Neolithic skull shapes and demic diffusion.

Neolithic skull shapes and demic diffusion> a bioarchaeological investigation into the nature of the Neolithic transition

Link broke, only HTML available!

ABSTRACT – There is a growing body of evidence that the spread of farming in Europe was not a single uniform process, but that it involved a complex set of processes such as demic diffusion, folk migration, frontier mobility, and leapfrog colonisation. Archaeogenetic studies, which examine contemporary geographical variations in the frequencies of various genetic markers have not succeeded in addressing the complex Neolithisation process at the required level of spatial and temporal resolution. Moreover, these studies are based on modern populations, and their interpretive genetic maps are often affected by post-Neolithic dispersals, migrations, and population movements in Eurasia. Craniometric studies may provide a solid link between the archaeological analysis of past events and their complex relationship to changes and fluctuations in corresponding morphological and thus biological variations. This paper focuses on the study of craniometric variations between and within Pre-Pottery Neolithic, Pottery Neolithic, and Early Neolithic specimens from the Near East, Anatolia and Europe. It addresses the meaning of the observed multivariate morphometric variations in the context of the spread of farming in Europe.

Fig. 2. Principal components analysis of craniometric measurements
of skulls from Early Neolithic sites.

This is another study that suggests an Anatolian center of dispersal for the Neolithic. It’s well worth a read if you are interested in the Natufians and other ancient farming groups from the neolithic. Interestingly, it observes that the Anatolians of Catal Hoyuk seem very different to thsoe of Cayonu.

Özdogan (1997) points out that the Neolithic communities of the Central Anatolian plateau form a distinct entity which differs from the south-eastern Anatolian, Levantine and Mesopotamian contemporaneous cultures in settlement pattern, architecture, lithic technology, bone tools, and other archaeological aspects. There is no simple corollary between specific cultural-archaeological entities and biological populations. However, in the case of the above analyses, the population of Çatahöyük differed biologically from the populations of the Near East and southeast Anatolia and were similar to the SKC and Nea Neikomediea cultures. Indeed in a previous publication (Pinhasi 2003), it was demonstrated that the Squared Mahalanobis Distance between Çatalhöyük and Çayönü is twice to three times the average distance between the former and any of the Early Neolithic southeast or central European Early Neolithic populations. The above analysis therefore confirms the archaeological observations made by Özdogan (1997) and reaffirms in this specific case a correspondence between cultural boundaries that define a prehistoric culture and its biological basis.

This would seem to support a population ‘boundry’, between the expanding Natufians (later Belbasi/Beldibi) with their moderate affinities to sub Saharan Africans, and the indigenous Eurasian people of Anatolia. It also states..

There are no grounds for believing that the settlement of mainland Greece, either by land or sea, can be compared with the slow movements of populations characteristic of the Cardial or Danubian ‘waves of advance’. On the contrary, it seems to relate to these long-distance expeditions, well exemplified in the Mediterranean by the colonisation of Crete, Corsica and the Balearic Iislands, for instance” (Perlès 2001).

However, the craniometric analysis indicates no morphological differences between Nea Nikomedeia and the Çatalhöyük populations, which contrasts with the differences between these and the PPN Levantine/ Anatolian samples.

Also..

It appears that a Neolithic dispersal from the Near East/Anatolia to Europe may have occurred at least twice: once as a PPN maritime expansion from the Levant/southern Anatolia, and later on during the Pottery Neolithic period as an overland dispersal from Central/Western Anatolia to southeast Europe (Perlés 2001; Özdogan 1997). This means that more than one founder Neolithic population dispersed out of the Near East/Anatolia to Europe, and that each
dispersal event must have left certain demographic and genetic signatures on modern Europeans.

Which supports other evidence from Franchthi and the cave of the Cyclops about sea colonisations from ancient Anatolia all through the Med (elsewhere on blog), with a slower overland colonisation following. That you have two very distinct populations present in Anatolia might explain how both Indo European and Afro Asiatic languages apparently expanded out from Turkey at about the same time (IE from the plateau Anatolians, and the Natufian derived AA speaking Southerners).

C.Loring Brace commented that all the sub Saharan traces vanished from the Levant about the time of the neolithic expansion, so it seems probable that the majority of the ancestry of the expanding wave of colonists was from the plateau Anatolians, not the Natufian’s descendants in the south.

One response to “Neolithic skull shapes and demic diffusion.

  1. What most called my attention here is that PC1 represents male-female differences very clearly (and only that). See figure 3.

    This basically leaves the graph above as a one-dimensional representation, with Danube Gorge types as most extreme, followed by PPN types (the rest seem to have their center of gravity near 0).

    This could maybe support the Anatolian origin of European Neolithic but could also reflect a greater similitude from older times. After all Anatolian UP might be most related to European in many senses as well and even modern Turks often look fully European (or almost).

    The outlier position of Danubian Gorge Neolithic is hard to explain though, but in any case I wonder why, while table 1 mentions 8 samples, only 3 appear in figure 2. I guess this means that Lepenski-Vir samples (5) have been omitted for some reason and it represents only Vinca culture.

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