Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2008-06 > 1212524685

From: Alan R <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Iberian S116+
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2008 20:24:45 +0000 (GMT)

I think other than the recovery of ancient DNA progressing, its all going to be inference until there is some agreed DNA dating technique. As you noted, deduction from inference is risky although it is stock and trade in big picture soft science archaeology which is almost a social science in many ways although it draws on hard science for evidence. Even a couple of y or related ancient DNA samples extracted from the huge collection of Neolithic bones in European collections might be enough to contribute hugely to the debate over DNA dating techniques as long as its understood a small sample could only provide hard positive rather than negative inferential evidence. A larger sample would perhaps provide the latter. I am a bit hazy on the recent ancient y-DNA extraction, think its involved recovering SNPs or STRs. Sounds like we are heading in the direction of having a lot more answers based on ancient DNA soon. When we have that the long fun
speculation phase many of us have enjoyed will soon be over, bit like the damage a time machine would do the archaeological profession :0)

I agree that no dramatic arrival of large numbers is necessary if the incoming population can keep an initial foothold and has a subsequent major demographic advantage. The replacement may take many generations. This could and I think often does mean that there is no visible arrival horizon and new groups will only be visible in the 2nd or 3rd generation when they have diverged from the parent culture for a variety of reasons. I think that could happen in both the Neolithic peasant farmers arrival scenario or in later more military elite dominance scenarios. The effect is a slightly idiosyncratic culture that shows echoes of the parent culture but also many divergences, often enough to cloud the issue of exact origin. The problem with elite dominance is that the evidence left may differ little from native elites copying the latest fashions i.e. new styles of weapons and jewelry but unchanged basic indigenous peasant culture below in terms of
houses, pottery etc. The norm is now to see this type of evidence as due to native elites. I think it was David Faux who mentioned that even the stand-out example of strong continental Iron Age influence in Britain, that associated with the Parisi of South Yorkshire, is commonly now seen as down to local indigenous elites.


----- Original Message ----
From: ellen Levy <>
To: ; Alan R <>
Sent: Tuesday, 3 June, 2008 4:22:15 PM
Subject: Re: [DNA] Iberian S116+


I don't disagree with much of what you stated here. Pointing to the holes in an argument doesn't mean that other scenarios don't also have problems. Also, I think there is misinterpretation by others when one points out the problems with someone's scenario. The belief is that if the person is pointing to problems with the Mesolithic scenario, then they must be asserting a Neolithic scenario. This isn't necessarily so.

To use an analogy to an area that I know best - the law - when I make an argument to a judge, it needs to be well-thought out and convincing. I need to cite to sources, preferably prior case law, to increase the support to my argument. I need to be aware and hopefully address the weaknesses in my argument as well. I usually try to anticipate what the other attorney is going to say in support of their position and also in criticism of my position.

I think in crafting a persuasive and solid argument, these features can be applied to almost any field, not just law. But I don't think these features are often adopted by genetic researchers when making presenting their arguments.

To address one of the issues you raised before I run off to court (and hopefully make a persuasive argument to the judge!) is the idea of replacement of the earlier group by the Neolithic agriculturalists. I'm not sure that needed to take place. If the population of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers was relatively small and the incoming population as big o$r possible bigger, coupled with the reproductive advantage confered by agricultural settlement and the ability to have very large families that spread quickly via land and sea, I'm not sure that a large scale replacement had to have occurred for a scenario of Neolithic entry to be viable.

Just some food for thought.

Ellen Coffman

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