The origin of the Armenian people is heavily debated among historians and archaeologists. Despite a long history and vast archaeological records in Armenia, it has proven very challenging to infer the demographic events that led to the formation of Armenians as a distinct ethno-cultural group. To obtain a detailed understanding of the demographic events in Armenia across millennia, we study complete mitochondrial genomes from 49 ancient individuals covering 7800 years and compare them with that of modern Armenians (n=206) and seven neighboring populations (n=482). In this context, the lowest genetic distance was observed between the modern and ancient Armenians and this was also reflected in network analyses and discriminant analysis of principal components (dapc) showing genetic proximity between the ancient individuals and modern Armenians. We used Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) to test five different demographic scenarios of the Armenian population, and the simulations favored a model where both ancient and modern Armenians derive from the same source population. We conclude that there is a strong signal of continuity in the maternal Armenian gene pool during the last 7800 years.Margaryan et al., 7800 years of Mitochondrial genetic continuity in Armenia, 6th DNA Polymorphisms in Human Populations, Talk Workhsop Genomic Demography, Musee de l’Homme, Paris, 7-10 December, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Strong mitogenomic continuity on the Armenian Plateau since the early Neolithic
Below is another abstract from the upcoming 6th DNA Polymorphisms in Human Populations conference in Paris. It was added to the abstract book after I first blogged about the conference here. The authors are probably first testing mtDNA to check which of the samples have enough DNA for full genome sequencing or enrichment capture of genome-wide SNPs. So the fact that they managed to sequence so many mitogenomes means that we might soon see genome-wide data for most of the same samples. The results make sense considering the genetic structure of present-day Armenians (see here). Indeed, I suspect that early Neolithic farmers from the southern Caucasus will come out looking very similar overall to present-day Armenians. If so, this will probably be hailed by many as evidence supporting the Armenian Plateau Indo-European homeland theory. However, as I've already shown, it's very likely that the Armenian Plateau was affected by population movements from the Eastern European steppe during the Bronze Age which may have introduced Indo-European languages to the region (see here).