Ходжа Н. (hojja_nusreddin) wrote,
Ходжа Н.
hojja_nusreddin

In search of the genetic footprints of Sumerians

a survey of Y-chromosome and mtDNA variation in the Marsh Arabs of Iraq

BACKGROUND:

For millennia, the southern part of the Mesopotamia has been a wetland region generated by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers before flowing into the Gulf. This area has been occupied by human communities since ancient times and the present-day inhabitants, the Marsh Arabs, are considered the population with the strongest link to ancient Sumerians. Popular tradition, however, considers the Marsh Arabs as a foreign group, of unknown origin, which arrived in the marshlands when the rearing of water buffalo was introduced to the region.

RESULTS:

To shed some light on the paternal and maternal origin of this population, Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation was surveyed in 143 Marsh Arabs and in a large sample of Iraqi controls. Analyses of the haplogroups and sub-haplogroups observed in the Marsh Arabs revealed a prevalent autochthonous Middle Eastern component for both male and female gene pools, with weak South-West Asian and African contributions, more evident in mtDNA. A higher male than female homogeneity is characteristic of the Marsh Arab gene pool, likely due to a strong male genetic drift determined by socio-cultural factors (patrilocality, polygamy, unequal male and female migration rates).

CONCLUSIONS:

Evidence of genetic stratification ascribable to the Sumerian development was provided by the Y-chromosome data where the J1-Page08 branch reveals a local expansion, almost contemporary with the Sumerian City State period that characterized Southern Mesopotamia. On the other hand, a more ancient background shared with Northern Mesopotamia is revealed by the less represented Y-chromosome lineage J1-M267*.
Overall our results indicate that the introduction of water buffalo breeding and rice farming, most likely from the Indian sub-continent, only marginally affected the gene pool of autochthonous people of the region.
Furthermore, a prevalent Middle Eastern ancestry of the modern population of the marshes of southern Iraq implies that:
- if the Marsh Arabs are descendants of the ancient Sumerians, also
- the Sumerians were most likely autochthonous and not of Indian or South Asian ancestry.

______________________________________________
Authors: Al-Zahery N, Pala M, Battaglia V, Grugni V, Hamod MA, Hooshiar Kashani B, Olivieri A, Torroni A, Santachiara-Benerecetti AS, Semino O.
Source: Dipartimento di Genetica e Microbiologia, Università di Pavia, Via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia, Italy.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21970613
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