October 17, 2010

Are Europeans all Middle Easterners?

For quite a number of decades, it has been apparent that agriculture was first invented in the "Fertile Crescent" of the Middle East, then spread into Europe. But that raised the question of how agriculture spread: did Middle Easterners colonize Europe or did existing European hunter-gatherers pick up Middle Eastern techniques? A couple of decades or so ago, geneticists entered this debate. L.L. Cavalli-Sforza argued that most Europeans today are descended from Middle Eastern farmers. Bryan Sykes responded that most Europeans are descended from indigenous hunter-gatherers who switched to farming.

The latest view is that Cavalli-Sforza was even more right than he claimed. Matthias Schultz writes in Der Spiegel in "How Middle Eastern Milk Drinkers Conquered Europe:"
At around 5300 BC, everyone in Central Europe was suddenly farming and raising livestock. The members of the Linear Pottery culture kept cows in wooden pens, used rubbing stones and harvested grain. Within less than 300 years, the sedentary lifestyle had spread to the Paris basin.

The reasons behind the rapid shift have long been a mystery. Was it an idea that spread through Central Europe at the time, or an entire people?

Peaceful Cooperation or Invasion?

Many academics felt that the latter was inconceivable. Agriculture was invented in the Middle East, but many researchers found it hard to believe that people from that part of the world would have embarked on an endless march across the Bosporus and into the north.

Jens Lüning, a German archaeologist who specializes in the prehistoric period, was influential in establishing the conventional wisdom on the developments, namely that a small group of immigrants inducted the established inhabitants of Central Europe into sowing and milking with "missionary zeal." The new knowledge was then quickly passed on to others. This process continued at a swift pace, in a spirit of "peaceful cooperation," according to Lüning.

But now doubts are being raised on that explanation. New excavations in Turkey, as well as genetic analyses of domestic animals and Stone Age skeletons, paint a completely different picture:
  • At around 7000 BC, a mass migration of farmers began from the Middle East to Europe.
  • These ancient farmers brought along domesticated cattle and pigs.
  • There was no interbreeding between the intruders and the original population.
Mutated for Milk

The new settlers also had something of a miracle food at their disposal. They produced fresh milk, which, as a result of a genetic mutation, they were soon able to drink in large quantities. The result was that the population of farmers grew and grew.

These striking insights come from biologists and chemists. In a barrage of articles in professional journals like Nature and BMC Evolutionary Biology, they have turned many of the prevailing views upside down over the course of the last three years. ...

In a bid to solve the mystery, molecular biologists have sawed into and analyzed countless Neolithic bones. The breakthrough came last year, when scientists discovered that the first milk drinkers lived in the territory of present-day Austria, Hungary and Slovakia.

But that was also where the nucleus of the Linear Pottery culture was located. "The trait of lactose tolerance quickly became established in the population," explains Joachim Burger, an anthropologist from the University of Mainz in southwestern Germany who is a member of the Leche team.

There's a good accompanying graphical map here.

Of course, all this raises even more questions, such as in regard to the recently surmised Neanderthal introgression

Having seen opinion shift several times on this topic over the last decade and a half, I look forward to future developments.

This lactose tolerant-centric view of the pre-history of Europe may provide some posthumous vindication to Raymond D. Crotty, an Irish dairy farmer turned economist, who emphasized the importance of the mutation to facilitate dairy farming as crucial to the dense populating of Northern Europe.

P.S. John Hawks comments here. Razib comments here.

P.P.S. Greg Cochran comments in the Comments.

107 comments:

dearieme said...

It's when archaeologists opine on things they can't possibly know, that's when I become particularly suspicious: "in a spirit of "peaceful cooperation"", indeed! Bollocks.

Bob said...

Wikipedia cites studies on lactose intolerance that say "Germany 15%" and "English 10-15%" "African Americans 45%"

I am skeptical.

100% of the children in my day care, grade school, and middle school, mostly north and eastern euros and blacks, drank milk everyday at school. Usually chocolate milk. Ice cream consumption was also exactly 100%. I don't ever remember a child refusing ice cream.

Was I just missing the fact that many of these kids got massive indigestion on a daily basis?

Or maybe, even if you lack the adult lactase production gene, you still produce it as long as your milk consumption continues uninterrupted after infancy. If this is the case, then genetic lactose tolerance isn't such a big deal in human history.

Anonymous said...

How hard would it have been more men thousands of years ago to figure out agriculture? It should be readily apparent to almost anyone.

Joe said...

I'd really be surprised if that is true, especially in northern europe. And especially in the eastern baltic. Which european populations exactly did they check?
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2009/09/saami-not-descended-from-swedish-hunter-gathers/

Anonymous said...

These European Middle Easterners have genetic traits that concentrate in Northwestern Europe and have lowest frequency in Middle East.
As anything it should indicate the opposite.

If milk was that much of miracle food, while it has failed in Middle East?
The most probable answer is because Middle Easterners were not Europeans and lacked lactose tolerance.

I read some more researches of that kind.
That Europeans are Middle Easterners, because they have blue eyes (and real Middle Easterners brown).
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,532346,00.html
See how Turkey was mentioned.

Or that Europeans are Middle Easterners, because they have white skin (and real Middle Easterners brown).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_people#Origins_of_light_skin
From this link:
According to Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, light skin probably arose in North Africa or both in the north and east.

And maybe Europeans are Europeans because they are not Middle Easterners and have white skin, blue/green/brown eyes, black/brown/blond hair, and are lactose tolerant.

Anyway I am waiting for research that says that Europeans are Middle Easterners because they have high IQ (and real Middle Easterners have low IQ.)

Of course Europeans came from Middle East.
But the differences between Europeans and Middle Easterners are that big, that it means that Europeans (majority of genetic resources) came (most probably) to Europe in Paleolithic.
Farming and cows are mostly cultural input (with some genetic input).

It is Ockham's razor if not proofed otherwise.

Simon in London said...

All the previous gene-analysis I've seen said that the introgression was very limited, and most European gene lines had been there for 30,000+ years.

The evidence from other parts of the world does seem to indicate that agricultarists do tend to invade and wipe out hunter-gatherers, with limited interbreeding, eg the Bantu Expansion in Africa.

yippeee said...

u mean i may be a semite? then i don't have to worry about being an anti-semite.

Simon in London said...

Were the invading farmers the Aryans/Indo-Europeans? The timetable looks a bit early, but possible. Are the Basques a cultural remnant of the original population?

Anonymous said...

So, cows were like the tanks in primitive times. Conquer and plow new fields and feed the troops with all that milk.

adfasdfadsf said...

Guys being what they are, I'll bet some newcomers from the Middle East took some local indigenous girls and had children with them--just like white men had children with black slaves in the Deep South though such was officially looked down on.

Anyway, this goes to show that even though slavery is seen as a great evil by modern society, it was probably a moral advancement for mankind that had been accustomed to wiping out their enemies. Slavery may be cruel but it at least spares lives whereas genocide kills the entire enemy. Sparing the lives of the enemy and using them for productive purposes was probably a revolution in human morality.

In the old days, neolithic migrants from the Middle East arrived in Europe and killed off most people--just like Bantus killed off most Khoisan people. But the Spanish in South America decided to spare the lives of natives and use them as slaves. Not very nice but better than killing them off--like the Aztecs did to so many of their enemies. (To be sure, many natives did die as a result of the arrival of Europeans, but that was by disease than by planned genocide.)

Average Joe said...

But if Northern Europeans are descended from Middle Easterners why is lactose tolerance more common in Northern Europe than the Middle East? There is also the other issue of celiac disease - a genetic condition that makes the body intolerant to wheat gluten - which is also much more common in Northern Europe than the Middle East. Personally, I believe that this whole Europeans-are-Middle-Easterners idea is just something that was created after WWII as a way of trying to prevent the rise of another Hitler.

Anonymous said...

The earliest form of R1B is found in western Iran

R1B is the paternal Y-marker found in most west europeans

East Europeans are mostly R1A

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, this interpretation raises many new questions.

Looking at the map it appears that these lactose tolerant peoples didn't just expand from their north west border into Europe. Rather it appears that they simultaneously retreated along their south east border. It looks like this theory requires not expansion but actual migration of a people as a whole.

It would be as if Germany invaded France, as they are wont to do, but also abandoned Germany. All the Germans would then be in France and Germany itself would be empty. This doesn't seem real likely to me.

If lactose tolerance was so beneficial and arose in the eastern Mediterranean and then spread to north west, I would expect that the center of neotenous adaptation would remain in the ancestral area of the Fertile Crescent and that there would be a clinal pattern extending into northern Europe. But this is not what we see. Lactose tolerance is high in northern Europe but low in the whole Middle East.

If milk drinking was important in the Middle East thousands of years ago why was it abandonned?

Like you, Steve I will wait for more findings and theories. This most recent set of ideas leaves too many questions.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, everyone whose not an African black has ancestral roots in the middle east.

Peter Frost said...

The genetic evidence is equivocal. Yes, early European farmers are genetically different from late European hunter-gatherers, but the genetic distance is as great between early European farmers and present-day Europeans.

There is also another problem. If present-day Europeans are largely descended from Middle Easterners who entered northern Europe between 7,000 and 3,000 years ago, that leaves a very narrow time window for the evolution of the physical characteristics that are specific to northern Europeans. In many cases, the time window is virtually nonexistent. This is the case with Finnish peoples that were still hunting and gathering up to historic times.

Anonymous said...

Since Cochran and Harpending propose that lactose tolerance came in with the proto-IE, from the Kurgan (Ponto-Caspian) Urheimat, and (I think they say) only around 3,000 BC... I want their take on this, pronto!

Excuse me! - I meant to say that I would be humbly obliged if they would take the time to opine.

Lars Svensson said...

It's interesting that Basque people have by far the lowest levels of lactose intolerance (meaing they must have a long history of milk-drinking), and yet they are often thought of as 'Aboriginal Europeans'. Either they are part of an earlier Middle Eastern migration, or their dairy culture preceded the Middle Eastern colonists.

Anonymous said...

Even in Sykes' early paper, he did not propose a total absence of Middle Eastern demic diffusion. Rather, using uniparental markers with the limited understanding of their distribution that then pertained, he interpreted the data to support a minority Middle Eastern contribution to European ancestry (~25%) that was more heavily distributed in Southern and Southeast Europe.

The map of uniparental marker distribution has gotten somewhat more complex since Sykes' paper about a decade ago due to sampling of previously unsampled populations. The issue of mutation rate estimation is also a lot more contentious. So it's not entirely surprising that new data and a reappraisal of old data might show different findings. However, I'm not sure that the genetic data really supports total replacement. FYI, Razib and Dienekes have blogged about some of the articles tackling this issue over the past couple of years.

Dutch Boy said...

If the Middle Easterners brought lacose tolerance with them to Europe, why are so few of them lactose-tolerant today (when compared with Europeans)? Also, why are the most lactose-tolerant Europeans the furthest from the Middle East?

Harmonious Jim said...

Steve, for the latest Theory of Everything history check out Why the West Rules - For Now by Ian Morris, an archaeologist. It's a macro-comparison of the paths of Western vs Eastern Eurasia. The story he tells is how the two zones alternated in leading the race of social development over the last 10000 years. Alas, he's able to be a gene-denialist because he simply ignores the history of any other region.

bryanD said...

"Having seen opinion shift several times on this topic over the last decade and a half, I look forward to future developments."

The future is now!

http://www.amazon.com/History-Fiction-Science-Chronology-No/dp/2913621058

Anonymous said...

He wasn't a 'failed' Irish dairy farmer.

Anonymous said...


We are all Africans!


Well, yes we are, ultimately, but we are not descended from current sub-Saharan Africans ...

This point is often lost when discussing certain subjects.

David Davenport said...

... At around 7000 BC, a mass migration of farmers began from the Middle East to Europe. ...

Steve, that's not so new. That is the 19th century notion of "Indo-European" humans who originated in the in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea -- "Caucasians" -- and spread out from Ireland to India and Iran. ( "Iran" cognate with "Ayran"? )

19th century writers usually referred to the Indo-Europeans as conquerors, in addition to being farmers or herders, because 19th century anthropologists or proto-paleontologists thought that both Europe and the East Indies were populated with some sort of humans before lighter-skinned and fairer-haired Indo-Europeans arrived.

As time went on, the invading Caucasians/Indo-Eurpeans interbred to some extent with the pre-existing local people.

Fredrich Nietsche -- that Nietsche -- was one such scholar. In the 1870's he deduced from linguistics and legends that the classical Greeks were descended from a conquering race -- the "Doreans" (?) -- that arrived in the Greek peninsula from the north and made slaves and helots of the humans who were already there. These were Nietsche's ur-herrenvolk and sklavenvolk.

As far as I know, Nietsche never mentioned Charles Darwin or Darwinism. His academic specialty was "classical philology" -- classics.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have leaned pretty strongly toward Sykes in all this over the last decade, and my immediate thought was of the descent of Cheddar Man to a nearby schoolteacher. Perhaps there is a fit for that data I haven't thought through yet.

But I agree that we keep moving around in this, and Current Best Theories haven't lasted long. Since I studied this in the 70's at college, and overlapping with our understanding of historical linguistics as it applies to Indo-Europeans, I've had to be nimble of mind to even keep up with the theories from my desult'ry reading on it. I also look forward to new developments.

Linked, BTW

ASDF said...

I recall from my days of hanging around physical anthropology forums that there were basically two types of Europeans: Robust, Upper Paleolithic types, and gracile Mediterranid types.

But if there was no interbreeding, does this mean that all Europeans developed from these neolithic types? And how would we have developed fair hair and skin? I thought that was supposed to have happened tens of thousands of years ago in ice age Europe.

Le Mur said...

"The article is full of details that are wrong or misleading."
http://johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/demography/neolithic/spiegel-volkerwanderung-2010.html

corvinus said...

19th century writers usually referred to the Indo-Europeans as conquerors, in addition to being farmers or herders, because 19th century anthropologists or proto-paleontologists thought that both Europe and the East Indies were populated with some sort of humans before lighter-skinned and fairer-haired Indo-Europeans arrived.

Actually, I don't necessarily think the proto-Indo-Europeans were necessarily fairer than their neighbors, since there are non-Aryan white people (Basques, Finns, Hungarians, Georgians). I think the fair pigmentation arose later, much as the Lac+ phenotype did. I mean, according to the map, Italians are among the most Lac- people in Europe... that surprised me.

If the Middle Easterners brought lacose tolerance with them to Europe, why are so few of them lactose-tolerant today (when compared with Europeans)? Also, why are the most lactose-tolerant Europeans the furthest from the Middle East?

Again, my guess is that Lac+ increased to a majority along with traits such as light hair and eyes specifically in those Indo-Europeans who colonized northern Europe.

Matt said...

But if Northern Europeans are descended from Middle Easterners why is lactose tolerance more common in Northern Europe than the Middle East?

I'd guess:

1) It's more useful in Northern Europe in terms of pure calorie production with richer and greater areas of grazing that aren't useful for crops (which seems suspect). So higher frequency.
2) The allele gets higher in frequency with each wave of advance - every time you conquer a new frontier it will be useful to have a higher lactase frequency, so lactase frequency increases as more frontiers are conquered (again, the logic of this seems dodgy).
3) Frequency of the allele was equal, but old population elements reemerged or new population elements entered closer to the Middle East which altered this (more plausible than 2 but less than 1 IMO).

I still find the Cochran and Harpending Indo-European "cow boy" theory more plausible to be honest.

adfadsfasdf said...

"If the Middle Easterners brought lacose tolerance with them to Europe, why are so few of them lactose-tolerant today (when compared with Europeans)? Also, why are the most lactose-tolerant Europeans the furthest from the Middle East?"

Maybe it's because all the grass dried out and the deserts took over; so, cows couldn't be grown, and as a result, middle easterners reverted to lactose intolerance.

Average Joe said...

100% of the children in my day care, grade school, and middle school, mostly north and eastern euros and blacks, drank milk everyday at school.

Only adults are lactose intolerant.

asdfasdfasdf said...

Jews clearly drank milk but the Bible says 'don't mix milk with meat'. Good thinking as that's protein overload.
Lactose tolerant or intolerant, one should be careful what one mixes milk with. I have no problem having milk with cookies or bread, but one time I had it with a bowl of chili... and OMG!!!!

asdfsadfasdf said...

There is lactose intolerance and then there is super-lactose intolerance. People with former can still drink milk. They may break wind, but they don't really get sick. But some people really get sick, and they can't drink milk--massive diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

A lot of non-whites are in the former category and do drink milk without getting sick. They may fart more than the average person, but they still get the protein and calcium from the milk.

Anonymous said...

Couple of folks said things worth answering.

100% of the children in my day care, grade school, and middle school, mostly north and eastern euros and blacks, drank milk everyday at school. Usually chocolate milk. Ice cream consumption was also exactly 100%. I don't ever remember a child refusing ice cream.

Obviously the kids had some European genes. Adaptive alles spread fast.

Maybe current Middle Easterners are descended from the folks that were lactose tolerant. Or perhaps they were late comers.

Whiskey said...

There is an important aspect everyone is missing: DAIRY FARMING.

Northern Europe did not have productive farmlands until around 900 AD with the introduction of the moldboard plow. Heavy, four wheeled, with a knife at the front and a curved (molded) board at the back, it was the only plow capable of breaking through the thick European sod. Med-style simple plows would not work.

The Roman villas in France, in Britain, and in parts of the Netherlands and Bavaria, did not farm the way they did in say, 1000 AD. Thus there was far less fodder for cattle in winter, far less milk drinking, etc.

Milk only becomes a really important part of the diet, and consumption of it really large, after the bulk of the Dark Ages passed. You only see evidence of cheese-making (the best way to store milk) after that, for example.

Cattle require considerable fodder to get through the winter in Germany, in Northern France, in Britain, in Ireland, and particularly Scandinavia. This requires plowing the land with a highly specialized plow only found after 900 AD or so. In addition, the best way to use milk is not to drink it right away, but turn it into cheese that can be consumed considerably later if stored properly. Which yes takes further processing.

I'm skeptical of the theory because the evolutionary advantage of milk-drinking is outweighed by the technology required to have cattle in Northern Europe, and the advantage of cheese eating. Cheese eating beats milk drinking, but both require barns, stored hay, and hay cultivated by plows and harvested by tightly organized village groups.

agnostic said...

re: why Europe today has higher lactose tolerance than the Turkey-Iran area, see a comment I left at Razib's post.

Over time the pastoralists in that area have come to herd animals more to exchange their products with sedentary people (for metal tools, luxuries, grain, etc.), instead of using them for subsistence (like drinking their milk).

So the selection pressure in the Turkey-Iran area probably weakened a lot once these trading opportunities sprung up. Nothing like that existed in northern Europe for millennia. So the Danes were probably using cattle for milk consumption rather than for market exchange for far, far longer than Anatolian sheep herders.

gcochran said...

It's hard to say how many of the wrong-looking things in that article are due to translation, journalism in action, or plain mistakes.

It is true that as far as mitochondrial DNA goes, the old Europeans are _extremely_ different from modern Europeans. The early European farmers are not as different from moderns as those early hunter-gatherers, but they're different enough to need quite a bit of explanation: either big populations movements that happened well after the first agriculturalists moved in, or lots of selection on mitochondria: maybe both.

Judging from the comment about lactose tolerance in Austria/Slovakia/Hungary, they may be relying on a paper that came out of Mark Thomas's lab last year: "The Origins of Lactase Persistence in Europe".
The authors of that paper tried to estimate the region of origin using simulations - but one of the inputs was the current distribution of that allele. Which is reasonable, except that they did not use the actual distribution of that allele, but rather a truncated distribution - their map is centered on central Europe and stops halfway through the Ukraine. That ensured that they would find an origin in somewhere in middleuropa.

The allele doesn't stop there, though: it has a second region of fairly high frequency in northern India. Before Mongols and Turks took over the Eurasian steppe, the frequency of that allele may have been high in those steppe regions. Scythians are described as milk-drinkers quite a while ago - in the Iliad. And my sources claim that the royal guard of the Hittites also 'drank sweet milk'...

Checking out ancient DNA from Kurgan burials in that region might clarify this.

I think it is difficult to imagine a historical process that moves a lot of people from Bavaria to the Punjab: it is easier to imagine one that expands to both regions from somewhere in-between.
Which would explain the distribution of the Indo-European languages, also.

When you think about it, it may not be easy for German researchers to talk about this hypothesis. I think they have trouble saying "Aryan" nowadays.

tj said...

"Only adults are lactose intolerant."

You are confusing nursing infants with weaned children. Children can indeed be lactose intolerant. I have a cousin who was, but he could handle goats milk. In fact, I remember reading that goats were often used for feeding infants in the old days, if the mother couldn't nurse for some reason.

tj said...

There has been a recent challenge to the out of Africa theory. One who says that blacks, whites and yellows (Asians) are different species who developed independently on separate land masses many thousands of years ago. My common sense tends to agree--no matter how long a bunch of Bantus lived in Sweden, 50,000 years later--if they only bred with other blacks--they'd still be black. They wouldn't have developed straight blond hair and Nordic features. Makes no sense. Or what if those Bantus went to China--they'd eventually turn Chinese looking -- again, breeding only among other blacks? No, something else went on. There's still so much we don't know.

sabril said...

"How hard would it have been more men thousands of years ago to figure out agriculture?"

It might be pretty difficult. Without the internet or books, it might take a few years of trial and error to get it right. Probably you have to plant the right seeds in the right kind of earth at the right time of year.

In the meantime, you would be pretty vulnerable to agriculturalists who wanted to move in on your territory.

Harmonious Jim said...

Re: less lactose tolerance in Middle East than in Northern Europe. Since lactose tolerance increases northwards, the simplest explanation is climate. In cool climates milk could be kept a few days and used as food, if one can digest its lactose. In warmer places, before milk goes off it needs to be fermented quickly into yogurt, cheese, or kumiss, which have no lactose, hence these southerly milk-producers have less need for lactose tolerance.

gcochran said...

to Whiskey: "The following winter (this was the year in which Cn. Pompey and M.
Crassus were consuls), those Germans [called] the Usipetes, and likewise the Tenchtheri, with a great number of men, crossed the Rhine, not far from the place at which that river discharges itself into the sea. The motive for crossing [that river] was, that having been for several years harassed by the Suevi, they were constantly engaged in war, and hindered from the pursuits of agriculture. The nation of the Suevi is by far the largest and the most warlike nation of
all the Germans. They are said to possess a hundred cantons, from
each of which they yearly send from their territories for the purpose of war a thousand armed men: the others who remain at home, maintain [both] themselves and those-engaged in the expedition. The latter again, in their turn, are in arms the year after: the former remain at home. Thus neither husbandry, nor the art and practice of war are
neglected. But among them there exists no private and separate land; nor are they permitted to remain more than one year in one place for the purpose of residence. They do not live much on corn, but subsist for the most part on milk and flesh, and are much [engaged] in hunting;
which circumstance must, by the nature of their food, and by their
daily exercise and the freedom of their life (for having from boyhood
been accustomed to no employment, or discipline, they do nothing at
all contrary to their inclination), both promote their strength and render them men of vast stature of body. "

Gallic Wars, which you would already have already read if you amounted to anything. But you don't, and it's probably too late to do anything about it.

tj: you're a loon.

Harmonious Jim: 90% of the Tutsi are lactose tolerant, caused by a different mutation than the one in Europeans. Right on the equator.

Sideways said...

There was no interbreeding between the intruders and the original population.

Aaaand they've just put themselves in the realm of pseudoscience.

tommy said...

Was I just missing the fact that many of these kids got massive indigestion on a daily basis?

Most lactose intolerant people can still drink milk in small quantities. Having a box of chocolate milk isn't likely to cause a lactose intolerant toddler to develop serious indigestion.

It would be as if Germany invaded France, as they are wont to do, but also abandoned Germany. All the Germans would then be in France and Germany itself would be empty. This doesn't seem real likely to me.

We must remember that the Middle East may have possessed a very different climate several thousand years ago. It's possible that Mideasterners did expand into Europe, the Middle East subsequently became much less suited toward grazing, and Semitic speakers moving northward from Arabia thrived in the new environment. I would have to check the timelines, but there have certainly been periods since the last Ice Age when the Middle East was wetter than it is today.

Linguistically, at least, the Mideast was once a much more diverse scene than it is at present. There were a number of languages like Kassite, Sumerian, Hurrian and Elamite that have not been linked to any existing language family. That language diversity may be an indication of greater genetic diversity and/or bottlenecked populations in the region prior to the expansion of Semitic speakers.

Keep in mind that even today places like northern Iraq aren't necessarily as arid as places like the Arabian peninsula.

Anonymous said...

The middle-east has had a recent demographic change

The Arab islamic expansion and Mongol expansion have rolled back the Iranian speakers and created the new demographics

n/a said...

Here's an up-to-date overview of the genetic and archaeological evidence on the peopling of Europe, including some more details on facts mentioned by Hawks and Cochran in reply to the Der Spiegel article. I don't necessarily agree with every statement, but this site will certainly get you closer to the truth than books by Sykes or Oppenheimer.

tommy said...

It might be pretty difficult. Without the internet or books, it might take a few years of trial and error to get it right. Probably you have to plant the right seeds in the right kind of earth at the right time of year.

I recommend Steven Mithen's After the Ice for a good summary of current thinking about the development of agriculture. It took a lot longer than a few years and it was no accident that most of our common cereals originated in the Mideast.

mug said...

I dub this period in European history: "The Great Milk Mustache Invasion."

europeasant said...

there is a reason for the tower of babel story in the old testament. it was to protect us from contamination!

Harmonious Jim said...

gcochrane: "Harmonious Jim: 90% of the Tutsi are lactose tolerant, caused by a different mutation than the one in Europeans. Right on the equator."

But Rwanda is mountainous, and hence cool.

Wikipedia says "Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than is typical for equatorial countries due to the high altitude.[88] Rubona, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 14 °C (57 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) with little variation through the year." It adds that the higher West is cooler than this.

That's similar to NW European summer temps.

So, perhaps the Tutsi have lactase persistence because their lands are much cooler than eg those of the Masai (a similar pastoral people who are not, I think, lactose tolerant)?

Truth said...

"Anonymous tj said...

There has been a recent challenge to the out of Africa theory. One who says that blacks, whites and yellows (Asians) are different species who developed independently on separate land masses many thousands of years ago. My common sense"

And those groups can interbreed perfectly with no difference in childbearing than intra-racial couples?

Anonymous said...

...I don't necessarily agree with every statement, but this site will certainly get you closer to the truth than books by Sykes or Oppenheimer.

n/a,

I like your site, but I am wondering as I have read before on your blog a good deal of criticism toward Sykes and Oppenheimer. If I may respectfully ask: What is so wrong with what Sykes and Oppenheimer have to say, particularly regarding the racial origins of the British Isles?

At least with Sykes, he is an Oxford scholar, so what he says has to have some degree of merit to it, I would think.

Or do you disagree with him because his investigations doesn't butress the belief that the large majority of the British gene pool is pre-Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman?

Seriously, show just how and why you believe Sykes theory is wrong in this article, for example:

The peoples of Great Britain and Ireland, like most of their cousins in Scandinavia, Spain, and the nearby continent, are descended largely from Palaeolithic hunters and gatherers. The subsequent changes in the material culture ... the use of metals and agriculture ... were therefore adopted by local people. Ideas moved. People less so. This is contrary to what had been assumed, or idealized, through most of the last few centuries of European historical speculation.
The implications for modern history and politics are substantial. The DNA of modern occupants clearly shows that most of them are descended from folk long on the islands (especially on the maternal side) and much of the ebb and flow of paternal lines of DNA reflects the mere shifting of relative percentages in the population. There was no wholesale replacement. More a patchwork quilt that roughly parallels our understanding of wider European genetic history. ...

What about the Anglosphere argument?

If the author's research holds up in coming years, this book is a clear contribution to the argument that Anglo-Saxon influences on English individualism were cultural, not racial. The Anglo-Saxons came to England with genetic inheritances that were diverse and widely shared with the island peoples they displaced. Their influence in the ultimate genetic ratios of modern Britons and Irish citizens is therefore hard to discern. Sykes does much to make the case that the Celts and Picts were also largely indistinguishable at the genetic level ... and virtually identical in female lineages. His modern distribution maps certainly show variation from east to west, from south to north, and between Britain and Ireland. Yet his overall story is one of amazing continuity.


Albion's Seedlings: Sykes -- Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots ...

Anonymous said...

"They do not live much on corn, but subsist for the most part on milk and flesh"

What exactly are they referring to as corn? grains?

agnostic said...

"Since lactose tolerance increases northwards, the simplest explanation is climate."

No, the simplest explanation is how much the person relies on milk for subsistence, and that doesn't track latitude vary well.

The largest concentration of pastoralists in the world today is eastern Africa, and the vast majority of these groups are lactose tolerant.

Why? See my previous comment -- they rarely were in contact with large states and their developed bazaars or markets. So, there was little to tempt them into using their herd animals for exchange rather than subsistence. Only within the past 50 or so years has that changed.

eh said...

Of course, all this raises even more questions,...

Yeah, such as why and how they decided to migrate en masse? And in case it was mostly voluntary, how did they know that living/growing conditions were better in Europe? Or did they just take a chance? If they had some knowledge, then you'd think they also knew that the winters are certainly less hospitable in Europe; but it does not seem to have deterred them.

Whatever the evidence says or suggests, it seems odd nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

To add to gcochran's well justified Whiskey-bashing: Whiskey, what do you think that new moldboard plow circa 900 AD was used for? What does that have to do with dairy farming?

The moldboard plow opened up new land in Northern Europe for the cultivation of grains. Not that grain cultivation wasn't going on in Northern Europe anyway; the moldboard plow just made it more efficient and more viable over larger areas of land, enabling the population density to increase in Northern Europe.

Now, what do domestic cattle subsist on in the winter, Whiskey? No, not on grain (that's for humans). Domestic cattle are fed over the winter on dried grasses (ie, hay). You don't need a moldboard plow to grow hay, Whiskey.

For Chr*st's sake, Whiskey, have you never heard of the The Cattle-Raid of Cooley which dates back to Ireland of the 1st century AD? Or have you never heard of Caesar, Tacitus, etc., classical writers of the same period who confirm plenty of dairy farming going on in Northern Europe?

The idea that Northern Europeans didn't take up dairy farming until the invention of the moldboard plow circa 900 AD has got to be one of Whiskey's more ridiculous bloopers, though the list of candidates for that title is a long one.

Anonymous said...

And those groups can interbreed perfectly with no difference in childbearing than intra-racial couples?

Depends on how you define 'perfectly'.

*Not that I think the various human races are seperate species, however.

Anonymous said...

> As far as I know, Nietsche never mentioned Charles Darwin or Darwinism. His academic specialty was "classical philology" -- classics.

You're wide of the mark there. His philosophical works are not very philology-centric at all - and they use the word 'Darwin' probably about 35 times. That's not to say he understood Darwinism very well.

Anonymous said...

> So, perhaps the Tutsi have lactase persistence because their lands are much cooler than eg those of the Masai (a similar pastoral people who are not, I think, lactose tolerant)?

Good point, but how long have the Maasai been herders? If we don't know, then your argument is not certain to be on firm ground. Takes time to evolve.

Lucille said...

grains?

Yes, pretty much. Corn used to be a more generic term. Even into the 19th century, what nowadays is simply called "corn" was referred to as "Indian Corn."

Anonymous said...

> no matter how long a bunch of Bantus lived in Sweden, 50,000 years later--if they only bred with other blacks--they'd still be black. They wouldn't have developed straight blond hair and Nordic features. Makes no sense. Or what if those Bantus went to China--they'd eventually turn Chinese looking

Straw man. They probably wouldn't look highly Chinese. They'd be pale, though, and they might have narrow eyes and epicanthic folds, or maybe not. (It's possible China's environment can preserve those things without selecting strongly enough to create them in the first place, within a schedule of X millennia. The epicanthum may have been created elsewhere.)

David said...

Milk-drinking may not be the clearest marker of ancient population movements. Seems a bit messy for that purpose. But, studying it may help the scientists find or better understand neater markers.

Claverhouse said...

Productive Purposes


adfasdfadsf said:

Anyway, this goes to show that even though slavery is seen as a great evil by modern society, it was probably a moral advancement for mankind that had been accustomed to wiping out their enemies. Slavery may be cruel but it at least spares lives whereas genocide kills the entire enemy. Sparing the lives of the enemy and using them for productive purposes was probably a revolution in human morality.



I'm getting a flashback...

Standing on a lonely hill, the camp commandant by my side, both staring sombrely at the toiling zeks hacking their lungs out and randomly collapsing as they slave away; his fine, worn face wincing as a warning spray of machine-gun fire clips at thoughtless toilers, he clutches my arm:

"You see, it is all worth it. From this unimaginable pain and suffering will arise a New Dawn for Humanity, a Better Freer World; a Revolution in Human Morality that will lead to New Improved Man, when all misery is ended and All are Equal, living fulfilled lives of dignity and worth. This is the necessary price. These poor dregs must pay now for a brighter tomorrow,"



Must have seen it in a film or something...

Dahinda said...

Whiskey, Cattle can subsist on grass and some of the grass can be stored as hay or silage for the winter. You really don't need a plow unless you farm the modern way, with high inputs of corn and the raising of cattle in feedlots. The middle east does not have the grasslands for cattle raising as the steppes of the Ukraine have. I would think that if a later culture came into Europe and changed the agriculture of the people there to be more inclined to dairy, it would have come from the Ukraine. The area from India to the Mediterranean was more well suited to the raising of water buffalo, which is still today the beast of burden in the area. Real mozzarella cheese is made from water buffalo milk.

Henry Harpending said...

Much of the discussion here mentions the GI upset that can accompany lactose intolerance, but I suspect that that is a minor part of the story.

A liter of milk contains 720 Calories. When the lactose is fermented away to make cheddar cheese that liter yields 100 g. of cheese with 400 Calories of energy.

In other words by making cheese there is a loss of 40% of the Calories in the milk. That would be a very big deal in a Malthusian society.

David Davenport said...

You're wide of the mark there. His philosophical works are not very philology-centric at all - and they use the word 'Darwin' probably about 35 times. That's not to say he understood Darwinism very well.

I stand corrected regarding N.'s awareness of Darwin. ... 35 times, huh? Could you please post some interesting quotes from Nietsche re Darwinism?

As to N.'s philology:


Friedrich Nietzsche - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. At the age of 24 he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at ...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche - Cached - Similar

Anonymous said...

There was no interbreeding??? Really? Completely absurd!

Harmonious Jim said...

Agnostic: "The largest concentration of pastoralists in the world today is eastern Africa, and the vast majority of these groups are lactose tolerant."

Perusing google results tells me that African pastoralists are not lactose tolerant (except the Tutsi) and so instead presumably rely on fermented milk.

"The Nilotic peoples of the southern Sudan, whence the Tutsi originated a few centuries ago, do not display this trait." says the Cambridge World Hist of Food.

So, when one group of pastoralists (the Tutsi) moved to the cool uplands, they developed lactose tolerance. I say: that's no coincidence because it's harder to ferment milk in the cold. Similar story for the N-S gradient in Europe.

(Admittedly, the third group of lactose tolerants, Arabian/Saharan nomads, doesn't fit my scheme; theirs can't be because of cool climate!)

CC-bLF said...

"Depends on how you define 'perfectly'"

Is the African female pelvis on average narrower than the other races, as I've heard? Is the reason more African infants are born at 38 weeks to enable that head to get through that narrower pelvis?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2593128/
"CONCLUSION
White women have a wider pelvic inlet, wider outlet, and shallower anteroposterior outlet than African-American women. In addition, after vaginal delivery, white women demonstrate less pelvic floor mobility. These differences may contribute to observed racial differences in obstetric outcomes and to the development of pelvic floor disorders."

If that African woman cross-breeds with an Asian man, how well can a bigger, rounder half-Asian head get out of that narrow pelvis?
Any data?

Dahinda said...

Are all Europeans Middle Easterners?

Some think that they will soon be:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101017/wl_afp/germanymuslimreligionimmigration

Anonymous said...

The Celts are particularly associated with cattle culture wherever we find them. They appear to have originated somewhere in southeastern Europe, to have stopped in Italy en route to Spain, then to have made their way up the Atlantic coast to Brittany, Great Britain, and Ireland.

There is an old British legend to the effect that one Bryt or Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas, forefather of Rome, was the founder of their race; this is perhaps a reference to the extinct tribe of the Bruttii in ancient Italy, who were probably Celts. The Celtic story of sunken Lyonesse off shore from Land's End in Cornwall is parallelled by a similar legend of a sunken city in the straits of Messina.

The bagpipes are also found wherever the Celts were or are; there are regional variants from Serbia, southern Italy, Spain, Brittany, the north of England, Scotland, and Ireland. A traditional material for the air reservoir is the stomach of a cow, though smaller pipes may be made of the stomachs of sheep or goats.

Some Scottish antiquaries of the past claimed the Scots were descended from the Scythians. Perhaps these are the "middle Easterners" the claim has in mind?

We know that at some point in the history both of India and of Greece that a conquering culture (Vedic, i.e., "Aryan" or Persian in the case of India; Mycenaean in the case of Greece) invaded from the north, displacing and/or subjugating the autochthonous population (the Dravidian in India; the Minoan in Greece). In both cases, these peoples were cattle raiders.

Anonymous said...

gcochran I think it is difficult to imagine a historical process that moves a lot of people from Bavaria to the Punjab

I don't know what time frame you're talking about [maybe you're referring to the paleolithic?], but, at least in the opposite direction, Punjab -> Bavaria was almost exactly the path taken by the Hunnic Empire.

agnostic said...

Re: cool climates -- there's a separate mutation that began sweeping among desert-dwelling Arabians. (And a similar pattern among Saharan nomads.)

The frequency isn't as high as among Euros because camel domestication began thousands of years later than for sheep, goats, and cattle. But the pressure is about the same.

Here again, they didn't trade camel products much with large states and bazaar merchants, preferring to spend their time conquering them instead and using camel's for milk.

Only somewhat recently have they started to raise camels for exchange (e.g. to sell racing camels to rich settled people in oil states), rather than for subsistence.

Anonymous said...

Climate of northeast asia is highly suitable to cattle raising and dairy farming, yet that never developed, northeast asians are highly lactose intolerant and developed other sources of nutrition instead.

Why? No idea, but this indicates there is a large amount of happenstance here. Just because conditions are suitable, does not mean that certain results necessarily have to occur.

Tanstaafl said...

It looks like this theory requires not expansion but actual migration of a people as a whole.

Yes. And isn't it ironic that the technology supposedly driving this makes it easier to stay in one place.

Tanstaafl said...

Have geneticists found the mutation for fraud and hypocrisy tolerance yet?

Justin said...

Well, yeah, duh.

What the hell happened in America? Did the invasive farmers share their techniques with the native hunter-gatherers?

Or did the farmers colonize the land and establish high density populations that the natives could not cope with? All within a couple hundred years!

Anthony said...

Lactose intolerance isn't always that bad. I'm lactose-intolerant. If I drink milk or eat ice cream, I *will* get diarrhea within a few hours. (And if I take Lactaid beforehand, I don't have that problem.) That started to be significant in my early 20s - I was able to consume lots of milk through my teen years, and some of college.

The symptoms manageable, though if getting sufficient calories or remaining hydrated were a problem for me, I'd be pretty careful about it. As it is, I don't drink milk at all, and I'm careful, and picky, about ice cream. Why suffer the discomfort for cheap ice cream? But it would only be life-threatening if milk were my only possible source of protein or drinkable water.

A friend of mine is allergic to casein. That's worse - she really cannot have milk or other dairy products, including cheese, and has to be careful with processed foods. But in a lactose-intolerant society, that wouldn't be crippling, unless cheese were her only practical protein source.

PRCalDude said...

One can't help but wonder if new "evidence" bolstering this hypothesis has suddenly come to light to support EU immigration policies.

Looks like a case of post hoc rationalization to me.

Anonymous said...

The idea that Northern Europeans didn't take up dairy farming until the invention of the moldboard plow circa 900 AD has got to be one of Whiskey's more ridiculous bloopers, though the list of candidates for that title is a long one.

LOL!

Ya gotta give Testy some credit though, with his persistence.

We love ya man.

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, show just how and why you believe Sykes theory is wrong..."

Sykes believes in the 'out of Iberia' theory of British origin.

L21 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) present in R1b (y-chromosome DNA haplogroup) present in the Irish and Scots have no substantial genetic link with the Basques or those of the Iberian peninsular.

Anonymous said...

Were the invading farmers the Aryans/Indo-Europeans? The timetable looks a bit early, but possible. Are the Basques a cultural remnant of the original population? - Simon in London

Simon,

Not only were the Basques one of the original indigenous population groups of continental Europe, but their racial lineage may indeed have extended up to the earliest peoples of the British Isles as well, regardless of how some extreme Nordicists may argue to the contrary:

English, Irish, Scots: They’re All One, Genes Suggest - New York Times

Britain and Ireland are so thoroughly divided in their histories that there is no single word to refer to the inhabitants of both islands. Historians teach that they are mostly descended from different peoples: the Irish from the Celts, and the English from the Anglo-Saxons who invaded from northern Europe and drove the Celts to the country’s western and northern fringes.

But geneticists who have tested DNA throughout the British Isles are edging toward a different conclusion. Many are struck by the overall genetic similarities, leading some to claim that both Britain and Ireland have been inhabited for thousands of years by a single people that have remained in the majority, with only minor additions from later invaders like Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans.

...

As for subsequent invaders, Ireland received the fewest; the invaders’ DNA makes up about 12 percent of the Irish gene pool, Dr. Oppenheimer estimates, but it accounts for 20 percent of the gene pool in Wales, 30 percent in Scotland, and about one-third in eastern and southern England.

Still, no single group of invaders is responsible for more than 5 percent of the current gene pool, Dr. Oppenheimer says on the basis of genetic data.

He cites figures from the archaeologist Heinrich Haerke that the Anglo-Saxon invasions that began in the fourth century A.D. added about 250,000 people to a British population of one to two million, an estimate Dr. Oppenheimer notes is larger than his but considerably less than the substantial replacement of the English population assumed by others. The Norman invasion of 1066 A.D. brought not many more than 10,000 people, according to Dr. Haerke. ...


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/05/science/05cnd-brits.html?_r=2

Sexy Pterodactyl said...

In the later Triassic, the mighty Pteronodons migrated to the city in search of HB 8+ females. Alas, some fell on this epic journey.

But those who made it underwent a great transformation - they became Alpha Male Pterodactyls! Even Uncle Engelbert

-------------More seriously
The Middle East underwent significant climate/resource changes relative to ancient times (e.g. the now-gone forests of Lebanon and Syria) and also probably genetic changes due to the Islamic conquest and resulting social/political structure.

Hereward said...

A couple of points on premodern European agriculture and livestock management:
Before modern times, Europeans attempted to keep their draft animals and breeding stock alive over the winter, but did not hesitate to cull and salt up those animals which might a burden to feed (November was nicknamed "blood-month" by the Anglo-Saxons because it was the time of slaughter.) The notion of keeping all of your animals alive year-round as a modern dairy farm does was impractical for Medieval Europeans, mouldboard plough or no.
The second thing to keep in mind was that for premodern agricultural people, the season of greatest want was not winter, but immediately prior to harvest - last year's stocks were running low, and this year's yield was not yet ready. For most of northern Europe, this was late Summer or early Fall. For a people who also engaged in dairy farming, however, the same season was one in which dairy products were readily available. I imagine this was the season in which dairy products made the difference between starvation and survival.

leslie said...

Or have you never heard of Caesar, Tacitus, etc., classical writers of the same period who confirm plenty of dairy farming going on in Northern Europe?"

Obviously dairy farming of some kind has been going on in northern Europe from time immemorial. And of course you winter stock with dried grasses, not grain. Grain wasn't fed to livestock very often, I don't think, untill the affluent Americans began to corn feed everything edible on four feet.
There is reference to dairy, to milking cows, goats and sheep, in mythology and tales going back donkey's years, into the mists of time.
Whiskey lives in his own world. He's not always wrong though. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Bill said...

It's hard to say how many of the wrong-looking things in that article are due to translation, journalism in action, or plain mistakes.

-gcochran


As far as I can tell, the article's origin was the LECHE project, which is funded by a dairymen's PR org that is trying to penetrate the East Asian market.

Here's a revealing quote from their website:

Milk - the ultimate health drink for Europeans over the last 7000 years!

[...]

Drinking raw milk has been very good for you for over 7,000 years!


Now, I don't have any problem with corporate boosterism (or milk drinking for that matter), but when you go from anthropology --> dairy farming --> Der Spiegel --> English translation there is bound to be some rather odd distortion.

Looks to me like those German dairies are pretty sophisticated when it comes to PR and marketing. Of course, there's also the issue of which side butters Der Spiegel's bread -- the milkmen or the professors.

Seems pretty obvious to me...

Amusing stuff. I'll raise a glass of milk to those sneaky German cowherds.

Anonymous said...

"What exactly are they referring to as corn? grains"

If you don't know anon, why do you ask the commenters rather than looking it up? Americans took the word corn, which refers to (yes) grains and identified it with one grain, whereas the English continue to use the word as it was used originally. Anything written before the 1850's probably has this usage as well as current writings coming out of England and its sphere.

Well done, gcochran. Cheese may be a great way to store milk calories, but drinking it is a good way to survive. And those people probably had stomaches to handle some nasty old milk and residue.

FF said...

I have some Jersey and Hereford cattle on land which was last cultivated 16 years ago. Even then the land was not ploughed as such, but lightly grooved with a tyne cultivator to receive a new seed bed.
Even these modern breeds are partial to grazing deep rooting herbs such as brassicas, plantain and chicory, and will also eat willow, poplar and alder to access a wider range of minerals.
There is a move towards minimum shallow tillage farming using green crops or herbicides to suppress weeds instead of ploughing/inverting the soil and so disturbing the natural layering of biofauna.

Early farmers would have been aware of the important part played
by the 'underground livestock' as did Darwin with his many years of earthworm study.
If they were mixed farmers...some grains, some cattle, as many farmers still are in Europe, they could have used 'mob stocking' to concentrate fertility in one area before very shallow tyne cultivating to rotate with a grain crop like barley to make the most important of all products...beer.

Instead of using the electric fence as we do now, light timber hurdles would have corralled the cattle over the paddock to concentrate their fertility and break up the soil.
The plough is over-rated and over used, I wonder if much of the over use was due to farmers conforming to the prevaling wisdom of the time and keeping the landlord and villagers impressed with a neat and 'well fitted out field'.

Wooden ploughs were still being used in parts of the Netherlands up to WW1, but a well performing scythe and sickle would have been vital in securing enough hay for the winter.

Some dairy pasture farmers here in NZ are gradually changing away from the 'green desert' of only rye and clover mix to incorporating more of the deep rooting herbs like chicory, and planting more forage trees. To a townie's eyes though, it doesn't look as neat, but there is more nutrient and variety in the diet of the cattle, and a marked decrease in Vet bills.

Almost a return to what farming must have been like all those years ago.

Farmer F

Learner said...

The Cochran theory is perhaps the explanation for -13910 haplotype in the Lactase control region. The archaeological presence of cattle does not mean diary farming. And diary farming that is using yogurt and cheese does not mean milk-drinking. The Cochran theory is specifically related only to the latter. I saw this blog post of this position which seems to corroborate such an idea:Lactose tolerance

Anonymous said...

It would be useful to know how many generations it takes to "evolve". We have been breeding dogs for a very long time and someone with the right knowledge could probably tell us how long it would take to breed a new line of dogs.

A population, living on the edge of starvation might go through a very short weeding out period where the ones that barfed and farted died off quickly while the ones who liked milk and developed cheese survived and thrived. You can harvest 4X the proteen by milking vs. hunting or raising meat.

Escapist said...

Repent Ye Pteronadons, the beta has come amongst us – he is called Whiskey, and great is our lamenting

---More seriously, Some Female says:

The Middle East is a place that has gone through the cycle of civilizations earlier/more dramatically than The West (see my post Ah So Yours is a Much Younger World), and thus shows the later stages of post-crash (resource depletion, Islamic conquest) quite clearly. The Middle East as it appears today is by and large a regression from the achievements of its prior more-heavily Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian height (said achievements were pre-Islamic, but to an extent/temporarily copied by the conquerors, e.g. the grand "mosque" in Istanbul is a former Byzantine church in Constantinople)

Anonymous said...

"gcochran I think it is difficult to imagine a historical process that moves a lot of people from Bavaria to the Punjab"

I don't know what time frame you're talking about [maybe you're referring to the paleolithic?], but, at least in the opposite direction, Punjab -> Bavaria was almost exactly the path taken by the Hunnic Empire.


The Huns, and later Turks and Mongols, reversed the historic trend. Prior to their displacement, the "Indo-Aryans" (Scythians, Cimmerians, Alans, Parthians, etc) occupied central asia and the steppes of southern Russia/Eurasia and migrated both east and west.

This trans-Eurasian continuum of Indo-European speakers was made possible by the domestication of the horse, which made rapid migration of entire nations (together with their cattle) possible. Thus you get the Tocharians, for instance, in Western China, thousands of years BCE, with all those obviously European blonde or red-headed mummies dressed in plaid wool clothing.

You probably don't get many people moving from Bavaria to the Punjab, but you do got lots of Indo-European horse tribes moving both east and west, connecting Bavaria and the Punjab by way of the Eurasian steppes.

The Huns are simply the first instance of the reverse of this process, with non-Indo-European, non-"white" horse tribes moving from east to west. Prior to the Huns, Turks, Mongols, etc., the horse tribes were mostly an Indo-European or Indo-Aryan monopoly.

But the Huns didn't start out in the Punjab. They started out in the wild steppes to the north of China, what is today called Mongolia and parts of Siberia. They adopted the Indo-Aryan horse "lifestyle" and made it their own.

Lucille said...

They wouldn't have developed straight blond hair and Nordic features. Makes no sense.

What do you mean, makes no sense? Why can't genetic mutations account for difference in skin color and other physical features?

Anonymous said...

Sykes believes in the 'out of Iberia' theory of British origin.

L21 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) present in R1b (y-chromosome DNA haplogroup) present in the Irish and Scots have no substantial genetic link with the Basques or those of the Iberian peninsular.


Not true. R1b is strongly found as genetic markers amongst Basques and in the Iberian peninsula.

Lise said...

@Whisky
You only see evidence of cheese-making (the best way to store milk) after that, for example.

Uhhhh, there is definitely much older evidence of cheese-making than after the Dark Ages, by several thousand years. Dude, Homer wrote about it for crying out loud that is not obscure!

Anonymous said...

How hard would it have been more men thousands of years ago to figure out agriculture? It should be readily apparent to almost anyone.

Was this comment even remotely serious? If not try replacing "agriculture" with "computer" or "car engine".

Anonymous said...

Linguistic and other historical evidence is beginning to show that PIE (Aryan) colonization of Europe didn't begin until much later than previously thought--it was more like 1600 BC at the earliest, much later for temperate and northern Europe--and so it is probably not directly related to strictly biological facts like lactose tolerance.

This study smells of PC crap.

David Davenport said...

they wouldn't have developed straight blond hair ...

It's obvious, Europeoples got blond or red hair by mating with fair-haired Neanderthals.

corvinus said...

But geneticists who have tested DNA throughout the British Isles are edging toward a different conclusion. Many are struck by the overall genetic similarities, leading some to claim that both Britain and Ireland have been inhabited for thousands of years by a single people that have remained in the majority, with only minor additions from later invaders like Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans.

...

As for subsequent invaders, Ireland received the fewest; the invaders’ DNA makes up about 12 percent of the Irish gene pool, Dr. Oppenheimer estimates, but it accounts for 20 percent of the gene pool in Wales, 30 percent in Scotland, and about one-third in eastern and southern England.

Still, no single group of invaders is responsible for more than 5 percent of the current gene pool, Dr. Oppenheimer says on the basis of genetic data.


It seems they're assuming that the invaders from the continent had no genes in common with the natives. If this was so, then indeed, this sort of figure for outside admixture would show up. But it could theoretically be up to twice that, or even more...

Svigor said...

Was this comment even remotely serious? If not try replacing "agriculture" with "computer" or "car engine".

Er, you don't find computers or car engines, or their precursors, in nature. You do find agriculture's. That's one theory of how it started; you find a nice stand of plants you find beneficial, you start yanking out all the competing stuff you don't find beneficial...

ERM said...

Linguistic and other historical evidence is beginning to show that PIE (Aryan) colonization of Europe didn't begin until much later than previously thought--it was more like 1600 BC at the earliest, much later for temperate and northern Europe--and so it is probably not directly related to strictly biological facts like lactose tolerance.

Any links/cites on this? I studied Indo-European heavily in grad school but from the very narrowly linguistical (Ask Me About The Third Laryngeal!) side and am only know beginning to educate myself on the wider issues. This goes quite against my received understanding but I'd be intrigued to read up.

Anonymous said...

RE PIE incursions/colonization:
Sure...first consider this article,
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=980

...a very remote date (let's say 3000 BC, though some say it's farther back than that) for dispersal is simply not possible given what we know about how fast pre-literate languages branch. Basically, if they had spread at that early a date, you would have seen different language families forming.

Second consider Robert Drews' book The Coming of the Greeks. He makes a very strong case for late dispersal, and for arrival into Greece around 1600 BC. He also makes a strong case that there were no large migrations of peoples, it was a case of elite conquest, probably driven by the new war chariot technology.

Since you study linguistics, Drews proceeds from the relatively recent Gamkrelidze and Ivanov study that places the homeland just south of the Caucasus Mts.; this I believe is the most comprehensive linguistic study of the problem to date, and it also contains several facts that discount possibility of very early dispersal.

I would guess conquest of Greece and Italy 1600-1500 BC, the Baltic region somewhat later (to gain control of the amber trade) and temperate/NW Europe much later. Perhaps they didn't get to the British Isles until around 500 BC.

That said, I find Harpending and Cochran's theory exciting, but I don't see how it fits this evidence.

Note to Cochran: it is true that the Germans can't really discuss these subjects openly, but your own theory is based on Gimbutas', and hers in turn became popular because it made it all sound like a gradual, peaceful movement of pastoral peoples from the steppe. The reality WAS in fact probably closer to what people thought in the late 19th century: a military elite of heroic charioteers subduing native populations much larger in number.

Wandrin said...

Sounds like this might be the next bit of cultural marxist scam science designed to make white people feel they have no claim to their homelands.

1)

Farmers don't invade.
Nomads invade.
Nomads are nomads because they *herd *animals*
The animals they got their milk from.
The milk they got their lactose tolerance from.

White people came from the steppes.

The proof of that will be on the steppes - somewhere.

They invaded south and east - europe, india, iran etc.

The vaccuum they created over time with their constant invasions was gradually filled up behind them by people from the east but originally the steppe nomads were white.

2) Agriculture started in the middle east because it was the only place crops like wheat would grow *wild*

It grew naturally with zero farming tools and zero farming techniques.

Over time the people there developed tools and techniques that made it much more efficient. These advances made it possible for agriculture to spread to places which wouldn't have been possible before.

Like Greece.

The Ancient Greeks had trading colonies all around the coast of what is now Turkey, all round the Black Sea, all round the coast of the northern med and Italy.

The Greeks brought agriculture to the semi-nomadic lactose tolerant tribal herders of Europe.

2,500 years ago and up to 1453 the great economic, trade and cultural struggle was between the Greeks and their various competitor Semitic tribes. This cultural marxist BS sounds like an attempt at a final nail in the loser's coffin.

Wandrin said...

Whiskey
"Milk only becomes a really important part of the diet, and consumption of it really large, after the bulk of the Dark Ages passed."

The sequence doesn't simply jump from hunter gatherer to settled arable farming. There's a big stage in between of nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoral and mixed farming and farming mixed with hunting etc.

Anon
"How hard would it have been more men thousands of years ago to figure out agriculture?"

Think of it numerically. If every geographical location was rated according to the conditions for settled arable farming on a scale of 0 to 10 and if the available tools and techniques were rated from 0 to 10 and if the minimum combined score for settled arable farming to be more productive than semi-nomadic was 10 then initally when the tools and techniques were at 0 then the only viable places would be those where the conditions were 10.

People would have foraged for food and many of them may have had the idea to farm those plants but that's not enough. The conditions have to be such that it's more productive to do that than take your herds on a circuit of grazing spots.

The "10" spots were the ultra fertile flooding river valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates, Egypt, Ganges etc and they only spread to the "9" spots once those people developed tools and techniques to the "1" level. Then to the "8" regions once the tools and techniques had developed to the "2" stage etc.

Jonathan said...

I have a question about lactase persistence. Is the ability to digest milk simply triggered by drinking large amounts of milk after infancy, or is it necessary also to have the inherited predisposition to lactase persistence? In other words, would every human population group be able to digest milk, if only their culture had a habit of milk-drinking, or is this ability confined to certain groups, whose cultures have adopted milk-drinking as a consequence? The evidence I saw in the wikipedia article on the subject did not make this clear one way or the other.

This relates to an anthropological question: if the original human population were lactose intolerant, as the theory goes, how do we imagine they would ever have adopted milk-drinking? I understand that, once milk-drinking had been adopted, some hypothetical mutation allowing lactase persistence would have appeared and been selected for by normal evolutionary selection pressure, i.e. since everyone had to drink milk, those who couldn't digest it died without reproducing, while the minority of mutants who could survived and reproduced, giving us the Scandinavians. But it seems a priori implausible that a thoroughly lactose intolerant population would have adopted this harmful culinary habit. We would have to imagine some very severe environmental pressure that would have brought about this apparently disastrous cultural invention.

Wandrin said...

"But it seems a priori implausible that a thoroughly lactose intolerant population would have adopted this harmful culinary habit."

Starvation.

People eat anything when they're starving.

leslie said...

"What do you mean, makes no sense? Why can't genetic mutations account for difference in skin color and other physical features?"

Why would they genetically mutate? Why are these genetic mutations not showing up now? If a pair of, oh, sub-Saharan Africans, produced a straight-haired, blond, Nordic looking child and it was PROVEN that the black parents were responsible--well, that would be all over the nightly news. Maybe on the cover of National Geographic. Because it doesn't happen.
It doesn't make sense that "genetic mutations" (does anybody get how rare they are and that they don't follow climate?) could explain racial differences. Yes, there is a certain fitness about paler people in colder climes (although the Eskimos would be an exception here); kinky hair holds perspiration so the person doesn't become dehydrated, thin noses breath mountain air better, etc. etc. But would a bunch of Africans dropped in Sweden and mating only among themselvs, develop into Nordics in a few tens of thousands of years? Would they be any closer to that type at all?
Of course not. And the Swedes living in Africa would never turn into Africans.
Genetic mutations are just not that convenient.
I think there is a great deal we don't know yet about how the races developed, or how they came to be where they are.
Just a few weeks ago there was an article disputing the out-of-Africa theory and claiming that the races developed as separate species in different areas of the world. Just as plants and animals have done. Now that makes far more sense than thinking everybody was once a sub-Saharan African.