Mitochondrial diversity in the Taforalt population, 12,000 BP

Diversité mitochondriale de la population de Taforalt (12.000 ans bp – maroc): une approche génétique a l’étude du peuplement de l’afrique du nord.

(Mitochondrial diversity in the Taforalt population (circa 12,000 BP, Morocco): a genetic approach to the study of the peopling of North Africa.)


The population exhumed from the archaeological site of Taforalt in Morocco (12,000 years BP) is a valuable source of information toward a better knowledge of the settlement of Northern Africa region and provides a revolutionary way to specify the origin of Ibero-Maurusian populations. Ancient DNA was extracted from 31 bone remains from Taforalt.The HVS1 fragment of the mitochondrial DNA control region was PCR-amplified and directly sequenced. Mitochondrial diversity in Taforalt shows the absence of sub-Saharan haplogroups suggesting that Ibero-Maurusian individuals had not originated in sub-Saharan region.Our results reveal a probable local evolution of Taforalt population and a genetic continuity in North Africa.

The genetic inheritance of Taforalt population (12,000 years) is composed of:

Eurasiatic component  (J/T, H, U et V) and North African component (U6).

Genetic structure of Taforalt:

Eurasiatic Component :   H, U, JT, V:  90.5%

North African component: U6: 9.5 %

  • 42, 8% (9/21)           H or U
  • 14, 2% (3/21)            JT
  • 2 individuals (9,5%)  U6

In modern Human population, JT is presents only in:

1,6% Berbers from the North of Morocco 
1,8% of Sicilians,
1,6% of Italians.

Here we have direct indisputable evidence of a Caucasoid presence in North Africa in ancient times. This isn’t exactly as surprise, as all the other studies have said the same thing. Interesting there’s no M clades though.

Although, a closer look at the paper shows one sample could have been M, L3 or N.

The paper also says that  (my translation)…

The analysis of the diversity of mitochondrial DNA taken from the Taforalt population reveals the existance of 13 haplotypes. This haplotype diversity is similar to that of Europeans, and Mediterranean of the Mahgreb, with the exception of Algerian people ( the Berber Mozabites and non-Berbers) compared to whom they who have less haplotype diversity. The haplotype diversity of the Taforalt population is less than that of near Eastern populations.


…the hypothesis of a sub Saharan origin of the Ibero-Maurussians in the Sahara is not supprted by our results, which show a popultion more typical of the Mediterranean in North Africa for the past 12,000 years. Our results support the work based on cranio-facial and dental studies showing difference between Ibero-Maurussians and their contemporaries in the Sudan. the presence of a sub Saharan component in North Africa is due to migrations after 12,000 BP.

Here is a link to the translated page. It observes that North coast Moroccan Berbers seem to be the most similar to the Taforalt population. All in all it’s conclusion is that modern Berbers are descended mainly from the Holocene population of North Africa, with populations like the North coast Berbers showing the most similarity.

These people.


8 responses to “Mitochondrial diversity in the Taforalt population, 12,000 BP

  1. Thank you so much Mathilda for posting this study, I have been looking all over the net for an analysis of the North African Ibero-Maurusian skeletons’ DNA and finally found it here.
    Does the Mitochondrial DNA survive longer than other DNA from the cell nucleus?

  2. Yes, because you get a lot more Mt DNA present in cells, it tends to survive the longest.

    Glad you spotted this, it saves me the trouble of emailing it to you. Give ’em hell tiger.

    It took me ages to find it. There’s a lot more studies on N Africans here in the past week or so too. They all have the same conclusion, Eurasian derived Caucasoid Berbers have been in NA for at least 30,000 years.


  3. What do you make of JT (I assume that it means JT(xJ,xT) exclussivealy being found in North Africa and Italy in similar apportions? May it represent some Paleolithic connection between these two provinces? May it mean that JT is not of West Asian origin after all?

    Anyhow, how certain is the JT data? I understand that in most sudies they test for J and T markers but not for upsetream JT ones, what may hide other pools of the same clade. I find hard to believe that there was a crossing between Sicily and Tunisia in the Paleolithic (too wide). Alternatively, it might be a Neolithic founder effect but then why is this clade not found elsewhere (West Asia or the Balcans)?

    I think that the same stuff is available in English at (Power Point presentation). There it reads also:

    19% (4/21) H

    2 individuals (9,5%) V

    What makes HV derivates almost 30%.

  4. I’ve no idea. I couldn’t find the whole paper, just the abstract.

  5. Sorry to stumble into old posts but googling for these Dabban industries I end up in your blog once and again (this site is one of the few that pays any attention to North African prehistory).

    I realize that the link is now to the original in French and from the haplotypes I deduce that

    H or U is surely H because it’s CRS haplotype and it almost always shows up in H lineages, very especially in North African ones. Additionally U(xU6) is rare in North Africa.

    JT appears to be genuine JT(xJ,T), which is kind of revealing – moreso as this paragroup is nowadays only found in North Africa and Italy.

    The authors ponder that H may mean a mainly European origin for the Taforalt population. They also mention that modern Berbers from Northern Morocco [Riffians?] appear to have the same genetic pool nowadays, including the rare JT paragroup.

    • I’d be surprised if there hasn’t been some two way movement over the straits. I think the H in NA paper suggested an Asian origin of the H in NA. I’ll have another look.

  6. I think the H in NA paper suggested an Asian origin of the H in NA.

    Doesn’t make any sense unless you believe religiously that every single subclade of H originated in West Asia and that they migrated to W Europe and N. Africa in extremely similar apportions, up to the point that Tunisian H mtDNA is a mere subset of Iberian one.

  7. Pingback: Dna Diversity in “Egypt” amongst mtDna haplogroup L « Gambela’s Afri-Asiatic Anthropology Blog

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