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DNA study: Present-day Greeks are genetically similar to 2,000BCE Aegeans

Present-day Greeks are genetically similar to 2,000 BCE Aegeans from Northern Greece, a scientific study has found. According to the study, there is “Genomic homogeneity across the Aegean during the EBA despite distinct cultural backgrounds.”

 

EBA Aegeans have higher genetic similarity with present-day southern Europeans, particularly present-day Sardinians. In the classical multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis, the projected genetic dissimilarities between pairs of individuals estimated by an identity-by-state distance matrix in two dimensions (STAR Methods) show that the four EBA individuals (Mik15, Pta08, Kou01, Kou03) and the two MBA individuals (Log02 and Log04) form two groups (Figure 2) in agreement with the f3 profiles.

The study was conducted by a group of Greek and foreign scientists lead by Christina Papageorgopoulou, Associate Professor and Director of the Physical Anthropology Laboratory, and Anna-Sapho Malaspinas, Associate professor at the Department of Computational Biology hosted by the University of Lausanne and at the Swiss Institute of Bio-Informatics, who published it together at the Biology scientific magazine “Cell.”

Some study excerpts below:

Highlights

  • Bronze Age (BA) Helladic, Cycladic, and Minoan genomes from the Aegean were sequenced
  • 3,000 BCE Aegeans are homogeneous and derive ancestry mainly from Neolithic farmers
  • Neolithic Caucasus-like and BA Pontic-Caspian Steppe-like gene flow shaped the Aegean
  • Present-day Greeks are genetically similar to 2,000 BCE Aegeans from Northern Greece

Summary

The Cycladic, the Minoan, and the Helladic (Mycenaean) cultures define the Bronze Age (BA) of Greece. Urbanism, complex social structures, craft and agricultural specialization, and the earliest forms of writing characterize this iconic period.

We sequenced six Early to Middle BA whole genomes, along with 11 mitochondrial genomes, sampled from the three BA cultures of the Aegean Sea. The Early BA (EBA) genomes are homogeneous and derive most of their ancestry from Neolithic Aegeans, contrary to earlier hypotheses that the Neolithic-EBA cultural transition was due to massive population turnover. EBA Aegeans were shaped by relatively small-scale migration from East of the Aegean, as evidenced by the Caucasus-related ancestry also detected in Anatolians. In contrast, Middle BA (MBA) individuals of northern Greece differ from EBA populations in showing ∼50% Pontic-Caspian Steppe-related ancestry, dated at ca. 2,600-2,000 BCE. Such gene flow events during the MBA contributed toward shaping present-day Greek genomes.

 

Images of archaeological site Elati-Logkas

Dataset

Individual samples and radiocarbon dates

70 individual samples have been screened for the presence of human DNA.
Six individual samples with a human DNA content higher than 1% were selected for whole genome sequencing (WGS).
For three of those, nuclear capture data was also generated. For these six individuals, sample material from the petrous bone for both radiocarbon dating and DNA sequencing was used.
one EBA Helladic individual from the site of Manika on the island of Euboea (Mik15), one EBA Minoan from the site of Kephala Petras (the burial rock shelter) on the island of Crete (Pta08), two EBA Cycladic individuals from the island of Koufonisi (Kou01 and Kou03), and two MBA individuals from the site of Elati-Logkas in northern Greece (Log02 and Log04).
Table 2Genomic and archaeological data for the six BA whole-genome sequenced individuals from this study
Archaeological site Sample ID Time period Culture

Age (cal BCE) Shotgun DoC (all)

Shotgun DoC (5 bp trim)

Capture DoC

Contam. mtDNA (%)

Contam. X (%)

Sex mtDNA haplogroup Y haplogroup
Manika Mik15 EBA Early Helladic 2890–2764 3.5 2.2 0.01–0.58 XX J2b1
Petras Pta08 EBA Early Minoan 2849–2621 4.0 3.0 38.0 0.01–0.52 1.0–1.1 XY H G2-L156
Koufonisi Kou01 EBA Early Cycladic 2464–2349 2.6 2.0 42.9 0.02–0.97 0.6–0.8 XY K1a2c J2a-M410
Kou03 EBA Early Cycladic 2832–2578 2.8 2.2 0.18–1.49 XX K1a
Logkas Log02 MBA Middle Helladic 1924–1831 4.3

3.4 109.1 0.02–0.39 XX H55a
Log04 MBA Middle Helladic 2007–1915 4.9 4.0 0.02–0.94 XX J1c+16261
Details on the origin of the individuals, their cultural group, and their radiocarbon dates.
The study was published on April 29, 2021.
Full study in English here in cell.com.

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6 comments

  1. Did they tell you to “come back tomorrow” as well?

  2. Savvas Andreas

    Covid numbers haven’t changed in that time either……..

  3. Apart from the fact that 98% of all readers will not be able to understand the true meaning of the above scientifically worded text, I really wonder what those researchers wanted to proof with this DNA study… perhaps that present day Greeks descend directly from the ancient Greeks and therefor are superior to other Europeans? (the story that I always hear when Greeks talk about their assumed importance for our planet).

    • Well, not much left of that. I think that if the ancient Greek would see what the modern Greek did to Greece they would be really p*ssed off.
      The whole Western Balkans is pretty much the same as Greece in terms of kleptomania, nepotism and corruption. I know, I am from Serbia.