Tag Archives: L1b

Mitochondrial DNA diversity in an archaeological site in al-Andalus

Human mitochondrial DNA diversity in an archaeological site in al-Andalus: Genetic impact of migrations from North Africa in medieval Spain

Mitochondrial DNA sequences and restriction fragment polymorphisms were retrieved from three Islamic 12th-13th century samples of 71 bones and teeth (with >85% efficiency) from Madinat Baguh (today called Priego de Cordoba, Spain). Compared with 108 saliva samples from the present population of the same area, the medieval samples show a higher proportion of sub-Saharan African lineages that can only partially be attributed to the historic Muslim occupation. In fact, the unique sharing of transition 16175, in L1b lineages, with Europeans, instead of Africans, suggests a more ancient arrival to Europe from Africa. The present day Priego sample is more similar to the current south Iberian population than to the medieval sample from the same area. The increased gene flow in modern times could be the main cause of this difference.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2006.

This is an odd study. I’m familiar with some Iberian crania that suggest a few more African associated features in the Neolithic crania than there are in the present population. This is suggesting some movement from North Africa in ancient times (16k to 20k is the date given), possibly bringing microlithic technology from the Ibero-Maraussian (the date is compatible with this theory). This could possibly explain why the Celtic languages (who’s ancestors originated in Iberian refugia) have an Afro Asiatic grammar structure. This theory was dumped a while ago, but it may have some basis to it.

The medieval Priego sample showed greater affinities to North-Africa than other Iberian Peninsula samples including that of present day Priego. Haplotype analysis revealed that some African haplotypes detected in medieval Priego have matches with samples of precise north- African origin as Tunisia, west-Sahara or the Canary Islands pointing to well documented historic connections with this area. However, medieval Priego L1b lineages  carrying the 16175 transition have their most related counterparts in Europe instead of Africa. The coalescence age for these L1b lineages is compatible with a minor prehistoric African influence on Priego that also reached other European areas.

From studying the Y chromosomes of North Africa, the mate of this L1b was probably an R1b, so I’m going to have to have a look to see if any of the R1b’s in Iberia track back to North Africa (E3b1b is a neolithic addition to North Africa).