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Subject: Re: [DNA] Scythians, Indo-Europeans and Neolithic Farmers: Some thoughts
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2004 22:37:54 +0000


Hello List:
I am back and ready to enter the fray (much to the chagrin of some I suspect).
What has become clear as I tried to follow the various threads while out of the country is that Ellen is extremely knowledgeable in the disciplines of genetics, linguistics, history and archaeology. In my opinion her views are right on the money, reflecting a depth and breadth of understanding that I can but admire. To be able to go head to head with John C. and hold fast is a remarkable feat ;-)
While cramped into a coach seat (prudent until my business rockets ahead) I managed to finish reading, "Warrior Women", by Jeannine Davis - Kimball, 2002, Warner Books, New York. She is an archaeologist who perhaps more so than anyone has a first hand familiarity with the topics being discussed in this thread including the settlement of the Tarim Basin, the petroglyphs here, the Tocharian language, and the "Caucasoid" mummies in this region of China who have in some cases blonde or red hair and beard (the men), and, dare I say it, plaid kilts - all preserved for thousands of years due to the cold dry climate.
Those interested in the ancient DNA of the Scythians, Sakas and related peoples should read C. Lalueza-Fox et al., "Unravelling migrations in the steppe: mitochondrial DNA sequences from ancient Central Asians", Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B (2004) 271, 941-947. A bit of googling should bring this treasure to light. They were able to successfully sequence (HVR1) mtDNA as old as the fifteenth century BC.
I will have access to the article you note elsewhere Ellen, but alas not until the middle of September. Perhaps others can locate this for you quicker.
David.

--
Dr. David K. Faux
P.O. Box 192
Seal Beach, CA 90630


www.davidkfaux.org


-------------- Original message --------------

> Hi Ken & List:
>
> You were right on in your posting regarding the "East
> Iranians" and the Tarim Basin connection. There seems
> to have been two groups (at least) of "Scythians" in
> existence in the far east - "Indo-Iranians" and
> "Tocharian speakers." These groups of people were
> referred to by historians in China and elsewhere as
> the "Sakas" tribes (apparently related to the word
> "Scythian"). They were most likely closely related or
> identical in their genetic composition, but spoke
> different Indo-European languages. It needs to be
> determined why or how Tocharian split off earlier than
> the rest of the languages. How did it become isolated
> enough from the rest of PIE to split off?
>
> There is also in the archaeological record a
> connection between the "Bactria" culture of Central
> Asia and the Indo-Iranians. This culture appears on
> the Iranian plateau and in Baluchistan and is closely
> connected with the "Andronovo" archaeological culture
> of the Russian steppe.
>
> According to the linguistic study by Atkinson,
> however, Tocharian split off first from the rest of
> Indo-European - almost 8000 years ago. Then Greek and
> Armenian at 7300 years ago. Then finally comes the
> Indo-Iranian (and Albanian!) at 6900 years ago. The
> split between Albanian and Indo-Iranian didn't occur
> until 4600 years ago. A very strange connection. And
> the Indo-Iranians languages have a very close
> connection to Lithuanian! In fact, Lithuanian appears
> to be a branch of the Western Indo-European languages
> that retained a significant amount of PIE roots words.
>
> There is a study on Tarim mummies by Christopher P.
> Thornton in Oxford Journal of Archaeology, Feb. 2004,
> entitled "Genes, Language, and Culture: An Example
> >From the Tarim Basin." If anyone can access this
> article, I would be greatly appreciative!
>
> Interestingly, the Indo-Iranians appear to have made a
> much greater contribution to the genetic ancestry of
> the northern castes of India than they did in Iran.
> Thus, I think List reseachers interested in this topic
> may need to closely examine some of the DNA studies on
> Indian populations. Basically, Indo-Iranian split
> into two branches - Indo-Aryan (Indic) and Iranian -
> one group went to south and west into India, the other
> into Iran.
>
> There are, of course, many unanswered questions
> regarding migratory and linguistic patterns. For
> instance, what is percentage of R1b in Central Asia -
> Zerjal indicates it's presence at fairly high
> proportions, but doesn't address this question
> further.
>
> The movement of the Celtic languages into the British
> Isles and the apparent connection in DNA between the
> Celtic-speakers and the Basques is a puzzle. If the
> belief is that R1a is the diagnostic group for early
> Indo-European speakers, then how did all these
> languages spread throughout Europe (and into the far
> west in Ireland) without an accompanying genetic
> component? It must be something similar to the spread
> of Indo-Iranian throughout modern-day Iran without
> large amounts of R1a1. But I'm not at all clear how
> this mechanism regarding the spread of language
> occurs.
>
> Also, William Curry posted regarding the Irish myths,
> which I'd like to hear more about. Dr. David Faux
> posted a few weeks ago about the apparent connection
> between Norwegian myths and the Caucasas area. There
> seems to be a similar pattern in some of the Greek
> myths.
>
> Ellen Coffman
>
>
>
>
> ==============================
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