четверг, 19 июля 2018 г.

An early Iranian, obviously

Today, the part of Asia between the Caspian Sea and the Altai Mountains, known as Turan, is largely a Turkic-speaking region. But during the Iron Age it was dominated by Iranian speakers. Throughout this period it was the home of a goodly number of attested and inferred early Iranic peoples, such as the Airyas, Dahae, Kangju, Massagetae, Saka and Sogdians.
Indeed, the early Iron Age Yaz II archaeological culture, located in southwestern Turan, is generally classified as an Iranian culture, and even posited to have been the Airyanem Vaejah, aka home of the Iranians, from ancient Avestan literature.
That’s not to say that Iranian speakers weren’t present in this part of the world much earlier. They probably were, and it’s likely that we already have their genomes (see here). But the point I’m making is that Turan can’t be reliably claimed to have been an Iranian realm until the Iron Age.
Ergo, any ancient DNA samples from Turan dating to the Iron Age, as opposed to, say, the Bronze Age, are very likely to be those of early Iranian speakers. One such sample is Zarafshan_IA (or Turkmenistan_IA) DA382 from Damgaard et al. 2018.
Below is a screen cap of the “time map” from homeland.ku.dk, with the slider moved to 847 BC, showing the location of the burial site where the remains of DA382 were excavated. The site is marked with the Z93 label because DA382 belongs to the Eastern European-derived Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a-Z93. Interestingly, his burial was located in close proximity to archaeological sites associated with the above mentioned and contemporaneous Yaz II culture.

DA382 didn’t get much of a run in the Damgaard et al. paper, and little wonder because the authors also analyzed 73 other ancient samples. So let’s take a close look at this individual’s genetic structure to see whether there’s anything particularly Iranian about it.
Damgaard et al. did mention that DA382 was partly of Middle to Late Bronze Age (MLBA) steppe origin. And indeed, my own mixture models using qpAdm confirm this finding with very consistent results and strong statistical fits. Here are a couple of simple, two-way examples…

Namazga_CA 0.528±0.040
Srubnaya_MLBA 0.472±0.040
P-value: 0.561330411
Full output
Dzharkutan1_BA 0.530±0.037
Srubnaya_MLBA 0.470±0.037
P-value: 0.485083377
Full output

The fact that the MLBA Srubnaya samples from the Pontic-Caspian steppe can be used to model DA382’s ancestry (alongside Bronze and Copper Age populations from Turan) with such ease shouldn’t be surprising, considering the he belongs to R1a-Z93, which is the dominant Y-haplogroup in the Srubnaya and all other closely related MLBA steppe peoples.
Now, Srubnaya is generally regarded to be the proto-Iranian archaeological culture. How awesome is that considering those qpAdm fits? But, admittedly, this is just an inference, even if a robust one, based on genetic, archaeological and historical linguistics data. So apart from the fact that DA382 comes from Iron Age Turan, an Iranian-speaking realm, is there any other way to link him directly to Iranians?
Well, he’s very similar in terms of overall genetic structure to some of the least Turkic-admixed Iranian-speakers still living in Turan, and might well be ancestral to them.
For instance, below is a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) featuring a wide range of ancient and present-day West Eurasian samples. Note that, in line with the qpAdm models, DA382 clusters about half-way between the populations of the MLBA steppe and pre-Kurgan expansion Turan, and amongst present-day Yaghnobi and Pamiri Tajiks. In fact, he clusters at the apex of a southeast > northwest cline made up of Tajiks that appears to be pulling towards Europeans.

Needless to say, Tajiks, especially Pamiri Tajiks, also pack a lot of Srubnaya-related ancestry. I’ve talked about this plenty of times on this blog (for instance, see here). But what happens if I try to model Pamiri Tajiks with DA382?

Zarafshan_IA 0.892±0.023
Han 0.108±0.023
P-value: 0.794566182
Full output

Wow, it’s an awesome fit! My mind’s made up: DA382 was probably an Iranian-speaker and, more specifically, an Eastern Iranian-speaker. Who disagrees and why? Feel free to let me know in the comments (unless you’re banned, in which case, f*ck off).
See also…
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…
Friendly Yeniseian steppe pastoralists
New PCA featuring Botai horse tamers, Hun and Saka warriors, and many more…



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