Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-06 > 1119808772

From: ellen Levy <>
Subject: RE: [DNA] if there is a point to this indigenous discussion
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2005 10:59:32 -0700 (PDT)
In-Reply-To: <>


I could have been too harsh in my original response.
I don't have it in front of me to reread.

It is a pity that all we have to work with right now
is limited ancient DNA studies. This will obviously
change in the future. And yes, all the ones I
mentioned deal with mtDNA.

The importance of these studies, however, is not just
to shed light on genetic changes between past and
present Italian or Basque groups. There is nothing
unique to these groups that would indicate anything
different occurred within Britain or any place else.
I see these studies as a warning for researchers not
to make assumptions regarding genetic links between
past and present populations.

It would be jumping the gun to the make the assumption
that the "aboriginal" population of Ireland was R1b
with WAMH just because it is the most frequent in
Ireland today. Bonnie has even pointed out, could be
a totally unexpected haplogroup(s) that represented
the earliest inhabitants, F* or K for example.

In other words, I'd be wary of using modern-day
population genetics to make predictions regarding what
the ancient inhabitants of a region looked like in a
genetic sense. This has been done in a limited sense
for R1a1 in Mongolia and I'd like to see it done on a
much larger scale, including some Kurgan and Bactria
remains as well, to tie R1a in more solidly with these
ancient cultures.

The Etruscan study is particularly instructive
regarding the possibility of the eradication of
certain populations and hence, their unique genetic
makeup having little to no impact on contemporary
groups. This study is actually quite fascinating - it
also sheds light on the origins of the Etruscans,
indicating a distant genetic relationship with the
inhabitants of Anatolia.

The Basque studies raised some real problems for
genetic researchers. No only have some mtDNA groups
among the Basque been essentially extinguished over
time, but others have arisen in ways which throw
uncertainty regarding their origins. Izagirre's study
on mtDNA haplogroup V, which now reaches almost 20%
among modern-day Basques, indicates that in the past,
it did not exist among this population. This is
highly problematic, given that researchers believe
that V arose in southwestern Europe about 10,000 years

Furthermore, we have a tendency to want to see the
Basques a static population, remaining essentially
untouched since the Paleolithic in their mountain
stronghold. They are depicted as the best
representatives of the Paleolithic inhabitants of
Europe. Someone wrote to me recently that she was
actually being taught this in her Basque history
class. That is clearly not what the mtDNA results
reveal and I would be wary of assuming the Y
chromosome results display more genetic continuity
than the MtDNA.

My guess is that there is no population that is a good
representation of the Paleolithic inhabitants of
Europe, remaining essentially unchanged for
10,000-15,000 years. I think it is highly unlikely
that any researcher will be able to pinpoint among
contemporary groups the genetic inheritance from the
"aboriginal" inhabitants of Britain either, should any
such inheritance exist.


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