merely economic innovations, but also profound shifts in population size, social organization, and technology. This represents possibly the earliest, and certainly one of the earliest, instances of the transition to agriculture. The advent of farming altered human demography, health, and diversity; it shaped the spread of the world's dominant cultures, genes, and languages.1, 2 It recast humans' relationship with the natural world, increasing modification of the environment. It both enabled and required the development of new social structures as humans learned how to live in increasingly large and densely packed groups. These transformations were not easily achieved. This paper traces the development of the southern Levantine Neolithic through two thousand years of socioeconomic elaboration and expansion; a major social recalibration in the middle Neolithic; and a final millennium-and-a-half of smaller-scale and materially simpler adaptations.
Farmers made a sudden and dramatic appearance in Greece around 7000 BC, bringing with them new ceramics and crafts, and establishing settled villages. They were Europe's first farmers, and their settlements provide the link between the first agricultural communities in the Near East and the subsequent spread of the new technologies to the Balkans and on to Western Europe. In this 2001 book, Catherine Perlès argues that the stimulus for the spread of agriculture to Europe was a colonisation movement involving small groups of maritime peoples. Drawing evidence from a wide range of archaeological sources, including often neglected 'small finds', and introducing daring new perspectives on funerary rituals and the distribution of figurines, she constructs a complex and subtle picture of early Neolithic societies, overturning the traditional view that these societies were simple and self-sufficient.
The Akkadians' nomadic origins have generally been assumed. However, the conventional prehistoric archaeological picture fails to illuminate those origins and the Akkadians' involvement in Akkad. Thus the origins of pastoral nomadism must be sought in the context of mixed farming within the Fertile Crescent, specifically during the PPNB. Subsequent expansion into marginal agricultural lands led to a symbiotic relationship between pastoral nomads and farmers. The Akkadians seem to have moved into the northern Arabian steppe and desert (Jezireh and Hamada) during the mid-seventh millennium B. C.; the PPNB/C populations apparently began intensive herding at the end of that period, and maintained ties to the Fertile Crescent seen in both exotic trade and everyday culture. They began to penetrate into Akkad during the time under discussion. Archaeological sequences in the Arabian desert suggest that the Akkadians probably were of a West Semitic (Levantine) background. Thus, the alluvium in the Akkadian area became a distinct entity as early as ca. 6000 B. C. and represented the early prehistoric forerunners to Akkadians of the fourth and third millennia B. C.
Relations between the distribution of herbaceous and woody species from the flora of Israel and the variation (25–900 mm) in mean annual rainfall are described using a grid-based approach integrating multivariate techniques (cluster analysis and DCA-ordination) and GIS. The analysis was based on an extensive data base of vascular plant records in 10 km × 10 km grid cells representing the climatic zones of Israel. Cluster analysis revealed three geographically distinct clusters of grid cells which could be arranged along the main rainfall gradient in the study area. The main subdivision is between cells from the Mediterranean region and cells from the more arid region. The second subdivision separated cells from the arid region into two distinct groups which differed significantly in rainfall. Clustering of herbaceous and woody species was similar, but boundaries separating adjacent clusters based on woody species were consistently linked to more rainy areas. Cell scores on the first DCA-axis were significantly correlated with mean annual rainfall, but this relationship was not linear. Log-transformation of the rainfall data resulted in a higher correlation between the DCA-scores and rainfall, indicating that variation in rainfall had a stronger effect on species composition in relatively dry than in more mesic regions. Slopes of linear regression models relating cell scores on the first DCA-axis to mean annual rainfall, as well as the corresponding R2-values, were highest in the desert, intermediate in the dry Mediterranean, and lowest in the mesic Mediterranean territory. These results indicate that both the per-unit effect of rainfall on plant species composition and its relative importance as a determinant of compositional variation decreased from relatively dry to more mesic regions.
The aim of this paper is to provide the reader with an updated description of the archeological evidence for the origins of agriculture in the Near East. Specifically, I will address the question of why the emergence of farming communities in the Near East was an inevitable outcome of a series of social and economic circumstances that caused the Natufian culture to be considered the threshold for this major evolutionary change.1–4 The importance of such an understanding has global implications. Currently, updated archeological information points to two other centers of early cultivation, central Mexico and the middle Yangtze River in China, that led to the emergence of complex civilizations.4 However, the best-recorded sequence from foraging to farming is found in the Near East. Its presence warns against the approach of viewing all three evolutionary sequences as identical in terms of primary conditions, economic and social motivations and activities, and the resulting cultural, social, and ideological changes.
mtDNA sequence variation was studied in 419 individuals from nine Eurasian populations, by high-resolution RFLP analysis, and it was followed by sequencing of the control region of a subset of these mtDNAs and a detailed survey of previously published data from numerous other European populations. This analysis revealed that a major Paleolithic population expansion from the "Atlantic zone" (southwestern Europe) occurred 10,000-15,000 years ago, after the Last Glacial Maximum. As an mtDNA marker for this expansion we identified haplogroup V, an autochthonous European haplogroup, which most likely originated in the northern Iberian peninsula or southwestern France at about the time of the Younger Dryas. Its sister haplogroup, H, which is distributed throughout the entire range of Caucasoid populations and which originated in the Near East approximately 25,000-30,000 years ago, also took part in this expansion, thus rendering it by far the most frequent (40%-60%) haplogroup in western Europe. Subsequent migrations after the Younger Dryas eventually carried those "Atlantic" mtDNAs into central and northern Europe. This scenario, already implied by archaeological records, is given overwhelming support from both the distribution of the autochthonous European Y chromosome type 15, as detected by the probes 49a/f, and the synthetic maps of nuclear data.