Thursday, May 31, 2012

Belated First Blog Birthday

This blog was one year old on May 22, 2012.  There were 312 posts in the first year, a rate of six posts per week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Andras Zeke Explains Minoan Numbers

One of the better attested non-Indo-European written languages, which alas, has not survived, is the language used by the Minoans of Crete. We have considerable historical or proto-historical information about their fall to the Mycenaean modern Greeks who are the linguistic direct ancestors of the modern Greeks. Indeed, Mycenaean Greek is one of the oldest Indo-European languages attested in writing.

The Minoans overlapped historically with the Sumerians, who inventing writing first. And, we have a fair number of examples of Minoan writing, although the written language appears to have been confined largely to professional scribes rather than being used by the general population, and seems to have been used mostly to keep bureaucratic accounting type records, for example, documenting taxes and welfare payments from the palaces that dominated that society. There are some prayers sprinkled in amongst the bookkeeping, but there are probably no great Minoan literary epics or histories reduced to writing in the Minoan system out there to be found. It was a step beyond a mere written proto-language system of symbols (which some have suggested is all that the Harappans and early Vinca script consist of), but only at the narrowest level. The share of Minoans who could understand it might be comparable to the share of modern Americans who could make sense of the equations in a physics journal article, or read and write computer code in its raw form.

No one has fully deciphered Minoan writing. But, a central element of what is left of Minoan writing is its system of numbers and quantity units, and Andras Zeke, the proprietor of the Minoan language blog, has offered up a quite convincing post that offers a comprehensive description of this key part of the Minoan written language. It is worth a look if you are interested in this kind of thing.

Atomic Hydrogen in Galaxies Underestimated

[G]alaxies around us are hiding about a third more atomic hydrogen gas than previously calculated. . .  the gas is distributed very differently from how it was in the past, with much less in the galaxies' outer suburbs than billions of years ago. "This means that it's much harder for galaxies to pull the gas in and form new stars," Dr Braun said. "It's why stars are forming 20 times more slowly now than in the past."  . . . "Even though there's more atomic hydrogen than we thought, it's not a big enough percentage to solve the Dark Matter problem. If what we are missing had the weight of a large kangaroo, what we have found would have the weight of a small echidna," Dr Braun said.
From here.

How Did African Crops Get To India?

One of the most fascinating mysteries of pre-history, in my opinion, is the question of how crops domesticated in the African Sahel, which are well adapted to the monsoon climate of Southern India where they appeared in the South Indian Neolithic, starting ca. 2500 BCE, roughly at the same time as the Dravidian proto-language emerged. (some sources see this happening mostly as much as a thousand years later however) The much older farming society of the Indus River Valley used the Fertile Crescent package of crops and technologies, but those crops didn't translate well to the climate of Southern India, which developed its farming culture several thousand years later.

A new study by Dorian Q. Fuller, Nicole Boivin, Tom Hoogervorst & Robin Allaby entitled "Across the Indian Ocean: the prehistoric movement of plants and animals," examines these questions (hat tip to the Ancient Indian Ocean Corridors blog). Fuller has been the leading researcher looking at the origin of early South Asian crops outside the Indus River Valley for years now (see, e.g., his very comprehensive open access 2007 paper in the Annal of Botany,) and the latest study sums up and expands upon his work.

As the paper explains (citations omitted):

It has been known for many years that some of the major crops of the drier regions of India, such as sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) and finger millet (Eleusine coracana), originated in Africa and arrived in India at some point in prehistory. A popular argument has been that these crops arrived in the Harappan urban period (2600–2000 BC), brought by Harappan ‘seafarers’ but there is little firm evidence to support this. Recent re-assessments, of both botanical identifications and archaeological context, leave reason to doubt the few grains reported from the Harappan urban period; in contrast, there is now a large accumulation of evidence for these crops in India from the second millennium BC, including finds from 33 sites. What the dating evidence currently suggests is that this transfer of African crops took place at the end of the Harappan era, perhaps as the urban Harappan civilisation was undergoing its transformative de-urbanisation process. Given the lack of any other material evidence for Harappan or South Asian contacts with the Red Sea or Africa before 2000 BC, we have argued that this transfer took place primarily between north-east Africa and/or Yemen and western India, probably outside of the context of the Bronze Age trade between major civilisations. It is, of course, well documented that the Harappan civilisation was involved in maritime trade with Oman, Bahrain and Mesopotamia in the second half of the third millennium BC. But this trade was between urban actors, and increasingly appears to have been built on earlier regional contacts between small-scale coastal fishing and agropastoral societies.

Moving in the other direction was the Asian broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) ultimately of Chinese origin, which had left China on westward trade routes by 2200 BC. Broomcorn millet is known from other central Asian sites from around 2000 BC and is found in Pakistan at 1900 BC, Yemen at around 2000 BC, and in Sudanese Nubia by 1700 BC, while being absent from intervening regions such as Egypt and Mesopotamia. Zebu cattle may also have moved from India to Yemen and East Africa starting at this time, although this was presumably the first stage in an ongoing process of gene flow through introduced bulls which made the genetic landscape of south Arabian and African cattle one of hybridity between African taurine and Indian zebu stocks, with evidence for interbreeding most marked at the margins of the Indian Ocean. These zebu-hybrid cattle played an important role in the longterm success and southernmost spread of cattle pastoralists in eastern Africa.

Alas, the paper is really more of a review article (and a thin one at that) than it is a presentation of a new discovery, and aside from the material quoted above, adds only an update of an illustration from a 2009 paper by some of the same authors.  The pivotal point that the paper illustrates on the South Asian side, is that oldest sites with African crops appear towards the Northwest, just to the East of the Harappan area, and then disperse over a few centuries to the Southeast.  This is at odds with some earlier suggestions that the agricultural trade with Africa may have gone directly to Eastern India.

The research makes a good case for the existence of a previously unattested trade route, distinct from the Harappan-Sumerian trade, between Northeast African and/or Yemen on one hand, and India on the other, that bypassed Egypt, the Levant and Mesopotamia.  It also makes a plausible case that this trade was bidirectional, with agricultural goods moving either way.

I've noted before that the one genetic marker found in India, particularly in areas where African crops and other possible cultural hallmarks of African Sahel culture appear (while the mtDNA profile and Y-DNA profile of Harappan areas indicate population genetic independence from these areas), is Y-DNA haplogroup T. This is a common, indeed predominant, Y-DNA haplogroup in the Horn of Africa, which would be a plausible launching point for maritime expeditions to India that bypassed major centers of civilization at the time like Egypt, the Levant, and Mesopotamia.  But, since Y-DNA haplogroup T is also found up and down the Nile basin and at lower frequencies into the Fertile Crescent and Europe (as well as all over the Jewish diaspora), absent more specific analysis of South Asian Y-DNA haplogroup T sub-lineages of the kind that have been performed for African, Jewish and European sub-lineages, it is hard to place the source of Y-DNA haplogroup T in South Asia with any more specificity.  This study strongly suggests that the evidence, when it is available, will point specifically to a Horn of Africa origin for South Asian Y-DNA haplogroup T.  This genetic evidence argues, although not conclusively, for the possibility of an African origin for the Dravidian language family since its distribution coincides nicely with the geographic region from which Dravidian probably expanded.

This paper still leaves many important questions unanswered, however.

Is there archaeological evidence aside from the presence of exchanged crops, for this kind of major Indian Ocean maritime trade distinct from the Harappan-Sumerian trade, which was decidedly coastal? 

An alternate reason that we might not see African or Asian crops in the intervening areas is that those areas weren't places where these crops were good alternatives to the Fertile Crescent package, and therefore weren't adopted.  An Persian Gulf to Mesopotamian to Levantine to Nile basin route for these domesticates, while longer, is a better fit to trade routes we know existed at the time.  The Yemen link undermines this conclusion somewhat, but not really conclusively.

Perhaps even more fundamentally, by what means did West African crops and cultural practices make their way to the Horn of Africa (basically modern day Somolia) from whence they may have sailed to India? 

The transfer of African crops to India clearly predates Bantu expansion and Austronesian contact with Africa.  Farming almost certain arrived later in the Horn of Africa than it did in West Africa or Egypt, and some accounts don't confirm its presence in East Africa outside the Ethiopian Highlands (whose Neolithic revolution's specifics and timing is not something that I've seen well documented) until the Bantus arrive.  You can transplant crops between illiterate Bronze Age populations without bringing some farmers with you to train the recipients.  But, the Horn of Africa population is not known to have had people with that skill set at that time. At least as of 1996, there was no evidence for the cultivation of these crops in this area until early antiquity. Wigboldus,J.S., "Early presence of African millets near the Indian Ocean." (In J. Reade, The Indian Ocean (pp.75-86)) (1996).

Y-DNA haplogroup T, that is predominant in the Horn of Africa, phylogenetically looks like a back migration to Africa from at least as far east as the Fertile Crescent, rather than an ancient and indigenous to East Africa Y-DNA haplogroup.  It could conceivably arrived contemporaneously with mtDNA M1 and U6, the most famous of the mtDNA back migrations to Africa.  It could have made its way either up the Blue Nile, or via a maritime route.  Since the Horn of Africa was so far off the radar screen of written history for such a long time, and the Holocene era archaeological record from Somolia isn't widely known at this time, we have little to work upon to tell us what was going on that could have led to the current Y-DNA makeup there which is so distinct from the Y-DNA of the rest of Africa outside the Nile basin (and some Northern Cameronian Fulani).  It is also rather likely that the tropical climate will have prevented ancient DNA from being preserved there.

In short, we are left hungry for evidence that could show us who the peoples were that made the trans-Indian Ocean transit of African Sahel crops possible were.  Was there a village scale or larger Neolithic civilization that both farmed and traded by sea over long distances of which history is entirely ignorant?  What languages did they speak?  What distinguished their culture?  How and when and where did it come into being?  Did they replace prior peoples in their territory, and if so, what became of them?  What intermediate steps did they master before learning to sail across the Ocean on commercial trips as long as theirs, or were the trips motivated by something other than commerce?  Perhaps, someday, we will know more.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Study Examines Death of Harappan Society

The Indus River Valley (more or less greater Pakistan) had a continuous agricultural civilization, derived from the Fertile Crescent Neolithic revolution from around that Egypt was established until the dawn of the Bronze Age, with is culmination and peak called Harappan civilization.  Why did it collapse?

A new study confirms previous suspicions that climate change leading to the demise of the Ghaggar-Hakra River, mythologically referred to as Sarasvati River, which is now a mere seasonal river bed.  The now dry most of the year river bed is home to a high density of Harappan settlements.

So, where did the Harappans go as the old system fell apart and an Indo-European superstrate appeared in the Vedic era? 

The study concludes that as a result of the collapse of the river system they "emigrate eastwards towards the Ganges, where monsoons were still stable but where the fertility was not good enough to support large cities as in the West."  More here.  The press release for the study states that "the Indus civilization developed 5200 years ago, built its cities, and slowly disintegrated between 3900 and 3000 years ago."  It goes on to state that:

By 3900 years ago, their rivers drying, the Harappans had an escape route to the east toward the Ganges basin, where monsoon rains remained reliable. 
"We can envision that this eastern shift involved a change to more localized forms of economy: smaller communities supported by local rain-fed farming and dwindling streams. . . .This may have produced smaller surpluses, and would not have supported large cities, but would have been reliable."

Such a system was not favorable for the Indus civilization, which had been built on bumper crop surpluses along the Indus and the Ghaggar-Hakra rivers in the earlier wetter era. This dispersal of population meant that there was no longer a concentration of workforce to support urbanism. "Thus cities collapsed, but smaller agricultural communities were sustainable and flourished. Many of the urban arts, such as writing, faded away, but agriculture continued and actually diversified[.]"
To the extent that there was a decidedly eastern migration to the Ganges (basically in Northern India) from the Harappan region, of course, the implication would be that Iran's population and legacy cultures do not reflect this end of civilization exodus nearly so strongly.

The study's claim that the transition was a gradual one over nine hundred years is also one that I would take with a grain of salt. Many transitions that look gradual when one has relatively low precision means of seeing that it exists, later turn out to have been more abrupt or complicated than they had seemed originally. For example, while the Roman empire's decline can be said to have been gradual, there are some specific and dramatic historic events that we think of historically as punctuating the fall of the Roman empire.

Has Harappan Society Left A Cultural, Genetic Or Linguistic Legacy?

The first definitive signs of the influx of Indo-European influence in South Asia start around 3900 years ago (e.g. the early Cemetery H culture "in and around Western Punjab"). There are some indications that early sites like Cemetery H do not show signs of demic transition (or violent invasions) (Wikipedia cites Kennedy, Kenneth A. R. (2000). God-Apes and Fossil Men: Palaeoanthropology of South Asia at page 312, and Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London and Chicago: Fitzroy-Dearborn. ISBN 1-884964-98-2 at pages 103 and 110, for these points), but features like the appearance of widespread cremation there, which is characteristic of the advent of Indo-European influence, and contemparenous appearance of metal working similar to that of the Caucusas region, suggest some Indo-European influence at this point. Early Vedic literature alludes to the period in which there is a transition from burial to cremation practices of the kind seen a Cemetery H. A demic influence is arguably greater in the subsequent and more Northern "Gandhara grave (or Swāt) culture emerged ca. 1600 BC, and flourished in Gandhara, Pakistan" which is more definitively associated with early Vedic ethnogenesis.

It isn't at all clear how much of a substrate influence the hollow Indus River Valley civilization had on the incoming Indo-Aryan invaders.  When the dust settled after their influx, the Sanskrit language and the Hindu religion were the result and the subsequent events are a matter of historic record, or at least much more solid evidence.  But, to parse how much the Indo-Aryans and the descendants of the Harappans, respectively, contributed, one can compare how early Vedic society differed from other contemporary Indo-European societies (e.g. the Mycenean Greeks, the Hittites, the Tocharians, Avestian civilization), and one can look at what cultural aspects of Vedic society are identifiable holder overs from pre-Vedic Harappan society.

In one narrative, the Harappans might have had as much of a cultural impact on their invaders as the Greeks did on the invading Romans, for example.  In another, the Harappan language and culture may have been almost completely lost as a result of the collapse of their own civilization followed by the arrival of Indo-European invaders.

An extreme version of this narrative is the "Out of India" theory of Indo-European civilization, that would argue that many of the key cultural and linguistic elements of Indo-European civilization may be derivative of Harappan civilization that moved into a diasporic phase with the fall of its own civilization, perhaps in particular as refined in places like the BMAC cultural area which was arguably basically a Harappan trade colony, rather than a truly independent civilization. This theory, while far from mainstream, would help explain how such a developed civilization could disappear seemingly without leaving any cultural trace and how horsemen of the Central Asian and European steppe could have developed a culture so suited to urban and agricultural life. A predominantly Gangetic destination for Harappan civilization's descendants, however, would argue that this dying civilization's impact may have been much more modest.

Genetic evidence is also starting to become quite informative about the extent to which the Indo-Aryan impact was demic (i.e. driven by population replacement and admixture), something that varies by region and caste in South Asia.  See, e.g., here.   For example, in South India that the Indo-European specific genetic impact may have been on the order of 5%-15% among Brahmins (the highest and so called priestly broad caste (there are also narrow subcastes) and a minority of the overall population) and much less in lower caste populations, but with a much greater demic impact, not necessarily quite so limited to higher caste populations, in North India.

But, there is still a lack of clarity regarding how much of the genetic distinction along an Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and Ancestral South Indian (ASI) cline in modern India is due to the Indo-Aryan invasion and how much of it has deeper roots from older North-South population divisions in India, which has been inhabited by modern humans since at least the Toba volcano eruption ca. 74,000 years ago.  For example, there are some population genetic indications that India's caste system may have pre-Indo-Aryan roots, since there are notable caste based genetic distinctions even in areas with little apparent Indo-Aryan demic impact that have a genetic signature that appears quite ancient.  Much of South Asia's uniparental lineages in both ANI and ASI trending populations, and in both Y-DNA and mtDNA, are phylogenetically basal and have clear South Asian origins as they are not found anywhere else in at high frequencies among people other than South Asian expatriates and their descendants.

The paper is L. Giosan et al. Fluvial landscapes of the Harappan civilization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1112743109.

LBK Farmers Were Patrilocal

A new study looking at stronium levels in Linear Pottery (LBK) archaeological culture associated bones from about 300 individuals, roughly half men and half women, which can be used to determine what kind of soils were common in the place where the person grew up and can be compared to the place where they were buried, shows that the LBK culture was predominantly patrilocal. Far more women died as adults someplace other than where they were born, than did men. LBK men often married women from someplace other than the town where they grew up and brought them back to their home towns.

The study makes additional inferrences about inheritance systems and inequality in LBK culture. Higher status grave good were found in the graves of men who grew up in areas with good soils. But, the conclusions drawn about inheritance and inequality are in my view less strongly supported by the evidence, since any system of succession at death to someone in the community according to any set of rules is going to produce a similar pattern. The economic inequality in that society could simply flow from one village having better farming conditions than another, which is not what we normally think about when we think of social inequality within a society.

The LBK culture was organized into villages (hamlets really) which each had perhaps dozens to something less than a hundred people, with a number of "Long houses" (a Long house of 6 meters by 45 meters with some space devoted to housing animals would be typical) that were inhabited for up to about thirty years at a time, some of which were close to each other, and others of which were far from other nearby villages. Anthropologists sometimes call a unit of social organization of this size a "band" as distinct from a larger "chiefdomship" in which a community leader typically has greater power over a larger group of poeple.
Long houses were gathered into villages of 5–8 about 20 m apart, placed on 300–1250 acres. Nearby villages formed settlement cells, some as dense as 20 per 25 km², others as sparse as 1 per 32 km². This structuring of settlements does not support a view that the LBK population had no social structure, or was anarchic. On the other hand the structure remains obscure and interpretational. One long house may have supported one extended family; however, the short lifespan would have precluded more than two generations. The houses required too much labor to be the residences of single families; consequently, communal houses are postulated. . . . At least some villages were fortified for some time with a palisade and outer ditch.
Early practice was to bury women and children beneath the floors of their houses, with later LBK settlements establishing village cemetaries. In one example, the population density in an archaeologically excavated apparently typical LBK community grew from something the order of 60 per equal mile (1 person per 10 acres) to 120 people per square mile (1 person per 5 acres) - which was much greater than the population density of the preceding hunters and gatherers of Europe (at least in areas where fishing was not the main means of subsistence). The political organization of the LBK society above the village level is not known, and could have supported larger political units in many areas. Indeed, the existence of bride exchange between villages (as well as shared cultural patterns such as beading designs and pottery designs, and as well as indications of some level of longer distance trade) indicates tha there must have been at least some level of interaction and shared community between isolated LBK villages.

The LBK culture was the first European farming culture in the Danube, Elbe and Rhine river basins (flourishing ca. 5500–4500 BCE) and was roughly contemporaneous with the first Southern European coastal region farming culture usually called the Cardial Pottery culture.  Their crops included a couple of kinds of wheat, peas, lentils, hemp and flax grown in small plots.  They also had cattle and some other domesticated animals.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More On The Aurignacian

The tag "Aurignacian" at Dienekes' Anthropology Blog provide a very nice summary of some of the leading or simply most interesting research on this pre-historic modern human era in the last five years or so.

Upper Paleolithic Ethnic Divisions In Europe

One of the most facinating catches in the batch was in a post made on March 22, 2006 and was made without comment on that blog, argues based upon differences in beadwork with no other explanation that the European Aurignacian probably involved two distinct ethno-linguistic populations, one in the "Rhône valley, Italy, Greece and Austria" and the other in Northern Europe. This is the only paper that I am aware of that suggests the kind of broad regional ethnic divide within Europe during that Upper Paleolithic, that is visible from the earliest days of the European Neolithic (LBK v. Cardial Pottery) and recurs again and again in European pre-history and history.
Personal ornaments reveal ethno-linguistic diversity of Aurignacian Europe Journal of Archaeological Science (Article in Press)

Aurignacian ethno-linguistic geography of Europe revealed by personal ornaments

Marian Vanhaeren et al.


Our knowledge of the migration routes of the first anatomically modern populations colonising the European territory at the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic, of their degree of biological, linguistic, and cultural diversity, and of the nature of their contacts with local Neanderthals, is still vague. Ethnographic studies indicate that of the different components of the material culture that survive in the archaeological record, personal ornaments are among those that best reflect the ethno-linguistic diversity of human groups. The ethnic dimension of beadwork is conveyed through the use of distinct bead types as well as by particular combinations and arrangements on the body of bead types shared with one or more neighbouring groups. One would expect these variants to leave detectable traces in the archaeological record. To explore the potential of this approach, we recorded the occurrence of 157 bead types at 98 European Aurignacian sites. Seriation, correspondence, and GIS analyses of this database identify a definite cline sweeping counter-clockwise from the Northern Plains to the Eastern Alps via Western and Southern Europe through fourteen geographically cohesive sets of sites. The sets most distant from each other include Aurignacian sites from the Rhône valley, Italy, Greece and Austria on the one hand, and sites from Northern Europe, on the other. These two macro-sets do not share any bead types. Both are characterised by particular bead types and share personal ornaments with the intermediate macro-set, composed of sites from Western France, Spain, and Southern France. We argue that this pattern, which is not explained by chronological differences between sites or by differences in raw material availability, reflects the ethnolinguistic diversity of the earliest Upper Palaeolithic populations of Europe.
Near Eastern Roots For Both Aurignacian And North African Upper Paleolithic Associated With mtDNA Back Migration To Africa

Another bold claim about that era was recounted in a December 16, 2006 post from Dienekes:
mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6 originated in Eurasia See also a related National Geographic story regarding this article.

Science 15 December 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5806, pp. 1767 - 1770

The mtDNA Legacy of the Levantine Early Upper Palaeolithic in Africa

Anna Olivieri et al.

Sequencing of 81 entire human mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) belonging to haplogroups M1 and U6 reveals that these predominantly North African clades arose in southwestern Asia and moved together to Africa about 40,000 to 45,000 years ago. Their arrival temporally overlaps with the event(s) that led to the peopling of Europe by modern humans and was most likely the result of the same change in climate conditions that allowed humans to enter the Levant, opening the way to the colonization of both Europe and North Africa. Thus, the early Upper Palaeolithic population(s) carrying M1 and U6 did not return to Africa along the southern coastal route of the "out of Africa" exit, but from the Mediterranean area; and the North African Dabban and European Aurignacian industries derived from a common Levantine source.
The claim that mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6 are back migrations to Africa from Eurasia are themselves all that bold. (And the consensus opinion that "out of Africa" happened via the Gate of Tears rather than the Sinai Pennisula has been cast into doubt by a recent archaeological find from that era.)

But, the further conclusions that the migration was Levantine, and that it was part of the North Africa Dabban culture, and that it has a common source with the European Aurignacian in the Near East, are ambitious and interesting claims.

Given the inherent limitations of precision associated with mtDNA mutation rate dating, an archaeological association to coroborate the existence of some kind of migration in that time frame would be useful. Still, even if an archaeological association between the North African Upper Paleolithic and the Aurignacian is found, one still has to address how such an mtDNA signal survived the population explosion of the Neolithic which increased populations in the region by something on the order of one hundred fold (based on an indirect measurement). Personally, I find a post-Last Glacial Maximum back migration for M1 and U6 to be more plausible, but I certainly can't rule out an earlier date, since climate probably did not have as intense a population replacement impact in North Africa as it did in Northern Europe.

Aurignacian Archaeological Antecedents In The Near East

Another post from July 7, 2009 discusses potential linkages between Proto-Aurignacian and pre-Aurignacian archaeological cultures in the Balkans and similar archaeological cultures of the Near East. A key passage from the study discussed states:
The earliest evidence of anatomically modern humans in Europe is currently dated to ≈48,000 cal BP and the beginning of the GI 12 warm interval. It is based on artifact assemblages (Bohunician) that are similar to an earlier industry in the Near East (Emiran) probably produced by modern humans. Bohunician sites are present in South-Central Europe and possibly Eastern Europe as well, during this interval....

A possible second movement of modern humans into Europe may be represented by another group of artifact assemblages that date to as early as 45,000–44,000 cal BP and GS 11/GI 11. They vary significantly in composition and are sometimes referred to as Proto-Aurignacian. Many are similar to a contemporaneous industry in the Near East (Ahmarian) manufactured by modern humans. Proto-Aurignacian assemblages are found in Southwest and South-Central Europe and seem to be present in Eastern Europe at this time. Although the oldest known modern human skeletal remains in Europe date to this interval, they are not associated with artifacts....

Both the Bohunician and Proto-Aurignacian sites probably represent modern human population movements from the Near East into Europe via the Balkans.
The Bohunician is also discussed here. There is a nice, and well illustrated 35 page pdf discussion of the period here with a particularly useful illustration on page 22 showing the Ulluzian, Bohunician, Emiran, Amharian, and Dabban cultures in relationship to each other on a map with selective dates.


The Neanderthal-modern human transition at or somewhat before the Aurignacian culture appears isn't a core focus of my interest, which mostly is a bit further along in pre-history, but I do discuss it in one May 2010 post at Wash Park Prophet.

One of the main late Neanderthal archaeological cultures is the Mousterian (found from ca. 300,000 BP and 30,000 BP), betwixt this and the Aurignacian industry is the Châtelperronian industry (flourished 35,000 BP to 29,000 BP and almost mostly seen as a Neanderthal innovation arising out of the Mouterian culture, although not without controversy; Jared Diamond makes the case in his book, "The Third Chimpanzee" (1991), that this may have represented a hybrid or imitative Neanderthal culture). The two archaeological cultures that follow the Aurignacian are the Gravettian (flourished 28,000 to 22,000 years before present, with the earliest signs ca. 32,000 years ago in the Crimean Mountains, and generally appearing after the Aurignacian whereever it appears), and the Solutrean (flourished 22,000 to 17,000 years before present, roughly during the glacial period, and apparently originating in Spain and the Franco-Cantabrian refugium area generally). Coincident Paleoclimate and volcano evidence of tumult at around the time of this transition is discussed here.

Aurignacian Arose After An Anatolian AMH Adieu?

The majority of scholars conclude that the Aurignacian is the earliest signature of the first modern humans in Europe. Recent research suggests that this is not likely to be the case. . . . the Uluzzian of Italy and Greece is likely to be a modern human industry based on the reanalysis of infant teeth in the archaeological site of Cavallo, and also demonstrated that it dates to 45,000-43,000 cal BP. Other dated examples from other Uluzzian sites fall into the same period, and the Uluzzian is always stratigraphically below the Proto-Aurignacian in Italian sites where both co-occur. This adds an additional level of complexity to the emerging picture of early human dispersals and suggests that the Aurignacian does not represent the earliest evidence of our species in Europe. . . .
Taken together, these results suggest that modern humans arrived in Europe as early as ~45,000 cal BP and spread rapidly across Europe to as far as southern England between 43,000 and41,000 cal BP. The dates for the lower Aurignacian at Geissenklosterle fall in the same period and appear to pre-date the ages for the Proto- Aurignacian and Early Aurignacian in other regions. The new results suggest that the caves of the Swabian Jura document the earliest phase of the Aurignacian, and the region can be viewed as one of the key areas in which a variety of cultural innovations, including figurative art, mythical images, and musical instruments, are first documented. These dates are consistent with the Danube Valley serving as an important corridor for the movement of people and ideas.  
From here.

O.K., I admit it, I was on an alliteration binge this afternoon.  Forgive me.

The arrival of modern humans in Europe is being dated with increasing precision as archaeologists develop increasing confidence about the association of both Uluzzian and Aurignacian archaeological cultures with Upper Paleolithic modern humans in Europe.  The new research from a cave in Southwest Germany near the source of the Danube, slightly pushes back the confirmed dates for early modern humans in Europe to somewhat before 43,000 B.C.E. and also suggests that the Aurignacian culture may have European origins because it post-dates the earlier brief episodes of archaeological cultures now associated with modern humans.

It also extends the period of Neanderthal and modern human co-existence in Europe.  Neanderthals and modern humans encounted each other in the Levant around 100,000 years ago and co-existed for many millenia.  Then, modern humans disappear from the non-African fossil and archaeological record for a couple dozen millenia.  Then modern humans start to reappear in the Near East and within not so many millenia, beyond.

By 43,000 B.C.E., modern humans arrive in Europe.  Within a few millenia after 30,000 B.C.E., the last traces of Eurasian archaic hominins are gone.  By the time the last glacial maximum hits ca. 18,000 B.C.E., with the accompanying depopulation of ice sheet blanketed Northern Europe as modern humans retreat to Southern European refugia, the Neanderthals (and probably the Northern extent of the Denisovian population) is gone. 

Ancient DNA samples from Neanderthals confirm that non-Africans derive about 2.5% of their DNA from Neanderthals, although there is only modest overlap between the Neanderthal genes inherited by East Eurasians and West Eurasians.  No trace of the heighened tens of millenia of modern human co-existence with Neanderthals survives in the modern gene pool, although I still hold out hope that this is because much of the Epipaleolthic repopulation of Europe was from non-European sources who did not have extended Neanderthal admixture and that there may still be some relict populations in Europe more stongly genetically tied to pre-LGM European populations that may show some elevated Neanderthal admixture.

Other Archaic Transitions

The last few years have unearthed suggestions, however, that there may have been relict populations of archaic hominins in Flores, Indonesia until perhaps 16,000 B.C.E., and in the jungles of Central Africa until perhaps 11,000 B.C.E. 

Ancient DNA from an archaic hominin species called Denisovians for the location of the Siberian cave where fragmentary bones harboring ancient DNA were harvested.  On top of the Neanderthal admixture, aborginal Australians and indigeneous Melanesians have perhaps 5% or more Denisovian admixture, with populations admixed with them having proportionately less Denisovian admixture.  There is almost no trace of Denisovian admixture not traceable to relatively recent subsequent admixture with Melanesians on the Eurasian side of the Wallace line.  Conceivably, some Asian Negrito populations could have independent and ancient, rather than recent Australian/Melanesian admixture sources for their Denisovian admixture which is at considerably lower levels. 

If I were a betting man, I'd guess that Homo Florensis are Denisovians, although probably ones who suffer from island dwarfism - it is hard to know because the Denisovian ancient DNA source has an insufficient collection of associated bones to make any meaningful reconstruction of what they would have looked like.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Claim Of No Solar Vicinity Dark Matter Contested

recent paper (hat tip to the Cosmic Variance blog) has challenged the conclusion of another recent paper based on detailed near solar system stellar dynamics that there is very little dark matter in the vicinity of the solar system, contrary to a commonly assumed spherical dark matter halo based assumption.  The dispute arises from differences in the assumptions used to model the gravitational effects of known luminous matter in this massively multibody problem which can be numerically approximated but is impossible to solve analytically. The usual situation when this happens is for the original authors to then review the criticism and either acknowledge an error with their own analysis and spin (as was done in the case of OPERA's recent superluminal neutrino paper) or to attempt to rebut the criticism (although generally there are no third parties to ever definitively resolve a scientific dispute in which neither side concedes defeat; some such disputes persist until all of the scientists on one side of the debate or the other are dead). The original study claimed to rule out the expected dark matter halo density at a four sigma level; the critical study argues that the expected value fits the cold dark matter paradigm although the null hypothesis would be within three sigma or so of the expected result (not enough to rule it out by the statistical standards that are customary in this kind of work).

The critics argue that some of the assumptions made in the no dark matter paper are known to be counterfactual.  The criticism is a valid one to raise, but weaker than it appears.  Physicists make counterfactual assumptions all the time in models (e.g. modeling matter distributions in a galaxy as a continuous distribution fitting some function reasonably close to reality, rather than a collection of discrete, nearly point-like masses) in order to make computation more manageable.  Even supercomputers don't have the power to solve these kinds of massively multibody problems exactly by analytical or fine grained numerical models without some simplying assumptions.

The hard to evaluate question is whether the counterfactual assumptions are ones that materially impair the accuracy of the conclusion, and if the alternative assumptions proposed remedy that problem if there is one.

Determining just how much room for error simplying assumptions introduce into a numerical approximation of a complex system's dynamics is more art than science.  Many kinds of systemic error sources are frequently underestimated or ignored entirely, if present.  On the other hand, measurement and sampling errors, while a serious concern in some kinds of scientific work, tend to be materially overestimated by physicists, particularly because physicists are prone to simply adding up linearly multiple error sources that are genuinely independent of each other and tend to mitigate each other due to the law of averages if one does a more sophisticated analysis of the sources and relationships of these kinds of errors.

In this case, critics have a fairly low hurdle to overcome.  Since the expected contribution of dark matter effects in the general vicinity of the solar system is so slight, and since all of the data points and numerical approximation procedures used have some margin of error, a critic of a finding that purports to have an expected value of zero and error bars sufficient small to rule out the low expected dark matter density distribution in the region under a conventional wisdom spherical halo of cold dark matter hypothesis need only dispense with assumptions that slightly enlarge the magnitude of the estimated margin of error between the calculated dark matter value and zero.  The critics don't need to actually affirmatively show an expected value for a dark matter density that is has a value different with zero with multiple sigma statistical significance.

There are hypothesis testing tools in statistics that can compare the relative likelihood of different dark matter hypotheses and a null hypothesis of no dark matter with either a frequentist or Baysian approach.  But, making a genuine apples to apples comparison of the possibilities in a way that isn't really offering up a straw man extreme version of the dark matter hypothesis being tested is subtle stuff.

Often the secondary factual questions that validate or invalidate the assumptions relied upon in competing interpretations of the data are themselves based upon a fragile set of assumptions with their own warts and uncertainties.  The overall enterprise is a bit like doing quality control in a massively complex engineering project like building a rocket that it is hard to test before you need to know the answer.  And, while most rockets launch successfully, we know from experience that even large teams of highly talented and well funded scientific and engineers can frequently miss the one or two missteps (that often seem pedestrian and obvious in isolation and retrospect once you know which flaw you are looking for) that will make the end result disasterously wrong.

The particular claim made by the critics in this case is that:
An analysis of the kinematics of 412 stars at 1-4 kpc from the Galactic mid-plane by Moni Bidin et al. (2012) has claimed to derive a local density of dark matter that is an order of magnitude below standard expectations.

We show that this result is incorrect and that it arises from the invalid assumption that the mean azimuthal velocity of the stellar tracers is independent of Galactocentric radius at all heights; the correct assumption---that is, the one supported by data---is that the circular speed is independent of radius in the mid-plane. We demonstrate that the assumption of constant mean azimuthal velocity is physically implausible by showing that it requires the circular velocity to drop more steeply than allowed by any plausible mass model, with or without dark matter, at large heights above the mid-plane.

Using the correct approximation that the circular velocity curve is flat in the mid-plane, we find that the data imply a local dark-matter density of 0.008 +/- 0.002 Msun/pc^3= 0.3 +/- 0.1 Gev/cm^3, fully consistent with standard estimates of this quantity. This is the most robust direct measurement of the local dark-matter density to date.
The original study had concluded that: "We extrapolate a dark matter (DM) density in the solar neighborhood of 0+-1 mM_sun pc^-3, and all the current models of a spherical DM halo are excluded at a confidence level higher than 4sigma."

Thus, the critics are arguing that the original paper is highly sensitive to the circular velocity of the small number of stars that are far above or below the galactic plane midway between the central black hole of the Milky Way galaxy and its fringe, where we live, while the original authors claimed that their method of approximation was "the most robust" method used to date, implying that the result is not very sensitive to parameters that aren't known very well right now. The relevant assumptions are discussed at pages 13-18 and pages 20-22 of the original pre-print.

More specifically, the body of the critical paper argues as it preliminarily lays out the gist of its argument that:
The main error is that they assume that the mean azimuthal (or rotational) velocity ¯ V of their tracer population is independent of Galactocentric cylindrical radius R at all heights (i.e., ¯ V (R, Z) = ¯ V (Z)).

This assumption is not supported by the data, which instead imply only that the circular speed Vc is independent of radius in the mid-plane (e.g., Gunn et al. 1979; Feast & Whitelock 1997). In the solar neighborhood, the circular speed is larger by & 35 km s−1 than the mean azimuthal velocity for the warm tracer population used by MB12, a phenomenon known as asymmetric drift. The asymmetric drift is expected to vary with R, although this variation cannot be measured for the sample of MB12 as the data do not span a large enough range in R.

In the absence of a measurement of the (R, Z) dependence of ¯ V for the tracers, we show that the assumption of an R-independent ¯ V at all heights Z is highly implausible. By using instead the data-driven assumption that the circular speed is independent of radius at Z = 0, we demonstrate that the measurements and analysis of MB12 are fully consistent with the standard estimate of the local dark matter density, approximately 0.01M⊙ pc−3, and indeed provide the best available direct measurement of this quantity.
Put another way, the critics argue that it is inappropriate to extrapolate results that the original paper uses to support its assumptions about the relationship between circular velocity and distance from the galactic plane for out of plane objects from the galactric middle where the data was obtained to the galactric fringe where the solar system is located, and that there are good motivations for believing that out of plane stars in the galactric fringe (which have not been directly observed by anyone) are have circular velocities quite different from those in the data set and are common enough to materially impact the result.

Until someone observes a few dozen of these far out of the galactic plane stars in the galactric fringe and measures their dynamics with great precision, however, there is fundamentally just a difference in assumption between the two studies that isn't ultimately amenable to a definitive resolution without resort to some sort of supplementary empirical data set. Cold dark matter theory doesn't have a particular good track record of making accurate predictions about empirical behavior in astronomical contexts that weren't used to set the parameters of the theory in the first place, and the underlying spherical dark matter distribution assumption that goes into the theoretical expectation have very little justification, apart from mathematical simplification considerations associated with a sphere's many symmetries, in galactric dynamics or hypothetical non-baryonic dark matter dynamics.

Suspected Vampire Buried In Venice In 1576 CE

The word "vampire" didn't arise until much later, but the practice of employing rituals like putting a brick in the mouth of a suspected vampire corpse have been documented in many cases, including a recent find from a 1576 CE burial in Venice, around the time of the Italian Renaissance.

The paper is Minozzi, S., Fornaciari, A., & Fornaciari, G. (2012). Commentary on: Nuzzolese E, Borrini M. "Forensic approach to an archaeological casework of “vampire” skeletal remains in Venice: odontological and anthropological prospectus." J Forensic Sci 2010; 55(6):1634-37 Journal of Forensic Sciences, 57 (3), 843-844 DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2012.02100.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More On Gypsy Origins And Y1K

The European population colloquially called the "Gypsies," aka "Romanies," who are often described in newspaper accounts not precisely accurately as "Roma" (although not precisely accurate),* migrated to Europe from South Asia starting sometime around a thousand years ago (probably 1000 to 1030 CE but possibly a couple of centuries earlier). Mounting evidence from linguistics, historical records and genetics has corroborated this connection and has narrowed down the time and place of Gypsy origin in South Asia. The evidence has also clarified that this was probably a single, monolinguistic (put fairly genetically diverse) founding population whose descendants experienced serial founder effects as their diaspora came to extend across the European continent and beyond. I've covered the developments comprehensively in prior posts at Wash Park Prophet on August 31, 2009 and January 11, 2011, and in passing in several other posts both at that blog and this one.

The story of Gypsy ethnogenesis and migration, and a review of the historical context at the time helps one shatter the illusion that the human cultural and genetic makeup into deep prehistory are fundamentally static.  While some of the details of the Gypsy story are still being worked out, multiple wanderings of whole peoples in this era over long distances, and major demographic and linguistic shifts that are historically documented, are both important in their own right, and illustrate how new peoples can materially shift the demographic makeup of territories.  The fact that this process could have happened casts doubts on inferrences about past populations based on current ones.  It also helps to put flesh onto the question of what kind of events drive migrations of whole peoples, sometimes over great distances, which provides guidance in efforts to attach plausible narratives to prehistoric events where more fragmentary evidence prohibit a definitive conclusion from being reached with direct historical accounts.  This era, which wasn't particularly advanced technologically in ways relevant to a capacity to participate in mass migrations, relative to Bronze Age and Chalcolithic or even earlier populations.  So, these historical accounts serve to caution us against underestimating what early Neolithic peoples could accomplish.

The latest new piece of information on the question comes in a study to be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Gene (hat top to Dienkes). Regueiro M, Rivera L, Chennakrishnaiah S, Popovic B, Andjus S, Milasin J, Herrera RJ., "Y-STR haplotype shared between Roma and South Indians: Ancestral modal Y-STR haplotype shared among Romani and South Indian populations." Gene (May 17, 2012). The abstract to the article is as follows:
One of the primary unanswered questions regarding the dispersal of Romani populations concerns the geographical region and/or the Indian caste/tribe that gave rise to the proto-Romani group. To shed light on this matter, 161 Y-chromosomes from Roma, residing in two different provinces of Serbian, were analyzed.

Our results indicate that the paternal gene pool of both groups is shaped by several strata, the most prominent of which, H1-M52, comprises almost half of each collection's patrilineages. The high frequency of M52 chromosomes in the two Roma populations examined may suggest that they descend from a single founder that has its origins in the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, when the Y-STR profiles of haplogroup H derived individuals in our Roma populations were compared to those typed in the South Indian emigrants from Malaysia and groups from Madras, Karnataka (Lingayat and Vokkaliga castes) and tribal Soligas, sharing of the two most common haplotypes was observed. These similarities suggest that South India may have been one of the contributors to the proto-Romanis.

European genetic signatures (i.e., haplogroups E1b1b1a1b-V13, G2a-P15, I-M258, J2-M172 and R1-M173), on the other hand, were also detected in both groups, but at varying frequencies. The divergent European genetic signals in each collection are likely the result of differential gene flow and/or admixture with the European host populations but may also be attributed to dissimilar endogamous practices following the initial founder effect. Our data also supports the notion that a number of haplogroups including G2a-P15, J2a3b-M67(xM92), I-M258 and E1b1b1-M35 were incorporated into the proto-Romani paternal lineages as migrants moved from northern India through Southwestern Asia, the Middle East and/or Anatolia into the Balkans.

This study of Romani Y-DNA confirms prior Y-DNA studies suggesting a possible gypsy link to South India as an at least partial Gyspy urheimat, despite linguistic ties to the province of Punjab in Northwest India, and mtDNA evidence that could be places other than Punjab as well.

Since the mtDNA and linguistic evidence does not show the same kind of strong Southern Indian affinity, this suggests a possible male dominated migration from South India to Northwest India (probably Punjab) who marry local woman and then continue their migration through West Asia to Europe.  This would also make this case remarkable for being one in which language of women rather than men in a culturally hybrid group prevails.

Best estimates from linguistic data support a migration from Punjab ca. 1000 CE-1030 CE (with reliable attestations not found constitently until the 1300s and the interim probably spent somewhere in the greatly reduced Byzantine empire of that era), with some wiggle room up to perhaps a couple of centuries sooner.  I have yet to see any real convincing evidence concerning the "why" behind this quite exceptional long distance migration of an entire people, something that neither genetic evidence nor language can tell us.  The most likely dates would coincide with the Little Ice Age, however, and this period was disruptive in many historically documented societies.

* According to an informed commenter at one of my previous posts: "Not all Gypsies (Romanies) are Roma. Gitanos, Romanichals, and Sinti are not considered to be Roma, but are Romanies and speak variations of Romany. Roma are Romanies that are specifically from Eastern Europe but the Sinti made it to Germany centuries before the Roma did. In fact, in Germany they usually make it a point to use the phrase "Sinti and Roma" to include both groups."

Historical Context

The Gypsies would have arrived in West Asia around the time that most of the Byzantine empire (the continuous successor to the eastern part of the Roman Empire) had been overrun by a succession of Islamic empires that began their expansion in the 7th century CE, but before the much diminished Byzantine Empire had entirely fallen in its last redoubt in the vicinity of its Anatolian capital at Constantinople. In the end, pretty much the entire area came to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire, whose final collapse and post-World War I division is the prelude to almost all of the countries in the Near East today.

Far less progress has been made in determining the historical circumstances that caused this remarkable migration to take place, despite the fact that written languages where in use in India and everyplace along the route that the Gypsies took to Europe. The first definitive historical records of the Gypsies come from the general vicinity of Romania. There are several historical records of South Asian populations in West Asia in the relevant couple of centuries, but none are very detailed or definitive linked to the European Romani people.

The most plausible candidate as a cause of the Gypsy exodus from South Asia would be the circumstances surrounding the fall of the Gujara-Praihara empire ca. 1018 CE when the capital city was sacked by Muslim invaders (a second pillaging of the city following its capture by another Indian dynasty in 916 that was short lived). It dynastic leaders ruled under the title "Protectors" in substantial part for their role, somewhat parallel to that of Charlamagne in France, of preventing the Islamic empire from expanding into their territory.

Islamic invaders controlled Persia (i.e. Iran) by the early 700s and from their continued to expand the Umayyad empire into Sindh Province, Pakistan with a capital in what is now Hyderabad in a campaign from 712 CE to 720 CE. But, "[a]fter several wars including the Battle of Rajasthan, where the Hindu Rajput clans defeated the Umayyad Arabs, their expansion was checked and contained to Sindh in Pakistan." The Guraja Pratihara Empire was on the winning side of the Battle of Rajasthan, and had some semblance of sovereignty until about 1018 CE when Mahmud of Ghazni, the Sunni Islamic Caliph of what is now Eastern Iran and Sindh, Pakistan (and ultimately Afghanistan and parts of India) sacked its capital city of Kannauj. But, in the 900s, the empire started to decline:
Bhoja II (910–912) was overthrown by Mahipala I (912–914). Several feudatories of the empire took advantage of the temporary weakness of the Gurjar Pratiharas to declare their independence, notably the Paramaras of Malwa, the Chandelas of Bundelkhand, and the Kalachuris of Mahakoshal. The Rashtrakuta emperor Indra III (c.914–928) briefly captured Kannauj in 916, and although the Pratiharas regained the city, their position continued to weaken in the 10th century, partly as a result of the drain of simultaneously fighting off Turkic attacks from the west and the Pala advances in the east. The Gurjar-Pratiharas lost control of Rajasthan to their feudatories, and the Chandelas captured the strategic fortress of Gwalior in central India, c. 950. By the end of the tenth century the Gurjar Pratihara domains had dwindled to a small state centered on Kannauj. Mahmud of Ghazni sacked Kannauj in 1018, and the Pratihara ruler Rajapala fled. The Chandela ruler Gauda captured and killed Rajapala, placing Rajapala's son Trilochanpala on the throne as a proxy. Jasapala, the last Gurjar ruler of Kanauj, died in 1036.
Parallel Dispersals, Migrations and Conquests in the early Current Era

The Gypsy migration came in an era of considerable tumult, demographic shifts, and long range migrations around the world, several of which may have been fundamentally driven by climatic phenomena.  Many, but not all, of these events have left clear marks that still have an impact today.

There are at least three other pre-modern periods that were so widely turbulent in the historic era, which are the book end arid periods at the dawn and collapse of the Bronze Age and the fall of Rome which marks the end of the Iron Age.  The first and more severe of the two Bronze Age arid periods took place at roughly 2000 BCE leading to an "intermediary period" in Egypt, the fall of the Akkadian empire in Mesopotamia, and quite possibly the collapse of the Harappan civilizan in the Indus River Valley.  Bronze Age collapse, which wasn't quite as severe but was much bettter documented, took place around 1200 BCE.  It led to the settlement of the Philistines (who were Mycenian Greeks) in the Levant, the conditions that made it possible for a Hebrew state to emerge in the Levant, an intermediary period in Egypt, the fall of the Hittite empire in Anatolia, Syria and Northern Mesopotamia, the Trojan War, and the demise of the religious-cultural complex associated with the Atlantic megalithic culture.  The impact of the collapse of the Roman empire led to the Middle Ages in Europe and created the conditions that made it possible for the Islamic empire to expand from a few tribes in the Arab desert to a transcontinental force as expansive as Rome was if not moreso whose legacy is palpable today.

The Jews

It is worth observing that the Romani diaspora in Europe arose almost a millennium after Europe's Jewish diaspora (traditionally dated to the fall of the Temple, ca. 70 CE), a dispersal that was exacerbated further by the fall of the Western Roman empire in the 6th century CE, followed by the emigration of most surviving European Jews to Israel and the United States in the 20th century.

Cres Island

Another far less well known and much smaller probably migration from South Asia to Europe (which genetic, linguistic and cultural evidence establish was distinct from the Romani migration), in the same general historical era as the Romani migration, was the migration of the ancestors of the people of Cres Island, Croatia. I have proposed that they probably made their way their from a population of Havids of South India, probably leaving for the Near East around the 5th century CE, probably on a religious missionary mission of some sort, with a relocation in the context of Byzantine-Islamic wars to Cres Island in or shortly after 841 CE, following the sack of the island in those wars. Their relocation to Cres Island and subsequent ability to maintain a distinct identity parallels the experiences of the better known Maronite Church.

The Norman Conquest

While not always remembered as a migration, the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 CE was arguably the most significant demographic and culturally transformative event in the United Kingdom since the Celts arrived there.  It is the source from which the Anglo-American common law tradition has its origin and is the reason that English is a Germanic rather than a Celtic language. While the Normans are mostly remembered for their conquest of England, they were also pivotal in expelling the Moors from Southern Italy. A newspaper article that the discusses this impact, but overstates the genetic impact (which never the less was real and is discernable), is discussed and commented upon here.


The Maltese language, the only Afro-Asiatic language of Europe, arrived with Arab recolonizers in 1048 CE. Per Wikipedia:
Malta was involved in the Byzantine-Arab Wars, and the conquest of Malta is closely linked with that of Sicily due to admiral Euphemius' betrayal of his fellow Byzantines, requesting that the Aghlabid dynasty invade the area. The Arab chronicler and geographer Al-Himyari recounts that in 870 AD, following a violent struggle against the occupying Byzantines, the Arab invaders, first led by Halaf Al-Hadim, and later by Sawada Ibn Muhammed, looted and pillaged the island, destroying the most important buildings, and leaving it practically uninhabited until it was recolonised by the Arabs from Sicily in 1048-49 AD. It is uncertain whether this new settlement took place as a consequence of demographic expansion in Sicily, as a result of a higher standard of living in Sicily (in which case the recolonisation may have taken place a few decades earlier), or as a result of civil war which broke out among Arab rulers of Sicily in 1038. The Arabs introduced new irrigation, some fruits and cotton and the Siculo-Arabic language was adopted on the island from Sicily: it would eventually evolve into the Maltese language. The native Christians were allowed freedom of religion but had to pay jizya, a tax for non-Muslims, but were exempt from the tax that Muslims had to pay (Zakaat). The Normans in 1091, as part of their conquest of Sicily, expelled all the Moors from southern Italy, and their leader Roger I of Sicily was welcomed by the native Christians.

The tribe of Uralic language speakers who brought the Hungarian language to Hungary, with warring neighbors at their heels, crossed into the Carpathian basin in 896 CE and mounted raids that reached as far as Denmark, Iberia and the Balkans through about 1001 CE, when their King converted to Christianity and reached a peace brokered by the Pope. Their presence after their long flight grave rise to the only notable Uralic language in Central Europe. The settlement reached in 1001 CE, in turn, was a pivotal factor is preventing Turkish and Mongol tribes from entering Europe.

The First Crusade and Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula

From about 1000 CE to 1099 CE, European Christians recaptured the Northern half of the Iberian Penninsula (as far as Toledo, 1985 CE) from the Moors in a process known as the Reconquista. Norman forces expelled the Moors from Southern Italy in the same time period. The Levant had been in Muslim hands for some time:
In 636 CE, the rising Muslim faith led by the Arab Rashidun Caliphs defeated the Eastern Roman/Byzantines at the Battle of Yarmouk, conquering Palestine. The Umayyad Dynasty was inaugurated when Muawiyah I was crowned in Jerusalem, but they made their capital in Damascus. In 750 CE they were overthrown by the Abbasid Dynasty of Baghdad and from 878 CE Palestine was ruled by semi-autonomous governors in Egypt until the Fatimids conquered it in 969. The Fatimids, whose empire stretched to Morocco and centered on Egypt, were tolerant for the times and had many trade and political relationships with the Christian states of Europe. In 1073 the Fatimids lost control of Palestine to the rapidly expanding Great Seljuq Empire. They wrested it back less than a year before the arrival of the First Crusade.

In 1095 CE, the First Crusade was launched with the coordination of the Papacy, and by 1099 CE, five new Crusader states ruled by European Christian invaders, mostly from France and Italy, had been established in the Levant. (Of course, as I've set forth at greater length in a little footnote to this discussion, history tells us that the Crusader states ultimately collapsed in face of pressure from Muslim neighbors, despite centuries of several more Crusades that followed. Immediately after the First Crusade, some of the Crusaders had travelled all of the way from Norway to do battle.

A Footnote On The Fate Of The Crusader States, the Latin Empire and the Later Crusades

It turns out that Crusader states lasted for less than two centuries and contracted territorially before then.  In between, a "Latin Empire" briefly established during the Fourth Crusade from Byzantine territory was also established only to collapse in short order.

The first Crusader state established, the County of Edessa, established in 1098 CE, had fallen by 1144 CE.  This precipated the Second Crusade from 1145-1149 CE, which was a failure despite the efforts of a "combined force of 13,000 Flemish, Frisian, Norman, English, Scottish, and German cruaders." 

After the Crusaders from the failed Second Crusade went home, in "1171, Saladin, nephew of one of Nur ad-Din's generals, was proclaimed Sultan of Egypt, uniting Egypt and Syria and completely surrounding the crusader kingdom. Meanwhile the Byzantine alliance ended with the death of emperor Manuel I in 1180, and in 1187, Jerusalem capitulated to Saladin. His forces then spread north to capture all but the capital cities of the [then remaining] Crusader States[.]" 

The only remaining Crusader states in 1187 were Armenian Cilicia, a city-state at Antioch, and a city-state at Tripoli.

The Third Crusade (1189 CE–1192 CE) was a military success but did not manage to retake control of the City of Jerusalem, instead reinstating a Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem that extended along the Levantine coast including coastal cities from Beruit (the capital of Acre was near the modern Israel-Lebanon border in Northern Israel) to Jaffa abutting the County of Tripoli (Cyprus also gained a status as a state independent of the Byzantine empire), and a "normal" set of international relations with treaty rights, limited protections for foreigners in Islamic lands, and trade relations (not really so different than the modern status quo) were put in place. 

Europe rallied for a Fourth Crusade (1202 CE to 1204 CE) to finish the business of the Third Crusade by attempting to regain control of Jerusalem from its Muslim rulers, but instead ended up invading and sacking the Eastern Orthodox city of Constantinople and other Byzantine territory establishing a "Latin Empire", in the process starting a war between the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom that made the divide impossible to bridge for centuries thereafter.  The last of the "Latin" states fell in 1261 (less than sixty years later) to the Orthodox Christian Byzantines.

Ultimately all of the remaining Levantine Crusader States fell: Antioch in 1268 CE, Tripoli in 1289 CE, and Jerusalem (a Crusader state which had ceased to have the actual city of Jersalem in it since 1187 CE and coincided roughly with modern Lebanon and Northwest Israel) in 1291 CE. 

The rump Byzantine empire ultimately fell with its last remnants becoming the initial seed for the Ottoman Empire founded 1300 CE, which had acquired most of Western Anatolia, Greece and the Balkans by 1451.  In this account, due to limits of space and focus, I've not comprehensively described the unfamiliar (to Westerner historians) succession of Islamic rulers in place in the non-Christian territories of the region between the initial Rashidun Caliphate through 661 CE and the Ottoman Empire that ultimately acquired all of these territories by 1571, and I have also omitted the post-Ottoman states other than Israel from the discussion.  Suffice it to say that there were several intermediate Islamic regimes, some of which were quite long lasting, in those nine hundred years.

Armenian Cilicia had completely fallen to the Rashidun Caliphate (which expanded from Muhammad's death in 632 CE when his sect ruled a mere city-state in Medina to almost the entire core of the Islamic empire by 661 CE) by 656 CE. But, the Byzantines restored it to their rule in 965 CE, a generation before the First Crusade was commenced, so while it was a Christian country in the Levant, it was never truly a Crusader state. Alliances with the Byzantines, the Crusaders, and until they converted to Islam, the Mongols, permitted it to prevent itself from being conquered by its Islamic neighbors until 1375 CE when it finally fell after becoming mired with internal religious strife.  It is now part of the Republic of Turkey.

The territories of the former Crusader states (including Edesse), and some of Armenian Cilicia were acquired by the Ottoman Empire from prior Islamic states during the reign of Selim the First (1512 CE to 1520 CE) (some of Armenian Cilicia was acquired by the Ottoman Empire in the late 1400s).

Cyprus, which had been an integral part of the Byzantine empire until it attained its independence during the Third Crusade, remained in the hands of European Western Christians until 1571 CE when the Ottoman empire finally wrested it from the Venetians, an event Shakespear memorialized in the play Othello.  In the wake of the fall of the Ottoman empire, Cyprus has become a state internally divided between a Greek mini-state and a Turkish one.

All of these territories were still at least nominally part of the Ottoman Empire in 1914 when World War I began, but the empire had been fully dissolved into successor states by 1922, four years after World War I had concluded.

The early modern migrations of Jews to what is now Israel as part of an organized Zionist movement (called the First Aliyah and Second Aliyah) began during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire from 1881 to 1914.  Before this point, there were Jews in what is now Israel, but they were a tiny percentage of the total population.  The Ottoman era Zionist migrants organized to help the British to secure effective colonial control of the territory in 1917 (during World War I).

Five hundred and ninety years elapsed between the fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the First Aliyah (and this Kingdom itself lasted less than two hundred years and was interrupted for several years between its fall and the Third Crusade).  Jersusalem itself and the non-coastal parts of the Kingdom fell to Saladin six hundred and ninety-four years before the First Aliyah.  The area that became the Crusader State of Jerusalem had been under Muslim rule for about three hundred and thirty years before it was established during the First Crusade.  All told, Israel had been under the rule of Muslim nations for more than a thousand years before the First Aliyah, and another couple hundred years in part and less than a hundred years in others (including the City of Jersusalem).  Of course, the area had before that been under the rule of the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine empire, and before that the unified Roman Empire (which was pagan before it was Christian) for centuries before it was under Muslim rule.

The British were given a formal mandate to run the territory, called Palestine, on a receivership basis, by the League of Nations in the wake of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1922 (at a time when the territory was 11% Jewish).  By 1945, migration of mostly European Jews fleeing to the territory from the Nazis had made it 33% Jewish.  An independent secular but ethnically Jewish state of Israel was declared in 1948.

The Druze

The ethnogenesis of the Druze people, which may have involved a major migration as the Druze are quite genetically distinct from their neighbors, (despite a community accepted tradition that the sects origins are not ethnic and drew adherents from many ethnicities) took place from 1014 CE to 1043 CE (when evangelism to gain new members was prohibited), a half a century before the First Crusade, with a origins in Shia Islam together with synecretic borrowings.  Its adherents are now found mostly in Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

The Turks

Prior to Turkic expansion, essentially all of Central Asia was ruled by the Indo-Iranian pastrolist Scythians. But, as the first millenium expanded, a different group of pastoralists from the area North of China rapidly expanded into the previously Scythian held territory:
Certainly identified Turkic tribes were known by the 6th century and by the 10th century most of Central Asia was settled by Turkic tribes. The Seljuk Turks from the 11th century invaded Anatolia, ultimately resulting in permanent Turkic settlement there and the establishment of the nation of Turkey. Meanwhile the other Turkic tribes either ultimately formed independent nations, such as Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan or formed enclaves within other nations, such as Chuvashia. Turkics also survived on the original range as the Uyghur people in China and the Sakha Republic of Siberia, as well as in other scattered places of the Far East and Central Asia.
Today, something on the order of 8% of the gene pool of Turkey is Turkic in origin and the percentage grows as one goes East across Central Asia. The pressure placed by Turkic invasions on the Gujara-Praihara empire contributed to its fall around the time of the Gypsy exodus, and it was also at around this time that the Near Eastern and West Asian ruling class of this part of the successors to the original Islamic empire in this area were replaced by a Seljuk Turk ruling class that had converted to Islam and kept a ruling dynasty in place for 270 years (in much the way that the pacified Hungarian ruling class gained peace by converting to Christianity at almost the same time).

Madagascar, Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand

A completely independent, but somewhat comparable, event was the mass migration of Austronesian peoples from Borneo, Indonesia who admixed with Africans (probably near the East African coast) at a roughly 50-50 ratio and then migrated to Madagascar, sometime in the 1st millenium C.E., adopting an Austronesian language.

The most distant additions to the Austronesian cultural sphere in the Pacific (e.g. Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand), which were among the last places on earth to have first contact with humans, were also conducted in this era.

Na-Dene and Inuits

Another very notable mass migration which also occured at around 1000 C.E. was the mass migration of the Na-Dene people from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to the American Southwest, possibly in the wake of a power vacuum that arose when the Anasazi irrigated agricultural society of the American Southwest collapsed due to climate change, or driven by increasingly unfavorable climate conditions in their homeland.

There was a Thule (i.e. proto-Inuit) wave of migration from Siberia to circumpolar North America, that was possibly an outgrowth of a culture that was also the source of the Uralic language family around 500 CE to 1000 CE.

Lief Erickson

Another notable long distance migration that occured around 1000 C.E. was the arrival of Vikings from Iceland led by Lief Erickson to establish a colony in the maritime islands of North America establishing a Vinland settlement that due to bad timing associated with climate collapsed and was never restored.  The settlement was documented in Icelandic historical records and is supported by archaeological evidence in Canada.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Comprehensive MOND/DM Update

"Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND): Observational Phenomenology and Relativistic Extensions"
Benoit Famaey, Stacy McGaugh (Submitted on 16 Dec 201, last revised 20 May 2012)
A wealth of astronomical data indicate the presence of mass discrepancies in the Universe. The motions observed in a variety of classes of extragalactic systems exceed what can be explained by the mass visible in stars and gas. Either (i) there is a vast amount of unseen mass in some novel form - dark matter - or (ii) the data indicate a breakdown of our understanding of dynamics on the relevant scales, or (iii) both. Here, we first review a few outstanding challenges for the dark matter interpretation of mass discrepancies in galaxies, purely based on observations and independently of any alternative theoretical framework. 
We then show that many of these puzzling observations are predicted by one single relation - Milgrom's law - involving an acceleration constant (or a characteristic surface density) of the order of the square-root of the cosmological constant in natural units. This relation can at present most easily be interpreted as the effect of a single universal force law resulting from a modification of Newtonian dynamics (MOND) on galactic scales.  
We exhaustively review the current observational successes and problems of this alternative paradigm at all astrophysical scales, and summarize the various theoretical attempts (TeVeS, GEA, BIMOND, and others) made to effectively embed this modification of Newtonian dynamics within a relativistic theory of gravity.
164 pages, 48 figures, 2 tables, invited review for Living Reviews in Relativity
Cite as:arXiv:1112.3960v2

Physics Prof Publishes Paper From Prison

Motl notes that Paul Frampton, a physics professor incarcerated on drug mule charges in Argentina, which he claims are the result of being duped by real drug dealers, has had a "no excuses" attitude and published a theoretical physics paper while incarcerated. Despite his academic productivity in these adverse conditions and the notion that one is innocent until proven guilty:

Five days ago, a North Carolina judge endorsed the decision of University at Chapel Hill not to pay Paul his salary. Most people at UNC believe he is innocent.
The pre-print at arxiv is "Three Generations in Minimally Extended Standard Models," Paul H. Frampton, Chiu Man Ho, Thomas W. Kephart (Submitted on 21 May 2012) with the following abstract:
We present a class of minimally extended standard models with the gauge group $SU(3)_C \times SU(N)_L \times U(1)_X$ where for all $N \geq 3$, anomaly cancelation requires three generations.
At low energy, we recover the Standard Model (SM), while at higher energies, there must exist quarks, leptons and gauge bosons with electric charges shifted from their SM values by integer multiples of the electron charge up to $ \pm [N/2] e$. Since the value N=5 is the highest $N$ consistent with QCD asymptotic freedom, we elaborate on the 3-5-1 model.
The body of the paper notes some of the new particles that this model would predict: "The corresponding new gauge bosons (Y ++, Y +), (Y −−, Y ) and Z, as well as the exotic quarks
D(Q = 4/3 ) and T (Q = +5/3 ) are predicted to have masses [less than roughly] 4 TeV."
I doubt that this will turn out to be correct, but Frampton, et al. deserve credit for offering up a model with predictions that are clearly falsifiable in the foreseeable future that isn't contrary to current evidence.

Bell Beaker Sites In Spain and Portugal Mapped

Maju has a post with a nice map on the extent of Bell Beaker archaeology in Iberia, and also a dedicated permanent page discussing the Iberian Chalcolithic (i.e. the copper age in what is currently Spain and Portugal, which is the time period in which the Bell Beaker culture appeared in Iberia).

Why Care?

Why is this such salient information? 

Mostly because of the critical role that the Bell Beaker people may have played in the larger sweep of European prehistory and demographics.  It was not nearly is plausible that the Bell Beaker people (or if not them, some other Copper Age or Bronze Age population) had to be so demographically influential in Europe until ancient DNA results started to force the question.

The European Transition From Hunter-Gatherers To Herders and Farmers

No one disputes that human civilization in Europe profoundly changed almost every place that the Neolithic revolution (i.e. farming, herding and sedentary living in communities other than fishing economies) arrived, when the Neolithic revolution arrived in Europe. 

Ancient mtDNA data make fairly clear that, at least outside Southern Europe, this transition had a substantial demic component - i.e. it involved a major infusion of new immigrations from the general vicinity of West Asia and Anatolia (and perhaps Southeast Europe, Central Asia and the Near East), rather than merely involving a technology transfer absorbed by the existing residents.  The demographic shift involved in hunter-gatherer to farmer and herder transitions may have been less abrupt in Southern Europe than in Northern Europe, however.

Except for a few places that are liminal between the Near East and West Asia on one hand, and Europe on the other, the Neolithic revolution arrived in Europe starting around 6000 B.C.E. or later, with a Danubian Linear Pottery Culture in the East, and a Cardial Pottery Culture in Southern Europe constituting the two main first waves of Neolithic expansion.

The Atlantic Megalithic Culture

In an area roughly described as "Atlantic Europe," with outposts as far east as Sardinia, as far west as the British Isles, and as far North as Denmark, the Neolithic cultures crystalized into a "megalithic culture" (think Stonehenge) linked by maritime trade.  In some parts of Atlantic Europe, the megalithic culture is the initial Neolithic culture that can be discerned in the archaeological record.  In other parts of Europe including Atlantic Europe, there may have been some pre-megalithic Neolithic period for as much as one or two thousand years.

Residual Hunter-Gatherers Of Northern Europe

Not all of Europe experienced the Neolithic Revolution at once, however.  The Funnel Beaker culture (TBK) (more or less in Northern Continental Europe) and Comb Ceramic archaeological cultures (more or less in Slavic and Uralic Europe and Siberia) were some of the last hunter-gatherer-fishing cultures of Europe that did not practice farming or herding on a widespread basis and existed in areas that were marginal for agricultural food production at times contemporaneous with Neolithic European cultures.

The Genetic Evidence For A Demic Models

Ancient DNA evidence (combining mtDNA, Y-DNA and autosomal DNA), and evidence from skeletons of the respective cultures, shows both that the early Neolithic populations had substantial immigrant components, and that these early Neolithic populations, particularly on the Y-DNA and autosomal DNA side, were not typical of modern European populations.  There was surely some assimilation of individuals from pre-Neolithic societies, and later from early Neolithic societies, but the amount of gene pool influence exerted by the earlier layers is a closer fit to a pure replacement model than to a cultural diffusion model.

So, somehow or other, there must have been one or more major demographic transitions between the early Neolithic era and the point at which ancient DNA starts to look quite similar in overall character to modern European DNA (realistically, no later than the Middle Ages in most places).

When Could Demographic Transitions Have Taken Place After The Neolithic?

The natural question to ask next is what candidate cultural transition(s) could have coincided with this major post-Neolithic demographic transitions.  There are several plausible candidates.  All of the non-Bell Beaker candidates are historic groups of expanding Indo-Europeans, often in several sucessive waves (e.g. Latin and its successor Romance languages, often replaced Indo-European Celtic languages, and the Slavic expansion probably also replaced existing Indo-European languages in the region that are now mostly lost; the case that the culture from which the Corded Ware archaeological culture emerged spoke a language that was Indo-European is also a reasonably plausible one).

The archaeological record shows relative continuity within the Neolithic era in Western and Northern Europe until the Bell Beaker culture of the Copper Age arrives ca. 3000 B.C.E. and exhibits a substantial break with past cultures.  Craniographic evidence and very preliminary ancient DNA evidence suggest that the Bell Beaker culture had a meaningful migrant population component (at least in most places, the phenomena streched over a very large area and a quite lengthy time frame), and this view is coming to be the more widely held one as historical anthropology experienced ancient DNA driven paradigm shifts, contrary to a historical anthropological view that peaked around the 1970s that had tried to describe the phenomena as largely a technology transfer without meaningful migration. 

At its greatest extent the Bell Beaker culture extended over most of Western Europe (with some holes where there is no archaeological evidence for it within that area) and well inland from the Baltic Sea coast pretty much to the Baltic states.  Bell Beaker culture had a larger peak geographic range than the predecessor megalithic culture, although all or almost all megalithic cultural areas transitioned to the Bell Beaker culture.

Contemporaneously, in an area roughly corresponding to Cold War Eastern Europe, another European Copper Age culture, the Corded Ware Culture, prevailed.

The boundary between the two cultures overlapped somewhat, with distinctly Bell Beaker and Corded Ware archaeological sites found within dozens of miles from each other at approximately the same times, and also shifted over time.  But, there was a divide for something on the order of a thousand years.

The thin ancient DNA evidence available from the European Chalcolithic, and other evidence from archaeology tenatively suggest that at least by this point in time, the modern European pattern in which Western Europe has a strong component of Y-DNA haplogroup R1b, very roughly in the geographic region of the Bell Beaker culture where a first ancient DNA sample reveales the oldest known European R1b ancient DNA, while the area roughly in the geographic region of the Corded Ware culture has produced ancient DNA samples from the culture of Y-DNA haplogroup R1a, similar to that found there today, in both cases, in a tenantive contrast with early Neolithic Y-DNA in both the LBK and Cardial Pottery areas.  Thus, the Y-DNA landscape of modern Europe was starting to gel sometime around the European Chalcolithic, if not earlier (the ancient Y-DNA data gets much thinner at older date than the mtDNA data does because mtDNA is more easily preserved and sequenced from ancient sources).

Linguistic Affinities

The linguistic affinities of the Bell Beaker and Corded Ware cultures is a critical cutoff point in historical linguistics, because combined, these two cultures covered almost all of Europe at some point during the Chalcolithic.  If these archaeological cultures were associated with language families (which a demic component to the Bell Beaker culture is suggestive of), then these cultures provide a foundation from which subsequent linguistic developments can be tracked.  However, if this is the case, pre-Chalcolithic languages of Europe, other than proto-Indo-European or proto-Uralic, are irrevocably lost.

The Bell Beaker cultural area also appears to coincide with a region where some linguistic observers have pointed to the existence of a "Vasconic substrate" set of geographic proper names that appear to have no relationship of the Indo-European languages that prevail in all but a few regions of Europe (Basque country, Finland, Hungary, Latvia and a few Russian refugia) today.  The megalithic culture didn't have the geographic extent to be a fit for this toponymic region, and the post-Bell Beaker linguistic layers are known well enough to rule them out.  But, the evidence of a Vasconic substrate in typonymns is not terribly overwhelming either.

Legitimate arguments have been advanced that the Bell Beaker people may have been pre-Celtic Indo-Europeans linguistically rather than than speakers of a non-Indo-European language, and since there were no literate languages in Europe at the time (writing was just in its earliest days in Sumeria and Egypt at the time), and there aren't even any contemporaneous phonetic transcriptions of Bell Beaker speech from that era that have been deciphered, we have to make linguistic inferences based upon signs of substrate influences in later languages, proper names that survived, the known stories of other parts of the puzzle, like the reasonably well understood Bronze Age expansions of the Indo-European languages in the early historic era, and whatever hints we can derive from the existence of the Basque and Etruscan people's in the historic era, cryptic hints from the oldest surviving histories to discuss these areas, and evidence showing genetic and cultural ties that are suggestive that linguistic ties may have been present as well.

I personally believe at the time that I am writing this post that the Basque language is probably the last remaining survivor of a language family or subfamily that once encompassed all or almost all of the Vasconic substrate area and that the continental European branch of this language family has its roots in a near basal proto-language spoken by the earliest Portugese Bell Beaker peoples.  I also strongly suspect that this proto-language in turn distantly and at great time depth derived from a non-Indo-European language probably spoken in the Caucusas mountains, Armenia or Anatolia at the time that the proto-Bell Beaker people migrated to Iberia and from there to the rest of Atlantic Europe and beyond.  Most likely that language was related to the Northwest Caucuasian languages (e.g. Chechnyian) and spoken by proto-Bell Beaker people from the Steppe who acquired it via language shift from a relatively advanced for its time Caucasian superstrate metal culture.  As I've noted in a prior post, I also personally believe that the Basque language probably arrived in its current local via France and not Iberia to the South.  But, new evidence could easily shift the plausibility of this theory.