Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2006-09 > 1159214896

From: ellen Levy <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Celts descended from Spanish fishermen, study finds
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2006 13:08:16 -0700 (PDT)
In-Reply-To: <002401c6e09e$c9ceddb0$1e139a8e@PeterAKincaid>


What argument are you making exactly? That R1b
entered Europe during the early or middle Neolithic
period as opposed to the late Neolithic or early
Bronze Age? Or that it was present during the late

The debate concerning whether archaeological
continuity exists between Paleolithic/Mesolithic and
then Mesolithic/Neolithic continues to rage in the
archaeological community. It is not a point of
agreement between archaeologists anymore than many
important genetic issues are agreed upon by population
geneticists. What I generally object to is the
presentation of these theoretical perspectives as
self-evidence truths. As one archaeologist put it,
"Like most good stories, the discussions rarely let
factual information get in the way!" (That quote is
from Peter Woodman, writing about the Mesolithic in
the British Isles. Mr. Woodman notes that the paucity
of archaeological evidence concerning the British
Mesolithic "can almost be raised to a virtue" and,
furthermore, since the British transition to farming
may have taken place in a number of different ways,
archaeologists aren't even clear whether Britain and
Ireland should be considered a separate geographic

In terms of addressing your remark concerning Upper
Paleolithic archaeological remains, there is
absolutely no evidence linking any Y chromosome
haplogroups with any of the remains you mention.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of any genetic
continuity in Europe stretching from the Upper
Paleolithic all the way through the Mesolithic. And
since Europe was largely abandoned during the LGM (and
some parts were again abandoned during the Younger
Dryas, which we never seem to discuss on the list),
then there really isn't any archaeological remains to
try to link to various haplogroups. Regarding the
Upper Paleolithic remains (ie, pre-LGM), the only aDNA
study done thus far concerning that time period
indicates the presence of mtDNA N1* and pre-HV. Run
into a lot of European N1*'s lately? My point being,
of course, that one should be wary of assuming genetic
continuity over a 20,000 year period.

Furthermore, I think there are obvious emotional
overtones when one uses terms like "indigenous" that
should be avoided in these types of scientific
discussions. Is an individual's ancestor really more
"indigenous" to Europe because they may have been
present there since 7000 BC, as opposed to those whose
ancestors may have arrived about 5000 BC? And since
we really don't know whether those present in 7000 BC
replaced other genetic groups present in the region
from an even earlier time period, I think these terms
should be used in a very cautious fashion, or avoided

I think there is agreement at least between
archaeologists that the Neolithic arrived in different
ways and at different times in various regions of
Europe, so I would reject the more monolithic
descriptions of change presented by Steve Mithen in
your post.

Joao Zilhao, who has written about the
Mesolithic/Neolithic transition in Spain, has noted
the following concerning the interior of Iberia:
"After the end of the Ice Age, c. 11,4000 calendar
years ago, it shows no sign of human occupation (with
the exception of some areas in the upper Ebro basin)
until 5000-4500 BC, when the protagonists of such
occupation are already clearly defined agro-pastoral
societies. This pattern seems to be a genuine
reflection of regional settlement history." Thus, in
the interior of Spain, not a single pottery sherd or
site dated to the Mesolithic has been found.

Peter, you state "I don't think anyone will argue that
this is where it developed but the view is that people
in western Europe gradually adopted the practices as
they saw fit.." That is not, in fact, the view of all
archaeologists or geneticists and, as far as I can
tell, the demic diffusion vs. cultural diffusion
debate continues to this day with its various

You further ask, "Where is the evidence for the
disappearing hunter-gatherers?" You suggest they
cultivated plants at the same time they fished and
hunted. (I think we have forgotten herding here too)
This is not, however, what the archaeological record
suggests in many regions of Europe. Let's stick with
Iberia in this discussion. Zilhao notes that there is
nothing to indicate slow, piecemeal adoption by
local-hunter-gatherers of of the Neolithic package.
Zilhoa also notes that "marked discontinuity" on all
levels between the material cultural of the local
Mesolithic and that of the earliest Neolithic that has
led "most researchers" to conclude that the beginnings
of agriculture and herding in Iberia presents a demic
intrusion, not a local development.

Well, I've run out of space to discuss the theories
concerning the movement of agriculture by sea.
Recall, however, that agriculture reached Cyprus and
Crete by sea from the Levant around 9000 BC.

Ellen Coffman

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